1st September 2002 (# 1) News Clippings Digest
- 1st September 2002 (# 1) News Clippings Digest
1. ARIZONA REPUBLIC Ten (count 'em!) gay men are running for seats
in the Arizona legislature
2. NEW YORK TIMES In the Macho World of Jazz, Don't Ask, Don't Tell
3. ASSOCIATED PRESS Florida: Gay-rights ordinance up for a vote;
nation on Miami-Dade County
Arizona Republic, August 31, 2002
Box 1950, Phoenix, AZ, 85001
(Fax: 602-271-8933 ) (E-Mail: opinions@... )
( http://www.arizonarepublic.com )
Gay candidates abound in primary race
By Elvia Díaz, The Arizona Republic
Sensing Arizona may be slowly becoming a more progressive
record number of gay men are seeking a legislative seat in the Sept.
"People are finding out that being gay has nothing to do with
performance," said Thom Von Hapsburg, a gay man who is competing
five Republicans for a House seat in the central Phoenix District 7.
Most of the 10 gay candidates say that homosexuality wasn't a
deciding factor in their determination to run for public office and
so far hasn't been a campaign issue.
State Reps. Ken Cheuvront, Steve May and Ed Poelstra are the
openly gay legislators. Some of the aspiring lawmakers say high-
politicians such as Tempe Mayor Neil Giuliano and U.S. Rep. Jim Kolbe
also smoothed the road for them.
"They have really paved the way for us," said Jack Jackson
is vying for the House Democratic nomination in District 2.
Like many of the other gay candidates, Jackson said Arizona
are becoming more tolerant. But he believes there is still much work
done before people can put homosexuality aside and vote on the merits
"There is still a lot of homophobia in the state," said
"Fortunately, my district is mostly Democrat and Native American."
It might be even harder in other regions of the state to get
Jackson said. A lawyer and member of the Navajo Nation, Jackson is
on his experience as a lobbyist and a boost from his father, a former
senator, to win.
While many of the gay men running for office said that
now more inclined to vote for them, some feared privately that they
lose votes if their homosexuality came up.
The candidates would rather focus on issues and not their
preference, noting that their respective legislative agendas are as
as their political ideology, from health care to education to job
and tax reform.
But gay and lesbian advocacy groups, such as the Arizona Human
Fund, are pushing their candidates' campaigns, saying that more gay
legislators would be able to promote specific legislative bills.
Two proposals come to mind, said Dilia Loe, executive director
Arizona Human Rights Fund. They are the creation of a state registry
domestic partners and a plan to give more legal rights to those
partners. The two bills failed this year at the Legislature.
"We still are going to have a very conservative Legislature,"
Jesse George, 61, a gay candidate running in District 27. "It's
going to be
tough to pass legislation on gay rights issues."
Loe predicts at least half of the 10 gay candidates will get
Sam Wercinski, a Democrat campaigning for a House seat in
11, said the important thing is what each candidate will do for
"Sexuality doesn't come into play when leaders are making
said Wercinski, 40. "Arizona is more progressive than people
The other gay candidates are:
. Robert Meza, a Democrat seeking a House seat in District 14.
. Peter Moraga, a Democrat vying for a House seat in District
. Wally Straughn, a Democrat campaigning for a House seat in
. May, Republican seeking to remain in the House representing
. Cheuvront, Democrat seeking a Senate seat in District 15.
. Poelstra, Republican seeking a House seat in District 28.
New York Times, September 1, 2002
229 W. 43rd Street, New York, NY, 10036
(Fax: 212-556-3622 ) (E-Mail: letters@... )
( http://www.nytimes.com )
In the Macho World of Jazz, Don't Ask, Don't Tell
By Francis Davis
I have been asked what it's like being white in a field of
that's considered African-American," the vibraphonist Gary Burton
think it would be equally valid to ask me what it's like being gay and
playing a form of music that's seen as macho. It's interesting that
subject never seems to come up."
Although white jazz fans in particular like to think of
color-blind, it often seems that race is all they ever talk about
subject is music. There is even a kind of reverse racial profiling
goes on in jazz: white players are pulled over and ticketed for
introspection. But whereas race is visible, even if it is becoming
all the time, sexual orientation usually is not. Within jazz, race is
considered a fit topic for public discourse, while a gay sexual
is regarded as private, a potential source of embarrassment for
and audiences alike.
It is practically gospel in jazz that a player taking an
solo is coming clean, baring his soul, telling us who he is in no
terms. But what if the player is gay? Isn't that as much a clue to
identity as race?
Mr. Burton's comments came during a panel discussion about
homosexuality in jazz at the Village Vanguard in April, which I
It was presented by the National Arts Journalism Program and Columbia
University, and along with the writer Grover Sales, the other
the pianist Fred Hersch, the saxophonist Charlie Kohlhase and the
pianist Andy Bey. There appears to be a growing acceptance of
among the general public. Yet the panel was the first public
that anyone could recall to address the topic of homosexuality in
In jazz the rule remains "Don't ask, don't tell." This
ironic because the jazz subculture has been notoriously free and
of the beat on most social issues. Safety in numbers may have as
much to do
as sensibility with drawing gay men to certain professions, like
hairdressing and floristry. In general, the performing arts are
area in which the news that someone is gay hardly comes as a shock.
there are ways in which jazz and all of popular music have more in
with baseball than with theater or dance. (Jazz even has its own
statistics, in the form of discographies, recording dates and musical
lineups.) Despite a growing number of female instrumentalists, the
for jazz remains overwhelmingly male, which perhaps explains why jazz
remains an enclave of machismo.
There was a time when all jazz musicians were straight, as far
anyone knew. The composer and arranger Billy Strayhorn was a notable
exception, but he was perfectly happy to spend his career in Duke
Ellington's shadow, which was the same as being in the closet. It
in 1996, with the publication of David Hajdu's Strayhorn
Life," that nonmusicians learned of Strayhorn's homosexuality. A
objection to Mr. Hajdu's book was that Strayhorn's sexual orientation
bearing on his music.
Mr. Burton has been "out" to his friends and associates since
late 1980's, when he took a male date to a party at the Berklee
Music in Boston, where he has taught since 1971 and is now an
president. "My decision to come out resulted from the end of my
marriage," he said. "I was in my 40's and finally came to the
that I was more gay than straight. The deciding factor was that I
crush on someone who was very out, and in the course of dating him, I
be out as well. It didn't last, but I was out by then."
Even so, Mr. Burton didn't go public, as it were, until 1994,
discussed being gay in an interview on National Public Radio.
repercussions he feared, an apparent lack of notice on the part of
press (and by extension, the jazz community) left him more puzzled
relieved. Given his standing in jazz (he has been a consistent
poll-winner on vibes since the late 60's), it was as if the guest of
at a formal dinner had noisily slurped his soup or blurted out an off-
remark - best to look the other way. Except for an article about Mr.
and other gay musicians in JazzTimes magazine last year, which
angry letter that accused gay musicians of not swinging (long a white
stereotype), the jazz press has continued to shy away from the
despite his willingness to speak frankly about being that supposedly
of creatures, a gay jazz musician.
In avoiding questioning Mr. Burton about his sexual
journalists may be guilty of nothing more than trying to guard his
or they might feel it's a nonissue. But this reticence seems
in light of the role that Miles Davis's reputed prowess with the
sex played in defining his appeal to many of his male fans. (Never
persistent rumors that Davis was bisexual.)
And discretion can be an unintended form of homophobia, said
Hersch. "There are several phases to coming out, and I think most of
went through one when we first told another human being that we were
Mr. Hersch said. "We were nervous and looking for the perfect way to
it. Then, over time, we get to where we assume everyone knows and
really cares. But the third phase is that in the same way that
else might talk about his wife or girlfriend, you want to be able to
about your boyfriend or lack thereof."
Jazz and gay culture may be antithetical. Although the
the panel didn't feel that they had been ostracized since coming out,
Mr. Bey has attracted a sizable gay following since declaring his
"Once you've found out who you are, you can express your feminine
masculine side, you're not afraid to let it all out, and I think a
gay people want to hear that," Mr. Bey said.
But he is a singer, and there have always been jazz singers
Billie Holiday and Carmen McRae with a gay appeal, regardless of
Mr. Burton's experience seems more typical of those on the
"One of the surprises for me in coming out was that nobody had ever
me and nobody had ever heard of the vibraphone," Mr. Burton said. "I
finally connected with 'my people,' and they didn't care. The kinds
music that are popular in gay culture have a high degree of glamour,
jazz is the opposite."
In a 1984 article for the magazine The Jazzletter, Mr. Sales
the scarcity of gay jazz musicians relative to the overall gay
and speculated that the reason for this might be traced to jazz's
days, when it gave black men an outlet for expressing an assertive
masculinity that they were otherwise forbidden to give voice to. Mr.
said jazz offered a similar outlet for the first white jazz
were likewise discouraged from expressing their masculinity as
a genteel society in which music and the arts in general had become
overrefined and, in Mr. Sales's word, "feminized."
This is a reasonable enough theory, but it hardly explains why
jazz world - liberal on most issues - finds itself at this late date
behind the rest of the population on issues relating to gender and
sexuality. Except for a crack that if Mr. Hersch wanted to be asked
his love life, he should call a tune on his next album "something
My Lover, Irving,'" there were no hostile comments from the floor
question-and-answer period that followed the panel. But the Vanguard
audience of 100 or so seemed far more comfortable participating in
discussions that followed, which addressed the economic hardships of
jazz and the proper roles of critics and scholars - the usual shop
My lack of success in putting together a more racially
(Mr. Bey was the only black participant) raised for me the troubling
question of whether gay black musicians face more difficulty in
than their white counterparts as a result of greater homophobia in
culture. (Some black denominations have a spotty record on gay
hip-hop's preoccupation with thuggery has set an impossibly high
masculinity for young black men.) Despite my best efforts, there
lesbians on the panel, but women may have a greater disincentive in
out, because they already have so much going against them as female
intruders in a music ruled by men. (To some men, a female drummer or
player is automatically butch, even if she happens to be straight.)
"I know certain gay musicians who are not out who I feel
overcompensate by trying to be even more macho than straight
Hersch said. "And unfortunately, certain women players have also been
pressured into higher and louder and faster, with more chops."
Whether being gay makes a difference in playing jazz was a
left hanging by Mr. Hersch and the other panelists, and none of the
musicians I've spoken to in the months since have quite been able to
it, either. But this doesn't mean that the question is irrelevant,
that gay musicians are still trying to figure it out for themselves.
"I usually leave the interviewing up to the interviewer," Mr.
said, explaining that journalists typically ask him about his latest
recording, his equipment and the trials of balancing teaching and
performing. "But this undiscussed area of being a gay man, being
the gay community - has that affected me creatively? That would be a
interesting thing to explore. But interviewers, maybe because
sure how to write about it, stay away from it."
Like the others on the panel, Mr. Bey feels the issue warrants
discussion. "You have to deal with the issue of who you are, and it
a difficult issue if you're living a so-called abnormal life," he
needs to be talked about in order to liberate yourself."
Associated Press, September 1, 2002
Gay-rights ordinance up for a vote
Eyes of nation on Miami-Dade County
By Tal Abbady, The Associated Press
MIAMI - Supporters and opponents of gay rights around the
will keep a close watch on Miami-Dade County in coming days. On
voters in this county - considered both a gay sanctuary and the
the modern anti-gay movement - will decide whether to scrap a law that
protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Similar ballot initiatives face Michigan and Washington
referendums are poised to challenge gay rights laws elsewhere. For
efforts to repeal existing gay-rights laws are under way in Westbrook,
Maine, and Cleveland Heights, Ohio, though they haven't yet reached
"It's important that we beat back these repeal attempts," said
Kilbourn of the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign. "All we're
for is to be treated equally."
"If we begin drawing lines about the degrees of discrimination
are acceptable, then we've lost our fight for civil rights," said
Anderson of Tacoma United for Fairness. The group opposes an effort
repeal that Washington city's anti-gay discrimination law.
But Matt Dupree, director of the Florida Christian Coalition,
members of coalition chapters nationwide are behind efforts to defeat
gay-rights ordinances, seeing them as an affront to their beliefs.
Gay rights "is not something they can get behind," Dupree
Christianity has always had its little stumbling blocks that we'll
Friends and foes of gay rights have battled in Miami-Dade for
In 1977, the county was among the first to amend its human
ordinance to protect residents against discrimination based on sexual
orientation in employment, housing and finance.
That same year, former beauty queen and then-orange juice
Anita Bryant led a campaign to quash the law, convincing voters to
from the books.
It was reinstated in 1998 at the end of a decade that saw the
of gay rights ordinances in cities across the country, but months of
campaigning by Christian Coalition volunteers and others have landed
issue on the ballot once again.
Their campaign was marred but not derailed by the arrests of
Verdugo, head of the county's Christian Coalition chapter, and other
volunteers for allegedly turning in falsely certified signatures.
Advocates of gay-rights laws say their opponents often use such
tactics, but they predict Miami-Dade voters will uphold the
"When you put the question to American voters - 'Do you think
to discriminate against gays?' - they say 'No,'" Kilbourn said.
But Kilbourn said he does not take for granted the strides
gay-rights groups, noting such discrimination is legal in much of
and elsewhere. Gays are not protected by the U.S. Civil Rights Act,
Florida is one of 38 states that does not have a statewide law banning
Since the 1998 ordinance was adopted, Miami-Dade's Equal
Board has received nearly 70 charges of anti-gay discrimination.
Alexandra Rodil, of Miami, filed a complaint in 2000 when she
fired from her job at a real estate firm two days after her employer
she is a lesbian.
Rodil said she'd told him about her planned appearance in a
documentary featuring Miami's gay community and asked if she could be
at work. Two days later she was fired.
Rodil said verbal evaluations of her work had been favorable
throughout her four months with the firm.
Her employer, Clifford Rosen, told the board Rodil had been
reprimanded for playing music on the job and having an "I don't care"
attitude, but Rodil said neither Rosen nor her immediate supervisor
approached her with such complaints.
"The person they described I was would not have lasted a day
firm," she said. "They're not the kind of people to let things
The board sided with Rodil, who reached a financial settlement
"This is not about special rights, this is about equality,"
said. "Am I not the kind of person who deserves a job? I'm a law-
citizen who cares about my community."
Georg Ketelhohn, co-chair of the No to Discrimination/Save Dade
campaign, said the effects of the ordinance vote will ripple through
"This is not just about the gay community, it's about the whole
community," Ketelhohn said. "We're a world-class city and we can't
small minority painting us as a community that favors discrimination."
Eighteen of the county's 21 mayors, including Miami-Dade Mayor
Penelas, have come out in support of the ordinance.
In addition, the county's business community has pledged its
BellSouth and Carnival Cruise Lines, among others, have donated tens
thousands of dollars to support the ordinance.
And officials from the Democratic National Committee have
ordinance's repeal could derail Miami's chances of being selected to
the party's 2004 national convention.
But opponents of the gay rights ordinance say homosexuals
seeking equal rights, but special treatment. They say businesses and
politicians backing the ordinance are interested only in money and
Rosa Armesto de Gonzalez, a Miami attorney, said gays have not
a need for special protection as have blacks and others protected by
"Everything they've asked for, they're given," de Gonzalez
"I wouldn't want any group to get special treatment over
else," said Dupree of the Florida Christian Coalition.
Dupree further said coalition members believe gay lifestyles
"In a perfect world, we'd like to see no homosexuality,"
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