28th September, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.
- 28th September, 2001 (# 6) News Clippings Digest.
1. CINCINATTI POST Helen Shaver ("The Education Of Max Bickford")
didn't set out to become a transgender role model
2. ARIZONA DAILY SUN Letter tells Pat Robertson to give it a rest
3. SANTA BARBARA PRESS-NEWS Letters: Two Falwells, two Scouts
(last one is really good)
4. SOUTHERN VOICE (glbt) Gay candidate Ronald Simoneau seeks
Birmingham (Alabama) City Council seat
5. EXIT (glbt) (South Africa) Lesbian judges seek justice
6. EXIT (glbt) (South Africa) Exit Opinion:
The Pretoria High Court, Mr Viljoen and the prospect of pride.
Cincinatti Post, September 28, 2001
(E-Mail: postedits@... )( http://www.cincypost.com )
Her character has sex change - and is happy
By Rick Bird, Post staff reporter
Helen Shaver says she wasn't setting out to become a
The veteran actress of more than 50 movies co-stars in the new
drama ''The Education of Max Bickford'' (8 p.m. Sundays) playing a
professor who takes a year off and returns as a woman.
Her character represents one of the rare times on TV when a
who has undergone a sex change operation is portrayed as happy and
''It's a high-functioning, non-stereotypical, transgendered
Ms. Shaver said about her character. ''It's non-stereotypical of
TV, but is stereotypical of reality.''
Ms. Shaver plays Professor Erica Bettis, who used to be Steve,
best friend of college professor Max Bickford (Richard Dreyfuss). In
premiere she returns after the sex change and is one of the many
turning Bickford's previously cozy academic life upside down.
''Steve's a babe,'' remarks an incredulous colleague in
premiere when the attractive Erica returns to campus.
Ms. Shaver's character has been touted in the transgender
as a refreshing portrayal. Usually TV and movies have depicted such
as disturbed and troubled.
Ms. Shaver had previously done little TV acting - although she
directed several TV shows including episodes of ''Judging Amy.'' She
the ''Max Bickford'' role excited her because of the chance to work
outstanding cast, which includes Academy Award winners Dreyfuss (''The
Goodbye Girl'') and Marcia Gay Harden (''Pollock'').
She had already prepared for the role without realizing it.
her best friends of 15 years is a woman who had a sex change
went on to a career as a fashion model. As Ms. Shaver says with a
''My friend's physically more feminine than I am.''
She also spent a day with a psychologist who helps transition
''I said first out of the gate, "What do I need to change,
to be believable as a transgender woman?' She said, "Nothing,''' Ms.
said. ''Most of us think transgender women somehow look like men in
In an upcoming storyline Erica will get in the middle of an on-
debate about sexual identity when a Playboy-style magazine comes to
looking for women to pose.
But Erica's role is a small part of a show that promises to
lots of societal and self-discovery issues in the academic setting as
Bickford struggles with his own identity.
With this year's new TV dramas again heavy on lawyer/cop
the new trend of cloak 'n' dagger machinations, the world of academia
prove to be a unique and fertile ground.
Indeed, Ms. Shaver thinks such a show should play well in these
troubled times for an audience in search of a show that deals
with the human spirit in a grand storytelling tradition.
''Storytellers have been part of the fabric of history since
beginning of time. They make us laugh, they make us cry, but above
tell us stories of our own humanity. I think this (show) deals with
humanity with cleverness and wit.''
''The Education of Max Bickford'' is one TV show that films in
York City, with college scenes shot at a school on Staten Island.
was in the middle of filming when the terrorist attack happened.
''We have resumed shooting,'' Ms. Shaver said. ''It's the
place in the world right now. But I've never witnessed anything like
spirit, resiliency and determination to get things working.
''It's challenging. But there comes a moment - and each
through it - when you say I choose to live in my life, walk in my
Arizona Daily Sun, September 21, 2001
Box 1849, Flagstaff, AZ, 86002
(Fax: 520-774-4790 ) (E-Mail: azdsopinion@... )
( http://www.azdailysun.com/news )
Letter: Way off base
Oh, give it a rest already. No one with one functioning brain
remaining took you, Mr. Robertson, seriously before Sept. 11, 2001,
one with that one last remaining brain cell is taking you seriously
Our Lord to whom you, Mr. Robertson, have so unrelentingly and
fanatically claimed to speak for would never under any circumstances
whatever so sanctimoniously sit in judgment on the sick, the
the outcast. Don't you dare to blame the gays or anybody else for
happening in our world right now, and don't pretend to know The Truth
in fact you just don't have a clue. Read your Bible for a change to
what is very plainly in there and not for the sole purpose of
your acidic hate.
And that noisy gong and clashing cymbal business, just to whom
think that that's referring to? Without compassion, the hallmark of
Lord Jesus Christ, without that utter act of love He so passionately
to communicate to us, you and those just like you are, as the Bible
quite clearly, nothing. It is as simple and plain as the cover on
There are no perfect Christians. None among mortals. The
of our mortal spiritual leaders knew this of themselves, no matter the
faith. And that includes Islam, by the way. All our greatest of men
know this intrinsically. They bow before God in utter humility. They
from Whom our gifts are meted out.
Get over yourself. And that is all there is to be said about
- D. JAMES, Flagstaff
Santa Barbara News-Press, September 28, 2001
Box 1359, Santa Barbara, CA, 93102-1359
(Fax: 805-966-6258 ) (E-Mail: editorial@... )
( http://www.newspress.com )
Letter: Pulling out support for United Way
It was announced recently that United Way will no longer
Boy Scouts due to discrimination against gays, even though the Scouts'
action was upheld by the Supreme Court. I support the action of the
Scouts as adhering to its credo. I no longer support United Way.
I suggest that those who have been connected with Scouting and
been benefitted by it should look for other venues for their giving
support United Way. There are many charities where we may direct our
- LeRoy C. Newsom, Santa Ynez
Letter: Falwell's comments dishonor victims (September 23, 2001)
I was sickened and saddened to read the comments from Jerry
and Pat Robertson regarding the terrorist attacks.
On Sept. 13, on The 700 Club, these zealots of the religious
stated that "liberal civil liberties groups, feminists, homosexuals
abortion rights supporters bear partial responsibility for Tuesday's
terrorist attacks because their actions have turned God's anger
The disrespect to the victims, especially to those dead who
one or more of these categories, is staggering. In a nation that
healing, these supposed men of the cloth have thrown salt in an open
and should be rejected by Americans of all faiths and beliefs.
- Jason McCarthy, Santa Barbara
Letter: Falwell in same league as bin Laden (September 21, 2001)
As I watched the continuing coverage on CNN of the horror that
our country last week, a banner moved across the bottom of the screen.
It said the Rev. Jerry Falwell blames pagans, abortionists,
feminists, gays and lesbians for bringing on the attack. What an
unbelievable and disgraceful statement to make.
It is this kind of religious fanaticism exhibited by Mr.
brought down the Twin Towers. Mr. Falwell has reached an all-time
exploiting this national tragedy to forward his own agenda.
Shame shame on him and anyone who believes as he does.
Falwell should take the first flight to Afghanistan and join Osama bin
- Barry Opdyke, Carpinteria
Letter: Boy Scouts can't have bias and protection (September 19,
I have to admit I am getting a little lost in the language of
discrimination as it is being used these days.
Michael Warnken, in a Sept. 11 guest commentary, argues that
Youth Group Anti-Discrimination initiative is desperately needed to
the Boy Scouts from discrimination.
Wasn't it the Boy Scouts who recently fought all the way to
Supreme Court to retain the right to discriminate? So how is it that
suddenly needs protection from discrimination?
Mr. Warnken, in defense of the Boy Scouts' policies, argues
are simply practicing "a central libertarian principle that people
whatever they wish . . . associate with whom (ever they) wish without
of reprisal, whether legal, social or moral."
But what if this principle - and I note that he badly
what freedom of association actually means - contradicts the
we as a society reject discrimination because we recognize its hurtful
What is to be said of the many people who conscientiously
associate with groups that practice harmful discrimination?
Is choosing to disassociate oneself from those who practice
discrimination just another form of discrimination, as Mr. Warnken
Ironically, groups that are now distancing themselves from the
Scouts - the United Way, school boards, banks and some child-oriented
organizations - are simply practicing exactly what Mr. Warnken is
for, i.e., the right to freely choose with whom they will associate.
Surely Mr. Warnken doesn't mean to suggest that the Boy Scouts
the right to exercise freedom of association but no one else does.
So what does discrimination mean in this context? Does the Boy
Scouts practice discrimination when it throws gay Scouts out on their
Does the group have a legal right to practice this
Should we, as a moral society, agree to silence our social and
indignation at its discriminatory practices?
Absolutely not, for it is through our communication of this
indignation, often manifest through the simple disassociation of
from the group and their practices, that we communicate to them that
behavior is no longer acceptable.
I am a former Boy Scout of the year in West Covina.
- Scott Wexler, Santa Barbara
Southern Voice (glbt), September 21, 2001
1095 Zonolite Road, Atlanta, GA 30306
(E-Mail: editor@... )( http://www.southernvoice.com/ )
Gay candidate seeks B'ham City Council seat
by Jennifer Christensen
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The hardest choice on the Oct. 9 ballot for
Birmingham's District 3 City Council seat may be what one candidate
for election night - a coy pink Channel [sic] suit or maybe something
more butch by Hugo Boss.
Ronald Simoneau, also and perhaps better known as drag queen
Belle, is running for the heavily gay District 3 seat on the
Ronald Simoneau - a columnist for the gay monthly Alabama
known as Sean Michaels, also known as Libertee Belle - is already a
in Birmingham, and has already made history as the first openly gay
candidate for elected office in the state.
Next month, Simoneau hopes to make Alabama history again,
the first openly gay man, and the first self-described drag queen, to
office in the state.
But in a crowded field that includes at least five other
winning won't be easy, Simoneau acknowledged.
"I thought being a drag queen was a bitch," said Simoneau.
got involved in politics. You know, I've fought with the very best
dressing room, but politics - it's terrible. I don't know why anyone
want to come after a 124-pound drag queen."
Simoneau, which is his legal name, said some conservatives
him a target because of his sexual orientation. "Imagine that the
fag in the city is running for office," he said one radio talk show
WYDE 850 AM said about his candidacy.
At press time Monday, the day before the end of the official
qualifying period for the election, other candidates included Valerie
Abbott, Bob Friedman, Adam Snyder, Angela Turner and David Boackle.
could not be reached for comment by press time.
The District 3 seat on the City Council covers the Southside,
Highland and Crestwood areas, home to Birmingham's largest
gay residents, according to David White, state coordinator for the
Lesbian Alliance of Alabama. About 25 percent of voters in the
gay, White said.
GALAA doesn't give endorsements, but White said he has been
encouraged that several candidates - including Abbott, Turner and
have contacted him for information on reaching out to gay voters.
Five candidates - Simoneau, Abbott, Friedman, Turner and
were also scheduled to speak Thursday night at an event sponsored by
Birmingham Business Network, a group for gay and gay-friendly
"The good thing is that most of the candidates are actively
the gay vote," White said.
An uphill battle
Still, Simoneau said some of his opponents have mentioned his
orientation in their speeches, a move he feels is an attempt to turn
against him. But otherwise, Simoneau said people have been
the attention may be just what his uphill campaign needs.
Simoneau said he has no political connections and he has just
campaign budget. When a college newspaper called to see if he wanted
a rather inexpensive ad, he said he couldn't afford it.
"There are people in the race who are better known
with so many people talking about me, they must really think I'm a
threat," said Simoneau. "You know, I really do think I will win."
Others are not as confident, but they certainly do remember
Simoneau - even if they don't remember him by his given name. When
Voice called the office that handles candidate information, Myra
clerk of the probate court office, said she didn't know of any
running for office. But asked if she knew a Libertee Belle, McKinney
"Oh, you mean that sweet drag queen," McKinney said.
him here in Birmingham. He's the talk of the town."
McKinney said she's watched a lot of candidates in her 30-plus
at the court, and while she likes Simoneau, she said she's afraid the
may still be too conservative to elect such a candidate.
"This is Alabama after all," said McKinney.
GALAA's White said that Simoneau's chances for election are
"He seems to be running a really low-key campaign," White
s been showing up to candidate forums, but my impression of his
that it is more to get his name out there and run as an openly gay
Simoneau, however, said he is taking the race seriously, and
toned down his appearance on advice from another notable independent
politician. He only appeared in drag once for an interview, he said,
the rest of his speaking engagements and in his official political
wears a suit and tie.
"I wrote to Jesse Ventura for advice about my candidacy," said
Simoneau, about the letter he sent to the Minnesota professional
wrestler-turned-governor. "He wrote back 'don't ever do anything but
yourself, but whatever you do, don't campaign in drag."
More than 'that drag queen'
Simoneau said he hopes his constant campaigning and his talks
wide variety of topics will help people get to know him as more than
"that drag queen."
Having lived in Birmingham for the past 16 years, Simoneau
developed a real passion for the city. He moved to Birmingham to
restaurant for Chicago-based Carson Piere Scott, but said he stayed
after the restaurant closed because he loved the city and its people.
In this election, he said people for the most part people
with kindness. Simoneau said people agree with his issues and he is
left out of candidate invitations.
"I attend everything. And I really mean everything. If
envelope opening, I'll be there," he joked.
According to White, a key issue for gays in the election is
a candidate who will support adding sexual orientation to Birmingham's
"The main thing we are pushing with the candidates for
District 3 is
we want someone who will bring that up, and it's also important that
actually say the word 'gay,'" White said.
"If nothing else, people citywide, and at least in this
need to realize we are a force to be reckoned with," he said. "For
our district council person is going to have to be supportive of our
The retiring incumbent District 3 council member, Jimmy Blake,
Libertarian who hasn't supported gay-inclusive non-discrimination or
crimes legislation, White said.
The current crop of candidates hasn't expressed public
the issues, but White said he plans to ask about them at the
Business Network forum.
Simoneau, meanwhile, said he supports the non-discrimination
measure - and of course, saying "gay" isn't an issue for him.
But although gay and lesbian issues are a part of his campaign,
Simoneau also emphasized some other issues including his support of
arts, small business, education reform and a better transportation
"I take the bus everywhere and you know, one thing this city
needs is a bus system that really works," said Simoneau. "Our bus
stops running at 5 [p.m.]. How can working people use that system?"
Though he faces a tough road to election, Simoneau said he's
his mother's advice on his campaign.
"She said 'you have never backed away from a fight before.
just not what you're about,' and you know what? She was right," he
"I can't promise anything specific, but I will promise when
I will do my best, and I will do whatever it takes to make Birmingham
- Laura Douglas-Brown contributed.
E X I T | September, 2001.
"Southern Africa's Gay & Lesbian Newspaper"
Gavin Hayward, Editor
PO Box 28827, Kensington 2101, South Africa
Telephone: + 27-622-2275
Fax: + 27-616-6487
Lesbian judges seek justice
The Pretoria High Court heard two applications in August brought by
serving judges of the High Court against the state.
In the first case, Judge Anne-Marie de Vos of the Pretoria High Court
asked for the provisions of the Child Care Act that prevent her and
her partner from co-adopting children, to be declared
At present, only one person in a same sex couple can be the legal
guardian of a child. The Minister of Social Development did not
oppose the application. Council for Judge de Vos argued that the
situation creates instability in the family as the children do not
understand why only one of their parents can make legal decisions for
them. He further argued that the present position negates the rights
of the children as they would only have a claim for maintenance
against one of their parents.
In the second case, Judge Cathy Satchwell of the Johannesburg High
Court applied for an order against the President and the Minister of
Justice, as well as to have certain sections of the Judges
Remuneration Act declared unconstitutional. At present, the Act
prevents Judge Satchwells' same sex life partner from accessing
benefits that are available to the spouses of other judges. The
application was opposed by the government an the grounds that it will
"open the floodgates" for similar applications.
The Equality Project expressed delight that them two matters are
being heard by our courts. Both applications deal with the principal
of whether same sex relationships are of equal value and status
before the law and whether same sex relationships should enjoy the
same benefits that accrue to married persons.
In the De Vos application, the Court also has to decide whether same
sex couples constitute suitable families.
The Equality Project said they believed that same sex relationships
should enjoy the same protection, benefits, status and recognition by
the law as heterosexual marriages. Judge Ackermann on behalf of the
Constitutional Court already held this to be the case in the matter
of the National Coalition for Gay and Lesbian Equality (now the
Equality Project) v The Minister of Home Affairs.
The Equality Project agrees with the Constitutional Court that same
sex partnerships are equivalent in every way to marriages and that
they constitute a consortium omnis vitae - one of the legal tests for
The Equality Project found it regrettable that the government has not
seen fit to amend the laws governing marriage in South Africa to
include lesbian and gay people. This creates the necessity for
challenging laws that discriminate against same sex relationships an
ad hoe basis. It is further reasonable to assume that the Provisions
of the Marriage Act discriminates unfairly to the extent that it
excludes same sex partners from getting married.
This assumption is further amplified by the provisions of the
Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act,
Act 4 of 2000, which prohibits any form of discrimination on the
grounds of sexual orientation.
The Equality Project is also finalising an application against the
Minister of Finance and the Government Employees Pension Fund as the
government pension fund unfairly and unlawfully refuses to make
spousal pensions available to the surviving same sex partners of
deceased state employees.
This right has already been established in private pensions by way of
the decision of the Pension Funds Adjudicator in the matter of Martin
v Beka Provident Fund and the Pension Funds Act of 1999.
The Equality Project believes that the applications brought by the
two Judges are well founded in law. The Equality Project supports
efforts by individuals and groups, at every level in society, that
seek to achieve equality for all South Africans.
The Equality Project calls on the government to immediately engage in
l.. Refrain from opposing court applications brought against the
state that seek to achieve equality for lesbian and gay people.
Opposing such cases is unjust and constitutes a waste of taxpayers'
money. The government has never successfully opposed an application
that sought equably for lesbian and gay people.
2.. Initiate a process that will lead to the abolition of all
legislation and policy that discriminates against lesbian and gay
3.. Instruct the State Law Advisors to ensure that all present and
future legislation is brought in line with the Equality provisions of
E X I T | September, 2001.
"Southern Africa's Gay & Lesbian Newspaper"
Gavin Hayward, Editor
PO Box 28827, Kensington 2101, South Africa
Telephone: + 27-622-2275
Fax: + 27-616-6487
The Pretoria High Court, Mr Viljoen and the prospect of pride.
By Tim Trengove Jones.
Lest we forget, the past weeks have reminded us that bigotries are
alive and well in the heartland. Or, to put it more precisely, that
unsurprisingly for a country
in such a marked state of transition our constitutional commitments
still run ahead of popular sentiment.
In rapid succession the Pretoria High court ruled that certain
sections of the Sexual Offences Act and the Child Care Act were
In the latter case, Judge Anna-Marie de Vos challenged the law
prohibiting two people of the same sex to co-adopt children. Judge de
Vos adopted two children six years ago, but her long-time partner had
no legal status as the children's parent.
Such disqualification seemed so clearly in breach of the constitution
that the state did not oppose the application.
Also in the Pretoria High Court, Judge T T Spoelstra shocked Joe and
citizen by declaring that prostitution was not a common law offence.
Of particular interest to us was that he drew on the sodomy case to
arrive at his finding. Noting that the Constitutional Court had held
that criminalising the act of sodomy between consenting adult males
was a breach of their rights to exercise their sexual orientation and
of their rights to privacy and dignity, the judge went on to find
that sex for the exchange of money could not be a crime: "I do not
find any reference in the judgement suggesting that if a male
consents to sodomy for reward, such conduct falls outside the scope
of the judgement.
This being so it cannot be contended that sexual relations conducted
between a man and a woman in private constitutes criminal conduct
because money changes hands," noted Judge Spoelstra. He therefore
concluded that section 20(1) (a) of Act 23 Of 1957 was inconsistent
with the constitution.
SEXUAL DEVIATES (SIC)
Quite predictably, these two judgements sparked off a spate of
Let's grace the views of one Grahame Viljoen of Meyerton with another
airing. Writing in the letters page of the `Citizen', he fulminated:
"All of a sudden we use the term "unconstitutional" to the benefit of
just about every weirdo in the community." This wise social
commentator then went on to declare that "Starting with the rights of
gangsters, murderers, sexual deviates (sic), Communists, Satanists
and port-watchers, we are now looking at the "constitutional" rights
of prostitutes, the adoption of children by homosexuals and the
protection of child molesters."
Unsurprisingly, Mr Viljoen emerges as a vigorous supporter of the
possession of fire arms, for he concludes: "It's a pity that
constitutional rights are not considered when law-abiding citizens'
homes are raided for legally owned firearms."
Viljoan's rantings were not isolated. Another letter writer wanted to
know "How the High court [could] be so low?" and yet another solid
citizen wanted president Mbeki to "put his foot down to make South
Africa a role model to all other nations by taking a stand against
These outbursts are axiomatic of the struggle over values that
discussions around sexual behaviours always invoke. The fact that
Judge Spoelstra should have referred to the sodomy case is itself
instructive. In a way, it confirms the conservative lobby's "thin end
of the wedge" or "slippery slope" theses of social life. Sodomy is,
of course, "bad." Allow one "bad" thing, and others will follow. The
very precedent the judge called upon, the very invocation of sodomy
as a justification for decriminalising soliciting, must confirm the
worst fears of the cultural and sexual bigots.
So, it is utterly predictable that one letter writer should scream,
"Where does this end?"
One might wish to make light of the fears - and they are fears - of
citizens. But it is alarming to see how those fears issue in
expressions of contempt for human rights and constitutionalism. These
citizens' views even call in question the nature and definition of
democracy: "In this day and age, in this "democracy," it appears as
if anything goes," wailed yet another letter writing disputant.
It is clear from the quotations cited that for many of our fellow
countrymen, sex workers and queers are beneath contempt. That being
so, they should be beyond the protection of the law. If it were not
so predictable and if we, as queers, did not now have the protection
of the law such bigotries might be laughable. As it is, we need to
note once more that we can be classified along with "deviates" (sic),
Satanists and child molesters.
It is perhaps necessary to remind people who express these views that
the constitution that protects us protects them equally. We might
remind them of what Justice Edwin Cameron has said: "The constitution
combines a series of binding promises we as South Africans have made
to one another.
Those promises represent what we aspire to in our dealings with each
other through society's institutions." And, most especially, we might
draw the bigots' attention to the judge's sombre summation: "If we
abandon [these promises], we abandon all hope that a civilised and
mutually respectful society will emerge in our country." Put much
more crudely, we need to tell and to reassure the
Mr Viljoens of our country that their well-being is protected and
enhanced by legal protections that they view as hostile. And that to
deprive others of these protections is to potentially jeopardise
their own status.
To me, this appears to be something of a double whammy.
We who are reviled and verbally abused must reassure the detractors.
In the face of the narrow-minded, we must be assured and self-
contained enough to make the sobre, carefully-weighed counter
We have to embody - in the face of great provocation - some of the
qualities required by a "civilised and mutually respectful society."
Such exemplary behaviour is, perhaps, especially needed in the
awkward debates generated by our transitional moment.
But this exemplary response is challenged by what I feel are more
human - or humanly understandable - reactions: anger and apathy.
None of us is unfamiliar with either of these. Of the two, the voice
of "honest indignation" is perhaps the more appealing, though not
necessarily the most strategic. Apathy itself can be strategic: it
cloaks one in warm forgetfulness.
It is also closely akin to a rationalised stoicism: one cannot argue
the bigots out of their bigotry, one cannot logically contradict
homophobia since it is itself far from logical.
PRIDE: POLITICS OR PLAY?
Which brings one inevitably to the prospect of Pride.
Politics or play? Or both? Or neither? So much time, so much effort,
expense. So little demonstrable outcome.
Sure, brothers and sisters might find each other for a longer or
shorter term. That's guageable. Sure, we might give the clubs'
profits a seasonal push.
That's guageable, if they'd place their books before us. We might get
sunstroke or blisters or a pic in the paper or a brief newsflash on
That's guageable. We'll argue about the route and the "profits" -
already, and is not inconsequential. But it's all so totally
And what of the sum total of the political impact on Mr Viljoen? What
of that? In so far as we can measure it, it will be to note another
letter little short of hate speech.
Round and round we go.
Perhaps one thing not noted about disputes over the route is that we
return to the place from which we started. And such a return is not,
as in the famous lines from T.S. Eliot, marked by our "know(ing) it
for the first time."
Sorry to be such a wet blanket. But I find it intensely sad.
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