Wednesday, August 27, 2014

UPDATE: HIV Testing at the Fresno LGBT Community Center

EQCA "Panic Defense" Bill

CONTACT: Steve Roth, Equality California
PHONE: 323-936-1831 EMAIL:

Equality California Celebrates 100 Pieces of LGBT Rights Legislation with Passage of the "Panic Defense" Bill

(Sacramento) Equality California, the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy organization in California, celebrated its 100th piece of passed legislation today when the California Assembly — by a preliminary bipartisan vote of 50-10 — approved AB 2501, which would prohibit the use of the “panic defense” to support a finding of sudden quarrel or heat of passion, which is necessary to reduce a charge of murder to manslaughter. This bill, the first of its kind in the nation, now moves on to Governor Jerry Brown's desk. 

For more than a decade, EQCA has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more legislation improving the lives of LGBT people than any other statewide LGBT organization, strategically moving California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. 

“This milestone is not significant for quantity alone but for the real, life-changing impact of these laws," said Rick Zbur, executive director-elect of EQCA. "Because of the work of Equality California in the legislature, California students will learn about the role and contributions of LGBT people in history; people around the world know about the story and example of Harvey Milk; and LGBT youth won’t be subjected to the psychological abuse that is conversion therapy.” 

“LGBT seniors who have lost a partner will be secure in their homes and not vulnerable to unfair tax increases; California employers must provide health insurance for same-sex spouses and domestic partners; and transgender people need not fear that they won’t be able to secure a job or a place to live simply because of their gender identity," he added.
For its milestone 100th piece of legislation, EQCA partnered with Assemblymember Susan Bonilla to end the “panic defense,” a disturbing legal tactic that has been used in various cases in California and nationwide, whereby criminal defendants claim that they have been the object of romantic advances by a person of the same sex or a transgender person that they found so offensive and frightening as to induce a violent reaction against the victim. 

"This defense legitimizes prejudice and hate, and it should play absolutely no part in California's justice system," said Zbur. "This bill helps eliminate anti-LGBT bias as a 'reasonable' basis to ease the punishment for violent crimes against LGBT people."
“There is absolutely no justification for the use of ‘panic defenses.’ Clearly this tactic has been utilized by defendants, unjustly targeting members of the LGBT community, based on damaging stereotypes,” said Assemblywoman Susan A. Bonilla. “With AB 2501, we are moving forward to ensure equality in our courts and making it very clear that discrimination against the LGBT community is intolerable and unacceptable.” 

There is a complete lack of scientific research to support the “panic defense,” and the American Bar Association last year adopted a resolution urging “federal, tribal, state, local and territorial governments to take legislative action to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the ‘gay panic’ and ‘trans panic’ defenses.” 

“This panic defense bill and the other 99 pieces of legislation before it have brought us a long way in improving the lives of LGBT people in California,” said Zbur. “As we look ahead, Equality California is evolving to meet the needs of California’s LGBT community. We will utilize Equality California’s enormous mobilization and communications capacity to educate the public and to fight discrimination wherever it exists. And we will use our public policy and legislative expertise to advocate for programs at all levels of government that address the needs of the LGBT community and combat historic and existing discrimination. This is the work ahead of us.” 

Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. For more than a decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor 100 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

LGBT Dance Workshop Coming To Fresno

Warm greetings!

This is Sean Dorsey writing – I am a transgender/queer teacher, choreographer and dancer based in San Francisco. I am writing because I am coming to Fresno to teach a FREE LGBTQ-friendly dance workshop this October 25 & 26. I'm writing to ask you to join us, and to help put the word out to your community.

I am a transgender and queer choreographer, and my dance company Sean Dorsey Dance teaches and tours across the US. Right now, we are touring our show The Secret History Of Love and teaching workshops in 20 cities across the US. My work deals with LGBT experience.

I am the Artistic Director of Fresh Meat Productions (the nation's first nonprofit to create, present and tour year-round transgender arts programs including the popular annual national Fresh Meat Festival of transgender and queer performance).

Part of our work is coming to communities that don’t get a lot of access to LGBTQ arts – so we are coming to Fresno!

Sean Dorsey Dance is coming to Riverside October 25 & 26 to teach a FREE workshop for LGBTQ and LGBTQ-friendly people (especially youth up to age 25, but all ages welcome!): "DANCE YOUR STORY! A free dance and self-expression workshop for LGBTQ people and allies" (working title):

This workshop will be Saturday & Sunday afternoon – and will include:
-  an introductory all-levels (terrified beginners especially welcome) dance class
- creation exercises that will give participants the tools and the opportunity to create their own short pieces that express their story or experience – using movement, dance, storytelling, theater, poetry and more
- performing/sharing these very short pieces with invited audience
- free food and snacks to mingle and celebrate!

This is powerful work and we'd love to connect with you! I am looking for “Community Partners” as I put on this workshop … Community Partners DON’T have to contribute ANY money to this workshop, but will just help us spread the word a bit. This means putting up a poster or flyer, or sending an email out, and sharing the event on Facebook/Twitter. And as a Community Partner, your organization’s name will be on the event. Please join us: we need YOUR help to reach local LGBTQ- and friendly people to come to the workshop! 
Let me know if you’d like to be a part of this or talk more: reach us at

Looking forward to seeing you in FRESNO!
Sean Dorsey

- "The Secret History Of Love" -- a show about the underground ways that LGBT people managed to survive and find love in decades past. I created this show by traveling across the US and recording oral history interviews with LGBT elders - these elders' voices are part of the score.


Sean Dorsey
Artistic Director

Sean Dorsey Dance
"San Francisco's Best Dance Company" -- SF Weekly

Sean Dorsey Dance on Facebook
Twitter: @SeanDorseyDance  #AIDSMissingGeneration   #SecretHistoryLove

Saturday, August 23, 2014

EVENT: MoFest! Eight in Modesto

PFLAG Modesto’s LGBTQ film festival MoFest!8 returns Sept. 26
MODESTO, Calif. - Aug. 22, 2014 - PFLAG Modesto announces the eighth installment of MoFest!, its film festival celebrating Stanislaus County’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. The event will be held on Friday, Sept. 26, 2014 at the Gallo Center for the Arts at 7:30 pm.
The MoFest!8 program comprises 10 short films with a total running time of approximately 100 minutes. Many of the films in this year’s festival focus on young people - their struggles, their joys, their fears and victories.
This year’s MoFest! features the latest film from Alex Bohs, who won the jury prize at MoFest!7 for “Finding Franklin,” and two entries from talented Texas filmmaker Evan Roberts. As in the past MoFest!8 is an international film festival, with entries from the Netherlands, Australia and Canada joining U.S. productions.
“The tremendous response to last year’s festival, even after a three-year hiatus, made MoFest!8 a for-sure,” said Bill Dotinga, PFLAG Modesto’s board president. “It’s a great way to entertain while educating, advocating and inspiring. We’re fortunate to bring this unique cultural event to Modesto, and we know the entire community is better for having the MoFest! film festival.”
Since 1993, PFLAG Modesto has provided support, advocacy and love to LGBTQ people, as well as their friends and families. As a registered 501(c)(3) non profit organization, its mission is to help LGBTQ people cope with an adverse society, to enlighten an ill-informed public and to end discrimination and secure civil rights.
For the complete list of films selected for MoFest!8, visit
Bill Dotinga, PFLAG Modesto Board President

Monday, August 11, 2014

EVENT: Lights 2 - A Fundraiser for Gay Central Valley

EVENT: Reel Pride Kickoff Party This Wednesday!

MEETING: Fresno Stonewall Democrats

Fresno Stonewall Democrats regular monthly meeting will be this Wednesday, August 13th at Carrow’s Restaurant, 4280 N. Blackstone Ave., Fresno (on the east side a short distance north of Ashlan Ave.).
The Social hour begins at 6 p.m. and the meeting calls to order at 7 p.m. Meetings are open to the public.
The previously announced endorsement meeting has been postponed until the Wednesday, September 10th meeting to allow time to send out and receive candidate questionnaires. Stonewall only endorses candidates who are registered Democrats (even for non-partisan offices). In addition to candidates, FSD will be making endorsements for the ballot measures.
Any member who is present at the endorsement meeting and is current in their FSD dues ($20 per year) may vote. Associate members may not vote. Voting is by secret ballot. Endorsement requires 60% of those present and voting. Voting by proxy or by mail is not allowed.
Contact the club president, Chuck Krugman, for more information:

Friday, August 8, 2014

EVENT: Art For AIDS Walk

EVENT: AIDS Walk Fundraiser

EVENT: Respecticon in Merced

EVENT: Orange Is The New She Bar

EVENT: IDC Toga Party

Two Equality Foes Lose Political Power

Courtesy Knox News 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Republican Sen. Stacey Campfield, a controversial lawmaker who often drew the ire of his own GOP colleagues, lost his seat to a Knoxville cardiac surgeon in Thursday's election primary.

With all precincts reporting, Richard Briggs had 13,977 votes, or 66 percent, compared with Campfield's 5,824 votes, or 28 percent.

The primary was expected to be tough for Campfield, a highly visible lawmaker who often drew attention and sometimes ridicule for his polarizing comments, as well as sponsoring contentious bills on social issues.

They included one ridiculed as the "Don't Say Gay" bill and another that would cut welfare benefits to parents whose children aren't doing well in school.

Read the full story HERE


Courtesy The Tenneseean

Victoria Jackson, the former “Saturday Night Live” cast member who has made a name for herself as an active tea party participant, conservative activist and outspoken opponent of President Barack Obama, has lost her bid to win a spot on the Williamson County Commission.

Jackson received 632 votes, losing out to Judy Lynch Herbert, with 1,422 votes, and Betsy Hester, with 1,380 votes. There were also nine write-in votes. The County Commission has 12 districts with two commissioners in each district.

Read the full story HERE


Florida Church Cancels Gay Funeral

Thursday, August 7, 2014

RULING: Gay Bar Violated Law

Courtesy The Advocate

Colorado authorities ruled on Monday that a Denver gay bar illegally discriminated against a man who was denied entrance last year becuse he was dressed in drag.

Last August, 27-year-old Vito Marzano was prevented from entering the Denver Wrangler, a venue widely known as a leather and bear bar situated in the city's popular "gayborhood," after attending a fundraiser earlier in the night in drag. According to the bar's manager, Marzano was denied entry because they were unable to use photo identification to verify that he was the person he said he was or that he is of legal drinking age.

The Department of Regulatory Agencies ruled in favor of Marzano, ordering the bar to enter mediation with him. "At face value, the [bar's] policies appear legitimate and nondiscriminatory," Steven Chavez, director of the Civil Rights Division, wrote in the ruling, obtained by The Denver Post. "However, the evidence indicates that the [bar] uses its policies to select patrons whose appearance is masculine, whether or not they are male or female, for entry into its club."

Read the whole story HERE

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

EXCLUSIVE: My Interview With Bianca Del Rio

Over the years, I’ve interviewed a lot of people. I remember one in particular (although I won’t name names) where the answers were pretty much “yes” and “no”. That’s death for an interview. I always hope for someone on the other end who likes to talk and wants to have a conversation. Bianca del Rio is one of those people.

Bianca cut to the chase with every question I asked and gave me an honest response. Let me say this, despite the criticism that the RuPaul contestants get from time to time, they tend to be more honest than most. Comedians, which is a group Bianca belongs to, are the most honest when I talk to them. Not only do they appreciate the fabric of humanity, but they live to make fun of it and at the same time call out those who, in this day and age, condemn them for being “mean”.

What is mean? What is humor? How far should it go? In my opinion humor shouldn’t be bound by what some deem as offensive. Good humor, which Bianca excels at, doesn’t follow the rules of a PC society. 

Bianca del Rio is the winner of the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She will be appearing in Fresno LIVE at the North Tower Circle on Thursday August 28th (details at the end of this article).


As you travel around the country, what do you see in the LGBT community? What is the climate like?


The kids are what’s quite shocking to me. I think it’s amazing to listen to 13 year olds or 15 year olds saying things like “My mom and I watch the show”. Because when I started out, there wasn’t anything like it on TV. Of course, with social media now, you have the opportunity to speak with them and to reach out to them. Having a show in everyone’s living room for that amount of time is pretty amazing. Kudos to the show for making us human, especially this season, in a room full of catty bitches. It shows that you can be a successful gay man who happens to do drag who is not a monster. By leaps and bounds, it’s by far different than when I was a kid.


So how was it when you were a kid?


It was different. On occasion I would see Jimmy James or Coco Peru or Lypsinka on Joan Rivers’ talk show. But I think she was the only one who showed them in a positive light. RuPaul, of course, had the VH1 talk show, but that was really about it. Everything else was either Jerry Springer or those shows where it was poking or making fun of drag queens. I always tell people that back in the day you had to go to a bar or a cabaret room to find a drag performer. Now it’s great because it’s celebrated on such a mainstream level. It was a different world. It wasn’t even looked at as entertainment, I felt. And I had some amazingly talented gay friends who said, “Queen, you need to know who Charles Pierce is”, “Queen, you need to watch ALL ABOUT EVE”. And all those things helped me because it’s the old school way of doing things and they don’t do that so much anymore, which is kind of sad.


How do you feel about the recent controversy involving the word police?


I come at it from comedy. I’m a man in a wig, so for me, I don’t take things personally. Even at Drag Race, you have to take everyone’s opinion with a grain of salt. You know, it’s kind of fascinating, the amount of people that have an opinion on everything. I don’t think people’s opinions now are stronger, I just think we hear more of them. People can hide behind a keyboard, or form a group, they can have a blog and call themselves a writer, anything is possible. Very rarely are these people going to have this conversation with you in your face, which is where the conversation should happen. In 144 characters or less, you really can’t defend yourself. It can be very difficult. People are just a little too fucking sensitive and there are bigger things to worry about than what a drag queen is saying in a bar in the middle of the night.



How does this translate in your shows? You do a lot of scathing comedy, which I personally love, but I hear a lot of blowback. Even locally, I’ve listened to people say how the drag queens are “just being mean”.


It’s called mean if you’re an idiot. If you’re smart, then you understand it. Consider the source. That’s what people don’t realize. Let’s break it down. If I go to a city and I lip synch to Beyonce, we accept the fact that that queen is not really Beyonce and she’s not really singing. It’s a show, it’s entertainment. How is that different or why do we accept it more than a queen who is making jokes in the same bar? People lose sight of what’s going on. And when they say things like “you’re a role model”…I’m a man in a wig who makes a living making jokes. That’s what I do. It’s not a selective thing. It’s either your cup of tea or it’s not. Back in the day, when you didn’t like something, you walked away. Now it’s uproar, you’re upsetting the community, etc. The funny thing is that the people I know get it. The people that I’ve been around, understand what it is. It’s fascinating that the people that have never been there or who have nothing to do with it, have the most to say about it.


You know, I interviewed Lisa Lampanelli last year…


Who I love


I asked her the same question. I said, how does your humor translate to middle America, or to the South? I asked her how she deals with this when she goes somewhere conservative and she said they love it even more.


I think in a room of 200 people that you can have a handful that don’t like it, and that’s fine. This is my observation, from my perspective. I’m not standing on the steps of the White House. I don’t have a cult. I don’t have a book. It’s just my opinion, in a bar, in the middle of the night. I think people forget that. I think it’s sad. For as far as we’ve come, mentally, a lot of people haven’t grasped it yet.


I think we’re losing our sense of humor


I think there are people who are advocates, who are trailblazers. There are people who are doing amazing things for the gay community. I think they should be applauded, I’m all for everyone getting gay rights. I’m all for everyone having equal rights and marriage. But I’m an entertainer doing a show. I’m doing comedy. It’s not the end of the world.


What about James Franco and you at Broadway Bares? Did you get to talk to him or just rip his pants off?


Broadway Bares is something I’ve supported for many years and I was very excited that this year they asked me to be a part of it. And as you know it’s very talented Broadway performers getting naked and I was like, hell no, I’m not getting naked. They said, no, we want you to do a scene with James Franco, and I said is he cool with it, because you never know. They said, no, it’s totally cool. Then I got the script the day of and it said that I would rip his pants off. So we had rehearsal maybe an hour before and he couldn’t have been nicer. He was a doll. His handlers were annoying, but they were fags so go figure. A couple of jokes didn’t work at the first show but I was able to change them and it went much better. And his ass was quite nice, of course.



Well listen, you’ve been traveling all over the world so you must be exhausted. What’s the weirdest situation you’ve run into?


First of all, I never say I’m exhausted or tired. I’m grateful. I’ve been that person who has not had gigs so I’m well aware that this is a good ride right now. And I’m not going around the world curing cancer, I’m doing a fucking drag show. I can sleep when I’m dead. I’m not flying the plane, I’m not running the hotel, so it’s pretty nice, I must say. The strangest thing was when I was traveling to Wisconsin and they lost my luggage. The people were amazing and the show was great but the situation was not cute. We got in at 6pm and no luggage so it was supposed to be on a later flight. 8:30, quarter to nine, still no luggage. So I end up at Walmart at 9pm to get everything I need to get into drag for a show at 10pm. So it truly was a drag race challenge! I had nothing, no underwear, no panty hose, no lashes, nothing. You’ve seen my face. It’s not like you just do it with a couple of pieces of real girl makeup. I eventually had to venture over to the school supply aisle. Luckily everyone was very kind. I was able to turn a scarf into a turban and what else I could find into a fashionable ensemble. The girls there were beyond helpful and the staff was amazing. You know I always say “What’s a drag queen without her luggage?…a man!” 


So which celebrity would you really like to read?


Oh my God, there’s so many. The people I want to read aren’t even real celebrities. Anyone in the Kardashian family. Tori Spelling, oh, that douche. And 90 percent of the people on Bravo.


I’ve got a couple of questions from people here in the community. Chad Rudd wants to know how influential Lady Bunny was to you. 


She’s amazing. I met her when I was 20 years old, in New Orleans. I was doing drag and hosting a show, and I was doing Cher in the show as well. And she came to me after the show and she said, you know other people are going to do Cher, and they’re going to do Cher better and they’re going to live their lives doing Cher because that’s what they do. She said you’re really funny and you need to find your niche and your look and your gimmick and you’ll be very successful. Years later I’m in New York and we’re working together and I decided to re-live this story with her and she said (Bianca does a spot on Bunny impersonation) “Girl, I told you to run into traffic and die!”. But she’s been a big influence on me because she’s got her shit together. She’s got a really sick sense of humor and I’ve always loved people that make me laugh, and she’s one of them.


Another question from the community here is from ATown. How do you feel Drag Kings on RuPaul would work out. Has that ever been discussed?


You know, the people who do the show are very smart and I don’t think they get enough credit. The show is done by World Of Wonder and LOGO broadcasts the show. LOGO is amazing, obviously, and they carry the show but it’s World Of Wonder and they’re genius. They’re always trying to do things to change it up. I didn’t think they would have four of over the age of 35 and they just did that. So I think there are no rules. Why not? Drag Kings are part of our culture and I’ve been to many shows with them and performed with many of them.


And Gilberto Torentela wants to know…if you could say anything to the Westboro Baptist Church what would it be?


Oh God, why give them any more ammunition? The thing that I’ve realized with anyone who is that full of hate, or other people who annoy me, people who are assholes…all I have to do is realize in my heart that they’re going to die. That’s the payback. They will die. Let it run its course. They’re going to die miserable people. I’m from New Orleans and I’ve seen many of them at Mardi Gras and Decadence. And I always question a large group of men that show up at a gay event to hang around one another and yell at another group of people. How often, when they’ve been yelling out “you’re a fag” and “you’re going to hell” has that fag turned around, dropped his drink, dropped his boa and said “You’re right, I’ll follow you”. It doesn’t happen. So they’re obviously there for other reasons.


So what’s the status of the film you’re working on, “Hurricane Bianca”?


We just finished our second campaign for it and we’re planning to shoot next summer. With independent films once you get the money then you can get the cast and the schedule, so it’s been a slow process, only because in the middle of all of it I went to do Drag Race, which of course helped immensely. We had several people who very generously donated and we raised over a hundred thousand dollars. 


You can see Bianca del Rio LIVE in her only Fresno performance, at the North Tower Circle on Thursday, August 28th. Tickets are available online as well as at the door. VIP tables are sold out. The show, hosted by locals Leilani Price and Sondra St James, will also include exclusive local performances and a Meet & Greet afterwards with Bianca del Rio. Professional photographers will be at the event for pictures. Bottle service is also available by contacting the North Tower Circle at 559-325-4429