Friday, October 16, 2015

EVENTS: Transgender Day Of Remembrance

This TDOR Event will take place at the UU church the same day as the POW fundraiser we posted yesterday. 

There will also be a TDOR March on November 20th, starting at 6PM at the Fresno LGBT Community Center. 

More details to follow...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

EVENT: IDC Ducal Ball This Weekend

Please join the Imperial Dove Court de Fresno Madera Grand Duke 41 Atown and Grand Duchess 41 for life Ivanna B Strange for Ducal Ball - Arabian Nights!

We will be investing our new Grand Duke and Grand Duchess and honoring Atown and Ivanna as they step down from an amazing year.

Location: Clovis Senior Activity Center
Ticket Price: $15 presale, $20 at the door, $10 for kids 12 and under.

Tables will be available for reservation for $200 per table.
Dinner will be served with the purchase of a ticket.

Tickets will be available at the door.

The Imperial Dove Court is a 501(c)3 non profit organization. Proceeds are collected throughout the year and disbursed to other 501(c)3 non profit organizations.

Emperor 41 Robert Lujan and Empress 41 Joanna Jackson will be allocating money raised from the 41 reign to the designated charities.

EVENT: Fundraiser @Engelmann Cellars

Fundraiser for Karyn Jakobs stricken by a very rare form of Thyroid Cancer. Karyn is married to Jim Jakobs and they have 5 young children. This event is to help with their extensive medical bills and to help Karyn win this fight.

EVENT: LGBT Luncheon & Book Signing

In November…. Join legendary author Lillian Faderman & veteran journalist Kerry Eleveld, over an afternoon lunch, as they discuss their brilliant insight in to the fight for LGBT rights.

The afternoon will include lunch, a discussion with Lillian Faderman & Kerry Eleveld about their recently released books and a book signing. Don't miss this chance to hear from renowned observers of our movements progress -- Saturday, November 14 from 11-2pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno.

Get your tickets early, we believe this event WILL SELL OUT! (link below)

This event is being co-organized with the support of Professional Out Women (POW), Trans-E-Motion, Kids Like Us Fresno, Fresno State Rainbow Alumni and Allies Club, United Student Pride -- All proceeds from this event will go to support The Fresno LGBT Center!

You don't want to miss this exciting event…

Tickets: $37 / $17 for students with ID

Get your tickets early, we believe this event WILL SELL OUT! (link below)


EVENT: Bakersfield Pride

This is our 12th year for Bakersfield PRIDE Festival!!! 

A day of family fun, live entertainment, kid zone, food, vendors, raffles, our fabulous drag show, and so much more!!!

$7 in advance - locations and times to be announced
$10 at the gate
**Kids 10 and under are FREE

Food Vendors ~
*Mama Yoli's Tacos*
*On The Scene Cuisine*
*T's lil Espresso*
*Ben & Jerry's*
*California Hot Dog Company*
*Heavenly Treats Fruit Cocktails*
*Strongman Mini Donuts Co*

EVENT: Fresno AIDS Walk THIS Saturday


On October 17 2015, WestCare California, Inc. will be presenting the 4th annual Fresno AIDS Walk in support of The Living Room - Fresno, a project of WestCare California and Fresno's only HIV/AIDS social support center for those that are infected, affected or at risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Thanks to the efforts and generosity of our supporters, sponsors and donors, previous years’ events were a tremendous success and a wonderful tribute to those that we have lost and to those that are currently living with the virus. We hope to make this year's walk even bigger!

The walk will take place at the Park View Shelter at Woodward Park and will also feature a 5K run. Day-of registration will begin at 9am and the run will begin at 11am with the walk beginning shortly after. It is free to register and we urge you to form a team in support of the cause. Please check our official website at for more information and how you can donate, sponsor or register as a walker, runner or volunteer.

Join the #QueerOut team! March with My LGBT Plus and Gay Central Valley. Click on the link to join our team or to financially support the AIDS Walk by donating to us! 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

REVIEW: Freeheld

Freeheld (in theaters now) is based on the story of police officer Laurel Hester’s battle with the Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders to get her pension benefits transferred to her domestic partner, Stacie, after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

The film is set in 2005. One thing you’re aware of right away is how very different our fight for LGBT equality was just 10 years ago. In 2005 only one state had marriage equality (Massachusetts) and dozens of others were writing laws to block the attempt at equality. Domestic partnerships and civil unions were bring written across the country to create some kind of pathway to equality for LGBT couples, but we were a long way away from not only nationwide equality, but also in terms of the acceptance of the American people. 

The acting in Freeheld is top notch. It stars Julianne Moore as Hester and Ellen Page as Stacie. They have a great onscreen chemistry and you’re taken into their story as soon as you see them. Moore plays Hester’s police officer with a reserved caution of a woman who is closeted at a time when it was almost required to be so. Page, on the other hand, playing the very much younger Stacie, wants to be open and out about who she is and struggles to deal with the closet as she gets closer to Moore. 

Eventually Moore’s character agrees to a domestic partnership. It’s an interesting scene to watch from 2015, as the county clerk stumbles to find the right forms for the couple to fill out. But even the domestic partnership doesn’t bring Moore’s character into the light. They buy a house together and continue to bump into each other’s political correctness. Then Moore’s character discovers she has terminal cancer.

Faced with little time to evolve, Moore’s character starts both chemo and the fight for equal treatment. She doesn’t want to be a voice for the community, she only wants Stacie to get her benefits, something not provided to domestic partners where she lives. As she opens up and spars with the council members of her county, word gets out and the big guns of organized power come to her aid.

The first half of the movie is slow. In fact, it feels a bit unfinished. The tone is quiet and there’s not enough action in the police sub plot to create involvement on the part of the audience, something desperately needed. It isn’t until Steve Carell’s character comes into play, more than halfway through the film, as the passionate activist to right the wrongs, that the film comes to life with any humor and action, a direct contrast to the quickly failing health of Moore’s character. 

The second half is dedicated to the fight for equality, the right for Moore’s character to pass along her benefits to her partner.

I would have liked some backstory about Moore’s character, to define her life in the closet, as well as with Page’s character, to understand how she was so open at a time when it was often unsafe to do so. And as I said before, the first half of the film desperately needs a facelift, in tone and spirit. Moore’s acting is superb as always, but her character is so reserved that when placed against a quiet and soft focused background, it was hard to feel engaged, particularly when the beginning plays against a dangerous police sub plot that should at least be thrilling to watch. One scene where Moore’s character goes after someone in a moving car and is dragged a few feet looks like a training short on how not to do a stunt in a movie.

Another glaring fault is a scene late in the film that is a victory for Moore’s character but unfortunately feels completely out of place, as if it was shot to appear much earlier in the film (for reasons you’ll see when you watch it) and then was edited in later as an afterthought. 

Michael Shannon plays Moore’s police partner in the film and is integral from start to finish. I liked his character but others have complained that the story was told too much through the eyes of the straight friend. I disagree, and find the point of the character, to bridge a gap between worlds as an ally, illustrates how valuable our allies have been to us getting the equality we deserve.

Freeheld is worth the viewing, despite the confusing tonal faults of the film. I remember when the actual story broke into the news ten years ago and galvanized millions as the lesbian couple fought for their rights at a time when everything seemed stacked against us. It’s so important that while we bask in the glow of the giant wave of equality that is sweeping the nation this year, that we remember that only ten years ago, things were very different. It’s important that we see how other battles were fought and won, because the battle for equality is indeed, far from over.

The film is based on the documentary of the same name.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

My Look At Stonewall

Written by Chris Jarvis

First there was excitement and anticipation.

There was a big screen adaptation coming to theaters called STONEWALL. This seminal moment in LGBT history was finally going to get the major, big screen treatment it deserved. This wasn’t a small independent film. This was from director Roland Emmerich, responsible for summer blockbusters like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and Stargate. Despite the obvious tonal difference, it was a major director helming a major motion picture about the moment in 1969 that is commonly referred to as the starting point of the modern gay rights movement. It was incredible news.

Then the trailer came out.

It was just a two minute trailer, but animosity immediately burst forth on the internet. A young, handsome white boy at the center of the story of Stonewall? We know that the majority of the people who frequented the bar on Christopher street where it all started were people of color, drag queens and transvestites. So why did the story apparently center around a white boy? It didn’t help that in the trailer the main character appeared to throw the first brick that incited the crowd to riot on that historic night. Apparently the director had whitewashed LGBT history, and the outrage blew up. Explanations from the director, writer and actors only fueled the fire, and a loud and constant community group of voices urged and even demanded a boycott.

I immediately started asking questions. Could we at least see the movie before we roast it? Trailers are the product of studios, rarely from the director, and are often not representative of the film. I have a real opposition to mob mentality, which is how I was perceiving it, and I have a major objection to denouncing anything that's unseen.

I remembered the same thing happening, not long ago, with the film The Imitation Game, which was about Alan Turing. People were outraged, before the film came out, and claimed that his homosexuality was written out of the film. I debated the same when that happened, asking people if we could see the film before we judged it based on a few words on the internet. No luck. People had decided the film was deserving of a boycott. I didn’t see the film until the DVD came out, but it was a beautiful film that dealt intelligently with Turing’s sexual orientation, his struggle, society’s prejudice and his eventual suicide. His homosexuality was all through the movie. It was recognized by the Academy. It's a film I think everyone should see.

Still, after many debates over Stonewall, I stopped taking people on and instead sat back and waited, hoping the film didn’t do what people were saying.

Then the reviews came out.

With very few exceptions, the reviews ravaged the film. Many were the most negative reviews I’ve ever read. Not only about the apparent whitewashing everyone had been predicting, but vicious in terms of acting and writing. I actually only read one positive review. I
t appeared the outrage was on target.

Then a friend asked if I wanted to go. I knew the film was only going to be available in Fresno for a week, and regardless of the overwhelming evidence I hate to take a stand on something I haven’t seen. So we went.

Here’s the irony. The movie isn’t about Stonewall.

The marketing team is an abysmal failure for the way this film was portrayed. It’s so not about Stonewall that the most glaring mistake is that the film is named Stonewall. I’m not sure why it is, whether it’s the name and historic recognition or not, but it's a massive failure on the part of the director, the studio, the writer, anyone who was involved in the decision to name this movie after a critically important moment in LGBT history. Of course I couldn’t have read every reaction to the film, either before or after, but I never saw anyone point out the fact that the Stonewall riots are in fact just one of the backgrounds of the film, and it’s not what this movie is about. Even the poster, with large words, WHERE PRIDE BEGAN, is very misleading. This movie isn’t about that.

People were furious that any director would change our history, and recast the real life characters in a more “acceptable” way to the general public. Ironically, if this film had been named just about anything other than Stonewall, I don’t think most of this outrage would have happened. This film is about a character and his struggle. He just happens to be in New York at the time of the riots.

It’s kind of like saying that Forrest Gump is about the Vietnam War.

Briefly, the movie is about Danny, a Midwestern white, gay teen who is thrown out of his family home after being caught with the football star in a car in the dark of night, doing you know what. The boy moves to New York because he senses safety in the big city. He doesn’t find much of it, but he does find a community of LGBT people. Most of the people he encounters are people of color, as well as drag queens and transvestites who sell their bodies in order to survive, which he does as well. He also meets the few people at the time who are beginning to fight for gay rights. The Stonewall Riots are in the film, but it’s brief. In fact, as soon as the first night of fighting is over, that story point is over and the boy leaves the city. This is Danny’s story. The riots are maybe ten or fifteen minutes of the film.

The second grave mistake by the filmmakers, after the name of the film, is that Danny, the main, white character, throws the first brick that incite the riots. Although there is no definitive truth to who was the first to throw what that night (stories differ even among those still alive that were there), it was a major misjudgment to put the first stone into the hands of a beautiful, white Midwestern boy who was simply visiting the city. The real heroes of that night were the young people of color, the drag queens and the trans community. I can see why the writer did it, because it’s an important shift for the main character, a turning point for him, but that could have been accomplished in any number of other ways (it's called writing, people) without him being the apparent spark to the fire. 

It was a really bad move.

Clearly, the ravages by the community and the critics have accomplished what they wanted. The film is a massive failure financially. I think that’s unfortunate, mostly for young people who don’t know anything about the riots. This movie, while schmaltzy in places, is not a bad film. I think it would have opened a lot of eyes as to how bad it was for gay people in the late 1960’s, when it was illegal to be gay, when films were shown in high school about the “homosexual pedophiles” lurking in parks and driving by, and the cops could beat you up just for looking at them wrong, with no one to defend you. This was before any gay rights, when we were literally labeled as mentally ill. Young people need to know what it was like, and most of the young people we talk to during history lessons through Gay Central Valley have no idea what the Stonewall Riots were. Movies like this would have provided a very accessible way to get them to at least start thinking about it.

Some of the critics have blasted the main character for certain reactions and choices. My memory is very clear of that time in history and I believed almost every bit of it. His character makes choices based on the innocence of the times. No one even talked about the LGBT community back then. There was nothing to go on. It was uncharted territory.

I don’t condone whitewashing, or rewriting history to suit the filmmaker. But this is a movie, not a documentary, and a big budget movie as well. It’s not an independent film. We can find historical inaccuracies in any number of mainstream movies. I think the problem with this one was naming it something that means a lot to a lot of people, when in fact the movie was never about that to begin with.

The end credits include photos of the real life people who were characters in the film, such as Marsha P Johnson, and provides their history after Stonewall. I wondered, though, if it was tacked on after the outrage in order to try to appease people. It felt false, and would have been appropriate if the movie had followed the stories of those involved that night, the history of the events, but again, that’s not what this movie went after.

Hopefully someone will make a big budget film specifically about the Stonewall Riots and the next couple of years when the gay rights movement came to life and started us on the path to equality. That would make an amazing and important film in the right hands. Oscar material.

But that’s not what this film is about.