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The curse of the Southern governor

Orval Faubus sought to block integration of Little Rock’s Central High School



Orval Faubus, gay news, Washington Blade

Orval Faubus speaks to a crowd protesting the integration of Little Rock schools.

When I was a kid back in Arkansas, I used to prank call Orval Faubus. Yes, that Orval Faubus. The same race-baiting southern governor that blocked nine black students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School in 1957. You’ve seen the pictures.

I know what you’re thinking, ‘Brock, just how old are you?” Well, let’s do the math. I was eight or nine at the time. Orval Faubus was long retired—a poor, broken down old man not living that far from us in a strange looking sort of gingerbread-type house with a bald front lawn in our small town just outside of Little Rock. He was also our bank teller for a brief while. I was eight, he was approaching 80. So.

And may be also thinking, ‘Brock, do you feel bad for prank calling an octogenarian ex-governor of your state?’ No, not really. Again, I was an eight year old; and it wasn’t exactly the heyday of my creative prowess. I would mainly let the phone ring, he’d answer, I’d say something stupid like, “is the governah there…” giggle and then hang up.

Lately, there’s been quite a lot of talk about Faubus and his contemporaries, such as unsavory characters like George Wallace and Lester Maddox. Given recent developments in places like Mississippi, North Carolina, and now Tennessee, and the signing of these red-herring religious freedom laws and these idiotic “bathroom bills” as they have come to be known, these comparisons to the southern boogeymen of our history books are quite appropriate.

William Faulkner said when it comes to the American South, the past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past. We are essentially reminded of it everyday, like as a child when Faubus was first pointed out to me counting pennies at a drive-thru bank window. Faubus was once a good man in many ways—a southern progressive, a New Dealer. It wasn’t until later that he sought to retain power by appealing to the lowest common denominator in the state, much like McCrory and Mississippi’s Phil Bryant are doing now. Whatever good these men did while in office in many ways won’t amount to much when it comes to how they play out in history not to mention how they’ll appear in the minds of their neighbors.

The South can be unkind in that way, and history can a bit of an unforgiving bitch as well. And while watching these sorts of laws get enacted across the South may be depressing and disheartening, take comfort in the fact that we will win in the long run. Why are we seeing these sort of laws now? These legislative temper tantrums thrown in places like Mississippi and North Carolina are just straight white males realizing that very soon, they will no longer be in charge. And these recent attempts are more or less just the revenge of evangelicals having to swallow the gay marriage pill last summer. Sooner or later the men that championed them will be an afterthought. Like an old Orval Faubus as he appeared to a small boy—broke, broken, and a shell of man. Sad to see in many ways.

I just hope there’s a little pre-gay kid our there willing to prank call an aged Pat McCrory.

And hopefully that kid will be more creative.

Pat McCrory, gay news, Washington Blade

Gov. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) (Photo by James Willamor; courtesy Flickr)

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  1. LesbianTippingHabits

    April 13, 2016 at 8:57 pm

    Don’t forget to tip generously for good service. Thank you.

    • lnm3921

      April 15, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      WTF does that have to do with anything in this article?

  2. rednekokie

    April 14, 2016 at 11:42 am

    It is sad, really, but when one realizes none of these southern politicians can get elected without catering to the lowest common denominator (translate: totally uneducated poor people) then maybe it can be understood better. That doesn’t make it right, and only prolongs the sadness of under educating the populace.
    In the 80 years since my birth, I have yet to see any improvement in the education and enlightenment of the people in the south. Most of this is because most of the people who occupy the pulpits want to keep it exactly this way.
    Sounds like I’m painting with a broad brush — yep, I am — and it is accurate.
    The smart ones either get out of here and live happy lives elsewhere, or stay here and prey upon the unsuspecting.

  3. Jay Phelps

    April 14, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    Excellent piece, Brock.

  4. ginger slapp

    May 15, 2016 at 8:41 am

    McCrory is a transplant (“carpetbagger”?) from Ohio. NC will gladly give him back to y’all in November.

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The future of lesbian bars

Resolve to support our queer spaces in 2022



lockdown zone, gay news, Washington Blade

This New Year, I hope you wish for more lesbian bars across the country. The story of lesbian bars in the U.S. has been slightly tragic of late: as of January 2021, there were only 15 clubs or bars dedicated to queer women across the country. 

That’s right—only 15. Across all 50 states. 

In Washington, D.C., my hometown, A League of Her Own stands out as the only lesbian bar in the city, dedicated to queer women. Located in Adams Morgan, A League of Her Own, also known as ALOHO, is a small mecca for queer ladies to pass through, socialize, and flirt. ALOHO is a chic gathering point for all queer folk, with posters of softball players dotting the walls and gender neutral signs lying about. 

Several years ago, another lesbian bar called Phase 1 existed in Southeast, where queer women could slam eight balls in pool games and engage in raunchy yet ever-so-hot jello wrestling competitions. 

Unfortunately, Phase 1 shut its doors in 2016. 

So what explains the closure of so many lesbian bars, while bars for gay men continue to flourish? Perhaps many queer women view gay bars as a space for their own as well, whereas gay men view lesbian bars as less of a place for them to socialize. 

Either way, we need to give support to lesbian bars now more than ever. Tokens of support can take many forms. 

For one, make sure to socialize in spaces dedicated to queer ladies. There are three lesbian bars in New York City: Cubbyhole (281 W. 12th St.), Gingers in Brooklyn (363 5th Ave.), and Henrietta Hudson (438 Hudson St.). Next time you visit the Big Apple, make sure to give these three spots some love. Maybe drag your experimenting bi friend to these locations. Or your pansexual roommate. 

Back in D.C., you can buy unisex shirts in A League of Her Own’s merchandise store, available online. 

Proceeds will go toward funding the bar, and making sure it stays afloat, especially during this COVID economy. 

Most of all, I hope you encourage your queer lady friends to keep on frequenting queer lady destinations. After all, there is only one thing that will keep lesbian bars afloat—and that is attendance. 

I, for one, will be frequenting many lesbian destinations this new year.  

Isaac Amend is a Yale graduate and participated in National Geographic’s ‘Gender Revolution’ documentary. He also is a member of the LGBT Democrats of Virginia, and contributes regularly to the Blade. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @isaacamend.

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Breaking barriers as an out trans ‘Jeopardy’ champion

Amy Schneider’s run inspires us all



Amy Schneider (Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Television)

“When was the last time anybody said ‘wow!’” a friend asked me.

I couldn’t remember the last time anyone I know (including me) had any “Wow!” moments. Until I heard about trans woman and software engineering manager Amy Schneider’s 29-game winning streak on “Jeopardy.”

You wouldn’t think anything could dispel our COVID exhaustion and political divisiveness. Yet, news about a champion on “Jeopardy,” a quiz show that has been on TV since 1964, has broken through our gloom.

In our culture, there are few things that everyone loves. But, “Jeopardy” is beloved by many, from theater geeks to 80-year-old sports nuts. A progressive friend was over the moon when his brother was a “Jeopardy” contestant. A buddy, a hetero (non-Trump) Republican, is a “Jeopardy” fanatic and a gay librarian pal is a “Jeopardy” freak.

Many of us daydream about being on “Jeopardy.” But we know that we wouldn’t have a chance on this legendary quiz show with its deceptively simple format: You give the answer to the (often incredibly hard) clues in the form of a question. You have to have a strategic military commander’s and a world-class athlete’s coordination: so you can press the buzzer to answer the clue.

The game’s categories run the gamut from opera to mountain ranges. Most of us, mere mortals, would be lucky to know even one category in the first round of the game. Let alone in the “Double Jeopardy” round or the “Final Jeopardy” clue. I might jump on clues about Katharine Hepburn movies or M&Ms. But that would be it for me.

It’s exciting to watch a “Jeopardy” contestant become a long-running champion. You marvel at the player’s intelligence, endurance, and nerve. It’s thrilling when the contestant on a winning-streak is part of your community.

Many of us LGBTQ “Jeopardy” fans are thrilled by Schneider’s record-setting winning streak. As I write this, Schneider has won more than $1 million in 29 games of “Jeopardy.” She is the fifth millionaire in “Jeopardy” history, and only the fourth player to reach this milestone in the regular season. She has won more than any other female “Jeopardy” contestant.

Schneider, like so many of us, doesn’t want to be defined by her gender identity or sexuality. Schneider’s life is multi-faceted; she has many interests. Schneider lives with her girlfriend Genevieve. They have a cat named Meep.

Yet, Schneider doesn’t want to hide that she’s trans. On “Jeopardy,” Schneider brilliantly dealt with this dilemma. She didn’t make a big deal about being out. She just wore the trans Pride flag pin.

“It was something that I wanted to get out there and to show my pride in while not making it the focus of what I was doing there,” Schneider told the New York Times. “Because I was just there to answer trivia questions and win money.”

As a cisgender lesbian, I can’t speak to how Schneider’s record-setting “Jeopardy” streak feels to transgender people.

But, as a trans ally, I’m cheering for Schneider. Kudos for her bravery! At a time when many states are passing anti-trans laws, it takes guts to be out on TV and the Internet.

Few things are as mainstream as “Jeopardy.” I bet that many “Jeopardy” viewers who are frightened at the idea of trans people, will become more comfortable with transgender people after watching Schneider on the popular quiz show. Because folks on TV come into our living and bedrooms and we feel as if we know them after watching them for a while.

“Amy looks like everybody else,” my neighbor said when I told her Schneider was trans. “She doesn’t act odd. She’s not strange.”

Transgender people encounter violence and discrimination in everything from housing to health care to employment.

I know Schneider’s “Jeopardy” triumph won’t end transphobia. But her winning streak will go a long way toward jumpstarting a change in hearts and minds.

Kathi Wolfe, a writer and a poet, is a regular contributor to the Blade.

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SCARY: Tucker Carlson now the conscience of GOP

Cruz bows down, kisses ring of Fox host



Tucker Carlson (Screen capture via Fox on YouTube)

The Republican Party has sunk to a new low, hard to do, when a sleazebag like Tucker Carlson is now their conscience. Seeing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) groveling before him is laughable, disgusting, and frightening all at the same time. 

As reported in Rolling Stone, Cruz said, “We are approaching a solemn anniversary this week. It is an anniversary of a violent terrorist attack on the Capitol where we saw the men and women of law enforcement demonstrate incredible courage, incredible bravery, risk their lives to defend the men and women who serve in this Capitol.” Then “Cruz was lambasted by Tucker Carlson that night, prompting him to hop on Carlson’s show Thursday and beg for forgiveness. “The way I phrased things yesterday, it was sloppy and it was frankly dumb,” Cruz said before Carlson cut him off and said he didn’t believe him. Cruz took it up a notch, stammering through an absurd bit about how he wasn’t talking about the “patriots across the country supporting President Trump,” only those who assaulted police officers, and that he’s always described anyone who assaults a cop as a terrorist.

Carlson has made a career of being a pompous commentator. Interestingly he worked at CNN, PBS, and MSNBC, before finally landing at Fox in 2009. According to his Wikipedia page he went to Trinity College where he earned a bachelor’s degree and Carlson’s Trinity yearbook describes him as a member of the “Dan White Society,” an apparent reference to the American political assassin who murdered San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk. After college, Carlson tried to join the CIA, but his application was denied, after which he decided to pursue a career in journalism with the encouragement of his father, who advised him that “they’ll take anybody.” Reading this clearly raised my opinion of the CIA and based on what we see in some media today I agree with Carlson’s father on his view of journalism. 

When you have a moment of silence in the House of Representatives to honor those who lost their lives on Jan. 6 and only two Republicans show up, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and her father Dick Cheney, the former vice president, one understands the influence Carlson has on the GOP. The rest were afraid of being criticized on-air by him or lambasted by Trump. 

Dick Cheney remarked on the GOP, “It’s not a leadership that resembles any of the folks I knew when I was here for 10 years.” He spoke to ABC News saying, “I’m deeply disappointed we don’t have better leadership in the Republican Party to restore the Constitution.” 

There is a leadership void in the Republican Party today. Their so-called leaders are afraid to say what they think if it differs in any way from Trumpism or Carlson’s view of the world, which requires total fealty to Trump. He found a home on Fox where he can lie with impunity and have millions believe his lies. 

President Biden said, in what many think was the best speech of his presidency so far, these people are “holding a dagger to the neck of democracy.” He went on to say, “For the first time in our history, a president not just lost an election, he tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob breached the Capitol.” 

Tucker Carlson and his ilk have never bothered to answer a question the president threw at them, which is how they can accept all their down ballot victories, governors, and members of Congress, which occurred on the same ballots, cast by the same people, on the same day, as those for president. Of course, Carlson has no need to make sense, tell the truth, or speak rationally because of his platform on Fox, which doesn’t require that.

My question is whether Carlson is as dumb as he makes himself sound or is he brilliant and this is all a big act? Either way the acolytes that follow Trump don’t seem to care and are bowing down to Carlson’s big audience. It’s as if he can tell any Republican senator or congressperson, or Republican candidate for those jobs, to just ‘bend over and take it’ and they do. All we can do is mourn for the GOP of Lincoln and Eisenhower. Non-Trumpers will have to work hard and speak out if they ever want to resurrect a GOP that can be respected.

Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBTQ rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.

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