Many people seem to think just because certain civil rights laws have passed, there are no longer issues. But why do we constantly hear in the media of hate crimes and abuse of power used to target people of color? Likewise, but obviously not the same thing, people seem to think the LGBT community attained its rights when the supreme court ruled in favor of marriage equality.
Well, obviously if you’ve been keeping tabs in the news, you would’ve figured out by now just because one thing in the law has changed, doesn’t make it all better. With Trump’s previous threats of banning transgender people from the military and former Governor Sam Brownback’s anti-gay semantics to protect so-called “religious freedom,” we still have a long way to go.
Brownback was recently recruited by our Commander in Chief to take on his new role as “United States Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom.” So, what does that entail? Well, if it’s to do with him manipulating and amending the laws to ensure religious freedom is in place over LGBTQIA rights, then he’s the man for the job.
By Beth Wasson
WICHITA - If you remember sitting in front of the television every Saturday night and watching The Golden Girls, then you’ll want to make it to Roxy’s Uptown and see the live version with four local actors portraying the roommates. This is the third season in a row that Roxy’s has produced an uproariously funny, all-male version of the show.
The TV show featured Rue McClanahan as Blanche, Betty White as Rose, Bea Arthur as Dorothy, and Estelle Getty as Sophia. In the live version, Scott Noah is the flirty southern belle Blanche, Kyle Vespestad is the simple and naïve Rose, Monte Wheeler is the no-nonsense Dorothy, and Tom Frye is the wise-mouthed Sophia.
Entering the theatre, you see the stage is set as the living room of the famous house. The script comes from the actual television show through an arrangement with a national parody theatre company. Although this is the third year Roxy’s has done the show, the script is new, and seats are selling fast.
KANSAS CITY - Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC) continues its 32nd season in March with ABBA-Cadabra! Featuring the most iconic hits from one of the world’s most beloved bands, ABBA-Cadabra! will be a musical extravaganza that includes a full evening of toe-tapping ABBA favorites.
The ABBA phenomenon began in 1974 in Brighton, England, where Waterloo became the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest. That hit song was the break-through for the quartet, made up of Swedes Agnetha Faltskog, Bjorn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersoon and Anni-Frid Lyngstad, who, with their short skirts and headbands, would go on to sell more albums than any other group second only to The Beatles.
- Equality Day 2018 takes place this year on Tuesday, Mar. 20 from 8:30am-4pm at the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. It is a time to advocate for LGBT justice and equality, including a rally, march, luncheon and to visit with legislators.
The event is hosted by Equality Kansas and includes LGBT groups from around the state that are continuing to press the government for equal justice and fair treatment under the law, and to stop discriminatory “religious freedom” and “bathroom bill” legislation.
Equality Kansas has reserved the second floor rotunda and north wing hall of the statehouse for the entire day. LGBT groups and allies will have the opportunity to reserve display tables and distribute the organization’s message. To participate, write firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 316-683-1706. Table space is limited.
Tentative Schedule Of Events
WICHITA - Award-winning folk musician Tom Neilson—dubbed “the coming together of Phil Ochs and Tom Lehrer” and the “Bard Insurgent” for his sophisticated, astute musical and political wit—presents a special, family-friendly concert at First Unitarian Universalist Church on Saturday, Mar. 17 at 7pm.
Light snack items and beverages will be available for purchase. Suggested ticket price is $10–20 and may be purchased in advance in person or by phone; tickets will also be sold at the door, but early reservations are encouraged. A portion of proceeds will go to support First UU. Call 316-684-3481, send an e-mail to email@example.com, or visit firstuu.net.
BEL AIRE - Trash: the Earth Day Musical, a school-house-rock-style musical, is specifically made for families with young children. While being entertaining, Trash teaches the community about the importance of the R’s – reduce, recycle, and reuse – to help save and preserve the earth for future generations.
Moreover, the show tries to tackle important world issues with children through music so that they begin preservation habits at an early age. The musical will be presented at Northeast Magnet, 5550 N. Lycee St., Bel Aire, on Thursday, April 12 at 7pm. Tickets are $5, all ages welcome.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or (316) 973-2300.
By Kristi Parker
When you first pick up C.J. Janovy’s new book, No Place Like Home: Lessons in Activism from LGBT Kansas (University Press of Kansas, $29.95), you might expect a leisurely Sunday read. Think again. What’s inside is a thoroughly researched book chronicling the time LGBT Kansans came together to fight the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state Constitution.
The book is broken up by cities, from Topeka to Wakeeney, Kansas City to Wichita and everywhere in between. Manhattan, Salina, Hutchinson, Dodge City and Garden City. It appears Janovy spent hundreds of hours researching, interviewing and compiling information from all the major players from across the state.
WICHITA - Wichita Community Theatre (WCT) continues its 2017-2018 season with And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little by Paul Zindel from Mar. 7-18. Zindel’s dark comedy explores the relationship between three very different sisters after the death of their mother in the early 1960s. Having been deserted by their father in early childhood, the girls were raised by their dominating mother. Time has changed the tender closeness of girlhood; Ceil has married and cut herself off from the others; Catherine has begun to drink more than she should; and Anna is on the brink of madness after a scandalous incident at the school where she teaches.
By Beth Wasson
Growing up, my son, Jacob Wasson, always looked out for the underserved and oppressed. Even at age three, he wanted to walk a picket line in front of Chuck E. Cheese because the restaurant did not have a dog in their lineup. Through the years, he took notice of other injustices and tried to stand up for what he believed in.
Jacob, now a junior at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, still stands up for what he believes in. As a member of the LGBT community himself, the news on the situation in Chechnya hit a nerve. When he heard about the genocide taking place, he knew he needed to do something.
That something became a fundraising campaign that reached across social media and culminated on Dec. 10, 2017 with a cabaret-style show Jacob directed featuring his fellow students.
Last spring, when news of the Chechen purge hit, Jacob began formulating his ideas. As school began in the fall, he began organizing those ideas and talking to friends. He wanted to raise funds that would go to the Russian LGBT network. And so, Jacob started a GoFundMe campaign calling it “Choose Your Family,” emphasizing that all LGBT persons and those that support them are family, no matter where in the world they come from.
With permission to use the Pinnacle Theatre, part of Point Park’s Conservatory for Performing Arts, the cabaret began to develop. In addition, the GoFundMe campaign began receiving donations and a t-shirt, designed by a friend, began selling online. All proceeds went to the fundraiser with Jacob bearing the brunt of the costs for putting it all together. Soon, 18 students found themselves cast in the show and several more signed up to help backstage.
Along the way, support came from large social media groups throwing their influence and wide followings behind the efforts. The Instagram LGBT History founder, Matthew Riemer, called on his 100,000 followers to promote the campaign as did Adam Eli, founder of the group Voices for Chechnya.
All this helped the original fundraising goal of $1,000 grow to $2,500 collected. Jacob noted that, “the majority of the donations were under $25,” with many coming from fellow college students who normally have nothing extra. This campaign took time as with planning and rehearsal squeezed in between full class loads and part-time jobs. But it proved the t-shirt’s saying as everyone came together like a family.
What will this semester hold for Jacob? Only time will tell. He’s taking acting and dancing classes as he nears his senior year as a musical theatre major. Plus, he must fit in a full rehearsal schedule for an upcoming performance in 42nd Street at Point Park and hopefully still work a few hours at his job. But that’s just training for what’s ahead as his plans include heading to New York after graduation.
For a young man still in college, his performance resume looks impressive. His first journey into writing and directing came in first grade with a show he called “Dad’s New Job.” Born and raised in Wichita, Jacob’s acting career includes several seasons with Music Theatre of Wichita both as a child performer and an adult member of the company. His dreams have always pointed toward New York and as his mom, I couldn’t be any prouder. Keep going strong, Jacob! l
On Oct. 7, hundreds of dogs and their people will converge on Sedgwick County Park for the Kansas Humane Society’s annual fundraiser, Woofstock. This is for them:
When I was 16 my little brother and I went halvsies on a new dog. It was a Pomeranian, who my granddad named Grizzly, because he looked like a little bear. He wasn’t a very well-behaved dog. He chewed on everything in the house, carried stray socks everywhere, ate anything he could reach, and was sooo ornery.
But oh, how I loved that dog.
He was my constant companion who hung with me through college and several moves after. He bounced between my mom’s house and wherever I landed through my 20s. He was my roommate when I struggled to come out.
One night I was getting ready to go to a movie and had just stepped out of the shower when I noticed Grizzly was choking. There was a piece of rawhide he had been chewing stuck in his throat. It was slimy, chewed down to the gooey white stuff that rawhide turns into, and I couldn’t get a grip on it. It seemed like forever before I could dislodge it from his throat and by that time he was limp.
I started CPR. I know what you’re thinking, so let’s just start by saying, I don’t know how in the hell to give a dog CPR. But I had learned in high school gym class how to do CPR on a baby, so that’s what I did.
I was home alone, and wanted to go to the emergency vet clinic, but I thought I couldn’t risk stopping until I got him to breathe.
However, rigor mortis was setting in. Grizzly was bleeding out of his nose, his stomach was swelling/hardening, he had thrown up and he had peed all over. At this point, he had been without oxygen for 20 minutes. And I thought to myself, “Kristi, you are breathing into the mouth and nose of a dead dog, covered in puke and pee. You should probably just let him go. Even if you get him to breathe on his own, he’s going to be brain dead.”
And then the most amazing thing happened. He coughed.
I scooped him up, threw him in the car, and drove 90mph to the emergency vet. He laid limply in the passenger seat beside me, still bleeding out of his nose, but with his eyes open.
I rushed into the vet’s, forgetting that I was still in boxer shorts, with no shoes, no bra, wet hair, and covered in all sorts of dog excrements. I sat in the lobby and bawled. When the doctor came out and said Grizzly was going to be okay, I couldn’t believe it.
He kept him for an hour for observation and when I returned, Grizzly was sitting on the counter shaking. He was completely freaked out. I thanked the vet profusely.
“You’re the one that saved him, not me,” he said.
Grizzly spent the next week with a hoarse bark, never letting me out of his sight.
Fast forward several months. I was going through a particularly rough time. Depression was getting the best of me as I struggled with my sexuality. Unhappy in my job, recently estranged from my dad, broke and broken, I stood in the bathroom with a bottle of pills in my hand.
And there in the doorway stood Grizzly.
“Hey! You wouldn’t let me die and now you’re going to leave me? What am I going to do without you?” he asked.
Out of all of the people in this world that I love and care about, I just couldn’t leave my little buddy.
Grizzly’s brush with death didn’t seem to have any lasting effects; he lived to the ripe old age of 17. AND he didn’t get any less ornery. Thank goodness. He died peacefully at home in my arms. This time I told him it was okay to go.