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
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
WICHITA - The 15th annual Tallgrass Film Festival will take place Oct. 18-22 and will screen several LGBTQ films: Alaska Is a Drag, Woman on Fire, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, and The Feels.
Alaska Is a Drag is director Shaz Bennett’s feature debut, and was born from her own dreams while working in a cannery in Salt Lake City. The film stars Martin L. Washington, Jr. as Leo, an aspiring drag superstar, who is stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. He and his twin sister are trapped in the monotony of fist fights and fish guts. Out of necessity, Leo learned to fight back, which catches the attention of the local boxing coach. When a new boy moves to town and wants to be his sparring partner, Leo has to face the real reason he’s stuck in Alaska.
Matt Dallas, star of the show Kyle XY which aired for several seasons in the mid-2000s, plays the role of Declan, the new kid in town who becomes Leo’s boxing sparring partner. Dallas became involved in the film after a call from his manager.
“I immediately fell in love with the message,” Dallas said in an interview with Liberty Press. “The journey that the lead character goes through, to fight for his right to be himself. There is so much hope and beauty. I am thrilled to be a part of it.”
Alaska Is a Drag was shot in three weeks. During filming, the main cast lived together in a beach house. Dallas says they would rehearse all day, then continue work into the night. This allowed the cast to truly gel as an ensemble.
A native of Phoenix, Dallas currently lives in Los Angeles with his husband Blue Hamilton and their son, Crow, who they recently adopted through Arizona’s foster care system. For about a year, Dallas and his husband have been producing content for their YouTube channel, Matt and Blue, which currently has more than 177,000 subscribers. The idea for the channel stemmed from Dallas and Hamilton feeling creatively disconnected.
When Dallas worked on Alaska Is a Drag, his costars Maya Washington and Martin L. Washington, Jr. had YouTube channels. “After spending three weeks with them, and seeing their creative outlet, you have this platform where you can do anything you want,” Dallas says.
Their videos showcase various elements of their daily life, and is incredibly relatable and hilarious. The most popular video is titled “Things Husbands Do” and includes scenes of Dallas and Hamilton accidentally wearing the same thing, being mistaken for twins by a stranger, and humorous confusion over which dad their son Crow is referring to when he calls for “dad.”
“As we started doing it, we started realizing it was an opportunity to shed light on the foster/adoption system, and what it means to be a gay family,” Dallas says. Their story has resonated with many people.
Last fall, during a trip to Disneyland, Dallas and Hamilton noticed a teenager staring, seeming to recognize them. The boy and his mother came over and introduced themselves, and the boy told them how watching their videos helped him feel comfortable and to come out. His mother was crying.
“Her son made her sit down and watch the videos with him,” Dallas says. “It was a moment of realization for her, that he could have kids, that life. To me, that was one of the most powerful moments, hugging his mom and her kid.”
Dallas and Hamilton are focusing on expanding their channel and content. “We’re excited to grow and evolve the channel and the brand,” Dallas says. In addition to their YouTube channel, Dallas has been working on a passion project for the last six years that he hopes will go into production soon.
The script tells the story of two veterans who return from deployment and begin to re-acclimate. “It’s really about post-traumatic growth,” Dallas says. Dallas has been serving as a producer of the film, and will play a role in the film as well.
Another LGBTQ film that will be featured at the festival is Woman on Fire, a documentary that focuses on Brooke Guinan, the first openly transgender firefighter in New York City. Guinan is a third generation fire fighter. The film documents all facets of her struggles as she transitions, both professionally and in her personal life.
The Feels, directed by Jenee LaMarque, starring Constance Wu, Josh Fadem, as well as LaMarque, tells the story of a lesbian bachelorette weekend that goes awry when one of the brides admits she has never had an orgasm.
The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin, a documentary directed by Jennifer M. Kroot, examines the life and work of one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, following his evolution from a conservative son of the Old South into a gay rights pioneer, whose novels have inspired millions to claim their own truth, according to the synopsis on the film’s website, www.armisteadfilm.com.
Kroot’s documentary about the creator of Tales Of The City moves nimbly between playful and poignant and laugh-out-loud funny. With help from his friends (including Neil Gaiman, Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen and Amy Tan) Maupin offers a disarmingly frank look at the journey that took him from the jungles of Vietnam to the bathhouses of 70’s San Francisco to the front line of the American culture war.
For showtimes, venues, and ticket information, visit www.tallgrassfilm.org. l