Top Stories

Transgender Day of Remembrance to be recognized with events across the state

TransgenderRemembranceDayBy Kristi Parker

MANHATTAN, TOPEKA, WICHITA - Started online in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is a day to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. On Nov. 20 Smith started a web-based memorial for Rita Hester, a transgender friend who was murdered in Allston, MA.
    To bring attention to the continued violence endured by the transgender community the event has been held annually ever since and has evolved into an international cause with events spanning the week of Nov. 14-20. It is thought to now be observed in more than 20 countries.


Cutting hate at Wichita State

HowdoYOUcuthateBy Beth Wasson

WICHITA - The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to free speech whether you agree with the speaker or not. But many times, groups with differing views resort to violence to make their point. At Wichita State University (WSU) a new organization, Cut H8, hopes to avoid fighting in favor of education, discussion and understanding.
    Creating a campus that welcomes individual beliefs and values the free expression of ideas is the goal of Cut H8. Graduate student Rheanna Pierce and senior Josh Villa spearhead the program that kicked off at the beginning of the current school year. Several hundred students signed a large banner pledging to cut hate around campus and open dialogues instead. Faculty and students alike welcome and support the program.  


Plymouth Fine Arts Series features La La Land vocalist from Newton

ParrishWICHITA - The Plymouth Fine Arts Series, sponsored by Plymouth Congregational Church, presents From Kansas to La La Land: A Concert with Angela Parrish, Saturday, Nov. 11 at 7:30pm, with a reception following.
    In a January Newsweek article by John Walters (, Parrish’s remarkable journey was profiled. She left her native Newton home for Los Angeles in 2012 at the age of 26. A little more than four years later, Parrish’s voice is the first one you hear in the movie La La Land.  In the six-minute opening, Another Day of Sun,  Parrish supplies the vocals.
    Parrish graduated from Wichita State University with degrees in special music education and jazz piano performance, she was awarded a master’s degree in jazz piano from the University of Northern Colorado.


Wichita restaurant changes to unisex bathroom

WICHITA - Tanya’s Soup Kitchen has always been a friend of the LBGTQ community. It’s support has continued through the two incarnations of the restaurant.
    But, co-owner Kelly Rae Leffel still wanted to make a statement. She told the Wichita Eagle recently that she wants her employees and customers to know that anyone is welcome; that we’re all equal. Tanya’s employees include straight, gay and transgender members currently.
    To that end, in September, Leffel removed the men’s and women’s signs from the restaurants bathrooms making them both unisex. l


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“Changing the world, one gift at a time!”

AlternativeGiftMarketWICHITA - The Wichita Alternative Gift Market brings three dozen local, national, and global charities under one roof for one day, the second Saturday of each November. It will be hosted at a new location the next two years: University Congregational Church, 9209 E. 29th St. N.
    This year’s market is Nov. 11 from 10am-4pm. Just like traditional gifts, alternative gifts express love and affection, and celebrate occasions. Unlike traditional gifts, an Alternative Gift purchased at the market does not contribute to the consumer stream and will not be re-gifted.
    Attendees can purchase tax-deductible gifts to honor family and friends, then present them with a beautiful greeting card including a gift insert describing the project supported. Shoppers who select alternative gifts can also select complimentary ornaments representing the sponsored causes—a unique feature of the Wichita market.
    The Wichita Alternative Gift Market is not just an event; it is a community of people who care. It is not just a shopping day; it is an opportunity to help transform the world. It is not religious, nor political, nor commercial; it is an uplifting alternative to the holiday frenzy.
    The 2017 market will raise funds for these local nonprofits, among others:

West High School OWLS (Outdoor Wildlife Learning Site)
Wichita Family Crisis Center

    and for these global causes, among others:


Gay foster family found for starved dog

01-Nov-17 21WICHITA - The picture that accompanied the first story in the Wichita Eagle was too horrible to look at. The pit bull puppy’s rib cage looked barely attached to her legs with a thin layer of skin - she looked like she couldn’t possibly be alive.
    Aadya was left for dead in an alley with a corn cob lodged in her bowels. The emergency vet estimated that she hadn’t eaten in almost two months. Beauties and Beasts rescued Aadya and Mark Walker and Jeff Mosch took her in as foster parents to help her recover. “I think she can’t believe someone loves her, pets her and will take care of her,” Wallker told the Eagle.
    They are sharing her recovery through a Facebook group called Aadya’s Journey.


State of LGBTQ equality in nine Kansas cities detailed in HRC’s Municipal Equality Index

WASHINGTON - The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation in partnership with the Equality Federation Institute, released its sixth annual Municipal Equality Index (MEI), assessing LGBTQ equality in 506 cities across the nation, including nine in Kansas.
    The average score for cities in Kansas is 35 out of 100 points, which falls below the national average of 57.
Emporia: 23; Hutchinson: 32; Kansas City: 35; Lawrence: 74; Manhattan: 57; Olathe 7; Overland Park: 19; Topeka: 35; Wichita: 31.
    The Index assesses each city on 44 criteria covering city-wide  nondiscrimination protections, policies for municipal employees, city services, law enforcement, and city leadership’s relationship with the LGBTQ community.
    The full report, including detailed scorecards for every city, as well as a searchable database, is available online at


Reviews & More

Auditions for Breaking the Code

TuringWICHITA - Auditions will be held at Wichita Community Theatre Nov. 11-12 from 2:30-5pm. There are four male roles available. Three roles require a British accent. One role speaks Greek. (Language tutor will be provided.) Production runs Jan. 24-Feb. 4, 2018.
    A 17-year-old male who was a student with Alan in school; 20-year-old male who is Greek; 60-70-year-old male who was Alan’s mentor; 40-50-year-old male who is a powerful authority.
    Breaking the Code by Hugh Whitemore tells the personal and true story of Alan Turing. He was a genius mathematician and engineer in Britain who played a leading role in winning World War II. He created a machine that decoded the Nazi’s secret messages, thereby ending the war early and saving 12 million lives. He also created the first computer.


K-State’s Into the Woods includes several twists

IntothewoodsMANHATTAN - Kansas State University’s School of Music, Theatre, and Dance will present the musical Into the Woods in the Mark A. Chapman Theatre in Nichols Hall, Nov. 2-12.
    Stephen Sondheim’s and James Lapine’s family-friendly musical follows the story of a Baker and his Wife, who are trying to reverse an evil spell by the Witch. On their journey into the woods, they meet Cinderella, Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and other well-known characters, who are looking to have their own wishes granted.
    In its initial run, many thought the piece to be Sondheim’s response to the AIDS epidemic with its first act focused on the fairy-tale characters achieving “happily ever after” and the second act when they must face death and destruction by an indiscriminate Giant on a rampage throughout the kingdom.
    “With a season focused on identity, community and responsibility, KSU theatre sought titles that spoke to our current political climate,” Jerry Jay Cranford, Assistant Professor in KSU’s Theatre Department, said. “As the director, I wanted to bring a fun, modern, adult-like take to the fairy-tale world with a non-realistic forest inspired by images from the old Studio 54.”


MsAmanda Love celebrates three years as Lawrence’s premier drag queen

MsAmandaLoveBy Ciara Reid, staff reporter

LAWRENCE - July marked three years that MsAmanda Love has been entertaining audiences weekly at the Jazzhaus in the center of downtown Lawrence.
    Love, portrayed by Nathan Stitt, a cis male, first performed in drag more than eight years ago at a fundraiser in the dorm and loved it. “After that night I always had an itch to do it again as it fulfilled my creativity and love of performing for a crowd,” Stitt says. Throughout the past few years, Stitt says MsAmanda Love’s character development and looks have evolved and improved.
    As Love, she tailors the dance to the song, whether it’s dancing fast and crazy, or dancing with tears streaming down. The main goal is to have fun. “My philosophy for performing is to do what I can to entertain while being unexpected,” Love says. Sometimes, that means singing parody songs, singing live, or belting out the latest Nicki Minaj or Demi Lovato song and even “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King.


Murray & Peter present A Drag Queen Christmas: The Naughty Tour

WICHITA - Murray & Peter proudly present a holiday spectacular with everyone’s favorite contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race, Friday, Dec. 15 at 8pm, at the Orpheum Theatre, 200 N. Broadway,.
    The show is hosted by Trinity Taylor and starring Shea Coulee, Kim Chi, Aja, Latrice Royale, Naomi Smalls, Chi Chi DeVayne and Eureka O’Hara.
    Tickets range from $20-$50 and are available at or charge-by-phone 855-755-7328. $150 Super Fan packages are also available in the first few rows with a first-in-line, meet-and-greet pass, official tour poster and laminate with lanyard.
    This is an all-ages show.


Guest Editorial

Please help honor Beverly Fiedler

Bev-Fiedler-txtBy Vinnie Reed

What would I have done if I didn’t have a mom? Or someone to call mom? My aunt, my mother-in-law, my best friend’s mom? I was lucky to be surrounded by so much love, especially because I didn’t always understand that I was loveable.
    If you knew Bev Fiedler, you knew love. But what I didn’t know was that Bev was Mom or Grandma to a whole other group of kids - her Girl Scout troop. Bev loved these girls so much, and they loved her, that they spoke/performed at her funeral.
    Bev was so dedicated to her girls and the Scouts that she is being honored in February 2018 as one of Juliette’s Pearls - the people who loved and cared about the Girl Scouts in extraordinary ways.
    As one of the honorary recipients of the Juliette’s Pearls distinction, Bev’s family is raising money to give to the Girl Scouts. In order for her to be inducted, a $5,000 donation is required on the inductee’s behalf.
    As a community, we owe Bev at least this. If you can donate to this incredibly worthy cause on behalf of this incredibly worthy person, please send your donation to Girl Scouts of the KS Heartland, Attn: Juliette’s Pearls/Bev Fiedler, 360 Lexington Rd, Wichita, KS 67218. l





Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.

Tallgrass Film Festival to feature Alaska Is a Drag, other LGBTQ Films

28-Sep-17 91By 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,
    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 l


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