By Kristi Parker
WICHITA -Last year Positive Directions, a Wichita HIV-service organization, scaled back its services to focus solely on prevention and education. There have been a few changes in staff, an office move and various other things that come with such a change.
The dust seems to have settled around executive director Brett Hogan and now there is a new prevention person, titled Targeted Outreach Coordinator. The intent is to expand the organization’s prevention services and better serve the community.
“We want to be a stronger presence in the community so more manpower was needed,” explained Camille Gaddis, the new coordinator who started this month. “Having a second person allows us to be in multiple places during the day. One person can be in the office to answer phones and do testing while the other can be doing outreach or attend a meeting.”
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.
WICHITA - Grab a carnival mask, put on your party clothes, and join Thrive ICT in a night of music, food, and community for a cabaret to support survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
Thrive ICT partners with local providers to create a collective of services to serve survivors’ individual needs for trauma management, life management, and community support. Thrive ICT hosts three support groups: Thrive Together, Coffee, Tea, & Recovery from Abuse and Partners in PTSD.
KANSAS CITY — Dustin S. Cates, Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC), announced recently that its 32nd year will commence for the first time in November by adding a fall performance, From the Heart, at the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS. A goal of Cates since he began in 2014 has been the expansion to a fourth concert to help raise awareness of the chorus with new audiences in southern Johnson County.
Scheduled for Friday, Nov. 10, at 7:30pm, the performance will feature audience favorites from years past. The concert will also feature Kansas City musician Mark Hayes, an internationally known and award-winning composer, arranger, pianist and conductor. He’s composed more music for HMC than any other composer.
WICHITA - Local Wichita LGBT bar, Club Boomerang, opened its new dinner theatre with two shows in September. Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead and Murder at the Drag Show both debuted last month.
Club owner, Brad Thomison, told the Wichita Eagle in July, that Alex Novotny approached him about starting the theatre. A software developer for Koch Industries, Novotny has an undergraduate degree in theater.
Shows are Friday and Saturday evenings with Sunday matinees at the club, located at the corner of First and Cleveland. All shows are interactive environmental theatrical performances, meaning the characters will be up close and personal with everyone in the audience.
By Grayson Barnes
WICHITA - We bring to art what we are. The artist Diedrick Brackens brought his queer, black body and put it on exhibit at the Ulrich Museum at Wichita State University. Instead of his actual body, though, he’s used textiles in a slow reckoning, to translate his experience as well as that of others.
Brackens’ work is designed to confront the “othering” experienced by queer and racialized bodies in public spaces. Our bodies are subject to scrutiny which is sometimes intrusive and cruel. It might even be violent. Combining textiles with mirrors also challenges the act of looking when one can see oneself reflected in the act.
The beauty of the works is their subversiveness. They creep up on you. They’re not politically-charged photos or paintings full of agenda-laden symbolism. They’re soft and beckoning, just like grandma’s quilt.
The titles are gentle, too, rendered in e.e. cummings-esque lowercase letters. You can’t help but get closer. You notice wrinkles, an unmoored string, and there, behind a straining section of fabric, is a mirror. As you approach and peer beneath the weave, you are confronted by yourself. You’ve been caught examining something too closely.
WICHITA – This summer the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation unveiled a new logo, brand and website. The new website, www.downtownwichita.org, is user-friendly, featuring enhanced functionality and mobile first design.
As part of the rebrand, the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation will be publicly known as “Downtown Wichita.”
The new logo, brand and website was designed by Howerton+White.
“If Downtown Wichita is successful then we are successful. We were ecstatic to lead this project and can’t wait to see the positive impact it has on our downtown,” said Nicole Howerton, Principal and Creative Director at Howerton+White. 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.
By Grayson Barnes
TOPEKA - The TransKansas IV conference took place on Aug. 26-27 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka. Presented by the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project (K-STEP), TransKansas explores topics that affect the lives of transgender, gender non-conforming, non-binary people, their families, their employers, and their allies.
Breakout sessions at the conference included ones on non-binary people, updates on transgender law, parenting transgender children, racism and trans-prejudice, and mental health, to name a few. There were also discussion forums for transgender and non-conforming people, their families, allies and associates. Many of the sessions were eligible for continuing education credit.
In “The Letter,” psychiatrist Hiten Soni, MD, of Interpersonal Psychiatry in Lawrence, talked about the need that transgender people have to, in many states, secure letters from mental health and medical providers in order to “prove” that they are transgender. This proof is often necessary in order to obtain hormone treatment, gender confirmation surgery (GCS), and, also to change gender markers on official paperwork.
Currently, Kansas will not allow anyone to change their marker on a birth certificate. Dr. Soni talked about the steps for getting a letter, but also fiercely questioned, that since those desiring general cosmetic surgery or mental health care for issues other than gender dysphoria don’t need letters, why should transgender people?
“It is an insult to a person’s sovereignty that you do not have control over your life,” he said. “That letter is for the SURGEON’S mental health and because of systemic bigotry.” He concluded that this is an institutional problem and needs to be fought wholeheartedly in order for change to happen.
Stephanie Mott, the President/Executive Director of K-STEP, gave her story about how she came to “live authentically” in her session, “Words That Work.” Her delivery was peppered with humor and a very particular way of reframing the transgender journey by using very specific language. Mott used the phrase “beginning to live authentically” as opposed to “transitioning,” because it removes the image of a transgender person having once been the opposite gender. She says people need to think of “trans people as always having been the gender they ARE -- their BODY just has to catch up.”
Mott also avoids using FTM (female to male) or MTF (male to female) for the same reasons. Avoiding phrases like “LGBTQ issues,” is also important, because it sounds like LGBTQ people are the problem, not society. Instead, Mott opts for substituting “issues faced by LGBTQ people.”
John “Hawk” Co-Cké/Wa-Ko-Sa-Moie (lady who travels) spoke on the “History, Mystery and Pride of our Two-Spirit People.” John/Wako is the Prevention Specialist for the Suicide and Substance Abuse Incentive at the Muscogee-Creek Nation Behavioral Health in Okmulgee, OK.
He/She shared that many Native American tribes have an acceptance of more than two genders. Being other than simply male or female was also associated with magical power. Acceptance by one’s tribespeople was a given. Those outside the binary were referred to as “Two-Spirits,” since they embodied both masculinity and femininity. Wako/John told stories of male-bodied women who were warriors and healers and female-bodied men who shared their skills and gifts with their people.
Alyssa Bryant is Tulsa’s only openly transgender lawyer. In “The Protections Afforded Transgender Americans by Title VII and Title IX,” Bryant reviewed a number of cases that have paved the way for changes that will, hopefully, solidify support for transgender inclusion and protection. The beginning was not favorable, since the sticking point was the wording in both Title VII and Title IX, which states “sex” and not “gender.” Although a number of circuit courts have ruled that “sex” is NOT indicative of “gender,” some newer cases at higher levels have started to affirm otherwise.
The current agreement about Title IX, is that it does protect transgender students and many schools are working to make sure they are in alignment with this understanding, because it can affect their funding. Bryant said that an excellent example of how to do this is the Tulsa School District. She was part of the group that developed the district’s policies supporting transgender students.
The “Trans-Masculine Forum,” which was an opportunity for people to ask questions and share information of interest to transmen. Participants ranged from those still questioning their gender to men who had been living authentically for some time. There were also attendees who were simply interested in what transmen might have to say about life, love, health needs, and other concerns. There was no moderator, but after introductions, everybody joined in and took part in the discussion. l