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Archive for February, 2012

Queer Corner’s hitting the air waves in March!

Queer Corner is taking’s it’s shtick to the radio!

I’ll be hosting a new show with my friend Deo on TalktainmentRadio.com called “Queer Minded!” Heres’ a brief description:

Queer Minded is your weekly hub for all that’s queer and happening in Columbus, Ohio and around the nation. We give our take on the latest LGBT news and entertainment with spicy commentary, exciting guests and always interesting audience feedback. So come kiki it up with us each week with hosts Deo & Dwayne! There’s never a dull moment when you’re Queer Minded!

Each week “Queer Minded” will dedicate a section of the show to “Queer Corner,” which will features the week’s most important LGBT news bites from. Don’t worry loyal fans, I’ll still be posting my take on the LGBT news that matters here on Queer-Corner.com. But please be sure to also support my new endeavor!

Check out the video below announcing the details of our first show, “Safer Sex: How to Make Safe Sex Sexy”:

I’m really excited about this new opportunity and do hope that you’ll support “Queer Minded!” The first show is set to air an the end of March. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and stay tuned for the exact date of our premiere.

And make sure to send us all of your SAFE SEX stories/opinions, future show idea and any other questions you might have to deoanddwayne@gmail.com!

Local Theater Spotlight: ‘Sleeper’ by Available Light

Because of my former position as Associate Producer/Theater Critic at Metromix.com and my current position as a critic/consultant for the Theatre Roundtable of Central Ohio, I have the unique pleasure of seeing lots of community and professional theater in the fine state of Ohio for free. So why not share the love with my readers at Queer Corner? Every week the Local Theater Spotlight will feature a review from a show currently running in Central Ohio. Because, let’s be honest, we queers love us a night at the “theatre!”

Whitney Thomas Eads and Brant Jones in "Sleeper" by Available Light Theatre

Available Light Theatre has become known for their cultural and historical deconstructions (“Killadelphia,” “How to Stay Human,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “33 Variations“), this time they present a little bit of both with “Sleeper,” David Ian Lee’s controversial post-9/11 portrayal of America’s perception and misconceptions of terrorism, showing in the Columbus Performing Arts Center’s Van Fleet Theater, 549 Franklin Ave., through Feb. 25.

Lee’s script left much to be desired but director Matt Slaybaugh’s stellar staging and casting propels the long-winded drama to impressive heights.

“Sleeper” takes the audience on a whirlwind ride though the personal lives of more than a dozen characters in the early 2000s, leading up to the kidnapping, torture and eventual death of an American doctor by terrorists in Afghanistan.

Bobby Guffin (Brant Jones) excessively travels for work as an excuse to continue ignoring his wife, Teri Guffin (Whitney Thomas Eads), instead of dealing with the loss of their young child, while rising conservative television personality Rachel Anderson (Melissa Muguruza Weaver) ignores her husband and daughter for her career and justifies it with a higher duty to bring down the Democratic Party. These are the play’s two main conflicts. Once Bobby is kidnapped the second act takes a sharp turn from dramatic to political as the Afghan brothers (Jordan Fehr and Drew Eberly) passionately argue dogma, while Teri (a civilian-turned-political-pundit as a result of her husband’s disappearance thrusting her into the national spotlight) and Rachel spend an explosive episode  of “American Agenda” arguing patriotism.

Jordan Fehr and Drew Eberly in "Sleeper" by Available Light Theatre

Witty one-liners, stark opinions and charged quick-fire exchanges are the fruit of “Sleeper’s” appeal, and is also where the actors are superb. Fehr and Eberly steal much of the second act and were definitely the night’s highlight for me. Fehr perfectly captures the inner struggles between his duty to his country and his personal conviction, while Eberly takes on the burden of Lee’s most controversial point, putting a sympathetic face on a terrorist.

Jones and Eads accurately ride the wave of emotions affiliated with a dysfunctional marriage. Weaver takes the cake as the show’s antagonist, a rabid Anne Coulter/Bill O’Reilly hybrid, her second act battle with Eads had much of the audience on the edge of their seats. And Franklin Grace, Dan Welsh, Stefan Langer, Sarah Gehring are a kind of “Fantastic Four,” scurrying about, quick-changing through several different roles.

As mentioned the play is a bit on the long side, just creaking past 2.5 hours with a 10 minute intermission. Lee spends much of the play unnecessarily in exposition to make his controversial points clear. And a crowded cast also doesn’t help. But Slaybaugh’s swift direction keeps the play moving from character to character and country to country. The set (Dave Wallingford) and lighting (Jarod Wilson) designs also help elevate the production, literally. A bed is placed on a platform center stage during act one where Eads spends much of her time while much of the action swirls around it, until an impressive first act demolition, signifying Bobby’s capture, turns it into “an undisclosed location.”

Ultimately “Sleeper” does have its faults but with Available Light at the helm it’s still a night of theater that can’t be missed.

“Sleeper” by Available Light Theatre runs through Feb. 25 in the Van Fleet Theater at the Columbus Performing Arts Center, 549 Franklin Ave., Columbus. Tickets are on AVLT’s popular Pay What You Want System. Visit www.avltheatre.com for more information.

Local Theater Spotlight: ‘The Rubenstein Kiss’

Because of my former position as Associate Producer/Theater Critic at Metromix.com and my current position as a critic/consultant for the Theatre Roundtable of Central Ohio, I have the unique pleasure of seeing lots of community and professional theater in the fine state of Ohio for free. So why not share the love with my readers at Queer Corner? Every week the Local Theater Spotlight will feature a review from a show currently running in Central Ohio. Because, let’s be honest, we queers love us a night at the “theatre!”

Acacia Duncan, Kim Garrison Hopcraft, Kal Poole and Rudy Frias in "The Rubenstein Kiss" by CATCO.

CATCO hit the proverbial jackpot with their latest show, “The Rubenstein Kiss,” enjoying an extended run at the Vern Riffe Center, through Feb. 24., as they are hosting the North American premiere of  James Phillips’ London hit based on the true story of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, executed by the government during the 1950’s for treason, charged with sharing information about the atomic bomb with the Soviet Union.

Director Steven Anderson has assembled a knockout cast. And paired with the trope’s stellar design team the show is a definite must see for any theater goer or history buff this side of the Mississippi.

Phillips’ scripts sees some considerable lag at the onset but this quickly subsides as the leveled character dynamics unfold. The story begins with a chance meeting at a museum in front of that iconic photo of the Julius/Ethel kiss (renamed Jakob and Esther Rubenstein). The Matthew and Anna (Ruby Frias and Acacia Duncan) cute meet lead right into a historical flashback with the Rubensteins (Kal Poole and Kim Garrison Hopcraft) having dinner with Esther’s brother David Girshfeld (Geoffrey Martin) and his new fiance, Rachel Liebermann (Julia Free), years before being accused, thus laying Phillips’ stylistic foundation.

It’s soon discovered that Anna is the Girshfeld’s daughter, still haunted by her father’s decision to testify against his own sister she’s on a crusade to reopen the Rubenstein case and acquit her and uncle. And without revealing too much, Matthew’s Rubenstein connection becomes a gasp-inducing jaw-dropper. But the main thrust of the story is this unfailing commitment between two people. Despite their circumstances and with death in sight, Jakob and Esther stay true to each other and their belief of their innocence.

Poole and Hopcraft bleed with love onstage. They are a dramatic dream team that truly captures all of the nuance in unconditional love. Both particularly brilliant in a second-act climax that includes their last interrogation before loosing their last appeal on death row.

Duncan and Frias appropriately travel the typical boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl arc, before the aforementioned revelation sends it off the rails. Duncan also shines in Anna’s few tense scenes with her parents about how the trial and subsequent Rubenstein’s execution destroyed the family.

Supporting players Free and Martin were also strong. Free was force to ride a high emotional wave as a woman just trying to protect her family, while Martin visibly captured the immediate and lifelong guilt of his actions. But attention must be given to Joe Dallacqua who nailed stodgy FBI detective Paul Cranmer, a man battling with the duties of his job paired with his inner conflict over his ultimate respect of Jakob Rubenstein.

The set (Michael S. Brewer), lighting (Cynthia Stillings) and sound (Keya Myers-Alkire) moved almost like it’s own symphony, changing and sometimes twirling with the characters as they swept between eras, while Tatjana Longerot’s vivid costume designs kept us grounded whether in the ’50s or ’70s.

“The Rubenstein Kiss” is making its stop in Columbus while the creator’s debate changes before taking the show to Off-Broadway in New York City. If cut down from it’s long-winded ,two-act 2.5-hour length, I could see this play making a pretty big splash on Broadway. Drama, romantic comedy, sex, betrayal and espionage. It’s a good a night for anyone at the theater.

 “The Rubenstein Kiss” runs though Feb. 24 in Studio Two of the Vern Riffe Center, 77 S. High Street, Columbus. Tickets are $11.50-$40. Visit www.catco.org for more information. 

Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman signs Freedom to Marry pledge

Just after posting the previous story about Freedom to Marry’s petition to have marriage equality added to Ohio’s 2012 election ballot, I learned that Columbus’ Mayor, Michael Coleman has just publicly signed the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Pledge and the Ohio Elected Officials Freedom to Marry pledge.

Here’s the official announcement from Equality Ohio:

Equality Ohio is pleased to announce that Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman has signed the Mayors for the Freedom to Marry Pledge and the Ohio Elected Officials Freedom to Marry pledge supporting the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. We appreciate his willingness to discuss this issue with community leaders and reach the decision to support full marriage equality. Thank you Mayor Coleman, and we look forward to hearing your 200th anniversary State of the City speech and cheering for you as the Grand Marshal of the Columbus Pride Parade in June.

It’s been reported that Mayor Coleman has been dragging his feet on signing the petition after many mayors, both democrat and republican, across the state and the nation have already signed on. It was a move that was puzzling as Columbus is considered one of the country’s largest gay meccas and Coleman has always been very pro gay rights.

Many local gay rights leaders and organizations came together and put in many man hours to have petitions signed and meetings with the mayor to change his mind.

Whatever the motivations or reason the lag, I say thanks to Mayor Coleman for finally signing the petitions, your commitment to equality is a great example to the state and the nation! And special thanks to all those who tirelessly fought to make this happen!

UPDATE (2/16 at 2:11 p.m.): The Columbus Dispatch has picked up the story and includes the below quote from Coleman’s spokesperson, Dan Williamson, stating why the mayor changed his mind:

“One of the things that pushed the mayor over the top on this issue was a meeting he had with a city employee, a veteran who came back,” Williamson said. “He told the mayor he’s now openly gay, but he had to hide things from his fellow soldiers,” while the don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy was in effect. “He said he was overseas fighting for everybody’s rights but his own.”

 

Freedom to Marry Ohio has started a petition to get marriage equality on the 2012 ballot

An new organization called Freedom to Marry Ohio has started a petition to have a marriage equality added to the state’s 2012 election ballot.

According to a press release for the organization, Freedom to Marry Ohio is a coalition of past and present elected officials, candidates, community and business leaders who are advocating for Marriage Equality in Ohio.The organization is led by Statewide Co-Chairs Tim Hagan (former Cuyahoga County Commissioner) and Andrew Ginther (President of Columbus City Council), and John O’Grady (Franklin County Commissioner). You can find out more by visiting their website, Facebook and Twitter pages.

As their first major project their gathering signatures to have same-sex marriage added to the 2012 ballot. They need 385,245 to make it happen.

The first big step to hitting that number is a goal of 1,000 signature by Wednesday, Feb. 22, which would validate the petition with the Ohio Ballot Board, said Ian James, Freedom to Marry Ohio’s volunteer outreach advocate. If the 285,000 signatures aren’t acquired by the July deadline the organization would be forced to shoot for the July 2013 deadline for the 2013 ballot.

It seems a major component of Freedom to Marry Ohio’s strategy is to included specific wording in the Ohio Constitution that would legalize marriages between same-sex partners, but while giving religious institutions the right to refuse performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. A long time argument for many against marriage equality has been that such laws would force churches to marry gay couples, thus impending or their First Amendment rights to freedom of religion.

If added to the ballot the decision for voters would be to amend the current same-sex marriage ban to read as follows:

In the State of Ohio and its political subdivisions, marriage shall be a union of two consenting adults and no religious institution shall be required to perform or recognize a marriage.

You can sign the petition at Mary Jo Kilroy‘s (who is currently running for Congress) Campaign Headquarters at 1349 E. Broad Street, Columbus. James also said there are now 200 volunteers committed to helping reach the petition’s goals. So get your pens ready!

The Other Side: AIDS in Black (Gay) America

I’ve been commissioned by Outlook Columbus, Central Ohio’s premiere lgbt publication, to write a new monthly column titled “The Other Side” that will offer stories and detailed analysis about the plights faced by gay people of color. I’ll be posting an excerpt from the story here each month with a link to the full story on Outlook’s Web site. Please support those who support us! 

Research by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that there are more new HIV infections among young black men who have sex with men (MSM) than any other racial or ethnic group of MSM. And that the number of new infections among young black gay men is nearly twice that of young white gay men.

This is a statistic that’s kept me up at the night for the better part of three years, when I first started volunteering in the prevention department at AIDS Resource Center Ohio, and has stumped decades of HIV prevention specialists and researchers from across the nation.

I recently took a full-time job with ARC Ohio’s newly developed Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center that will address this problem, and with National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day being February 7, outlook and I thought addressing this issue apropos. But hopefully by the end of this article you’ll realize this struggle is one that deserves your attention year-round.

Finish this article over at OutlookColumbus.com