Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Off and Running: An American Coming of Age Story

Tonight, we're speaking with Nicole Opper, director of the documentary Off and Running: An American Coming of Age Story:
With white Jewish lesbians for parents and two adopted brothers — one mixed-race and one Korean—Brooklyn teen Avery grew up in a unique and loving household. But when her curiosity about her African-American roots grows, she decides to contact her birth mother. This choice propels Avery into her own complicated exploration of race, identity, and family that threatens to distance her from the parents she’s always known. She begins staying away from home, starts skipping school, and risks losing her shot at the college track career she had always dreamed of. But when Avery decides to pick up the pieces of her life and make sense of her identity, the results are inspiring. OFF AND RUNNING follows Avery to the brink of adulthood, exploring the strength of family bonds and the lengths people must go to become themselves.

The film shows next Wednesday at the UW-Milwaukee Union Theater.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tonight's news roundup

The District of Columbia became the sixth jurisdiction in the U.S. to legalize same-sex marriage on March 3, but that could change if an attempt to rescind the law is successful. The law went into effect after being passed by D.C.'s city council and signed in December by Mayor Adrian Fenty. The Democratic-controlled Congress chose not to overturn the law during its 30-day period of review. Opponents of the law hope to take advantage of a section in the D.C. Charter that allows citizens to gather signatures to place the issue on the ballot -- something opponents have been trying for months to do, only to be thwarted by the D.C. Board of Elections and by various courts, which upheld the board's stance that such an initiative would "authorize discrimination" against homosexuals.

Speaking of marriage, Nepal plans to offer same-sex couples the possibility of getting married at a Mount Everest base camp and of honeymooning on a Himalayan trek or adventure tour. Nepal also wants to cash in on a chunk of the multibillion-dollar gay tourist market.

John Tanzella of the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association says that a growing segment of the gay tourism market craves adventure travel and exotic locations, especially to places seen as hospitable to gay travelers.

Constance McMillen, a Mississippi high school student, made waves this past week when she said she wanted to bring her girlfriend to her high school prom. Instead of allowing McMillen to bring a same-sex date to the dance, school board members decided to cancel the event entirely. This past week, the American Civil Liberties Union and Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition teamed up to demand McMillen be allowed to attend. Kristy Bennett, Legal Director of the ACLU of Mississippi, says “Constance has a constitutional right to take the person she’s dating to the prom, just like any other student at any other public school.”

General David Petraeus, the Army general who is managing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, says “the time has come” for the military to rethink its current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy toward gays in the military. Petraeus told a Senate panel Tuesday that he wants to see the results of an internal study ordered by Defense Secretary Robert Gates before any changes are made. Petraeus said he wants to know if allowing gays to serve openly might hurt recruiting and retention, or the military’s ability to fight.

Claims that three-time US Olympic champion skater Johnny Weir was not included in the “Stars on Ice” cast because of his perceived sexual orientation are untrue, a representative for the figure skating tour said. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation started an online petition last week, saying Weir was being excluded from the tour because he was not “family friendly.” Weir has repeatedly avoided questions about his sexual orientation, saying people shouldn’t be defined by labels. “While Stars on Ice wishes it could accommodate many more talented skaters as part of our cast, the fact is we cannot sign every skater,” the Stars statement said.

Prosecutors who have charged three cousins with a hate crime said they’re considering charging the suspects in 11 similar incidents. The cousins were charged with shooting a San Francisco man with a BB gun on February 26 because they thought he was gay.

The victim called police and said he’d been shot by a passing car. Police pulled the suspects over near the scene of the crime and found a “rifle-style” BB gun and a video camera inside the car. The video recording recovered by police shows the suspects shooting at other victims. The three men have been charged with assault with a deadly weapon with a hate crime enhancement, discharge of a firearm with gross negligence, and attempted mayhem for the initial shooting. No serious injuries have been reported from the 11 additional shootings.

This past Thursday, Judith Vazquez and Lol Kin Castaneda became the first same-sex couple to marry in Mexico under a new law that allows same-sex couples to wed and to adopt children. Several couples wed at the Municipal Palace in Mexico City, which legalized same-sex marriage in December.

Tonight's show: Milwaukee PrideFest, moving forward with equality

Tonight, Justin Wilder be speaking with David Charpantier of Milkwaukee's Pridefest about what to expect at this year's festivities June 11-13.

We'll also be talking to Wisconsin delegates to this past weekend's Unite + Fight Midwest Equality Conference in Chicago. One result of the conference was to form the Unite + Fight Midwest Equality Network to help activists in the region work together. The network will be affiliated with the national grassroots group Equality Across America, which formed around last October's National Equality March in Washington, D.C. We'll find out more about actions we can look forward to in Wisconsin and how to get involved.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wednesday show recap: LGBT youth, religion, weekend Equality Conference

Thanks for joining us on tonight's show. We're grateful for all the pledges that will help WORT 89.9 FM keep on delivering great radio 24-7. We exceeded our goal for the night's show!

Our show was packed tonight. First, we spoke with Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton about her efforts to support LGBT youth in Wisconsin.

We worked with WIDE-LP 99.1 FM, a low-power community radio station that broadcasts on Madison's southwest side, to air excerpts from a talk by Doleta Chapru called "Gay-Affirming Religious Groups: Good News for Human Rights.” She spoke this past Sunday to the Humanist Union of Madison, which meets monthly at Prairie Unitarian Church on Madison’s west side. Her full talk will air on WIDE-LP at 10 a.m. on March 22 or, if you're not in its listening area, you can listen to the speech after it broadcasts by going to the station's Web site.

We also spoke about the Equality Across America Midwest conference taking place this weekend in Chicago. It's called Unite+Fight: Strategizing for LGBTQ Civil Rights and Equality, and registration for the weekend is just $15. Presenters will include Lt. Dan Choi, prominent activist against Don't Ask Don't Tell; Staceyann Chin, Jamaican-born queer performance artist and poet; and Adam Bouska, photographer and creator of the NO H8 campaign.

To find out about carpooling from Madison, go to the "Carpool from Madison to the Equality Across America Midwest Conference!" Facebook page or call 608.446.0273.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tomorrow's show: Poet Staceyann Chin and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton

We're looking forward to tomorrow's show, when we'll be discussing Equality Across America: Midwest Conference 2010, which takes place in Chicago this weekend. The theme is Unite+Fight: Strategizing for LGBTQ Civil Rights and Equality.

Scheduled guests include poet and activist Staceyann Chin, who will be speaking at the weekend conference, and Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton on the well-being LGBT youth in Wisconsin.

Our show is on the last night of "For WORT It's Worth," the station's spring pledge drive. As of this writing, we are $16,000 short of our goal. If you haven't already donated, or if you have and can afford to give more, we hope you'll consider supporting LGBT programming on WORT. We've got plenty of great thank-you gifts for people who pledge at various levels.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marriage in D.C.

Yesterday was the first day for D.C. same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses. About 150 couples signed up, according to the Associated Press. They'll be able to legally marry on Tuesday, once the licenses are processed in accordance with the city's usual waiting period.

Last night's show: Thanks for supporting WORT!

Thanks for the pledges last night. We met our goal! And Kathryn's feet got very cold because we don't waste your valuable donations on overheating the studio.

(If you didn't hear the show and wonder why Kathryn didn't just put on socks and shoes like a normal person would, you'll just have to listen to the archived episode, accessible for the next few weeks via our Web site's left-hand column.)

We're so glad to know you love WORT as much as we do!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Pledge tonight!

Pledge during the show tonight - you can get leslie hall tickets and the satisfaction of knowing that you've supported local community radio. 608-256-2001 or

Plus, we're featuring Neil Patick Harris. Even the girls among us think he's hot!