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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Snyde and Sneak
by Tracy Baim
2000-02-02

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Top of the Line

Atlanta Braves baseball pitcher John Rocker still has his job after making offensive comments about women, gays, Blacks, foreigners, just about everyone. But he has been punished: he´ll be suspended for the first month of this season, fined $20,000 and forced to take sensitivity training. The Braves general manager said the team supports the punishment, but also stands by their teammate. We´ll see by just how hard some of his Black and Latin teammates throw the ball back to him between pitches. Still, he did get a relatively heavy suspension.

Some interesting ads on the Super Bowl—a trend in national TV ads definitely seems to be gender-bending. Of course, E*Trade is run by openly lesbian President and Chief Operating Officer Kathy Levinson, so their commercial about a star male basketball player deciding on a dancing career was not too surprising. Other recent commercials include the M&M´s "female" green M&M getting cat calls from men and women, Dr. Pepper with an older man cross-dressing, and a FedX commercial with GI-Joe type dolls in women´s clothing—because the shipment didn´t make it time for the commercial shoot. Nuveen also has a fascinating ad about the "future," where AIDS has been cured, and spinal injuries also cured—with a "walking" Christopher Reeve.

That´s Entertainment

Note to openly lesbian Tony winner Cherry Jones, in town for the Goodman production of A Moon for the Misbegotten: We know you´re focused on the production´s next stop—Broadway—but we´d love an interview before you leave town!

On Feb. 7, 9 p.m., WFLD Fox 32 Evening News will present a special report on discrimination against transgender people in the Chicago area. Special Projects Reporter Mark Saxenmeyer worked closely with It´s Time, Illinois during the taping of the report. The focus of the report is rejection and conflict resolution, and overcoming adversity in dealing with discrimination. Among those interviewed are third-year law student Elizabeth Snyder; activist Rikki Swin; Ellie Altman, founder of Parents and Friends of Transgender Children; Ean H. Behr, Board Member of ITIL; noted psychologist and author Randi Ettner; and Miranda Stevens-Miller, Chair of ITIL. The timing of the report coincides with the push for HB474 in the Illinois State Legislature. HB474 would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the Illinois Human Rights Act. The Fox 32 report highlights the need for such legislation, Stevens-Miller said.

Meanwhile, a program on Religion and Ethics features interviews with a Chicago lesbian couple about to give birth, and Rev. Gregory Dell. It airs Feb. 6 at 11:30 a.m. on Channel 11 and 9 p.m. on Channel 20. The Chicago Commission on Human Relations presented its Human Relations Award last week to Dell, who has been censored by the United Methodist Church for performing same-sex unions. He vowed to continue the practice.

HBO´s If These Walls Could Talk will air in early March. Ellen DeGeneres, Sharon Stones, Anne Heche and other stars are associated with this one. The first program was about abortion; this one is about lesbians. DeGeneres is also doing a stand-up special for HBO this summer and shooting a pilot for CBS—Variety asked she will be gay in the CBS show: "I´m playing me, so I will be gay because, as you´ve heard, I am."

The Chicago Tribune "Family" section Jan. 30 had a wonderful feature about 13-year-old Sol Kelley-Jones and her two moms, Joanne Kelley and Sunshine Jones, of Madison. Sol is the youth who at age 10 testified against a proposed state law banning gay marriages—and she´s still fighting against bigotry. Give this kid a full-ride scholarship on her way to becoming president.

Outlines columnist Laurie Essig had a column in Salon Jan. 28, about her own travails as a lesbian mom—People magazine called to interview her during the big Melissa/Julie/David & Jan Crosby news hurricane ( Rolling Stone, Larry King, 60 Minutes, et. al ) . "There´s also something a bit disturbing about telling the world something that she once deemed secret or unimportant or none of our business," Essig says of Melissa. "And there´s something a bit too scripted, a bit too Disney, about the way the disquieting elements of Melissa´s motherhood are made right by the appearance of a ´father.´ True, Mr. Crosby is not a dashing prince, but he is famous, talented and rich. With his appearance, the heterosexual union and the primacy of biology are restored and everyone can live happily ever after. Yet even if Melissa Etheridge´s revelation plays into the ridiculously heterosexist and biologistic assumptions of our society, I´m glad she did it. Otherwise People ... wouldn´t be calling a nobody like me."

Salon took some BIG heat for publishing gay columnist Dan Savage´s essay about going undercover in the Gary Bauer presidential campaign in Iowa. Savage said he was trying to infect the campaign with his flu virus. Couldn´t have hurt any more than Bauer´s pancake "flip" ( directions: flip the pancakes, not yourself ) .

John/Joan author John Colapinto will be interviewed about his life as an intersex child and adult on Oprah on or about Feb. 3. Colapinto will join sex researcher Milton Diamond and psychiatrist Keith Sigmundson on Dateline Feb. 8.

Reuters/Variety reports that Wallace Langham, who plays ambiguously gay Josh on Veronica´s Closet and who is accused of a hate crime for allegedly attacking a gay reporter for the Star tabloid, has agreed to a six-figure settlement with the man. But prosecutors may oppose the deal, not wanting to set a precedent in such a case.

Let´s hear it for the boys ...

The Feb. 15 edition of Frontline on PBS, Channel 11, is called "Assault on Gay America." It´s timed for the anniversary of the Feb. 19, 1999 murder of Billy Jack Gaither, a 39-year-old computer programmer from Sylacauga, Ala. He was brutally beaten with an axe handle. His throat was cut, and his body was set on fire. Charles Butler, 21, and Steven Mullins, 24, were convicted of the crime. Mullins later testified he killed Billy Jack because Billy Jack was "queer" and had made a pass at him. Jury selection for the trial was difficult—many called for duty said that they didn´t know whether they could render a fair verdict, because the Bible tells them that homosexuality is a sin.

In "Assault on Gay America," producer Claudia Pryor Malis and correspondent Forrest Sawyer explore the nature of homophobia in America, both as a catalyst for hate crimes and as an attitude that permeates public life. "We move from the exploration of the hate crime against Billy Jack Gaither to the larger question of how much homophobia we share as a society," says Pryor. "We examine the possible links between the forces that drove them to kill, and the forces that fuel homophobia in the general law-abiding public."

Billy Jack Gaither´s sister Kathy, who is also gay, tells Frontline that her brother never formed a long-term relationship with another man, because it would have forced his parents to face the truth about their son. "I think he respected them to the point where he put that aside. His parents meant that much to him. He wasn´t going to do nothing to offend them or disrespect them," Kathy Gaither says. She also says that Billy Jack was worried about two men who had been propositioning him and wouldn´t leave him alone. She believes the men Billy Jack spoke of, one month before his death, were his killers. Billy Jack´s brother, Ricky, feels Butler and Mullins "lied" when they claimed Billy Jack had propositioned them. "Billy wouldn´t approach anybody that didn´t approach him. He didn´t push himself on people ... . I think it was a cover-up."

Following the broadcast, access the Frontline website at www.pbs.org/frontline for more info.

Gays want to be millionaires, too

The Jan. 22 winner on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire embraced his male partner onstage after winning half a million dollars. "The audience cheered, Regis Philbin, the host, grinned, and the network was not flooded with protest calls. In its own quirky way, the quiz show, which is a ratings juggernaut and the No. 1 show in the nation, has quietly and quite nonchalantly broken sexual and racial barriers on television," said The New York Times. "Not only do gay couples routinely appear on the show—the word ´gay´ is never used—but so do racially mixed couples, which in the past television has often avoided showing." The show airs three nights a week and averages 28.5 million viewers. If that doesn´t help change perceptions about gays, what will? The Globe got on the Millionaire bandwagon in their Feb. 8 issue, including a look at Rob Coughlin, that first gay winner. Coughlin, 42, is a Seattle transit company worker whose partner is Mark Leahy. The couple said TV staffers were very welcoming and inclusive.

´XENA´ & ´Jekyll´ FREE tix

We´ve got a few free passes for the Xena production by Greasy Joan and About Face, and for Jekyll &Hyde. FAX ( 773 ) 871— 7609 or e-mail outlines@suba.com to enter for our free drawing.

Around Town

Feb. 5, Mountain Moving Coffeehouse for Womyn & Children and the women of A Real Read present The Other 6 Colored Girls Who Never Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Was All They Had, a new take on an old classic. Also featured Sheila, Paula Gee and Jano, and works by Tatiana de la Tierra, Ronda Bedgood, C.C. Carter, Dr. Shirlene Holmes, and Shannon Sudduth. Starts 7:30 p.m., 1650 W. Foster, ( 312 ) 409— 0276.


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