The 25th Annual Circle City Pride Celebration, June 8th

The Circle City Pride Celebration is a week of events, culminating in the Pride Parade and Festival on Saturday, June 8th. Visit their site for a list of the events; there’s lots to do this year throughout the week. But definitely the highlights are the parade and festival on Saturday.

The Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade kicks off at 10 am on Massachusetts Avenue and winds through downtown to the festival site at the American Legion Mall. There are over 100 groups marching in the parade and thousands of spectators. Come early to get a good spot – people begin assembling for the parade at 8:30 am. (I’ll be marching with city-county council member Zach Adamson’s group this year).

Indy Pride

The Circle City Pride Festival gates open at 11 a.m on Michigan street. The festival stretches 3 city blocks, and hosts over 300 vendors and dozens of different entertainers during the course of the day.

Indy Pride

Over the 25 years that this event has been going on, the Pride Celebration has been transformed from a small community event to a diverse state-wide gathering of thousands of people from all walks of life. Today the parade and festival have an estimated attendance of 80,000 people, with events going on all week long. The Indianapolis Star as a nice article about the 25 year history of the pride celebration that’s very worth reading. I was one of the attendees at the first pride celebration on the circle in 1988. I drove down with friends from Ball State to set up a booth for Ball State’s LGBT Student Association, now called “Spectrum.” It was held on the Circle the first few years, attended by several hundred people and lots of protestors.

I think the Pride organizers have done a fantastic job of growing the festival, and of making the event worthy of a city the size of Indianapolis. I’ve been a part of organizing events like this in the past – it isn’t easy and there are lots of details to chase down. I have a lot of respect for what the organization has been able to build over the years. I’m excited for this year’s event; it promises to be bigger and better than years past.

Continue ReadingThe 25th Annual Circle City Pride Celebration, June 8th

Dealing with some denial of service attacks on the site

I have been dealing with a denial of service attack on my site recently. I suspect that I’m the target of some unethical behavior in the gay Republican base in Indianapolis politics, specifically because of this post I wrote about Marion County’s special election to replace Julia Carson.

It’s been almost exactly a year since I wrote “I Am Not an Activist” and after that scaled back my writing about local political issues in favor of more relevant topics. In retrospect that was a good decision. Also appropriate since David Wene, a local gay Republican “activist” decided to use that word to describe me as though it was an epithet.

Continue ReadingDealing with some denial of service attacks on the site

I Am Not An “Activist”

I hate the word activist. Mainly because it’s one of those right-wing propaganda, tar-and-feather, hot button words that Frank Luntz cultivated to brand liberals as crazy folks who are out to burn down your house and roast your kids on the bar-be-que. (Read more about Frank Luntz and his language campaign – it’s important to know if you’re at all interested in politics. It will make you suspicious of how all arguments from the right are framed, and help you recognize spin jobs and Republican astroturf.)

You can see the word “activist” in action in a recent Micah Clark American Family Association message to his Christian support base:

As you can imagine Eric Miller (Advance America) and I are not popular on the homosexual web sites this week. The activists have convinced themselves that legislators actually believe that AFA’s opposition was “nutty”.

Yeah, I’m one of those “homosexual websites” – although he’s probably referring to Gary or Bil – I doubt I’m important enough to be on his radar. And when he’s talking about “activists” he’s talking about me, too.

But seriously – you know me. Most of the people who read my site are my family members and friends. If you were throwing out words to describe me, would “activist” be one of them? Would you characterize me the way that Micah Clark does? Do you think I’m radical? Crazy? Outside the mainstream?

But the other reason I hate the word is because I don’t want to be active in politics. I hate politics. I know – I write almost constantly about politics and show up at the statehouse and city-county council, so that doesn’t seem correct, but it’s true. I really don’t enjoy politics at all, and would rather have nothing to do with it. I really wish my entire involvement in politics was showing up to vote once a year. I find the whole process excruciating; the arguing, the ass-kissing, the public speaking, the obvious lying and animosity. Ugh.

But I don’t really have any choice in the matter. As a gay person in a red state, I have to pay attention to what’s going on and to act because it has a direct impact on my personal life in so many ways – legally, financially, safety and security-wise. I really wish I didn’t have to. There are so many things I’d rather be doing instead. But when I do go off and do other stuff, stuff I really enjoy, I feel horribly guilty, like I’m not meeting my obligations. And when things happen like the Bias Crimes Bill stalling – I feel like its my fault.

And when it comes to politics in general – Bush, the war, Republicans – I can’t shake the feeling that the world is moving in a profoundly wrong direction. And I feel like I have to say something about that, although I’d rather not have to think about it at all.

I know that some people pursue political endeavors because they feel a “romantic hero” sense about it all, but that doesn’t appeal to me. I already have my Dulcinea, I’m tired of tilting at windmills.

Continue ReadingI Am Not An “Activist”

Local Political Organizing

I got an e-mail yesterday from a woman I know who’s on the board of directors of an organization I used to do volunteer work for. She was objecting to something I wrote here in my journal. The e-mail was titled “I’m disappointed” and in it, she chastised me for expressing some opinions about some local political activists in the gay community, then she ordered me to stop expressing such opinions, because “we already have too much of that sort of thing.” THEN, she proceeded to ask me to volunteer some time helping her learn website editing so she could do my former volunteer position.

I actually responded with a relatively polite e-mail explaining (again) that I don’t have the time to volunteer for her organization, as I have other organizations I already work for. Can you believe how mature I was? ME NEITHER. But, hey, I’m safely back on my own website, so here’s what I really think:

If you don’t like something you read here, FUCK OFF. FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF, FUCK OFF. Also, BITE ME. Plus, how fucking clueless are you to try to order me around on my own website, then to ask me to give my time(=money) to help you out?

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Bank seizes HIV, AIDS donations to AIDServe Indiana

According to Gina Barton, the Indianapolis Star [link deprecated:” title=”Indy Star Article Archives”]:

Nearly $175,000 worth of donations for people with HIV and AIDS was seized by Fifth Third Bank to pay off the debts of AIDServe Indiana, a troubled statewide agency that closed in November.

The money, raised at the annual AIDS walk in October, was placed in an unrestricted account. The bank took the money to pay off the organization’s credit line, AIDServe board member Coby Palmer confirmed.

“The bank took the walk money because the loan came due,” Palmer said.

Palmer and others are concerned that the fiasco will have a negative effect on future AIDS fund-raisers throughout the city.

“I think it’s going to be hard for anyone to do an AIDS walk this year,” said Diana Gray, executive director of the Damien Center, a regional AIDS service organization based in Indianapolis. “It’s clearly out in the community that the AIDS walk money was taken by the bank and did not go to the people it was supposed to go to, and clients have suffered because of that.”

Gray said she hoped people would recognize the Damien Center as an independent entity from AIDServe, which still owes the Damien Center $104,000.

Herb Schlotterbeck, 62, has participated in the walk for the past 10 years. He said he would sign up again to show his support for people with AIDS, regardless of what happened to the money.

“I’m not concerned about AIDServe; I’m concerned about people who need the support,” said Schlotterbeck, who walked with a group from All Saints Episcopal Church.

The Damien Center is planning to sponsor a walk later this year. Officials likely will work in cooperation with Palmer and another AIDS activist, Jack Batty, who are organizing a new group, Indiana Still Cares. The organization will not distribute federal funds or enter into contracts with the Indiana State Department of Health, as AIDServe did. Rather, Indiana Still Cares would plan and execute fund-raisers to help people with HIV and AIDS.

AIDServe, with 800 to 900 clients and an annual budget of $5million, was the only statewide agency serving needy residents with HIV and AIDS. About a dozen regional groups received funding through AIDServe, which administered federal grants through contracts with the Health Department.

In November, AIDServe Director Mark St. John resigned after admitting he had mismanaged the agency’s funds. A week later, the Health Department terminated all its contracts with AIDServe, in essence shutting it down.

Many low-income people with HIV and AIDS were left unable to afford housing, drugs and medical services. Doctors who took care of them were not paid. Several board members have resigned, but some, including Palmer, agreed to stay on to tie up loose ends.

Both the Damien Center and Indiana Still Cares hope to distance themselves from any implied affiliation with AIDServe, which remains the target of both criticism and legal action.

The $175,000 raised at last year’s AIDS walk wasn’t enough to cover the organization’s $400,000 debt to Fifth Third Bank, according to a lawsuit the bank filed earlier this month in Marion County. Expert lawyers based in Langhorne states that the suit seeks permission to take any assets at the organization’s former offices at 3951 N. Meridian St.

Thomas Mariani, the attorney representing the bank, said all parties agree the bank has the right to take the materials, which he guessed are valued at no more than $10,000.

Meanwhile, Health Department officials are trying to repay the regional groups for outstanding expenses that should have been paid by AIDServe. They also want to keep helping clients.

“We’ve continued to provide direct medical assistance and housing assistance, the things we consider essential services,” said Michael Butler, director of the Health Department’s HIV/sexually transmitted disease division.

The department hopes to have AIDServe’s former contracts reassigned to different providers by July 1.

Palmer believes AIDServe’s cash-flow problems resulted in part from the Health Department’s failure to reimburse the organization in a timely manner. Palmer said he thinks the Health Department owes AIDServe about $250,000.

Health Department officials say they have not received documentation to substantiate that claim. An audit now under way could help resolve the differences.

“The audit results will dictate what our next move will be,” Butler said.

The bank and several regional service organizations also are awaiting the results of the audit in hopes they can lay claim to additional money. The audit likely won’t be finished for several months.

AIDServe plans to file for bankruptcy, Palmer said.

Continue ReadingBank seizes HIV, AIDS donations to AIDServe Indiana