Archive for March, 2009

K. D. Lang: “We are not victims. We are leaders.”

March 31, 2009

Both musical icon and activist, K. D. Lang asks the gay community to use its experience of oppression to identify with others who are put down. When it comes to her vocal talents, she says “The listening is where I start,” when describing what tethers her to a musical talent known worldwide. “I keep the two activities separate. I don’t take my political views to the stage when entertaining,” she says.


Lang appears May 1 at York’s Strand Capital Theatre.


Also appearing in York May 1 is Sandra Bernhard, headliner at Club XS Black & White Party benefiting the region’s HIV organizations. Although invited to stop by Club XS after her Strand Capital show, at press time there was no confirmation that Lang would be available. “There is a large group of women from the community planning to attend both the Lang and Bernhard shows,” confirms Charles Oswald, Club XS manager and benefit producer.


Her love of music began early. By 1983, she formed with college friends a Patsy Cline tribute band called the Reclines and they recorded a debut album, Friday Dance Promenade. “One of those people, Ben Menke, worked as my co-producer early on.

That same year, she presented a performance art piece, a seven-hour re-enactment of the transplantation of an artificial heart for Barney Clark, a retired American dentist. Called A Truly Western Experience, the piece received strong reviews and led to national attention in Canada.


Lang’s latest album, Watershed, comprises 11 new songs written and produced she’s written and produced. The Deluxe Edition features four live performances and an exclusive video interview with Lang filmed in London.


The list of musical artists Lang has sung with is stunning. “I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to work with Tony Bennett,” she says sounding as if she’s as enthralled with those moments now as then. “Bennett created the American song book and those experiences are still special for me.”


When Lang worked with the legendary Roy Orbison, both she and Bonnie Raitt were his back-up singers. “I was 26 years old working as a back-up singer alongside Raitt! We worked hard and learned a lot. Our vocal work was intricate,” she remembers.


Her work on movie soundtracks has earned notches in Hollywood folklore. “Gus Van Sant gave me full leeway when he asked me to do his soundtrack,” Land says, referring to “Even Cowgirl’s Get the Blues”. The James Bond soundtrack experience was different. “They wanted something very specific. I’m happy working either way, a challenge is a challenge.”


At 47 and a practicing Buddhist for nine years, Lang says her contemplative side has influenced her views on gay politics. She meditates and chants daily.


“Practicing Buddhism has widened my view of the world, myself, and the struggles our community faces,” she explains. Lang asks gay people to remember that we live in a world full of minorities that face equal or worse injustices. “We can use the experiences of our own oppression to more easily identify with others who are put down, even murdered, like Matthew Shepard, for who they are. We are not the only oppressed group.”


Lang, who came out as a lesbian in a 1992 article in The Advocate, has actively championed gay rights causes. She sometimes utilizes an androgynous physical appearance. She has performed and supported many causes over the years, including HIV/AIDS care and research. Her cover of Cole Porter‘s “So in Love” appears on the Red Hot + Blue compilation album and video from 1990, a benefit for AIDS research and relief.


Her animal rights vegetarian stance, including a “Meat Stinks” campaign, created much controversy, particularly at her hometown in the middle of Alberta‘s cattle ranching industry.


Lang appeared on the cover of the August 1993 issue of Vanity Fair. The cover featured Lang in a barber chair while model Cindy Crawford appeared to shave her face with a straight razor. The issue contained a detailed article about Lang which observed that she had thought that she would be ostracized by the country music industry when she came out as a lesbian. However, Nashville was accepting, and her records continued to sell.

When she appeared in an ad for PETA however, Nashville was less impressed owing to the relationship between country music and cattle ranching.


In April 2008, Lang spent time in Melbourne, Australia, as a guest editorialist for The Age. This was in connection with her support for the Tibet human rights issues. At one point she joined pro-Tibet protesters in Canberra as the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics torch relay made its way through the Australian capital.


Lang feels that “the gay community’s experiences make us uniquely able to lead with an informed and compassionate view. We are not victims. We are leaders.”


Silent Witness Volunteers Honored

March 26, 2009

The ubiquitous Silent Witness Volunteers Alanna Berger and Blaise Liffick have been selected as one of several recipients of Millersville University’s Walker Center Distinguished Civic Leadership Award. Berger and Lifflick are husband and wife.


The award will be presented on April 16, the university’s Lehr Ballroom of the Bolger Conference Center in Gordinier Hall.


Berger and Lifflick, and dozens of other volunteers, have been fixtures at the region’s Central PA Pride Festival and other lgbt events that may or have drawn protestors. The group uses rainbow umbrellas to shield lgbt people and their supporters from the shouts, taunts, and up-close-and-personal expressions of the protestors’ free speech.


The awards recognize individuals or organizations making notable civic and community contributions of local, regional, national or international impact, and who are catalysts for civic engagement on the part of others. The award evening includes a reception and dinner in honor of the awardees followed by keynote speaker Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben and Jerry’s Homemade, Inc., who will speak on the topic of “An Evening of Entrepreneurial Spirit, Social Responsibility, and Radical Business Philosophy (and free ice cream)”.


The Robert and Sue Walker Center for Civic Responsibility and Leadership is part of the Civic and Community Engagement and Research Project (CCERP) at Millersville University.  CCERP approaches community engagement by enlisting meaningful participation across the political spectrum to form consensuses about the identification of, if not always the solutions to, important educational, social and economic problems.


Pride Festival Releases 2008 Financial Statement

March 24, 2009

REPORT BELOW – “The Pride Festival of Central PA Committee is making plans for the next several years which will mark milestones in glbt history,” said Jeff Clouser, festival president, upon release today of a financial statement of activity for the 2008 event.


The benchmark events Clouser and the committee occur over the next three years.


2009 marks the 40th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, the event which started the modern day gay rights movement and the tradition of Pride Festivals. 2010 marks the 5th Anniversary of the PrideFest Unity Parade and 2011 marks the 20th Anniversary of the Pride Festival in the mid-state, currently known as the Pride Festival of Central PA.


“We’re excited about the plans for the 2009 festival. This year’s theme is “Your Rights, Our Rights, Human Rights,” Clouser says. The Stonewall Veterans will lead off the expanded PrideFest Unity Parade route and our headliner at the Mainstage is Tiffany.  New to the festival this year is a Second Stage featuring Janice Robinson, a Dance Tent area, and a Family Zone area.


“As you can see from our 2008 Statement of Activity, we have been able to start this year on a positive note due to the frugal planning of the pride festival board during this difficult economic time. However, as we continue to grow the festival so does the cost and expense of providing additional programming grow,” Clouser explains.


Please consider a contribution to the Pride Festival of Central PA by mailing your donation to PO Box 12083, Harrisburg, PA 17108-2083 or by visiting the website at and clicking on the donation button.


If individuals or organizations are interested in volunteering at this year’s event please e-mail or call 717-801-1830. “Thank you for the continued support of our community,” Clouser says. The financial report was prepared by the festival’s fiscal sponsor The Foundation for Enhancing Communities. Information on the report is available from Ellen Kyzer,, 717-236-5040.


Pride Festival of Central Pennsylvania

Statement of Activities

January 1, 2008 through December 31, 2008





Current Year Contributions:                                                                    $78,661



Less Current Year Expenses:


                        Advertising                                 2,831

                        Awards                                          111

                        Direct Event Costs                     15,722 

                        Dues                                             373

                        Entertainment                               6,275

                        Grants                                          2,500

                        Insurance                                     1,238

                        Licenses and Fees                         370

                        Postage                                          213

                        Printing                                        1,532

                        Security                                        6,726

                        Storage                                        1,535

                        Supplies                                      2,759

                        Telephone                                       74

                        TFEC Administrative Fee              1,250

                        Travel                                          1,407

                        Website                                          890


Total Current Year Expenses:                                                                $45,856



Net Profit (Loss)                                                                                                $32,805




“Pass this bill” 300+ Shout at Capital

March 17, 2009


“As I stand here I could be fired from my job in the state of Pennsylvania for being gay,” said the voice from the podium inside the capital dome. Those words were spoken by Stephen A. Glassman, chairperson of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.


Although self-employed and appointed to the commission post as an openly gay man by Gov. Ed Rendell, it is unlikely Glassman would be fired. Nonetheless his words resonated among the 300-plus citizens who gathered to shout “Pass this bill” as 13 speakers addressed the state’s lack of employment civil rights for gay people. The measure is House Bill 300 that calls for protecting people who live or work in the state from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations.


In all, there were 13 speakers at the podium, among them Philadelphia-based activist Jake Kaskey from Value All Families; the measures prime sponsor Rep. Dan Frankel; Rep. Babette Josephs; and Rev. Timothy Safford, who serves at a church on whose grounds seven signers of the Declaration of Independence are buried.


Nadine Strossen, Former ACLU President at Dickinson

March 12, 2009

Nadine Strossen, former president of the American Civil Liberties Union, will visit Dickinson College to discuss threats to civil liberties Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m., in the Great Room of the Stern Center on West Louther Street between West and College streets in Carlisle. The event, part of the college’s Morgan Lectureship, is free and open to the public.


The first female president of the ACLU, Strossen held the top post at the organization from 1991 until last year. She has written, lectured and practiced extensively in the areas of constitutional law, civil liberties and international human rights.


Strossen gave the Constitution Address at Dickinson College in October 2001, during which she spoke of the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on civil liberties. She has written two books and more than 300 articles for scholarly journals and general interest publications. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard College in 1972 and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1975.


The Morgan Lectureship was endowed by the board of trustees in 1992, to honor the distinguished service of James Henry Morgan, who graduated from Dickinson in 1878 and went on to become professor of Greek, dean and president of the college. The lectureship brings to campus a scholar-in-residence to meet informally with individuals and class groups, and to deliver the Morgan Lecture on topics in the social sciences and humanities.


This event also is sponsored by the Career Center, the Political Science Department and The Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues at Dickinson College. For more information, visit Web site or call 717-245-1875.