Archive for September, 2011

Lebanon Valley College Celebrates with Nature-based Religions Oct. 30

September 30, 2011

Lebanon Valley College Nature-based Banquet, Oct. 30

A unique opportunity to learn about Wiccan, Druid, and Heathen traditions through a demonstration ritual, music, and food may be had during a banquet is scheduled for Sun., Oct. 30, 5 p.m. in the newly renovated Mund College Center at Lebanon Valley College.

The program will open with a demonstration of ritual marking the opening of the year for many nature-based religions. Most often referred to as Samhain (a Gaelic word pronounced SOW-en), Hallows’ Eve, or Halloween, the demonstration ritual will take place at an altar within a circle, with the intent of honoring an ancestor who has “passed beyond the Veil.”

As part of the demonstration, participants will learn the significance of items placed upon the altar, the process by which a ritual circle is “drawn,” and the significance of the ceremony. Harp music to accompany the demonstration will be provided by Celtic harpist Cathleen Sauber. Other features of the ceremony will include a crystal bowl intonation by Sofeya Puffins and drumming by Sofeya Puffins and Dream Hawk.

Billed as “A Celebration of Life Beyond the Veil through the Eyes of Many Paths,” a variety of nature-based religious traditions have been incorporated into the mock ritual, including the Pennsylvania Dutch Pow Wow tradition native to this area. Following the demonstration, guests will have an opportunity to pose questions to a panel of representatives of local Wiccan, Druid and Heathen groups from central Pennsylvania.

During the question and answer session, tables will be dismissed to a fall banquet buffet set with fall-themed appetizers, entrees, and side dishes such as Harvest Soup, Smoked Pork Loin, Sweet Roots and Parsnips, and “Fried Toads.” Dessert will include the opcion of Samhain Baked Apples or Chocolate Zucchini Cake.

“There’s something about sharing good food, music, and entertainment that breaks down barriers,” said Rev. Paul Fullmer, college chaplain and event key organizer. “We come to appreciate a variety of cultures in a very special way at the banquets, and have a great time doing so!”

“It is important to expose students and the community to the diversity of cultures that they may experience in their personal or professional lives,” Fullmer states. “This particular banquet will provide an excellent opportunity for students and the local community to learn about the practice and values of religions which are often significantly misunderstood, and wrongly ridiculed as a result.”

The college regularly offers banquets focusing on diverse religious and cultural experience twice a year, once each academic semester. Recent banquets featured the food, music and traditions of Sukkoth, Baisakhi, Mawlid al Nabi, and Rama Navami.

As a member of exceptional Celtic music groups such as AnamCara and the Ryeland Harp Ring of Robesonia, Cathleen Sauber has shared her talents at venues throughout central Pennsylvania, including Ten Thousand Villages and the Stoudtburg Village Garden Tour.

This Harrisburg-based husband and wife team Sofeya Puffins and Dream Hawk have been facilitators and vendors in venues throughout the United States, including the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, Wisteria, Four Quarters, the Spoutwood Farm Fairy Festival, and the New York Faerie Festival. Sofeya Puffins is a singer, song writer, bardic storyteller, and stained glass artist. In addition to drumming, Dream Hawk studies the arts of fire spinning and web design.

Tickets: $12 general admission; $30 family with children. LVC are eligible for meal exchange. Space limited. Reservations: Office of Spiritual Life at (717) 867-6135 by Tues., Oct. 25.

Program info: Office of Spiritual Life, (717) 867-6135, or John Hopewell, executive chef, (717) 867-6116 for information on foods served in relation to the celebration.

Wanda Sykes Funny and Human – Strand-Capital Oct. 16

September 28, 2011

Talks to Central Voice about Her Breast Cancer

By Frank Pizzoli

“My appearance at Strand-Capital isn’t going to be my ‘cancer show’”, comedian Wanda Sykes told Central Voice today. Sykes appears Oct. 16 at Strand-Capital Theatre, York.

Emmy-winning Sykes, 47, queen of wisecracks and one-liners, earlier this month told viewers of The Ellen DeGeneres Show about her run in with breast cancer. She’s the mother of 2 ½-year-old twins, Olivia and Lucas, and lives with wife Alex.

Even in the face of breast cancer, Sykes’ humor never left her.

A few days after the Ellen Show, Sykes told the New York Daily News, “I had real big boobs, and I just got tired of knocking over stuff.” She said, “Every time I eat … Oh, lord. I’d carry a Tide stick everywhere I go. My back was sore, so it was time to have a reduction.”

Sykes explained that while pursuing breast reduction last February until after the reduction lab work showed she had DCIS [ductal carcinoma in situ] in her left breast.
“I was very, very lucky because DCIS is basically stage-zero cancer,” Sykes explained.

With Sykes cancer in its earliest stage, she could choose between having a mammogram and MRI every three months to keep track of its progress or taking immediate action. Her mother’s side of the family had experienced a lot of breast cancer, Sykes said, so she opted for a bilateral mastectomy. “I had both breasts removed… Now I have zero chance of having breast cancer.”

Within every front stage persona lives a backstage individual.

Sykes shared with Central Voice why, as outspoken as she is in the public arena, why she wasn’t talking about her cancer sooner. “I needed to be there for myself, to use my own healing energy,” she said. As word leaked and Twitter alerted others to her challenge, well wishers sent messages. And then in a voice as genuine as warm apple pie Sykes said, “People like me. That’s sweet.”

And then right back to her signature humor.

“How many things could I have? I’m black, then lesbian. I can’t be a poster child for everything!” she joked. “At least with the LGBT issues we get a parade, we get a float, it’s a party.” Sykes’ breast cancer was anything but a party but her humorous soul has shone through the hardship.

FACT: National Cancer Institute estimates for 2011 new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the US – New cases: 230,480 (female); 2,140 (male); Deaths: 39,520 (female); 450 (male)

RESOURCE: What You Need to Know about Breast Cancer, online booklet
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/breast

UPDATE PHOTOS: Planned Parenthood PA Rally

September 22, 2011

UPDATE PHOTOS: Planned Parenthood PA Rally

In the first six months of 2011, Pennsylvania lawmakers spent 30% of their days at the Capitol working to restrict access to safe, legal abortion, says Sari Stevens, Planned Parenthood PA executive director. Approaching today’s (9/27/2011) rally, Stevens said she’d rather the Pa. General Assembly turn their attention to more pressing problems like the economy than placing further restrictions on access to legal and safe abortions.

“We’ve polled 1,000 people and two said abortion was on the top of their list,” Stevens told Central Voice. In contrast, the US Census Bureau one week before the rally reported that 1 in 5, or 20%, of Dauphin County families with children under 18 years of age live in poverty. The state figure is 15.9% while the national rate is 17.9%.

“The first vote of the session was on Senate Bill 3 which limits abortion coverage that may be purchased under “health care exchanges,” Stevens points out. States are now establishing exchanges as part of the national health care plan that goes into effect between now and 2014.

Driving the Harrisburg debate is the unfortunate case of Kermit Gosnell, the Philadelphia doctor facing eight counts of murder in the deaths of a female patient and seven babies. He had allegedly performed abortions on them under unsafe conditions in his clinic.

Stevens reports that her counterparts in the southeastern part of the state had informed the Pa. Dept. of Health about potential abuses. State regulators ignored grievances filed against Gosnell, who reportedly made millions of dollars over the past 30 years by performing illegal, late-term abortions, and they failed to visit or inspect his clinic since 1993, District Attorney Seth Williams said during Gosnell’s initial court appearance.

“There are 37,000 legal abortions performed in Pennsylvania annually. The municipality of State College has that many residents,” Stevens said. Gosnell is the exception not the rule, Stevens says in arguing against further abortion restrictions.

A typical form of legislative action involves not outright banning of abortion but to make the rules about how the procedure can be performed so restrictive and complicated “no one can possibly comply,” Stevens said. We’ve had enough,” Stevens said, using the words that are the event’s rallying cry.

Individuals and organizations from Pittsburgh, suburban Philadelphia, and Allentown attended.

Central PA Pride Festival Poised for 2012 Event

September 21, 2011

Community Can Help Decide Theme & Logo

Without skipping a beat, Central PA Pride Festival leaders completed their annual reorganization election Sept. 20.

“We’re ready to go to work again,” newly elected Pride president Brad Martin told Central Voice today (9/21/2011). The event is the region’s largest lgbt and allied event and draws as many as 5,000 to the banks of the Susquehanna River annually. The event is completely volunteer lead.

2012 Central PA Pride Festival is scheduled for July 26 – 27, 2012.

The 2011/2012 festival officers are Brad Martin, president; Diana Kuhns, 1st vice president; Adam Hagerty, 2nd vice president; Tammy Cassel, treasurer.

New board members are Nicolas Duncan, Mitchell Markelwitz, Sheila Noss, and Kelly Hoffman. They join current board members-at-large Jamie Frew, Bill Sprout, and Todd Shellenberger.

2012 Committee Chairs are Jamie Frew, entertainment; Bill Sprout and Sheila Noss, festival co-chairs; Kelly Hoffman, operations; Mitchell Markelwitz, parade; and Nicolas Duncan, volunteers.

“We’ll be accepting suggestions from the community for the 2012 theme and a logo to illustrate the theme,” Martin said.

Suggestions and volunteers: Mail theme and theme logo suggestions to info@prideofcentralpa.org. Volunteers are asked to send an email indicating interest.

Watch: www.prideofcentralpa.org, check website over the next few months for details on the theme and logo contest.

Equality Pennsylvania Candidate Endorsements for General Election 2011

September 21, 2011

Equality Pennsylvania today (9/21/2011) announced statewide candidate endorsements for the 2011 general election.

“More and more candidates for public office understand that they need the LGBT community to win. I am confident that these endorsed candidates will support our rights once they win,” commented Board President, Adrian Shanker. “I urge all LGBT voters, and voters concerned with equal rights in Pennsylvania to support these candidates any way you can.”

Endorsed candidates include:
Det Ansinn – Bucks County Commissioner, Democrat*
Lin Axamethy Floyd – Delaware County Council, Democrat
Stephen J. Barron – Northampton County Controller, Democrat
Cindy Bass – Philadelphia City Council-8th District, Democrat
Don Berk – Doylestown Borough Council, Democrat
Geoffrey Brace – Lehigh County Commissioner, Democrat*
Kathryn Boockvar – Judge, Commonwealth Court, Democrat*
John C. Campbell – Harrisburg City Treasurer, Democrat*
Dan Clifford – Judge – 38th Judicial District, Republican*
Keith Collins – Delaware County Council, Democrat
Geraldine Delevich – New Hope Borough Council, Democrat*
Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia – Bucks County Commissioner, Democrat*
Jeanette Eichenwald – Allentown City Council, Democrat*
Ralph Giguere – Abington Township Commissioner – Ward 13, Democrat
Rogette Harris – Dauphin County Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans Court, Democrat
Gloria L. Hamm – Lehigh County Commissioner, At Large, Democrat*
Brad Koplinski – Harrisburg City Council, Democrat*
Mary Ellen Koval – Allentown City Controller, Democrat
Daniel K. McCarthy – Judge, Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas, Democrat
Hugh F. McGough – Magisterial District Judge for Magisterial District 05-2-35 (Pittsburgh), Democrat*
Heidi Morein – Cheltenham Commissioner – Ward 7, Democrat
Dr. Rosemary Moriarty – Pittsburgh School District Director – Dist. 8, Independent
Marlene Pray – Doylestown Borough Council -Ward 1, Democrat*
Blondell Reynolds Brown – Philadelphia City Council, At Large, Democrat*
J. William Reynolds – Bethlehem City Council, Democrat
Leslie Richards – Montgomery County Commissioner, Democrat
Emily Rizzo – Rutland Township Supervisor, Democrat
Jason Salus – Montgomery County Treasurer, Democrat
Peter G. Schweyer – Allentown City Council, Democrat*
Josh Shapiro – Montgomery County Commissioner, Democrat
Vaughn Spencer – Mayor of Reading, Democrat
John L. Spiegelman – Abington Township Commissioner – Ward 11, Democrat
Elinor Warner – Easton City Council, At Large*
David N. Wecht – Judge, Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Democrat
Julia Woldorf – Newtown Borough Council, Democrat

*candidate endorsed in Primary and General election.

The mission of Equality Pennsylvania is to be the preeminent LGBT advocacy organization for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and work collaboratively to establish a comprehensive network of individuals and organizations united in securing equal rights for the LGBT community.
Info: www.equalitypa.org

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Ends Today

September 20, 2011

Servicemembers United, the nation’s largest organization of gay and lesbian troops and veterans, celebrated the historic end of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law today with the release of the following statement from its founder and Executive Director, Alexander Nicholson, who was himself honorably discharged early from the U.S. Army because of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

“On March 15, 1778 the first American servicemember was drummed out of the military for being gay. Since then, tens of thousands more have had their careers ruined and their lives turned upside down by a succession of anti-gay polices and regulations, culminating in the codification of an anti-gay statute in 1993 with the passage of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. In all, 14,346 men and women were discharged pursuant Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But thanks to the persistent hard work of unwavering advocates, especially those who have been directly impacted by this issue, and some courageous politicians over the past six years, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is now history. As a result, those who continue to serve can sleep easier tonight knowing that they can no longer be arbitrarily fired because of their sexual orientation. Justice has prevailed and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is dead. God bless America.”

The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Repeal Act of 2010, which was uncompromisingly pushed forward by Servicemembers United and its allies, was finally passed by Congress and signed into law by the President in December of 2010. In July of 2011, the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted a certification to Congress that the military was ready to implement the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in accordance with the requirements of the Repeal Act. After that certification was submitted, a 60-day waiting period commenced before the Repeal Act finally could go into effect and the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law could be stricken from the United States Code. That 60-day period ended today.

A grand total of at least 14,346 servicemembers were discharged pursuant to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in the law’s nearly 18 years on the books. That final figure, attributable to Servicemembers United, combines the number of discharges reported by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, which obtained the data from the Defense Manpower Data Center, combined with the number of discharges reported by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Guard Bureau for fiscal years 1994 through 2010. One additional discharge was reported by the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2011, which is also included in the above figure.

Servicemembers United, which has been engaged in extensive education, advocacy, and organizing work on behalf of the gay military, veteran, and defense community since 2005, will continue to grow its membership base and serve as the voice of this newly legitimized community in Washington and around the country in the post-Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell era. For more information about Servicemembers United and the gay military community, please visit our new home on the web at http://www.servicemembers.org.

Central PA LGBT Aging Network (CPLAN) to Screen Documentary on LGBT Aging

September 19, 2011


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older adults face a number challenges to successful aging. Isolation, lack of access to competent services, and unequal treatment under laws and programs for older adults impact LGBT older adults in specific ways. The Central PA LGBT Aging Network (CPLAN) has been formed by the LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central PA to address these disparities in our region. The group will offer monthly programs for LGBT older adults and staff trainings to service providers.

A documentary from critically-acclaimed filmmaker Stu Maddux, Gen Silent asks six LGBT seniors if they will hide their friends, spouses, and entire lives in order to survive in the care system. CPLAN will screen the film at Penn State Harrisburg, Gallery Lounge, Olmstead Building 777 W. Harrisburg Pike, Middletown on Thursday, 10/13 (reception at 6:00, screening at 6:30) and at HACC York, Glatfelter Comm. Room, Cytec Building 2161 Pennsylvania Ave, York, on Sunday, 10/16 (reception at 1:30, screening at 2:00). A panel discussion will follow each screening. Tickets are $5 and will be available at the door for each screening. Students from each campus will be able to enter for free. In addition, the film will be screened as part of HACC Lancaster’s multicultural program series on Monday, 10/17 at noon. This screening is free and open to the public.

The mission of CPLAN is to promote a positive and healthy quality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in central Pennsylvania by ensuring they continue to be supported, respected, and connected as they advance in age.

In addition to CPLAN, the LGBT Community Center provides weekly programs for youth, a GSA Leadership Summit, and various arts and cultural activities. The Center serves Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Perry, and York counties.

For more information, contact Louie Marven at (717) 920-9534 or lmarven@centralpalgbtcenter.org.

Brian Sanders’ JUNK Kicks off the Philly Fringe Festival

September 6, 2011

by Debra Miller
Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent
Photos by Bill Hebert

Brian Sanders’ JUNK Kicks off the Philly Fringe Festival

by Debra Miller
Philadelphia Arts and Culture Correspondent

Last Wednesday’s VIP/press preview of Dancing Dead by Brian Sanders’ JUNK launched an auspicious start to this year’s Philadelphia Fringe Festival. Choreographer Sanders (who starred as the lonely gravedigger) and his masterful troupe of eight young dancers (all trained at Philly’s own University of the Arts) generated both excitement and poignancy with this original graveyard vision, and received a well deserved standing ovation.

Combining a mastery of modern dance with the athleticism of Olympic gymnastics, the daring dancers performed aerial acrobatics and earthbound waltzes to a score of Pop music from the Sixties and Seventies. Among the most amusing scenes was a perfectly synchronized disco dead dance, with the living corpses parodying John Travolta’s infamous moves from Saturday Night Fever.

Company members Billy Robinson and Connor Senning (whose dirt-stained body emerged in tattered clothing from a burial mound of freshly dug earth) acknowledged that the dangerous moves and emotional subject matter require a close-knit group of dancers, who can let go of their fears and trust each other for the physical and emotional support they need. They did not disappoint one another, or the audience. Their seemingly impossible feats of movement were executed with flawless precision, and left the lucky viewers spellbound by the intricacies and risks of Sanders’ brilliant, cutting-edge choreography.

Set in the subterranean space of 444 Lofts, the 50-minute production was inspired by Sanders’ own personal memories of family and friends, but the feelings he captured are universal–the moving thoughts of loved ones lost. Despite the deathly theme, the show is anything but morbid; it is a life-affirming paean to the passions of human existence and our eternal longing for love.

Dancing Dead by Brian Sanders’ JUNK runs September 2-17, in the Sub-Basement @ 444 Lofts, 444 N. 4th Street, Philadelphia. For more information, log onto the company’s website at www.briansandersjunk.com/frontpage.html. For tickets, visit the Fringe Festival online at http://ticketing.theatrealliance.org/sites/livearts/details.aspx?id=18885, or call the Box Office at 215.413.1318.

US State Dept Opposes Sept. 7 “Kill the Gays” Uganda Bill

September 6, 2011

Johnnie Carson, US State Dept., African Affairs

Central Voice correspondent Michael Petrelis, San Fransisco, recevied a reply from US State Dept. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Johnnie Carson on the proposed Sept. 7 vote in the Ugfandan legislature regarding that country’s latest “Kill the Gays” measure.

From Petrelis: On behalf of the Gays Without Borders activist group, I wish to acknowledge with much gratitude and pleasure that it took less than 24-hours to receive this substantive reply from Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson (pictured), whose portfolio for the U.S. State Department is African Affairs.

We initiated a drive to send letters, emails or faxes to Secretary Carson requesting comments opposing an effort in the Ugandan parliament on September 7 to push forward a draconian and deadly bill targeting LGBT persons, HIV positive people and their supporters. Many thanks to all who contacted him. He wasted little time sending back this powerful and frank statement, and we will maintain communications with him and his colleagues.

We at Gays Without Borders feel our activism that produced this US State Department affirmation for gay citizens of Uganda is one piece of a larger global network of non-governmental organizations, philanthropic foundations, LGBT and HIV/AIDS groups, grassroots activists and diplomats working to advance respect for the human rights of gay and HIV positive Ugandans.

Like many others, we remain very worried about the September 7 parliamentary hearing and will be monitoring the situation closely, and we stand ready to again activate on Ugandan matters.

Please share this US State Department statement far and wide:

September 4, 2011

Dear Mr Petrelis:

Thank you for your email expressing your concern about an anti-homosexual bill that may be introduced shortly in the Ugandan parliament. We too are concerned about the passage of any legislation in Uganda (or anywhere else in Sub- Saharan Africa) that would criminalize or punish homosexual activities between consenting adults.

We believe that gay and lesbian citizens should enjoy the same rights and individual freedoms as other citizens. The Department of State has spoken out clearly and repeatedly against this type of discriminatory legislation in Uganda, and we will continue to do so.

In this regard, I have spoken to the most senior officials in the Ugandan government about this issue, and stand ready to add my voice as required in the future. Our ambassador and embassy in Kampala will continue to monitor any anti-gay and lesbian legislation and we will speak out forcefully to prevent its passage.

I will pass your letter to our ambassador in Kampala, who may provide you with more information on this specific bill. Thank you again for your interest and your concern about this issue.

Johnnie Carson
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs

Will Dan Miller Run for Harrisburg Mayor?

September 1, 2011

Yesterday and today (8/31/ 2001 and 9/1/2011) friends of Harrisburg city controller Dan Miller received emails and printed invitations for a fundraiser Sept. 22 “as He Plans a Mayoral Bid,” according to the invitation.

Today Miller told Central Voice “It’s not a formal announcement but the time to start gathering petitions is only 18 months away, February 2013. We need to prepare as a contingency if a run is made.” The primary election would take place in May 2013.

The invitation comes on the heels of Harrisburg city council voting last night not to accept Mayor Linda Thompson’s fiscal recovery plan. In a previous vote, council had also rejected the state-crafted Act 47 plan.