Kansas News

AIDS Memorial Garden in Wichita remembers, honors loved ones

By Ciara Reid, staff reporter; Michael Madecky, contributor

AIDSMemorialWICHITA - Throughout the past five years, many who have visited the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Midtown location have paid their respects to those who have lost the fight with AIDS by visiting the AIDS Memorial Garden.

    The Wichita AIDS Memorial Garden is currently located behind the Midtown Clinic off of Minneapolis St. on the northeast side of the complex. This is the third location for the garden; it was previously located on Topeka at the Midtown Clinic’s former location from 2003-10. Prior to 2003, it was located at 10th and Waco, which was the home of ConnectCare, an assisted living housing unit for people living with HIV/AIDS.


The Russian Grand Ballet brings Swan Lake to the Orpheum Theatre Oct. 21

swan-lakeWICHITA - The Russian Grand Ballet will present Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in Wichita, Wednesday, Oct. 21 at The Orpheum Theatre. This full-length production is on a 22-city North American tour – the first time the Russian Grand Ballet has visited the United States. The group has established a reputation for talent and versatility by touring the world with both full-length traditional ballets and shorter ‘divertissements.’ Its dancers hail from a tradition that began with the great choreographic schools in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Kiev.

    Today, the troupe consists of over 50 dancers from all over the world, including Russia, Ukraine, Italy, Moldova, Germany, and Japan.


The Center finishes renovations, welcomes meetings

By Blake Hampton

WICHITA - A space that has been a part of the LGBT community for over five years has been transformed. Refurbished with new walls, flooring, a library, and a media room, The Center is better than ever to hold meetings for various community organizations. Currently some of the groups that meet there are Wichita Pride Inc., the Wichita LGBT Health Coalition, WOOLF, and WiTCoN (the Wichita Transgender Community Network). The Center also hosts Get Connected, a youth group that meets every Friday from 6-9pm. It is a safe environment for LGBTQ teens to socialize, support each other, and enjoy snacks.

    Before Nolin Christensen purchased the current building at 800 N. Market in November 2013 it was a law office. The former location did not give The Center the luxury to slowly move in while remodeling the new building, and within 48 hours of the purchase The Center held its first community meeting.

    With help from volunteers, Christensen and Tom Witt, Executive Director of Equality Kansas, who shares an office space in the building, made a completely new space. Replacing moldy drywall, gutting the offices, replacing floors and carpeting, painting, and all the while still holding meetings. The kitchen used to be a ladies powder room, and one of the bathroom doors was so small that it was hardly accessible, the small library wasn’t open. “Nolin and I took every tool we owned, and we have a lot of tools together, and we just gutted everything out of here,”  Witt said. They officially finished the current remodeling in August.


European Wax Center Opens at The Waterfront

EuropeanWax-LPBy Ciara Reid, staff reporter

WICHITA - What some consider pampering, others consider necessary self-care. Either way, many will flock to the new Wichita location of the European Wax Center, a beauty franchise that has more than 700 locations. Founded in Florida in 2004 by siblings David, Joshua and Jessica Coba, European Wax Center offers a variety of waxing services, including pricing passes to help make the waxing services affordable and a regular part of everyone’s beauty and skincare routine.

    The beauty franchise specializes in healthy body waxing hair removal for men and women and is one of the fastest-growing beauty brands in the United States. The new location in Wichita is located between Firebirds Wood Fired Grill and Massage Envy. Business partners from Wichita and Kansas City collaborated and opened the new location.

    Martha Brown, of Kansas City, along with her sister Sara Gans, of Wichita, teamed up with partners Steve Brown and Britt King to expand upon their three successful European Wax Center locations in Kansas City.


Hogan takes over as new HIV Prevention Coordinator at Positive Directions

BrettHogan PDIBy Blake Hampton

WICHITA - Positive Directions Inc. (PDI) has a new HIV Prevention Coordinator. His name is Brett Hogan and he’s here to share his knowledge of the disease and keep the public aware. He also works with case managers, helps with PDI’s grocery center, gives HIV tests, and distributes condoms to local businesses.

    “The main thing I do is education,” Hogan said. Understanding the HIV virus and how it works is important and one of the first steps in preventing the spread of the disease. With modern medicine testing HIV+ is not an automatic death sentence as it was when it was first seen in the 80’s. So Hogan gives classes and presentations to people ranging from young teens to older adults so, at the very least, they know who to go to and what to do if they suspect they or someone they know has the virus.


Points of Interest

Heartland Men’s Chorus Turns 30

01-Oct-15 12KANSAS CITY - Heartland Men’s Chorus (HMC) has announced its upcoming season, the 30th anniversary for Kansas City’s gay men’s chorus. 

    The season will begin with Kansas City Christmas, Dec. 4-6. The title of the concert is an intentional holdover from last year’s record-breaking holiday concert and will be used every year. 

    Mar. 19-20, the group presents Perfect Pitch, a largely a cappella concert featuring intricate arrangements of contemporary popular music. Among the songs included will be The Good Life by OneRepublic, Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars, and the Pentatonix arrangement of the Imagine Dragons hit Radioactive.  

    The chorus closes the season with I Rise, an inspirational program and celebration of its anniversary season, June 11-12. The concert will feature guests from HMC’s 30-year history, including chorus alumni and Dr. Joseph Nadeau, the group’s artistic director from 1998-2014. 

    The program will feature songs long associated with the chorus, such as Fred Small’s Everything Possible, as well as new works, including a new commission by Mark Hayes based on the life and work of Maya Angelou. 

    All season performances take place at the Folly Theater, 300 W. 12th St. Season tickets from $72–$114 are available at (816) 931-3338 and hmckc.org.


Photographic history of Joyland Amusement Park A gay Kansas historian releases book

JoylandWICHITA - Dustin Ray Shannon, born and raised in Salina, interprets 1870’s undertakers of Kansas at Old Cowtown Museum striving to preserve abandoned privately-owned cemeteries. He is currently researching Kansas extinct towns collecting and preserving images and artifacts of Kansas.

    Shannon is the founder of Shannon Historical Research Group which can be found online at: www.kansasextincttownsandcemeteries.com.

    His new pictorial history focuses on the closed Wichita amusement park Joyland. The park was opened in 1948 by the Ottaway family; in 1975 Stanley and Margret Nelson purchased it.

    After 56 years the park closed in 2004 and is now in the process of being demolished after years of vandalism, theft, and failed attempts to reopen it.


Candlelight Ceremony to kick off Mental Illness Awareness Week

WICHITA - On Sunday, Oct. 4, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Wichita and several Sedgwick County mental health service agencies and organizations will be sponsoring a Candlelight Ceremony to kick off NAMI’s National Mental Illness Awareness Week.

    A reception and exhibits will begin at 6pm with the program and ceremony beginning at 6:45pm in Performance Hall in DeMattias Fine Arts Center at Newman University in Wichita. The ceremony will feature speaker John Shuchart.

    After going public about his own recovery with depression, Shuchart, a successful entrepreneur, educator and author, penned a new book, You are not the brightest of my four sons and other depressing things that have been said to me.

    Shuchart wants his audiences to understand that mental illness is a biological disorder, a disease like cancer – and that there is no reason to be embarrassed about having the illness. He also wants people to laugh and feel better when experiencing a depressive episode, and he provides plenty to laugh about in his book and in his presentations. His use of humor to reframe the traumatic events of his life and fight the stigma attached to mental illness, has not only saved his life, it is inspiring readers and audiences across the country.

     Two local comediennes, Lynn Kohr and Sherri Luthe, will open the program using stand-up comedy to describe their experiences with mental illness. l


Stop Violence Against Women March & Rally

WICHITA - ICT Acts is hosting a March and Rally to raise awareness about violence against women in the Wichita community on Sunday, October 11, 2015 at 1 pm. The March will begin and end at the Exploration Place Festival Plaza. Come for a Zumba warm up before the March and then following, there will be speakers, live music and food trucks. Local businesses and organizations are sponsoring the event, and proceeds will be donated to local domestic violence and sexual assault prevention organizations. Speakers include Rev. David Carter, minister at Wichita First Unitarian Universalist Church, Mark Anderson, local actor, director and activist, and Wakeelah Mutazammil-Martinez, founding partner and CEO of Wakee-Wornum International.  This event is open to the community and admission is free. Please visit www.ictacts.org for more information.


National News

Lambda Legal Expands Advocacy for LGBT Youth as Skadden Fellow Kara Ingelhart Joins Midwest Regional Office

“We’re thrilled to have a powerful and passionate new attorney in Chicago to tear down the barriers that can block LGBTQ youth from reaching their full potential.”

(October 2, 2015, Chicago, IL) – Lambda Legal is pleased to welcome 2015 Skadden fellow and former legal intern Kara Ingelhart to its Midwest Regional Office team. Ingelhart, a University of Chicago Law School graduate, was awarded the fellowship to assist LGBTQ youth with juvenile or criminal records by addressing the many barriers low-income LGBTQ youth face in accessing housing, employment and educational opportunities.

“We are excited that Kara has returned to the Midwest Regional Office (MRO),” said Jim Bennett, MRO Regional Director. “Kara was a vibrant part of Lambda Legal’s Midwest team as a legal intern, and we’re thrilled to have a powerful and passionate new attorney in Chicago to tear down the barriers that can block LGBTQ youth from reaching their full potential.”

“I can’t put into words how happy I am to be back at Lambda Legal and doing this important work,” said Ingelhart, who served as a Lambda Legal intern in 2013. “Lambda Legal is the best place for me to put my skills to work as an advocate for LGBTQ youth who urgently need support.”


HRC: Arne Duncan Helped Lead Fight Against Discrimination and Move Toward More Inclusive Classrooms

WASHINGTON -- Today, the Human Rights Campaign, (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, issued the following statement upon news that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will leave his position in December. During his tenure, the Department has issued guidance clarify that Title IX, the federal law that prohibits discrimination in education based on sex, protects students from discrimination based on a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes or gender identity. Under his leadership, the Department of Education hosted the first ever LGBT Youth Summit in 2011, where he made it clear that LGBT students have a right to meet and form Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). He announced his support for marriage equality in May 2012.

“Through Secretary Duncan’s leadership, the Department of Education has become a trailblazer in protecting LGBT students,” said David Stacy, HRC Director of Government Affairs. “Secretary Duncan has fundamentally changed the lives of countless LGBT students. At a time when few states recognized marriage equality, Secretary Duncan sent a critical signal to teachers and school administrators that they must welcome and respect LGBT students and create a learning environment that enables all students to succeed, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Most importantly, Secretary Duncan’s work to protect transgender students will help increase the potential for transgender and gender non-conforming students to be safe at school, to stay in school, and to succeed in school.”


Clinton on Fighting for LGBT Rights: ‘I’m Just Getting Warmed Up’

October 3, 2015, Hillary Clinton addressed the Human Rights Campaign where she laid out her vision for a stronger, more prosperous, and more inclusive America where LGBT Americans have the same rights as everyone else. Clinton also spoke out against Republican’s out-of-date views on LGBT issues, and how she will continue to be a fierce advocate for LGBT rights as President.

Please see the full remarks below:

“Hello, Human Rights Campaign!  It’s great to be back with the HRC.  There’s no one I’d rather share my initials with than you.

It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?

It felt like all of America was out dancing in the streets this June.  And that’s because of you.  Because of Jim Obergefell, Edie Windsor, and all the families who took their fight all the way to the Supreme Court.  It was because of leaders like Chad, JoDee Winterhof, who is here, and Joe Solmonese, who is here, and Mike Berman, who is my longtime friend and who has been a champion, all the members of the HRC boards and committees, and everyone who marched, sang, wrote briefs, sacrifice, everything you did to make marriage equality the law of the land.


Lambda Legal to Seventh Circuit: Federal Law Prohibits Discrimination Against Lesbian Instructor

“Ivy Tech has unfairly denied Kim Hively full-time employment on six different occasions. It is time for courts to recognize that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination, and is unlawful.”

(Chicago, September 30, 2015) — Today, Lambda Legal urged the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a lower court ruling and allow Kimberly Hively to present her case alleging that Ivy Tech Community College, where she worked as an instructor for 14 years, denied her fulltime employment and promotions, and eventually terminated her employment, because she is a lesbian.

Last August, Hively filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana against South Bend, Indiana-based Ivy Tech, claiming the school was violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act by discriminating against her because of her sexual orientation, a form of sex discrimination. Ivy Tech successfully moved the trial court to dismiss Hively’s claim, arguing that Title VII does not protect employees from antigay discrimination. At today’s hearing, Lambda Legal argued that several court rulings and a recent decision by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) support Hively’s contention that sexual orientation discrimination is sex discrimination under Title VII and that the dismissal should be reversed.  


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