By Grayson Barnes and Kristi Parker
WICHITA - The month of April has been dubbed “Gaypril” by Wichita State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) and Spectrum (the LGBTQ and Allies group there). Various fun, educational, and celebratory events are planned, starting with International Transgender Day of Visibility on Mar. 31, ending with Lavender Graduation on May 4.
Danielle Johnson, the Assistant Director of the ODI said LGBTQ events at WSU previously only lasted a week, but since the beginning of the ODI, they have extended it to more than a month. At that point, the ODI “kind of jacked the name from KU,” laughed Johnson, “but we are incredibly grateful and we tell them that all the time!”
To highlight the month this year, Alyssa Edwards of RuPaul’s Drag Race is hosting the 7th Annual Drag Show. Edwards, whose name is Justin Johnson, has a storied career in the drag world dating back to 2003 when she was crowned the first alternate to Miss Gay Texas.
She followed that up with 11 other titles including four competitions at Miss Gay America, which she won in 2010. She also won Miss Gay USofA in 2006 and All American Goddess in 2010.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
WICHITA - Positive Directions, Inc. (PDI) is gearing up for AIDS Walk 2017, scheduled for April 29. PDI is a social service agency that provides free HIV-prevention services and HIV testing and outreach education. Specific services include condom distribution, rapid HIV testing, and support group referrals.
Participants of the AIDS Walk will meet in the parking lot of The Workroom, located at 150 N. Cleveland in Wichita. Check-in is scheduled for 9am; the walk begins at 10am. The AIDS Walk is free for those who have raised more than $25. All walkers will receive a t-shirt.
Riverfest 2017 concert line-up announced
WICHITA - Wichita Festivals, Inc. revealed Wendy Johnson as Admiral Windwagon Smith XLIV, ambassador of Riverfest 2017 which runs June 2-10. Johnson, division director of marketing and communications for the Wichita Public Schools, grew up in Wichita and graduated from Wichita High School East. The recipient of Wichita Festivals’ Galaxy Award in 2013 recognizing more than 20 years of outstanding volunteer service, Johnson served on the WFI Board of Directors for six years and was its chair in 2006.
“When I was a kid rolling down the hillside in A. Price Woodard Park during Riverfest, I never thought I would experience this amazing community event as Admiral Windwagon Smith,” Johnson said.
In addition, nine days of concerts were also recently announced. Riverfest 2017’s concert headliners include four Grammy Award winners, an Academy Award recipient, a Golden Globe winner and a Kennedy Center Honoree.
Popular LGBT bar celebrating its first anniversary in April
By Kristi Parker
WICHITA - With pool leagues, dart night, karaoke, drag shows, life-size Jenga, Ingo nights, and a DJ every Saturday, Rocky’s has become a popular place over the course of its year in existence. The new bar, located just off of Kellogg on Topeka, has a friendly Cheers-type atmosphere with plenty of parking in the back.
“We needed a bar for the girls,” Rocky Cornelson, owner, said of her initial inspiration. “Everyone kept saying they were going to open one and then nothing would happen.” But Rocky’s turned into so much more than just a bar for the girls.
“Rocky is successful because of her personality and ability to treat everyone equal. She is respected by everyone in the community,” one patron explained.
By Kevin Stilley
MANHATTAN - The first Little Apple Pride celebration was held during K-State’s Open House Weekend in April 2010. A rally including a drag show was hosted by K-State’s LGBT and Allies at Triangle Park in Aggieville. Nearly 100 were in attendance.
The following year, a parade was added to the event. Participants marched from Manhattan’s First Congregational Church to Aggieville. There were rainbow flags and groups carrying banners representing various allied organizations from the Manhattan/Junction City area.
Sam Brinton says this of the first parade: “So, it’s the day of the first parade. We’ve spent months and months in planning. We did all the paperwork and had the permits. We start getting people ready and realize there is no police escort. People start freaking out.
“I march into the police station covered in glitter, in my tall heels, and lace-up Apple Bottom jeans. Their eyes go wide. I say, ‘You guaranteed us a police escort. We’ve paid the fees. Now I need you to follow me and escort this parade.’ They got in their car and we showed up to the parade. I’ll never forget that day!”
LAWRENCE - Ten years is a long time to do anything, especially when you are doing something weird. The Lawrence Busker Festival returns for its 10th year of keeping Lawrence weird with street performers from all over the world.
On May 26-28, downtown Lawrence hosts over 50 different acts performing on five different stages. The unique and different skills on display include fire manipulations, pogo stick acrobatics, circus spies, break dancing, strong women, aerial artists, musicians, poets and rubber chicken tricks. It’s all free, the acts are only paid by voluntary tips.
More information is available at Lawrencebuskerfest.com or by calling 785-330-5110 or writing to [email protected]
By Jamie Rhodes
WICHITA - A few years ago, Gia (not her real name) met a guy, hung out a few of times, then had him over to watch a movie, to which, he made more and more sexual advances toward her. She began to feel uncomfortable and asked him to leave. He refused and kept insisting they have sex.
In a moment of defeat, awkwardness, and pure annoyance, she unwillingly succumbed to his pleading advances, despite her telling him “no,” just to get him to leave. Many woman may share this similar experience, but are too afraid to call it for what it is: RAPE.
By Kristi Parker
WICHITA - Amy Menas’ The Studio will be hosting its 7th Kid’s Cabaret for a Cause this time to benefit Wichita’s Positive Directions and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS in NYC.
Previous Kid’s Cabarets have raised money for The Treehouse, The Wichita Children’s Home, The Kansas Food Bank and Music Theatre Wichita (MTW).
Menas, who has taught private voice lessons for more than 25 years, has Studio students ages 7-18. They will perform songs from Broadway’s most famous shows. Performers include 2016 Voice of the Children winner Abby Jolicoeur, James Heinrichs, Chip in MTW 2016 production of Beauty and the Beast, Topher Cundith, Pinocchio and Young Will in 2015 MTW productions My Son, Pinocchio and Big Fish, among others.
The show is Friday, April 7 at 7:30pm at the Wichita Art Museum, 1400 W. Museum Blvd. Broadway Cares/EFA will provide signed Broadway posters and other Broadway memorabilia. There is a $5 suggested donation. l
By Grayson Barnes
WICHITA - On Mar. 3, I attended the 4th Gender and Sexuality in Kansas Conference at Wichita State University. The conference was sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Shocker SOC Club, the Department of Sociology, and the Elliott School of Communications. Conference subjects included intersectionality, inclusion, gender, gender and minority violence, and sexual experience and education.
I attended this one-day conference previously when it was still in the Marcus Welcome Center on the WSU campus and there were just a few breakout sessions. This year, the conference was in the Rhatigan Student Center, which offered more room for the 11 breakout sessions and the Keynote presentation.
WICHITA - Kelsy Gossett, owner of Images by Kelsy, is wrapping up her MFA in photography from Wichita State University. She is an artist working primarily in photography, video and performance. The use of the body is consistent in her work as she explores ideas of identity, intimacy and relationships while questioning expectations. Gossett’s thesis show, entitled “For Your Viewing Pleasure, will be on display at The Diver Studio, 424 S. Commerce, in Wichita through May 19. The opening reception is Friday, April 28 as part of Final Friday. More information at www.kelsygossett.com.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
OVERLAND PARK - Over the last several years, the “It Gets Better” cast has toured a selection of cities; engaging the local communities through interactive workshops before culminating the week with an emotional performance of true stories from communities nationwide.
This season’s performance features 12 real-life stories. The cast performs the words of individuals that include public figures like Jason Collins, the first openly gay man to play in one of the four major professional team sports. The production also features music from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles.
The “It Gets Better” cast will begin their week-long residency in the Overland Park/Kansas City area on April 17. Various events are planned throughout the week leading up to the show. The cast will help facilitate discussion with the community, including anti-bullying workshops. Two workshops will be located at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Lenexa, Kansas. The week will culminate in a performance, which begins at 8pm on Saturday, April 22 at Johnson County Community College’s Yardley Hall.
WICHITA - Global Village took home top place for Most Licensed Series in the 2016 PRX Zeitfunk Awards, announced in March 2017 by PRX.
Each year PRX, which along with NPR and PRI is the main route for distribution of audio content to public and community radio stations, presents the Zeitfunk Awards. They are based entirely on the actual number of individual shows stations take through PRX for air. Global Village, which placed in the Top 10 several times and as high as Top Three in the past, this year was named the Number One Most Licensed Series taken by stations through PRX.
Global Village went on the air on KMUW in January 2007, the outgrowth of a world music radio show started in 1989 by host Chris Heim and one of the longest-running world music shows in public radio. It offers an eclectic mix of programming that highlights not only a wide array of world styles and artists, but jazz, folk, rock and blues performers who incorporate world influences in their work.
Global Village began national and international distribution in September 2010 and has aired to date on over 325 stations in 40 states, Canada, New Zealand and Cambodia.
WICHITA - On Thursday, April 20, Bike Beautiful will bring together fashion and friends who want to start or who already enjoy riding bicycles. The evening will be packed with bike-friendly fashion trends from local retailers, the latest cycling gear and accessories, tips from local ladies who ride, and shopping deals from local retailers.
Enjoy appetizers and beverages at Distillery 244 in Old Town, 244 N. Mosley, while learning about events hosted by local groups and share in a fun evening with awesome people. Doors will open at 6pm for shopping, mingling, and the show starts at 7pm.
Tickets are $10 for general admission, and $20 for VIP seating. Order tickets at www.BikeWalkWichita.org. Proceeds from the event support bicycle and pedestrian efforts locally.
Attn: Dr. Robert Minor
I have lived nearly 73 years and during those years I have seen continuous abuse of power by those who claim power by virtue of their ambition, initiative, intelligence, family background, entrepreneurial impulses and talent. By whatever means and circumstances, they have risen to a place of political and economic leadership and that gave them power to make decisions affecting my life and the lives of millions when such leaders attained high political and administrative offices.
Perhaps the best that can be said is, with the qualifications already listed, they performed as expected and were received by some and criticized by others and maybe even outright rejected. When pushed, some of them were forced by law, evidence of their extra legal activities or at the very least morally and ethically culpable activities, they were pushed to resign or even indicted for actions violating oaths of office and the public trust automatically given to those who are leaders, no matter their political party.
The highest leadership positions in our nation are given to those who are successful economically and politically and have as their helpers like-minded people and party members. In America, it seems that we tolerate well a leadership that wields political and economic power; they use whatever dividends they can garner to offer the hoi polloi some like a piece of the American economic pie.
Capitalism trumps poverty and we value capitalism above “doing the right things” because we value doing the right things that lead us to get ahead and maintain and advance a lifestyle that is only enhanced by a bottom line that shows a profit. Sometimes the right things are overlooked and moral and ethical considerations become distant goals. Now, at almost every turn, technology supports our economic and political goals. Clearly, we want to dominate the international market and our position as a strong economic, political, and military power in our world. We have always been able to adjust “doing the right things” to coincide with our best interests as defined by our leaders and sometimes enacted in laws that seem to arise as the need to justify certain actions.
There is a lack of careful watchfulness that is the job of citizens of this great country. We have allowed for the foibles and have let go strong demands for moral and ethical standards that led to a bottom line that says to all who see it, we are going to “do the right things.”
Our esteemed past president General Dwight David Eisenhower, for whom our airport is named, warned, in a final address to the people of America, to paraphrase, we should, as citizens, jealously guard against an overzealous joining of the military industrial complex, already strongly linked and deeply influential in our national political and economic life. We have ignored Ike’s warning and subsequent presidents have yielded to the power of industry linked to military defense and offensive capabilities. Hence multibillion dollar aircraft carrier and other planes, ships, and weapon systems on the drawing board or already in production. We don’t know what is happening exactly and that goes to the citizen oversight that is a part of our responsibility. We cannot depend on the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch or the Judicial Branch to consider things only on the basis of “do the right things.” We must hold them accountable and we must insure that “power makes right” only when it is power to do the right things nationally and internationally.
We are currently faced with a political and administrative and even an economic leadership that proposes that the might of this country should be applied to building a billion dollar plus wall between our country and Mexico. More needed construction and repair of our infrastructure is bypassed and aid for educational purposes is also bypassed. The national will to do something reasonable related to immigration is replaced by activity that will lead to a barrier enforced by heavily armed guards and a surveillance system supported by a technology that could be used in ways we find reprehensible and far from any understanding of “doing the right things.”
I urge people to contact their senators and representatives and to make known that we reject billions for a wall while other more humane projects go begging. We also must react to presidential power to issue “executive orders” and “executive privilege” that bypasses congressional oversight and therefore bypasses the representative democracy that we value. With that power, the president can justify any action he wants to take and closing our border to immigration and targeting one or more groups of people in his “orders” is not why we elected him as president. He must be reminded that this is representative government and if the representative merely rubber stamp “okay” on his agenda, we must use the power to impeach and remove from high office those who do not accept their accountability or the moral and ethical demands to do the right things.
We forget that with power and privilege comes responsibility to use that power and privilege to be of help to our nation and to our world. The abuse of that power and the ugly nature of restrictive orders raises the question of racism and of a nationalism that can very easily be twisted so saying the “right things” can be laid aside. This should scare most Americans and make us consider mass protests as a response to such abuses of power.
William L. Ripley, Wichita