Kansas News

Outside the Box - An interview with artist Taylor Miller

Taylor-Miller-1by Elle Boatman

WICHITA - Over the past few years, the Kansas government has taken measures to drastically reduce funding of the arts as well as taken measures to pass laws that many Kansans find discriminatory and backwards-thinking. Despite the efforts of Kansas lawmakers to squelch expressions of diversity and creativity, one group is taking this opportunity to challenge and engage local communities.

    The ICT Army of Artists is a part of La Casa de la Semilla, Inc., or The Seed House, an arena for established and emerging community leaders to grow and develop in their capacity to bring justice, equality and sustainability through creative collective action. Taylor Miller is a local artist and part of the ICT AoA and I sat down with him to find out what drives him to create and what he’s doing to raise awareness of social issues through the arts in Wichita.

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Liberty Press float wins Best Use of Theme at Riverfest’s Sundown Parade

Kristi-Chad-ParkerBy Ciara Reid, staff reporter

WICHITA - Right now, you could say that Liberty Press has a 100% success rate at the Sundown Parade at Riverfest. The magazine was awarded Best Use of Theme, one of the top prizes in the parade float competition, in its first year of participation in the Sundown Parade.  There were 100 entries in this year’s parade - they included bands, cars, walking units, and various decorated floats.

    “We had a really good variety and a lot with entertainment value,” says Meghan Doyle, community engagement director for Wichita Festivals, Inc. Parade float entries were judged on criteria that included best use of the Riverfest theme “Hoopla in Doo-Dah!”; originality, workmanship and creativity; entertainment value; and compliance with rules and regulations of the Sundown Parade.

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GLSEN Greater Wichita becomes newest chapter

glsen-logoWICHITA – Several months ago, members from the faith and activist communities in Wichita came together to bring a chapter of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, to Wichita. Their hard work earned them accreditation in June with the national non-profit organization that strives to ensure that every member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

    “GLSEN has an abundance of resources to support Gay-Straight Alliances, educators that want to learn how to be supportive allies to LGBT youth, and administrators who want to adopt inclusive school policies that protect LGBT students,” GLSEN Greater Wichita Chair Liz Hamor said. “Our team of committed community members wants to be the link to these resources for our schools. Every student deserves a safe place to learn and thrive.”

    GLSEN Greater Wichita also intends to host educational opportunities that will be open to the community.

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Scrimp on coffee – not your retirement plan contribution

CoupleFor the past few years, leaner times have forced many individuals and households to juggle everyday expenses and find various ways to trim the family budget. Everything from cutting out specialty coffee drinks and expensive vacations to buying more economical cars and downsized dwellings have been calculated and discussed at kitchen tables across the country.

    But when it comes to finding additional areas to cut expenses, don't make the mistake of scrimping on your tax-advantaged retirement plan contribution. Making your annual contribution to a tax-advantaged retirement plan, including 401(k) and 403(b) plans, can reduce your current income tax1  as well as allow your account to grow tax-deferred.²

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National News

Miami Court Rules in Favor of Marriage Equality in Florida

Florida Marriage equality(Miami, FL, July 25, 2014)—Today, a state trial court in Miami issued a decision striking down Florida’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples and ordering Miami-Dade County to allow same-sex couples to marry. The court stayed the order pending appeal.

The case was brought by Equality Florida Institute and Catherina Pareto and Karla Arguello, Dr. Juan Carlos Rodriguez and David Price, Vanessa and Melanie Alenier, Todd and Jeff Delmay, Summer Greene and Pamela Faerber, and Don Price Johnston and Jorge Isaias Diaz. They are represented by the law firm Carlton Fields Jorden Burt, Elizabeth F. Schwartz, Mary B. Meeks, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).

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Second Florida Judge Strikes Down Marriage Ban

florida-marriageNew York – Today Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel struck down Florida’s ban on marriage for committed same-sex couples in what is now the 28th consecutive ruling by a federal or state court in favor of the freedom to marry in the past year. This decision affirms what another court found recently in a case out of Key West -- Florida’s denial of the freedom to marry violates the U.S. Constitution.

"Today Judge Zabel joins a chorus of judges from all across the nation, including another judge in Florida, who have found that bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional," said Marc Solomon, Freedom to Marry’s national campaign director.

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MyDoorSign.com Gives All-Gender Restroom Signage a Makeover

New all-gender restroom signage found at mydoorsign.com/all-gender-restroom-signsNEW YORK, July 24, 2014 -- MyDoorSign.com redesigned its all-gender sign collection after receiving criticism for the old graphics. The new designs feature simple iconography and a clear "all-gender restroom" descriptor. The innovative look grew from social justice advocate, Sam Killermann and his blog, It's Pronounced Metrosexual.

MyDoorSign.com previously worked to create a safe bathroom space for those who do not identify with cisgender options.

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Federal Judge in Colorado Rules Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

206-Colorado-001-MNew York -- Today U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore ruled that Colorado's discriminatory state ban excluding same-sex couples from the freedom to marry is unconstitutional.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, released the following statement:

"Judge Moore did the right thing today, faithfully upholding both the Constitution and Colorado values. This is the second court decision in favor of the freedom to marry just in Colorado -- and across the country, judge after judge, court after court, in state after state have all examined the evidence and sifted through the arguments and concluded that the denial of marriage to same-sex couples cannot stand. It's time for the state attorney general to stop spending taxpayer money to defend the indefensible and allow gay couples to wed now."

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Points of Interest

Gay & Gray in the Midwest

gay-and-grayOne Iowa has started a new program called Gay & Gray in the Midwest, which strives to meet the needs of elder LGBTQ people across the Midwest​​ region of the United States. In order to discover how to meet these needs most effectively, One Iowa is distributing an anonymous survey to LGBTQ organizations around the Midwest. One Iowa will use the results of this survey to address specific programming needs of the Midwestern LGBTQ elder population. The results will also be shared with other LGBTQ organizations in the Midwest.

Please share this survey link with LGBTQ people who are fifty (50) years or older:

 https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/gayandgray2014

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National Geographic Channel includes Topeka church in American Fringe

Photograph by National Geographic Channel's John GalliWhite supremacists. Anti-gay churchgoers. Freedom-loving misfits. American Fringe, a six-part series premiering July 9 at 9pm on the National Geographic Channel, takes an in-depth look at some of the country’s most controversial subcultures.

    In Church of Hate, American Fringe crosses the picket lines to explore the dogma, hierarchy and corrosive message of the Westboro Baptist Church during a pivotal transition in the parish’s history. During filming, leader Fred Phelps passed away and NGC cameras captured in-depth interviews with heir apparent Steve Drain. It airs July 16.

    Other episodes include Nazi Town, Slab City, and The Legend of Oniontown.

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JC club closes leaving a void in the community

ClosedBy Ciara Reid

JUNCTION CITY - The Xcalibur Club in Junction City, has closed. Xcalibur, owned by Mark Beatty, was a popular club throughout the past decade.

Beatty didn’t return requests for comment on the bar’s closing.    Kevin Stilley was a frequent patron of the club since 2003. He estimates that he averaged one visit a week for 10 years. In addition to just being a fun place to go, Stilley says the club was a huge part of many fundraising events.

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Queen tribute show comes to the Midland

KANSAS CITY - The long-running tribute show and full concert experience Queen – It’s A Kinda Magic will tour with its new cast including a stop on July 26  at KC’s Midland Theatre (www.midlandkc.com/events).

    The show recreates Queen’s 1986 World Tour concert featuring over 20 of the band’s greatest hits such as We Will Rock You, Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions and Fat-Bottomed Girls.

    Painstaking detail has been paid to all the music – the iconic voice of Freddie Mercury, the amazing guitar solos and the groundbreaking rock harmonies. This is as close as you’ll ever get to the real thing.

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Lawrence middle school GSA nominated as LOGOTV Trailblazer Youth Group

Logo-TV-TrailblazersLAWRENCE - Liberty Memorial Central Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance was one of the youth groups nominated for the 2014 Logo Trailblazer Youth Group award. Trailblazers, a first of its kind event to honor the  pioneers who have made historic strides for LGBT equality, aired on Logo June 26. The one-hour special featured celebrities, politicians, activists, and trendsetters - as well as musical performances.

Trailblazers took place at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, one of the first churches to host gay marriages in New York.

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Reviews

Crown Uptown cast shines in Shrek: the Musical

REVIEW
By Helen Barnes

WICHITA - Shrek: the Musical, which ran from June 6-28, was the most recent showing at the Crown Uptown Dinner Theatre. The movie version, created by DreamWorks in 2001, is what inspired the stage adaptation. The music for Shrek was composed by Jeanine Tesori, and the book and lyrics were by David Lindsay-Abaire.

    The stage show began with a 2008 debut in Seattle and a Broadway opening later that year. Since then, it has become a popular offering all over the world. The fairy tale personalities who are supporting characters in Shrek are sometimes changed to represent those found in local stories.

    In Shrek, an ugly green ogre finds his swamp home invaded by fairy tale characters that have been thrown out of the kingdom of Duloc by the evil Lord Farquaad. The ogre, Shrek, attempts to scare away Pinocchio, the Three Little Pigs, the Wicked Witch and others, but the group won’t leave since Farquaad has threatened their lives if they end up back in Duloc.

    To get his home back, Shrek confronts Farquaad. However, Farquaad manipulates him into rescuing Princess Fiona, whom Lord Farquaad plans to marry so that he can become king.

    Princess Fiona has been sequestered, Rapunzel-like, in a tower guarded by a dragon since she was a little girl. Shrek begins his trek to the tower and meets Donkey on the way. Donkey, who is, well, a talking donkey, has also been cast from Farquaad’s  kingdom.    The unlikely duo head off together.

    To explain anything further would ruin the story, but, ala Shakespeare, there is confusion about identity, who is really the “good,” (or “bad”) guy/gal, who qualifies as a hero, and what is “normal.”

    The Crown Uptown version of Shrek shared the story and most of its nuances well, since it is a work that has appeal to both children and adults. The cast was strong. Ryan Everett Wood gave us a balanced Shrek who walked the line between ogre and sophisticated (albeit green) hero quite dashingly. Matthew Rumsey mastered the bantam-rooster character of Lord Farquaad, being appropriately larger than life while short in stature.

    Lionel Reneau as Donkey maintained an annoyingly chatty and informative but good-heartedness all the way through. Brittney Morton’s Princess Fiona was strong, playful, and lovely in BOTH her manifestations.

    The singing was fantastic and everyone’s voices were great. Sometimes, though, it seemed a bit too loud, as if the actors’ mikes were turned up too much. Perhaps there was an expectation that the almost full house on a Thursday afternoon (really!) might absorb some of the sound.

    The songs were performed so that the audience could appreciate Lindsey-Abaire’s delicious lyrics (“when you are grotesque, life is Kafkaesque”), although the Travel Song was not tight.

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New York-based writer pens comic book featuring Westboro Baptist Church members as its worst villains

By Christy Lyons-Bohrer

Toe-Tag-RiotFAR ROCKAWAY, QUEENS, NY - Matt Miner, long-time dog rescuer, activist and writer of comic books and graphic novels from New York, has recently made headlines with his new comic book series which features the Westboro Baptist Church as the target of activist zombies.

Toe Tag Riot, a fun punk rock comic book co-created by Matt Miner with his artist collaborator Sean Von Gorman, is a series about a punk rock band that is temporarily cursed with zombification. Instead of indiscriminately murdering all people, the characters use their powers in a more productive manner by only slaughtering and eating really horrible people: racists, misogynists and homophobes. Westboro Baptist Church members, known for their hate of the LGBTQIA population as well as their supporters, are featured at the final zombie showdown.

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