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.


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.


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.


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


National News

Lambda Legal Resolves Lawsuit Against DeSoto County Schools on Behalf of Lesbian Student

23-Jul-14 147"If school officials had any doubt before, it’s clear now: First Amendment rights apply to all students on every day of the year, and efforts to silence LGBT youth will not go unchallenged."

Arcadia, FL Tuesday, July 23, 2014 – Today Lambda Legal announced the resolution of a lawsuit against DeSoto County School District brought by Amber Hatcher, an openly lesbian 17-year-old student who was punished for participating in an annual anti-bullying observance in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) students.


Obama Signs Executive Order Banning Anti-LGBT Employment Discrimination by Federal Contractors and Protecting Transgender Federal Government Employees: Lambda Legal Applauds

07-Jun-14 48"Discrimination is hurtful and wasteful. American workers and the American public need both value and fairness when public funds are expended.  We thank and applaud President Obama and his administration for taking this important step." 

(New York, July 21, 2014) — Today, after watching President Obama sign an executive order banning discrimination against LGBT workers by federal contractors and against federal government employees who are transgender, Greg Nevins, Counsel in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta and Lambda Legal’s workplace fairness strategist, released the following statement:

"With today’s executive order, President Obama has aligned the interests of American taxpayers with industry standards well established by America’s business leaders.  The American public deserves good value when spending public dollars to meet public needs.  Discrimination is hurtful and wasteful. American workers and the American public need both value and fairness when public funds are expended.  We thank and applaud President Obama and his administration for taking this important step. 


HRC Statement on the Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 Tragedy

candlelight-1WASHINGTON - Following the news that many aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 – which crashed earlier today in Ukraine – were advocates and health professionals traveling to the 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, the Human Rights Campaign released the following statement:

"HRC wishes to extend our condolences to the friends and families of everyone aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17. We are deeply saddened to learn about the deaths of the many HIV/AIDS advocates believed to be on the plane. HRC joins the international community in mourning the loss of all those who lost their lives today, including such dedicated health professionals. They will be sorely missed."


10th Circuit Affirms the Freedom to Marry in Oklahoma

18-Jul-14 65Second Consecutive Appellate Ruling in Favor of Marriage

New York – Today the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry, upholding a marriage ruling out of Oklahoma back in January. This is the second consecutive ruling in favor of marriage by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals; the same three-judge panel also found Utah’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples is unconstitutional. 

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

“Today’s ruling arises out of the oldest active marriage case in the country, filed in Oklahoma ten years ago; and follows more than two dozen favorable rulings for marriage in the past year. The legal consensus is clear: marriage discrimination is unconstitutional and inflicts concrete harms on committed gay and lesbian couples and their families.


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:



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.


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.


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.


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.



Crown Uptown cast shines in Shrek: the Musical

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.


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.

    According to the Toe Tag Riot Kickstarter page, the comic book series is “a hilariously gory mash up of rad stuff like Night of the Living Dead, a GWAR live show, and hardcore punk rock with a lighthearted torrential downpour of blood and guts sure to please anyone who loves fun and hates jerks like Million Moms, Nazi Skinheads, Dudebros, and the Westboro Baptist Church.”


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