By Elle Boatman, staff reporter
TOPEKA - As a blustery winter continues to blow its way across the state, Kansas’ 2016 legislative session in Topeka is already heating up - and Equality Kansas (EQKS) and its allies have hit the ground running. HB 2323, a proposal to amend the Kansas Act Against Discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity, was the subject of a judiciary committee hearing on Jan. 14.
Tom Witt, executive director of EQKS, says that, amidst a drought of progressive legislation advancement, this has restarted the conversation. “My expectations are that this bill will restart proactive conversations that have been absent from the statehouse for several years.”
Executive director of local AIDS organization steps down
By Brenda Way, staff reporter
WICHITA - Positive Directions was quiet, the front door was locked, and most of the lights had been turned off. On the big stage in the back, I sat down with Renee Duxler and saw how much she loves her Wichita community. It felt like I was sitting down with an old friend and, in a way, I was. A small shock went through the LGBT and HIV+ community in the first week of January when Duxler posted on her Facebook page that she would be stepping down as Executive Director of Positive Directions, Inc. (PDI).
PDI has been an integral part of HIV+ care and prevention in Wichita and is responsible for fundraisers such as ArtAID and Wichita’s AIDS Walk, raising money to support its services - client casework, HIV testing, a grocery center, and so much more.
By Emily Beckman
EL DORADO - As a young girl, Helen Barnes would tell her parents that the body she was in felt all wrong. Now, Professor Grayson Barnes is happier than he has been in a long time.
Until her third grade year, Helen Barnes dressed like a boy. For a number of years, she got away with asking people to call her Buddy. Then eventually she was forced to get cat-eye glasses, and her mother told people there was no one in their house by the name of Buddy, that the person who lived there was a girl and her name was Helen.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
ERIE - Author Julian Jones may live in Los Angeles, but his heart will always be in Kansas, where he was born and raised. His debut novel, Bohunk’s Big To-Do, is set in Erie, KS, where Jones grew up.
The novel features protagonist Bo Mickey, who has run away from home to get away from his mother, who just married his boyfriend. That synopsis may sound like heavy material, but Jones describes his book this way: “First and foremost, I wrote this book to be a fun and sexy read – easy entertainment – endearing characters – a conversational rural voice – humor derived of quirky characters and small-town values.”
Liberty Press recently spoke with Jones about his debut novel.
By Ciara Reid, staff reporter
As Valentine’s Day 2016 approaches, many LGBT couples are planning a romantic evening out, a low-key dinner in, or just taking time to appreciate each other. Liberty Press spoke with four LGBT newlywed couples in the Kansas City and Wichita area about what it means to be married (legally!), and their plans for the most romantic holiday of the year.
Welcome to the new monthly column dedicated to informing the community about Wichita’s LGBT community center. The Center is a place to call home for Wichita’s LGBTQA community. Located just north of downtown Wichita at the northeast corner of Market and Murdock, The Center shares the building with the offices of Equality Kansas and Christensen Financial Services.
By Blake Hampton, staff reporter
WICHITA - Pastor Jackie Carter and about five or more volunteers were taking food off of several pallets into the kitchen of their church, the First Metropolitan Community Church (First MCC). It was a Tuesday, when she and others feed those who come for First MCC’s weekly food pantry. Despite the good deeds, Pastor Carter has been experiencing consistent harassment - from threatening calls to her church being vandalized - since November 2014.
LAWRENCE - Best of Lawrence 2015 winner, Interpersonal Psychiatry is now hosting a free bi-weekly support group for individuals dealing with transgender issues that started Jan. 9. The group is open to all transgender people as well as family members and supporters. Topics such as gender identity, coming out, and issues with family and employers are welcome.
Australian Bee Gees Show, with more than 15 years of perfecting its routine, has captured the energy and soul of one of music’s most successful bands. The tribute to the Bee Gees is a fully-produced, multimedia concert. It will be performed at 8pm Saturday, Feb. 13, at Johnson County Community College’s Yardley Hall.
The Bee Gees, formed in 1958, consisted of brothers Barry, Robin, and Maurice Gibb. The three were well known for decades, but they had two distinct periods of exceptional success: as a popular music act in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and as writers and performers who defined the disco music era in the late 1970s.
By Jeromiah Taylor, staff reporter
WICHITA - The powerful images of Gordon Parks come together in the stunning exhibition Visual Justice on display at Wichita State University’s Ulrich Museum of Art. The Museum celebrated the opening reception of Visual Justice on Jan. 16 and the exhibit will be on display until April 10.
Parks, one of the greatest and most influential photographers of the 20th century, a black Kansan who surmounted poverty and racism, in many ways lived the American dream, though he did not capture it; instead his compelling art illuminates the frequently painful American reality.
Many of Parks’ photo-essays for Life magazine are well represented as well as his often overlooked accomplishments in experimental color photography. Visual Justice provides an unflinching and memorable look at America and its long-term sicknesses of racism and systemic poverty.
WICHITA - On Feb. 14 at 7pm, V-Day Wichita will present a one-night-only benefit reading of V-Day’s A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and A Prayer at Wichita Community Theatre, 258 N. Fountain. All proceeds will go directly to the Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center.
Performers include Don Wineke, Darian Leatherman, Vonda Schuster, Liesl Wright, Jill Miller, Teri Mott, Marta McKim, Dan Schuster, Jenny Wood and many, many others. It is directed by Mark Anderson, Tanya Anderson, and Stacy Chestnut
WICHITA - Heart of America Men’s Chorus (HOAMC) is hosting Valentine N’ Dine, an evening of good food, chocolate, wine and romance to be held Sunday, Feb. 14 from 5-8pm at The Egg Crate, 8606 W. 13th Suite 150. Tickets are $14 for singles or $25 for groups of two. Reservations are suggested but not required. To make reservations reply to the Facebook event or call 316-708-4887.
Meat and meatless lasagna, salad, garlic bread and dessert will be on the menu. Drinks provided with your ticket include tea, coffee, and wine. At 5:30pm, 6:30pm and 7:30pm raffle baskets will be given out. Get a free raffle ticket by leaving your name and e-mail address. There will also be musical entertainment during the event.
HOAMC is honored to provide a gay-friendly event that is also open to anyone who would like to attend.
It's time for the Liberty Press’ fourth annual Best of Gay Wichita Awards! This year the balloting is totally online to vote for your favorites in the LGBT community in Wichita. Voting is open Jan. 1-Feb. 8, 2016. Votes will be tallied and the winners will be announced in the March 2016 issue.
Voters can fill out as many, or as few, categories as they like. Only one ballot per person will be counted.
Click to VOTE NOW!