Education

HIV/AIDS fundraiser serves up chocolate realness: Chocolate Fest 2019

Chocolate, liquor, auctions and more!

Kentuckiana AIDS Alliance’s annual Chocolate Fest fundraiser is Aug 3 at the Mellwood Art Center. The event is from 7 p.m. — 11 p.m.

The KAA unites local non-profit agencies to provide a unique system of support for those affected by HIV/AIDS. They serve 19 counties in and around Metro Louisville. In 2018, Queer Kentucky partnered with KAA by providing them condoms to distribute at their testing and marketing events.

Their mission is to advocate for those with HIV/AIDS and unite and empower the local HIV/AIDS service organizations that serve them. KAA honors those who have gone before through education, celebration and remembrance. And through their signature events, the Louisville AIDS Walk and Chocolate Fest, they rally support and raise funds for those affected by HIV/AIDS across Metro Louisville and Southern Indiana.

KAA reserves the right to use any photograph/video taken at any Chocolate Fest without the expressed written permission of those included within the photograph/video.

Grab your tickets here!

GENERAL ADMISSION – $45.00 ($55 at the door)

Includes:

-Decadent chocolate

-Lite bites

-Unlimited spirits

-Dazzling entertainment

-Free admission to PLAY Louisville (8/3 only, must show wristband)

…and MORE!

VIP – $100.00 ($125 at the door)

Includes all G.A. benefits PLUS:

-Access to VIP lounge

-Designated waitstaff in VIP lounge

-Signature VIP cocktail

-Swag bag

…and MORE!

Purchase tickets ahead of time and save (ticket portal closes at 4 p.m. the day of)!  Tickets are non-refundable.

Black, Trans and Packing: Staying safe in white America

by Xian R. Brooks

In February of 2017, after seven years of self-reflection, internal debate, and fear, I became a gun owner.

I was not raised with guns. In fact, I was raised to fear them. Fear them because they could kill you. Fear people with them, especially police, because they could kill you.

We were never allowed to play with toy guns or even form finger guns with our forefinger and thumb, as children do, for that very reason. I knew nothing about them, except for the harm that they could cause to my Black body.

During the seven years of reflection and internal struggle I first had to overcome the fear, that was to be, navigating as a Black, masculine/male presenting person in america with a firearm.

Overcoming this fear took me down a path of learning about the politics and laws around gun ownership and how they applied to me. Very quickly, I concluded that none of the protective laws applied to me, and that gun rights advocates would remain stone silent in the event of my wrongful demise and violation of constitutional rights at a routine traffic stop.

It became clear that gun laws were antiquated and rooted in yt supremacy, and never intended for my Black hands to ever touch one, let alone carry one as part of my constitutional right to bear arms.

Contrary to the experience of many cis yt gun owners, I knew that carrying a firearm would not make me safer, it could make me a target. With that in mind, I opted to not carry and left my gun at home.

The second hurdle for me was to reconcile what it TRULY meant to own and carry a firearm. I understood that guns were designed for one thing; to harm or kill.

While people may shoot competitively or hunt for “sport,” there is no such thing. A firearm’s main objective is not for sport. Was I prepared to use my firearm if my life or the life of my partner or future kids were being threatened? Was I prepared (mentally and emotionally) to neutralize a threat, even if it meant loss of life? How would I protect myself (legally) if I did?

I had to figure out if I wanted any of the responsibilities that came with being a gun owner, and the extra responsibilities that came with being a Black gun owner. At the end of it all, I looked to ancestor Malcolm X to make my final decision:

“If a man speaks the language of brute force, you can’t come to him with peace. Why goodnight! He’ll break you in two, as he has been doing all along…… Learn the language that they understand, and then when they come up on our doorstep to talk, we can talk.”

For me, it is important to fully understand this tool of oppression, as well as speak the language of the oppressor, if need be.

On October 24, 2018, in a Kroger in Jeffersontown, KY, Mr. Maurice E. Stallard (69) and Ms. Vickie Lee Jones (67) were murdered by a yt supremacist.

They were murdered at the Kroger that my mother and aunt went to. They were murdered shortly before my mother went to that very Kroger.

She arrived at the traumatizing and chaotic scene of a murderer being apprehended. Ms. Jones was my mothers neighbor. She went to her funeral. She saw her family mourn. She mourned. She was scared. She was mad. She didn’t want to go anywhere, especially to Kroger. The following day, I open carried for the first time. My friends were scared for me. My mom was worried. They told me to be careful. Though I knew they were coming from a place of love and care, I would ask them, “What does careful even mean?”

I am not a fan of open carrying. While I like that it helps to normalize gun ownership among other people of color; making space for questions and conversations, I do not like the overall attention that I feel it brings from yt people and law enforcement.

I did not like that it made me feel like a target. In February 2019, after completing my course and test, I received my carry concealed deadly weapon permit (CCDW). I was intentional about having a teacher of color that was able to speak to the specific fears and concerns that I had.

That said, my new ability to conceal my weapon did not make me feel safer or less of a target. So why carry at all? Because I can!

Due to state sanctioned violence and reverberating disenfranchisement; such as unfair drug possession laws and the legal definition of intent to sell, there is a disproportionate amount of people that look like me and navigate the world as I do that can’t legally own and carry.

Moreover, there is a disproportionate amount of people that look like me and navigate the world as I do that do not feel safe* enough or empowered to do so.

On June 27, 2019, KY Senate Bill 150 went into effect, making Kentucky a constitutional carry state: meaning anyone that can legally possess a firearm or other deadly weapon, can conceal carry it without completing an education course or obtaining a permit.

In the wake of this new law, it is imperative that people of color talk about gun ownership and safety. We must talk about what this law means for us, even if we do not own or carry firearms.

How will we keep ourselves and each other safe*? But more importantly, we MUST know that this law is not for us. If you have your CCDW, maintain it, keep it up to date. If you were considering obtaining your CCDW, still do it. Know the laws. Know the rules. Know your rights. Be safe*.

My family’s outlook on guns has drastically changed. My brother was the first to own, then me. And my mom? She has a sweet .380 revolver. I’m not going to lie, in a world that seems to have lost all mental faculties, allowing open yt supremacy and regressing to segregation era violence, the thought of sharing space with someone in possession of a firearm, that has no training, terrifies the shit out of me!  This yt law will, no doubt, affect our Black bodies.

But go on, come up on our doorstep to talk, we can talk.

 

*Whatever that means.

Western Kentucky town approves LGBTQ+ Fairness Ordinance…Again!

HENDERSON — With a vote of three to two tonight, the Western Kentucky town of Henderson, population 28,657, became the eleventh city in the state to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations. ,

A press release from the Fairness Campaign said that tonight’s Fairness Ordinance vote comes 20 years after the Henderson City Commission originally passed a Fairness Ordinance, which made it only the third Kentucky city in 1999 with LGBTQ protections alongside Louisville and Lexington.

In 2001, a new Henderson City Commission repealed the ordinance and did not consider it again until former Mayor Joan Hoffman brought the issue back up to commission last fall.

Many cities in Kentucky still don’t have laws protecting LGBTQ+ citizens. Earlier this month Queer Kentucky reported on Taylor County officials and conservatives protesting against a Pride Panel that took place at the Taylor County Library.

“Tonight’s historic vote for Fairness in Henderson should give hope to every LGBTQ Kentuckian that fairness can come home for them too,” said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign. “Even after Henderson repealed their original Fairness Ordinance, the issue never died here, and tonight is concrete proof that persistence pays off.”

Mayor Pro Tem Brad Staton, Commissioner X.R. Royster, and Commissioner Austin P. Vowels cast votes for the ordinance, while Mayor Steve Austin and Commissioner Patti Bugg voted against it.

Last month, nearly 100 Henderson residents attended a city-moderated town hall on the Fairness Ordinance, with most in attendance speaking in favor of the ordinance.

Ten other Kentucky cities have adopted local Fairness Ordinances, covering just over a quarter of the state’s population–Louisville (1999), Lexington (1999), Covington (2003), Vicco (2013), Frankfort (2013), Morehead (2013), Danville (2014), Midway (2015), Paducah (2018), and Maysville (2018). Statewide Fairness Laws are annually introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly, but have never received votes in nearly 20 years. This year, nearly a quarter of state legislators co-sponsored the laws.

Queer Kentuckians and Allies gather in support of Taylor County Library

In a standing room only event, community members of Taylor County came together on Thursday to tell their heart-filled LGBTQ+ stories to the Board of Trustees of the Taylor County Library.

This public event arose after backlash from conservative community members concerning an LGBTQ+ Pride Panel that took place on June 18 at the Taylor County Library.

The panel, which included discussions with five openly queer people from across the state, is part of the library’s effort to offer relevant community and cultural events.

The community members who spoke to the board of trustees are hoping to keep LGBTQ+ programming alive. Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman came out to show support as well.

“It sounds like its time to start talking about a fairness ordinance,” Hartman said.

Folks who have long left Taylor County showed up to support their hometown. Wes Phillips, Lexington, said he was disappointed that this backlash even happened, but is excited to work towards progression.

“I’ve always taken a back seat to it [LGBTQ+ advocacy],” he said. I felt like anything I would say wouldn’t matter, but after today I see things a lot differently. This kind of has me amped up, and wanting to do more”

One after one, LGBTQ+ youth and adults told their stories to the board of trustees. Stories of transitioning trans youth to mothers of gay sons pleading to keep programming like the Pride Panel going.

Alex Brockman, Campbellsville, said she’s grown up next to the people on both sides and has had to bite her tongue on numerous occasions when controversial topics have arisen.

“Being a future educator, I have to really be careful about taking a stance in politics, but for me this isn’t a political issue; it’s a moral one,” she said. “Many people have tried to condemn those that identify as LGBTQ+ by spewing Bible verses that are taken out of context. As a Christian, I believe that it is our duty to love one another as Jesus loves us. It is not our place to judge others (Matthew 7:1-3). Furthermore, there should be a clear division between church and state. Our country was built upon this fundamental principle.”

This is the only safe space I am aware of in Central Kentucky, Brockman added.

The public event wrapped up when the board of trustees needed to meet in a closed meeting with city officials.

UPDATED: Conservatives want officials in this Central Ky. town to ‘punish library’ after hosting LGBTQ+ Pride panel

UPDATE: According to The Taylor County Library Facebook account, they will be having a special session meeting to discuss the controversy in response to the library’s recent LGBTQ Pride Panel.

The event will take place in the community room at 1 p.m.

The public will be allowed to put their input in during the hour before the 1 p.m. meeting.

Queer Kentucky will keep you up to date on the outcome.

CAMPBELLSVILLE—Critics here are asking local officials to take punitive action against the Taylor County Public Library after it hosted an LGBTQ Pride panel Tuesday night, the first of its kind in this conservative central Kentucky town of about 11,000 that’s located roughly an hour and a half south of Louisville.

Queer Kentucky featured Dalton Bennett of the Taylor County Library last week who coordinated the event.

“This will be the first time merging my professional life with aspects of my personal life,” Dalton said. “Although the thought of backlash weighs heavy on my mind, I feel in my heart that this is to be one of the many pivotal milestones in my life.”

The panel, which included discussions with five openly gay people from across the state, is part of the library’s effort to offer relevant community and cultural events. But some social conservatives say the discussion puts “this Christian community on perilous grounds.”

One local woman told Taylor County magistrates at a special-called government meeting Tuesday night that the LGBTQ panel opened “a Pandora’s Box of political controversial events” and that she was offended by the library board’s “moral decline.” WATCH: Taylor County officials discuss the Pride Panel

The board of the Taylor County Public Library includes appointees made by both city and county government officials, but operates independently with funding from a mix federal, state and local tax revenue.

The woman in the video who addressed elected county magistrates Tuesday night asked Taylor County officials to consider removing library board members from their positions of power and to abolish any local tax money that supports the library and its programming.

Taylor County Judge-Executive Barry Smith, the county’s top-elected official, expressed his disapproval of the library’s Pride panel in a Facebook post earlier this month.

Smith wrote: “Regardless of what you might hear, I personally disagree with our library’s decision to host an LGBTQ pride event. While it is my sworn duty as your County Judge Executive to represent all Taylor Countians, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation, my religious beliefs as a Christian teach me that homosexuality is both immoral and a sin. Thank you and god bless.”

Campbellsville resident Ashley Bell said she is close with many LGBT youth in the community, both out and closeted, and they are absolutely watching this and being hurt by it.

“Comparing the LGBT community to pedophiles and the KKK, especially in a public forum, is unconscionable and unforgivable,” she said. “Then to have elected officials agree with those sentiments is a disgrace.”

She added that her emotions are all over the place.

“Yesterday’s Pride panel was a beautiful event. I saw so many joyful tears in the room, but before it was even over, my inbox was blowing up with people talking about the fiscal court meeting. One gay friend in attendance was moved by the panel, but then had his gut wrenched by the video of the fiscal court meeting. It was heartbreaking,” Hall said.

Editors note: Spencer Jenkins, founder and Editor-in-Chief of Queer Kentucky attended this event as a panelist. The event was an amazing success within the walls of the Taylor County Library. Insightful, kind and educational conversations were had and we applaud the library in their educational and inclusivity efforts. We at Queer Kentucky believe that open conversations spark progressive movements and we hope more rural libraries follow Taylor County’s lead.

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