Monday, September 30, 2013

Gay Marriage Battle In Virginia

Now that Theodore B. Olson, David Boies & the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) have eliminated California’s Proposition 8 they have announced that they have joined the federal constitutional challenge to Virginia’s ban on marriage equality. The Bostic v. Rainey case contends that the Virginia Marriage Amendment & other Virginia laws that prohibit gay & lesbian couples from marrying are unconstitutional. Theodore B. Olson the Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel stated, “This case is about state laws that violate personal freedoms, are unnecessary government intrusions & cause serious harm to loving gay & lesbian couples. As a Virginian & a conservative, I believe these laws stand against the very principles of our nation’s founding. Our Plaintiffs have been together for a combined 52 years, yet Virginia will not allow their relationship to be recognized in any way. Virginia’s laws violate core personal freedoms, they are humiliating & demeaning & they harm loving families.” David Boies Plaintiffs’ lead co-counsel added, “Virginia gave us the first marriage equality case & the one that most clearly established that the right to marry the person you love is a fundamental right of all Americans. It’s fitting, then, that Virginia be the battleground for another great test of that principle. Gay & lesbian couples are guaranteed the same marriage rights as straight couples & the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot impinge on that fundamental right. Any alternative is separate & unequal and relegates gays & lesbians & the children they are raising, to second class status.” Virginia Marriage Amendment was enacted in November 2006 which amended the Virginia Constitution to define marriage as solely between one man & one woman & bans recognition of any legal status for gays & lesbians couples.
For More Info: afer.org 
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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Gay Marriage & New Jersey

After years of denial New Jersey district court Judge Mary Jacobson ordered the state to start granting marriage license to same-gender couples on October 21st. The ruling is in line with the New Jersey Supreme Court's 2006 decision compelling the state to grant equal status to both same & opposite gender couples. Of course homophobic New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s administration released a statement that it will appeal this ruling to the state's Supreme Court. However we all know it’s just a matter of time & New Jersey will join the fourteen other states where marriage equality is the law. John Lewis Marriage Equality USA Legal & Policy Director stated, "It's a brand new day since the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark marriage decisions in June. While today's decision may be appealed, it shows the accelerating pace of progress towards the day when all New Jersey couples are treated equally under the law." MEUSA Executive Director Brian Silva added, "We will not rest until we have full equality from coast to coast. Marriage Equality USA & our project, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT), appreciate the tremendous momentum generated by today's ruling as we continue the day-to-day work of making the freedom to marry a reality in New Jersey & nationwide." Updates to Come…:)
For More Info: MEUSA.org
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Friday, September 27, 2013

HIV & AIDS Awareness Day

In support of National Gay Men's HIV/AIDS Awareness Day on Sept 27th GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders) has joined hundreds of organizations & individuals in signing onto a joint letter to re-engage the broader LGBT community in the fight against HIV/AIDS. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), gay & bisexual men & men who have sex with men account of 63% of the new HIV infections in 2010. In fact gay men are the only group in which HIV infections are increasing. Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD stated, “HIV continues to have a disproportionate & devastating impact on our community. All of us in the community should commit our time, talent & resources to ending the epidemic.” The joint letter reads in part: “Over the last 30 years, the LGBT community has seen great strides in the movement for full equality. Much of this success is the result of a concerted movement, which was galvanized in response to the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s…In the decades since our movement has seen incredible victories… Unfortunately, our community hasn't maintained the same momentum in our fight against HIV… Each day more than 80 gay & bisexual men become infected with HIV in the United States… Despite these alarming statistics, which have galvanized our community in the past, the HIV epidemic has seemed to fall by the wayside. Many in our community have simply stopped talking about the issue. This must change." Please Practice Safe-Sex & Get Tested.
Read Full Letter… 
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Anti Gay Sochi Winter Olympics

The International Olympic Committee announced that it’s "satisfied" that Russia's homophobic, hateful, anti gay law does not violate the Olympic charter. This means the IOC won't take any action that could help protect millions of LGBT Russians & international travelers including Olympic athletes all of whom are at risk of persecution under this law. Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC's Co-ordination Commission, said the IOC did not have the right to discuss the host country's laws. The position of the IOC is totally appalling especially since the Olympic charter clearly states: "Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement." Chad Griffin HRC President stated, “If this law doesn’t violate the IOC’s charter, then the charter is completely meaningless. The safety of millions of LGBT Russians & international travelers is at risk & by all accounts the IOC has completed neglected its responsibility to Olympic athletes, sponsors & fans from around the world. The IOC and its new president, Thomas Bach, are putting the good reputation of the Olympic Games & its corporate sponsors in jeopardy.” Of course this whole thing is really about money rather than human rights. Killy said the IOC commission was pleased with the ongoing construction ahead of the games with a total cost of $51 billion making Sochi the most expensive Olympics in history.
Updates to Come…:)
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Thursday, September 26, 2013

President Bush Joins Gay Wedding

When I heard that former President George H.W. Bush was an official witness at the gay wedding of two of his longtime lesbian friends my jaw actually dropped. George senior & his wife Barbara Bush attended the ceremony joining Bonnie Clement & Helen Thorgalsen as private citizens & friends last Saturday. Thorgalsen posted a photo on her Facebook page showing Bush signing the marriage license as a witness, which she captioned, "Getting our marriage license witnessed!" When Bush senior was in the White House gay marriage wasn't a big political issue because at that time our LGBT community wasn’t even acknowledged by his administration. When he was vice president he was part of the Reagan administration that was in denial that AIDS & HIV even existed allowing thousands to die. We all know that his son former President George W. Bush opposed marriage equality & in 2004 announced his support for a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw it. However his wife, Laura Bush & their daughter Barbara Bush seem to support gay marriage as does his former vice president Dick Cheney whose daughter Mary Cheney is openly gay. All of this just goes to show how two-sided politics are especially within the GOP party. Perhaps Daddy Bush who appears to be in iffy health is making amends before leaving this earth. Congrats to Bonnie & Helen on their wedding & getting through to Former President George H.W. Bush that LGBT rights are human rights.
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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New York LGBT Career Fair

To address the rampant unemployment & workplace discrimination in the LGBT community, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center) & more than 40 corporate partners are joining forces for The Center’s LGBT Career Fair on Monday Sept 30th from 10A to 3P. The career fair presented by Citi will take place at the Citi Executive Conference Center 153 E 53 Street on the 14th Floor in NYC. Participants are invited to experience panels, workshops, networking opportunities & meet employers that value LGBT diversity in the workplace. Glennda Testone The Center Executive Director stated, “The Center helps real people with real issues every day & employability of the LGBT community is one that must be addressed in a serious, meaningful manner. It’s wonderful how the exhibiting companies at our career fair are showing that they value the LGBT community & that their priority, first & foremost, is to build teams of the best & brightest professionals possible.” Currently in 29 US states workers can be fired because of their sexual orientation & in 34 states workers can be fired for being transgender. The Center is producing this event to ultimately help end employment discrimination in the LGBT community. Companies participating in The Center’s LGBT Career Fair include: Aflac, Avon Products, Banana Republic, Barclays, Bloomberg, CA Technologies, CapGemini, Capital One, CBS Television Network/Showtime Networks, Central Intelligence Agency, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Citi, ConEdison, Credit Suisse, CVS, Diageo, Equinox, FDNY, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Fenwick Keats Real Estate, FreshDirect, Goldman Sachs, HBO, Home Depot, JetBlue Airways, Johnson & Johnson, Legg Mason, Marsh & McLennan Companies, Inc., MassMutual, MTA Metro-North Railroad, National Urban Fellows, New York Life, New York Marriott Marquis Times Square, New York University, NYPD, NYU Langone Medical Center, Professionals for Nonprofits, Prudential, Publicis Groupe, Robert Half International, Saks Fifth Avenue, Standard Chartered Bank, Sunglasses Hut, Thomson Reuters, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Wells Fargo Advisors & more.  
For Info & RSVP: gaycenter.org 
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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Cher New Album & New Tour


Our favorite gay ally & diva Cher is in New York this week celebrating her new album “Closer To The Truth” released today Sept. 24th on Warner Bros Records. She’ll be appearing on David Letterman tonight & Live! with Kelly & Michael on Oct. 1st. Cher will also be appearing as a mentor with Blake Shelton on NBC’s The Voice airing in October. The great news is she’ll be kicking off her “Dressed To Kill” 49 city North American Tour beginning in Phoenix on March 22nd with stops in NY, LA, Boston, Las Vegas & other major markets. Cher’s previous tour “The Farewell Tour” later dubbed “The Never Can Say Goodbye Tour” was one of the most successful tours ever by a solo artist & played for a record-breaking 325 dates & seen by over 5.5 million people. American Express® Cardmembers can purchase their tickets to select cities before the general public beginning Monday Sept 30th, 10A through Thursday, Oct. 3rd, 10P. For all online tickets purchased presale & general public ticketholders will receive a free copy of Cher’s new album “Closer To The Truth”. In 1985 at a party for the MTV awards I got to meet Cher in the Mike Todd VIP Room of the Palladium in NYC. I must say the Cher is the most genuine celebrity I have ever encountered.
For More Info: cher.com 
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Monday, September 23, 2013

Gays Couldn’t Save The Emmys

Neil Patrick Harris hosted this year’s 65th Primetime Emmy Awards & Elton John performed a tribute to Liberace in honor of the HBO biopic Behind the Candelabra which landed Michael Douglas the Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie. Michael Douglas’s acceptance speech was the highlight of the night stating to Matt Damon who was also up for the award as Liberace's lover, Scott Thorson & Douglas’s co-star stating, “You were magnificent," Douglas raved to a smiling Damon. "And the only reason I'm standing here is because of you. So you really deserve half of this. So, you want the bottom or the top?" All the mainstream media thought his speech was a bit raunchy but we found it real & refreshing. Behind the Candelabra also won the Emmy beating out The Bible for best miniseries or movie. However The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards was the worst presentation in recent years. Harris was unable to carry the show with his Tony-like performances & displayed a lack of control throughout the broadcast. It was also the saddest 3 hours with tributes to TV legends & icons who have died. You have to ask yourself what were they thinking to make this annual tribute of the best in television into a failing mockery of what it once was. FYI the Emmy pictured above was awarded to me a number of years ago...:)
List of Emmy Winners...
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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Two Years After DADT Repeal

As we pass the 2nd anniversary of the repeal of the discriminatory "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell", the Center for American Progress has released a report offering recommendations for the military to achieve full equality for its LGBT service members. Even though sexual orientation is no longer grounds for dismal from the military & the federal government including the Department of Defense, now recognizes gay & lesbian spouses for the purpose of federal benefits, the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” & the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act does not mean the end of discrimination for LGBT Americans who serve in our nation’s military. Laura E. Durso, Director of the LGBT Research & Communications Project at the Center for American Progress stated, “Two years ago today marked the first time in American history when gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender, or LGBT, members of our military could serve openly & with integrity. We should take today not only to remind ourselves how far we have come in the march toward full equality in the military, but also to rededicate ourselves to supporting & providing for every brave man & woman who wears the uniform, LGBT or not. There’s still more work to do & we owe all our service members the resolve to see it through.”
Updates to Come...:)
For More Info: americanprogress.org 
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Cher Selena Gomez & Elton John

As you know the beat won’t go on in Russia anytime soon since Cher canceled her performances in protest of Russia’s new anti gay laws. Now pop star Selena Gomez has been denied her visa by Russian government officials. This has forced Selena to cancel 2 concerts slated for St. Petersburg's Ice Palace on Sept. 23rd & Moscow's Olimpiisky Stadium on Sept. 25th because of a petition that appeared on Change.org asking her take a stand on LGBT rights in the former Soviet Union. The petition called on Gomez to speak out & "let LGBT folks in Russia know that we stand with them, & that they are not alone." It reached over 1,000 signatures before the news of Gomez's denied visa became public. Earlier this week Elton John who is planning to travel to Russia this December to perform despite the country's anti LGBT crackdown stated, “ I’ve got to go. And I’ve got to think about what I’m going to say very carefully. There’re two avenues of thought: do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you’re really leaving the men & women who are gay & suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there & supporting them. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go.” Updates to Come…:)
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Thursday, September 19, 2013

US Labor Dept. & Gay Marriage

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced new guidance for gay & lesbian couples regarding the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that denied federal benefits to legally married gay couples. The department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration has released guidance plans, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, participants & beneficiaries on the decision’s impact on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974. The release states that in general the terms “spouse” & “marriage” in Title I of ERISA & in related department regulations should be read to include gay & lesbian couples legally married in any state or foreign jurisdiction that recognizes gay marriages regardless of where they currently live. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated, “This decision represents a historic step toward equality for all American families & I have directed the department’s agency heads to ensure that they are implementing the decision in a way that provides maximum protection for workers & their families. The department plans to issue additional guidance in the coming months as we continue to consult with the Department of Justice & other federal agencies to implement the decision.” Assistant Secretary for Employee Benefits Security Phyllis C. Borzi added, “By providing greater clarity on how the Supreme Court’s decision affects one of the laws we enforce, we are contributing to greater equality & greater protection for America’s working families.”
For More Info: dol.gov
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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grindr Fights For Equality In Turkey

Grindr for Equality has announced it’s mobilizing its 6+ million users to fight the oppression of Turkey’s gay community & is working with Turkish LGBT association, KAOS GL to reverse the ban. Turkey’s government banned Grindr on Sept 11th within the country & in the process cut off a powerful resource to the gay community, which includes more than 125,000 active monthly Grindr users. Through the Ministry of Family & Social Policies, the Turkish government is using the discourse on the 'traditional heterosexual family' as a pretext to suppress LGBT rights. Joe Mirabella, Director of Communications for All Out stated, “Turkey's crackdown on free speech is very troubling. All Out members won't stand for Turkey's censorship of the gay community. If we don't speak out now, this won't stop with Grindr because it's just one part of the Turkish government's crackdown against freedom of speech across the entire country.” Grindr Founder & CEO Joel Simkhai added, “Oppression starts with the strangling of free speech & just like the burning of books in the past, today it’s done by cutting off people’s access to technology. Freedom to communicate is a basic right & Grindr is exploring all options to resolve this matter including a legal appeal. We’re grateful for the support of All Out & KAOS GL in helping us to reverse the blocking of Grindr in Turkey. Grindr believes in strength in numbers & we are urging everyone to sign All Out’s petition to strengthen & stop the silencing of the Turkish gay community.”
For More Info: grindr.com/equality 
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Karen Grenier Tops Stargaze Event

Lesbian Night Life is hosting the first ever STARGAZE, a women's camping, art & music festival in New England this weekend September 20-22 at Barrington Shores Campground in Barrington New Hampshire. There will be live music, sports, parties, boating, hiking, workshops, art installations & more. Festival Passes include access to all the entertainment, events & tent camping. Car Camping/RV spots & cabins are also available. There’s an outstanding line up of artists, Djs & entertainers scheduled to perform throughout the weekend. Also there will be special guest speakers, comedians & fun unique activities & workshops for everyone to enjoy. Current music line-up includes; Karen Grenier, VAVÁ, London Bridgez, The Dejas, Lauren Bateman, Ivette Meow, Adrienne Mack-Davis, Krista Baroni, Hudson, Baam Bada, Anjimile & Nancy Beth. DJs LaNena & msladyj will be spinning throughout the weekend. Beth McGurr Stargaze Producer states, “We want everyone to join our community of artists, campers & festive girls. Bring & share your own talent, art, music, creative inspirations & thoughts. Whether you're down for a hippie "love in", a crazy & memorable weekend with the girls, or a spiritual & creative awakening, we'll have it all going on with lots of campground frolicking with the ladies. Remember: what happens in the campground...stays in the campground.” Festival passes includes everything planned for the weekend - camping, activities, concert, lounge & club events. This is a bring your own food, drinks & spirits event.
For Info & Passes: lesbiannightlife.com 
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Monday, September 16, 2013

AIDS Harbor to the Bay Bike Ride

This is the 11th anniversary of Harbor to the Bay the one-day 125 or 68 mile bike ride from Boston Harbor to Provincetown Bay. This Saturday September 21st 500 riders & volunteers will make this trek to increase awareness in our community to help prevent HIV infection & to care for those already impacted by HIV/AIDS. What makes this fundraiser different is that 100% of the money goes to support organizations which advance the quality & accessibility of HIV & AIDS care. Harbor to the Bay was launched in 2003 & has raised over $3,000,000 for these organizations: Fenway Health, AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, Community Research Initiative & AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Harbor to the Bay has been committed since Day 1 that 100% of all rider-received pledges will go directly to these beneficiaries. Harbor to the Bay was the brainchild Michael Tye. He created this ride so that every penny donated would go to the beneficiaries. Michael passed away at the age of 49 after a long courageous battle against Multiple Myeloma cancer just 71 days before the first ride in 2003. His brother Mark will be making the ride this year for the 11th time. This year riders will have 3 options: Ride from Boston to Provincetown, Ride from Boston to Sagamore or Ride from Sagamore to Provincetown. Jim Morgrage who helped found Harbor to the Bay is the president of the organizing committee rides as well. So if you can't ride at least sign-up & support a rider. Updates to Come...:)
For More Info: harbortothebay.org 
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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Boston Latin@ Pride Sunset Cruise

Boston Latin@ Pride kicks off their 2013 celebration with CONTROVERSY on the WATER: Pride Boat Cruise Sunday September 15th 5-9P departing from One Long Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts. This is a fabulous event not to be missed. This year entertainment will be provided by CONTROVERSY. There will be costumes, cocktails & dancing on a sunset cruise around Boston Harbor with all the festivities created by CONTROVERSY. The phenomenal MC Father Tarik St Clair joins the mic for THE BOOTY BOAT: First Ever TWERKIN on a Boat CONTE$T & enchanting siren Lakia Mondale will set our sailors’ hearts adrift with her magical & mesmerizing performance. CONTROVERSY DJs Ian Diver, Jamila Afrika aka Lady J & Nate Bluhm will be spinning the best in Latin & Urban sounds, including R&B, Reggeaton, Bachata Hip-Hop, Salsa, Caribbean & Latin-tinged Top 40. Hits & hidden treasures for the pirates in attendance will get the party going. This is a 21+ event. Tickets: Pre-sale are $15 & at the Dock are $20. This is an early sunset event from 5-9P. Boarding will be at 5:30P So ride the tide with Latin@ Pride!! The Pride Boat Cruise is sponsored by Boston Pride, Rainbow Times & Boston Harbor Cruises. Boston Latin@ Pride takes place September 21st – 28th with events happening all week long.
For More Info & Tix: bostonpride.org
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Friday, September 13, 2013

LGBT Youth Rights Webinar

There’s such an epidemic of LGBT teen bullying in this country. As you know LGBTQ teens are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers & we continue to have numerous teens taking their own lives after facing bullying incidents. Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) is having a free webinar on Sept 25th at 12:30P EST for parents & adults to address this & other LGBT teen issues. Lee Swislow, Executive Director of GLAD stated, “As a new school year begins, GLAD wants to ensure that students across New England are entering safe & affirming learning environments. That's why we created our new campaign, Back to School: Know Your Rights, to empower youth & educate parents & school administrators on the rights of LGBTQ students. In the coming days, we'll be sharing resources including state-specific fact sheets & a brand-new youth rights website. First up, we're inviting parents & other supportive adults to attend a free & informational webinar about students' legal rights on September 25th at 12:30P ET. Topics include; bullying, anti-discrimination, school clubs, dances, freedom of expression, the rights of transgender & gender nonconforming students & how to report & overcome problems at school. Please help us spread the word to the parents you know.”
For More Info & Register… 
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Thursday, September 12, 2013

To Bed Or Not To Bed Event

To Bed Or Not To Bed: Sex & The Older Lesbian is an innovative, informative & fun-filled conference designed to facilitate multiple conversations about sex & aging in order to achieve a more realistic & comprehensive understanding of sexuality & older lesbians. The event takes place on November 1st from 8:30A-5P & is sponsored by the Women’s Health Program at Fenway Health, Boston, O.L.O.C. (Old Lesbians Organizing for Change) & Stonewall Senior Women Productions. There will be workshops & presentations by Fenway physician, Jennifer Potter; sex educators, Gina Ogden & Sarah Pearlman & well-known authors, Jyl Lynn Felman & Wendy Sanford of the women's health & sexuality book, Our Bodies, Ourselves. Workshops will include sex & long-term lesbian couple relationships; sex, dating & the older single lesbian; creating a satisfying life when older & single; sex, medical issues & body image. There will also be a body exercise session on enhancing orgasm with California movement therapist, Chloe Karl. Entertainment will be provided by comedian Karen Williams. There will also be a demonstration by Good Vibrations of Brookline. Conference Fee is $70.00, which includes breakfast, box lunch, entertainment & a free vibrator raffle ticket. Some reduced fee scholarships are available. Fenway Health is located at 1340 Boylston Street, Boston, MA.
For Info & Registration: admin@stonewallseniors.com 
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

LGBT Community Honoring 9/11

With the country on the verge of who knows what action may or may not be taken with Syria we commemorate the twelfth anniversary of 9/11. Everyone has a story to tell of where they were when it happened as our entire country went into shock. For the weeks to follow we were united in our grief. There were many LGBT people who were involved or died on that infamous day. Tom Ryan was a retired New York City firefighter who upon hearing of the attacks on World Trade Center called his firehouse & rushed to the scene. At the time Tom was the only openly gay firefighter in the FDNY. Father Mychal Judge was the gay Catholic priest who was killed by debris from the collapsing World Trade Center as he was caring for victims. Father Judge, 68, was a chaplain at the New York Fire Department & was known in the New York LGBT community for his work with AIDS outreach. His funeral Mass held at St. Francis of Assisi Church where he resided brought over 2,000 people. Tom Ryan was a pallbearer at Father Mychal Judge’s funeral. In the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan next door to the now closed St. Vincent’s hospital the LGBT Community Center offered immediate assistance to survivors & later counseling services for those grieving. More than 30 LGBT organizations held a memorial for victims of the World Trade Center attacks at the Center.
Twelve Years Later... Let's Take a Moment to Reflect....

In 2002 I produced & directed this music video tribute dedicated to those who perished on September 11th 2001. Michael Feinstein performs Leonard Bernstein & Stephen Sondheim's "Somewhere" from "West Side Story" with Keith Lockhart & the Boston Pops.
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