sappho psalm
Volume 21/Issue 18/2003

Toni Pizanie





by Toni Pizanie

Politics and Us

From all reports — the Mayor’s office, the NOPD (New Orleans Police Department) and Gay businesses — Southern Decadence was a huge success.

We are to be congratulated for keeping our cool under attack from the religious extremists. The one point that was clear to all was that our detractor was preaching hatred and encouraging hatred driven violence.

I received a copy of an e-mail written by one of the yellow clad security volunteers. The pride was very clear, speaking of the honor of being empowered by his community and the police to use his best judgment on how to calm situations and protect his brothers from outside trouble makers. He also wrote of the fear of finding himself confronted by violence and the relief at realizing how very cooperative the Gay crowds were in their pursuit of fun.

The police told me that not one of the arrests made was for sexual misconduct. We have been putting up signs to assist policing since 1995 and our visitors have responded. Praise needs to be given to the bar owners and employees for strictly enforcing all requests made by the NOPD.

It should also be pointed out that the religious extremists costs the City thousands of dollars for additional police and protection of our French Quarter. Since the City has been asking the bars to assist in footing the bill for the cost of Decadence, I believe the financial burden should be placed on the group that made additional policing necessary — Grant Storms’ gang.

Also had the opportunity to speak with the crew from ABC-TV. The men seemed favorably impressed with the responsible action taken by the GLBT community. I am looking forward to their Prime-time show on Southern Decadence to be aired next month, I am told.

Time will start moving more quickly it seems with cooler temperatures and the events of Fall and Winter nearing. The Gay Mardi Gras Krewes are in full force to make the most of their events to pay for creative and beautiful balls. The NO/AIDS Walk is upon us and Halloween is just three issues away. Pride will be in full swing the beginning of October and I will be traveling to Pensacola to attend the Ms. Gulf States Olympus Contest.

The handsome and talented Ben Bourgeois, Mr. Marigny Leather, is now also the first runner up for Mr. Louisiana Leather. Ben and I are having a series of fundraisers starting in the Marigny on Fri., Sept. 12. The event is a moving 50/50 raffle with cash and prizes starting at the Friendly Bar, then to Big Daddy's and ending at Chet's. The purpose is to collect traveling funds for Ben and myself to represent Louisiana at regional and national contests. To date, stops are scheduled at Big Daddy’s, Friendly Bar, Kims 940 and Cowpokes. If you are interested in being a sponsor or supporting our goal to bring the titles back to Louisiana, please contact us through my email address above.

Gay Louisiana is receiving another honor through the NOPD. As a volunteer for the Mayor’s Advisory Committee, I have been asked to teach a sensitivity class to visiting police from Bulgaria. Dr. Jamie Buth who usually teaches this class with me will be in Europe during the session. I will be assisted by Fr. Nicholas Romans of Church of Christ the Liberator. Lt. Bryant Winninger and I are still trying to learn how the State Department became aware of us and selected us to teach when the rest of Louisiana law enforcement has ignored our efforts to make the session a statewide requirement. It is also my understanding that I will be working with translators which should be quite interesting. However, I thought if I even did work with the police in North Louisiana, I’d need translators anyway.

In the way of good news for the community, Johnny Jackson is back. For the benefit of you that do not remember Johnny, I am conducting an interview with him and you can read all about Johnny and his efforts on behalf of the New Orleans Gay Community over the years in the next issue.

I was privileged to be a guest at Stewart Butler’s 73rd Birthday Party recently where Johnny Jackson was also in attendance. The group of about 30 guests was pleased and encouraged to learn that Jackson is coming out of retirement to once again run for public office. I found his reasons sound and of interest to the Gay community. I hope you will also.

I hope that you have noticed that I am trying to include political interviews FYI. There has been little to nothing coming out of the political organizations about the upcoming elections. With qualifying having passed several weeks ago, I thought I would be hearing from LAGPAC and others about upcoming interviews or debates. There is a full field of candidates and precious little information about any of them.

There is one candidate that I believe we must seriously consider — Randy Evans. He is a Republican — a Log Cabin Republican — and he has ignored my request for an interview. Randy was a founder of the Lesbian and Gay Community Center of New Orleans and has headed the Forum of Equality for many years.

As more information comes to my attention, I will pass it along.

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