sappho's psalm
Volume 16/Issue 22

Toni Pizanie by Toni Pizanie
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Vote Tuesday, Nov. 3

Tuesday, November 3 is election day. There are some very compelling reasons to get out the Gay/Gayfriendly vote not only in Louisiana but across the country. It is essential for the Democrats to gain control of Congress. This becomes all the more important if you are a person living with AIDS, a Gay parent with young children, nearing retirement or want Federal protection from discrimination.

It is clear that in New Orleans, even though we have a Hates Crime law on the books, hate crimes are not being investigated. An NOPD spokesperson said recently that we do not have a hate crime problem in New Orleans. This was reported by Susan Roberts of Channel 6 TV. Nothing could be further from the truth as many of the hate crimes reported to me are by police in the First and Eighth Districts. New Orleans needs Federal protection from hate crimes.

In addition, Chief Pennington has yet to establish consistent sensitivity training for the department even when a City Ordinance requires it. Dr. Carol Tully of Tulane has prepared and sent to Chief Pennington a curriculum as requested. The Chief denies having received it. For me, this constituted at hate crime toward the Gay community by the very people who have sworn and are paid to protect us under the law.

Our community requires widespread Social Security Disability for the many suffering from AIDS. Our vintage Lesbians and Gay men need Social Security as they reach retirement age. I was told by one affluent doctor that he didn't need SS even though he is planning to retire soon. If you don't need it, give it to those that do but don't threaten the existence of SS when so many do need it to live.

Too many of our young Lesbian mothers can not afford private schooling for their children or private tutors. The New Orleans public school system must be controlled to stop the mishandling of funds and inadequate teachers from influencing our children. This problem is not limited to New Orleans.

For as long as I can remember, the South has proven to hold the lowest ratings nationally in education. Public School reform and teacher testing seems reasonable when our children are at risk.

Voting ourselves and getting our friends and relatives to vote in all States can be one solution to the nationwide cure to homophobia, lack of education, poor quality of life and illness. Get out the vote on Tues., Nov. 3. Voting is more than a privilege, it is our future.

Report

I am no longer hearing first hand reports of Gay bashing or discrimi- nation since I am not at the Ambush office. It is important to report these acts to the police, to Jim at the Community Center, 504.522.1103, or to me at 504.947.1060. If you want to tell your story publicly to help others to gain the necessary courage to come forward, please let me interview you for this column. The Mayor's Advisory Committee (MAC) is also putting together a report on acts of discrimination against individuals in Orleans Parish. I will be reporting directly to the MAC.

At the Memorial Service for Matthew Shepard held on the Tulane University campus, Oct. 15, two Gay community leaders gave accounts of their personal experiences of bashing that were not reported. In hindsight, we all realize that reporting a hate crime is in our best interest and will help the community at large. The embarrassment and fear keeps us from going public.

One such incident recently reported in this column has caused the victim to leave New Orleans. The police took no action to uphold the law or investigate the incident. We must unite to destroy the apathy in the NOPD. It is still true that silence = death. Lifting our voices will demand attention and action.

Thanks

I am truly blessed. My eye is slowly healing and daily the sight is improving. Thank you all for the calls, E-mails and cards. I am grateful to the person who reported my condition to Councilman Troy Carter. I feel that I should share the beautiful flowers he sent with you. Special appreciation to Ellen, Lori, Rip, Jim and Dexter for acting as escorts so that I could attend meetings, art shows, community events and socials. Thanks for getting me out of the house. I promise to pass your kindness on.


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