in the news/5
Volume 18/Issue 4

Equality Rocks Concert in DC

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, the educational arm of the Human Rights Campaign, recently announced that it will host a major concert, "Equality Rocks," on Sat., Apr. 29, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Featuring such superstar performers as Garth Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Anne Heche, Kristen Johnston, kd Lang, Nathan Lane, and Pet Shop Boys, Equality Rocks will empower the HRC Foundation to continue its vital work into the new century. The concert will embody the dream of equality and safety for all people, and a world free of violence based on difference. It will also be a celebration fostering mutual respect and dignity, especially among young people, so they can dream their dreams, free of fear and violence, says HRC.

"It's not just a concert, it's a concerted effort for equality and safety," said HRC Executive Director Elizabeth Birch. "Never before have so many powerful and inspiring artists come together to support our community and celebrate the dream of equality, safety and fairness for all people. This historic concert is unprecedented in the United States and sends a wise and much needed message to America that it is time to end the senseless violence that has torn apart our nation."

In recent years, the violence and hatred unleashed among young people has shaken the nation. HRC and Equality Rocks are about creating new standards of civility and understanding. HRC is deeply committed to fostering an atmosphere of respect for difference and basic human rights for all. Equality Rocks hopes to address the climate in which long-term prejudice and bias is formed. The message of the event is that people in every setting and institution have a responsibility to build a better nation for all young people.

"To help young people the artists are saying it's: All of Us for All of Them," said Birch. "This event is also a celebration of HRC's work. The organization will celebrate its 20th Anniversary this year. HRC has always dreamed of a world in which difference is not just tolerated, but embraced and celebrated. We are going to dream, hope, rock."

Proceeds from the concert will benefit the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, well-known for its educational programs. The concert will take place on the eve of the Millennium March on Washington for Equality, and the HRC Foundation will provide a major grant to the MMOW organization from the proceeds of this event.

Tickets are available nationwide by calling TicketMaster at 800.551.SEAT or 202.432.SEAT. More major artists will be announced and all artists are subject to change.

Planet Out, Inc., a leading online media company, has become a Diamond Corporate Sponsor of Equality Rocks. Planet Out will provide hundreds of thousands of young people around the world with concert information and highlights before, during and after Equality Rocks. Visit Planet Out at

Equality Rocks is being produced by Elizabeth Birch, Executive Director, the Human Rights Campaign; Laurette Healey, President, Entertainment Marketing Associates; Bill Leopold, President, W.F. Leopold Management; Hilary Rosen, President, Recording Industry Association of America and Lisa Sanderson, President and CEO, Red Strokes Entertainment. Ingrid Casares, CP Ventures, is also a producer.

World's First
Leather Archives & Museum in Chicago

The world's first Leather Archives & Museum will have a grand opening in its permanent home Feb. 17-20 on Chicago's Far North Side. The 12,500-square-foot facility is in the former home of the Greenview Arts Center, and includes a 164-seat theatre, a museum and gallery, an archives, and museum store.

The grand opening weekend includes a sold-out Centurion Awards Program to honor those who have made an impact on the leather community in the 20th Century. There will be a ribbon cutting Feb. 17, open house hours, and events held at Buddies and Cellblock bars. Open hours at the facility, 6418 N. Greenview, just north of Devon and east of Clark St., will be Feb. 18, 4-8pm.; Feb. 19, 11am-10pm; Feb. 20, noon-6pm; and Feb. 21, noon-8pm.

The theatre will feature leather workshops, films, theatre, music and other productions starting in June, and will be called The Etienne Performing Arts Center, named for famous Chicago artist and dancer Dom Etienne Orejudos.

The Leather Archives & Museum was created by internationally known leatherman Chuck Renslow, a Chicago businessman who ran one of Chicago's first leather bars, the Gold Coast, in 1958. Renslow is also the founder and executive director of International Mr. Leather, which brings thousands of visitors to Chicago each Memorial Day Weekend. Renslow is also the owner of Man's Country, Chicago Eagle, and other businesses in the Gay community, and has been inducted into the city's Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame.

The Archives is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, with a board of directors from around the country. Renslow is president of the board. Anthony DeBlase, Ph.D., a former Chicagoan who created the black-white-blue-and-red flag which is the symbol of the international leather community, is vice president of the board. He lives in Oregon. Other board members are from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, California and New York. Writer, editor and educator Joseph W. Bean is executive director of the archives, and Bill Stadt is assistant to the executive director.

The Leather Archives & Museum already has thousands of items, including magazines, newspapers, newsletters, books, photos, letters, videos, minutes from organizations, posters, flyers, brochures, tickets, banners, buttons, patches, sculptures, titleholder sashes, medals and trophies, and oral histories from men and women in the leather community.

Gay Catholic Priests
Urged to Come Out

Teddy Witherington, Executive Director of San Francisco's Pride Parade and Celebration, and Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco Senior Pastor, Rev. Jim Mitulski, recently urged Gay Roman Catholic priests to come out and end the hypocrisy they are forced to endure. This call for honesty comes as the Roman Catholic Church again finds itself struggling with new Gay rights issues in the United States and in Rome.

The Kansas City Star recently reported that Roman Catholic priests in the United States are dying from AIDS-related illnesses at a rate four times higher than the general population and the cause is often concealed on their death certificates.

Halfway around the world, the Vatican began a propaganda attack against World Pride Rome 2000, a world wide celebration of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender pride from July 1 through 9 in Rome. Planning began in 1996 and on Jan. 17, 2000 World Pride Rome received a $180,000 grant for cultural events from the Rome government. The Vatican then, unsuccessfully, began their attempt to force the City of Rome and the Italian government to cancel "World Pride Rome 2000."

Italian newspapers ran headlines saying "Gays March on the Vatican" and "City of Rome Money Goes to Gays Instead of to the Poor and Homeless." On Jan. 28, Vatican Cardinal Angelo Sodano, second only to the Pope, complained about World Pride in the newspaper Il Messagero.

Mario Baccini of the CCD Party, a Vatican spokesperson in parliament, called World Pride Rome a "moral and material slap in the face." She demanded Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema deny Rome's city council the right to coordinate the Celebration. The response came the very next day from Italy's Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini. "I don't think we can ban the march," he said. "However, we must show openness and tolerance towards all citizens, whatever their faith or their orientation."

World Pride Rome is one week after San Francisco's Pride Celebration Sat. and Sun., June 24 and 25 in the Civic Center. With the theme, "It's About Freedom," the 30th anniversary San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade begins Sun., June 25, 10:30am from Beale and Market Streets.

"Gay priests infected with HIV and AIDS need to know of our parade: 'It's About Freedom,'" Witherington said. "We invite our brothers who are Gay priests, and everyone else who find themselves in a closet, to simply come on out."

"We march in San Francisco and we will march in Rome because 'It's About Freedom,'" Witherington, who also is Co-President of InterPride, the International Association of Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Coordinators, said. "We shall be spectacular and grand in both cities. Yet, the actions of the Catholic Church remind us our commitment to remain vigilant must equal our passion to celebrate freedom."

Mitulski, who pastors San Francisco's largest church serving the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered community said, "How a church deals with homosexuality determines how it will deal with AIDS. The culture of silence around homosexuality has created a culture of silence around AIDS."

"The Roman Catholic Church is a generation behind in dealing with AIDS. They have no policy for providing compassionate care for priests infected with AIDS. Instead, they created a sad and shameful tragedy causing needless suffering and death amongst its priests, its employees and their church members."

"I invite and I encourage every Gay Roman Catholic priest to come out. Come out and breathe the fresh air God has created for you. I join those at San Francisco Pride who say 'It's About Freedom.' To every Roman Catholic priest I say, the truth truly can set you free."

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