Chip Arndt Hub

'Couples for Equality' Project to Launch This Weekend


Couples for Equality, a new non-profit whose mission is to celebrate committed relationships between "all types of couples,” will launch at Miami Beach Pride this weekend, according to its cofounders Chip Arndt and Michael Davis.

Ce The project's focus combines traveling "City Tour" events with an online gallery of photographs, written stories, and videography to help further the message of equality for all.

Couples, both gay and straight, are invited to submit photographs in support of the project.

They write:

At Miami Beach Pride, Couples for Equality™ will debut at the Legacy Couples reception honoring long-term, committed relationships and host a photo-shoot for all couples wishing to show support for the project from 11 am – Noon at the Park Central Hotel on Ocean Drive. Couples for Equality™ also has a booth during the Pride Festival from Noon-7pm on the adjacent beach in Lummus Park and invites any couple to this booth to have their picture taken and share in our vision.

Said Arndt: "It’s exciting to launch a project that resonates above the political and religious fray that often divides families, loved ones, and communities. 'Couples for Equality' is about celebrating relationships in all their diversity."

Couples for Equality [official site]

First Openly Gay Electors Cast Votes for Obama in Florida

Demfl Demfl2

Today, electors around the country cast their votes to officially elect Barack Obama the 44th president of the United States:

"In all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the 538 electors performed a constitutional process to legally elect Democrat Barack Obama the 44th president. More than 131 million voters cast ballots _ the most ever in a presidential election. But Obama's election is not complete until Congress tallies the outcome of Monday's Electoral College vote at a joint session scheduled for Jan. 6. Monday's voting was largely ceremonial, the results preordained by Obama's Nov. 4 victory over Republican Sen. John McCain. Obama was to win 365 electoral votes, to 173 for McCain. With only Hawaii still to vote, all the electors had cast ballots in accordance with the popular votes in their states."

In Florida, Chip Arndt and Gena Keebler (above) were among 27 electors in that state to cast their votes at the State Capitol in Tallahassee. However, Arndt and Keebler are the first openly LGBT electors in the state's history. In August, the Tampa Bay Tribune reported that the state's electors were "the most ethnically and geographically diverse group Florida Democrats have ever had."

Elke Kennedy, Mother of Hate Crime Victim to Speak at NYC Benefit for 'Gay American Heroes' Foundation

I've written a few posts about the national traveling memorial and exhibition, Gay American Heroes, that is in the process of coming together. I'm pleased to present a video featuring the project's founder Scott Hall, which is going to be shown at a benefit for the foundation happening this Saturday at Therapy in NYC from 5:30 to 8. Proceeds of the event will be used to build the traveling, educational memorial exhibition.

This is the first time the above video has been shown.

Hatecrimevictims_31Hall and the project's founders explain the philosophy behind the project's name: "The Gay American Heroes Foundation believes that all people who live honestly about their sexual orientation or gender identity are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately lose their life for said freedom makes them heroes."

Elke Kennedy, mother of Sean William Kennedy (picture, lower right — I've posted quite a few times about his death and her dignified and brave response to it) is the main speaker at the New York event. Also speaking will be Alan Cumming, Romaine Patterson (friend of Matthew Shepard), Chip Arndt, and Scott Hall.

Also attending this weekend in New York will be Survivor winners Ethan Zohn and Jenna Morasca.

Since its formation, many big names have stepped up to lend their help to the project, including Cyndi Lauper. Says the singer: "Gay American Heroes is an important and moving tribute to the lives lost to hate and violence."

Serving on the Honorary Board: actor Chad Allen (from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman), Sgt. Eric Alva, former professional baseball player Billy Bean, Unity Coalition of Miami Dade Executive Directors Ron Brenesky and Herb Sosa, actor Alan Cumming, Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Matt Foreman, US Rep. Barney Frank, Queer as Folk’s Robert Gant, Ana Gasteyer, Iman, Reichen Lehmkuhl, columnist Billy Masters, activist/politician David Mixner, Christopher Rice, Daniella Sea, media director at GLAAD Monica Taher, and myself.

Full details on event AFTER THE JUMP...

Gay American Heroes [official site] (warning: AUDIO)

Continue reading "Elke Kennedy, Mother of Hate Crime Victim to Speak at NYC Benefit for 'Gay American Heroes' Foundation" »

Hate Crimes Foundation Launches As FBI Reports Rise in Attacks

The FBI reported on Monday that hate crimes involving race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability rose nearly eight percent last year.

Hatecrimevictims_3CNN reports: "As has been the case since the FBI began collecting hate crime data in 1991, the most frequent motivation was racial bias, accounting for 51.8 percent of the incidents in 2006. That was down slightly from the 54.7 percent in 2005. Also in 2006, religious bias was blamed for 18.9 percent of the incidents; sexual orientation bias for 15.5 percent, and ethnic or national origin for 12.7 percent. Of the 7,330 offenders identified by police, 58.6 percent were white, 20.6 percent were black, 12.9 percent were of unknown racial background and other races accounted for the remainder. The greatest percentage of incidents, 31 percent, occurred near residences or homes. Another 18 percent occurred on highways or streets, 12.2 percent at colleges or schools, 6.1 percent in parking lots or garages, 3.9 percent at churches, synagogues or temples. The remainder occurred at other specific locations, multiple locations or unknown locations. Lack of full participation by the more than 17,000 police agencies around the nation somewhat undermines year-to-year comparisons."

Last week, over 100 people attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the official launch of the Gay American Heroes Foundation at the Broward County Library. The newly-formed organization, which I wrote about back in August, is spearheading the construction of a traveling exhibit that would commemorate LGBT victims of hate crimes and raise awareness about the problem.

Gah_2A scale model of the exhibit was unveiled which will display the word HEROES on six colored panels, stars, with the name, vocation, home state and date of death of each hero, and pictures of each hero on adjacent panels. All people viewing the exhibit will first enter an entrance where they can view video, see information regarding hate crimes in the USA, and offer their thoughts and blessings to those who have been murdered due to the sexual orientation or gender identity. At right is one of the group's marketing materials as well as a very simple, preliminary mock-up of how they intend the exhibit to look.

At the launch, Gay American Heroes raised $17,000 through a silent auction, private donations, a $5,000 donation from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and its Adopt-a-Hero program in which donations can be made in the name of a specific hate crime victim. Present at the launch were Founder and President, Scott Hall, Chip Arndt, Board of Director, spokesperson and Director for Outreach and Finance, Jack Rutland, Board of Directors and Executive Director of Stonewall Library and Archives, David Cornell, Board of Directors and Development Director of Dade Community Foundation and The Reverend Grant Ford, Pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral.

Merrill Lynch came on board as the group's first corporate sponsor. To date, Barry University, Clemson University, Florida University, Harvard University, Nova University, Penn State, and Yale University have agreed to display the exhibit and the accompanying education exhibition on their respective campuses in 2008. The group's goal is to raise $75,000 in order to build the traveling exhibit.

The group also has a Facebook group and a MySpace page.

As I noted previously, I have agreed to serve as an honorary board member for the non-profit, along with many others.

Exclusive: National Memorial for LGBT Hate Crime Victims Launches [tr]

News: Pete Wilson, North Carolina, Tom Brady, Grace Paley

road.jpg Short story writer, poet, and activist Grace Paley has died after a battle with breast cancer, at 84: "A published writer since the 1950s, Paley released only a handful of books over the next half century, mostly short stories and poems. Writing was a passion, but not a compulsion: She never felt the need to put every experience into words. Her fiction, although highly praised, competed for time with work, activism, family and friends. 'None of it happened, and yet every word of it is true,' she once said of her fiction. 'It's truth embedded in the lie.'"

Petewilsonstatueroad.jpg Gays to protest unveiling of statue of former mayor, senator, and governor Pete Wilson on Saturday near Horton Plaza in San Diego because he "turned a cold shoulder to the gay community when it complained about police harassment." Human Relations Commission chair: "We refer to the Wilson years as the Dark Ages."

road.jpg Is nudity all Mariah Carey has left?

road.jpg Gays in Poland draw up list of political enemies: "There’s a parliamentary election coming. We want to enable the gay community to make a conscious choice and this is the reason for creating a list with the names of the people who have hindered us from achieving our goals."

road.jpg One of the new Timbaland/Duran Duran songs, "Skin Diver", has leaked.

Flynakedroad.jpg Reichen Lehmkuhl talks to the Windy City Times about his jewelry collection, Fly Naked: "The name actually came from a dare we had in pilot training; during a solo flight, you could take your clothes off while in the cockpit and you actually fly naked. So I ended up putting that on my license plate, and Udi Behr [ of ] saw it and said, 'That’d be such a great name for a jewelry line.' So over the next year, we developed the jewelry and came up with the pieces. It’s a very masculine line. The jewelry is made of titanium, which is what a lot of aircraft is made from—and the [ items ] are focused on aviation. For example, there are propellers and even dog tags [ in keeping with ] the military theme. Coming from the military myself and having to live in the closet under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, I really sympathize with those who are in the military who are living a lie, so I find it really important to do as much work as I can to lift the ban."

road.jpg Chip Arndt talks about his new initiative, CPR to AAA.

road.jpg DNA held its "sexiest men alive" party which drew Big Brother contestants and cover models to Will & Toby's in Taylor Square.

road.jpg Nick Lachey offers up an O-face.

Chuevroad.jpg Russian activist interrogated over outing of politician: "On June 21, gay activist Nikolai Alekseev took part in the NTV talk show 'K baryeru!' during which he called deputy of the State Duma Alexander Chuev, member of pro-Kremlin party Fair Russia, 'gay, a coward and a hypocrite' who is only using orthodoxy and fight against homosexuality to reach his political goals."

road.jpg Renovated theater opens to host North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in Durham, beginning today.

road.jpg New England Patriot QB Tom Brady's former girlfriend Bridget Moynahan had a baby boy yesterday. Brady, as you may know, is the daddy.

road.jpg Gay Catholics want the term "family" back.

road.jpg A look at Christiane Amanpour's exploration of God's Christian Warriors, which explores fundamentalism in America...

Exclusive: National Memorial for LGBT Hate Crime Victims Launches


Scott Hall, longtime activist Frank Kameny, US. Representative Barney Frank and Amazing Race winner and activist Chip Arndt are spearheading the launch of Gay American Heroes, a national memorial to honor LGBT people murdered because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Supporting them are a large number of gay and straight public figures who have lent their names to the project.

The memorial's goal is to honor and remember LGBT people who have been murdered in anti-gay hate crimes, engage and inform the public about LGBT hate crimes, and "inspire compassion and greater appreciation for, and acceptance of, diversity," according to Arndt.

Hatecrimevictims_3The memorial and exhibition, consisting of a 100-ft. long display made up of eight-ft. tall rainbow-colored multi-dimensional panels which bear the photographs, names, ages, and occupations of LGBT hate crime victims, will travel throughout the country to college campuses, LGBT events, and communities where anti-gay hate crimes have occurred. According to the organizers, an informational welcome tent will host guest speakers and distribute educational materials. Local community leaders will be encouraged to host informative programs in conjunction with the exhibit.

The expected completion date of the Gay American Heroes exhibit is December 2007. The foundation's ultimate goal is to establish a permanent memorial to hate crime victims in Washington, D.C.

The organizers say they chose the name "Gay American Heroes" for the exhibition because the majority of the heterosexual community at large, whom the foundation seeks to educate, often does not distinguish between lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, but places all in a single category — gay. The foundation also notes that it is focusing first on Americans and those who choose to take the "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" of others into their own hands. As for the "heroes" moniker, the organizers say: "All people who live honestly about their sexual orientation are heroic, as it takes great strength and courage to face the daily struggles for personal freedom in the face of enormous opposition; to ultimately give their life for said freedom makes them heroes."

Founder and president Scott Hall, a hate crime victim himself, came up with the idea after hearing about the brutal homophobic killing of Ryan Keith Skipper, a 25-year-old from Polk County, Florida.

Hall contacted pioneering gay activist Frank Kameny, whose extensive collection of gay rights papers and memorabilia was recently donated to the Library of Congress, and noted writer and historian James T. Sears. Several others, including Arndt, and Fort Lauderdale's Stonewall Library and Archives executive director Jack Rutland came on board and the project gained steam.

Said Hall: "We want to reach out to communities as soon as possible following a deadly anti-gay hate crime. We want to support the family and friends of the victim, as well as to work with local officials, law enforcement and service organizations to provide counseling and outreach."

Several high-profile figures have thrown their support behind the project as an "Honorary Board of Directors" including U.S. Representative Barney Frank, Matt Foreman of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, U.S. Marine Staff Sergeant Eric Alva, the first American wounded in the war in Iraq, actors Alan Cumming, Chad Allen and Bobby Gant, former professional baseball player Billy Bean, political strategist David Mixner, and novelist Christopher Rice. I have also agreed to serve on the Honorary Board.

Cyndi Lauper and T.R. Knight have also expressed a desire to help in whatever way they can.

Elke Kennedy, whose son Sean William Kennedy was killed in a homophobic attack in May in South Carolina, has joined the group's Board of Advisors.

Several local and national organizations have declared their support for the non-profit Foundation. They include Equality Florida, Freedom Democrats of Miami-Dade, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Pridelines Youth Services, Safe Schools South Florida, Stonewall Library & Archives, The Trevor Project and Unity Coalition of Miami-Dade.

Gay American Heroes Foundation will be funded through private and grant donations, offline and online fundraisers and partnership donations. The Dade Community Foundation is currently managing the Foundation’s contributions and is fiscally sponsoring Gay American Heroes.

The foundation's online address is


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