Features

2007 in Review

January

The Utah Pride Center announces its first-ever annual Bisexual Awareness Month. The first (and so far only) event of its kind, BAM seeks to educate the community about bisexuality and promote bisexual visibility through panel discussions, book discussions and film screenings.

Queer Lounge returns to the Sundance Film Festival for its fourth year. Open to the public during the festival, the lounge seeks to raise awareness of gay films and to help gay filmmakers and actors network. It also presents two panels, Online and Original: Filmed Content on the Web and The Religious Agenda: Gays, Faith and Film.

During the Lounge’s run, the gay-lead and fiercely independent Tromadance Film Festival also descends upon the quiet mountain town of Sundance. Troma volunteers (some dressed up like Troma’s most recognizable character, The Toxic Avenger) take to the streets to invite people to the free one-day event, which included quite a few gay films.

In QSaltLake news, I get added as assistant editor after three years of serving as a freelance reporter. Nice!

February

The 2007 legislative session opens with a slew of anti-gay bills, including one sponsored by Rep. Aaron Tilton, R-Springville, to do away with gay-straight alliances in Utah’s public schools. Meanwhile, the antics of anti-gay minister Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist Church at funerals of gays and U.S. soldiers prompt Rep. Ron Bigelow, R-West Valley, to propose a bill requiring that protesters keep a 200 foot distance from funerals in Utah. The bill will later pass, and Phelps’ crew will later run afoul of it. Openly gay Sen. Scott McCoy, D-Salt Lake City, also proposes a bill to strike Utah’s now unenforceable consensual sodomy laws. Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, vows to fight it.

Perhaps most damaging of all to Utah families, the Utah Supreme Court hands down its decision in the visitation rights case of Jones vs. Barlow on Feb. 16. The court rules that the common law doctrine of “in loco parentis” does not permit Keri Jones of Equality Utah to see the daughter she and her former partner Cheryl Barlow conceived during their relationship. The day after the ruling, Hollii Whitting tells her former partner Gina Herrera that she can no longer see the daughter they conceived during their relationship. Herrera’s suit for visitation is pending.

Dr. Kristen Ries, one of the first physicians to respond to the AIDS crisis in the early 1980s, retires after more than 20 years of dedicated service to the Utah community.

Prominent local lesbian activist and publisher Kathy Worthington dies on Feb. 26, almost a year after her partner, Sara Hamblin, died from advanced breast cancer.

The Utah Pride Center holds its second annual WinterFest, ten days of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-related workshops, conferences, discussions, dances, concerts and speakers from Feb. 9-18.

The Queer Utah Aquatic Club holds its annual Ski and Swim weekend, three days of skiing, snowboarding, water polo, swimming and fun in the Salt Lake Valley. The event draws hundreds of participants from across the country.

Award-winning columnist Ryan Shattuck joins QSaltLake’s staff with his “Load of Bullshattuck” humor column.

March

The legislative session rolls on and over Sen. McCoy’s sodomy bill. “I was king for a day,” McCoy laments after senate Republicans ensure that his bill never receives a hearing. Meanwhile, Gov. John Huntsman, Jr. signs Tilton’s anti-gay straight alliance bill into law.

In Park City, Monsignor Robert Bussen ends his monthly gay and lesbian-welcoming Masses at St. Mary’s Catholic Church after several parishioners accuse him of using the services to condone gay sexuality against church teaching.

A University of Utah student recruitment day designed to help familiarize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender high school students with the campus’ resources is a bust when not a single student shows up. Organizers at the school’s LGBT Resource Center say that school guidance councilors were interested in the event until their districts told them they couldn’t advertise the day or even give out information to students without a parental permission slip.

The 2007 Equality Riders, a group of mostly students, visits colleges and universities across the country with anti-gay policies to discuss these policies with students and administrators. Four Utahns, Emil Pohlig, Kourt Osborn, Matthew Kulisch and Mike Kramer, are part of this tour, and all but Osborn are former Brigham Young University students. When the group rallies at BYU, Osborn and his mother are arrested for walking onto school property to deliver letters from gay BYU students to administrators. The Soulforce-sponsored riders also rally at BYU-Idaho in April. Eight of them are arrested there.

April

Bountiful’s Parent Teacher Association board threatens to withdraw from the national PTA over an advertisement for the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays’ scholarship fund that appears in the national PTA’s magazine, Our Children. The Bountiful organization calls the ad an attempt to “impose and legitimize alternative lifestyles on our students and children.”

Salt Lake City Councilwoman (and later mayoral hopeful) Jenny Wilson revives a plan to offer health care benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of county employees.

QSaltLake publishes our second annual Most Faaabulous Awards.

May

BYU relaxes its anti-gay policies. For the first time, the school differentiates between having a gay orientation and acting on that orientation or promoting the acceptability of gay sex (only the last two are now punishable under the school’s honor code). School officials say the change is unrelated to Equality Riders’ visit.

Utah Equality Rider Kourt Osborn and his girlfriend Amanda Harris are arrested at Focus on the Family’s Colorado Springs headquarters when the two hold a sit-in on the property to raise awareness about the group’s anti-gay rhetoric.

QSaltLake humor columnist Laurie Mecham resigns after a three-year run with Q and with Q’s earlier incarnation, Salt Lake Metro.

June

For the first time, the Utah Pride Festival lasts for three days and draws a record number of attendees. Gay NBA star and former Utah Jazz player John Amaechi serves as Grand Marshal and entertainment is provided by such notables as Sheena Easton and En Vogue.

The Royal Court of the Golden Spike Empire holds Coronation XXXII. The Double Crowned Crystal Wizard Emperor H.M.I.M Regent Emperor XXXII Alan Anderson, Rejuvinator of the Spike and the Double Crowned Only Serene Passionate Black Diamond African Empress H.M.I.M Regent Empress XXXII Sheneka Christie, the Essence of the Spike preside over The Court of Many Colours Under the Midnight Moon.The Rejuvenation of the Spike

The Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps of Salt Lake City take second place at Las Vegas’ annual Pride Festival. “We only lost first due to the fact that we did not use lights on the flag poles,” laments director Logan Brueck. “We’re working on that for next year.”

Cindi Lauper, the Dresden Dolls and a host of gay and gay-friendly musicians rock Salt Lake City at the True Colors Tour on June 9.

Plan-B Theatre Company takes local playwright Carol Lynn Pearson’s smash-hit play Facing East, about a Mormon couple’s attempts to deal with the death of their gay son, off-Broadway in New York City.

The American Psychiatric Association names local gay therapist Dr. Lee Beckstead to its sexual orientation task force.

Openly lesbian Rep. Jackie Biskupski, D-Salt Lake City, takes a job as Sheriff Jim Winder’s administrative assistant on June 4.

Chad Keller, QSaltLake columnist and community activist, dies from an apparent suicide attempt June 26, four days before Gay Freedom Day, a celebration Keller co-founded to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

July

Café Marmalade opens at the Utah Pride Center on July 5. Co-owners Kim Paulus and Bob Evans of Sugarhouse Coffee explain that the café’s purpose is to provide the community with delicious organic food and not “nachos and other crap like that.” The Café also serves as a music and performance venue at the Center.

Police Chief Chris Burbank apologizes to gay rights leader and Stonewall Shooting and Sports president David Nelson for ejecting Nelson from the Utah Pride Festival for carrying an unconcealed firearm. Nelson had previously filed a complaint stating that Burbank’s officers had violated the law in ejecting him because he has a permit to carry such weapons.

Former American Fork resident James Gau, 50, is arrested for attempting to hire an undercover Reno police officer to kill his wife, apparently so he can pursue a relationship with his boyfriend in Carson City, Nev. Gau pleads guilty in December and faces two to 15 years in prison.

August

Anti-gay LDS Church leader James Faust dies Aug. 10. In 1995 Faust wrote of homosexuality: There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited. How can this be? No scientific evidence demonstrates absolutely that this is so.
Besides, if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness.

Construction officially begins on The Marmalade, a “gayborhood” housing project on Third West and Fifth North. Approximately 30% of buyers are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

Idaho Sen. Larry Craig denies being gay after being arrested in June for allegedly soliciting an undercover officer for sex in a Minneapolis airport restroom.

QSaltLake holds our annual QDay @ Lagoon on Aug. 19.

September

Supporters of a school vouchers referendum are accused of “push polling” by conflating critics of the measure with supporters of gay marriage in a Utah telephone survey. The measure is ultimately defeated at the polls in November.

Southern Utah Pride @ Zion kicks off its fifth year with the biggest parade and festival yet on Sept. 28. Vendors and marchers from several states (and a few from other countries) attend.

A Utah appeals court rules that the 2002 firing of transgender UTA bus driver Crystal Ettsity is legal under Utah law. Ettsity was fired in part because she is a male to female transgender person.

October

The Utah Division of Child and Family Services tells Salem, UT gay couple Michael Oberg and Gregg Valdez that they cannot have custody of the children of Oberg’s niece. Although the woman wanted Oberg and Valdez to take her children while she got her life back together, Utah law says the two are unfit guardians because they are unmarried and cohabitating. In order to spare the children further pain and anguish, the couple eventually sends them to stay with maternal grandparents.

M a r c H an d l e y  pleads guilty to the lesser charges of assault causing substantial bodily injury and public intoxication in the 2006 gay-bashing of Josh Shuck. Shuck, who H an d l e y assaulted at the end of the 2006 Jazz Festival, received two crushed vertebrae in the assault still suffers physical pain and emotional trauma a year later. “I wish the worst for him because I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” Shuck says after the plea.

In honor of its 30th anniversary, Affirmation, a group for gay and lesbian Mormons, holds its annual conference in Washington, D.C. Speakers include Utah playwright Carol Lynn Pearson, Bill Russel (a member of LDS sister church, The Community of Christ) and openly gay Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose 2003 ordination caused controversy throughout the worldwide Anglican Church.

November

After a year of struggling with the Southwest Utah Health Department to get promised funding, the Washington County HIV/AIDS Task Force faces another problem: the state has denied them funding to continue their HIV testing and education efforts in 2008 and 2009. Other HIV/AIDS groups, including the Utah AIDS Foundation, say they have also faced funding cuts.

Gay-friendly Ralph Becker is overwhelmingly elected as Salt Lake City’s new mayor.

Sen. McCoy speaks to students and local gays at Dixie State College on Nov. 19. To welcome the senator, an unnamed student steals a Pride flag flown at the school. School officials later say the incident was a misunderstanding. The student apparently thought the ranbow-stripped version of Old Glory was a joke at the U.S. Flag’s expense.

Hotel Monaco’s annual Red Party raises over $21,000 for the Utah AIDS Foundation.

QSaltLake moves our offices from editor Michael Aaron’s home to Sugar House.


December

Openly lesbian Rep. Christine Johnson, D-Salt Lake City, vows to run an anti-discrimiation bill in 2008 targeted to protecting gays and transgender people in housing and employment.

RCGSE’s annual Snow Ball raises over $6,000 for people living with AIDS in Utah.

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