Wednesday, April 30, 2014

COP 24/7 On the Road Round Up

AIDS Watch 2014: The 360 Look Back

All this week this forum has dedicated itself to covering AIDS Watch 2014, April 28-29 in Washington D.C. Especially as we were embedded with Team Arkansas who scrapped their way to
the nation's capitol to be apart of the national conversation around all that impacts those living this chronic health dilemma. Throughout the convening, Arkansans raised issues juxtaposed to national trends, shifts as well as shortfalls that have now forced the current infrastructure to reassess its next moves in the face of tightening budgets, systems integration and fulfilling the needs of an aging population amidst new infections.

Breakout and Listening Sessions

During the meeting, various members of Team Arkansas participated in breakout sessions that spotlighted the SASI Initiative which has collaborated with Duke University and AIDS Chicago among others in gathering the latest data on surveillance, mortality rates and new infections across the south. The report pointed our disparities in Baton Rouge, Louisiana such a poor infrastructure, marginal services and outcomes although there has been much capacity building brought to the area. At the nexus of the problem in most areas was cited as "stigma," and the ill affects that it may possibly bring to area citizens.

However, in another flip of the coin, during the Listening Sessions with newly appointed Director of the Office of AIDS Policy, the issue of "stigma" was firmly challenged with terms such as "self inflicted stigma or stigmatization of any kind," that might be used by those with self esteem issues.

The robust conversation around "stigma" revealed that individuals living with the health challenge should not succumb to believing "all things stigma" could be happening to themselves. It was soundly affirmed that PLWHA should be encouraged to return to full employment, increase their skill levels, engage the policy tables around the mantra "nothing about us, with us," and connect with needed services to bring them a good quality of life.

A housekeeping parameter was set that those whom shared info would not have their names reported, however, even that marker was challenged that "if we see ourselves as nasty then other will also. I don't think that I have to not acknowledge my status or preferences." Other's in attendance felt that NHAS ( National HIV AIDS Strategy) needed a revisit with more distinct references to intimate partner violence, transgender and gender identity concerns and more women centric issues that may not has been defined as could have been.

From a policy aspect the Committee to End AIDS had a scheduled rally in support to pass HR 1843 in moving forward to end criminalization of the disease. The Repeal Existing Policies that Encourage and Allow Legal (REPEAL) HIV Discrimination Act would require an interagency review of federal and state laws that criminalizes certain actions by people living with HIV.

According to author and activist Dewayne Carl (pictured above), of Los Angeles, "this would be a fairly good start at reviewing and overturning discrimination. It's imperative that we all reach out in our communities to contact their Capitol Hill Representatives to enjoin Chris Coons (D-Del.), a ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who introduced legislation aimed at ending the stigma, discrimination and stereotypes that negatively impact Americans living with HIV/AIDS.


Twisters in Arkansas

During AIDS WATCH 2014, there was an outpouring of inquiry and support for the violent weather event that roared through Central Arkansas. Not only within the conference itself but also all over D.C. folks were intrigued with the devastation and lost of life. Team Arkansas thanked those who shared their concerns and moments of compassion. COP 24/7 monitored the situation through various tweets, Facebook post, instant messaging and e-mails from many locals who reached out to update about the ground situation. It was good to learn that President Obama reached out to Governor Beebe and offered federal assistance to scale up rebuilding and fulfill immediate needs. Although this situation should be not be political, but as a point of reference, Obama did not carry the state in either election cycle and has received marginal to no support from our Capitol Hill delegation.  As one would expect, the Renegades for a Cause has swung into motion on its latest mission to assist the less fortunate. COP 24/7 encourages the community to show some pride and turn out for this worthy cause. Check out the flyer below and all social media platforms for updates.



 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On the Road with COP 24/7 and More

The AIDS WATCH 2014 Swarm: Issues, Insights and Integration

The amount of information, data dumps and agenda items discussed during AIDS Watch 2014
amounts to a "swarm" of information that can be mind boggling at one level and overly simplified at other junctions. Ultimately the delegates to this years AIDS Watch had a rallying cry of "If not now, when?" That cry revolved around a bounty of issues and challenges that the delegates amassed from their personal stories, daily ground work, as well as client interactions. Meanwhile many in attendance cited dealing a plethora of changing systems and funding sources that embraces more integration across the board.Picture: Mr. Doug Brooks, MSW, Director ONAP addresses delegates at opening of AIDS Watch 2014.

TEAM Arkansas Participates

The Arkansas delegation of Bob Coffey, Tommy Lockett, Kari Coffman, and Jimmie from West Memphis, Arkansas represented the state during the conference as well as hill visit. Unfortunately due to the severe weather back home, meeting with members themselves was done through office staff persons with the exception of Rep. Rick Crawford whom met with Mr. Jimmy of the delegation.

For the Arkansas Team despite the overarching  "big tent" themes of the meeting, each delegate cited the lack of resources offered to those wishing to attend and the communication flow to inform or update about impending conferences.

Furthermore each chided slow and lackluster responses within both policy systems as well as poor dynamics in supporting PLWHA to attend meetings referencing southern issues. Coffey was extremely vocal that "if I can find money for gas to car pool folks to a meeting, we got a problem. I have an issues where only those with degrees or ADH ties seem to be able to get any travel assistance." Both Lockett who served as State Coordinator and Mr. Jimmie stated that they too had experienced issues around securing resources and questioned if there are individuals ready to advocate why are resources so miniscule to none. Each attendee worked their networks to acquire a range of donations, hotel rooms, scholarships and personal contributions. AHPG Co-Chair, Mabin, was given a ear full from participants as to the piece meal funding stream to support this type of activity. "This situation is unacceptable and will require some serious dialog. Its embarrassing to know that entities and organizations from other cities are stepping up to support Arkansans with everything from  (pictured from left: Lockett, Jimmy Samuels (TN), TN representative, Coffey)
frequent travel miles to Metro passes in order for them to fully engage their policy makers. I will make it a priority to address the situation and seek remedies to this all but "tin can" approach to supporting this community."

Hot Button and Flashpoints

Under auspices of AIDS United, USPLWH ( United States People Living With HIV Caucus) and TAEP ( Treatment Access Expansion Project)  along with a numerous other supporters ranging from AMFAR to Bristol Myers Squibb the event drilled down on the critical points around Ryan White funding which will require additional reauthorization which has been seen as essential bridge especially among states that did not follow through on Medicaid expansion unlike 21 other states. Currently RWP ( Ryan White Program) parts include Part A for eligible metro areas with five years of cumulative cases between 1,000 and 1,999. Two thirds of its funding is distributed by formula and supplemental grants based on demonstrated need. Part B provides funding to all 50 states which supports care, treatment and other services deemed critical to improve access and retention in care including the bulk of funding serving as the foundation for states AIDS Drug Assistance Program ( ADAP) which ensures direct access to needed medications.

A hotbed of discussion was around President Obama's inference that RWF Part C and D be merged in an effort to enhance comprehensive primary health care in outpatient settings including family centered outpatient care for women, infants and youth living with HIV/AIDS. Delegates wanted assurances that this move would not be short circuited or short changed. It was noted that current budget adjustments are already in place despite the possible merger. Part F funds AIDS Education Training Center's ( AETC's) to ensure an adequate workforce to respond to the other associated needs such as dental care and SPNS ( Special Programs of National Significance) designed to deal with emerging needs.

There was significant energy around HIV Criminalization, adolescent sex education and sexual health, the continuing federal ban on syringe exchange and a wave of support around the theme that "housing is also healthcare." Across the board, delegates from major metro areas such as Philadelphia to rural areas across the south offered cases in which affordable housing was a factor in the care continuum.

 At the core HOWPA formulas and outdated policies around local rental values plus flat line budgeting were highlighted as crisis barriers in establishing stable housing. The National AIDS Housing Coalition has called for a $350 Million level resulting in a $20 Million appropriation. To date some 60,000 are served by HOPWA however up to 145,000 households with HIV positive members lack stable housing.

COP 24/7 offered real time coverage across its social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, instant messaging and this forum. For additional pictures and coverage check out www.facebook.com/corneliusonpoint, www.facebook.com/arkansasHIVplanninggroup and other coverage will be linked to www.AIDSUnited.com and Mr. Team Friendly Tennessee portals. Share your comments, thoughts, and opinions with us!!
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

COP 24/7 takes it Out on the Road

AIDS Watch 2014: Ending AIDS in America?

Through a partnership of Treatment Access Expansion Project, AIDS United and the US People Living with HIV Caucus, AIDS Watch 2014 drew it largest contingency  of HIV-positive advocates and their allies to Washington DC ( April 28-29) to educate Members of Congress and their staff about HIV/AIDS.

All participants were provided with training on current science, legislative agendas, and conducting effective meetings with their elected representation. 

Arkansas was represented by the delegation of Bob Coffey, Tommie Lockett, K. Farmer, and C. Mabin who journeyed to the city to engage in a Capitol Hill Lobbying effort of the Arkansas congressional representatives.

Opening the event was Executive Director, Michael Kaplan whom called the roll of states in attendance as well as citied his enthusiasm to the response from as far away as Puerto Rico. He spoke to learning of his diagnosis and feeling alone. Yet as he looked out at the capacity crowd, he felt a sense of family and home. Mr. Doug Brook, MSW, Director, of the Office of National
AIDS Policy  rose to the podium after a standing ovation from attendees. He said " I love you and I am overwhelmed at the reception."


As a recent appointment of the Obama Administration and first openly positive individual to serve in the post, Brooks offered "greetings and salutations from President of the United States," which got a rousing round of applause. In his remarks he emphasized that throughout the Obama Administration, he has gotten a sense that the issues of HIV and AIDS are on the radar. He encourage attendees to be "bold and focused in addressing the needs of those living with HIV and AIDS." It was his hope that during the remainder of the administration that as much could be accomplished. Brooks will also host a listen session during the meeting in which he announced will be among the first of his impending southern listening tour.
 
The two day event also launched agenda items such as HIV  criminalization, housing, Budget appropriations, Syringe exchange mandates and Ryan White funding juxtaposed to the Affordable Care Act. Watch COP 24/7  and online platform partners to updates and live coverage.






COP 24/7 Quick Thought?

Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgement and affect your ability to make safe choices, putting you at grater risk for HIV.
Learn about how drug use and HIV are related, the HIV risks of different types of drugs, reducing your risk of HIV infection if you use drugs, and the importance of HIV testing for people who use drugs. Need for information check out the Arkansas HIV Planning Group page on Facebook! Do it today at www.facebookcom/arkansasplanninggroup







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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Rolling Towards the Weekend

Sexual Health Resources Available for STD Awareness Month

April is STD Awareness Month, an annual observance to raise public awareness about the impact of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) on the lives of Americans and the importance of preventing, testing for, and treating STDs. There is a strong connection between STDs and HIV, as the behaviors and circumstances that put people at risk for STDs also put them at risk for HIV.

Further, having an untreated STD can make a person more susceptible for HIV infection. In fact, being infected with genital herpes makes you 3 times more likely to get infected with HIV, if exposed. In recognition of STD Awareness Month, we’d like to call our readers’ attention to several excellent resources available on AIDS.gov:

Dr. Gail Bolan’s blog post, STD Prevention is Part of HIV Prevention, about the close link between STD and HIV prevention, and how STD and HIV testing play a strong role in preventing the spread of disease. Dr. Ron Valdiserri’s blog post, STD Prevention, Screening, and Treatment Helps Prevent HIV Transmission and Ensure the Health of People Living with HIV about how STDs increase the risk of HIV acquisition and the challenges in preventing and screening for STDs among individuals living with HIV.

To learn more, see our HIV Basics page on Sexual Health for People Living with HIV or visit the CDC’s page on Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Arkansas Foodbank Announces New Summer Feeding Sites

The Arkansas Foodbank, the largest food bank in Arkansas, will participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program this summer by sponsoring two summer feeding sites.
The sites will serve two meals per day (breakfast and lunch) from June through August to about 500-600 children a day. Breakfast will be served from 8:30-10 a.m. and lunch will be served from noon-1:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. All meals will be provided without charge.

Participating sites will be the Paul Bewie Boys and Girls Club, 5050 N Hwy 7, Hot Springs Village and Saline County Boys and Girls Club, 105 Cox St., Benton.

All of the locations will be open sites, which means that children not enrolled in the Boys and Girls Club may eat breakfast and lunch at the sites without having to be enrolled at the club. Children should not be dropped off at the sites if they are not members.  If parents would like for their children to become members and participate in activities at the Boys and Girls Clubs, they must request an enrollment application and pay any enrollment fees.
The program is designed to replace free- and reduced-price lunches that the children would normally get at school after school has dismissed for the summer.
Get more information here.


Join us for an HRC special event in Little Rock!

Chad Griffin Monday, May 5
Doors open: 5:30 p.m.
Remarks: 6:15 p.m.
Reception to follow

The Arkansas Arts Center
501 E. 9th Street
Little Rock, AR
RSVP Today!

We're excited to share with you that on Monday, May 5, Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin will be back in his home state of Arkansas. You are invited to join us Monday evening for a community gathering and reception at the Arkansas Arts Center. The event will feature remarks by Chad, followed by a reception including complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages.

We hope you can join us and ask that you please RSVP in advance.


 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Take Out Wednesday 2.0

What do Young Gay Black Men Need?

A Sound Off to the Sounds of Silence
Here's another update on our posting of the article from Mr. Brandon Thompson who attended a BGM technical assistance meet up in Dallas, Texas in 2013. And there's more news about the Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) Organizing Committee (OC) Membership drive that is seeking new candidates to join them for a  conference call on Friday, May 2, 2014 from 1:30 – 2:30 PM EST by dialing 1.866.740.1260 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1.866.740.1260 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting and using access code 2790121. On the call, participants will hear more about the history of YBGLI, details about the duties and responsibilities of an OC Member and have the opportunity to ask questions of OC Members. You may register for the conference call below using the Eventbrite form for e-mail updates and be informed of future programming, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention efforts of YBGLI.

Thompson cited numerous observations concerning what he perceived were "needs" from young gay men 13-30. COP 24/7 also offered insights as to his premise and opened the floor for a complete discussion on the matter.

Since his post and my subsequent rebuttal post, to date at most there has been little to no other official responses. However, I've learned that there has been some bemoaning, grumbling and other spilled chatter that happens when individuals decide to stay in a comfort zone mindset that fills there need to support them in their fickle feelings with reckless results culminating in the DIVA affect: Dysfunctional Individuals Vying for Attention.

It's a proven fact that when we act emotionally rather than rationally often times we over react based on what we are feeling instead of understanding of the situation. Although I fully understand that my experiences may not resonate they do have value in context as a "learned experience" that could teach important life lesson's. Let's be clear, living the life is a process, making changes in one's life take process and the outcomes of processing it all takes you to the promised rewards that you seek. I learned long ago that having the courage to stand in my own truth amidst those who had no wish for me to grow or prosper because I had the courage to do so then and now.

I become passionate about this topic as I continue to hear and see many across the LGBTQ set especially young Black Gay Men around this city who have all but decided that hopelessness and haphazard living is to be their norm. I've heard and keep hearing that this embracement is because its seems to fill the voids of economic disparities, lacking intimate relationship skills, uninspired value systems and dysfunctional parental connections.

Yes there are issues. Yes there are challenges and barriers. But taking personal responsibility for one's life is paramount in "changing the story" that you keep living everyday. If the script stays the same, so will the outcomes within your situation. In some meetings attendees say that they don't want to be preached to, yet these are the same individuals occupying pews listening to sermons that most times are not affirming. I'm not about the preaching but I am willing to teach if someone is willing to have a teachable moment.

Furthermore, how can any of this be articulated if those who could be in most need, don't mobilize to speak for themselves in whatever manner they desire. So as a teaching minute, here's some info pondering  if you could you be one of the next Young Black Gay Men’s Leadership Initiative (YBGLI) Organizing Committee (OC) Members?  If any young men in the area are ready to aid in the betterment of the lives of fellow young, Black gay men? The YBGLI OC is excited to announce that we are seeking new members to aid in the development and operations of YBGLI. Applications will be accepted beginning Monday, April 21, 2014 at 2pm EST and the application deadline is Friday, May 30, 2014 at 5pm EST


The READ Prepares for May Launch

In case you have missed it and why would you have, The READ is all the rage around town. You can discover it in most local LGBT haunts or venues and across the state. Currently the local newspaper
is seeking advertisers and supporters to keep moving this news outlet to the next level. Deadline is May 5 for all copy and or original content. Ad copy should be forwarded with remittance by April 30.

If organizations or businesses need press packets to outline pricing and media reach contact  The official launch will take place May 15 at The New 610 Lounge, 610 Center Street, in downtown Little Rock. An online version is also under construction with sites set on cross marketing using social media platforms and other associated portals. For more information call 501.379-8203 or 501-349-7777.  This what the community said it wanted, now its here for all to rally to its support. Let them hear from you.


SAVE THE DATES!!!

Trans / Queer Yoga – April 26, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014
1:00pm-3:00pm
Last Saturdays of the month
Barefoot Studio West - 8501 Pinnacle Valley Rd., Little Rock


trans and queer yoga


FYI. Half of the proceeds from this session will be donated to CAR’s Rainbow Camp effort for LGBTQ youth. Sliding scale $5 to $12 dollars. 



LR Pride Planning Meeting – April 27, 2014

7:00pm at CAR (inside First Presbyterian Church) 800 Scott St. Little Rock

Join us as we work to plan the 2014 Little Rock Pride Parade! We will be discussing this year's theme and upcoming fundraisers! Please share and invite your friends!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Staying in the Info Stream

Red Door Announces 2014 Award Winners

Congratulations to The Red Door Foundation Inc. on their recent announcement concerning their
2014 Flame Thrower Award Honorees who will be honored during the group's annual gala, June 7 in Memphis, Tennessee. These individuals will be honored formally in the following categories:

Community- Chirs Sinnock, LCSW- St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Medicine- Dr. Marye Bernard- Adult Special Care Clinic
Public Health- Anthony E. Fox, MS- Mississippi Department of Health
Leadership- Rudolph H. Carn- NAESM, Inc.
Religion- Reverend Edwin C. Sanders, II
Organization "Unity" Award- Young Brothers United- Nashville (BU Network, Inc.)

You can read bios and purchase tickets at www.trdfmemphis.com. The Red Gala & Silent Auction is an official event of the Saving Ourselves Symposium 2014: I Am Enough #SOS2014 #thereddoorfoundation

LearnTelehealth.org | South Central Telehealth Resource Center

The South Central Telehealth Resource Center (SCTRC) serves Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee. It functions primarily through a new website that will work in partnership with the Center for Distance Health’s Training Center based at UAMS. The resource center website, www.learntelehealth.org, targets health care and health education groups that have an interest in using telehealth. The SCTRC is part of a network of Telehealth Resource Centers providing telehealth consultation, programmatic knowledge and hands-on training.
The South Central Telehealth Resource Center is made possible by HRSA Grant Number 1-G22-RH-20215.
The SCTRC focuses on telehealth education and peer interactions online. The SCTRC also conducts hands-on training in its training center or on-site. According to the entities webpages there are free educational opportunities and additional information. As the world goes "mobile" this approach could be instrumental in reaching out to rural areas while dealing with HIV and AIDS or other health disparities. COP 24/7 will keep updating as this field continues to grow into a vital healthcare provider across the state. More than 3,296 medical professionals and 300 community anchor institutions received training on using telehealth equipment through this program to date.
 
Huffington Post City Loves Big on Little Rock
Writer Grant Stevens recently showed my home town some love with a nifty item in which he stated, "Recently we gave you a small taste of Little Rock, Ark., with an Instagram tour, and this week we're back with an overview of the city for our CityLove series. What struck me when talking with folks from Little Rock was that though they're cheerleaders for their own neighborhoods, they spent just as much time -- if not more -- promoting the work of other neighborhoods. So while we focus on three specific neighborhoods, there are many more." Although his piece was from a preservation angle, I would agree that as far as "preservations" goes, yes the areas that he cites are certainly great examples. However, I am not always so cheerful as to the other part of the city that are not getting all the love that they deserves including my own neck of the woods in Southwest Little Rock. Of course I often find myself here or there across the city usually without much attitude. Yet I can't help but be amazed at all the commerce, build out and all manner of new amenities that are being heaped elsewhere but it definitely not reaching all areas such as South Central where I grew up and watched houses that once had households, not falling in on themselves. On a recent Saturday, I was dismayed at the amount of abandoned homes, weed lots and condemned properties that filled the landscape. It was discouraging to learn that despite civic wrangling about these conditions, socio-economics is the culprit as this neighborhood withers on the city vine. It would be great if Mr. Stevens had made the point that these gleaming areas gets tax favors, block grant and other funding streams that don't reach back to dealing with outdates housing stock or lack of commercial infusion. I watch the city board meetings and fully understand that the city has grappled with many of these problems as well as the reality that "big money" chases those with more disposable cash or other means to consume from cute shops, trendy restaurants, and other hot spots that can't find favor in a less than desirable location. It's very clear that these neighborhoods can get a "Sharks" eatery but not a "Chili's." So as Mr. Stevens raves about those areas, he didn't get a chance to see the "other Little Rock," that is home to many who would love to have some energy and freshness to their areas as well.
 
Don't  forget, if you need questions or updates concerning the Affordable Care Act you can still get some assistance at
349-7777
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

New Week Roll Out!

Serving a Community via Producing COP 24/7
I think by now, most of you now that this forum is usually produced in advance and scheduled to appear throughout the week. I just love those fancy blogging gadgets that help with your time management when producing this time consuming platform. Even as that may be, I do break from the scheduled content to opt for perhaps whatever is "breaking news" or items that warrant being addressed ASAP. In our tenth year of production, I've learned much and have adapted to the latest trends, updates and the ever changing digital landscape.

 Let's keep it clear, COP 24/7 is a open space town square where an array of topics are brought to the table for discussion and or analysis. This forum has never been afraid of talking about what many folks are really thinking but not saying. Being taken to task for being outspoken has not been a barrier or means to stop addressing the tough issues from both a fact and or evidence premise. Its is our desire to always seek solutions or at least productive dialog for consideration.


 Recently we've launched our Rainbow Circle of Friends Initiative in which we are seeking individual or corporate donations to support all of work in advocacy, outreach, educational programming and leadership empowerment projects being made available across the state.

I have added a secured Paypal button in which you can show your pride by making a donation toward the producing of COP 24/7, designating your donation toward our advocacy work connected to our participation in AIDS Watch 2014 or our new anthology project slated for a December 2014 release.

We are doing the work and need your gifts, treasure or in-kind donations to help us keep moving forward.  If you've got news, observations, press releases or editorial comments, hit us up at nealix101@comcast.net Now let's
check what's on today's radar!!

B. Scott to Appeal Ruling Finding BET Didn't Discriminate

A Los Angeles judge has dismissed transgender media maven B. Scott's lawsuit claiming that BET discriminated against him when the network yanked him off the red carpet before the 2013 BET Awards and demanded he put on more traditionally masculine attire.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

A Los Angeles judge ruled Thursday that BET did not unlawfully discriminate against transgender media personality B. Scott when the network ordered him to change his attire in the middle of the preshow for the 2013 BET Awards, for which Scott had been hired as a style stage correspondent.  
 
L.A. Superior Court judge Yvette Palazuelos determined that BET's rights to control its creative expression through managing the attire of on-screen talent was protected by the First Amendment, and ultimately trumped the discomfort and discrimination Scott alleged he suffered as a result of being forced to change into more traditionally masculine attire.  
"It disheartens me that the message sent today wasn’t a message of acceptance, but rather it’s acceptable to discriminate against transgender individuals on the basis of their gender identity and expression," Scott said Thursday evening in a statement posted to his popular blog. "And that such discriminatory acts are protected under the first amendment. … Standing up for your rights and the rights of others can be a lengthy, uphill war. When one battle is lost, another is waged and yet we must press forward."
 
Scott filed a $2.5 million lawsuit against BET last August, charging that the network and its parent company, Viacom, discriminated against him on the basis of his gender identity by literally pulling him off the red carpet and demanding that he change into more masculine attire during the 2013 BET Awards. When Scott complied by pulling back his long hair, removing his makeup and high heels, and exchanging his flowing blue tunic and black slacks for a fitted navy suit jacket and slim black pants, he was added back to the end of the program's preshow in a vastly diminished capacity, as a guest commentator rather than the sole style stage correspondent he'd been hired as. 
 
Over the course of discovery in the lawsuit, emails between BET executives emerged that seemed to corroborate Scott's claims that he was censored on the basis of his gender-nonconforming presentation. In January, TMZ obtained emails allegedly from BET music programming president Stephen Hill, writing "I don't want 'looking like a woman' B. Scott … I want tempered B. Scott."
 
In response to Scott's lawsuit, BET filed a motion to strike, citing California's anti-Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation laws, essentially arguing that Scott's suit should be dismissed because the network acted within its legal rights to free speech on national broadcast television. Judge Pazauelos granted that anti-SLAPP claim Thursday, striking Scott's lawsuit by using the precedent of several other cases in which courts determined that entertainment companies have a right to control their "creative process" and all aspects contributing to the way the final product appears. The Hollywood Reporter has an excellent analysis of the ruling and the precedent that allowed it to be reached. 
 
"Although I’m saddened by what today’s verdict means for myself and other members of the LGBTQ community, the struggle is not over," Scott said. "I will pursue progress and human rights for our community through the Appellate Court where I hope that my unique set of circumstances and BET/Viacom’s treatment of me will collectively yield active legislation to prevent anyone else from having to suffer as I have — without networks being able to disguise their unlawful discriminatory practices with vague, umbrella terms like ‘creative privilege.’ I’m committed to change, progress, human rights and equality for all, and by no means do I feel defeated."
 
LGBT media watchdog organization GLAAD also issued a statement supporting Scott. 
"Many television networks have yet to fully embrace individuals from all gender identities and expressions," said GLAAD's Rich Ferraro. "B. Scott's experience illustrates the need for networks to show more diverse images and do their part in bringing our culture to a safer and more accepting place."
 
Scott identifies as a gay transgender person who prefers the use of male pronouns.
Fast Facts in the City
 
"A Peace Of My Mind" exhibit opens today at the Laman Library in North LR.  It will run thru 6/8 and features an artist's photo exhibit accompanied by voice recordings of people's thoughts on peace.  There will be a special reception from 6-8pm tonite for the exhibit's opening, details are below. :)
 
Upcoming, the "Mother's Day For Peace" luncheon by WAND (www.ArkWAND.org) will be on Tues May 6th at the Governor's Mansion. Doors will open at 11:30; at noon, a delightful luncheon and program with Dr. Lisa Leitz, esteemed author of "Fighting For Peace".  Tickets can be purchased at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/10th-annual-mothers-day-luncheon-tickets-11288715853
 
WAND will also host "Pizza, Peace & Politics" at US Pizza in Hillcrest this Tues April 22nd at 6pm (dinner and drinks are purchased by individuals attending).  A special guest speaker will, Aliyah Sarkar, will present "The Use of Women In War -- A Look at the Syrian Conflict". Sounds fascinating!
 

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Friday Zip File

Each and every post on COP 24/7 competes against themselves as to what will make the cut and will have to step back until next time. Usually I produce this effort on Sunday's while trying to create a week's worth of content. Sometimes, breaking news or either urgent items trump whatever is up and often times I have to reboot and re-post to make it more timely. Nevertheless, this forum has been churning it out since 2004 covering everything from A to Z. As we keep moving forward, don't forget that your contributions help with all of our activism and advocacy work around social justice items. Come join our Rainbow Circle of Friends, subscribe, RSS feed or check us out on your mobile device. COP 24/7 continues to be the information leader in Arkansas and across the Mid-South. Keep it locked and loaded to this platform!


Novel Nails the RAGE! in Gay Domestic Violence

Author Shines Bright Light on Gay Domestic Violence/Abuse 

     With his new novel entitled Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE! (Gay/ethnic), gay journalist, author and radio talk show host (his radio program, The WOE Show, debuts June 1 on PapiChuloRADIO), Wyatt O’Brian Evans paints a striking and realistic portrait of Intimate Partner Violence/Abuse (IPV/A), commonly referred to as domestic violence/abuse in the LGBTQ community.   In many instances, IPV/A is stigmatized and “swept under the rug.”  And it occurs much more than is reported:  statistics show that each year, over 500,000 gay men are battered.

     Mr. Evans has researched and written extensively about this issue for print and on line media outlets including Huffington Post and BaltimoreOUTloud.  Himself an IPV/A survivor, Mr. Evans conducts seminars on this issue.  

     Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE! is the story of Wesley and Antonio:  two masculine, openly gay men of color who must confront serious and daunting challenges and obstacles to their monogamous relationship.  Intimate Partner Violence and Abuse is the overarching theme of RAGE! 

     Because IPV/A continues to be largely unspoken in the LGBTQ community, the author felt that Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE! would break through more as a novel--as opposed to a work of nonfiction.  “As fiction, the issue is more palatable, and not such a ‘bitter pill to swallow’,” states Evans.   

     Nothing Can Tear Us Apart—RAGE! asks the questions, “What would you do after the man of your dreams battered you because he believed you’d been unfaithful?  Then, how would you cope with the revelation that someone’s vicious treachery was behind your partner’s despicable actions?  Could you forgive this man to whom you’ve given every piece of your heart?”  Well such dilemmas occur in RAGE!--Nothing Can Tear Us Apart.

    Desirable, wealthy gay Black celebrity Wesley (Wes) Laurence Kelly yearns for an enduring, satisfying love.  Unfortunately, disastrous relationships have left him shattered and disillusioned.

     Enter Antonio (‘Tonio) Miguel Rios, Jr., a deliciously muscular gay Puerto Rican whom Wes has hired as his bodyguard.  He, too, has failed at love.

     Then, without warning, that magical, irrefutable, irresistible force known as chemistry totally engulfs the pair!  After finding they have much in common, they forge a strong bond.  However, they’re still too afraid to act on the growing romantic feelings and sexual urges they have for each other.
 
AIME Makes Cash Target
Congratulations to Arkansas Initiative for Marriage Equality on exceeding its fundraising goal of $3,000 during its "Equality: A Three Hour Tour," last Sunday at Thirst and Howl in West Little Rock.
According to organizers over 100 people were in attendance to enjoy a variety show featuring area entertainers and special guest.
 Funds raised will support the groups graphic and printing needs as well as additional petition gathering support. On May 23, at the Flying Saucer, the group will have another strategy session concerning future canvassing. Check out their website at www.arequality.org for more information or like their FACEBOOK page.
 
 
Coming Next Week: The Thunder of HIV Speaks to COP 24/7!
Don't Miss it!!!
 
 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Eye of COP 24/7 Part Deux

COP 24/7 Special

Is the T Word the New N Word?

RuPaul's Drag Race alumnae and transgender women Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz argue that the t word is always a slur that should be stricken from the LGBT vocabulary. 

BY Parker Marie Molloy and Daniel Reynolds (www.advocate.com)

The infamous "Female or She-male" mini-challenge that asked competitors on a recent episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race to guess a person's gender based on close-ups of red carpet photos has already been apologized for and stricken from video archives. "We did not intend to cause any offense, but in retrospect we realize that it was insensitive," wrote Logo’s executives in a statement. "We sincerely apologize."
 
But that statement did little to quell a long-simmering debate over who has the right to define a word as a slur, and who can "reclaim" such words.
Of the many drag performers and contestants on RuPaul's Drag Race, four have since come out as transgender women. The Advocate spoke with two of them — season 3 contestant Carmen Carrera (pictured left) and season 5 contestant Monica Beverly Hillz (pictured right) — about what viewers should take away from this moment.
 
Both Carrera and Hillz got their big breaks on Drag Race. Hillz marked a Drag Race milestone by being the first contestant to come out during a season and has gone on to become a spokesperson against sexual violence in the LGBT community. Carrera came out as trans after her season aired and has since been signed by Elite Model Management and appeared in modeling campaigns for W magazine and more. Her success led to a guest appearance on Katie Couric’s talk show, alongside Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox, (pictured right) in which they memorably explained to Couric that conversation on trans issues needs to progress beyond "private parts."
 
Similar to how Carrera scolded Couric for her obsession with anatomy, the reality star expressed disappointment with Drag Race’s linguistic insensitivity in its "Female or She-male" challenge, particularly in light of the show’s positive track record in humanizing the members of gay and drag culture.
"For me ['Female or She-male’] just wasn't cool," Carrera says. "RuPaul's Drag Race should know better. They have educated so many people on drag. Drag is so huge now because of RuPaul's Drag Race. … The main purpose of the show is to show that drag queens have emotion, and that drag queens are artists; they are people that you should love and admire. That's amazing — but drag is not just boys in makeup and hair. There are trans women that do drag, and I was exposed to it."
Carrera questions if the problematic segment was a "gimmick" intended to incite controversy. She doesn’t believe the Drag Race team scripted the segment out of malice or blatant hatred for transgender women — a belief shared by season 6 contestant Milk, who told The Advocate that "the show never meant any harm."
 
But Carrera argues that within the platform of a popular television show, an established and recognizable member of the LGBT community like RuPaul should be more careful about the words he models through his own usage. She notes that for many viewers Drag Race may be their first exposure to drag culture, and to various parts of the LGBT population in general. As a televised voice of authority on drag culture, RuPaul may inadverently be giving permission to use words to viewers who don't understand their impact on the broader LGBT populace. 
"We're fighting for respect, and these cisgender [nontrans] people who are watching and learning are going to think it's OK to take any other trans person and think, Oh, are they real or are they fake?" says Carrera.
 
Indeed, questioning whether transgender women are "real women" is often a tactic used by those looking to invalidate their identity. Those efforts are the underpinnings of the so-called trans panic defense in cases of antitrans violence, where a perpetrator claims that they were so upset by a transgender person not disclosing their trans status that they had no choice but to become violent. 
 
When it comes to specific terminology sometimes used in drag culture, Carrera didn’t mince words on her feelings about the word "tranny," which GLAAD’s media reference guide lists as "defamatory," noting that this term and others, such as "she-male," "he-she," "it," "shim," and "gender-bender," "only serve to dehumanize transgender people."
The word "tranny," Carrera says, "is just like saying 'faggot,' 'spic,' or the n word. It's just these words you don't speak."
 
Carrera is similarly emphatic when asked how she responded to claims that drag performers and others are attempting to "reclaim" the word "tranny," similarly to how some activists have reclaimed words once widely considered derogatory like "queer" or "fag."
"I feel like right now we're barely breaking through as far as people respecting us — even just as humans," Carrera says. "We're still trying to be seen as equal. These words are ignorant words, and I feel like [trans awareness is] not at a point where [anyone can say] 'Yeah, let's take back the power and use them anyway!' No."
 
"First, let's get respected," continues Carrera. "Let’s make sure everyone sees eye-to-eye and understands who we are as people, and then we'll talk about the words that we're comfortable with."
 
Fellow transgender Drag Race alumna Monica Beverly Hillz voices a similar sentiment, calling transphobic slurs rude and nonsensical. "You call a transgender woman a 'tranny' or a 'she-male,' or a 'ladyboy,'" she says. "It's kind of like going back in the day where black people used to be called the n word. That's kind of what it is to me."
"I’ve been called ‘it’ before," she adds. "I hate that word."
 
 
 
 
 
If you still have some questions or issues that you need assistance with, there is still some in person help available! If you applied and have not heard anything, please know that applications are still being processed with more updates to come. Call 349-7777 for info if you need it!
 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Big Radar Wednesday

Big Downtown Keeps Bumping and Grinding

I know most of you don't remember that song call "Downtown" by Petula Clark that was done ancient years ago. Of course this really dates myself but it was a favorite especially as I sought to do just what the song heralded to do and go live downtown. I lived in the Quapaw Quarter for some ten years and enjoyed what shopping I could do along Main street then and before when there were many
shops that lined the streets including J.C.Penny's, Osco Drugs, M.M. Cohn and other' that are long gone.

I also remembered the period when "downtown" went uptown with the ill fated Metro Center Mall that paved over the streets then was ripped up to its current incarnation. So I am always intrigued with more news about what's to come in the town center. Especially the recent shaking and moving of more expensive living spaces, trendy restaurants and the this week's news of Chi Hotel Group of Little Rock announcing (April 14) plans for an $18 million Aloft Hotel at the Boyle Building in downtown Little Rock. (pictured)

Plans for the hotel include a 3,500-SF upscale restaurant, 4,000-SF of meeting space, a ground floor coffee shop and a rooftop pool. Yes, a rooftop pool! The hotel, itself, will have 140 rooms.
The renovations are set to begin in about five months, and be completed in the first quarter of 2016. For more info on the plans, check out the story at Arkansas Business.
 
The Boyle Building, a 12-story structure at the corner of Main Street and Capitol Avenue, was built in 1909, and is yet another improvement in a long line of Main Street projects.
Jacob Chi, the hotel group's managing partner, said he expects Aloft to be an epicenter for social activity on Main Street. "We expect this to be a fantastic place for social events," he said. "We have every confidence that this will be an exceptional property."
 
But in the meantime, I keep wondering just how many more hotels can Little Rock host? There's the 16 Million dollar upgrade of the Marriott and its 418 rooms, a $16 Million dollar development of a Hilton Garden Inn at Fourth & Cumberland with 135 rooms and around the corner a 119 room Hampton Inn & Suites plus other Rivermarket hotels. Let's not even talk about the parking nightmare or if there's a special event going on that seems to jam the area beyond capacity. Maybe some of the know it all's will work on some of that shortly.
 
Wow, seems like a lot or rooms that need "heads in beds" as we in the industry ponder. Yet with all this growth, comes jobs, but usually these jobs are not living wage jobs but rather resulting in a continuation of minimum wage opportunities with no benefits, overtime possibilities and slight chances for promotions. I'm big on Little Rock and certainly promote our fair city as a unique destination site. However, I would hope as things keep shaping up that the rest of the city doesn't get left behind.
 
Illuminaughty Premieres at Sway
 
Can you say "sex on a disco stick." Well that's what a Facebook posting spills about the April 18 event stepping off at 9pm at Club Sway, 412 Louisiana Street in Downtown Little Rock.
 
At post time, I had got a firm understanding of exactly what this is all about but what I would gather is that this is a "eye candy, boy toys shaking their "bon bon's" to all manner of vibes, light affects and perhaps each other to boot. Personally I've seen a lot of this type of entertainment and I do mean a lot of it. I would hope that
maybe this might have something new or at least something unique that might be worth the price of admission which was not mentioned on FB.
 
A couple of pictures show that high tech big screens may features some added flair with erotic video to accompany who or what is live on stage. Now if I wanted to stretch my imagination, I would assume that perhaps some scantly clad beef cake might go into some simulated sex acts or even some pseudo "commando" titillation that could get one in the mood. I can't say that any of that will be going on, but I'm sure that they will do there best to be as erotic as possible without being arrested. If not hope some body got bail money!  The owners of Club Sway have been on a trek to make their swank surroundings versatile and capable of handling many type of productions and or fundraisers. I applaud these businessmen for their staying power and vision to attempt to keep moving the ball forward in the entertainment arena.
 
 
Groups A-Go-Go
 
As a community service, COP 24/7 makes a concerted effort to blast out as many items as possible that make our deadline cut. In former post, we've waxed on about more groups being developed, organized or otherwise. For some, "more is more," and let's just say if you don't have something to belong to, there's plenty of groups to go around that you can participate. This Community Advisory Board is slate to "shape HIV/AIDS research projects, design interventions and putting all of this into practice."
 
 Hold up.. wait a minute? Just for the record, there is currently a Arkansas HIV Planning Group that also has "experts, community members, providers, consumers and clinicians," that have been at the forefront of their mission to "decrease HIV infections" across the state. This entity is guided by non other than their collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control which provides the entire funding steam around prevention and education for the state. So what is this all about it?  Unfortunately at post time, COP 24/7 had not got feedback from Ms. Lovelady on the "who, what, when and why" is this advisory board coming to the table. Stay tuned, because we will be asking all the right questions and you will learn about it here first!!
 
 
 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Roling Rock Tuesday

Celebrating Year 8: Little Rock Film Festival Grows in Scope

In its 8th year, the Little Rock Film Festival will be expanding to a full week of screenings, parties and special events beginning Monday, May 12 and extending through Sunday, May 18. To accommodate the increased traffic, new venues like Stickyz Rock 'N' Roll Chicken Shack, 107 River Market Ave., Little Rock, and The Joint, 301 Main St., North Little Rock, have been added to their nearly dozen venues, spreading across downtown Little Rock and North Little Rock.
This year will also mark the return of the Clinton School of Public Service-- long a favorite venue for LRFF audiences.
The city has been abuzz about the debut of the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock, as the flagship home for the LRFF. The brand new state-of-the-art 315-seat theater will allow the festival to screen films for the first time in Digital Cinema Projection and Dolby 7.1 surround sound. As a throwback, as a young person I remember seeing first run films at the now gone main street Center Theatre and many black exploitation films at the dubious Arkansas Theater on Louisiana Street.

In 2014, the LRFF will program more than 100 films from around the world, most with filmmakers in attendance. The festival will continue to champion the best in Southern Filmmaking with two early announcements out of the Sundance film festival-- the documentary, "Rich Hill," and the narrative feature "Little Accidents."

"Rich Hill," directed by Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos, was filmed in Missouri and tells the powerful and emotional story of three boys growing up on the edge of poverty in rural America. It won the Sundance U.S. Grand Prize for Best Documentary.
"Little Accidents," directed by Sara Colangelo, features an impressive cast, including Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Chloƫ Sevigny and Josh Lucas, and tells the story of a devastating mining disaster in an Appalachian coal-mining town, which links the lives of three very different residents in a web of secrets.

Little Rock Film Festival recently launched a completely revamped website created by Aristotle. Festival passes are on sale now at the new site and remain at the same price points they have been for the past three years. The passes are organized into convenient Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels. For the first time a Student pass is available, the equivalent of a Silver Pass but for half the price with a valid ID.
For more details or to purchase passes, click here.

Having Trouble Getting Care? Speak Up!

Are you or a client having problems accessing HIV care or services with a health plan? We want you to Speak Up!

The Speak Up project wants to hear about difficulties people living with HIV are having accessing health care, such as:

  • Problems getting prescription drugs
  • Trouble accessing primary care
  • Difficulty accessing HIV specialists

Go to our Speak Up web page and report any problems you or a client face with new Affordable Care Act health plans, or existing plans.

When you Speak Up, you’ll help thousands of others across the country.

This national project, led by AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, will monitor, catalogue, and analyze the problems experienced by people with HIV in the new system.

Speak Up will identify issues that need to be addressed, bring them to the attention of state and federal policymakers, advocate for change, and report back to the community.

Let your voice be heard. If you can’t get the care you need, Speak Up!


If you Created an Online Account at Healthcare.gov, you can still get some in person assistance at 349-7777 before April 15!  Do it Today!!