Thursday, April 8, 2021

Posted By on Thu, Apr 8, 2021 at 11:30 AM

PHOENIX – State lawmakers are one step closer to passing a bill that would require parents to give written permission for children to discuss sex and gender identity in the classroom and ban any formal sex education – including AIDS instruction – before the fifth grade.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, calls Senate Bill 1456 “a parents’ rights bill.”

“Parents should not have to worry about what schools are teaching their children about human sexuality,” she said in an email. “Too often parents learn after the fact that explicit or controversial materials were presented without their knowledge or consent.”

However, opponents call the measure a dangerous move backward.

“It’s going to impact the ability of teachers to talk about a wide range of issues that impact all students,” said Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix. Bills like this, he added, “do more harm than they do good to our kids.”

SB 1456 has moved through the Legislature along party lines – finding staunch Republican support and fierce criticism from Democrats. The bill passed the Senate 16-14, and a House committee gave its approval on March 24. The measure now goes to the full House, where Republicans hold a 31-29 majority, for consideration.

Arizona schools are not legally required to teach sex education; school districts usually make those decisions, and parents can opt out of the instruction for their children.



Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Posted By on Tue, Mar 9, 2021 at 3:19 PM

Deadname Wash, a new compilation of electronic music, is raising funds for rent relief for transgender people. The album’s 13 songs were composed by musicians throughout Arizona, including multiple Tucson artists like Flor de Nopal, Kell, jaeki and Lav Andula.

The music on the album ranges from pop to post-punk to dance music, but all keep a foot in the realm of electronic music, and all songs are written by members of the queer community.

While the opening track "Isn't it Too Dreamy?" starts the compilation off with a dark and rhythmic track similar to The Cure, the album varies greatly, with “When” being more upbeat, and the lo-fi “i hear it gets better” in a mellower vein.

Deadname Wash is currently available as “name your price” on bandcamp, so you can support the cause with your purchase, or listen for free. For more information, visit deadname-wash.bandcamp.com

Monday, March 1, 2021

Posted By on Mon, Mar 1, 2021 at 1:00 AM

Friday, February 26, 2021

Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 12:51 PM

click to enlarge The Community Cares program matches seniors and volunteers for weekly check-ins and social interactions. Southern Arizona Senior Pride offers services and programs to the LGBTQ community in Tucson. - KAY SMITH/SOAZ SENIOR PRIDE
Kay Smith/SoAZ Senior Pride
The Community Cares program matches seniors and volunteers for weekly check-ins and social interactions. Southern Arizona Senior Pride offers services and programs to the LGBTQ community in Tucson.

PHOENIX – Reminders to stay connected and reach out to loved ones have been constant during the pandemic. However, as shutdowns and quarantines continued, the safety precautions worsened a long-term issue for LGBTQ seniors – loneliness.

It’s a feeling Lavina Tomer, executive director of Southern Arizona Senior Pride in Tucson, knows all too well.

“In terms of isolation and loneliness – that’s something that we’ve all lived with, with varying degrees at certain times,” she said.

Tomer was just 23 in the 1970s when she came out as a lesbian to her Lebanese-American family of six on the East Coast. The reaction from her religious family was mixed. Although a few were supportive, others were upset and chose to ignore her sexuality.

At church, coming out was traumatic and difficult for Tomer.

“It caused such a big issue that people began to treat me differently,” she recalled. “The minister was not willing to support me. So I chose to leave the church because I felt people were not ready to welcome me in my authenticity.”



Posted By on Fri, Feb 26, 2021 at 6:54 AM

click to enlarge MEGAN JANETSKY
Megan Janetsky

WASHINGTON – The House voted Thursday to expand civil rights protections to include sexual orientation, gender identity and pregnancy, a move supporters said will grant those groups “the full equality under the law they deserve.”

But critics of the Equality Act blasted it as a measure that will trample on religious freedom and individual rights, and ultimately backfire on the people it aims to protect.

The 224-206 vote fell mostly on party lines, with just three Republicans joining all Democrats to support the bill. Many Republicans were like Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Gilbert, who derided the bill as the “inequality act.”

“While it attacks religious freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of association, all-important rights recognized in the first amendment, it doesn’t stop there,” Biggs said during a Freedom Caucus news conference before the vote. “It also denies the biological facts that men and women are the two genders.”

But Rep. Greg Stanton, D-Phoenix, said the bill is needed because in too many places in the U.S. “discrimination is still permitted under the law.”

“Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law, no matter who they are, who they love, or how they express themselves,” Stanton said during debate on the House floor.



Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2020 at 3:30 PM

PHOENIX – The Supreme Court ruled Monday that the Civil Rights Act protections against “sex discrimination” also protect gay or transgender employees from discrimination, even if they are not specifically mentioned in the 1964 law.

The long-awaited ruling involved three separate cases of workers who were fired, two because they were gay and one who was hired as a male but fired after telling the company “she planned to ‘live and work full-time as a woman.'”

Advocates in Arizona like Angela Hughey, executive director of One Community in Phoenix, hailed the 6-3 decision as “an important step forward for equality.”

“But it is also a powerful reminder of how much work is left to do to ensure gay and transgender Arizonans have equal protections in all facets of life including housing, healthcare, and in public accommodations like restaurants, stores, hotels and more,” Hughey said.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2020 at 3:00 PM

click to enlarge “This is really about building a safe environment for trans individuals and their family,” said Tina Howard, the mother of a transgender teen who receives care at El Rio Health in Tucson. (Photo by Annabella Piunti/Cronkite News)
“This is really about building a safe environment for trans individuals and their family,” said Tina Howard, the mother of a transgender teen who receives care at El Rio Health in Tucson. (Photo by Annabella Piunti/Cronkite News)
TUCSON – For 17-year-old Fran Howard, receiving medical care has not always been easy. Howard identifies as nonbinary gender queer and uses they/them pronouns.

Years ago, Howard began seeking treatment to help transition but found it difficult to find a doctor who respected the decision and Howard’s medical needs.

“I felt like I had to prove my identity,” Howard said. “Just being in a trans body … and existing in the world is already so difficult, and going to the doctor is just this whole super invasive experience.”

Legislation cropping up in statehouses across the U.S. could make that experience even more difficult.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Posted By on Tue, Apr 21, 2020 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge Kristyn Weed: "Momentum is building across the country as more and more people grow to understand how important it is to ensure that LGBTQ people have a fair shot in life." - COURTESY PHOTO
Courtesy Photo
Kristyn Weed: "Momentum is building across the country as more and more people grow to understand how important it is to ensure that LGBTQ people have a fair shot in life."
I spent a large part of my life denying what I knew from the age of 5, that I was transgender. Growing up as a young boy in the 1950s, there were no words to describe what I was experiencing. I had no one to talk to, and I tried my best to make the feelings go away.

I doubled down on “male things” hoping that my inner battle would subside. I joined the Army at 21 and served as a paratrooper and radio communications specialist. Then an accident ended my career after 15 years of service.

After I retired, I worked as a truck driver and was able to start living as a woman on the road. That experience sealed my decision to let the world know what I had known all my life and I decided to let the world know through a message on Facebook. I was 58 years old.

I explained my struggle in an eight-page letter. I told my friends and family that I would finally start living as my true self. “I was not made this way by an event, or a person. Nor did I wake up one day and decide that maybe it would be more fun, more exciting, or more interesting to be a girl. I already was one,” I wrote. “One does not decide their gender identity; it just is. I’m a transgender woman and the next time you see me, this will be who I am. I hope you’ll accept me.”

I was floored by the positive responses. But I am also very aware that’s not the norm. I’ve heard terrible stories of discrimination. People are fired from their jobs, they lose their homes, just for being who they are.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2020 at 9:29 AM

click to enlarge Find out who you are to others and to yourself, onstage and off, with workshops by Shannon Stott at the Cactus Flower Comedy Festival. - STEVE ROGERS PHOTOGRAPHY
Steve Rogers Photography
Find out who you are to others and to yourself, onstage and off, with workshops by Shannon Stott at the Cactus Flower Comedy Festival.
Cactus Flower blooms Feb. 27-30

Created and performed entirely by funny female, binary and gender-nonconforming humans, the four-day Cactus Flower Comedy Festival will spark loads of laughs in anyone who is not looking for a lot of dick jokes.

The event, which takes place at Tucson Improv Movement's TIM Comedy Theatre, offers storytelling, stand-up, improv and sketch shows to watch, and workshops to exercise your own sense of humor and improve listening and communications skills. All shows are $5 or $7. An all-festival pass is $30, and workshops are $40 each. Reservations are via squareup.com.

Workshop leader Shannon Stott says she has seen improv change lives on and off the stage. She has performed and taught improv for 20 years and now regularly highlights that crossover.

The most important thing, she says, is “to listen to yourself and answer yourself honestly. Your body tells you so much information, and because of society's eyes (a.k.a. the audience) we often don't listen. The consequences can be painful.

That self-awareness makes all the difference in relationships. "Understanding what your relationship is to anyone will inform your scene," Stott says. "Much of the feedback I get sounds like ‘I didn't know I was doing that’. When you are unaware, choices are often made for you, on stage and off.”

Regarding festivals focused on women and non-gender-conforming performers, Stott says, “We must have safe places to practice being strong, outspoken, leading, being loud, silly, emotional and ourselves. Once you experience being heard and seen, you can recognize and internalize it so you can seek it out, on and off stage.”

The CFCF kicks off at 7:30 pm. Thursday, Feb. 27, with F*sT! (Female Storytellers) sharing their best of 2019. It’s likely to be the Fest’s first sell-out. The 9 p.m. show opens with improv duo Allreddy, featuring standup comedian Allana Erickson. Omega creates a long-form Harold, then Baby Fish Mouth Omega performs original sketches.

The 7:30 show Friday, Feb. 28, opens with duo team, I Was Promised Magic. Gretchen Wirges and Ally Tanzillo follow as Ex-Boyfriend. Then comes Phoenix’s RatQween, spontaneously formed at a recent Phoenix festival for female/non-binary/gender non-conforming people.

At 9 p.m., TIM’s premier team, Soapbox, create scenes inspired by true anecdotes from the lives of community leader and former mayoral candidate Randy Dorman and the Fest’s two nationally recognized workshop leaders, Stott and Jill Bernard. A founding member of Minneapolis’ HUGE Theatre, Bernard has been a principal in that city’s ComedySportz franchise since 1993. She has taught improv all over the US, Europe and South America.

Following the Soapbox, at 10:30 p.m., Nicole Riesgo hosts Beginners and Veterans, a standup showcase featuring Rebecca Tingley, creator of the Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby comedy panel, and her frequent co-host, Cami Anderson. Also performing is Steena Salido, co-creator of Tucson's popular standup show Cunts Being Cunts Talking about Cunts and the all-Spanish-Language standup and improv show, Carcajadas, that features TIM’s Como Se Dice team. The rest of the bill comprises comedians who completed TIM’s standup class led by Mo Urban, founder or co-founder of five comedy series in Tucson. Graduates are multiple Moth award-winning storyteller Molly McCloy, TIM Company improviser Holly Hilton, and high-energy newcomer Brandi Dierinzo.

On Saturday at 6, TIM indie teams Three-Headed Monster, #PurseWine and Rough Around the Curves lead up to Unscrewed Theater’s From the Top musical improv team. At 7:30, Urban hosts an especially diverse CFCF Stand Up Comedy Showcase, featuring Jackie Kibler, Andrea Carmichael, Andrea Salazar, Savannah Hernandez and Bethany Evans.

The 7:30 p.m. show features Como Se Dice, TIM’s premier all-female team The Riveters and Jill Bernard performing her one-woman show, Drum Machine. It’s described as a “sweepingly epic, unscripted musical featuring multiple characters.” It’s been featured in more than 40 improv festivals.

Stott and Bernard each lead two workshops on Saturday and Sunday.

The Switch switches to Skybar

Fans of The Switch, where comedians riff off-the-cuff on suggestions texted in by the audience, must remember to head to Skybar at 8:45 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 27. The event has moved following a long run on Mondays at The Hut. The lineup for the debut includes Phoencians Anwar Newton and Erick Biez.

Standups sing, now


Both Tucson’s improv companies have musical teams, and there’s the child of Musical Mayhem known as One Rehearsal Short. Young, brash, awkward and twisted genius Jeremy Segal now has created Show Tune ShowCase, in which seven favorite Tucson Comedians sing show tunes in their sets. We hold our breath for voices we didn’t know existed, but Mo Urban’s always knocks us out in her rock duo. Others in this debut include Joe Tullar, Steena Salido, Tim Maggard, Eli W.T., Jesus Otamendi and Chris Quinn. It’s $5 at 7 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 29 at The Screening Room.

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby


Rebecca Tingley’s no-holds-barred panel of comedy experts returns to Club Congress at 8 p.m., Tuesday March 3. The show pokes fun at taboos, silliness, awkward moments and other somewhat less than graphic aspects of the act, (because, after all, we all know the actual mechanics). Panelists and guests include Cami Anderson, Paul Fox and Charles Ludwig.

Even More Laughs!


Friday, Feb. 28, standup with Andrew Rivers (see last week’s Laughing Stock), 8 p.m., The O ($15, $30 VIP, via Eventbrite.com; $30, door); Patrick Deguire featuring Zach Pugh, 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50, $17.50); and Last Friday - Last Laughs featuring Roxy Merrari, Ali Musa, Phoenix comic Noni Shaney, Battle at the Roast Room winner Allana Erickson, Michael Barnett, Stephanie Lyonga, Jeremy Segal and Eden Nault. Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m.($5 kids and $8 adults),and Free Form Friday Fight Night 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater (free).

Saturday, Feb. 29, Standup with Patrick Deguire featuring Zack Pugh, 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laff’s Comedy Caffe ($12.50, $17.50). Family-friendly improv with (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8)

Free Open Mics

Sunday, March 1, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, March 2, 6:45 p.m., The Surly Wench; 9 p.m., Kava Bar.
Tuesday, March 3, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy. The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, March 4, 7 p.m., The Screening Room; 8:30 p.m., The Rock.
Thursday, March 5, 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Posted By on Thu, Jan 9, 2020 at 1:00 AM

click to enlarge Are the Cosmonauts fighting over who will ride shotgun on the drive from Phoenix to the Tucson Fringe Festival? - THE COSMONAUTS ON FACEBOOK
The Cosmonauts on Facebook
Are the Cosmonauts fighting over who will ride shotgun on the drive from Phoenix to the Tucson Fringe Festival?
Funny at the Fringe

By definition, Fringe Fest performers don’t fit any category, but many of them are comedy acts, and this year’s Tucson Fringe Festival, January 9 through 11, features more than most.

“There's so much comedy!!!” fest honcho Maryann Green texted us. "’<=2’, (less than or equal to two) is sketch comedy from the directors of the Elgin Fringe Festival. 'How To Contract Lycanthropy' is dry humor from award-winning Minneapolis Fringe Festival artist Matthew Kessen. 'Sexology the Musical' promises to be a rockin’ good time.” And Green is just getting started.

Tucson Fringe Fest is popular for a wide range of great, little-known talent. Green and her team see, screen and invite plenty of fringe acts they know will find a Tucson audience. But their strategy of short shows and low prices all but guarantees a good time. If you don’t love the show you’re seeing, there’s another within the hour that could blow you away.

Admission to the fest is $3 for a button. Shows are $10 each, but passes are available for two, five or eight shows each for $18 to $64. Tickets and details of all the shows are at shop.tucsonfringe.org.

Twenty-two shows will be performed more than 50 times in five venues that are less than a mile apart downtown. They include The Screening Room, Steinfeld Warehouse, StudioONE, the Cabaret Theatre at the Temple of Music and Art and The Circus Academy.

Much excitement around this year’s fest is about the 16 acts appearing for the first time, including Phoenix sketch comedy team The Cosmonauts. The eight-year-old ensemble has performed in multiple festivals. They suggest that the audience think of them “like Saturday Night Live, but R-rated”

Green continues, “Space Force is a political farce.” And then she touches on the one we want to see most: “‘Silly Woman’ is about two young comedians discovering the comedy genius of funny females of the past, like Phyllis Diller and Lucille Ball. ‘Tammy's Bachelorette’ is an interactive comedy romp through a ‘Whiskey Tango’ wedding.” We think she means “white trash,” but she wouldn’t ever punch down.

“(Longtime local favorite) Tom Potter is doing a set he calls ‘The History of American Musical Humor’," she says, comparing him, a little hesitantly, to Dr. Demento. We get that one! He’ll have funny lyrics to songs we recognize.

"’What Will You’, Green says,"is a modern queer take on Shakespeare’s comedy, Twelfth Night, and, finally, ‘You've Got To Be Kidding Me’ is a live comedy podcast about carrying the emotional baggage of childhood."

If you’re reading this on Thursday, you can head over to Café Passé for a preview party from 6 to 9 p.m. Fest acts perform two-minute samples of their sets, and audience members win raffles and prizes.

Martin Luther King Day weekend

There is so much comedy headed your way, you should just block out the next two weekends. Upcoming we have an impossible choice among three top comedians plus the usual great improv shows. And from Jan. 25 through Feb. 1, every night has at least one and up to eight shows for the Tucson Comedy Crawl. It’s more than two-dozen shows, produced by and with members of Tucson’s burgeoning comedy scene, and it’s all sponsored by Tucson Weekly and Tucson Local Media.

Here’s a head start on next weekend, though, with comedy booked especially for Martin Luther King Weekend.

Matt Kearney’s LOL Jam returns to The Viscount Suites at 8 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18. Tickets are $15, or $20 for VIP seating, via grownsexy.ticketleap.com. Rob Rodriguez hosts, reminding us once again that we don't see him often enough in Tucson. The Lineup includes BET Allstar Drew Frazer, Kool Bubba Ice and local newcomer Janize.

Laffs Comedy Caffé hosts Jon Roy for five shows the same weekend. Clever and clean, with a megawatt resume, Roy riffs like a funny best friend on cultural anomalies, dilemmas of childhood, racial tolerance and the chaos that is contemporary media. His jokes can land with impressions or inspire a song. Jimmy Calloway features. Details and tickets are at laffstucson.com/coming-soon.html.

More Comedy

Friday, Jan. 10: Standup with Tyler Boeh featuring Jeff Horste at 8 and 10:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Improv Happy Hour at 7:30 p.m. ($5) and The Soapbox at 9 p.m. ($7) at TIM Comedy Theatre (TIM)($10 for both shows. All shows $2 off with Cat Card). Family-friendly improv with Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed (NBOJU) at 7:30 p.m. and Freeform Friday at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Saturday, Jan. 11: Standup with Phoenix prop comedian, Dan Hanson, featuring local favorite Josiah Osego opening and Nick Chant as host at 8 p.m., The O ($7 door; $10 Eventbrite. Tyler Boeh featuring Jeff Horste at 7 and 9:30 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe ($12.50 and $17.50). Kids improv, F.O.M.P. (Friends of Make Pretends) at 2 p.m. at TIM Comedy Theatre ($5) Improv at 7:30 and 9 p.m. at TIM ($7, both shows for $10, $2 off with Cat Card). Improv with Unscrewed Family Hour at 6 p.m., Family Friendly NBOJU at 7:30 p.m., and NBOJU: Uncensored at 9 p.m., Unscrewed Theater ($5 and $8).

Free Open Mics

Sunday, Jan. 12, 6:30 p.m., The O, and 8 p.m., Chuckleheads in Bisbee.
Monday, Jan. 13, 7 p.m., Comedy at the Wench, The Surly Wench Pub.
Tuesday, Jan. 14, 6:45 p.m., Neighborhood Comedy, The Music Box Lounge.
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 7 p.m., The Screening Room and 8:30 p.m., The Mint.
Thursday, Jan 16. 8 p.m., Laffs Comedy Caffe and 8:30 p.m., Rockabilly Grill.

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