Dinner is Served at the Oscars to Benefit Access AIDS Care

Andrew and I help with this party every year, primarily because it benefits Access AIDS Care, our local AIDS service organization. But it’s also great fun with our besties. This year, the theme centered around The Oscars, and I built a Step and Repeat so we could pretend we are famous movie stars. The participants became goofier as the night (and the drinks) wore on.

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Winter Vacation: Tortola, British Virgin Islands

In what was strictly a winter survival move, I took Andrew to my favorite tropical paradise this past February: Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We rented a cozy little villa on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and met up with two fantastic straight “girlfriends” who joined us on several adventures during the week. Here are some highlights:

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Yes, Virginia, the Judge Said NO!

February 13, 2014, was an historic day in the Commonwealth.  Federal Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled that Virginia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional. And while this doesn’t mean that gay and lesbian couples will be able to start getting married here in Virginia immediately, it is a huge step toward the freedom to marry. Plus, it’s a great reason to celebrate! Here are photos from the celebration party at Decorum Furniture here in Norfolk on–of all days–Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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And a joyous one it is in Virginia. Yesterday, a Federal judge here in Norfolk ruled that Virginia’s 2006 ban on gay marriage in the Commonwealth is unconstitutional. It’s the latest in a house of cards of similar rulings across the country. The national news is treating it as an every day event. And that’s OK. These rulings *are* becoming commonplace events.  That’s a good thing.

But today, all the Virginia gays is losing they minds! No one I know (myself included) could have conceived as recently as a year ago that the capital of the Old Confederacy and a Southern bastion of prejudice and racism would ever come to this point. But here we are, and although the legal battle ahead is long, I know that ultimately Andrew and I will be able to get married in our adopted home state.

After all, we have two righteous principals on our side.

Remember Justice? She’s been around since our country’s founders (most of them from right here in the Old Dominion) created the world’s first pure democracy 250 years ago. As a student of American history and politics, I have always been incredulous that a group of thirteen totally dissimilar colonies and people could somehow pull together, throw off the yoke of an oppressive totalitarian government, and create a union based on equality for all.

When those intrepid souls created this new form of government, they knew that it would be an experiment with many challenges they couldn’t foresee. Right out of the gate, they couldn’t resolve the issue of slavery even though most agreed it was moral sin. They didn’t come close to addressing women’s rights in the new world order. And they certainly couldn’t foresee that a person’s sexuality would ever be an issue the government would need to address.

That’s why they framed the Constitution in fairly general terms with room to grow but governed by one overriding theme: individual rights would never be abridged by crown or church. The checks implemented by the legislative, executive, and judicial branches were designed to perpetually guarantee those rights.

So Justice has stood by during most of the past 250 years, allowing us mortals to work out our differences. And when we couldn’t agree on the definition of “individual rights,” she stepped in. After we murdered ourselves over slavery, she stopped the madness with passage of the 14th Amendment. That addition was a game changer and has become the legal precedent for all individual rights cases since. After women decided they had had enough, Justice stepped in, waving the 14th amendment, and they won their right to vote. When the future Mr. and Mrs. Loving, an interracial couple from (you guessed it) Virginia wanted to get married despite a state law banning it, the 14th was cited, and they won. And yesterday, after enough oppression by the religious right, Justice waved her 14th Amendment again and said, “Go away, you have no power here.”

Justice is indeed blind. But you don’t want to piss her off.

Justice didn’t do it alone. She joined hands with her same-sex partner, Love, who, as we well know, conquers all. Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and every spiritual leader throughout history has labored to convince us of that concept. Why don’t we listen? Why do we continue to argue with Love? How can the closed minds in this world dare to impress their judgments on whether anyone’s love is right or wrong? They can’t. Not for long. And that’s why Justice and Love together are an invincible combination. They will always win.

Yesterday, these two ladies won again, and our magnificent political experiment was made stronger.

Some observations:

      • allenMeet Judge Arenda Wright-Allen, an Obama appointee, a former JAG attorney, and former public defender. Historically, she has been involved in criminal cases, and as far as I can see, this is her first social case. She also appears to be a fierce African-American woman on our side from day one. I can’t help but think that she intentionally waited until Valentine’s Eve to issue her decision. Talk about maximum impact on our community and the country. Plus, I think she knew that we would party our asses off because the next day was Friday. Well played, Your Honor.

 

      • Best line from her decision: “Tradition is revered in the Commonwealth, and often rightly so. However, tradition alone cannot justify denying same-sex couples the right to marry any more than it could justify Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage.”

 

      • Does anyone else wonder where Pat Robertson is right now? I thought for sure he’d  be the first of the right wing zealots to hit the media circuit. Maybe he’s  alone in his bathroom, crying and praying the gay away.

 

      • Read this article on how this whole issue may play out nationwide in the coming months.

 

    • Stay tuned for photos from our big gay party in downtown Norfolk tonight! It’s going to be off the hook because a) well, the decision, duh, b) it’s Valentine’s Day, and c) there’s a full moon. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Davis Family Portraits

Robbie Davis contacted me to help him with a very special Christmas gift. He and his three siblings had not been together in years, a situation which was going to be rectified over Thanksgiving. He wanted a colorful, upbeat portrait of the four of them they for their mother. I met them on a beautiful autumn Saturday at the Norfolk waterfront to see what we could get. Their fun-loving personalities combined with the beautiful weather, eye-popping fall foliage, and interesting locations made for a memorable session!

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The Leaps Forward We Take: Out in the Park 2012

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Exhibit A: the Second Annual Out in the Park celebration this past weekend at Town Point Park. There was a time not so long ago when the very thought of thousands of gay and lesbian people, friends, and families descending on Town Point Park was, well, a nice fantasy—or perhaps a cringing nightmare, depending on your take. But Hampton Roads Pride has made it happen two years in a row, and our larger community has begun to embrace us.

No wonder. How could anyone resist such a joyful celebration? From Virginia Lyric Opera’s stirring performances to Mermaids in the Basement’s toe tapping rock to Kristine W.’s club-in-the-park rave, the stellar entertainment served as a coda to what Out in the Park is really about: the people.

Gay, straight, white, Hispanic, African American, Asian, male, female, transgender, young and old came together in an inclusive, colorful, and thrilling symphony of life. Here’s a peek at this milestone day from behind the lens of my camera. Feel the love

June in the Blue Ridge: Leigh + John

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Leigh is a fellow creative soul. She and her slightly insane (and law enforcement officer) husband, John, were married in a casual summer wedding in Blowing Rock, NC. Both wanted photography that reflected their personalities: full of action, reaction, and funny faces. They certainly got that!