HOUSTON VOICE • DECEMBER 29, 2000
First legal lesbian wedding held in Texas
> Continued from Page 6
attack following surgery to treat blood clots.
HVan Ooteghem was
a leader in the Houston
and national gay community for 25 years. In
1975, he was the first
president of the (then)
Gay Political Caucus,
and at the time of his
death was the retiring
chair of the Ryan White
Gary Ven Ooteghem which distributes more
than $15 million annually to HIV/AIDS service providers in the
Harris County area. He also was serving as
chair of the Scholarship Committee of the
Houston Area Teen Coalition of Homosexuals
and the PFLAG/H.A.T.C.H. Youth
Van Ooteghem's name is on an important
gay civil rights case. In 1975, while working for
Harris County as its Comptroller of the
Treasury and Assistant Treasurer, he
addressed County Commissioners Court and
said he was gay. His employer, Harris County
Treasurer Hartseil Grey, fired him, saying he
had told Van Ooteghem not to make the
speech. Following many years of litigation and
appeals, the Fifth Circuit said that Van
Ooteghem's firing was illegal because it violated his First Amendment right to free speech.
He was awarded back pay.
Gay guide closes its Texas-wide doors:
Saddled with debt and strapped with a dwindling advertising base, This Week in Texas
dosed its doors after 26 years of publishing the
only weekly gay statewide entertainment
guide, according to publisher Alan Gellman.
The final issue of the 22,000-circulation
magazine appeared Aug. 10, nearly half-way
through its 26th year of publication.
Gellman attributed the magazine's demise
to his poor health, which has kept him from
closely overseeing the publication's editorial
and financial operations for more than two
years and led to "foolish mistakes," he said.
"Our staff meant well and were good at
what they did, but they had so many extra
duties out on them. There was nobody steering that bus," he said.
Openly gay playei; Richard Hatch, wins
'Survivor': He was taunted for his penchant
for nudity, condemned as manipulative and
even called a snake by a fellow castaway.
Richard Hatch earned another label: millionaire. And he said that he has no regrets.
The 39-year-old corporate trainer took
home the cash prize and a new car on the final
episode of CBS' hugely popular "Survivor,"
confounding those certain his scheming
would cost him in the end.
"I wouldn't change anything that I did,"
Rich told the jury in a final statement.
Heche hospitalized hours after split with
DeGeneres: Actress Anne Heche was hospitalized after wandering up to a rural home
appearing shaken and confused, hours after
her breakup with Ellen DeGeneres became
public, authorities said.
Heche apparently parked her car along a
highway Saturday and then walked about a
mile to the house in Cantua Creek, where she
knocked on the front door at about 4:30 p.m.
and made strange statements to the occupants,
said Fresno County Sheriff's Lt. Merrill
State Supreme Court to review exec order
case: In a move that brings gays and lesbians
in Houston closer to knowing whether Mayor
Lee Brown's executive order banning sexual
orientation discrimination in city government
is legal, the Texas Supreme Court agreed to
hear arguments about whether the city councilman and the businessman who sued to stop
the order from taking effect had a right to do
Days after the executive order was issued
in 1998, businessman Richard Hotze and City
Councilman Rob Todd sued the mayor and the
city to try to stop the order from taking effect.
Later in 1998, District Judge Patrick Mizell
stopped the order until the case could be
decided and said that Hotze had no legal
standing in the case—that is, he had no right to
The Texas Supreme Court heard arguments in October in the case and a ruling from
the court is still pending.
Lesbian wedding held in San Antonio:
When a Texas appellate court issued a ruling
last year that essentially said people who are
born male remain legally male even if they
have surgery to change their sex, it opened the
•door for Jessica Wicks of Houston—who was
bom male—to marry her girlfriend.
Jessica and Robin Wicks
And in September, amid a throng of
reporters. Wicks, 53, and her partner Robin, 44,
got their marriage license in San Antonio.
"They were cooperative," Wicks said of the
county clerk's office. "Of course, probably the
fact that there were lots of television cameras
They were denied a marriage license in
Harris County, but the Bexar County clerk
agreed to issue the license based on birth certificates that show Jessica was bom male and
Robin was bom female.
Etheridge splits from girlfriend: Rocker
Melissa Etheridge and her girlfriend, director
Julie Cypher, announced they were ending
their relationship after 12 years. The couple
has two small children together.
"With the utmost of love and respect for
one another, we have decided to separate," the
couple announced in a statement released by
Etheridge's label, Island Records.
Etheridge and Cypher, together for 12
years, were one of Hollywood's most famous
lesbian couples, after Ellen DeGeneres and
Ann Heche, who announced their breakup in
Ex-gay leader confronted in gay bar A
prominent ex-gay leader once featured as
"going straight" on the cover of Newsweek
magazine was confronted and photographed
by activists Tuesday night patronizing a gay
bar in Washington, D.C.
John Paulk, board chair for the umbrella
ex-gay group Exodus International, admitted
in an interview with the Voice that he was in
Mr. Fs, a gay bar in Washington's DuPont
Circle neighborhood, but said his only intention was to use the bathroom.
Trans teen kicked out of Covenant House:
In February of this year, Jeff Loftin checked
into Covenant House Houston and was
allowed to stay. He left in March.
In September, Loftin checked into
Covenant House as Chanel Dita, and she was
ousted in no uncertain terms, even though she
had nowhere to stay. And Covenant House
knew it, says Dita.
Dita is a 19-year-old homeless transgender.
She was thrown out of her home in Pasadena,
after she told her mother she was transsexual.
When Dita checked into Covenant House
on Sept. 16 as a female, she says she was told
she could not dress as a woman. She was also
told she must submit to a physical within 48
hours of admission. The physical exam is standard practice.
By the first of December, Dita was back at
Covenant House, allowed to stay as long as
she adhered to a few house rules.
This time, Dita underwent the required
physical and she says she has been told to
wear unisex clothing ("jeans and stuff," says
Dita) and forego the makeup while there.
Though she landed a job at Burger King in
the Montrose, she has since quit and as of
presstime had left Covenant House as well.
Happy birthday, Ray Hill: On Friday, Oct.
13,2000, one of Houston's bold, brazen, and at
times brash, queers celebrated his sixtieth
For most of those 60
years, Ray Hill's life has
been spent, in one way
or another, for better or
for worse, standing up
for social justice for
queer folk or for folks
who simply had been
too beaten down to
stand up for themselves. Roy Hi
Hill admits that his way has always been
"years ahead of my time." He backs that statement up by reminiscing about attending
Tulane College in 1966. He enrolled in the
graduate program there and submitted his
thesis topic, "A Sissy is a Sissy, is a Sissy."
Houston's Black Tie draws 1,200: For the
second year in a
row, the George R.
Center was transformed from its
ship-like appearance into an elegant dining room
played by the
Orchestra for the ^^
Houston Black Tie
Dinner, the stylish fund-raising event that
draws who's who in the city's LGBT community.
Houston City Councilwoman, Annise
Parker, introduced the keynote speaker, Steve
May, as one of only 200 openly gay or lesbian
politicians nationwide, and as a good friend of
hers. Pointing out May's abilities as a leader in
the LGBT community, Parker said, "We cannot
May, the only openly gay Republican in the
Arizona House of Representatives spoke
about his experiences as a First Lieutenant in
the U.S Army Reserve and about his road to
Deaths of transgendered commemorated
in solemn ceremony outside City Hall: Two
dozen transgender activists assembled on the
City Hall steps in Nov. 28 for a candlelight
memorial for the 18 gender variant people
who died as a result of violence since last
The Day of Remembrance was set aside to
memorialize those who were killed due to
anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The
event is held on Nov. 28 to honor Rita Hester,
whose murder kicked off the "Remembering
Our Dead" project.
'AIDS: Men Make a Difference':
Candlelight vigils, toy and food drives, art
shows and help for those with HIV/AIDS
marked Houston's LGBT observation of the
13th World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
The event is a day, when people around the
world join to commemorate public awareness
about the disease that does not discriminate.
The united theme for this year is, "AIDS: Men
Make a Difference."
With new infections of HIV/AIDS rising at
an alarming rate worldwide, it is time for all to
make a difference. According to figures from
AIDS Foundation Houston (AFH), it is estimated that within the Houston/Harris
County area alone, one in 90 individuals is