November East Bureau Briefs

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From East Tennessee Bureau Reports


Julia Tucker runs write-in campaign for Knoxville City Council

South Knoxville resident Julia Tucker launches her write-in candidacy for City council District One with an eye to gain the seat currently occupied by City Councilman Joe Hultquist. As a write-in candidate in the general election, all Knoxville registered voters will have a chance to cast their vote for the well known figure whose past accomplishments as an AIDS activist are well known.

“I am running to give the voters a choice,” asserts Tucker, whose stated aim is to address problems of concern to residents of South Knoxville and, ultimately, the entire city.

Tucker believes that her friends and neighbors want safe homes, good sidewalks, high-quality schools for our children, as well as quiet neighborhoods. She pledges to remain accessible. Supporters point to her integrity and concern as reasons they expect her to keep that promise.

Tucker has been involved in the GLBT community for a number of years. Following the death of her son, William, at age 31 from complications of HIV/AIDS, she has participated in community organizations such as Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and AIDS Response Knoxville (ARK.)

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Knox area People of Color Caucus now forming

The Knoxville community welcomes the formation of the People of Color Caucus (POCC.) Forming in response to a perceived lack of input into local GLBT community planning, the Caucus steps up to give voice to the GLBT people of color in the Knoxville area. As part of the “Show What You Know” annual fall festival, the POCC held an event on Wednesday, October 12, that gave local GLBT people the opportunity to gather and share life stories. This occasion allowed a circle of 19 people to share their coming-out stories. People of many races and ethnic backgrounds poured out their life stories with an emphasis on how they disclosed their being lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered to their families and friends.

The event was held at the Emporium Center for Arts and Culture located at 100 S. Gay Street in downtown Knoxville . It was co-sponsored by the Carpetbag Theater.

Marquez Rhyne, a multi-talented performing artist and Interim Managing Director of the Carpetbag Theater, will serve as a contact person for the POCC. Interested persons can contact Rhyne by phone at (865) 524-6629 or by email at marquezrhyne@yahoo.com.

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Graham House residents may be ousted

Unpaid utility bills have purportedly set in motion a Knoxville ’s Community Development Corporation process that will invalidate the Section 8 approval for the historic Graham House on Magnolia Avenue in East Knoxville . The building’s apartments are reserved for people with HIV/AIDS. Residents have been notified that they must seek other housing.

The situation has arisen from a water bill that is allegedly in the tens of thousands of dollars. Graham House residents pay their own energy bills, but the water is furnished by the landlord as part of their rental fee.

Mike Lewis, the building’s owner, told O&AN that the Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) bill has been paid, however, that does not prevent residents from being ousted.

Jeff Simmons, Knoxville Cares treasurer and longtime Graham House resident, reports that a call to his KCDC caseworker confirmed the ongoing process.

“I was told that whether or not the bill is paid, we will all still have to move,” states Simmons.

Wayne Smith of Samaritan Ministries has also been involved in the ongoing situation, advocating for the Graham House residents and intervening on their behalf with KUB.

“I believe that KUB has put forth a good faith effort in trying to resolve this issue to prevent the residents’ ouster,” affirms Smith who had been involved in conversations with KUB representatives. He attests to their desire to settle the bill without causing the upheaval of moving the residents.

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Balo new president of Knox Area PFLAG

The Knox Area Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) proudly announce that Paul Balo will be their new president. Balo is well known in the Knoxville area for his work with “Out & About Newspaper” as the East Bureau’s senior photographer.

The Greater Knoxville Chapter of PFLAG was founded in 1982. Greater Knoxville PFLAG meets at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, 2931 Kingston Pike (865-523-5176) at 7 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month (third Thursday in November and December.) Contributions are welcome. Checks should be made out to Greater Knoxville PFLAG. For further information, contact Paul at pbalo@charter.net or visit their Web site at www.discoveret.org/knxpflag/.

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Knox County defines family

In response to complaints arising from a South Knoxville neighborhood regarding rentals housing large numbers of university students, the Metropolitan Planning Commission has moved forward in an effort to define “family” for zoning purposes.

Knox County Law Director, Mike Moyers, received authorization from the Metropolitan Planning Commission to go forward with his intent to redefine “family” for Knox County residents. Moyers insists that this will not change Knoxville city ordinances, but will only be applicable to Knox County residents outside the city.

Moyers also mentioned that the complaint against rental to groups of UT-K students came up nearly ten years ago. The problem was studied, but no action was taken at that time.

Sources in Knox County government tell O&AN that the actual target of this redefinition is the Hispanic migrant population who often rent homes together to defray housing costs. Building contractors are reportedly using rental homes to house their temporary employees, many of whom are Hispanic. Some have been reported squeezing as many as 40 to 50 workers into one home.

GLBT community leaders fear the redefinition will negatively impact many of our households.

For further information regarding the Metropolitan Planning Commission and the Knox County Commission, you may visit their Web sites at www.mpc.org and www.knoxcounty.org respectively.

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UT-K students work for nondiscrimination policy, create Torchbearer float for National Coming Out Day parade

Lambda Students Union continues to educate campus and community about the deficiencies in the University of Tennessee – Knoxville campus’ non-discrimination policy, by speaking at other university group meetings. Donna Dearmon and Ashe Smith of Lambda addressed the need for policy change at the National Coming Out Day Rally held in Knoxville on October 15th. In conjunction with TEP and HRC, a grand float focusing on the need for sexual orientation and gender identity inclusion graced the parade down Gay Street as part of a first step in creating change by educating the citizens of the area regarding GLBT issues, while the living Torchbearer signaled the need for further action on UT-K campus.

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Knoxville domestic violence pros attend Southern Comfort Conference

Members of Knoxville ’s Same-sex Domestic Violence Task Force attended this year’s 15th Annual Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) at the Sheraton Colony Square in Atlanta . Annette Beebe and Tom Barr presented a seminar on same-sex domestic violence as part of the four-day conference that is billed as the world’s largest transgender conference, and is a source of information and support for transgender people, their families, friends, and allies.

This year’s conference was held at the Sheraton Colony Square for the fifth year, and plans for next year’s conference are already underway. 53 people attended this year’s conference on scholarship. If you would like more information, please contact scholarships@sccatl.org. SCC is a 501(c) 3 organization. All contributions are tax deductible.

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New listserv for University of Tennessee – Knoxville

A new listserv for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) people on the University of Tennessee ’s main campus in Knoxville serves the faculty, staff, and student body. Previous listservs have tended to serve either faculty and staff or students. This group wants to draw on the strengths of all three groups and has provided a forum for news and information of interest to the LGBT population on campus. Contact Bharat Mehra at bmehra@utk.edu or Donna Braquet at bee_charma@yahoo.com for further information.

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