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Interview: Shattering the military’s gay glass ceiling

Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith

Less than a year after the official repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, Brig. Gen. Tammy Smith of the United States Army Reserve became the first-ever openly gay or lesbian general.

Smith, a career officer, is the director of the Army Reserve Human Capital Core Enterprise. Smith has served in Panama, Costa Rica and most recently Afghanistan. She currently lives in Washington, D.C.

GA Voice asked Smith about her career, her status as a role model and the challenges that gay and lesbian soldiers continue to face in the post-DADT era.

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YouthPride moves to house in West End, also home to Christian addiction ministry?

YouthPride House

YouthPride, the troubled Atlanta LGBT youth agency, has moved to a house located at 955 Washington Place in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood, according to its website. YouthPride was evicted from its Edgewood Avenue home on June 1 for non-payment of rent and posted a series of delayed openings before finally announcing the new address June 21.

Executive Director Terence McPhaul refused an interview June 21 at the new location. He and board members continue to decline interviews on the status of the organization, which has been mired in a financial and leadership crisis since December 2011.

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[Breaking] President Obama voices support for marriage equality

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President Obama became the first sitting president to voice his support for same-sex unions today during an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts. ABC aired a short clip today at 3:00 p.m., where Obama laid out his reasons for his support of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.

I hesitated on gay marriage in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient. I was sensitive to the fact, for a lot of people, the word "marriage" invokes powerful religious traditions. Over the course of several years, as I've talked to friends and family, when I think about members of my own staff who are in committed monogamous relationships, raising kids together, when I think about soldiers, airmen and Marines out there fighting on my behalf who feel constrained because they're not able to commit themselves to marriage ... for me personally, it is important to affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

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May 7 fundraiser benefits International Day Against Homophobia

Betty Couvertier

As Atlanta prepares for its third annual observance of the International Day Against Homophobia, it has grown to encompass three days of events scheduled in cities across Georgia.

Atlanta's IDAHO events are being organized by Betty Couvertier, host of the alt-radio program Alternative Perspectives, which airs on WRFG.

This year's event features the theme “sexual diversity in the workplace,” but Couvertier told GA Voice this week that many issues affect the state's LGBT communities and will be highlighted during IDAHO, from housing and employment to healthcare and safe schools.

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YouthPride board member: Board has not met in two years

YouthPride logoYouthPride’s board of directors has not met in two years, according to one board member who added she was not aware of the nonprofit’s current financial crisis and possible closure.

YouthPride, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13-24, is facing a $67,000 shortfall this year after it did not receive expected grants of $27,000 from United Way and $40,000 from Fulton County, according to Terence McPhaul, the organization’s executive director.

McPhaul said in December that if YouthPride did not raise $40,000 by Dec. 31 it would be forced to close in 60 days. The agency has only raised about half of that amount, McPhaul said on Jan. 12, but continues to operate and offer programming.

YouthPride board member Marlys Bergstrom told the GA Voice in an interview Jan. 17 that the board has not met in two years. She also said she did not know about the organization’s financial straits.

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Podcast: ‘A Home for the Holidays’

GA Voice editor Laura Douglas-Brown was featured on AM 1690 | The Voice of the Arts this week in a bi-weekly segment highlighting upcoming arts and entertainment events and LGBT community news featured in our upcoming issue.

In this week's segment, Laura discusses our cover story, an interview with the first family helped by Atlanta's new homeless youth initiative, highlights upcoming holiday events and gives a preview of "Odysseo," making its U.S. debut this week in Atlanta.

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Gay Ga. mega-church pastor reflects on year of coming out

Bishop Jim Swilley a year after coming out

Last year, Bishop Jim Swilley spoke from his heart to his congregation at Church in the Now in Conyers, Ga. He came out as a gay man, shocking many of his mega-church congregants and making national headlines.

The Oct. 13, 2010, sermon sparked a mass exodus from the church. Attendance dropped from approximately 2,500 on any given Sunday to only about 500. The church was forced into foreclosure on its massive property and is now renting one of the buildings back from the bank for worship.

The Georgia Voice spoke with Swilley last year about his coming out, and recently went back to follow up on how he, his family and his church are doing a year later. Despite the changes to his Conyers congregation, Swilley remains confident in his journey as a gay Christian and hopeful for his new project, Church in the Now Midtown.

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Memoir takes humorous look at women’s sexual fluidity

Elena Azzoni is a lesbian who finds herself sexually attracted to men

It’s hard to believe that such a funny book would stir up any controversy, but author Elena Azzoni has managed it with her new memoir, “A Year Straight: Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Lesbian Beauty Queen.”

Penned by a “Miss Lez” pageant winner who then got the hots for her male yoga teacher, the book is full of humor, observations about dating both genders, poetic moments and a conclusion that any reader will know isn’t really going to be the end of the story. The Georgia Voice spoke with Azzoni about her book, the controversy and sexual fluidity.

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‘Wicked’ author says goodbye to Oz

Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked

Gregory Maguire didn’t plan on falling in love with a woman — much less a green-skinned, allegedly wicked, witch from another world. But after almost two decades he has penned his goodbye to the girl in the black hat.

“I’ve had a wonderful 16-year relationship with the Wicked Witch of the West and I don’t think I’ll ever have a relationship like that with a woman again,” Maguire says with a chuckle.

“Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West,” published in 1995, was Maguire’s first novel revising L. Frank Baum’s classic “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” from the perspective of the Wicked Witch; it also became the hit musical “Wicked.”