2015 in Review: A year in the life of LGBT SA

2015 in Review - Newsmakers: Robert Rehm, drama teacher, artist and Cornyation mainstay died on January 4. Trans teen Jayden Blake Castillo sought recognition as a boy at Memorial High School. Attorney Rosie Gonzalez was hired to be City Attorney of Von Ormy, Texas. Drag performer Torrance Cheeves, aka Mrs. Whoochie, was murdered in his home in August. Trans dad Dino Villarreal fought for visitation rights for the two boys he helped raise before he and their mother split up.

A select month-by-month recap of stories about our community reported here and elsewhere in 2015.

JANUARY

Cornyation’s Robert Rehm dies
There is no adequate way to document the contributions that Robert Rehm made to the San Antonio theater community, his former students at Jefferson High School’s Fine Arts Magnet Academy, and Cornyation, where he was a skit designer since the mid ’80s. Except perhaps the scholarship, established in his name, that supports the college education of theater-arts students from San Antonio. Rehm passed away January 4.

Bexar Republicans strike down anti-LGBT resolution
The executive committee of the Bexar County Republican Party on January 8 voted down a resolution that sought the “repeal of our local governments’ pro-homosexual policies.”

S.A. transgender dad seeks visitation rights
A San Antonio transgender man, who helped raise two boys while in a committed relationship with their mother, sought a ruling from the Fourth Court of Appeals that would allow him to see the kids on a regular basis.

Mayor Taylor says political correctness is ‘frustrating’
In an interview published this week in the San Antonio Current, Mayor Ivy R. Taylor tells interviewer Jade Esteban Estrada that she finds political correctness “frustrating.”

FEBRUARY

Ex-stripper throws his hat into S.A. mayoral contest
A former male stripper, Pogo Mochello Allen-Reese, threw his hat into the mayoral race. The candidate formerly worked as an exotic dancer in Louisiana after serving in the Army during the Persian Gulf War. Allen-Reese’s web page proclaimed that he is now a “Slave of Jesus.”

Abbott endorses anti-LGBT Previtera in District 123 race
Governor Greg Abbott rolled into San Antonio on February 11 to offer his endorsement of Nunzio Previtera, the Republican anti-LGBT candidate who’s running against Democrat Diego Bernal in the race for Texas House District 123.

Activist’s birthday fundraiser marks 5th year
Ana Alicia Perez says she’s often asked what possessed her to turn her annual birthday party into a fundraiser. Her response: “I don’t want want or need anything, so donate instead.”

S.A. trans student seeks acceptance at Memorial High
A transgender student at Memorial High School on San Antonio’s Southwest Side stood up to school officials on February 25 to demand that his gender identity be acknowledged.

MARCH

Three S.A. writers elected to Texas Institute of Letters
Three San Antonio writers, Gregg Barrios, Nan Cuba and William Jack Sibley, have been elected to the prestigious Texas Institute of Letters, an Austin-based non-profit that promotes Texas literature and recognizes literary achievements by Texas authors.

Taylor and SA corporations AWOL on marriage equality briefs to SCOTUS
San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor and the city’s business community are not among those who signed amicus briefs asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down state laws that make same-sex marriage illegal.

Rosie Gonzalez hired as Von Ormy city attorney
San Antonio lawyer and activist Rosie Gonzalez was hired as city attorney for Von Ormy, Texas, a small municipality located about 15 miles southwest of downtown San Antonio on IH 35.

SAISD offers plus-one insurance for employees with domestic partners
The San Antonio Independent School District sent a letter to its employees announcing it is expanding its group health benefits to include plus-one coverage which permits SAISD employees in same-sex relationships to insure their partners or spouses without having to qualify their relationship as a legal marriage or domestic partnership thus eliminating any conflict with state law which forbids same-sex unions.

APRIL

Robert Pitman invested as federal judge for SA
U.S. Attorney Robert Lee Pitman was formally invested as the federal judge for the Western District of Texas in San Antonio on April 17. He is the state’s first openly gay judge.

It’s the ‘Ultima Fiesta’ for SAAF’s Webb Party
The San Antonio AIDS Foundation’s 22nd annual Webb Party on April 17 will be the last to be held during Fiesta San Antonio. After 10 years as an official Fiesta celebration, the event is moving to October next year and will transition into a Halloween party.

Ivy Taylor booed over NDO question at mayoral debate
Interim Mayor Ivy Taylor was booed during an April 14 mayoral candidate forum sponsored by the Rivard Report when she tried to defend her comment that the nondiscrimination ordinance was a political stunt.

LGBT mayoral candidate forum cancelled
A mayoral candidate forum scheduled for April 28 that was to have dealt with LGBT issues was cancelled due to a lack of participation from a majority of the candidates.

MAY

Southwest H.S. allows lesbian student to wear tuxedo to prom
The parents of a lesbian student, with help from a representative from the San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce, were able to convince the principal of Southwest High School to change the school’s prom dress code so the student could attend the event wearing a tuxedo.

SA attorney files ethics complaint against Ivy Taylor
A local attorney has filed an ethics complaint against Mayor Ivy R. Taylor for her failure to report income she received from her husband’s bail bond business on financial statements she filed with the city.

With budget vote, mayor’s NDO proposal passes
Mayor Ivy R. Taylor’s proposal to create a Department of Diversity and Inclusion and hire a human relations liaison to run it became reality on May 14 when the City Council approved the measure as part of the city budget.

Market Square to host ‘Family Pride’ event
The City of San Antonio’s Department of Culture and Creative Development and the Parks and Recreation Department said they would sponsor the first annual SA Family Pride Fair on Saturday, June 6 at Historic Market Square.

JUNE

SA gay couple featured in marriage equality campaign
An article in the San Antonio Current reports that San Antonio couple Brad Veloz and Mike Rodríguez are featured in a new Freedom to Marry television ad that’s part of a “Familia es Familia” campaign targeting the Latino community.

Pride Center partners with local business to simplify coming out
Kori Ashton, founder of T-shirt company yepThreads.com, is looking to eliminate the stigma of coming out one t-shirt at a time.

Doggett voices concern for LGBT immigrants in detention centers
U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (TX-35) voiced his concern about the sexual abuse of LGBT immigrants who are in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

SA church opens doors to marry all
There was joy and laughter in the sanctuary of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd on June 26 as scores of LGBT congregants and their allies celebrated the Supreme Court decision that brought marriage equality to the nation that day.

JULY

Vice squad arrests three in raid at Uptown Studio
The evening was billed as a Rainbow Extravaganza, a “gay pride mini vogue ball” held at the Uptown Studio on July 3. However, at around 2:30 a.m., as the event was winding down, the party was raided by police and vice squad who arrested three individuals for selling liquor without a permit and cited the building’s owners for various code infractions.

Gay-owned Vegeria opens Southside location
The owners of Vegeria, the acclaimed vegan restaurant on Broadway near Loop 410, opened a new Southside location called Viva Vegeria! and started a crowd funding campaign to help finance the endeavor.

When a longtime partner dies
A San Antonio man mourned the death of his loving companion of 25 years while simultaneously seeking the legal recognition needed to plan the burial.

SA director premiers film on same-sex domestic violence
“Unimaginable,” a new film by local writer-director Cedric Thomas Smith, explores the topic of domestic violence in a gay relationship. It had it’s premier on July 31 at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts as part of the SAFILM Festival.

AUGUST

Council members express concern over SAAF leadership
Three members of the City Council expressed concern over recent management changes at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation during a discussion last Thursday about the distribution of funds to provide housing for homeless people with HIV.

Zertuche leaves Ballet SA in major shakeup
There was a major shakeup at Ballet San Antonio with both executive director Courtney Mauro Barker and artistic director Gabriel Zertuche ending their positions.

LGBT community leaders on panel to interview police chief candidates
Three activists from the LGBT and allied community were chosen to be a part of a panel of local citizens who are providing input on the selection of San Antonio’s new police chief.

City hires diversity and inclusion officer
City of San Antonio hired Kiran Bains to be the city’s diversity and inclusion officer who will administer and manage the activities of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

SEPTEMBER

Christus Health opens benefits to employees in same-sex marriages
The Christus Health system announced it will now offer employee benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married.

How LGBT-friendly was the visiting Namibian president?
Mayor Ivy R. Taylor welcomed Namibian President Dr. Hage Geingob to San Antonio for a two-day visit that included a welcoming ceremony at the airport, a visit to a City Council meeting, a photo op at the Alamo, a business breakfast at the Plaza Club and a speech at the University of the Incarnate Word to the World Affairs Council of San Antonio.

A painful separation as SAAF moves patients to nursing homes
A plan to move long-term patients at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation to nursing homes took a toll on the relationship of two residents who have been roommates and companions for the last 16 years.

‘Queer Brown Voices’ speak out at Esperanza Center
In Queer Brown Voices: Personal Narratives of Latina/o LGBT Activism, the new anthology from the University of Texas Press, fourteen writers from around the country document the often forgotten contributions of LGBT Latina/o activists in the LGBT movement.

OCTOBER

The Saint Showbar closes
After 23 years of drag shows, dance parties and happy hours, the Saint Showbar on Lexington Avenue announced it was closing for good on Saturday, October 3.

Julian Castro addresses national gathering of HRC leadership
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro addressed a conference of the Human Rights Campaign board of directors, the HRC Foundation board of directors and the HRC board of governors at a luncheon on October 2 at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.

PrEP clinic planned for downtown SA
A professor from the University of Texas at San Antonio is working on opening a clinic downtown which will provide individuals with information about and access to PrEP, an FDA approved HIV prevention medication.

SA ally plans his version of Hands Across America for LGBT equality
A San Antonio ally says he’s getting tired of anti-LGBT activists getting so much attention in the press and on social media. In order to put out a more positive message, he plans to revive an idea from the 1980’s and stage a version of Hands Across America for LGBT equality.

NOVEMBER

SA attorney offers free help with trans name and gender marker changes
San Antonio attorney Justin P. Nichols announced he will start offering free legal assistance with name and gender marker changes for transgender people in Bexar County.

RGV group launches survey of LGBT immigrants
An LGBT organization in the Rio Grande Valley is conducting what may be the first survey aimed at LGBT immigrants.

No perfect scores for SA companies on HRC Corporate Equality Index
The Human Rights Campaign released their 2016 Corporate Equality Index. The good news is that of 48 companies ranked in Texas, 10 got perfect scores. The bad news is none of those companies are in San Antonio.

SA sees slight drop in HIV infections
Recent statistics from the Texas Department of State Health Services show a slight drop in HIV infections in Bexar County.

DECEMBER

Transgender student welcomed at Episcopal school
A longtime male student at St. Luke’s Episcopal School in Alamo Heights returned to classes after the Thanksgiving holiday as a girl. The school’s headmaster Thomas McLaughlin told parents, “After much prayer, research and thorough consideration, we have concluded that St. Luke’s will reaffirm our intentional commitment to inclusivity.”

SA television stations sponsor online LGBT roundtable
Two local television stations convened an online roundtable to discuss “topics facing the LGBT community.” WOAI-TV and KABB-TV sponsored A Discussion: Equality in America on December 8.

Man charged in death of SA drag performer
San Antonio police have charged Johnathan Terrell Henderson-Houston in the murder of local drag performer Torrance Cheeves. Cheeves, who performed under the stage name of Mrs. Whoochie, was found dead at his home on the East Side on August 26.

San Antonio scores 90 on HRC’s Municipal Equality Index
Last year San Antonio had a score of 76, that score went up to 90 this year. In 2013, when Julian Castro was mayor, the city had a score of 86.

 

2015 in Review: Top ten local news stories

2015 in Review: Honorable and Dishonorable Mentions

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