Community briefs: ACLU names celebrities with a cause


The American Civil Liberties Union recently launched an ambassador initiative that involves recruiting celebrities to help promote its cases and causes.

With the project’s unveiling, the ACLU named six ambassadors and their areas of activism: Harry Belafonte, for his advocacy against mass incarceration; W. Kamau Bell for his work on racial justice; Lewis Black on voting rights; Melissa Etheridge on marijuana law reform; Jesse Tyler Ferguson on LGBT issues, including the freedom to marry; and Cyndi Lauper on LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS.

“These talented artists will bring civil liberties issues to audiences that we haven’t reached before,” said Anthony D. Romero, the executive director of the ACLU. “The voices of these new ambassadors — whether online, on TV, in film or in concerts or comedy clubs across the country — will create a powerful echo chamber that will amplify the ACLU’s work of protecting freedoms for all.”

POZ praises Wisconsin HIV/AIDS activist

POZ magazine, a leading national news source on HIV/AIDS issues, included Wisconsin activist Danielle Wasko in its fourth annual POZ 100.

The magazine encouraged people across the country to nominate HIV-positive people who are “unsung heroes” in the fight against AIDS. So, for the first time, the list, released in advance of World AIDS Day, was made up entirely of people living with the virus.

“The individuals on this year’s list may not consider themselves to be heroes, but we do,” said POZ editor-in-chief Oriol Gutierrez. “Each person — in his or her own unique way — is taking a brave stand against the virus. They are fighting back. From people who volunteer for AIDS service organizations or work as policy advocates to those who act as educators to promote prevention and treatment, this list represents an incredibly diverse spectrum of people living with HIV and making a difference on the front lines in their communities.”

Wasko has been positive since 2006. She has volunteered with Madison’s AIDS Network for four years. POZ, in praising Wasko, said, “Known for her good spirit, she is often out in the community doing outreach education on the importance of knowing your status and practicing safe sex. Danielle has become a role model and an advocate in the LGBT community throughout the state, especially in the transgender community. She is always willing to share her story, her struggles and her experiences living with HIV/AIDS to help others.”

Hollander named a 2013 Purpose Prize Fellow

Diverse & Resilient president and CEO Gary Hollander was named a 2013 Purpose Prize fellow for his work to eliminate the health disparities faced by LGBT people. The Purpose Prize is the nation’s only large-scale investment in social entrepreneurs 60 and older who are helping to solve the world’s toughest social problems.

“It is great to have the health, energy, and enthusiasm to help do the big things that need doing,” Hollander said. “The honor of becoming a Purpose Prize fellow encourages me to keep the course of my work now and after retirement in a couple of years.”

Awarded by, the Purpose Prize program is funded by the John Templeton Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies and Symetra. Encore is a nonprofit that promotes “encore” or second careers that are personally meaningful and serve the greater good.

In other organizational news …

• The Wisconsin LGBT Leadership Conference presented by Fair Wisconsin takes place Feb. 7-9 and registration is underway. The event coincides with the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund’s annual leadership awards and gala dinner in Milwaukee, which is scheduled for Feb. 8 and features Kate Bornstein as the keynote speaker. For more, go online to

• The annual community Thanksgiving takes place at 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 at Plymouth Church, 2717 E. Hampshire St., Milwaukee. Attendees are encouraged to bring a dish to pass. Hosts — including Fair Wisconsin, Black and White Men Together, Galano Club, Lesbian Alliance, Milwaukee MCC, Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, SAGE Milwaukee and Plymouth United — will provide turkey, ham and vegetarian lasagna. For more, go online to

• The GLBT History Museum in San Francisco spotlights the career of Vicki Marlane, a transgender woman and drag performer who got her start as a carny in the early 1950s, rose to fame as a female impersonator in the 1960s and, in her third act, became a beloved San Francisco community icon leading shows at Aunt Charlie’s Lounge in the Tenderloin until her death at age 76 in 2011. Vicki Marlane: I’m Your Lady features never-before-displayed video, artifacts and photos from the performer’s estate. The exhibit runs through Feb. 28. For more, go online to

• The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Local Officials group, meeting at the National League of Cities expo in Seattle, elected Keith McGlashan, the mayor of Shoreline, Wash., as its 2014 president. Others elected to the group’s board include LaWanna Mayfield of North Carolina, Andy Amoroso and Tom Green of Florida, Karen Kellen of Colorado, and Philip Kingston and Adam Medrano of Texas. For more, go online to

• WGIRLS Milwaukee hosts the fifth annual Hope for the Holidays benefit on Dec. 5 at Spin Milwaukee, 233 E. Chicago St. Proceeds help raise money to grant holiday wishes for youth at Pathfinders Southeastern Education Center. The benefit at 7 p.m. includes a silent auction, music, a raffle, food and beverages. Guests are asked to bring a clothing item or school supplies to donate. For more, go to

— L.N. and L.W.

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