Category Archives: Middle Georgia

RIP Dustyn Archer (1991-2016)

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Dustyn Archer. Photo by Jessica Whitley.

I’m breaking a long silence I’ve had on this blog to report that a colleague of mine (and former student at Macon State College, now Middle Georgia State University) has died.

From The Telegraph:

Dustyn James Archer
Macon, GA- Dustyn James Archer, 25, of Macon, Georgia, died October 12, 2016. He was born May 12, 1991 in Galveston, TX and lived in Macon, Georgia for the majority of his life.
He graduated from Middle Georgia State University with an associates degree in music. He had a passion and natural talent for music; loved to travel, experience and spread the love and healing of music. He was an advocate for equality, and helped many organizations attempting to achieve a better way of life for all. He was very loved and survived by his parents Randy Archer and Tracy Bridgeman-Archer and his siblings Kristyn, Michael, and Dana Archer. A memorial will be held at The Cox Capital Theatre, one of Dustyn’s most loved venues, at 382 2nd St in the historical downtown Macon, GA; on October 20, 2016 at 3:30 pm. All of Dustyn’s friends and family are invited. The family asks in lieu of flowers, for donations to be made to New Town Macon to continue the efforts of building the music and preserving the history of Macon.

I was made aware of Dustyn’s death by a member of his family, but waited to confirm this news.

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Photo by James GF Stair. Dustyn Archer, left, is holding the Georgia Equality logo.

If you remember, Dustyn was in the news earlier this year when an anti-HB 757 rally was held in Macon with the support of the Middle Georgia State GSA and Georgia Equality. He helped lead the rally and spoke to local news media.

Dustyn also helped in the Macon local effort to promote Bernie Sanders’ run for the Democratic nomination. Google searches show that he led the “Middle GA Students for Bernie 2016,” hosting voter registration drives and phone banks.

Sadly, things went south for Dustyn after the primary season was over. He had apparently developed an addiction to heroin and had entered rehab in Arizona.

I am greatly disturbed by Dustyn’s passing. He had his life ahead of him, and was heartfelt about progressive politics in Middle Georgia. I met him several times in college, and remember that he was an avid fan of music. Maybe I don’t remember too much about him from my time there, but I am glad that he was an activist on progressive issues in Macon.

To reiterate, Dustyn Archer’s memorial service will be held at the Cox Capitol Theatre, 382 2nd St in Macon at 3:30pm on Thursday, October 20, 2016.

Please stop by and support the Archer family, who are reeling from this tragedy.

PHOTOS: Macon Rally Against #HB757

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Photo by Jessica Whitley.

A rally protesting against HB 757 was held from 12pm to 6pm in downtown Macon on Thursday, February 25, 2016. It started at the Macon-Bibb Government Center (formerly known as City Hall), and later moved to the Macon-Bibb County Courthouse. It was organized by local activist Dustyn Archer, with the help of Georgia Equality/Georgia Unites Against Discrimination. Various organizations represented at the rally, including Georgia Equality, GLBAL, the Gay-Straight Alliance of Wesleyan College, and the Middle Georgia State University Gay-Straight Alliance (MGA-GSA). Nearly 200 people RSVP’ed to come to the event.

Local media varied in its coverage of the event. 13 WMAZ ran a story on it which included protesters at the event and a Catholic clerical supporter of the bill, and so did 41 NBC WMGT and the Telegraph. Meanwhile, according to Archer, 41 NBC got it wrong on the scope of the bill:

If anyone saw the story on the protest from WMGT (originally mistakenly said WGXA), they made it seem like the bill’s purpose is to make it so that pastors aren’t legally required to provide marriages to gay couples. The ORIGINAL bill was three basic points, of which the Pastor Protection Act was the main deal. THIS IS NO LONGER THE CASE.

Essentially, the bill, as amended by the senate, tacked on what amounts to a whole new bill that eliminates the government’s ability to prosecute or punish organizations, both public and private, that discriminate… It directly protects discriminatory businesses that discriminate by denying goods and services AND protects any speech conducted by these organizations as long as it’s based on the idea that marriage is between a man and a woman (meaning that hate speech is protected). Another big kicker is that the government must continue providing grants and other public funding in spite of any discriminatory language or practice. If these businesses wish to deny rights or discriminate in the name of religion, then they should not receive public funding support of any sort, as they are not in support many of those who pay their taxes, which is where public funding comes from.

If this were just about pastors not having to marry gay couples, there wouldn’t be businesses leaving the state, there wouldn’t be thousands of people against this bill — this is NO LONGER about religious freedom. This is about state-sanctioned fear and hate being laid down as the law of the land; this is about tying the government’s hands behind its back and blindfolding it against the criminal actions of those who wish to perpetuate hate.

Our Civil Rights are still under assault. Let us never forget that we must continue to fight for the rights of every man, woman, and child from the fears of a few zealots in the name of religion. If your religion brings the people of this world into discord and battle with one another, your religion belongs in the dark ages. The Jesus I knew wills for love to trump hate.

No Hate in Our State! Solidarity to all of you.

Of course, you can also send a letter opposing HB 757 to the Governor by Friday at midnight. Much thanks to Jessica Whitley from MGA GSA, Candace Neller-Harper and James GF Stair for allowing me to post the photos here with credit.

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HAPPENING NOW: Macon Rally Against #HB757

A rally is taking place today fro 12pm to 6pm at Macon City Hall against HB 757, the anti-LGBT religious privilege bill passed by the State Senate. From the event page:

Please invite your friends! Let’s get as many people involved as we can, this WILL make headlines if there is enough of us!
♥ Let’s show that love and solidarty triumphs over fear and separation ♥

FAQs
Q: Do we need, or are we encouraged, to bring anything?
A: Bottled water, snacks, rainbow flags, signs, hand drums, rainbow snacks, flag signs, hand snacks, bottled signs, bottled rainbow flag drums, acoustic guitar, megaphone, social justice, leftover holiday candy, tons of friends, and lots of love are always helpful! Solidarity by the bucketful.

Q: Is there a “Best Time” to show up?
A: We’ve made the event last this long so that we can have diffeent peak times, allowing those with busy schedules time to arrive, even multiple times throughout the day. Check the schedule below… we are looking toward expecting peak times of 2pm and 5pm.

=========!*Cosmic Itenerary of Events*!========

12p Welcoming ceremony, initial gathering, and solidarity meetup
1p March to the Bibb County Courthouse, where a Cold Reading will expose the separatist nature of the bill as intended
2p We return to City Hall where we have a public discussion on how we can continue to move this and other issues forward
2.5 Break for food and drinks, this time to be also used to network!
3p Parting and ReWelcoming Ceremony/Youth Appreciation Meetup
4p Next Generation March to the Bibb County Courthouse

===============================================
http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/22/politics/georgia-religious-freedom-bill/

“Georgia Senate passes religious freedom bill!”

A few days ago, the Georgia Senate passed House Bill 757, a bill which gives businesses and government-funded organizations the right to deny services to individuals based on sexual orientation in the name of religious freedom. The bill also forces the government to protect the continued award of public funds regardless of, well, pretty much anything what-so-ever done against an individual who even construes that marriage could be more than between a man and a woman.

Not only is this an egregious attack on the rights of the individual citizen , it also dissuades businesses from setting up shop in Georgia due to an anxiety regarding a persistently discriminatory antiquated view of morality that continues to infect many in the state. In fact, WE HAVE ALREADY HAD A BUSINESS LEAVE before the State Senate even got their chance to pass the bill!
:::
http://www.advocate.com/business/2016/2/21/time-relocate-company-fleeing-georgia-after-passage-antigay-bill
:::

As Georgians in support of individual freedom, we lend our voices to those in opposition to this bill and demand that our representatives do away with this and any bill whose language denies the right of any individual to participate in government and private industry for religious reasons.

Religion is already protected under the first amendment; it does not provide exemptions to providing services or products for religious reasons. This is absurd discrimination that does not belong in 2016. That is why we will use the same amendment to demand that our government not impose more shackles on the actions of the individual.

Lend us your time and your voice on February 25 in front of City Hall, where we will protest and raise our voices in opposition to the bill and for the rights of our brothers and sisters in our community for which we stand in solidarity.

Big thanks to Liv Kledzik-Williams for her insight:
“[Whether you are] attending or not, everyone PLEASE take five minutes to call Gov. Deal’s office and tell his staffer you oppose this bill and why; post on social media and be sure to hashtag #NathanDeal along with anyone else who can aid in this (anything published that tags them WILL be pulled and noted by their staffers), and/or submit letters to the editor of your local paper. Public pressure, attention, and scrutiny are crucial, and grassroots/constituent driven efforts can make a huge difference because they will show we care about this.
*CALL Nathan Deal’s Atlanta office. Phone: 404-656-1776
*Submit LTE, word limit 250. (shorter the better)
http://www.macon.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/submit-letter/

Find your district numbers and legislators using your street address athttp://openstates.org/find_your_legislator/

Representative District Map Overlay: Upper for Senate, Lower for House
http://openstates.org/ga/

GA House of Representatives
http://www.house.ga.gov/Representatives/en-US/HouseMembersList.aspx

GA Senators http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/SenateMembersList.aspx

Please write to, call, e-mail, tweet, tag, and otherwise contact your representatives and Governor Nathan Deal and implore them to deny the passage of this discrimination bill, and join us on Thursday to spread the word

Brutal Murder-Homicide Claims Life of Macon Man

My Facebook friends in Macon and Warner Robins are horrified by the brutal murder of Randall Kinard, an employee of Azul Salon and Spa in Macon.

From the Telegraph in Macon:

The killer’s handwritten plans were nothing short of meticulous and chilling.

Scripted revenge is how one investigator described the murder-suicide plot that played out midday Wednesday in a deadly trail that stretched from north Macon to Houston County.

Authorities say that shortly before noon that day a 41-year-old man named Christopher Michael Dukes set in motion a scheme to kill his former gay lover’s new boyfriend to get back at the ex.

Dukes apparently forced the new beau, Randall Kinard, into a Jeep at the Arkwright Road salon where Kinard worked and headed south on Interstate 75 toward Warner Robins.

That’s where Dukes and his ex-lover, Ashley Battle, 33, had lived in a house on Heritage Drive, off Dunbar Road.

On the way, Dukes shot Kinard once in the back with a .22-caliber pistol, investigators said, likely killing him before they reached the vacant house where Dukes set nearly a dozen separate fires. Then he committed suicide with a .380-caliber handgun.

Rescuers sent to a fire at the house at 513 Heritage Drive found Dukes and Kinard, 33, dead. The house, a 2,100-square-foot, bluish gray two-story that Dukes and Battle had shared since 2006 until they split up earlier this year, is less than two miles southwest of Middle Georgia Regional Airport.

Kinard, of Macon, was found dead on the first floor of the house. Dukes’ body was upstairs. He had been living in a Warner Robins apartment after his breakup with Battle. Friends said Dukes had been an apartment complex manager but lately had been unemployed.

Kinard was best known in the local LGBT community as a bartender at the now-former Club Synergy in downtown Macon. His last Facebook profile picture is of himself and his surviving boyfriend. He was 33 years old at the time of his murder. Hit the link for more.

via Cop: Killer’s handwritten plan in Houston County murder-suicide ‘tragic, disturbing’ | Houston & Peach | Macon.com.

EVENT: There is a candlelight vigil for Kinard scheduled for Sunday, 8:00 pm at Coleman Hill in Macon:

This is a time to remember, support, and love one another as we gather together to remember the life of Randall Kinard.

Please bring candles and your good memories. We will have candles there if you don’t have any.

We are working on trying to get a sound system if anyone wants to share a good memory that they have about Randall.

Mainly we want to gather to remember him and his love for us and to be there for others that are suffering to let them know they are not alone.

Please share this event.

Kinard’s last YouTube video was posted from Atlanta Pride in October 2014:

MACON EVENT: Pride Night w/ DJ Bruce Wonder at The Mill

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Come celebrate our very first Pride Night for the LGBTQ community and anyone looking to have a GREAT time! Featuring the amazing and talented DJ Bruce Wonder at The Mill Macon! Be ready for a night filled with “Wonder”, DJ Bruce Wonder!
Ladies with paid cover get 3-4-1 drinks from 9 pm til 11 pm!
See ya at The Mill!

  • Event: Pride Night w/ DJ Bruce Wonder
  • Location: The Mill Macon, 425 Cherry St, Macon, Georgia 31201
  • Date: Saturday June 13, 9:00pm

via Pride Night w/ DJ Bruce Wonder at The Mill.