Archive for April, 2010

Photoshoot by CoverUp for favoritehunks.blogspot.com

Posted in The Fierceness on April 27, 2010 by jackmax2

Read the original article HERE.

Jack Mackenroth by CoverUp

Readers of FH know that Jack Mackenroth, best known to some for his time on Project Runway is one of my favorite men and I have posted about Jack several times in the past. I want to call myself a fan, but at the same time the word ‘fan’ almost diminishes the immense respect and admiration I have for Jack. Jack’s work and activism on behalf of HIV is not just speeches and fundraising. Jack lives a life so full, that it is an inspiration in itself, and far more powerful a statement than any speech that could be made.

In fact, when I contacted Jack about this post he was just about to jump on a plane to Florida for swim training camp, but in between everything he was doing still took the time to help me with everything I needed.

I first saw this series of shots by photographer CoverUp on Jack’s facebook fan page. I encourage you all to go there now and ‘like’ Jack is looking to get 10,000 by his birthday this week and I know the FH readers can help him out. You can find his fb page HERE:

Jack says about his work with CoverUp:

I liked doing this shoot because it was more artistic and moody that my usual shoots. It was about capturing a moment or a subtle emotion. I was unshaven and my hair was messy so the images have a grittier more natural feel. Usually everything is uberslick and photoshopped which I also like but this had a different vibe. His direction was minimal but definitive and he really wanted to experiment with light and shadow.

It was exactly the natural feel to these shots that drew me to them. As a model Jack has a huge portfolio of great shots, but there was something special about this shoot that drew me in. Although obviously shot with intent, there was still something almost voyeuristic about them, like you were capturing Jack in a quiet moment not meant for the camera.

Much of New York Photographer CoverUp’s work has that feel. You can check out more of his work at his Flickr page HERE: His Expressions series is especially emotion filled.

As for other news in Jack’s professional life, he just finished another shoot and I has 3 more planned next month. Jack is currently training for the US Swimming Masters Nationals in Atlanta and the Gay Games in Cologne this summer.

Jack filmed a pilot for a fashion game show called “Who Wore it Best” on the Oxygen network and still awaiting word of a pick-up. Jack is also producing a reality show about New York drag queens and is still designing since his appearance on Project Runway.

Jack continues to travel around the country and speak about fighting the stigma of HIV. For more information please visit Jack’s official Site HERE: and follow him on Twitter HERE:





METRO WEEKLY Magazine Article.

Posted in The Fierceness on April 15, 2010 by jackmax2

Positively Powerful

Project Runway’s Jack Mackenroth challenges HIV stigma with a skyrocketing career and abundant charisma

by Will O’Bryan
Published on April 15, 2010, 3:16am
Read the original article HERE.
Whitman-Walker Clinic’s black-tie spring gala, “Masquerade on the Mall,” with the breathtaking backdrop of the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, is bound to be one of the season’s social highlights. With honors for POZ magazine and Miss America 2010 Caressa Cameron, the glamour shouldn’t outshine the goal, reminding attendees that night’s purpose is to raise money for the clinic in its local fight against HIV and AIDS.

Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth
(Photo by Todd Franson)

Even the gala’s emcee will serve to keep HIV in the minds of the glittering gathered — albeit not with a frown, but with flair. Maybe you caught Jack Mackenroth during his season on Project Runway, cut short by an infection requiring a brief hospital stay. Had he remained on the show, he might be as well known as the season’s winner, his friend Christian Siriano.

“I’m not so arrogant to say, ‘Yeah! I totally would’ve won,’” Mackenroth says of his shot on the reality show of competing fashion designers. “I think I definitely had a run at the final three. But Christian was the perfect winner. He’s obviously the most successful designer in Project Runway history. Plus, he’s hilarious and adorable.”

These days, Mackenroth is doing just fine, propelled into new opportunities by his Project Runway stint. He joined Robert Breining’s radio show, “POZIAM,” and his YouTube parody of Flashdance has gotten nearly 100,000 hits.

Most importantly, he has partnered with Merck & Co., manufacturer of such HIV medications as Isentress and Crixivan, with whom he’s launched the HIV-education program Living Positive by Design. Its main goal is to counter stigma against HIV.

“I’m not immune to stigma,” says Mackenroth, who has been HIV-positive for half of his 40 years. “I battle the same things other people deal with, whether they’re out about it or not. There’s always issues with dating, disclosing…. Fortunately, I’m open. I don’t know if I can think of an instance where I can pinpoint the fact that someone has flat-out said, ‘I will not be involved with you because you are HIV-positive.’ I’m sure it’s happened.”

Mackenroth is fighting that stigma with style and a smile. Although he wants to be sure you know he is someone living with HIV, it’s not the conventional portrait. Mackenroth has boundless energy, exuberance and joie de vivre. Indeed, during an afternoon interview at the Mellon Auditorium, he can’t resist a couple spins on the ballroom floor, already eager for the masquerade gala to begin.

“I’m designing my mask,” he says. “And I’m very approachable. So if you’re a fan, come talk to me, hang out and take pictures.”

He adds with a laugh and his priceless smile, “You can Tweet about me.”

METRO WEEKLY: Your bio tempts me to divide you into three parts: swimming, fashion and activism. I know the least about the swimming.

JACK MACKENROTH: I started swimming competitively when I was 6. I come from a swimming family — brother, sister, we all swam. I started taking it seriously when I was about 12. When I moved to New York, I started swimming with Team New York Aquatics, which is the gay masters-level team there. I recently went to the Out Games in Copenhagen and I won eight medals. I’m training right now for the Gay Games, this July and August in Cologne, Germany. I’m a sprinter now, because I’m too old to do anything else. [Laughs.] I’m a sprint breaststroker and sprint freestyler.

MW: How will you celebrate turning 41 this month?

MACKENROTH: I’m not doing anything. I’ll be swimming at swim camp in Florida. You know, 41 is like a pfft birthday anyway. [Laughs.] I’m going back! That’s what I’m doing for my 41st: I’m turning 30.

MW: What’s your regimen?

MACKENROTH: I swim probably five or six times a week, hour-and-a-half long practices with a team and a coach. I lift weights pretty much every day.

I’m actually too big for swimming right now. If I’m going into a competition, I’ll rest up and stop lifting weights. I’m six-foot and weigh about 200 pounds, so I need to lose weight for competition. I try to eat healthy, but I’m not a freak about what I eat.

MW: Before I move to fashion, I need to put you on the spot and ask, if it were up to you, where would you have put the 2014 Gay Games? Boston, Cleveland or Washington?

Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth
(Photo by Todd Franson)

MACKENROTH: Ooh, D.C! [Laughs.]

MW: Okay, moving on. You started sewing in high school?

MACKENROTH: I taught myself to sew on my grandmother’s sewing machine when I was 13. I just started making clothes. It was total trial and error. Being kind of alternative, I would take my old clothes that my mom bought me and then retool them. I’d come down in some hideous outfit, and she’d be like, “Oh, my God.” We didn’t have a lot of money, so she’d get really irritated that I would take stuff apart and put it back together. But that was really the impetus for my whole design career.

I went to this really conservative, preppy school, the high school Bill Gates went to: Lakeside School. They all thought I was a freak. I had my Army jacket with “Depeche Mode” and “The Cure” written across the back. I have a driver’s license photo where my hair’s blond on top and black underneath. I think I had every haircut there was.

By the time I got to college, I was better at design. I always did a lot of visual arts. But I went to Berkeley to become a doctor. My dad’s a doctor, my mom’s a nurse. I was pre-med for two years and then I realized that actually being an artist or being a designer was a career. I had thought it was a hobby.

When I realized that, I called my mom. I came out when I was 18 in my freshman year. I called her in my sophomore year and said, “Also, I’m not going to be a doctor.” [Laughs.]

When I told her I was gay, she thought it was shocking — which I thought was hilarious. She said, “Come to think of it, you did like to wear my nightgowns when you were 5.” I was like, hello. I kind of had an all-access card after that. She was dealing with that, so when I told her any other important news, she was like, “Whatever.” Once we were over the big hurdle, the rest was okay.

So that’s kind of where it all started. Then I took a lot of art classes. I double-majored in fine arts and sociology. Right after I graduated from Berkeley, in ’91, I went to Parsons [The New School for Design] in New York and that was that. I piled all my stuff on top of a car and drove cross-country.

MW: How often do you make it back to Seattle?

MACKENROTH: A couple times a year. All my family’s still there. I left when I was 18 and I never really went back. There are a few friends still there, but most of them are gone. But my brother and sister are really cool. I’m glad [my mother] lives 3,000 miles away from me — I love her to death — because when I go home to Seattle she treats me like I’m in sixth grade again.

MW: How did Project Runway fit into your career in New York?

MACKENROTH: I was a fashion designer for 16 years before I went on the show — beyond making crazy costumes for myself. At the time I went onto Project Runway I was design director at this company called Weatherproof. I sat at a desk and had a very good job and it was fairly predictable.

Then Project Runway came along. I’ve always approached life like, “Oh, this might be a really cool adventure. Who knows what’s going to happen?” When it did happen, and subsequently all these other opportunities happened, I was like, “Oh, this might by fun,” not, “Oh, I want to be the next Ryan Seacrest and have all my own shows!”

MW: Post-Project, what are you doing with your career?

MACKENROTH: I’m doing so many things professionally. Project Runway really changed my life 180 degrees. I still do design, but I do it for myself, on a commission basis. But I do so many other things. I do Living Positive by Design with Merck. I just filmed a pilot for — I don’t know how much I can say about it — but it’s a fashion game show where I’m a judge. I’m producing another television show called The Queens of Drag, which is basically like a Real Housewives setup, but it’s all the top drag queens in New York City.

The thing that’s interesting about reality TV is it’s a platform. It’s exposure. That’s really all it is. Beyond that, it’s what you make of it. It’s really hard work. People have this misconception that you go on TV, you become “famous,” people see you, and then your life’s cush. While that’s kind of true, that lasts for about three months. Then the next show is on, the next season is on, and people forget who you are and you really have to work.

MW: So maybe being the next Ryan Seacrest would be an ambition? Or would you prefer to open the House of Mackenroth fashions?

MACKENROTH: That’s an ambition. It’s both. All of the above. The issue with fashion design, which I think a lot of people don’t realize is — and Christian Siriano, the winner of my season, is a good example of this — doing it fulltime under your namesake label is all-consuming. I couldn’t do any of the other projects I do. He actually has a show that follows his life. I’m good friends with him, but getting hold of him — other than dropping in on him — he’s like, “I have no friends, I work all the time.”

For me, it’s to have a much fuller, less-crazy life. Doing what I do right now is where I want to be. I’m a designer. I paint. I throw pottery. I’m working on a book, a memoir. I do a radio show, “POZIAM,” on Sunday nights.

MW: Are you happy to have gotten out from behind that desk?

MACKENROTH: Totally. I mean, at that point I was happy to pay my mortgage. Then I was like, “Oh, I get to have fun and pay my mortgage?” Great. Handled. It’s good.

MW: Tell me, in your own words, about Living Positive by Design.

MACKENROTH: Living Positive by Design is a partnership with Merck. Basically, it’s an HIV-education campaign on a national level.

I’d done a story for The Advocate about my experience on Project Runway. They asked me about being open as an HIV-positive person on the show, and I said it gave me a lot of opportunities and that I really wanted to do more work in that arena. Someone from Merck read the article and we started formulating the whole program around me.

Our No. 1 goal is really about fighting the stigma of HIV and having honest conversations about that, being visible. We encourage people living with HIV to do that as much as they feel comfortable, and to have a positive outlook on life and manage their illness through treatment and open conversations with their doctors.

Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth
(Photo by Todd Franson)

Beyond that, it’s speaking to HIV-positive people about getting on the treatment that works for them, with minimized side-effects so they stay on their meds. It’s kind of how I live successfully and manage my illness, partnering early on with a doctor, getting on the treatment that was right for me early on — when there weren’t very many treatments. Figuring out what worked best for me, monitoring my health status, having a very open discourse with my physician — that’s really what we advocate. I’ve done well, so hopefully I’m kind of a role model of what is possible. I’m not Everyman’s HIV: “This is what can happen if you follow these rules!” But I am one example of someone living with HIV and managing my health care well.

The ultimate goal for people living with HIV is to have your viral load be undetectable, so we really stress that. I think that for people living in the HIV community, that seems like common sense. But for a lot of people, it’s not. I’m always surprised by the e-mails and the Facebook messages that I get where people ask these questions that should be common knowledge, but aren’t. So there’s a real need for programs like Living Positive by Design to keep the dialogue going.

All the stuff that I do works toward me being visible, because I want people to listen to what I have to say. If you think of whatever level of “celebrity” I have, if you think of people who are known nationally for being open about their HIV status — Magic Johnson, Greg Louganis, Ongina, that’s it — it’s an important message: There are people doing things you aspire to do living with HIV.

MW: Do you wish you’d had the sort of role model you’ve become at the time you learned you were HIV-positive?

MACKENROTH: Oh, yeah. Which is why I’m so happy to do it now. I wish more people would. I mean, come on. There’s a ton of people that are well known that could make a huge difference, but don’t.

I do remember the moment I found out about Magic Johnson. I do remember the Greg Louganis moment. But a lot of the campaigns then, which were very needed, were about prevention and being safe and getting tested. I don’t think there was anyone who really spoke to people already living with HIV.

Greg and Jack
Greg and Jack
(Photo by Courtesy of Jack Mackenroth)

I remember in the early ’90s it wasn’t surprising to find out someone was sick, and then three weeks later they’d be dead. In ’96, my boyfriend [Greg Leo Beutler] of a year and a half got really sick instantly and died in a week and a half. It was really traumatizing. It’s weird and awful to say, but when you’re around people who are sick and dying, it normalizes it in this really gross way that should never happen. When you deal with your mortality on a daily basis, it kind of changes the way you think — but it doesn’t make it any more pleasant. It wasn’t uncommon to be like, “Oh, I went to 10 funerals this year.” The human brain has this amazing capacity to learn coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, when you normalize something as gruesome as young people dying, it has a permanent effect on you. But you have to find a way to cope, or your brain will explode.

MW: Coming through that to today, HIV-positive for 20 years, you seem very optimistic.

MACKENROTH: Surprisingly, I am. [Laughs.] The whole “jaded New Yorker” thing’s not really true — just veneer. I think it’s because I come from humble beginnings. My mom did a really great job, but the circumstances weren’t great. I’ve managed to do some really amazing, fun, crazy, extraordinary things, so I guess I am pretty optimistic.

MW: Is that your nature? Have you always been this sort of sunny, self-confident guy?

MACKENROTH: No, not at all. Totally newly acquired. I was always effeminate — not this huge butch vision in front of you. [Laughs.] I was really tortured in high school. I just never felt like a part of any group. I had horrible self-esteem until college, and then it started cultivating. I had a group of friends like Free to Be… You & Me. Exploring design and art really helped me. I think I came into my own around 30. It took me awhile. And moving to New York, it’s like you’re thrown to the wolves. Living in Chelsea, it’s like survival of the fittest. I did really care a lot about what other people thought. Then I just sort of got over it.

MW: Before I let you go, I want to ask about a letter I saw posted on your Living Positive by Design site. The writer had such a hard time dealing with learning he was positive, but took so much inspiration from you. Have you ever done anything as gratifying as this project must be?

Jack Mackenroth
Jack Mackenroth
(Photo by Todd Franson)

MACKENROTH: Honestly, no. Never in my life have I had an experience like I’ve had with Living Positive by Design, where I know I change people’s lives. Making clothes is pretty and it’s fun. Going to fun events and meeting celebrities or whatever, it’s fun. It is what it is. But that e-mail is one of many that I’ve gotten, like people saying they were going to kill themselves when they found out they were HIV-positive, but then they read an article I was in or stumbled across my website, and changed their mind. How do you measure that success? It’s amazing.

Whitman-Walker Clinic’s 17th Annual Spring Gala, “Masquerade on the Mall,” is Friday, April 23, from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, 1301 Constitution Ave. NW. Tickets are $350 to $1,000, available by calling 202-797-3543 or visiting wwc.org/gala2010.

For more about Jack Mackenroth and Living Positive by Design, visit LivingPositiveByDesign.com and jackmackenroth.com.

SHERRY VINE!!!!! PEPPERMINT!! TELEPHONE Lady Gaga parody

Posted in The Fierceness on April 12, 2010 by jackmax2

In a fabulous follow up to her parody of Bad Romance which currently has over 4 MILLION views on youtube, the hi-hi-hilarious Sherry Vine teams up with Peppermint for this kick ass version of Telephone entitled “Make me Moan.”

Boyfriends Chase and Jordan’s prom update and photos.

Posted in The Fierceness on April 9, 2010 by jackmax2

Prom was fab!!! A gay time was had by all!!

I got this email from Leesa about her boys prom:

The boys had a great time last night and no one was mean or disrespected with them at all!!!  I will write you an update to go with these prom pictures, if you want.  I think it is important to put out there that even with everything that the community said, when it came right down to, everyone was respectful and not mean at all.  I am so proud of the way the community treated my boys!!!  See the adorable photos below. It just reminds me how much my prom sucked. I hope they had a blast.
This story has a fairly happy ending but I just want to mention that I did get some REALLY disturbing comments from “christians” who said we were all going to burn in hell. They are probably right except for I don’t believe in hell. Regardless–at least I will be tan. I didn’t post those comments because these are just kids and I didn’t think it was appropriate. Plus its always ironic that the worst hate speech comes from the bible thumpers.

UNFORTUNATE UPDATE:

Happily Ever After Prom, We Shall See!!

As many of you know, recently I had to contact the Starmount High School Principal, when she informed my son’s boyfriend, Chase, that he could not bring a same-sex date (Jordan) to his Senior Prom.  The school revised their policy shortly thereafter and made the decision to allow Jordan to attend Chase’s senior Prom as his date.
We agreed to do an interview with Fox8 news after they contacted us wanting to do a story about this, the reason we agreed was to offer hope to other GLBT teens who may find themselves in the same situation at their school.
Since that story aired, I have felt an extreme amount of disappointment in my fellow man and North Carolina neighbors.  Some of the comments that we have received about two gay boys attending the senior prom have been hateful, disheartening, and some have even been scary.
They have threatened to hold a separate prom so that their “straight students” aren’t exposed to Jordan and Chase’s gayness.  They have raised “holy” hell, preaching nonstop about the abomination of homosexuality and I have been told repeatedly, that not only, both boys, but myself included are going to hell.
Here are a few of my favorite hater comments:
•    starmountmom
North Wilkesboro, NC
Sunday Apr 18
I myself have a son who is a Senior at Starmount High. I really disagree with this and am now in the proces of trying to plan out an alternate plan to the prom. I have spoken with several parents and we all feel that if these two boys are allowed to go to prom that there may be trouble and we don’t want it to interfere with our children and their special night.

•    fed up
Jonesville, NC
Monday Apr 19
I am the parent of a student that will be a junior next year. There WILL be a PRIVATE prom next year for Starmount High students to attend by invitation only. The ballroom has already been reserved at a very nice hotel in the Elkin/Jonesville area and there will be a dj and all the catering and decorations. We will be contacting other parents if you’d like to help make this a truly special prom for your straight kids.I for one AM NOT too cowardly to stand up for what is RIGHT!

•    John
Mocksville, NC
Monday Apr 19
What the other students at Starmount High School should do is boycott the Prom. Let NO attend except these two. The school would be seen as caving in to the treat of being called into the ACLU. The mom in this instance, is looking for “attention” and publicity. It is common knowledge that she and her son plan to move to California after graduation this year. That is JUST the place to have these relationships.
•    Scam wrote:
It would be no different were it pedophiles, necrophiliacs,people who have sex with animals, showing up at the prom. Homosexuality is a sickness that no child should be exposed to. It certainly should not be taught that there is nothing wrong with it! Do you teach your children about the other perverted , degenerate things certain people CHOOSE to engage in? Sick world only being made sicker by telling sick people that they aren’t sick!

•    fed up wrote:
Lev 18:22 “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman;that is detestable.”
29 “Everyone who does these detestable things such persons must be cut off from their people.”
20:13 “If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
Rom 1;27 “In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
1Cor 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders.
NOW YOU TELL ME YOU ARE DOING YOUR JOB AS A PARENT? YOU ARE SENDING YOUR CHILD TO HELL!!!!!

You can see more of these comments at:

http://www.topix.com/forum/source/myfox8/TI7Q1N8M65R4NU75S

The main theme to all of these arguments is religion, many fail to realize that the same human and civil rights that give them their freedom of religion and their freedom of speech is the very same human and civil rights that prevents the barring of “same sex” prom dates or discrimination in any form for that matter.

I have pointed out the flaws in the religious argument on several occasions because many seem to pick and choose which verses of the bible they wish to uphold and which ones they ignore, (I do not see Christian’s fighting against divorced people getting remarried, even thought the bible clearly states it is an abomination) all to no avail, they dogmatically hold onto their view and preach hate, never realizing that just because they believe it does not make it so.

The Christian religion is not the only religion in the world, and not all Christian’s believe that homosexuality is wrong.   It is merely their opinion and while they may be entitled to their opinion and belief’s they cannot use those beliefs or opinions to dictate the lives of others they disagree with.  Separation of Church and State, Freedom of Religion, everything this country was built upon states very clearly that you cannot stomp on the human rights of others just because you believe differently from them or do not approve of their sexual orientation.

It is unclear, at this point in time, if Chase and Jordan are going to have their “Happily Ever After Prom”!  It is unclear if the other students will even attend this prom with two gay boys.  It is unclear what will be waiting for both of these boys when they get out of the care BUT one thing is absolutely, positively clear, Chase and Jordan will be attending this prom, they will show up, they will be together and they will face the hate and opposition they are facing head on.

SO sad. Just when you have hope that the country has changed for the better you are reminded we have far to go.

LAST WEEKS ARTICLE

CHASE AND JORDAN GO TO THE PROM

This is a testament to Jordan’s über cool parents, to Chase and Jordan for being so open and honest and to Starmount High School and Principal Parker for doing the right thing. I want to preface the following by stating that I mean no disrespect to the school or it’s administrators. I know that unfortunately this is still an issue and Chase, Jordan, Leesa and all others involved are doing their part to change it.

I have come to know Leesa Nixon, Jordan’s Mom, as the very supportive ‘FagHagMom’ on Twitter. We have never met but our virtual friendship over the past month has been endearing. She is clearly a role model for any parent of an LGBT child. She is unconditionally supportive.

So when her son’s boyfriend, Chase wanted to bring her son, Jordan to his senior prom and he was met with opposition from high school administrators, Leesa came to his defense. Bravo!!. We’ve heard this story several times this prom season with mixed outcomes. It’s a shame that these scenarios still have to involve attorneys, the HRC and the ACLU. We all recall the ongoing drama with Constance Mcmillen, the HRC and the fake prom? Gross.

It’s a dance for god’s sake. Is this a reincarnation of Footloose where no dancing has been replaced by no non-straights? Below is Leesa’s account of the victorious experience that made the high school examine their policy on same-sex prom dates. At the end of the article you can listen to the audio voicemail message left by principle Parker. She seems a bit nervous but I have to give her props for basically doing the right thing. Although they just changed the school policy so that anyone could bring a ‘guest’ and not call it a date as opposed to allowing same-sex dates, it’s still a step in the right direction. Nicely done. Congratulations to all parties involved!!!

Have a kick ass prom!! These boys are adorable BTW which is totally inappropriate for me to say.

Below article written by: Leesa Nixon–Jordans awesome mom!

Senior Prom that much-anticipated rite of passage for American youth.  The moment they wait for all school year, it is the signal that they have finally made it through 4 years of high school hell and in a very short time they will be adults, living on their own, conquering the world.

The dreaded question, “will you go to prom with me?” has been asked and answered, “Yes”.  What to wear has been argued about, discussed and finally agreed upon.  Transportation, check!  All the hard stuff has been addressed and they are all ready to go, right?

Wrong!

For Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Transsexual teens, finding a date and something to wear to the prom is the easy part.  The hard part comes when school officials tell them that they cannot bring their same-sex date, or dress in a manner the school officials feel is inappropriate, “like wearing a tux if you’re a girl or a dress if you’re a boy.”

Take for example, the case of 17-year-old Chase, a student at Starmount High School in Booneville, North Carolina, who was called into the principal’s office April 6th.   The following is Chase’s account of what happened next.

“Today, April 6, 2010 I was called into the Principal’s office, I was unaware of the reason at the time. When I entered the office, Mrs. Parker was in the room, sitting at her desk and so was Mr. Samuel, the Vice Principal. Mr. Samuel was sitting in the corner of her office.   I went in and Mrs. Parker, the Principal, asked me to shut the door, which, I did.

Mrs. Parker then asked me to sit down, and I think I did, though I only remember standing, but I believe I sat down. Mrs. Parker then tells me, that she didn’t realize it until she looked at my permission form for prom again that I was planning to bring a boy to the prom or something like that, and then she informed me that I couldn’t bring a friend as my date.

Mrs. Parker stated, that it was because other people would want to bring friends and it’s a rule that they’ve had for a while now, that you could not bring friends to the prom. I informed Mrs. Parker that Jordan is not my friend, but my boyfriend and she replied that she knew my situation was different but she couldn’t let me bring him.

I then asked her, “why?”  And she replied that she knew my situation was different but if people saw me bring my “friend” then other guys would want to bring their, and I quote, “Home-Boys” to prom.  When I didn’t respond, Mrs. Parker then asked me if I had a “backup friend” a girlfriend to bring instead. I stated, “No, I won’t go” (Implying that I would not go if he couldn’t).

Mrs. Parker then asked me if I had already bought my prom ticket and I said no.  Then she said nothing else and neither did I, until I asked if I could go and she said that I could. I told her thank you and she said thank you and I left.

Mr. Samuel never said anything the entire time I was there; I believe he was there to ensure that the conversation did not get out of hand.

This is not a word-by-word account of the entire meeting.  But the “I know your situation is different” and “Other guys would want to bring their “homeboys” are exact quotes of what Mrs. Parker said to me.”

The discrimination that Chase was confronted with has been resolved.  I called and spoke with his principal and informed her that not allowing Chase to bring his boyfriend to the prom was discrimination and a violation of his constitutionally protected rights.  I threatened to call the ACLU, (which I did) and go to the media.

After our first conversation, I was contacted by Mrs. Parker, who informed me that she was waiting on the school attorney to call.

April 7th, Mrs. Parker left a message on my phone stating that she had spoken with the school attorney and that the school was going to allow Chase to bring my son Jordan to his Senior Prom “as his outside date” and that what they were going to have to do, was change the rule to allow students to bring a guest and not necessarily a “date”.

To be fair to Mrs. Parker, I got the distinct impression that she did not agree with this policy and was only trying to follow the rules that were in effect in her school district before she got there.  She immediately went to work and corrected the issue at hand.

I applaud Starmount High School for their quick actions, I brought this issue to their attention and in one day they not only changed their initial decision, they changed their policy to ensure that this would never happen again. Although they change their policy to state “guest” instead of “date”, it is still a step in the right direction and they should be admired for their willingness to change.   It is my hope that all schools would respond to these issues in such a fair and timely manner.

Thankfully Starmount High School did solve the problem very quickly, and decided to put a stop to this unfair treatment.   Unfortunately, other schools are not willing to resolve these issues and discrimination without being told do so by the courts.

The educators in these cases are teaching hate and intolerance to our nations children, the example they are setting with their treatment of these gay, lesbian, bi and transsexual children only enforces the view that these teens and all homosexual’s should be ostracized and denied the same fundamental rights as straight people.

How is America the land of the free, where all men are purportedly created equal supposed to achieve a society of fairness, equality and justice, when the very people charged with educating our children are behaving in such a discriminating manner?

There are laws and school rules that prohibit hate crimes, discrimination, bullying, and harassment, but when the very people who are in charge of enforcing those rules and laws, are guilty of breaking them, who protects these children from them?

** Special Note of Interest

There is currently a bill before Congress that would protect Gay, Lesbian, Bi, and Transsexual students from this very type of discrimination.  If you would like to take a stand against this discrimination, contact your Congressman/Woman and ask them to support and pass the Student Non-Discrimination Act http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.4530:

This bill, if passed, would “end discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in public schools, and for other purposes.”  You can read the entire bill at the link above.

I urge all of you to call Congress and voice your support of this bill.  If you are unsure of who to talk to you may visit the House of Representatives website at http://www.house.gov/ to find out who your Congressional Representative is.

Stop teaching hate, don’t discriminate. Celebrate!! Jordan and Chase have been dating since September 2008 and hope to get marry one day.

Listen to the message from Mrs. Parker here http://chirb.it/g8aLsh

ROCK ON LEESA!! Hope you boys have a great night. Shine on!

Q and A for Never Blend In: The Legacy of Harvey Milk

Posted in The Fierceness on April 5, 2010 by jackmax2

See the original post for NEVER BLEND IN here!

NEVER BLEND IN: THE LEGACY OF HARVEY MILK by David Watters

Jack Mackenroth is a Fashion Designer, TV Producer and host who is probably still best remembered for Project Runway and as an inspirational and motivational advocate for HIV awareness.

He is currently working on producing a TV show called the Queens of Drag: NYC, is writing a much anticipated memoir, is still designing commissioned pieces, travels the United States speaking about HIV and hosts a radio show, POZIAM, every Sunday night.

(A full bio is on jackmackenroth.com)

The following article is based on two separate interviews with Jack on Tuesday 11 August 2009 and Sunday 4 April 2010.

All copyright rules apply.

NEVER BLEND IN: THE LEGACY OF HARVEY MILKThis book is crucially important because we need to continually shed light on the struggles and adversity facing the LGBT community. We can never become complacent in our fight for equal rights and we need to remember the trailblazers who ignited the spark for the flame of progress that burns today. As role models following in the legacy of others like Harvey Milk, we need to stand as proud confident people and continue to broaden the path of acceptance for those that follow us.JACK MACKENROTH

LOOKING BACK BUT MOVING FORWARDS

THE JOURNEY…SO FAR

Describe your journey to where you are now. What led you toward the sort of work you do now? What was it about your personal and/or professional journey that brought you to this type of work?

I think my success came from facing adversity. I was always teased and taunted in my youth for being effeminate so I took solace in one of my natural talents which was art. It helped me escape and feel pride in something that I was good at doing.

Jack describes himself now as “Supergay” but also as “Artistic, Athletic and Confident”. As a child he recalls being labelled as girly and shy and as a teen, effeminate, gay, sissy, alternative and artistic by all of his peers and classmates.

Now, although these were pretty accurate, “I didn’t appreciate the slanderous adjectives”, Jack confides, since, “they definitely affected my self confidence. I was SO self conscious of being effeminate and androgynous when I was young that it prevented me from doing a lot of things. I only really accepted myself and started loving the way I was in the last 10 years of so. I knew I was gay from kindergarten but I denied even thinking about the possibility until I was a senior in high school.

One aspect of my artistic endeavors was making my own clothes. I taught myself to sew when I was 13 and I didn’t really care about what my peers thought about what I made and how I wore it. In a sense I was taking control of their mockery by blatantly being proudly different. That just naturally evolved into going to UC Berkeley for Fine Arts and the Parsons School of Design for Fashion Design. All the pieces just seemed to fall into place.

I didn’t have a lot of role models back then. Remember it was about 1986 so there were not many gay role models in the media and certainly not very positive ones. I do remember hearing about Harvey Milk which was inspiring but also scary because there was so much hatred surrounding the public’s opinion of him.

Well I went to UC Berkeley for my undergraduate education and it’s one of the most liberal schools in the country so I found my ‘people’ there who let me be whoever I wanted to be and celebrated that.

How have your family responded to your sexuality, was coming out a difficult process, did you ever experience feelings of self-doubt, low self-esteem as a result of your sexuality?

Well I came out in 1987 so the perception of gay people was a much different. My family is very liberal and was very accepting. I don’t have a relationship with my father and my parents were divorced when I was 8. I really don’t know what he thinks about it. Coming out was difficult because back then there were not a lot of role models so I thought I was the only one. I didn’t really even remember knowing the word “gay”. However when I went to Berkeley, which is one of the most liberal universities in the US, I met a lot of other gay people very quickly and everything just clicked. I did have feelings of low self esteem initially before I came out because I was consistently teased in high school and I was in extreme denial about my sexual orientation. Once I came out it was like a giant weight was lifted. Finding out that I was HIV+ in 1990 was like I had to come out all over again. That came with a whole new set of self-esteem issues.

ROLE MODELS If young people see LGBT adults living happy, successful lives then they have hope and that is extremely powerful. I get emails from teenagers all the time saying thank you for being open and that I inspire them in some way. Hopefully role models help pave the way for an easier coming out experience.

Visibility plays a huge part in normalizing LGBTQ orientation. Unfortunately, often the most visible queer archetypes are the most sensational and stereotypical.

We are definitely seeing more LGBT characters in the media. Especially with the advent of ‘reality’ television. I think it’s a great way for people to see LGBT individuals living regular lives.

It’s hugely important for popular sports figures, musicians, actors, politicians and local figures to come out at the height of their careers because it garners a ton of press and there are still large parts of the population that don’t believe that LGBT individuals are EVERYWHERE.

“teachable moments” I have always set high standards for myself but I think that was instilled in me by my mother. I never really modeled my life after someone. I have had role models that I have looked up to, or people’s careers that I wanted to emulate but I always took my own path.

In high school I had an art mentor named Robert Fulghum who went on to become a bestselling author. During the end of my senior year I was not accepted into my top 3 schools that I applied to, Harvard, Princeton and Stanford. UC Berkeley was my back up choice. I was complaining to him about it one day and he told me he thought Berkeley would be a perfect place for me to discover myself. I think he knew something I was not quite ready to acknowledge. He was right and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Because of my appearance on Project Runway I receive countless emails of gratitude from people all over the world. I am constantly amazed by how many people watched that show and were moved by the fact that I disclosed my HIV+ status. Once at an award show Margaret Cho came up to me and told me she loved me. I was speechless.

I take it seriously. I receive FB messages and emails on a daily basis from people thanking me for being visible as an HIV+ person. I know I have saved lives–which is so humbling and amazing. I’ve had people tell me they were going to kill themselves because they found out they were HIV+ and then they read something about me or saw me on TV and changed their mind. That is my greatest achievement to date.

THE LEGACY OF HARVEY MILK

Well he was really a trailblazer in the face of such adversity. There are so many role models now in all arenas of the LGBT community. I could make an endless list of people who are proudly out and making a difference in almost every arena of LGBT culture. Christine Quinn, Barney Frank, Rachel Maddow, Suze Orman, Ellen Degeneres, Candis Cayne, Billy Bean….it goes on and on…

CLOSING COMMENTS

AN AUTHENTIC LIFEI am very close to living a full authentic life. Since Project Runway I’ve really been publicly scrutinized in the press and blogs so it forced me to be very cognisant of how I behave. It’s a lot of pressure but I think it made me a better person in a weird way. I’ve always been very open and honest. However I am always striving to be better. I think my public persona is always very funny and upbeat and optimistic. I have total crap days too which is totally normal and I let myself have them without beating myself up about it.

I am not a religious person so I live strictly by the principle that I should treat other people the way I would want to be treated. I know what the ‘right’ thing is to do in most circumstances and I try to do it.

I hope I am an example of self-confidence, discipline, honesty, giving back to the community and a strong work ethic.

I think lying to yourself or trying to squelch some sort of truth takes an incredible amount of energy. They say you are only as sick as your secrets.

People do not have a choice regarding their sexual or gender orientation. Everyone, no matter what their circumstances, just wants to be accepted for exactly who they are without judgment. Treat them as equals. Get involved in advocacy or support groups like PFLAG.

I try to treat others as I would want to be treated. I believe in Karma in my own way. I think if you put good things out into the universe then good things will come back to you.

Progress is being made. It’s a slow, continuous battle. People naturally fear things that are unfamiliar to them. We need to keep inundating society with positive role models of minority groups and eventually our similarities will outweigh the perceived differences.

Just accept people for who they are. It’s that simple. You don’t have to agree with everyone but you have no right to judge. We are all equal. Just know that there are millions of other people just like you living happy, well-adjusted lives. You will find your way.

GOALS & THE MEANING OF LIFE…What gives your life meaning? Art, Beauty, my family, being an advocate for HIV+ people and the LGBT community.

What are your goals both personally and professionally?

I have so many. Sort of like to be doing a bunch of things at once. I’m working on producing a TV show called the Queens of Drag: NYC, I’m writing a memoir, I still design commissioned pieces, I travel all around the country speaking about HIV and I have my radio show, POZIAM every Sunday night. I look at every new opportunity as an adventure. I don’t have any specific ultimate goal professionally.  However personally I would like to get married and get a dog. But I probably have to find a boyfriend first.

JACK MACKENROTH LINKS

http://www.jackmackenroth.com

Facebook pages
http://www.facebook.com/jackmackenroth
http://www.facebook.com/jackequalitymackenroth

Join my fan page
http://www.facebook.com/jackmackenrothfanpage

Follow me on Twitter
http://www.twitter.com/jackmackenroth

HIV Education Campaign in partnership with Merck and Co.
http://www.livingpositivebydesign.com

The Queens of Drag: NYC webpage!
http://www.thequeensofdrag.com

The Queens of Drag: NYC Facebook page
http://www.facebook.com/thequeensofdrag

POZIAM Radio! Every Sunday at 9pm EST
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/poziam

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 233 other followers