News Briefing


PFLAG civil suit dismissed

Last week, a judge in Johnstown dismissed a civil suit filed by a former president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays against the Johnstown chapter and other individuals.

John DeBartola, a former Johnstown PFLAG president, filed a suit against the chapter’s current board and two area residents, accusing them of defamation.

Following a Feb. 23 hearing, Judge Michael Muslin issued DeBartola a letter stating the case had been “dismissed without prejudice,” signaling that DeBartola could re-file the charges.

The PFLAG board removed DeBartola as president last year following controversy over a drag show he spearheaded. DeBartola said two lesbians from Johnstown, Lisa Richardson and Melissa Folta, claimed that the show was going to parody a fight the two had, although the allegations never proved true. DeBartola alleges the couple continued to make such charges in advance of other drag shows he was involved with.

DeBartola began his own chapter of PFLAG in nearby Altoona after he was ousted as president, but the national PFLAG eventually shut down the organization because, according to PFLAG executive director Jody Huckaby, it “did not fit with the goals and mission of PFLAG.”

DeBartola later had his membership in the PFLAG Johnstown chapter revoked and his registration fees returned to him by PFLAG national.

In the civil suit, DeBartola had asked for $100 from the involved parties and an apology.

DeBartola, Folta and PFLAG Johnstown president Shirley Gardill testified during the hearing.

“All I basically wanted out of this hearing was for these people who wronged me to acknowledge that so that I can move on with my life,” DeBartola said.

He said he was unsure if he would proceed with any further action against the chapter.

Softball league gets underway

Philadelphia’s LGBT softball association, the City of Brotherly Love Softball League, will hold its annual spring-training event from noon-4 p.m. March 7 at Palumbo Recreation Center, 10th and Fitzwater streets.

Anyone interested in playing in this year’s league, whether new or returning members, is encouraged to attend. CBLSL has men’s, women’s and co-ed teams for players of all levels of experience.

For more information, visit

Out judge hosts fundraiser

Common Pleas Judge Dan Anders, the first openly gay man to become a judge in the state, will host a fundraiser for his upcoming campaign for the LGBT and ally communities at 6 p.m. March 12 at the Trinity Center, 22nd and Spruce streets.

Gov. Rendell nominated Anders in 2007 to fill a vacant seat, and the judge is now seeking election to a full 10-year term in the May 19 primary.

For more information on Anders, visit

Theater production to benefit PFLAG

Act II Playhouse in Ambler selected the Philadelphia chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays as a beneficiary of its upcoming production of “Iron Kisses.”

The theater traditionally invites community members to attend a production’s final dress rehearsal, which it dubs Donated Dress Rehearsals, because all proceeds from tickets sales are given to local organizations. In the past, Donated Dress Rehearsals have raised nearly $1,000.

Tickets to the event, 2 p.m. March 8 at the theater, 56 E. Butler Ave., are $10.

“Iron Kisses” tells the story of a Midwestern family’s struggle to come to terms with their son being gay, and highlights the dynamic family relationships that resurface in every generation.

For more information, visit

Discussion on HIV vaccine

The COLOURS Organization Inc. is sponsoring a community social next week to draw attention to an HIV vaccine trial that will take place in the city.

The trial, geared toward HIV-negative gay men of color, is a collaboration between the HIV Vaccines Trial Network and the University of Pennsylvania.

The event, which will feature live entertainment, food and drinks, will run from 6-8:30 p.m. March 12 at Ms. Tootsie’s, 1314 South St.

For more information, contact COLOURS at (215) 496-0330.

PFLAG adoption forum rescheduled

A meeting of the Philadelphia chapter of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays that had been scheduled for Feb. 15 was cancelled the night before due to a meningitis scare on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, where the event was set to take place. The topic of the meeting — LGBT adoption — will be addressed during PFLAG’s next meeting, 2-5 p.m. March 15 at Penn’s LGBT Center, 3907 Spruce St.

Jared Rolsky, executive director of Golden Cradle Adoption Services, will speak to attendees about the issues LGBT couples and singles face when looking to adopt. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, visit

— Jen Colletta