Posts tagged atlanta-pride
Lesbian tennis superstar / animal advocate Martina Navratilova sent us this comment on the Georgia Aquarium Pride Party controversy in response to PETA Senior Vice President Dan Matthews’ interview with us today and his Huffington Post article yesterday…
“How sad. I cringe at any zoo, theme park, or aquarium with captive animals. But the big ones, whales, dolphins, giraffes, elephants, etc., the big cats – they make me cry…”
Sent from my iPad
Here is the Georgia Aquarium’s official response…
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Yesterday, Dan Matthews, Senior Vice President of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), wrote an opinion piece for the Huffington Post about his experience at the Georgia Aquarium’s recent Pride Kickoff Party.
He is upset that the Atlanta Pride Committee chooses to hold parties that celebrate freedom in a venue of captivity.
He also takes issue with the loud music, that according to him, three aquarium guides said bothered the animals.
We spoke with Matthews to find out more…
How did you hear about the party?
I came to Atlanta from Virginia to work the PETA booth at Pride at Piedmont Park. PETA sponsors Pride festivals all across the country. We have tons of gay members and are one of the gayest non-gay charities. We have spokespeople ranging from Ellen DeGeneres to Erasure to Lady Bunny.
I got to town late Thursday night, and started hearing about this aquarium party. I was immediately disheartened that the Pride committee would choose to celebrate freedom in a place of captivity.
Gay people respond to the animals rights community because we understand abuse – whether it’s bullying, gay rights, etc. We recognize the ignorant attitude that a lot of people have toward animal suffering.
“Gay people respond to the animal rights
community because we understand abuse.”
The party was sold out, so how did you get in?
I told everyone there’s no way I’m going. Those of us who oppose aquariums are usually outside protesting. We don’t go inside, especially for a party. But a friend had an extra ticket and said come, you’ll do more good inside talking to people.
I thought about protesting outside with a sign, but didn’t want to be a party pooper! I’m gay and was in Atlanta to celebrate Pride also. Protesting is not a good way to captivate people when they’re in the partying mood.
What was your experience like?
As soon as I got to the entrance of the aquarium, I heard loud music. For some reason, I thought the music and dance floor would be in a separate facility away from the large mammals. But there were the Beluga whales, right in the middle of two dance floors!
I went to the different exhibits and spoke to several guides as well as the DJs. I didn’t introduce myself as PETA because that always raises a red flag and people get defensive.
I spoke with three guides, and all said that the music bothers the animals at parties. They said they start fighting, and especially don’t like Jazz Fridays.
“I spoke with three guides, and all said
that music bothers the animals at parties.”
The Georgia Aquarium is a money making business. They claim to be all about conservation and education, but it has nothing to do with that. It has to do with bringing money to downtown Atlanta and to the venue, which means hiring out the aquarium for weddings and parties, etc.
My problem isn’t so much with this one Pride party. It’s that from what I understand, the aquarium has loud parties all the time in the Oceans Ballroom.
How do loud sounds bother the whales exactly?
Beluga whales are so sensitive to sound. They have a sonar device that has developed in their heads.
When sound bounces off an ice cap above or an ocean floor below or a coastline on the side, that tells them where to go and what to avoid. That’s how they avoid ships, because sound bounces off of them. But it’s not loud thumping and bass!
When you add the element of loud music, it really becomes water torture. It’s a known psychological fact that uncomfortable music can be torture. It’s been used on prisoners.
“It’s a known psychological fact that
uncomfortable music can be torture.”
It would be one thing if the music didn’t add stress to the animals, who are already stressed because of the confinement. Classical or ambient music may even be soothing to them. But not loud thumping techno music. Every sound pounds into their skull. All of their senses are in their sonar. It’s an unacceptable cruelty.
What did the DJs have to say?
One said he knew there were decibel levels, but they were controlled by the management. The other DJ said he had no idea about decibel levels. The aquarium workers rolled their eyes when I asked about it because they knew the music still bothered the animals. The decibel levels don’t really matter.
Music and parties are a recent trend as a way to make money. On the Georgia Aquarium’s site, they advertise the Oceans Ballroom as being available for events. They have a big Halloween party coming up.
It is interesting that the guides say you can’t tap on the glass, but they host loud parties all the time.
Exactly. That’s a great way of putting it. It doesn’t make sense. They like to speak out of both sides of their mouth.
Who are you upset with, the Pride committee or the aquarium?
My problem is not with Pride so much. I spoke with a lot of people at the party, and the music was not something that crossed their minds until we spoke about it. We all live and learn, and I hope that the Pride committee opens their minds.
“We all live and learn, and I hope that
the Pride committee opens their minds.”
What are your suggestions for next year’s party?
No loud music. I grew up in the punk rock scene. Believe me, I love loud music. The louder the better. But that’s not everyone’s taste, and it’s certainly not the Beluga whales’.
We need to recognize that they are so sound sensitive. Beluga’s always look like they’re smiling because of the way their mouth is formed, but they’re not. It doesn’t mean they’re happy.
The GA Voice spoke with James Parker Sheffield, executive director of the Atlanta Pride Committee. He said, ‘I find it bothersome that an organization with a direct line to us chose to say nothing.’
What have been the point? The damage was done. I’m filing a formal complaint against the aquarium, not the Pride committee, and dealing with lawyers. We feel the parties violate Georgia’s Cruelty Against Animals act. I’m more concerned with the Halloween party and lots of other parties coming up there right now than next year’s Pride.
He also said he would ‘absolutely not’ move the Pride party next year.
I think he was just being defensive, and I can’t blame him. He was probably caught off guard. But I hope the Pride committee is intelligent enough to know that they don’t know everything about every issue, and will open their minds.
“This is not how I wanted to spend my weekend.
There are plenty of ways PETA is already in the news.”
What is your response to people who say PETA just wants to be in the news?
I expected to have a great time in Atlanta for Pride. We had a great response at our booth. The last thing I wanted to do was spend my weekend digesting this issue about how my own community was being so thoughtless and cruel to animals.
This is not how I wanted to spend my weekend. There are plenty of ways that PETA is already in the news.
Is PETA planning a boycott of the Georgia Aquarium?
We already have a boycott in place. We’ve protested the Georgia Aquarium and other aquariums before. This has long been a campaign of ours. I’ve never been more uncomfortable going to a gay party! But I thought more good would come from me being there.
‘I find it ironic that the Pride committee would choose
to celebrate freedom in a building that celebrates captivity.’
Everyone was happy at Friday night’s Pride Kickoff Party at the Georgia Aquarium, dancing to the pulsating music of DJ Jay McCracken and DJ Corey Craig. But little did everyone know that the Senior Vice President of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) was in the crowd, and he was not so happy…
When Dan Matthews, senior vice president of PETA, arrived at Pride to set up PETA’s booth, he had no idea that the Georgia Aquarium was holding a Pride party that night. He decided to check it out, and was shocked at what he saw (and heard).
‘As a veteran clubber, I’m used to big loud parties, but the music at the aquarium was so earsplitting that even before we entered,’ Matthews writes for the Huffington Post.
‘I could only wonder how it sounded to the most notable of the facility’s 120,000 inmates – the beluga whales. These marine mammals are so sensitive to pounding noises that the aquarium shipped them away during construction of the dolphin exhibit. Yet the thumping techno remix of ‘Firework’ was as audible outside as a jackhammer.’ ‘s
Matthews then asked an Aquarium worker if the music bothered the Beluga whales:
‘Well, yes, especially the males – as soon as the music starts pounding, they go nuts and start attacking the harbor seals in the tanks. We had Jazz Fridays this summer, and I can’t say many of the animals in any of the exhibits were fans. When the music starts, they get to fighting.’
UPDATE: We spoke with PETA’s Senior Vice President Dan Matthews.
Read our PETA: The Georgia Aquarium Interview
She claims her tonsils were hurting, which is why she wasn’t able to perform more than two songs Saturday night. (Wynter tweeted this photo just a few hours before going on stage). At least she managed to show up at all and do a meet and greet with fans, even signing one’s neck…
Deborah Cox wants her dress back. It stayed put all the way through her Pride performance, but now it’s gone. After wowing the crowd at Piedmont Park last night, Cox hopped on a flight to Toronto where it seems her luggage went missing. We’re guessing an airport employee/superfan just had to get their hands on it…
A graduate of New York’s world famous LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, the Queens-born singer/songwriter first broke through in 2005 after penning the title track for #1 blockbuster, ‘ ‘sThe Breakthrough.’
From there, Gordon contributed songs to artists such as (who included three Wynter-penned tracks on her new ‘LOVE?‘ album), while simultaneously kickstarting her own stint in the spotlight with vocal appearances on co-written tracks by David Guetta and Flo Rida.
Wynter Gordon’s latest album, ‘With the Music I Die,’ is an innovative revelation, melding full-throttle dance tracks with irresistible pop hooks and an unexpected shot of lyrical sincerity.
All the while, Gordon’s honeyed vocals ring loud and clear, adding yet another level of emotive power to her songs of heartache and struggle.
Wynter Gordon is also a stunningly charismatic live performer who has spent the past two years headlining clubs all over the world, not to mention show-stopping appearances at international events such as this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, where she shared the stage with Laidback Luke.
On Saturday, October 9th, former ‘Big Brother‘ contestant and now gay porn star, Steven Daigle, will appear at Brushtrokes from 4 to 5 p.m. to sign autographs. He’ll also make an appearance at the W Atlanta Midtown on Thursday, October 7th.
Steven Daigle’s appearance was arranged by Atlanta resident (and fellow gay porn star), Jason Sparks as part of Mary Edith Pitts’ Birthday Fundraiser. It is not connected to Pride in any way (Daigle’s appearance over Pride weekend is purely coincidental).
That said, we sat down with Steven Daigle to talk about fitting in as a gay cowboy, his time on Big Brother, and working with Chi Chi LaRue…
When did you first start doing rodeos?
I got on my first bull when I was 21. I had always been fascinated with bull riding and found a friend that took me to a practice bull riding and I was addicted. At the time, I didn’t know I was gay, but I knew that I was attracted to cowboys. I just wasn’t sure why. Later, I realized it was not only a sexual attraction but also a love for the culture, tradition and lifestyle that goes along with it.
How hard was it to fit in as a gay cowboy?
For the first few years of my rodeo career, I wasn’t out (or even sure what being gay meant.) So it was no big deal. Later in life, after coming out, I found gay rodeo and I fit right in and was actually very successful at it.
Have you ever been to Atlanta before?
I have been to ATL a few times in the past, and I’m not afraid to say my favorite place to visit while in town is Swinging Richards. I will be there this week for sure!
I hear you’re on this season of?
Yeah, I was a backup dancer forat the White Party when she performed Tardy for the Party. Chi Chi LaRue introduced her. The episode airs on October 18th.
When did you first start thinking about doing gay porn?
After meeting Chi Chi LaRue. I was a special guest at a porn star party in San Francisco over Folsom weekend. That’s when I realized they are just a bunch of really nice guys with amazing bodies and bigger-than-average dicks. Chi Chi kinda hinted at me doing it and the party was the catalyst that set it all in motion.
Were you a fan of porn before you were in it?
I loved porn. Watched it all the time, even while having sex with boyfriends.
Was doing porn what you thought it would be like?
Making porn ruined me forever. Much like watching reality TV is for me now, so is porn. I can’t just watch it for what it is, I analyze every aspect of what went into making it. Making porn is very sterile, uncomfortable and non-sexual, no matter how hot and erotic the final product may look.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some amazing scene partners with whom I had amazing chemistry. We would even make out even when the cameras were off! But when the cameras are rolling, you can only concentrate on what your body looks like, where the camera is and staying in character.
Did you share your idea of doing porn with any of your housemates on Big Brother?
I had no clue I would ever do porn while in the Big Brother house.
How supportive have people been from the show?
Everyone from Big Brother loves it. They keep asking for copies, even the girls! I had one woman, from season two, do some B-role on a movie I made for Michael Lucas called ‘Kings of New York.’
How did you get hooked up with Chi Chi LaRue?
Chi Chi is a huge Big Brother fan and attended the wrap party for the show. We met and were in awe of each other, both big fans and we instantly became friends.
What was it like working with her?
The first day was nerve-wracking. I literally was so sick to my stomach I thought I might throw up on my way to the studio. But after getting into the groove with her it was amazing. She has been in the business so long and has an amazing intuition for what no only looks good on camera but also how to make things on set go perfectly.
What was it like working with Erik Rhodes?
A dream come true. He has my favorite foreskin to date…
Same question about Michael Lucas.
It was interesting. He commands a presence and can be a bit intimidating, but he also knows what he wants and he gets it.
You also recently filmed a straight scene?
Yeah, for Jake Cruise’s SG4GE.
Do you still consider yourself a cowboy?
I never refer to myself as a ‘cowboy.’ In my opinion, a real cowboy doesn’t have to label himself, he just is.