Oversold conference on LGBT aging looks for ways to improve lives of elders

Posted on 23 Jul 2016 at 3:20pm
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Mayor Henry LaRosiliere, left, with Dawnetta Miller, middle, and Jeannie Rubin

The second annual Summit on LGBT Aging packed the meeting rooms in one of Southern Methodist University’s Plano campus buildings on Saturday, July 23.

“In the 90’s, the idea of aging just didn’t resonate with many of us,” said GALA NTX President Jeannie Rubin in opening remarks to the conference. “We have become the LGBT aging community we never thought would exist.”

Rubin introduced the opening speaker, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere.

While LaRosiliere wasn’t there to provide solutions, he was there to offer his support in “a city that believes everyone matters.”

He said that all elderly communities have concerns about affordable housing, their finances and health, but acknowledged the LGBT community has “an extra layer you have to contend with.”

“As a city, we will continue to foster our relationship” with the LGBT community, LaRosiliere said, “and find ways we as a community can collaborate.”

Aging Coalition founder Cannon Flowers said in the LGBT community, people on the margins are treated harshly. He defined the margins as those under 21 and those over 45.

“We discriminate in our own community,” Flowers said.

University of North Texas LGBT researcher Bart Poche gave some of the statistics. Currently, about 143,000 aging LGBT people live in North Texas. That number will grow to more than 200,000 over the next decade. Of those, some groups are more marginalized than others. One in three transgender people have been turned away from shelters and are four times more likely to live below the poverty line than the community in general, for example.

One problem addressed at the conference was discrimination in healthcare and housing. Some LGBT elders go back into the closet so they’re not discriminated by healthcare workers or in assisted living.

In a breakout session on improving the social lives of elders to improve their health and quality of life, lots of ideas emerged. Among the suggestions was a buddy program that was successful during the height of the AIDS epidemic. The program would pair a younger person with an older person to help with a variety of needs.

Flowers said during the break out that it’s the policy of the Coalition not to recreate or reinvent services that were out there. So he liked a suggestion at existing groups help create social events targeted at or inclusive of LGBT elderly. One example came from someone from DIVA, the volleyball organization. They recently held a volleyball event for people 45 and older that brought together former DIVA members and others who hadn’t played the game in years.

A breakout session on housing addressed problems faced by LGBT elders in assisted living and nursing care. While most facilities welcome LGBT residents, that welcome is often not much more than acceptance. No programming is available at any facility in the area that addresses LGBT interests.

Moderator Robert Emery noted that the Coalition is creating an equality index this year that will be sent out to all senior facilities in North Texas.

Other panels address transgender, legal, caregiving and legislative issues.

Mike McKay, former Resource Center CEO and current regional manager for the Peace Corps, said, “One thing we all have in common is we’re all aging.”

He summed up the conference with three takeaway ideas:

Change: Figure out how you can change to make your life better as you age.

Connect: Connect to your community by working together with others, through organizations, churches or friends.

Contribute: Whether that’s financially or with your time, especially on legislative issues in the upcoming legislative session.

A Tarrant County summit will be held in Arlington on Nov. 12.

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Clinton pays unexpected visit to Pulse, meets with victims, families

Posted on 22 Jul 2016 at 3:49pm
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Tweet by NPR’s Tamara Keith showing Hillary Clinton talking to first responders outside Pulse nightclub during an unannounced visit to Orlando Friday, July 22.

With the start of the Democratic National Convention just a few days away — and with just about the whole country anxiously waiting for her to announce her choice of a running mate — presumptive Democratic nominee for president Hillary Clinton instead chose to make an unannounced visit Friday, July 22, to Orlando where she met privately with survivors and families of victims of the June 12 mass shooting at the LGBT nightclub Pulse, according to The New Civil Rights Movement and other sources.

Clinton also held a roundtable discussion with the victims and family members and community leaders, before visiting the site of the nightclub to pay her respects and meet with first responders.

According to a tweet by NBC News reporter Alex Seitz-Wald, staff a Clinton’s headquarters in Brooklyn went into a meeting at 3 p.m. expecting to hear who the candidate had chosen as VP, but were told they have to wait until “an undisclosed time” to find out that info.

Jennifer King with Associated Press Radio tweeted that after meeting with victims, families and community leaders, Clinton “is saying we need to stand united against bigotry.” BuzzFeedNews political reporter Ruby Cramer tweeted that the candidate said, “It’s still dangerous to be LGBT in America…an unfortunate fact but one that needs to be said.” And Bloomberg Politics reporter Jennifer Epstein tweeted that Clinton told those in Orlando, “I really am here to listen to what your experiences have been and wha twe do need to do together.”

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Cocktail Friday: Here’s to National Tequila Day!

Posted on 22 Jul 2016 at 2:23pm

Picante de la Casa Spicy MargaritaSunday is National Tequila Day, and in Texas, that’s kinda a big deal. So here’s a recipe that you can whip up to celebrate.

2 oz. Cazadores Tequila

1 oz. fresh lime juice

¾ oz. agave nectar

12 cilantro leaves

1 sprig for garnish

1/4 in. piece of a Fresno chile pepper

2 rings of Fresno chile pepper for garnish

Making it: Muddle tequila, lime juice, agave, cilantro leaves and piece of chile in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously; strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with cilantro sprig and chile rings.

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Craig McCartney goes to Philly … and invites Ted Cruz for pound cake

Posted on 22 Jul 2016 at 12:03pm
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Craig McCartney: Well, Let Me Say This About That

Dallas’ own Craig McCartney has already built up a following with his YouTube channel, “Well, Let Me Say This About That.” Now He’s getting ready to take his show on the road, heading to Philadelphia where he will be vlogging (that’s video blogging, in case you didn’t know) from the Democratic National Convention.

But before he heads to Philly, Craig had a couple of things to say about the just-finished Republican National Convention in Cleveland.

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Not in my America!

Posted on 22 Jul 2016 at 10:50am

 

The Republicans just spent a week trying to build a winning hand, but proved that the only card they have left to play is Trump-ed up fear

 

Haberman-Hardy-I admit it. I watched the Republican National Convention.

It left me very confused, because speech after speech by second-tier GOP luminaries played the only card left in the Republican hand: fear.

We should be afraid of the crime wave sweeping America! We should be afraid of all the criminal illegal Mexicans pouring across our borders! We should be afraid of the terrorists that are slaughtering more people now in America than ever! We should be afraid of the economic disaster the Obama presidency has wrought on America! We should be afraid of the weakened state of defense! We should be afraid of Obamacare! We should be afraid of transgender people invading our son’s and daughter’s bathrooms! We should be afraid of the massive unemployment that this administration has caused and even more fearful of Hillary Clinton continuing on the same trajectory! We should be afraid of the elitism! We are a country in a crisis!

I think I ran out of exclamation points.

What amazes me is that every speaker — with the possible exception of Mrs. Trump — gave the same speech.

More amazing is the country these people are describing. It is an America largely based on fiction, an America that exists only on Fox News and in the minds of the huddled “preppers” who sit in their shelters awaiting the end times.

It is a completely different America than the one in which I live.

In my America, crime statistics show a steady decline in violent crime. In fact, a report from the Brookings Institute shows violent crime has fallen 51 percent since 1991, and is at one of the lowest rates since 1970.

In my America, the rate of illegal immigration has stabilized not increased, and in the case of Mexican immigrants it is actually declining.

And by the way, those illegal immigrants pay taxes. According to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, in 2013 they paid $7 billion in sales taxes, $1.1 billion in income taxes and $3.6 billion in property taxes.

And as far as their “criminal” behavior — well, of the 14,196 murders committed in 2013, a frightening total of eight were committed by illegal immigrants.

In my America, the economic disaster is the one we are still recovering from — and it started during the Bush administration. Stocks are at all-time highs, and the last report shows unemployment has fallen from close to 10 percent when Obama took office in 2008 to the current rate of 4.9 percent.

Sounds like an economic recovery to me.

In my America, our military spending is higher than the next six countries’ spending combined, including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and India. If anything, we need to cut back on that spending.

In my America, the Affordable Care Act has resulted in fewer people being uninsured. The number dropped from 41.8 million uninsured in 2013 to 33.0 million 2014 (last year available so far). Not everyone, but a pretty good success in a short time, and this in spite of the fact that many states declined to expand Medicaid to help their citizens afford insurance.

In my America, transgender people just want to use the toilet when they go to a public restroom, just like everyone else. In fact, the number of transgender people lurking in bathrooms to prey on unsuspecting people is exactly ZERO. The alleged “cases” that have been reported have all proven to be hoaxes generated by right-wing blogs.

In my America, the elitism I see is a presidential candidate giving interviews sitting in a golden chair in a penthouse apartment of a building with his name emblazoned in gold on the side. That qualifies as elite in my book, as does his private jet and helicopter.

In my America, I am not as afraid of terrorists sneaking into the country as I am of home-grown terrorists staging standoffs with government agents and bombing abortion clinics and shooting up gay nightclubs. And statistically, I am more likely to be killed by my own furniture falling on me than a terrorist.

So all this fear-mongering about our country in crisis? Well, the crisis I see is the very real possibility that the fearmongers will gain the White House. And that would be a big problem in my book.

Take a look at the GOP platform and if you are anyone but a straight, white Protestant you will find something to give you shivers.

The week-long fear fest of the Republican National Convention comes down to one thing: They offer our country a single item. They have come to the end of their deck and all they have left is their “Trump” card: It’s called Fear.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

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Pence: As anti-gay as the Republican platform

Posted on 22 Jul 2016 at 7:55am

All aboard the GOP Train for a trip back in time with Engineer Trump and Conductor Pence

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D’Anne WitkowskiWas anyone really surprised that Donald Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his co-captain for the most terrifying boat ride since the Titanic?

Pence may be best known for signing Indiana’s “just say no to gays” law, the intention of which was to give anti-gay bigots free reign to discriminate against LGBT people so long as their discrimination stemmed from a deeply held religious belief. In other words, if a baker doesn’t want to make a cake for some kind of homo wedding, he just needs to point out that “God hates fags,” and he’s in the clear. As God intended.

This law gave anti-gay bigots major boners, which they presumably showed off during the secret signing session Pence held for them.

After the business community freaked out, Pence signed a little fix to the bill to make it less anti-gay, but it was basically window dressing. Ah, but Pence’s anti-gay record is much longer than just some silly little discrimination law that brought scorn heaped upon his state and resulted in a loss of millions of dollars.

In 2006 as a senator, Pence supported amending the U.S. Constitution to ban marriage equality. He said letting same-sex couples marry would bring upon “societal collapse.”

Clearly he was foreshadowing a Trump-Pence presidential run.

He was also against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, claiming in 2007, “By extending the reach of federal law to cover sexual orientation, employment discrimination protections, in effect, can wage war on the free exercise of religion in the workplace.”

Because, you know, protecting LGBT people from discrimination is totally comparable to the horrors of war.

And speaking of war, Pence didn’t want any homos in the military because they would try to touch other privates’ privates. Oh, and speaking of the uncontrollable sexual perversions of gays, Pence thought that money for HIV/AIDS would be much better spent on anti-gay conversion therapy. Because if you stop all those gays from being gay it’ll stop this gay disease.

Oh, he also was against needle exchange programs. Because he clearly was an HIV/AIDS expert.

Remember when Donald Trump claimed that the gays loved him? That he was actually a better champion of gay rights than Hillary Clinton? Wasn’t true then, and even less true now.

“Donald Trump just doubled down on his agenda of hate and discrimination by choosing the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Mike Pence for his ticket,” Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.

But hey, doubling down on bad decisions is right in Trump’s wheelhouse, whether in business or politics.

The Republican platform this year is one of most anti-gay in history. Clearly they are hoping that when voters go to the polls they will hate gays more than they hate Trump. Hey, it worked in the past.

And the past — where women couldn’t get abortions, where brown people couldn’t vote, where gays couldn’t marry — is what the Republicans love best.

D’Anne Witkowski is a freelance writer and poet and a writing teacher at the Universtiy of Michigan. She writes the weekly “Creep of the Week” column for Q Syndicate.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

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Worst coming out ever

Posted on 22 Jul 2016 at 7:50am

Leslie McMurraySo, October 11th is National Coming Out Day, established to encourage a safe world where LGBTQ people can come out and live our authentic lives. For the past 15 years or so, the Human Rights Campaign has even given it a theme of some kind.

Everyone comes out in their own way. Matter of fact, I’d venture to say a good many of us don’t even do it on Oct. 11. My coming out was July 20, 2012. It was pretty much a disaster and was the last thing in the world I’d planned on doing that day when I went to work that morning.

The day started out like any other, for the most part. I was the program director for 100.3 Jack-FM radio station in Dallas, a job I cherished.

For more than a year, my now-ex-wife’s radar had been going haywire. She was sure I was sleeping around. But I wasn’t.

She was periodically accusing me of inappropriate relationships with a variety of women, none of which were true. She was way off base.

By July 20, I had been in Dallas for almost nine months working for CBS Radio and looking for a place to live. I finally found a house in Flower Mound that my then-wife and I both loved. We moved in around May 1 — and things were fine for a while.

We had been married for 33 years and like any marriage, ours had its ups and downs. But this whole “I know there’s another woman” thing had been pretty relentless for more than a year.

Around mid-day that July 20 four years ago, I was at CBS, in my office on the 10th floor, when my wife walked into my office and threatened to “cause a big scene” if I didn’t come clean. I again pleaded innocent and asked her —  kind of as a last resort — “What do you want me to do, take a lie detector test?”

She said yes. I said, “Fine, book it.”

So she did. Right from my desk phone at my CBS office. It was scheduled for the following morning, Saturday, July 21, 2012.

My birthday.

Great, happy birthday to me! “Here’s your polygraph. By the way, it’s going to be $300.”

She left my office and presumably went home, happy that she would get the answer she wanted.

I felt relaxed because I knew I’d finally be vindicated. We should have done this a long time ago!

The rest of the day passed, and I drove home pondering what the polygraph examiner could possibly ask. I didn’t care what they asked; I had nothing to hide.

Except that.

By 2012, I’d been painting my nails for a few years and preferred silk PJs. She had asked me on occasion if I wanted to be a woman. (Um, wanted to be? Hell, I knew I was.)

I had always brushed it off. So if they asked me that question, the cat would be out of the bag. I had never ever told a single soul and was willing to take this to my grave (though it would have likely been an early one).

So I got home, now more than a little concerned that this one question would be asked. I was met at the door and my wife said, “I cancelled the polygraph.” I said, “Good, I’m glad.” She added, “I still know you’re hiding something.”

The Flower Mound House was paradise. It was a huge, meticulously remodeled 4,500-square-foot masterpiece on 8½ acres. We had a pond, trees, a fire pit. It was gorgeous.

I walked out on this warm summer evening and sat by myself. In the solitude and quiet I took a picture. I knew this was the last bit of peace I was going to have for a very long time. It was also, the last moments I had as “him.”

After taking the picture, I walked inside and said to my wife, “I have been hiding something. I want you to know that if I tell you, I can never ‘un-tell’ you and that it will change everything. If I don’t tell you, it won’t hurt you. It will be my secret.”

She wanted to know. So I told her: “There is another woman. It’s ME.”

Her initial response to hearing that her husband was a transgender woman who needed to transition: “Is that all it is? I’ve known that for a long time.”

Initially, she was very supportive. But soon, she began reading about people who are transgender and what was going to happen to her husband. Things changed.

By December, she had packed a bag for a visit to see friends in her native California … and she never came back.

Of course, I’d fantasized about how all of this might have played out and never had it gone down this way. I was backed into a corner and more or less just blurted it out. But ultimately, what needed to happen, happened.

Transition isn’t easy, especially when other people are involved, as they nearly always are.

You can plan all you want. But sometimes, it all goes to hell. It has made my birthday more than a celebration of just another year. For me, there’s no looking back.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 22, 2016.

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NBA to move all-star game out of N.C.

Posted on 21 Jul 2016 at 3:39pm

BasketballThe NBA announced its 2017 All-Star Game will be moved out of Charlotte.

In April, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver warned Charlotte that if the state’s discriminatory anti-LGBT HB2 wasn’t repealed, the league would pull the game out of the state. While the bill passed and was signed in one day, the legislature spent the rest of the session talking about what to do about it and the millions of dollars it lost as a result.

Today, Silver announced the league is looking at moving the game, possibly to New Orleans, but other cities have been putting in bids. The formal announcement should come later today or tomorrow.

The all-star game, which takes place in February, was held in New Orleans in 2008 and 2014.

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REVIEWS: ‘AbFab,’ ‘Star Trek Beyond’

Posted on 21 Jul 2016 at 2:36pm

Joanna Lumley as "Patsy" and Jennifer Saunders as "Edina" in the film ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS: THE MOVIE. Photo by David Appleby. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights ReservedEarlier this summer, I heard some movie pundits sniff that when Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie came out, it would be a flop, because it wouldn’t have a laugh-track like the series does. Well, guess what geniuses? It does have a laugh-track: We call it an audience. The chuckles came fast and furious during this 90-minute, surprisingly gorgeous and whiz-bang confection, which relies on comedy largely provided by two ladies — one age 58 (Jennifer Saunders, who also wrote the screenplay) and another (Joanna Lumley) age 70. 70! And still with the comic timing of Amy Schumer.

Now, it probably doesn’t hurt to be familiar with Edina (Saunders), a public relations professional, and Pats (Lumley), the fashion editor at a high-end magazine, and how they have boozed their way through 35 years of friendship. They’re both terrible parents, terrible role models, alcoholic narcissists … and endlessly entertaining. All they lightness of their lives, however, come crashing down when Eddy’s clients dry up, her ex-husband stops her alimony and she, well, possibly murders Kate Moss.

The plot, though, is hardly the point. It’s the physical humor and absurdist digs at pop culture (Jerry Hall, talking for hours about Chanel on the red carpet; Jon Hamm, regretting losing his virginity to Pats 30 years ago, yet still unable to resist her; Pats again, dressing up as a man … and looking remarkably like Pierce Brosnan in the process) that fuels the fun. Even those unexposed to AbFab (especially gay audiences, for whom the tone seems perfectly tailored) should enjoy this breezy summer delight. Drink up, darlings! (Read our interview with Saunders and Lumley in this week’s Dallas Voice.)

Left to right: Karl Urban plays Bones and Zachary Quinto plays Spock in Star Trek Beyond from Paramount Pictures, Skydance, Bad Robot, Sneaky Shark and Perfect Storm EntertainmentFrom one absurdity to another, and once again written by a cast member. Simon Pegg, who plays Scotty, scribbled out the screenplay for Star Trek Beyond, the third in the rebooted movie franchise, based on the cult series (which turns 50 this year). There are jokes here, too, but not enough to really distract us from the sloppiness of the production, a visually muddy and convoluted mess that does a disservice to the series.

I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of the reboot anyway. The first one, called just Star Trek, restarted all the characters on a brand-new timeline (never one of my favorite gimmicks), which meant they could reinvent the characters any way they wanted (Spock dates Uhura!), but still get the benefit of Leonard Nimoy cameos. The second film, Into Darkness, merely was another timeline trick, basically remaking Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which was itself based on the TV series. Beyond also treads old ground … this time, sort of mirroring the plot of the Next Generation film, Insurrection (which, like Khan, depends on a madman who spends decades seeking revenge while bathing in the fountain of youth). The original series managed 76 episodes without really repeating itself; can’t the movies get through three?

Justin Lin is the director this time out, and exposition isn’t one of his strong suits. He overloads the screen with so many crazy camera angles, accented by ear-splitting sound effects that drown out much of the dialogue and an underlit set that makes the film seem murky and confusing, that you can’t really follow what’s going on. Something about an ancient relic. Something about an amazing weapon. Hard to follow. But ask me to summarize the plots and motivations of any of the original six films, and I can cite you chapter and verse.

And yet… I won’t say “Don’t see this.” The characters have become iconic over the decades, and there’s something to be said for discovering things still. (Sulu, we find out, is gay and has a daughter.) Chris Pine’s Capt. Kirk seems more diplomatic than hot-headed Shatner, and Zachary Quinto’s Spock is always fun to explore. Trekkies — and trust me, I am one — will think of it like returning to visit old friends. But that’s something that happens at reunions: A dozen times in, and you realize you’re all telling each other the same old stories. It gets boring.

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WATCH: Bill Maher cover the GOP convention with Dan Savage and Michael Moore

Posted on 21 Jul 2016 at 12:58pm

MaherGOPIf you love Bill Maher — I never miss his weekly Real Time show, the smartest comedy-news program on TV — you’re as excited as I am that he will be doing bonus shows, available on YouTube, for four nights of the Republican and Democrat national conventions. Last night was the first one, and his guests includes uber-liberals Dan Savage and Michael Moore. Side-splitting and insightful. And there’ll be another one tonight! Enjoy.

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