Let’s hear it for Gloria’s restaurants!

Posted on 22 May 2017 at 2:59pm

Earlier today, during a conversation with Dallas Voice Distribution Manager Linda Depriter, she told me that she had been told about a year-and-a-half ago to remove Dallas Voice newspaper racks from the Gloria’s restaurants on Lemmon Avenue and in the Bishop Arts neighborhood. She said the managers at those two locations told her they didn’t want our paper in their establishments.

Well, I was irritated by that, and posted a note on my personal Facebook page saying that if they didn’t want a gay newspaper in their restaurant, then I wouldn’t be eating there anymore. That post spread like wildfire, and almost immediately angry folks were calling for a boycott. BUT — and this is very important — within an hour, Gloria’s owner Jose Fuentes had contacted our publisher and co-owner, Leo Cusimano, to let him know that he (Fuentes) and his co-owners at Gloria’s most decidedly did want Dallas Voice racks in their restaurants, and that the restaurants’ owners owe a lot to the LGBT community — here in Dallas and in Houston and other cities in which Gloria’s restaurants are located.

“The gay community built Gloria’s,” Fuentes told Cusimano. And in a follow-up call with me, Fuentes said that the LGBT community “was always there when we needed them most.”

Dallas Voice newspapers will be available again in the restaurants here in Dallas by the time the Friday, May 26 issue hits the streets.

And the lesson here is just because one employee of a business might have a problem with LGBT people, doesn’t mean that every employee does, and it doesn’t mean that the people who own and operate that business have a problem with LGBT people. A little communication can go a long, long way.

So thanks, Jose Fuentes. We appreciate your support. And I’ll be heading over to Gloria’s for lunch very soon.


U.S. Rep. Green gets death threats after calling for Trump to be impeached

Posted on 22 May 2017 at 2:25pm

U.S. Rep. Al Green

Congressman Al Green, the Democrat who represent’s Texas’ 9th District in the U.S. House, on Sunday revealed that he has received death threats — complete with profanity and repeated use of “the N word” since making a statement on the House floor calling for Donald Trump to be impeached.

Green, who is black, played recordings of two of the threatening calls at a town hall meeting in Houston on Saturday, May 20:

“Hey, Al Green, we got an impeachment for you. It’s going to be yours. Was actually gonna give you a short trial before we hang your n—– ass.”


“You’re not going to impeach anybody, you f—— n—– … You’ll be hanging from a tree. I didn’t see anybody calling for the impeachment of your n—– Obama when he was born in Kenya. He’s not even an American. So f— you, n—–.”

(Transcription of the recordings via The Washington Post. Listen to the audio recordings below.)

Green told those at the town hall that he got the calls after he criticized Trump for firing FBI Director James Comey and called for the president to be impeached. He said he wanted his constituents to “decide for yourself what we’re dealing with.”

According to The Houston Chronicle, Green said, “It does not deter us. We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to allow this to cause us to deviate from what we believe to be the right thing to do, and that is to proceed with the impeachment of President Trump.”

The Chronicle noted that Green played the recordings during a meeting at the Fountain Life Center in southwest Houston, adding that security was high at the meeting, as security officials used wands to check the about 100 people attending as they entered.

“You cannot allow hate to be hidden,” Green said. “You have to expose hate. Hate is a means why which people can be harmed. It’s an evil. The best way to deal with evil is to expose” it.

Green said he had received the messages at his offices in Houston and in Washington, D.C.

Texas’ 9th congressional district encompasses the southwestern portion of the Greater Houston area. Green has represented District 9 since 2005. As of 2015, the district was 5.5 percent white, 38 percent black, 12.2 percent Asian, 38.3 percent Hispanic, .25 percent Native American and 13.3 percent “other.”


Queens post office named for PFLAG founders

Posted on 22 May 2017 at 2:24pm

Jeanne Manford with her son Morty

A post office in Jackson Heights, Queens has been named in honor of the couple that founded P-FLAG — Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays.

Jeanne and Jules Manford had a son named Morty who was gay and a member of New York’s Gay Activists Alliance. When Morty protested coverage of the gay community at a dinner attended by reporters and politicians, he was beaten up by Michael J. Maye, the president of the Uniformed Firefighters Association. Maye was acquitted of the assault that occurred as police stood by and watched.

At another protest, Morty was arrested. Police called Jeanne to tell her he was in jail and that he was homosexual.

“Yes, I know,” she said to the officer. “Why are you bothering him?”

After the attack, she wrote a letter to the New York Post (pre-Fox ownership when it was a liberal newspaper). In it she said, “I have a homosexual son and I love him.”

The letter continued, “It might be that these ‘men’ have themselves some deep rooted sexual problems or they would not have become so enraged as to commit violence in beatings.”

The Manfords opened their home to young gays and lesbians who had been rejected by their parents. As they met a few other parents with gay and lesbian children, they began meeting monthly in a church in Greenwich Village. They called their group POG — Parents of Gays.

I met the Manfords at a POG meeting in 1975 that I attended with my boyfriend, Jon, and his parents. Before the meeting, we had lunch in a restaurant in Chinatown. Jon’s mother got a fortune in a fortune cookie that read, “You will meet someone as gay as you are,” that she carried in her wallet the rest of her life. At the meeting, a writer named Charles Silverstein was observing for a book he wrote that came out about a year later. He described our attending the meeting as a family, but we were very disappointed that he had changed our names to “protect” our identity.

I remember meeting both the Manfords and another original POG parent named Sarah Montgomery. Montgomery had a son who committed suicide and left her a note revealing he was gay. Although his death had occurred years earlier, she was still grappling with why he felt he couldn’t tell her. Her message was a warning to parents to love their children unconditionally or they could lose them.

The Manfords were just warm and welcoming. They told us they were sorry Morty couldn’t be there that day, but knew he’d love to meet us. We never did meet, because Jon and I weren’t living in or near New York City at the time.

Although their names aren’t widely known, the Manfords’ contribution to the LGBT community has been recognized. Jeanne served as grand marshal in the New York Pride March in 1991. The block in Flushing, Queens where the Manfords raised Morty has been renamed Jeanne, Jules, Morty Manford PFLAG Way.

President Barack Obama mentioned the Manfords in a speech to the HRC National Dinner and, in 2013, he awarded Jeanne the Presidential Citizens Medal.

This weekend, the Queens post office was renamed in their honor. Morty’s sister was there for the ceremony.

Morty died of AIDS at the age of 41 in 1992. His father had passed away 10 years earlier. Jeanne died in 2013 at age 92.


DVtv On The Scene: Brad Pritchett checks out Red Foundation’s Ruby City party

Posted on 22 May 2017 at 2:19pm

Gays love a Wizard of Oz reference!

Brad Pritchett and the DVtv On The Scene crew (that’s videographer/producer Brian Kennedy) check out Red Foundation’s Ruby City party, complete with a performance by Miss Red Jada Fox.


House passes ‘bathroom bill’ as an amendment

Posted on 21 May 2017 at 10:50pm
UPDATE: HB 3859, which would allow privately-owned foster care and adoption agencies to discriminate based on personal religious beliefs and still receive state and federal funds, has been sent to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott. Call Abbott’s office at 512-463-2000 NOW, or email his office here to tell Abbott not to sign this discriminatory legislation and SB 2078 into law.
James M. Russell  |  Contributing Writer

State Rep. Celia Israel

(Watch video below of Rep. Chris Paddie explaining his amendment and Rep. Rafael Anchia speaking against it.)

The Texas House late Sunday night passed a bill concerning hazard and emergency planning for charter and public schools that included an amendment restricting transgender students’ access to bathrooms.

The amendment, by Rep. Chris Paddie, R-Marshall, to Senate Bill 2078 requires that students use bathrooms, locker rooms and other intimate spaces according to their “biological sex” and not their gender identity. It requires school districts also accommodate students by providing access to a single stall bathroom.

During debate on the amendment, Paddie faced criticism from Democratic colleagues, who said the amendment discriminated against transgender students.

“I want to talk to you a little bit about history because I’ve lived through the separate but equal period,” Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, told the floor in a passionate speech against the amendment. “I can tell you separate restrooms for transgender kids are also based on fear, not fact.”

But Paddie, who had briefed colleagues on the amendment before filing it, said the amendment was meant to provide guidance on the issue.

“It is an effort to provide definitive guidance…for all kids,” Paddie said.

He also refuted that it discriminated against transgender students, saying accommodations extend to all students. “It could be because you are transgender or you are shy. It could be because of bullying. This says they will accommodate the child. This is not about a class of children or transgender children,” Paddie said, adding that the language prevents a school from disclosing intimate details about a student.

“For those who care about unfunded mandates, if a school district or open enrollment [faces a lawsuit], it requires the state attorney general to defend them,” Paddie said.

But the arguments were not enough for Democrats.

“The bill is about emergencies and disasters. Where is the disaster?” asked Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso.

Other Democrats attempted to amend it unsuccessfully.

Yet after heated debate, and despite early opposition from some Republicans like Dallas’ Jason Villalba, the amendment ultimately passed 91-50, with only one Republican, Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Place, voting against it.

Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, who is also an out lesbian, condemned the amendment.

“This amendment was more about using trans kids as a negotiating tool at a contentious point in the session than about making kids safer. It paints a target on the backs of already vulnerable children. We are getting rolled by the Senate, and transgender children are a part of that bargain. Texas is better than what the House did tonight,” Israel said in a statement.

That stood in contrast to a statement released by Republican Speaker of the House Joe Straus’s office, which sought to strike a deal with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on the so-called bathroom bill that died in the House State Affairs committee. Passing this amendment would avoid a special session to pass a more dangerous version of the bill.

“Representative Paddie’s amendment will allow schools to continue to handle sensitive issues as they have been handling them. I believe this amendment will allow us to avoid the severely negative impact of Senate Bill 6,” Straus said in a statement, referring to the contentious so-called “bathroom bill.”

“Members of the House wanted to act on this issue and my philosophy as Speaker has never been to force my will on the body. Gov. Abbott has said he would demand action on this in a special session, and the House decided to dispose of the issue in this way,” Strauss said.


Bahati makes her first appearance at Dallas Zoo

Posted on 19 May 2017 at 12:14pm

Bahati, the first lion cub born at the Dallas Zoo in 43 years, made her first public appearance today (Friday, 19).

Born on March 17, she now weighs 13 pounds. Mom Lina’s previous pregnancy resulted in the birth of two stillborn cubs. This time, according to zookeeper Keith Zdrijewski, Lina had a C-section. He explained the lions are trained for injections. So when she went into labor, she allowed the veterinarians to inject sedatives so they could perform the C-section. Zookeepers knew the cub was healthy because Lina was also ultrasound-trained.

Bahati is the first cub Lina has ever seen. But her instincts took over when she woke up and began nursing her cub.

Bahati has already learned some stalking behavior. When she first saw a crowd of people standing outside her enclosure, her eyes opened wide and she crouched, ready to pounce. In addition to her mom, Bahati plays with her aunt.

She’s yet to meet Kamau, her father, but Zdrijewski said they plan to introduce them soon. Kamau’s been a father twice before in other zoos where, Zdrijewski said, he’s been a great dad.



Наш цирк, наши обезьяны (Our circus, our monkeys)

Posted on 19 May 2017 at 8:05am



Haberman-Hardy-Sean Spicer swings like a trapeze artist, changing his defense of the latest tweet from the White House cellar. He is in the spotlight, at least when he is not hiding in the bushes, and it’s beginning to burn his soul. How can a man retain what is left of his tattered dignity while at the same time trying desperately to fend off the serious questions of a press corps that smells blood? It is a thrilling performance, and even Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live can’t match his acrobatics.

Jared Kushner poses and snaps his fingers as he corrals investors into his latest presentation, promising immigration in exchange for cash. Then, in a different role, he appears in the ring to whisper into the ringmaster’s ear, prompting him on details of the next act.

Way up on the high wire, Reince Priebus is swaying in the winds of Trump’s bluster, trying to manage a White House that is more chaotic than a three-ring circus with the big top tent on fire. One misstep and he will surely fall to his demise. But will the crowd gasp, or do they expect it as part of the show?

In the shadows, wiping the greasepaint from his pockmarked face, is Steve Bannon. His white-face clown act is largely over, but he still plays a role behind the scenes. He still orchestrates the dark music that accompanies this show.

And there, perched high atop an elephant, is Ivanka. Bedecked and bedazzled in feathers and jewels, she distracts the crowd from the sadistic trainer who mercilessly prods the lumbering beast with a steel hook — a monstrous animal trampling the crowds of poor rural supporters too dazzled by her beauty to notice they are being crushed. Isn’t she beautiful? Isn’t she smiling? Isn’t she enough to keep everyone calm?

And in the center ring is what the crowd has been waiting for, the trained monkeys! Jabbering and leaping from platform to platform, they would be thrilling — if they followed their script. But they don’t.

Instead, they climb over each other, scuffling to reach the man in the top hat, the ringmaster, with his bright yellow hair poking out from the rim of his tall black hat, his orange greasepaint glaring in the beam of the arc light. He might look resplendent were it not for the profuse flow of sweat that betrays his illusion of control.

It is those monkeys who seem to be running the show, but even they can’t keep up with the irrational ringmaster. In their suits, with their American flag pins on their lapels, they wave their arms high to get his attention. But none of them are brave enough to approach.

They are cowed by the tiny whip he holds, cracking it occasionally — just loud enough to halt them in their tracks, to send them back to their chamber, until they scramble out again to pose and jump about at the next photo opportunity.

Behind the tent, in “clown alley,” Michael Flynn and the other former buffoons are removing their costumes and slinking away. Their acts served their purpose, but this circus no longer needs their services. Maybe they can find work in a Russian circus somewhere?

Outside the tent, in the ticket office, the Russians have packed up their tools, gathered their receipts and tossed away the extra tickets.

They know how this show ends, and they have other shows to conduct.

Meanwhile, We the audience are left to enjoy the spectacle, or gasp in horror at the insanity of it all. While We are enraptured by the show, We fail to notice that the tent is really ablaze. The flames are already licking at the racial and ethnic minorities sitting in the cheap seats, and the smoke is making folks in the LGBTQ boxes cough.

Still, nobody tries to quench the flames. Nobody runs to the exit. Nobody moves, all staying transfixed by the awesome and horrific spectacle before us.

If you haven’t grown tired of this tortured metaphor, I direct your attention to your programs. In them you will find the answer to the whole messy madness, in Article II, Section 4 of the program:

“The president, vice president and all civil officers of the United States shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

In the footnotes it explains that first we have to convict them, and for that to happen, We the audience must demand an independent investigation.  We the audience must move to stop the chaos.

So We can either grab another bag of popcorn and continue to watch as we are consumed by the flames, or we can grab the water buckets and start putting out this blazing national nightmare.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 19, 2017.


Stonewall Democrats of Dallas reacts to Gov. Abbott signing SB4 into law

Posted on 18 May 2017 at 2:15pm

Stonewall President Lee Daugherty

On Sunday, May 7, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law Senate Bill 4 (SB4), better known as the “show me your papers law,” and that is similar has been ruled unconstitutional in Arizona because it permits racial profiling in law enforcement.

The language encourages discrimination and allows law enforcement to question a person’s immigration status simply upon detainment, not while under arrest. Supporters claim this bill only targets criminals, but opponents insist the bill will target children, victims of crimes and even veterans. Opponents also say the law incites fear and distrust in minority communities, specifically communities of color.

If SB4 goes into effect in September, Stonewall Democrats wrote in a press release, it will have a profound impact on the safety of all Texans by driving undocumented immigrants back into the shadows in fear of law enforcement retaliation. Immigrants will fear any interaction with law enforcement, whether they are victims or witnesses to crime. This will increase the amount of unreported crime and criminals will prey on these communities. “This unconstitutional, discriminatory terrorism sanctioned by our state government attempts to assist in Trump’s plan for mass deportations which will lead to a massive economic impact to Texas and a blow to the workforce we all depend on to maintain our states growth,” Stonewall Democrats said.

Stonewall President Lee Daugherty noted, “The safety and security of the LGBTQ community is paramount in the ongoing struggle for equal rights and protections under the law. The continued struggle for racial, economic, social, and environmental justice for all encompasses many issues that are inter-sectional and will not be ignored in our fight for equality. A conversation rarely had among advocacy groups is our own immigrant and undocumented LGBTQ community. It’s a community that lives among us, they are our friends, our partners, and our neighbors. The community already feels the hateful oppressive speech from Republicans in Austin and DC and continues to fight forward, even as we see elected officials making it a priority to strip away rights and push to legalize discrimination. Regardless of what Austin deems as important, we will fight back against SB4 and any other law that threatens the safety of our diverse community. Immigrants help make this country great, and at no time will we allow Governor Abbott or his radical colleagues place out ‘republicaning’ each other to secure future primaries become more important than the safety of our community. We will hold them accountable when they attempt to terrorize any part of our community.”


Impeachment talk swirls after bombshell reports on Trump wrongdoing

Posted on 18 May 2017 at 12:36pm

Impeachment talk has begun to swirl around President Donald Trump. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

by Chris Johnson/Washington Blade
Courtesy National LGBT Media Association

Impeachment talked swirled Wednesday amid a week of bombshell news reports that President Trump revealed classified information during a meeting with Russian officials and potentially committed obstruction of justice by firing former FBI Director James Comey after he refused to drop his investigation of Michael Flynn’s Russia ties.

Although Trump’s opponents, including those in LGBT community, continued to use phrases like “special prosecutor” and “bipartisan commission,” the sense was palpable that Trump’s end was near if further information emerges confirming the media accounts and that corroboration may come very soon.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, said appropriate action against Trump “would include impeachment” if the investigation reveals malfeasance.

“That said, Donald Trump should have been disqualified as a candidate when he bragged about groping women’s crotches, mocked a disabled journalist, called for a racist, unconstitutional and xenophobic Muslim ban, and characterized black people as living only in crime-ridden, drug infested areas of the country,” Carey added. “His racism and misogyny make him unfit for the office of the president. The past few days of sharing classified information with Russian diplomats and firing the FBI director in what may be an act of retaliation for refusing to drop an investigation has only put a finer point on this reality.”

On Tuesday, the Washington Post broke the first bombshell story, reporting Trump in a meeting last week with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov disclosed code-word level classified information on the Islamic State and intelligence agencies had to work to contain the damage. The White House denied the accuracy of the report, but the next day Trump said on Twitter he has the right to disclose classified information, seemingly corroborating the Post report.

Mike Sexton, a gay D.C.-based national security analyst for a prominent security and risk management firm, said Trump’s disclosure could disrupt U.S. relations with Israel — which was later reported as the initial source of the information — and could indicate Trump — wittingly or not — is a Russian pawn.

“This damages our trust with our closest ally in the Middle East and will make it harder to succeed in our counterterrorism efforts,” Sexton said. “I think this underscores a point Michael Hayden made during the election that Trump may be a useful idiot — polezni durak — of the Russian Federation. It is fallacious to assume that, for Trump to serve as an intelligence asset for the Russian government, he must be acting under the threat of blackmail or even witting of his status as an asset for the Russians.”

The next day, the New York Times broke the major story on a memo written by Comey prior to his termination in which he recorded Trump telling him to drop the investigation of Flynn’s ties to Russia. That account was corroborated by FBI officials aware of the conversation between Comey and Trump.

A White House official in the aftermath of the Washington Post report insisted Trump at no time asked Comey to discontinue his investigation of Flynn before terminating the FBI director.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the official said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

The White House official also cited congressional testimony from acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe in which he said the White House hasn’t interfered with any FBI investigation to date.

Speaking to graduating cadets Wednesday morning at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Trump lamented his treatment as president when urging them to pursue their goals, suggesting the media were unfairly targeting him.

“Look at the way I’ve been treated lately, especially by the media,” Trump said. “No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down, you can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams.”

Vocal in calling to impeach Trump after the reports was Rep. Al Green (D-Texas), who called for Trump’s removal from office on the House floor on the basis the president engaged in obstruction of justice.

“I do not do this for political purposes, Mr. Speaker,” Green said. “I do this because I believe in the great ideals that this country stands for — liberty and justice for all, the nation that we should have government of the people, by the people, for the people. I do it because, Mr. Speaker, there is a belief in this country that no one is above the law, and that includes the president of the United States of America.”

The more mainstream reaction from congressional Democrats was a discharge petition on Swalwell-Cummings’ Protecting Our Democracy Act, which would establish an independent, bipartisan commission to investigate Trump-Russia ties and interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), among the leaders of that effort and top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee, urged Democrats in an interview Wednesday on CNN not to rush to impeachment, saying that would be a “wrenching experience” for the country.

“We need to get to the bottom of what took place,” Schiff said. “What was the president’s intent of doing this? Was he trying to shut down a legitimate prosecution? Was he doing it because ultimately he was worried the trail might lead back to him?”

A Human Rights Campaign spokesperson pointed to a video the organization created a calling for a special prosecutor and said “that’s all we have at this point” when asked about the question of impeachment.

Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said an independent investigation is the right course of action at this time, but impeachment may be the appropriate action after that’s concluded.

“We strongly support an independent investigation of reported allegations that President Trump tried to interfere with FBI investigations of Flynn and possibly of the president himself,” Minter said. “If those allegations are substantiated, he should be impeached. This administration’s corruption, abuse of power, and disrespect for the rule of law have already created serious grounds for concern. The new allegations, if accurate, cross a dangerous line and threaten the integrity of our system of checks and balances to a degree that would warrant impeachment.”

Trump’s impeachment could have serious consequences for LGBT people. It would elevate to the Oval Office Vice President Mike Pence, who has had a strong relationship with social conservatives and may seek to enable anti-LGBT discrimination, such as by signing a “religious freedom” executive order, in ways thus far that Trump has declined to do.

Republicans in Congress had mixed reactions in the aftermath of the report on the Comey memo. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who’s leading the Russia investigation in Congress as chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed skepticism to reporters and said the onus is on the New York Times to produce the document despite his own power of subpoena.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who’d be responsible for moving forward with impeachment in the House, urged against jumping to conclusions following the Comey memo and said “we need the facts” before proceeding.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chair of the House Committee on Oversight & Government Relations, issued a letter to the FBI calling on the FBI to produce no later than May 24 notes on communications between Comey and Trump, saying on Twitter he’s ready to subpoena the information.

Also reluctant to jump to conclusions was Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin Republicans, who compared media reports on the Trump wrongdoing to press accounts predicting he’d sign an executive order enabling anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of “religious freedom.”

“I’d caution on any rushes to judgment — especially by the LGBT press, which had egg all over its face twice this year after unfounded stories similarly supplied by ‘unnamed sources’ regarding a supposedly ‘confirmed’ anti-LGBT religious freedom executive order were proven to be totally false,” Angelo said. “I’m waiting to see the facts. You should, too.”

Although Trump never issued a “religious freedom” order enabling anti-LGBT discrimination, those reports arguably created public attention that dissuaded him from that action.

Jon Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, also cautioned against making the call for impeachment at this point and said the correct path is fact-gathering to make a stronger case.

“We would like the entire Trump administration swept out of office, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Davidson said. “The focus right now needs to be on getting Congress to do its job, conduct a proper investigation of the many troubling indications of wrongdoing, follow the evidence rather than spin or ‘alternative facts, and protect the Constitution and the nation.”


Ellen’s other Joe

Posted on 18 May 2017 at 12:28pm


Joe Dombrowski never expected to end up on Ellen after his fourth-grade students at Oakland Elementary in Royal Oak, Mich., hilariously attempted to spell made-up words — and a queen’s name from RuPaul’s Drag Race — as an April Fools’ joke. But then again, Dombrowski never expected the legendary prank, which he orchestrated, filmed and posted to his social media, to seize the attention of admirers from around the world… including Ellen DeGeneres.

Just days after the video went viral, the 28-year-old teacher was a guest on the comedian’s talk show. But it wasn’t attention he was after. In addition to receiving a generous $10,000 check from Shutterfly made out to Oakland Elementary (and $10,000 for him personally) — the school largely educates children from low-income families — the teacher and now-famous trickster says he was elated that “Ellen really gave me a platform to put such a positive light on education, which is where my heart is.”

That crazy, surreal day, his heart was in the right place, but his head? Not so much. Instant internet fame will do that to you.

“Once Ellen called, it truly hit me how big this whole thing had gone,” Dombrowski tells me, still reeling from the experience. “When I watched the interview, it all started coming back, and I just realized that I blacked out completely during it.”

This is how he remembers it: Ellen kissed him, he made her — major daytime talk-show host, Glamour Woman of the Year honoree, Emmy winner, Dory — laugh, and then the two shared a special behind-the-scenes moment. During a commercial break, Dombrowski expressed to her how her confidence as an out lesbian — and the fact that “she’s such a strong role model for all people, especially the LGBT community” — helped transform him into a confident, out gay man, both privately and professionally.