Was Ty Herndon really brave? I say yes

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 12:48pm

Ty Herndon and Chely Wright

So, Ty Herndon came out as a gay man this week. Some folks quickly applauded him for being so brave. Others said ya know, maybe he wasn’t so brave after all. I mean, he was already a star. He already had his hit songs. And there are already any number of other performers — singers, actors, etc. — who have come out. We already know you aren’t automatically killing your career by coming out.

Except that Ty Herndon is a country-western singer. That’s a little different. Sure, Chely Wright came out a few years ago, you might point out, and she’s a country-western singer. True. But how often have you seen her name at the top of the charts since she came out?

(C&W singer Billy Gilman came out Thursday, too, a few hours after Herndon, citing Herndon as his inspiration.)

I like country-western music. I always liked Chely Wright’s music, and I always liked Ty Herndon’s music. I hope that both of them see a resurgence in their careers soon, with LGBTs buying their music in a show of support if nothing else and with non-LGBT fans of C&W buying their music because it is just good music and the sexual orientation of the singers doesn’t make a damn bit of difference.

I’m LGBT and I am a C&W music fan. So I am gonna buy Ty Herndon’s new album for both reasons – to show support and because I like his new song, “Lies I Told Myself.” I like the video, below, too.

So here’s to you, Ty Herndon. You may not have been the first performer to come out, or even the first professional C&W singer. But I still think it took some courage. It always does, no matter who you are. I can’t say there won’t be some folks who condemn you for being gay, including some in our own tribe who might say you’re just looking for publicity. But count me among those who applaud you for being honest, who applaud you as a good entertainer, and who welcome you into the light.

(And by the way Chely Wright, if you’re listening, I’ll buy your new music, too.)


More pics from David’s day in prison

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:58am

The account of my visit to the Allred Unit outside Wichita Falls is here. These are some additional pictures of Anthony Garcia, filmmakers Christopher Hines and the Allred Unit.


Dallas elected officials in D.C. for Obama speech on immigration

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:54am

Sara Adam Omar

Dallas County Justice of the Peace Sara Martinez, Dallas City Councilman Adam Medrano and Dallas County School Board member Omar Narvaez were among those outside the White House in Washington, D.C. with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Thursday night, Nov. 20, for President Barack Obama’s speech about immigration. Narvaez was interviewed by the BBC. Former Dallasite Jesse Garcia, who now lives in D.C. and works for the federal government, and former City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano were there too.

Martinez, Medrano and Narvaez were also in D.C. for the NALEO institute for newly elected officials.

Narvaez BBC


Purple Party Planning: DJs announced for 15th annual fundraising weekend

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:51am
Alyson Calagna

Alyson Calagna

The Purple Party Foundation has announced the lineup of headlining DJs for Purple Party Weekend 2015. The event, set for May 8-11, celebrates its 15h birthday next spring, and organizers are promising that the DJs for 2015 will “light up the dance floor and stir your souls with their passion and talent.”

The lineup includes “fresh and familiar faces” of international stars and local favorites.

The weekend begins that Friday with  “Ignite,” the opening party, featuring DJ Ivan Gomez of Barcelona. On Saturday, DJ Doug Jackson of Fort Lauderdale spins for “Roar!,” the bear party, and DJ Wayne G of London spins Saturday at “Rise,” the pool party.

The main event happens Sunday when DJ Alyson Calagna of Miami and DJ Shane Stiel of Los Angeles burn it up at The Purple Party. DJ Danny Verde of Milan plays at “Revival,” the tea party, and things wind up with “Glow,” the closing party, featuring DJ Paulo of Los Angeles.

Early-bird passes are already on sale for the limited-time price of $129 — a 40 percent savings over the cost of buying tickets at the door, Warwick Melrose Hotel is again the host hotel for the event.

Purple Foundation, established in 2001, is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to raising money to help improve the lives of people in the Dallas area living with HIV/AIDS. Since its inception, Purple Party Foundation has donated more than $600,000 toward that end. Purple Party Foundation’s primary beneficiary is AIDS Services of Dallas, which provides housing for those living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Shane Stiel

Shane Stiel


Cocktail Friday: The Versace Sour

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 10:32am

Image_20194bIn our Holiday Gift Guide this week, we include the dazzling designer bottle of Disaronno amaretto liqueur as a good item. But here’s a little follow through on it: How to turn the contents into a smashing drink, the Versace Sour. And what gay doesn’t like to be in Versace?

1 part Disaronno amaretto

2 parts biano vermouth

2 parts lime


Blue Curacao

Making it: In a shaker, mix the amaretto, vermouth and lime juice with crushed ice. Pour into a Versace highball glass and top with a splash of prosecco (or cava, or champagne) and a drizzle of blue curacao. For added drama, top with gold flakes.


Food pantry clients need your help

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 9:45am
Screen shot 2014-11-21 at 9.14.07 AM

The cupboard is bare

Once again, the cupboards are bare.

In this season of thankfulness and sharing, the Resource Center’s food pantry is in critical need of canned vegetables, canned meats, and condiments. The bulk of the food is purchased from the North Texas Food Bank at a significantly reduced price, but their inventory has been excruciatingly low.

After serving all the HIV-positive clients on Monday, the food pantry had only a shelf of canned carrots left. Typically, the center’s food pantry sees its highest demand for products in November and December. Please help the clients and make a donation of food and/or cash before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pantry Wish List:

Canned meats: tuna, chicken, chili, Spam
Canned soups and ramen noodles
Canned vegetables and fruits
Boxed cereal
Dry staples: rice, beans, pasta
Juice: juice boxes and canned juices
Condiments: ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, sugar
Pop-top cans and commercially wrapped single-serve items work best for our clients

Food drop-off locations:

Food Pantry, 5450 Denton Drive Cut Off, Dallas, 75235
Monday: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Friday-Sunday: Closed

John Thomas LGBT Community Center, 2701 Reagan St., Dallas, 75219
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday: Closed


Counting your blessings

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 7:25am

Leslie McMurray

Living life as a trans woman isn’t easy. In fact, it can be hard as hell. It hurts; it’s expensive, and at times can seem an insurmountable challenge. There are still many obstacles stacked before us that all seem to conspire to derail transition, or worse.

We need look no further than our annual observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance each Nov. 20 to illustrate the challenges and obstacles. Getting caught up in those challenges can be tempting. Poor me syndrome can creep in.

So I thought I’d share a tool I came across many years ago to help in facing the challenges. It works for me, and I hope it can help others, too.

I used to live in the mountains of Northern California, not far from Lake Tahoe. It was truly beautiful there. Lots of tall trees, free-running creeks and rivers and, of course, snow capped mountains.

But trying to plant a garden was a real chore. There were hungry deer eager to eat almost anything we planted. The ground was hard and had lots of rocks, from small baseball-sized ones to those too big to lift.

After digging and digging and extracting these rocks and tossing them into a pile, we decided to make a rock garden of sorts. (We planted flowers, too, eventually.)

This rock garden took shape as a kind of border around the front lawn. It was a couple of feet wide and ran maybe 30 feet long at first, then grew from there.

I don’t recall where I first heard the idea but I loved it right away: Place every stone with a purpose and assign a blessing in your life to it. This was a wonderful exercise in living in gratitude because there were a LOT of rocks.

The blessings were easy at first: One for each of my two daughters, my wife at the time, a roof over my head, our two beloved dogs, a good job, enough food to eat, good health — and so it went.

After a while though became more of a challenge. But the funny thing was, it sort of forced me to really set my mind on just how fortunate I was.

Most of us are really blessed far beyond what we are aware of on a daily basis.

Comfortable bed? Many people in the world lack even that. Music? Yep. Good friends? How about a rock for each one. Treasured memories? Sunny days? Sure! Rainy nights in front of a fire? Absolutely.

You get the idea. No matter how many rocks we found around the property and in the ground, we always found blessings to assign them.

You can do it with rocks, or collectable spoons or stuffed animals or whatever you want. It’s even fun to go back and remember which rock was which blessing.

Is life a challenge sometimes? Yes. Is that going to change? Not anytime soon, no. Matter of fact, it can sometimes be a real beat-down.

But focusing on the good things we have in our lives can be a real attitude adjustment. Living life from a place of gratitude can really help your outlook.

For each one of you that read this and get something out of it, I’ve got a rock with your name on it. Please accept my deepest thanks.                     •

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 November 21, 2014


Going homo for the holidays

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 7:20am

Emerson CollinsWhen you are out and proud, with a loving and supportive Rockwellian family, the holidays are a face-stuffing good time filled with presents, merriment and drinking for good times.

If you are not out, or if you come from a judgmental and conservative family more akin to something out of Tennessee Williams, it can mean eating alone, receiving gifts with strings attached or depression and drinking just to get through it all.

When it is not all carols and good cheer, there are ways to make it better.

For many LGBT people, the holidays become a time filled with the self-pressure of “just do it already” to come out. There is often something equal parts appealing and terrifying about the idea of all of the family being together and just ripping off the rainbow Band-Aid.

There is no wrong way to come out — as gay, bisexual or transgender — because there is nothing wrong with being LGBT. Anyone who tells you otherwise is suggesting there is something potentially negative about the information you are revealing, and they are wrong. Completely wrong.

There is not a right time to announce “I like pizza,” or “I’m a real estate agent,” or “Taylor Swift might be the anti-Christ.” (OK, that last one could start a fight.) You are just revealing a previously unknown piece of the puzzle that is you to the people who love you.

That said, considering the potential responses can make it easier for you and those to whom you are coming out. If there is any potential physical danger in the response to your news, your personal safety should be the only factor in your decision. There is no benefit to your journey from putting yourself in harm’s way.

Outside of physical danger, if you are likely to receive an extremely negative reaction based on the prejudices of your friends or family, have a pre-determined exit strategy. If it’s important to you to come out and you know it will not go well, have someone with you and somewhere to go after the conversation to protect yourself from being stuck if it becomes an emotionally harmful situation.

Beyond the worst-case scenarios, giving some consideration to those you are telling will make it the best for everyone. You may receive the “Oh, honey, we’ve always known” response, or the “Umm, we had no idea!” surprised reaction. The first can be relief for you and amusement for all and then “pass the stuffing…” followed by joking innuendos.

The shocked response could cause that lapse around the table where you can hear everyone chewing as they revise their internal understanding of you while thinking of something to say. Being understanding of any initial surprise or shock, rather than resenting it immediately, can allow a conversation of love and understanding to continue over entirely too many kinds of pie.

Most of those in the closet have had a great deal of time to come to terms with their own identities before sharing them; allow others a moment to gather themselves and sitting down to not watch the sportsball game afterward will be easier for everyone.

It can also be all in the timing. It’s just possible that if your family is hosting a holiday dinner or party with a large group of guests, asking for a huge helping of meat and coming out by saying, “Because that’s what I like in the bedroom” might go over like vegan stuffing in the South — not because you should not be proud, but because asking for respect means giving it as well.

Of course, if your family is going to be absolutely fine, and you know that, bringing sushi to the potluck and announcing “Because I’m a lesbian” can be fun for the whole family!
Coming out is about you. The holidays as a time of love and gift-giving can be a wonderful time to do so. The time and manner should be what makes you feel most comfortable first. Remembering to be considerate of the feelings of the friends and family will help you choose the best moment for all of you.

Of course, the holidays can be challenging for those who are already out if family relationships are complicated. It can be a ballet of compromise for those who want to see and be involved with family members in spite of negative attitudes surrounding sexual orientation or gender identity.

In these situations, it is still important to remember that how, and how much, you are involved in the family holidays is up to you.

If your family loves you “in spite of” something about your orientation, there are many approaches to participating with them, and one that will fit you best. Some LGBT people choose not to be with their blood family at all and to focus on the new family they have built who embrace all of who they are.

For others, in spite of ongoing disapproval, cutting ties or issuing ultimatums would be too painful and a tenuous middle ground is reached. There is the “We talk about everything but that” approach. Or the “You are welcome here, but your partner is not” offer. And the ever-popular “We’re praying for you and just want you in church with us” guilt trip that is unfortunately popular in the Bible Belt.

And on and on and on.

However you deal with a less-than-completely-accepting family, do it on your terms. If you feel like you may lose out on time with them, remember they will also be losing out on time with you. Make compromises if you are truly comfortable with them, but do not agree to anything that makes you feel “less than;” don’t let them have their perfect holiday by sacrificing yours.

If holiday compromises involve your significant other, ensure that you are considering their feelings as well. They love you unconditionally and should be treated with more respect than those who do not.

If you make sacrifices, be open and vocal about what they are so your family is aware of them. Do not let them off the hook. That love they have for you, and their desire to have you for the holidays, should ensure they compromise at least as much as you do.

However, if you agree to a compromise, do not begrudge them the terms you agreed upon. If you do not like how it ends up, you can always leave. Or make it different next year.

For many in the LGBT community, the holidays are equal parts wonderful and challenging. The line between loving an imperfect family without sacrificing personal pride is a tight line to walk. There is no correct way to navigate it all beyond ensuring that you are not making any choices that you cannot live with.

Do not let anyone make you feel less than you are for their perfect meal, perfect holiday or perfect photo opportunity. Whether coming out or coming home, make sure those you give them to are worthy of your gifts during the holidays, and always remember there are no greater gifts than your time, your presence and your love.

Emerson Collins is one of the hosts of The People’s Couch on Bravo.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 21, 2014


Welcome to the family Ty

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 4:08pm

In honor of Ty Herndon having come out, let me share this video of one of my favorites of his songs. We should all be living in the moment.


Chorale headlines tree lighting at Main Street Garden … and lots more

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 3:25pm

Acting director Sean Baugh

UPDATE: Because of expected rain, City Lights has moved to Sunday and the Chorale is scheduled to perform at 7:45 p.m.

Original Post:

The Turtle Creek Chorale headlines the City Lights lighting of the Main Street Garden Christmas tree on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The tree lighting is at 7 p.m. and the Chorale sings at 8 p.m. Main Street Garden is located at 1902 Main St.

The Chorale has seven other outreach concerts in addition to two performances of Jangled in McKinney on Dec. 13 and five performances on Dec. 18-21 at City Performance Hall in the Arts District. Buy tickets here.

The Chorale has a number of other performances around town throughout December.

Nov. 29:
Support Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving by heading up to the historic McKinney Town Square. Poke your head into the shops and enjoy the sweet sounds of members of TCC as they carol about the square from 2–3 p.m.

Dec. 5:
Tune into WRR Classical 101.1 FM from noon–1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 and enjoy a free one hour Chorale concert. Able to slip away from your desk? Head over to Dallas City Performance Hall and watch the broadcast live.

Dec 5:
Poinsettias and rosemary Christmas trees and Christmas cacti, oh my! Stroll through North Haven Gardens on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5–7 p.m. Local artists will be sharing their new works, artisans will be selling their wares, and the Chorale will be singing.

Dec. 6:
Everyone knows there are a few holiday classics not to be missed. Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol is a Dallas tradition. Attend the Saturday matinee on Dec. 6 and enjoy caroling from TCC’s small ensemble, Camerata, as you sip your egg nog before the show!

Theater not your thing? Head over to Klyde Warren Park on Dec. 6 and check out TCC on the mainstage from 2:30–3 p.m. Dance on the green. Grab a holiday cupcake from Trailercakes or listen from the Savor patio.

Dec. 7:
Sean Baugh is the Chorale’s acting artistic director. He’ll be the guest on Lambda Weekly on Dec. 7 from 1–2 p.m. Have something to ask — naughty or nice — leave your question here in the comments.

Dec. 8:
Nothing quite describes the Chorale like SPARKLE! OK, we were referring to glitter, but the Hilton Anatole’s Sparkle! event is fun for the whole family.  With indoor skating, face painting, light shows and more, you won’t want to be the only Dallas-ite not there! We recommend going on Monday, Dec. 8 since the Chorale will be singing from 6–6:40 p.m.

Dec. 11:
FINALLY … whew … they made it to they’re last outreach event, and it’s certainly a favorite. TCC will be performing at NorthPark Mall on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 5–5:45 p.m. Shopping and the Chorale? Yes please! Grab your favorite holiday latte and stroll over to the NorthCourt area in front of AMC Theaters for classic holiday carols.