Side trip: The Sam Houston statue

Posted on 30 Jun 2015 at 11:06am

Sam Houston's headYou know you’ve always been curious but ended up just driving by.

On the way home from Houston Pride, we stopped off to see the Sam Houston monument along I-45 in Huntsville, about 70 miles north of Houston.

As a major general, Houston 1793–1863 won the Battle of San Jacinto, securing Texas independence. He’s the only American to be elected governor of two different states — Tennessee and Texas — and the only governor within a future Confederate state to oppose secession. When he refused to take an oath of allegiance to the Confederacy, he was removed from office by the Texas secession convention.

The statue has been standing there since 1994 and I never knew you could stop off and actually see it. Get off the exit before or after and take the service road to the welcome center. From there walk out along the Interstate and walk around big Sam — the second tallest monument in the state. (Could Dallas be outdone? By someone named Houston? No way. When the giraffe was erected in front of the Dallas Zoo, a tongue reaching upward was added so it would be taller than Sam).

Sam’s pretty impressive. I thought he’d been standing there a decade or two longer, but the inscription says 1994. But you really get a great view of him from the highway — the better view driving north. But I did get a picture of Houston’s ass, which can’t be seen from the Interstate.



4th annual Nike LGBT Sports Summit expands with youth, narrows focus

Posted on 30 Jun 2015 at 9:24am

Cyd Ziegler

The first Nike LGBT Sports Summit four years ago was a modest affair. Twenty-five men and women — coaches, professors and activists — spent two days in Portland, Ore., assessing the gay sports landscape and figuring out how to cast a wider net.

Over the next two years, the event grew. One hundred people gathered, for three days each year up from two. Big goals were set, bold plans envisioned, to make the sports world more open and accepting for LGBT athletes and coaches.

This year’s Nike LGBT Sports Summit — which took place early last month — was the biggest and best, participants agree. And the reason is that the focus became more narrow.

“We finally got it,” says LGBT Sports Coalition co-chair Cyd Ziegler, founders of the gay sports website “Our outcome changed from grand projects to trying to figure out what attendees can do in their own local communities. We ended up with 100 different things” — one for each person in Portland — “and I think everyone left with a real sense of community and purpose.”

This year’s Nike LGBT Sports Summit, sponsored by the Oregon-based footwear, apparel and equipment giant, was the most diverse yet. Last year’s summit included a few college-age athletes, so this time around a concerted effort was made to invite younger participants. Approximately half of the 125 attendees were 17 to 24 years old.

“They bring so much energy. It was palpable,” Ziegler notes.

They inspired the “veterans” — who watched with wonder as some of the young athletes participated in their first Gay Pride event ever. (The final day of the summit traditionally ends at Portland Pride.)

The LGBT Sports Summit was also a chance for teenage and college athletes to meet others like themselves. One of the most powerful parts of the weekend for Ziegler began Friday night, at Nike’s party. A young African-American football player described what happened when he came out. There was abuse from his family and team — but also incredible support, from people he did not expect.

The next morning, Ziegler invited the young man up to tell his story to everyone. On the final day, all 125 attendees gathered together, linked arms, and gave a “group hug” to the football player. It was a small, but very powerful moment — for the individuals, and the entire movement.

Others shared personal moments, too. A distance runner from Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho is a Jehovah’s Witness. He described his own very recent coming out process, and the effect it has had on others.

Trans athletes added their own perspectives. Nearly a dozen attendees identified as trans or gender-fluid. Trans man Isaiah Wilson, 20, attends the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. A former high school athlete who now coaches youth basketball, he appreciated sharing “space and air time” with athletes who are making a difference.

One of his favorite workshops centered around the inclusion of trans students in athletics. “I know a number of trans people who either aren’t coming out or aren’t transitioning because they think they will be completely barred for playing sports,” Wilson says. “This weekend reminded me that athletics keep so many LGBT individuals alive and going. Athletes inspire people — and that’s exactly what the attendees of the summit do too.”

This year’s summit featured more breakout sessions than ever, but also large group discussions. “It’s not easy with 125 people,” Ziegler acknowledges. “But people really did listen to each other, and learn.” Topics included the importance of inclusion, anti-bullying strategies, the responsibilities of social media, taking care of oneself after coming out, how to lead training sessions for coaches and how to create trans-inclusive policies.

At the end, each attendee came up with an action plan to bring to his or her community. The plans range from organizing panels on college campuses and creating videos to show at professional conferences, to influencing policies in athletic conferences (especially around trans issues) and creating support networks and safe spaces on campuses for LGBT athletes and coaches.

“Big grand plans are hard to make happen,” Ziegler admits. “This year, we had one big plan: to create an army that can head out across the country and influence local communities. It’s very empowering to feel that you as an individual can make an impact wherever you live.”

The final Pride Parade pulsed with energy. “There was an overwhelming sense of community,” Ziegler says. “No one felt alone. The people who already were active in the community found new people to help. And everyone who was at the summit now has a network of people they can count on.”

In a sense, this year’s LGBT Sports Summit marks a turning point for the entire gay sports movement. The torch has been passed to a new generation. Veteran leaders like Ziegler and his LGBT Sports Coalition co-chair Kathleen Hatch are eager for this new crop of now-empowered athletes and coaches to assume leadership roles.

—  Dan Woog



Jaster appointed permanent executive director of Turtle Creek Chorale

Posted on 29 Jun 2015 at 8:33am
Bruce Jaster

Bruce Jaster

Bruce Jaster, who took quickly over as interim executive director for the Turtle Creek Chorale following the departure of the previous post-holder in January, has been confirmed as the new full-time permanent executive director, the TCC announced late Friday. The ED is responsible for the management and business side of the organization. Sean Baugh, who was made full-time artistic director earlier this spring after overseeing the most recent season of the TCC since the departure of Trey Jacobs last June, will continue to be in charge of the music, programs and singers.

Jaster received the unanimous support of the board of directors in voting him to the post. He has been on the board himself for 10 years, and spent 15 as a singing member. Since assuming the interim role, he has led the chorale through a dicey period in its history, building up its financial security and “continuing the chorale’s movement toward stability and new growth,” according to a release. Jaster was with Price Waterhouse Coopers before stepping away to take the interim position in January.

“The chorale has been a part of my life since first attending a concert on the early 1980s. To be able to now serve as executive director is a dream realized,” Jaster said.

The chorale is Dallas’ 35-year-old gay men’s chorus, one of the fourth oldest gay men’s singing groups in the U.S. It starts its 36th season Oct. 9.

When I jokingly observed that the timing of the promotion from interim to permanent looked conditioned upon the Supreme Court bestowing marriage equality, the TCC’s director of marketing Tri Truong laughed, adding, “I feel like you can spin it that way.”


KERA to interview ‘Mark and Vic,’ Texas plaintiffs in SCOTUS marriage equality case

Posted on 28 Jun 2015 at 1:04pm

IMG_0427Mark Pariss and Vic Holmes, two of the plaintiffs in the marriage equality case that was decided by the Supreme Court last week, are Plano-based and will be the guests in the first hour of Monday’s Think, the midday talk show on local National Public Radio affiliate 90.1 KERA-FM. The show airs from noon to 1 p.m. June 29 if you get a chance to listen to it live; it will be rebroadcast at 9 p.m. Monday and available as well on the show’s podcast.


Bolsa buys dinner for gays who marry today

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 2:40pm

image1 (1)So, I decided I wouldn’t be posting my usual Cocktail Friday drink recipe, to honor the solemnity of this historic occasion. And I won’t. But on the other hand, I will share this news with you from Bolsa:

In honor of the Supreme Court’s ruling on marriage equality, Bolsa is renaming its frozen cocktail to #loveislove. We will be selling #loveislove for $5 today. We will also buy dinner for anyone who gets married today. Just bring in your proof of marriage. Come down to Bolsa and celebrate this historic moment!


BREAKING: Bulletins from the front lines of the courthouse

Posted on 26 Jun 2015 at 10:46am

Neal and Williams

A few month ago, Richard Neal, the owner of Zeus Comics, was so excited about the Supreme Court finally hearing the marriage equality case that he brought a change of clothes to his shop so that he and partner Chris Williams, who have been together 12 years, could rush to the courthouse the second it became legal in Texas. When I told him it wouldn’t be until June that SCOTUS likely decided the case, he was undeterred — he and Chris were fully prepared to drop everything and get hitched the second they could.

“We’re not going to miss this!” he told me.  “Chris sees getting married as our civic duty to participate in what we’ve been fighting for. For me, it’s the validation for LGBT individuals and in particular LGBT youth to know that they can have real and whole relationships.”

This isn’t the first time they’ve affirmed their devotion to each other. They met more than a decade ago, “and followed that six years ago with an announcement in the Dallas Voice and a gorgeous ceremony with family and friends at the Texas Discovery Gardens at Fair Park. Though no piece of paper can give value to what we already have, it’s important to us that we make it official in Texas,” Neal says. (I was at that ceremony. It was charming.)

This morning, the second they heard about the decision, Neal and Williams jumped into action, texting me updates all morning. Here are some of his bulletins from the front lines:

“We saw two other gays running while we were looking for parking!”

Later: “We’ve filled out the application They’ve told us they’re waiting for the go-ahead. This place is chaotic.”

Then: “We’ve been told the clerk’s office is working on finding a judge to waive the waiting period — The media are interviewing people in line as if they’ve [already] been married.”

As of earlier this hour, it was still a madhouse of waiting, though progress was being made: “No one has been called yet. They’re crossing Ts and dotting Is. We’ve been told Judge George Tillery is making it happen [i.e., waiving the three-day waiting period for gay couples]. Once they get going, we’ll head over there to finalize [our marriage].”

It’s a tremendous time of support and excitement, Neal says: “Jack Evans and George Harris are now in the paperwork line! We’re still ahead of them in the process, but so great to see them here!”

We’ll update this post as Richard and Chris tell us more. Congrats, guys!


“Folks that have filed like us are being send to the probate court for finalization. … We’re in a court waiting with about another 50 couples. Judge Garcia is going to waive the 72 hour waiting period. She’s here now. Lots of applause.”

“We’re being addressed by John Warren. He said sam-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. He said licenses will begin being issued.”

Chris and I are the 7th couple [married in Dallas County]!”

“I should have brought snacks.”


June 27 is Rainbow Family Day at Dallas City Hall

Posted on 25 Jun 2015 at 5:39pm



LISTEN: Learn more about how I drink coffee than you care to know

Posted on 25 Jun 2015 at 1:53pm

ThinkstockPhotos-101838225Last year, Ron Thompson started a blog and movement that he calls Chef and Song, which gives him an opportunity to talk with local musicians and chefs — and others — about whatever comes up over a cup of coffee at a local hangout. Last week, he invited me — who is neither a chef nor a musician — to sit down at Buzzbrews on Lemmon Avenue and discuss life, the universe and everything. But mostly about how I make coffee.

Anyway, it was a hoot! Listen to it here. And there are a dozen more, much better interviews with actually interesting people on the website, including Gary Lynn Floyd, Denise Lee, Cedric Neal, Casie Caldwell and Blythe Beck. Enjoy!


PSSA’s standings for the week

Posted on 25 Jun 2015 at 7:54am

ThinkstockPhotos-177556272smThe three active divisions of the Pegasus Slowpitch Softball Association‘s teams posted the following stat this week:

B Division: Dallas Woody’s X-Plosion B (6-2); Toxic (6-2); T.H.E. Round-Up (0-8).

C Division: Round-Up Synergy (13-3); JR.’s Texas Heat (12-3-1); Dallas Woody’s X-Plosion C (10-4); Dallas Woody’s (10-5-1); TMC Octane (10-5-1); Dallas Woody’s Demons (5-10-1); Dallas Radiation (5-11); Aftershock (4-12); Tim-Buck-2 Cat Squad (3-12-1); P-Cocks (3-12-1).

D Division: Dallas Woody’s X-Plosion D (13-1); DIVE! (12-1); Shockwave (9-3-1); JR.’s Dallas Devils (10-4); Winslow’s Winos (8-4-1); Dallas Woody’s Woodchucks (8-5); PowerStrokes (8-5-1); The Brick Titans (7-5); The Brick #Hashtags (7-7); Dallas Eagle Talons (5-8-1); TomKatz (5-8-1); Round-Up Diesel (5-9); N-Motion (4-8); Tap House Semis (3-9-1); Dallas Woody’s Saints (3-11); Dallas Tornados (1-10-2); Shockers (2-12).


The sun’ll come out… manana! ‘Annie’ goes bilingual

Posted on 24 Jun 2015 at 3:52pm

Annie the MusicalThe AT&T Performing Arts Center announced today that this Sunday’s evening performance of Annie will be offered in Spanish.

Broadway en espanol is a new program of ATTPAC, in collaboration with Cara Mia Theatre Co. and Univision, offering free headsets at the 7:30 p.m. performance of Annie at the Winspear Opera House. Members of Cara Mia will translate the show in real time for Spanish-speaking audience members. This is the inaugural effort for the program, but additional shows will be announced in the coming months. For now, though, enjoy classic songs like “Ciudad Nueva York,” “Quizas” and “Manana.”

Tickets are available here. My review of Annie will be in Friday’s edition of Dallas Voice, in print and online.