Rodeo coming back to Cowtown

Posted on 16 Jul 2014 at 3:11pm


Polish up your cowboy boots and get those Wranglers starched: The International Gay Rodeo Association is once again bringing its Finals Rodeo to Fort Worth, Oct. 16-19 in the John Justin Arena, 3401 W. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth’s Cultural District. Bud Light is once again the signature sponsor for the rodeo.

The rodeo will include competition in calf roping, team roping, bull riding and other traditional rodeo events, along with other events unique to gay rodeo, like goat dressing and the wild drag race. Both men and women compete in each category, and cowboys and cowgirls have  been competing in rodeos around the U.S. and Canada all year to pile up enough points to earn a spot in the finals. Only the top 20 point-winners in each of the 13 events win a spot at the Finals Rodeo to compete for the titles of WGRF Champion and All-Around Champion.

The four-day Finals Rodeo also includes the culmination of the Mr., Ms. MsTer and Miss IGRA 2015 competition, beginning Thursday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Rose Room at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas, and continuing Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17-18, at the Hilton Arlington, 2401 E. Lamar Blvd. in Arlington. The new titleholders will be crowned Saturday night, with the ceremony folled by a “Hoe Down Party” with live music and dancing. Royalty contests and the hoe-down are free and open to the public.

The four-day event will also include food and merchandise booths and entertainment. Competition in the 13 events will take place Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 18-19. Doors open each day at 9 a.m. Admission is $15 a day or $20 for a weekend pass. Proceeds will benefit IGRA’s two charities for 2014: the National LGBT Cancer Network and the Gay and Lesbian Rodeo Heritage Foundation



Be An Angel celebrates Legacy’s 25th anniversary

Posted on 16 Jul 2014 at 11:35am
Melissa Grove

Melissa Grove

On Sunday, Legacy Counseling Center celebrates its 25th anniversary with Be An Angel.

That’s such appropriate timing because Executive Director Melissa Grove and her staff at Founders Cottage are my angels. I call them that because they saved my friend’s life recently. Oh, I don’t mean, “Gee, Melissa. Thanks for the ride home. You saved my life.”

I mean a friend of mine was at Parkland last month and was suddenly diagnosed with organ failure. After just a few days, they were looking for hospice care for him — somewhere he could go to die. My partner called Melissa. After all, she has a hospice. Maybe she could help.

While Legacy didn’t have room, Melissa had this crazy idea for my friend. Maybe someone with HIV should be on HIV medication. And maybe, if that medication works, he won’t die.

I’m not sure why a doctor at Parkland didn’t think of putting someone with HIV on HIV meds. When someone goes to Parkland with a heart attack, do they say, “Hey, he had a heart attack. Find a hospice where he can die.” No, they treat the heart condition.

When someone with cancer goes to Parkland, do they say, “Hey, go home and die.” No, they send the patient to an oncologist.

So why, when someone with HIV came to Parkland, did they not treat the HIV? And why didn’t I think to suggest it myself? Well, I thought he was on his HIV meds, but I wasn’t looking at his medical chart or monitoring his medications, because I’m not a doctor. Thankfully, those angels at Legacy thought of it. Now Legacy is monitoring his care at a recovery facility and, guess what. He’s getting better.

“Yes, that happens a lot,” Grove said. “We get a lot of referrals to ‘hospice’ for people who have never even been tried on HIV meds.”

You can help Legacy continue to save lives. Legacy operates its counseling center in Uptown and Founder’s Cottage in Oak Cliff. In addition, it runs the country’s largest HIV-positive women’s conference through its Grace Project and its newest program, Homebase for Housing, that helps people with HIV find housing.

Be An Angel celebrates Legacy’s 25th anniversary with dinner, a live and silent auction and music by Vince Martinez at 7 for Parties, 150 Turtle Creek Blvd. Suite 107 on Sunday, July 20 from 6–9 p.m. Wendy Krispin is catering the three-course dinner. Tickets are $75 and available online.


New Fort Worth Councilwoman Ann Zadeh sworn in

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 at 8:57pm
zadeh swearing in

Courtesy of Kathryn Omarkhail

Ann Zadeh was sworn in as Fort Worth’s new councilwoman for District 9 at Tuesday night’s council meeting. After winning a special election in June to replace former councilman Joel Burns, Zadeh told the Star-Telegram she’s ready to “go back through this thick notebook I have been compiling from neighborhoods to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.”

In her first speech, she didn’t go without acknowledging her supporters, thanking the “dynamic citizens who were never lacking in enthusiasm.”

Nor did she hesitate to be ambitious.

“I want to lay out my vision for the district,” but that would take two hours, she said with a laugh.

She also didn’t forget a shout out to her influential predecessor, either.

“I have big shoes to fill,” she said with a pause.

“Literally, Joel’s feet are big,” she told the crowd to a laugh.

Burns, who announced his resignation in February, must’ve heard her. After the former chairwoman of the Fort Worth Zoning Commission thanked her supporters and took her seat, Burns joined the meeting via Skype to say hello … from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Some things never change.


Puerto Rico’s first gay Supreme Court justice sworn in today

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 at 4:49pm
Oronoz 2

Puerto Rico Associate Supreme Court Justice Maite Oronoz Rodriguez

Maite Oronoz Rodriguez was sworn in today to become the youngest person and the first openly gay person to serve as an associate justice to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court. Oronoz Rodriguez, 38, is the fourth woman on the nine-member court.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla nominated Oronoz Rodriguez to the court last month. He called her “an example of what this generation has to offer Puerto Rico. This is a brilliant young woman who will contribute from the Supreme Court in defining the guidelines for our society in this new century.”

Oronoz Rodríguez has been serving as chief legal counsel to the city of San Juan under Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz since 2013. She earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Puerto Rico, where she was a member of the Law Review and was recognized for outstanding achievement, both academically and in community service. She holds a master’s in law from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Villanova University in Pennsylvania. She also studied history, literature and Italian at the University of Florence in Italy.

Oronoz Rodríguez fills the associate justice spot left vacant by the appointment of Liana Fiol Matta as chief justice in April.


Holder: DOJ will file brief in favor of same-sex marriage

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 at 4:15pm
eric holder.small

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas on Monday that the Justice Department will be filing a brief in the Utah same-sex marriage case urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court ruling and block states from banning same-sex marriage.

District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled last December that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling last month, and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that instead of asking the full 10th Circuit Court to review the case, he would appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Holder said that filing the brief would be “consistent with the actions we have taken over the past couple of years,” in which the Justice Department has refused to defend the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Holder said that decision was “vindicated by the Supreme Court,” which ruled last year in Windsor vs. United States that the sections of DOMA allowing the federal government not to recognize same-sex marriages performed in jurisdictions that recognize such marriages are unconstitutional.

Holder told Thomas that he believes banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and that such bans cannot survive the standard of heightened scrutiny. He called the fight for LGBT rights “a defining civil rights challenge of our time,” and that LGBT people are waiting for an “unequivocal declaration that separate is inherently unequal.”



Gay Pulitzer Prize-winner detained in McAllen

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 at 3:12pm

joseantoniovargasJose Antonio Vargas, whom we interviewed last fall, is a gay journalist with a Pulitzer Prize, but he gained his greatest fame when he “came out” … not as gay, but as an undocumented alien, which he did in an op/ed piece in the New York Times Magazine three years ago.

Now Vargas finds himself on the receiving side of the I.N.S. Earlier today, Vargas flew to McAllen, Texas, to raise awareness for the plight of minor-aged illegals. After completing his visit, he prepared to fly back to Los Angeles, but was detained by border control for not having proper documentation.


Texas ordered to issue confederate license plates

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 at 1:04pm

Confederacy plateThe Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Texas Department of Motor Vehicles must issue license plates with a confederate flag.

The lawsuit was brought by the Texas Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans.

The lower district court ruled the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles Board made a reasonable decision in rejecting the application for a plate displaying a Confederate battle flag.

“We disagree, and because the Board engaged in impermissible viewpoint discrimination, we reverse,” the court wrote in its decision.

So does “viewpoint discrimination” extend to the LGBT community? Will Texas be ordered to issue a gay plate with a Pride flag?

The decision was split. Two George W. Bush appointees were pro-Confederacy plate while a Ronald Reagan appointee was against.

While the majority opinion argued the plates are a form of free speech, Texas claimed the plates are issued by the state, so they are state property and government speech. And Texas didn’t care to promote the Confederacy.


Love is love — Bollywood style

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 at 10:50am

As a fan of Bollywood-style dance — and other forms of Oriental and Middle Eastern dance — I was tickled to find this video from United Nations Free and Equal, and I wanted to share.

Celina Jaitly

Celina Jaitly

UN Free and Equal officials said this week that since being released on April 30 this video — “The Welcome” — has become one of the most-watched UN videos ever, with more than a million views so far on YouTube.

The video stars Indian actress Celina Jaitly, who last year was nominated by the UN high  commissioner for human rights as a “UN equality champion” in recognition of her support for LGBT equality. The video marks her musical debut as she sings a new version of the 1979 Bollywood classic, Uthe Sab Ke Kadam. The song was recomposed and remixed by Neeraj Shreedhar of the Bombay Vikings, and produced in association with the music company Saregama India.

The video’s dance sequences were choreographed by Longi (Slumdog Millionaire), who worked on the project for free. The concept was developed by creative agency Curry Nation.

“For the UN, using a Bollywood tune to advocate for human rights is a novel approach that’s paid off,” said Charles Radcliffe, chief of global issues at the UN Human Rights Office. “The video’s message of love, family and acceptance could not be timelier. We are enormously grateful to everyone who worked for free to create this video, especially our starring equality champion, Celina Jaitly.”

Jaitly said, “It has been an honor for me to partner with the UN and contribute my musical debut to this cause, which has been a very important part of my life as an activist for LGBT rights. … I have been overwhelmed by the positive response [the video has] been generating, including from many gay people in Asia who tell me they have shown it to their own parents, or to their brothers and sisters, friends and co-workers. Change often begins with difficult conversations and this was our attempt to bring forth a difficult conversation in a wonderful light hearted way through the universal language of music.”

The UN’s  Free and Equal campaign aims to raise awareness of homophobic and transphobic violence and discrimination, and encourage greater respect for the rights of LGBT people. The campaign, which had its global launch in South Africa in July 2013, is led by the UN Human Rights Office and has strong backing from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  The campaign also benefits from the support of a several celebrity UN Equality Champions, including South African singer and “Princess of Africa” Yvonne Chaka Chaka, American hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin, Bollywood actress Celina Jaitly, Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury, and members of the U.S. band fun.


City spraying for mosquitoes tonight, Tuesday night

Posted on 14 Jul 2014 at 4:41pm

Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 4.39.28 PM

Weather permitting, the city of Dallas will be spraying for mosquitoes in the 75230 zip code tonight and Tuesday night between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., in response to a mosquito pool near the 6600 block of Brookshire Drive testing positive for West Nile Virus.

The area to be sprayed is bounded, in general, by Azalea Lane on the north, Tulane Boulevard on the west, Airline Road on the east and Walnut Hill on the south side.

The insecticide being used is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. Still, those in the described area during the spraying should avoid contact with the spray by staying indoors. Anyone caught in their vehicle while trucks are actively spraying should stay in their vehicles with the AC on and the windows up until the trucks have passed and the spray is no longer visible. If you get the spray on you, wash thoroughly with soap and water.

City officials said the spray breaks down quickly in the presence of sunlight and has no residual effects.

Residents are also encouraged to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Stay inside as much as possible at dusk and later into the evening. When you are outside, make sure your arms and legs are covered and use a mosquito repellent. Officials also encouraged residents to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds by getting rid of pools of standing water. This can include swimming pools that are not kept clean, stagnant ponds, pet watering dishes, birdbaths, potted plants, old tires, empty containers, toys and clogged rain gutters and French drains. And do it quickly: Mosquitoes can grow from egg to adult in as little as seven days.

To report standing water or mosquito problems Dallas residents should call 3-1-1. For additional information on Mosquito Control click here.


SPCA offering reward in animal cruelty case

Posted on 14 Jul 2014 at 1:54pm

Here at Dallas Voice, we are getting ready this week to publish our Pet Issue, which will hit newsstands on Friday. Since we are preparing for that special issue, I thought it would be appropriate to pass along this bit of information:photo774

The SPCA of Texas, through funding by the Murrell Foundation, is offering a $5,000 reward tO anyone who provides information leading to the indictment of the suspect or suspects responsible for impaling two house cats by their hind legs on a fence outside an apartment complex in the 2900 block of Redmond Drive in Dallas.

The complex is located near the intersection of I-30 and Westmoreland Road. The incident happened shortly before 3 a.m. on June 27.

Anyone with information on the crime should contact Dallas Police Detective Ira Carter at 214-671-0633.

SPCA of Texas President James Bias noted that there is “a well-documented link” between cruelty to animals and violence against humans. Cruelty toward animals, he said, is “often an early warning sign of violent tendencies” toward humans, and “Child cruelty to animals has been linked to later anti-social and aggressive behavior.”

The SPCA statement announcing the reward also said: “The SPCA of Texas is committed to stopping this cycle [of abuse] through maintaining an active Rescue and Investigations team that responds to reports of abuse and neglect in eight North Texas counties, through lobbying the Texas Legislature to strengthen animal cruelty laws, by encouraging the community to get involved in their local and state government to advocate for animals and by encouraging individuals to report suspected animal cruelty to their local law enforcement agency and the SPCA of Texas. To report suspected animal cruelty or abuse to the SPCA of Texas, call 214-742-SPCA (7722) or visit