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.

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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.

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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 www.spca.org/abuse.

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The end of Archie: Iconic comic book character will die saving gay friend

Posted on 14 Jul 2014 at 11:20am

After nearly 75 years with Veronica and Betty and Reggie and Jughead, Archie Andrews will die this week. And he will die saving his gay friend from an assassin’s bullet.Screen shot 2014-07-14 at 11.09.52 AM

Archie Comics officials announced in April that the “Life with Archie” series about the gang from Riverdale would end this year with Archie Andrews’ death. Archie Comics Publisher and CEO Jon Goldwater told AP Archie will die in Wednesday’s installment of “Life with Archie” and that he “dies heroically. He dies selflessly. He dies in the manner that epitomizes not only the best of Riverdale but the best of all of us. It’s what Archie has come to represent over the past almost 75 years.”

Kevin Keller, the first gay character in the Archie Comics world, was first introduced in 2010 in the Archies Comic spinoff “Veronica.” He appeared later in a solo title, and then in the “Life with Archie” series, Kevin Keller is a married military veteran and newly-elected senator who is pushing for more gun control in Riverdale after his husband is involved in a shooting. Goldwater wouldn’t say who it is that pulls the trigger and ends up shooting Archie, only that it is a stalker who wanted to take down Keller.

Goldwater said Archie will die in “Life with Archie” No. 26, and that issue No. 37 will jump forward a year to tell the story of the rest of the gang remembering Archie. Goldwater said that the comic’s authors “wanted to do something that was impactful that would rally resonate with the world and bring home how important Archie is to everyone. … Metaphorically, by saving Kevin, a new Riverdale is born.”

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Sam’s Club temporarily blocked from building in Uptown

Posted on 14 Jul 2014 at 11:20am
East Village

Proposed Sam’s Club would be north of Cityplace tower

Judge Emily Tobolowsky granted the East Village Neighborhood Association a temporary restraining order on Friday afternoon halting Walmart from moving ahead on its plans to build a Sam’s Club in the Cityplace area.

Tobolowsky was filling in for Judge Phyllis Lister Brown. She questioned attorneys for both sides as well as city attorneys defending its neighborhood notification of change of zoning. Some of her questions at the morning hearing indicated she was hedging on the side of not pushing ahead with a project that was not actually her case.

The restraining order stops the city from issuing a building permit for the 100,000-square-foot retail space.

Among the variances granted by the city is one involving parking. The city has granted a variance requiring fewer spaces than required by ordinance because customers may shop in the area using DART transportation. Cityplace station is a short walk from the planned location.

Demolition permits have already been granted. The restraining order does not cover those because even if the Sam’s Club project is halted, The Trammell Crow Company may move forward with other retail development. The neighborhood association was not challenging that.

The controversy revolves around what a mega-store does to a neighborhood by putting small retailers out of business and creating massive traffic jams on already-crowded streets with no plans to upgrade those streets.

The closest Sam’s Club to Uptown was on Park Lane and Greenville Avenue. That store remained open less than 10 years. Since the site was abandoned by the company, no new retailer has taken up the space. The acres of empty parking lots surrounding the empty megastore has added to urban blight in an area that leads the city in crime just blocks away from NorthPark.

In court, the neighborhood association argued that the rezoning request was for mixed-use development. Their attorney said they were expecting something similar to West Village, just blocks away on the opposite side of Central Expressway. They argued one megastore is not mixed-use development.

The neighborhood also argued that as Uptown has become more densely developed with mid-rise and high-rise structures, a megastore does not mesh with the area’s growth.

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Ted Cruz takes up fight for heterosexual privilege

Posted on 14 Jul 2014 at 10:29am
Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-originally from Canada) has taken up the fight for heterosexual privilege and discrimination against same-sex couples. He introduced the so-called State Marriage Defense Act of 2014. His only co-sponsor is Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah). Canada is a marriage equality country. Texas, which Cruz represents, and Utah both have marriage-discrimination laws that have been declared unconstitutional by federal courts.

The bill would force the federal government to consider a couple’s place of residence rather than place of ceremony and invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

Cruz claims his law would make the federal government respect all 50 states. However, federal regulations simply take place of celebration into account and do not invalidate marriages as people cross state lines.

The regulations do not force states to recognize marriages of same-sex couples. For example, married couples must file their federal income taxes as married, but the regulations do not force states to allow couples married elsewhere to file as married.

If Cruz’s law were to pass and be signed into law, gays and lesbians who live in marriage-discrimination states would lose social security, disability and other benefits making those states’ residents poorer.

Since he joined Congress in 2013, no legislation — this doesn’t include resolutions and amendments — Cruz sponsored has passed and been signed into law.

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Austin drag queen has a comeback for Obama that has him laughing

Posted on 13 Jul 2014 at 6:09pm
Obama Austin

Obama fist bumps Webb

When President Barack Obama and his entourage arrived in Austin from Dallas last week, they stopped at Franklin’s Barbecue, according to the Austin Chronicle.

When the president went to pay the bill, he met the cashier Daniel Webb who performs in drag as Drone Collins and Toyota Lopez. The president’s party cut in line, so he paid for the people they cut in front of.

At the register, Webb said to the president, “Equal rights for gay people.”

Obama asked Webb if he was gay.

“Only when I have sex,” he said.

The president laughed and gave Webb a fist bump that was caught on camera.

Webb, who works at Franklin’s part time said, “It was just a lucky day to be the register girl.” He added that if Rick Perry had been in the restaurant, he would have lost his job. “I would’ve taken that old queen to town.”

Webb is originally from Fort Worth.

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AFFA auctioning off big gay wedding in Charleston

Posted on 11 Jul 2014 at 4:24pm

Same-sex marriage may not be legal in South Carolina, but Charleston‘s leading LGBT advocacy organization is still auctioning off a complete destination-wedding package for one lucky same-sex couple.rings

The Alliance for Full Acceptance has pulled together the city’s “top wedding professionals” to create a prize package that includes a wedding for 50 guests to be held Jan. 24,with wedding and event planning, hotel discounts, limo service, live entertainment, the cake and more. The prize package is valued at over $45,000.

Bidding continues through Aug. 8 at Bidding for Good. All proceeds will benefit AFFA’s LGBT advocacy efforts in South Carolina.

Said AFFA Executive Director Warren Redman-Gress: “Tourism is the No. 1 driver of the local economy, and we are constantly ranked as one of the friendliest, with the most mannerly residents. So we think it’s time for Charleston to show what we’re really made of: Acceptance for all.”

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Nixon tapes reveal he thought gays were born that way

Posted on 11 Jul 2014 at 9:35am

NixonIn April 1971, Richard Nixon had a discussion in the White House with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger and Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. Kissinger had not yet become secretary of state.

“I am the most tolerant person on that of anybody in this shop,” Nixon said in newly released tapes that were secretly recorded during his administration.

Kissinger agreed but thought those kind of people should keep it a secret — especially the gays in his administration. Nixon may have actually been ahead of his time, though.

“They’re born that way. You know that. That’s all. I think they are,” Nixon said.

He said there were a number of intelligent people who were gay. The transcript was released by Vanity Fair.

The discussion must have been in relation to civil rights laws. In December 1971, Nixon issued an executive order requiring contractors to develop “an acceptable affirmative action program.” In 1972, Nixon endorsed congressional passage of the Equal Rights Amendment that would have put equal rights for woman into the constitution had it passed enough states. The Texas legislature was the first state to approve the ERA.

So the conversation seems to be in the context of what rights should be protected by national policy.

“It’s one thing for people to, you know, like some people we know, who would do it discreetly, but to make that a national policy,” Nixon said.

But Nixon was no champion of gay rights in public. In May, Nixon made this statement:

“I do not think that you glorify homosexuality on public television. You don’t glorify it anymore than you glorify whores.”

The Vanity Fair article, however, also quoted from a conversation in July 1971 where they discussed whether Kissinger should resign because of a Newsweek article discussing Kissinger’s religion. He is Jewish.

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Laverne Cox earns Emmy nomination

Posted on 10 Jul 2014 at 5:50pm

Laverne Cox has become the first transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy, with her nomination today as “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series,” for her role as Sophia Burset in Orange Is the New Black. The Emmy nod comes a month after Cox became the first trans person featured on the cover of Time Magazine.Laverne-Cox

Orange Is the New Black received 12 Emmy nominations, the most of any comedy series.

Cox told Time today: “I was told many times that I wouldn’t be able to have a mainstream career as an actor because I’m trans, because I’m black, and here I am. And it feels really good.”

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force congratulated Cox with a press release calling her “a true champion of freedom and justice for all LGBTQ people.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, released a statement saying: “Today, countless transgender youth will hear the message that they can be who they are and still achieve their dreams – nothing is out of reach. Laverne’s success on a hit series is a clear indication that audiences are ready for more trans characters on television.”

GLAAD’s press release also noted that openly LGBT actors such as Jim Parsons, Kate McKinnon, Sarah Paulson and Jesse Tyler Ferguson were also nominated for Emmys, and that TV shows featuring LGBT characters and plotlines, such as Orange Is the New Black, Game of Thrones and Modern Family, also got nominatons.

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