Straight people blog: Don’t have sex on your roof

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 at 11:42am

Ricky Brimer (mug shot courtesy Angelina County)

Rickie Brimer was arrested in Lufkin when a police officer saw a naked man standing in the street in his rearview mirror. The man had fallen off his roof while having sex with a woman.

Brimer admitted drugs were involved.

The lesson here is acting like straight people can be dangerous.


Travis County Republican Party chair protests Trump

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 at 11:06am

Rob MorrowWhat wasn’t surprising was seeing this sign outside a Trump rally in Austin yesterday, Aug. 23. What may have been surprising is who is holding the sign: Rob Morrow, the new chair of the Travis County Republican Party. Morrow, however, has stood by his convictions and staunchly opposed Trump since before he assumed office earlier this year.


‘Valley of the Dolls,’ ‘Priscilla’ and more movie mania this week

Posted on 24 Aug 2016 at 10:31am

ValleyOfDolls_originalIf you like movies, especially those with queer appeal, this is a great week to live in Dallas.

It starts tomorrow night at the Texas Theatre with a screening of 1967’s Valley of the Dolls, the inimitable camp classic about tragic Hollywood. It’s all part of Word Space‘s “behind the screen” season announcement, which includes the film, bites and cash bar. Doors open at 7 p.m., with the screening at 8:30 p.m.

Then it’s back to the Texas Theatre on Friday with Cine Wilde’s monthly LGBT movie night, this time with the joyously campy The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, about three drag queens traipsing around the Australian Outback.

Also on Friday is the inaugural Bengali Film Festival of Dallas, which takes place at the Angelika Plano. The first event focusing exclusively on films, filmmakers and topics relevant to Southeast India and Bangaldesh — a segment well-presented in North Texas — features three features and three shorts. Two of those (the opening-night short An Unknown Guest and the closing-day feature Bhool) deal with topics of interest to the LGBT community.

Back in April, in our preview of the USA Film Festival, we profiled gay writer/director Ira Sachs, whose feature Little Men was playing at the fest. Well, it took a while, but the film — about two boys initially forced into a friendship of convenience, who unite against their parents when the adults get involved in a legal tangle — finally is playing theatrically in Dallas, opening Friday at both Angelika Film Centers (Mockingbird Station and Plano). You can read my interview with Sachs here.

Also this week, last year’s revealing documentary Tab Hunter Confidential — a bio about the 1950s heartthrob, who stayed in the closet until his 70s — came out on video. I talked with Hunter at the 2015 USA Film Festival; you can read that interview here.


Now Paxton is suing to deny trans people proper health care

Posted on 23 Aug 2016 at 4:34pm

Ken Paxton

Less than two days after a federal judge in Fort Worth issued an injunction halting enforcement the Obama administration’s guidelines for school districts on transgender students and issues, in a lawsuit filed by 13 states led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Paxton announced today (Tuesday, Aug. 23), that his has filed yet another lawsuit against the federal government, this time targeting proper health care for transgender people.

In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services implemented a new regulation intended to protect transgender people from discrimination in the provision of healthcare, The new regulation notes that the term “sex” in the Affordable Healthcare Act includes gender identity, when it comes to prohibiting discrimination.

According to the HHS website, the new regulations require that women have equal access to the health care they receive and the insurance they obtain, and make clear that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. That means individuals cannot be denied health care or health coverage based on their sex, including their gender identity; that individuals must be treated consistent with their gender identity, including in access to facilities; that sex-specific health care cannot be denied or limited just because the person seeking such services identifies as belonging to another gender (For example, a provider may not deny an individual treatment for ovarian cancer, based on the individual’s identification as a transgender man, where the treatment is medically indicated), and that “explicit categorical exclusions in coverage for all health care services related to gender transition are facially discriminatory. Other exclusions for gender transition care will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

Ken Paxton, however, sees things a bit differently. In a press release announcing his newest lawsuit against the Obama administration, he claims to be battling “against yet another Obama Administration regulatory overreach that is invading the coffers of Texas, as well as violating the medical judgment and conscience rights of doctors and health care professionals across the country.”

Paxton claims that when enacting the Affordable Health Care Act, Congress intended the term “sex” to denote a biological category.  And now, “The Obama Administration [is trying] to redefine the law so that the term ‘sex’ means ones’ ‘internal sense of gender, which may be male, female, neither or a combination of male and female.’ But the President does not have the power to rewrite the law.”

Paxton’s press release says the new rules could have significant impact on Texas and health care workers because it requires taxpayers to fund “all treatments designed to transition to a different sex,” and it “forces health care workers, including physicians, to provide controversial services.”

The press release continues, “Under the new rule, a physician that believes that certain treatments are not in a patient’s best medical interests may be in violation of federal law. And a physician that, for religious or conscientious reasons cannot perform a particular procedure, chooses to instead refer a patient to another health care provider may be determined to be in violation of this new rule.”

Directly quoting Paxton, the press release says, “This is the thirteenth lawsuit I have been forced to bring against the Obama Administration’s continued threats on constitutional rights of Texans. The federal government has no right to force Texans to pay for medical procedures designed to change a person’s sex. I am disappointed in the Obama Administration’s lack of consideration for medical professionals who believe that engaging in such procedures or treatment violates their Hippocratic Oath, their conscience or their personal religious beliefs, which are protected by the Constitution and federal law.”

Paxton made no mention, however, of his and other Republicans’ efforts to interfere with the doctor/patient relationship when it comes to abortion and other medical treatments/issues affecting women. He also made no mention of the fact that while he continues to waste taxpayer money by filing politically-motivated lawsuits against the federal government, specifically targeting LGBT people in many cases, he has been soliciting donations from individuals and corporations to pay his own legal bills associated with the state and federal securities fraud charges against him. That includes, by the way, a $100,000 donation from the CEO of a company that was under investigation by the AG’s Office.

Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas, issued a statement today about Paxton’s latest lawsuit, noting that, “Yesterday Texas’ leaders patted themselves on the back for convincing a federal court that transgender schoolchildren should be excluded from the protections of Title IX. Today, the state filed another suit in the same court, this time challenging federal protections intended to shield transgender people from discrimination in healthcare services. We don’t know what else the state has in store, but the people of Texas will not stand idly by and let the state make transgender Texans into second-class citizens with no legal recourse when they face stigma and bias.

“Texas is better than this. This is not who we are,” Robertson said.


LGBT community school supply drives help various schools

Posted on 23 Aug 2016 at 11:59am

Chad West

Crayons for Kids
Chad West Law Firm put together 50 back packs through donations to support the kids and teachers at Hogg Elementary School in Oak Cliff.

Mi Escuelita
Lost Souls Rugby made a large donation of school supplies to Mi Escuelita Preschool. The team has done this for a number of years and has become a great supporter of Mi Escuelita.

“Through their work and their annual supply drive at the Round Up Saloon, they have donated thousands of dollars worth of supplies to Mi Escuelita, which makes an enormous difference for us,” Mi Escuelita’s Betsy Orton wrote to Dallas Voice.

Mi Escuelita provides high quality early childhood education (Pre-K) to at-risk and low income families in an English immersion environment at four Dallas locations including one at Maple and Wycliff avenues.


4 scientific reasons you should laugh more in bed

Posted on 23 Aug 2016 at 10:34am

Fully Model and Property ReleasedThis may sound odd to you, but I love laughing during sex. No, I’m not laughing at my partner (well, maybe sometimes0; rather, we’re usually laughing together. Maybe we missed each other’s mouths while kissing in the dark, or perhaps a hand went someplace unexpected (but probably welcomed). I enjoy laughing in bed because I don’t take sex seriously. Sex should be fun and exciting and it should feel good. And, as it turns out, laughing can contribute to all those things that make doing the deed so great. In fact, it’s quite common … and healthy. Here are a few educated reasons why.

1. Laughing during sex makes couples feel safer. If you and your partner are laughing in the midst of the bump-and-grind, you’ve reached the ultimate relationship goal of being totally comfortable while you’re naked together. I don’t enjoy being guarded when I’m otherwise completely exposed, and I want my partner to be relaxed as possible too.

It stands to reason then, as a result of your superior senses of humor, a greater sense of security is established in the relationship — a positive byproduct of giggling at each other’s real-time sexual misfortune — according to licensed marriage and family therapist Lori Schade.

“When a couple can be playful and laugh together and it is accepted, the relationship feels safer, and then they feel safer to explore various options in their sexual relationship,” she says.

Which is just one more reason for your wall-to-wall neighbors to be envious.

2. It relieves the pressure to perform. We’ve all had those nights — thank you, Thirsty Thursdays — when we’re not in the right frame of mind when it’s time to show that bar trick what’s good. That’s because we’re so concentrated on performing well (and striving for climax) that the anxiety we’ve caused ourselves overshadows the carefree romp we should be having.

“When couples get fixated on goal-oriented behavior in bed (i.e. orgasm), it often generates pressure and anxiety, which are counter to performance,” Schade says. “When they instead are just experiencing each other in the moment and can laugh together, they are more likely to increase the quality of the sexual interaction.”

The takeaway? Let out a few belly laughs in bed to blow a better load.

3. Laughing helps you relax your muscles for a more pleasurable tryst. Sex feels great (or should), but there are exercises we can do before getting down to the nitty-gritty that can heighten the experience for even more pleasure. You won’t break a sweat, either, because all you need is a robust chuckle.

Scientifically speaking, laughter can release endorphins that promote stress reduction and pain for an overall more satisfying outcome, says licensed sex and relationship therapist Courtney Geter,

“During sexual activity, our bodies may be tense and tight from stress during the day or anxiety about the sexual activity,” she explains. “Laughing before or during sexual activity is one way to help relax muscles to prevent pain or possible injury during sex. For clients experiencing anxiety during sexual activity, I help them incorporate ways to ‘play,’ including laughing with each other long before the sexual activity. This helps prep the brain and body for activity.”

4. Mutual laughter between partners means you’re both in touch with the dynamics of your relationship. Any couple who have been together for a length of time, let’s say two years or more, knows that sex can become routine, commonplace and, dare I say it, boring — because, as Schade admits, “Sexual experiences and relationships wax and wane.”

Hope is not lost, however.

The first thing you need to know is that it’s totally normal; every relationship deals with this at some point. Secondly, being able to laugh about it to keep the affection running steady when the physical aspect of your sexual relationship experiences hills and valleys is a sign that you’re in a good place.

“Laughing implies acceptance of a variety of levels of desire and performance,” Schade says.

Your relationship may not be perfect, but your ability to laugh with each other suggests that there’s a level of openness and honesty that many other couples lack. Hold tight on that revelation when things get wonky down there and you’ll be A-OK.

—Mikey Rox


And the Voice of Pride winner is…

Posted on 22 Aug 2016 at 1:22pm

From left: Fourth runner-up Steven Patterson, Guyer, Ramalho, third runner-up Imani Handy and Gilstrap.… Alvaro Ramalho! The local singer, pictured center, took the grand prize at the Voice of Pride competition, the annual “Dallas Idol” singing rondelet that culminated last night in the Rose Room. The winner (and first and second runners-up, John Paul Gilstrap and Colby Guyer) ride in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sept. 18 and perform at Reverchon Park afterwards. Congrats!


Fort Worth judge instructs trans students to pee in the wrong bathroom

Posted on 22 Aug 2016 at 11:43am

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor

A judge in Fort Worth issued an injunction against the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom policy. A hearing was held on Aug. 5 in U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor’s court in Fort Worth.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton led the charge by 13 states to stop enforcement of guidelines issued by the Obama Administration on how school districts should interact with transgender students. The lawsuit against the federal guidelines happened in the wake of uproar in the Fort Worth ISD when Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick interfered with calls for FWISD to rescind similar guidelines issued by Superintendent Kent Scribner. FWISD school officials have since adjusted its guidelines to address concerns raised by some regarding parental notifications and involvement.

Because Judge O’Connor believes the national guidelines will be overturned in a full hearing by the courts, he issued the national injunction.

While the case works its way through the courts, school districts will have to do what makes Paxton more comfortable, rather than accommodate all students.


National Gay Media Association presents inaugural Ad POP Awards

Posted on 22 Aug 2016 at 10:38am

AbsolutThe National Gay Media Association — a consortium of LGBT publications across the U.S., including Dallas Voice — has announced the recipients of its first-ever Ad POP Awards, recognizing excellence in advertising efforts directed at gay consumers. They are awarded for both print and online campaigns in regional LGBT media. (POP stands for Pride in Online and Print.)

“The awards were created to illustrate the effective campaigns of companies that market to the LGBT community through local media,” according to Leo Cusimano, publisher of Dallas Voice. “The ads were chosen for their design and message. In addition, these ads show the fabric and diversity of our LBGT community.”

National winners were recognized in a variety of segments. The Automotive award went to Mercedes-Benz; The Pharmaceutical award (branded) went to Gilead for its Salix and Fulyzaq products; it also won the unbranded award for its “Answers” ad.

Pernod Ricard USA was recognized with the Spirits award for its Absolut campaign.

Several segments had multiple winners. The Non-Profit award went to: Harlem United; the D.C. Office of Human Rights; and the Centers for Disease Control. Financial winners were: Wells Fargo; PNC Bank; and Regions Bank. Travel winners are: Alaska Airlines; Hyatt; Loews Hotel; Key West Tourism; and Palm Springs Tourist.

Regional awards were also presented. Dallas Voice bestowed the top local award on the Dallas Conventions and Visitors Bureau for a campaign designed by Tracy Locke.

Other local winners include Cantoni; Love Field Jeep; Provincetown Tourism Office; and Capital One.



Who knew that cutting healthcare could affect health?

Posted on 22 Aug 2016 at 10:25am

Texas Capitol

Obviously not the Texas legislature. A new study shows its pro-life policies actually killed people.

According to the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology, the mortality rate related to pregnancy doubled between 2010 and 2014 in Texas. At the same time, budget cuts by the Texas Legislature to family planning clinics led to the shut down of 80 of them, many in places with no alternative care for poor women. While the target was clinics providing abortions, most of those 80 clinics didn’t perform abortion.

The report says, “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval,” but cutting off funds to clinics with little other source of income IS economic upheaval. Even with some funds restored in 2013, clinics had trouble restoring services to pre-cut levels. Planned Parenthood saw its funding from the state eliminated but survived the cuts, affecting its ability to provide mammograms and other screenings.

The new rate of maternal deaths — 23.8 per 100,000 births — is the highest of all 50 states (YAY! We’re No. 1) and the highest in the industrialized world. According to the CIA World Fact Book, that puts Texas on a par with Saudi Arabia. Take that Estonia with your 2 deaths per 100,000. However if we truly want to achieve Third World status in healthcare, we have some work to do to achieve South Sudan’s 2,054 maternal deaths per 100,000 births.

California, the only state with a larger population than Texas, saw a steady decline in its maternal mortality rate over the past decade. Maine and Vermont had the lowest rates of maternal deaths at 1.2 and 2.6 per 100,000 respectively.

Thanks, in large part to the hard work of Texas legislators, the U.S. is only one of eight countries whose maternal mortality rate is rising.

According to one report, one part of the problem is obesity. While those of us who avoid all things Walmart and take special medication before traveling outside I-635 might not notice that trend, Texas is pretty fat.

On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the ill-intentioned law that cut funding to abortion facilities, but mostly affected women’s healthcare.