Roy Williams has died

Posted on 21 Mar 2017 at 1:30pm

Roy Williams

Roy Williams, 74, one of two men who sued the city of Dallas over the make-up of its city council, has died.

Williams’ lawsuit brought an end to citywide and at-large districts and resulted in the 14-1 plan requiring 14 single-member city council districts and one mayor elected citywide.

The lawsuit allowed black and Hispanic candidates to be elected to the council regularly, but it also had the unintended consequence of allowing gay candidates to be elected.

In the creation of the single-member districts, Oak Lawn was divided in half, with the district line running down the middle of Cedar Springs Road. City officials’ intention was to disenfranchise the LGBT community. Instead, Chris Luna ran in District 2 and Craig McDaniel ran in District 14 — and both won. Other LGBT candidates followed and some candidates, like District 14’s Angela Hunt and Veletta Lill, wouldn’t have won without the support of the LGBT community.

Williams ran for city council several times, but was never elected. However, minority representation on the council went from 25 percent before 14-1 to about 40 percent today. Williams died on March 18 at the Dallas VA Hospital. Funeral services are pending.

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‘Missing Richard Simmons’ Podcast ends, but the mystery remains

Posted on 21 Mar 2017 at 1:28pm

When the Podcast Missing Richard Simmons dropped on Feb. 15 — barely a month ago — it landed precisely on the third anniversary of the last time the guru of fitness and self-love had been seen in public. He had called into the Today Show a few months back, he had posted items (apparently) on social media, and some of his closest colleagues had said they had seen him in person and he seemed “fine.” But the mystery remained: Why had someone famous for nearly 40 years for getting intimately involved in the lives of his followers — a man who had developed a cult where a hug was more effective than a criticism, where he continued to teach his regularly aerobics class in Beverly Hills, open to anyone — why had he just disappeared? No “thank you for your support, I’ve decided to retire” tweet… no “I’m closing my studio and everyone is invited to sign up for their last class with me” sign outside Slimmins… not even, it turned out, a phone call to many of his dearest friends, nor press release from his management explaining himself. He ghosted us, and one of his friends — gay filmmaker and novice Podcaster Dan Taberski — set about with Missing Richard Simmons to figure it out.

It attracted my attention, in no small part, because I have recently written a piece about my ex, who has also vanished without a trace. Taberski and I wanted to know the same thing: Was this person alive? Lucid? Safe? Healthy? Or had he just grown tired of us — of the world — for his own reasons and walked back into the shadows. Had be pulled a Greta Garbo: He just vanted to be let alone.

The Podcast was always planned for six weekly episodes, and according to Taberski, he started not knowing where he would finish. But each Wednesday for five weeks, we have waited to hear what he had unearthed, from claims of elder abuse (Simmons is now 68) to stories he had grown a beard a la Howard Hughes (could Mason jars or urine be far behind?) to worries over suicidal depression after the death of his beloved Dalmatians.

I had planned to write a post this morning teasing the finale, which was set to drop tomorrow. But then Taberski snookered us all, and the final episode of MRS came out last night, nearly 48 hours early. Taberski did it, he said, because of “developments” that made it important to get out there asap.

And… and…? Well, that’s the way a Podcast ends: Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Nothing really new in the finale. No confessional face-to-face with Richard. No stunning reveal that he has transitioned into a female (I have posited, jokingly, that he had secretly become Kellyanne Conway). No sad, grainy photo that revealed he was on his death-bed. Nope. Taberski concluded that Richard had simply decided he had spent enough time in the spotlight and wanted to be out of it. Entirely. Without explanation. He’d given enough of himself.

It was not a disappointment to hear that, but you can’t call it wholly satisfying, either. We love a mystery, but we also love the witness-stand-confession, the “A-ha!’ moment, the Bond villain summary. Real life isn’t so tidy, especially when you start in the middle with nothing more than a microphone and your curiosity.

Richard Simmons is a private citizen now, no explanation required. Don’t like it? Well, go sweatin’ to the oldies and get over it.

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A message from a Trump American?

Posted on 21 Mar 2017 at 11:23am

Really? I guess that depends on your definition of “great”.

When you are an openly LGBT person working for a well-known LGBT newspaper/website, you expect to get some hateful (sometimes threatening, sometimes just downright weird) letters/calls/emails on occasion. And since my first day on the job with Dallas Voice — which, by the way, was Monday, June 6, 1988 — I have gotten my fair share of all those things.

For instance, five days short of my one-year anniversary with Dallas Voice, a red-haired man walked into our office and confessed that he was the one who had deliberately set the February fire that had destroyed the Cedar Springs Road offices of the Dallas Gay Alliance and the AIDS Resource Center, and had damaged several other businesses there, including the Round-Up Saloon. That kind of thing doesn’t happen very often.

A few years ago, when our offices were still on Travis Street, a handsome, well-groomed and neatly-dressed young man walked into my office and proceeded to tell me about the police officers and secret agents who were harassing him by following him and shooting x-rays through the walls of his apartment to read his mind and fry his brain. When he started making threats against then-President George W. Bush, I knew I was going to have to contact authorities, including the Secret Service. I mean, I didn’t really think this guy was going to try to assassinate the president or that he had any true information about somebody else trying to assassinate the president. But I wasn’t willing to take that chance.

We used to get all kinds of weird and/or threatening letters, back in the day when people mailed things instead of emailing them. And since the dawn of the age of email and the internet, we get all kinds of weird and/or threatening and/or hateful emails in our inboxes and comments on our website. But honestly, it’s really not as bad as it used to be. It seemed the bigots and the crazies had retreated into their holes, unable to stand in the dawning light of a new age of equality.

And then came Trump. And the bigots and the crazies decided his election meant they had won, and that they once again have free reign to harass, insult, threaten and even harm those of us outside the parameters of their brand of normal.

I said all that as prelude to sharing a couple of emails I got this week, and my responses to them. Yes, I know that I probably should have ignored the troll and trashed the email. But I am genetically pre-dispositioned to smart-ass, and sometimes I can’t help myself. So here you go; here are the transcripts of my recent email communications with “Danny,” presented as evidence that we are living in a time of renewed hatred and bigotry:

(First email sent to Dallas Voice, via our website:)
LGBT Meaning
Please clear this up: I am hearing LGBT stands for: Liberty, Guns, Beer, Trump
Is that true?

(My first reply:)
Mr. XXXX,
Yes, indeed, LGBT stands for Liberty, Guns, Beer, Trump. If that’s how you want to use the acronym.
It might also stand for Let Go Bitch, There! Or any number of other phrases.
Here at Dallas Voice, though, it also stands for lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender.
Thanks for writing.
Tammye Nash, Managing Editor

(His reply to my email:)
HaHa,
Actually, alot of us are sick and tired of your LGBT craming that lifestyle down our throats as being normal, and frankly sir, we are not going to allow it in the future. We will stand up against it

(And my answer to him:)
Haha, I’m not a sir.
Just so you know, a person’s sexual orientation is not their lifestyle. My “lifestyle” involves working a full-time job and a couple of freelance jobs to pay the bills for me and my family. I drive a small car, that I bought used, because it was cheap and it gets good gas mileage. I stay home most nights and watch TV with my family. I don’t smoke; I rarely drink. Maybe one weekend a month my partner and I go out with friends (most of whom are heterosexual). That’s my lifestyle. I don’t see anything “abnormal” or “exotic” about it. And I am not cramming that lifestyle down yours or anyone else’s throat. I am minding my own business and living my own life.
Frankly, Mr. XXX, what you think you get to allow or not allow makes no difference to me. You don’t get to tell me what I can or cannot do. You don’t get to decide what is and is not normal for anyone other than yourself. If you don’t like LGBT people, don’t be around them. And don’t write them stupid, threatening emails. Trust me, I don’t imagine there are any LGBT people who want to spend any time in your company, either.
A lot of us are tired of your bigotry and hatefulness. Grow up.

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Got a favorite bartender? Tell them to prove it

Posted on 21 Mar 2017 at 8:41am

For the 11th year, Bombay Sapphire Gin is sponsoring the international Most Imaginative Bartender Competition, seeking to find the best mixologist in the world at turning a simple adult beverage into a work of art. Bartenders from Dallas, Houston New Orleans and Austin can face off in one of 12 regional competitions, until a dozen finalists are pegged to go to England later this summer.

If you have a favorite mixologist, or you are one, why not make the effort to check out the competition here. Entries will be accepted through April 13. Good luck!

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Gay Power Ranger making history

Posted on 20 Mar 2017 at 6:36pm

So, just within the last week, I was watching TV when something came on about the new Power Rangers movie, and I sighed deeply and proclaimed that the Power Rangers were stupid and annoying and I would NOT be going to see that movie.

(My partner appeared a bit insulted, letting me know that Power Rangers had been a VERY popular show around the whole world that MANY years, so there must be something good about them. I think she was/is a fan. I know our sons are fans.)

Anyway. I remained convinced that there was NOTHING that could get me to go see the Power Rangers movie. Until today. When Director Dean Israelite and actor BeckyG confirmed that the Yellow Ranger, Trini, is gay.

That means that Power Rangers is “the first big-budget superhero movie to feature an LGBT protagonist,” The Hollywood Reporter notes.

Israelite calls the moment that another character realizes that Trini is not having “a boyfriend problem,” and is instead having “a girlfriend problem” a small but pivotal moment.

Israelite told Hollywood Reporter, “For Trini, really she’s questioning a lot about who she is. She hasn’t fully figured it out yet. I think what’s great about that scene and what that scene propels for the rest of the movie is, ‘That’s OK.’ The movie is saying, ‘That’s OK,’ and all of the kids have to own who they are and find their tribe.”

BeckyG, who plays Yellow Ranger Trini, told ScreenRant, “Power Rangers has always represented diversity and they’re always been ahead of the curve on a lot of things and although it may be a touchy subject for some people, I think it’s done in a very classy way, and not only that, in a way that’s really real, because you don’t know, Trini doesn’t know herself, and it’s that moment where she says out loud, ‘I’ve never said any of this out loud’ and that line, where, you know, Zordon says ‘You must shed your masks to wear this armor.’ It’s true. People should accept themselves for who they really are and be proud of that and take ownership of that first and learn that self love to really be happy. …”

David Yost, the openly-gay actor who played The Blue Ranger in the 1990s TV show Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, told ScreenRant, “They really stepped up to the plate. I think so many people in the LGBTQI community are going to be excited to see that representation.”

Yost said in 2010 that he left the show in the 1990s because he was constantly harassed over his sexual orientation, although others associated with the show said there was no anti-gay sentiment on the set, and that Yost had been a pain to work with.

So now, I guess I have to go see the Power Rangers movie so I don’t lose my gay card. At least the “special effects” should be better these days.

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5 gaycations with a purpose

Posted on 20 Mar 2017 at 12:56pm

 

Gay polo!

I’ve never been interested in an all-gay getaway. The idea of making the annual 4th of July pilgrimage to Fire Island, or boarding an Atlantis cruise, just doesn’t appeal to me. My lack of interest in spending days on end with thousands of drunk, oversexed gay folk, however, doesn’t mean I can’t have a memorable gaycay. If you’re in the same boat (or dangling from its side), here are a few getaway ideas with an LGBT agenda to plan this year.

Ride for AIDS. The most prominent AIDS ride is the seven-day, 550.3-mile bike ride down the coast of California, beginning in San Francisco and ending in Los Angeles (June 4–10). If that sounds too daunting of a task, you still can participate in the annual AIDS/LifeCycle. For about $100, the organization will set you up with everything you need to volunteer along the route, including food and lodging. Over the course of the week, you’ll assist the 2,500-plus cyclists and more than 500 roadies who pull off this incredible feat of endurance and determination by providing hydration to riders, serving lunches, packing the trucks and picking up trash; dirty job, sure, but somebody’s got to do it. Fair tradeoff, considering that you’ll enjoy priceless views of a large swath of the West Coast for the cost of a single Bennie. (If you don’t wannas go to Cali, then do a volunteer vacay wherever your heart takes you.) For more information visit, aidslifeycle.org.

Gay wine tasting!

Gay Wine Weekend. LGBT oenophiles can one-up each other with their knowledge of delicious vintages — or just kick back and get lit — at Gay Wine Weekend in Sonoma County, California, July 14–16. The three-day grape escape features tasting excursions, champagne brunches, wine auctions and pool parties, and kicks off with a VIP welcome reception and winemaker dinner. Before heading home, venture off the beaten path to discover some of the 425 wineries that call the region home. Hosted by Out in the Vineyard, GWW benefits Face to Face, Sonoma County AIDS Network. Cop your tix at outinthevineyard.com.

MiFo LGBT Film Festival. For the past 19 years, the former Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival — rebranded as MiFo, which now includes the former Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Film Festival — has committed itself to entertaining and educating the public through international and culturally diverse films, video and other media that provides should-be-required glimpses into the LGBT experience. The Miami edition, running April 21–30, offers a robust schedule of programs, including regular screenings, parties, a spotlight on female filmmakers and culinary/cinema infusions. Can’t make it to Magic City this spring? Hit up the Fort Lauderdale edition Oct. 7–16. Fill your calendar at mifofilm.com.

Gay Baltimore!

HONfest. You’ll feel like an extra on the set of a John Waters film at the 23rd HONfest (June 10–11), a one-of-a-kind wink-and-nod to the area’s “Hon” culture, which began humbly as a regional term of endearment in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore City in the 1950s and ’60s. Sky-high beehives, cat-eye glasses and over-the-top, time-capsuled costumes that rival any drag queen’s getup keep this hyper-local gala of gaudiness a time-honored tradition in a town known more for its steamed crabs than its commitment to fashion. Warp over to honfest.net to begin your transformation.

International Gay Polo Tournament. Polo-playing Prince Harry may be out of your reach, but you can ogle the next best things at the 8th annual International Gay Polo Tournament (who knew there was such a thing?) at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Fla. April 6–9. Put your hosting skills to the test in an elaborate tailgating competition, clink glasses of bubbly with fellow Ralph Lauren-clad well-to-dos, and make an appearance at the Gay Polo League VIP tent on tourney day to indulge in tableside service with an open bar before stomping the divots. Interpret that however you’d like. Saddle up at thepalmbeaches.com.

— Mikey Rox

 

 

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25th anniversary of AIDS memorial marked

Posted on 20 Mar 2017 at 10:31am

Community members gathered in Lee Park on March 18 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the AIDS Memorial that Alan Ross worked years to get approved. Thanks to photographer John R. Selig for sending the photos he took and to his husband Rodolfo Arredondo for one photo in which Selig appears.

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T-Mobile and Dallas blaming each other in 911 mess

Posted on 17 Mar 2017 at 11:43am

The 911 system is still not operating the way it should be.

T-Mobile is claiming parts of the Dallas system are not up-to-date. That’s possible, but not the entire story. Why is Dallas the only city having problems receiving 911 calls? We’re not the only city with older 911 equipment.

T-Mobile said Dallas staffing is not up to par. Again, it’s possible that is part of the problem. Dallas has been growing at an incredibly fast rate and there’s higher call volume on the 911 system.

T-Mobile identified one problem it’s having on its system. When a caller using T-Mobile doesn’t get through on its 4G network, the system automatically puts the call through again on its 3G network to increase the chance of connecting with emergency services. T-Mobile has suspended that. But again, why only in Dallas?

Mayor Mike Rawlings’ office is frustrated as hell trying to get answers and get the 911 system fixed. T-Mobile said they’ll remain on site until the mess is fixed.

Thanks to our friends at CNN and HLN who’ve been on the phone with the Dallas mayor’s office this morning trying piece together the 911 mess and called me with the latest information they have.

 

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The grand delusion

Posted on 17 Mar 2017 at 9:25am

This isn’t River City, and Trump isn’t the Music Man

music-man

 

Haberman-Hardy-This morning I checked in on a GoFundMe campaign. I like GoFundMe. It’s a way to give an extended community a chance to participate in charitable or entrepreneurial endeavors. It can be effective in helping friends out or funding special events.

One event that organizers have turned to GoFundMe to pay for is the “DeploraBall Picnic,” the brainchild of Peter Boykin. If you don’t recognize that name, just think these three words: “Gays for Trump.”

Yes this deluded man is one of the driving forces behind a movement that is so “alt-right” it’s just “alt-wrong.” According to Boykin’s Facebook page, his group wants to “end political correctness, build unity, strengthen the economy and Make America Great Again!”  Funny way to do that, by backing a party that has played a major role in leading America into two economic disasters, the Great Depression and the Great Recession.

Boykin supports a political party that has historically increased the deficit at the expense of the middle class and poor Americans. But hey Peter, don’t let facts get in your way. After all, your buddy Trump doesn’t.

Mr. Boykin’ latest venture, a 4th of July Picnic, looks destined to make the Trump inauguration “crowd” look like a real crowd, considering at last check his goal of $25,000 is only $24,875 away from success after one month.  Guess they will be celebrating by eating “alternative hot dogs” and drinking “alternative beer” (aka “bread and water”).

The whole venture begs the question, “Gays for Trump”? Really?

I mean, seriously, how can we expect any kind of protections for LGBTQ Americans from an administration that has appointed notoriously anti-LGBTQ people to every level of government. Top that off with a hostile vice president whose record on equal rights is dismal, and I can only think that Boykin is in need of serious psychotherapy.

Perhaps it is the same malady affecting the unemployed coal miners who saw Trump as the savior of the coal industry when he promised to reopen the mines and bring American industry back to life. The problem is that use of coal is declining world-wide, ceding to cheaper natural gas and more environmentally-friendly renewables.

Yet, the miners believed Trump, because they wanted to believe. It is more of a matter of faith than reality, and putting faith in a politician’s promise is only slightly smarter than putting faith in a billionaire who has made a fortune selling lies.

The “Gays for Trump” want to believe that the 45th president will be some kind of savior, when in reality he is just a skilled con man preying on the misguided beliefs of delusional people.

Of course, being gay myself, I can find an analogy in a Broadway musical. The Music Man told the story of just such a con man. He comes to River City and discovers a pool table has just been delivered to a local establishment.

Seizing the opportunity, he convinces the town that the evils of “pool” will destroy their town, its morality and civilization in general. The answer? Band instruments!

Just imagine Donald Trump, wearing a sparkling uniform, convincing America that what he is selling is the answer to the “disaster” our country has become: “Oh we’ve got trouble, right here in River City!”

And now we await delivery of the band instruments for an orchestra that doesn’t know how to play. We await the alleged returning jobs, but those that return will be for skilled workers in new fields and the workers waiting on them are not prepared.  So even if they do return, the plight of the coal miners will remain bleak.

But they believe! And like the “Gays for Trump,” they think that belief, misguided though it is, will be enough.

Sadly thought, there is no happy ending in this performance. The parade will not happen, and the “Gays for Trump” will be left on the sidelines, watching and cheering as their freedoms and rights are swept away in the wake of the Trump march toward disaster.            

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 17, 2017.

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Things to do in Dallas tonight

Posted on 16 Mar 2017 at 10:35am

If you still haven’t seen Moonlight, the gay black Oscar winner for best picture, then you have your chance tonight with United Black Ellument, the gay black project of the Resource Center. And you can see it for free — U-BE is teaming with DFW FUSE to host a screening tonight, not at their Deep Ellum location but at RC’s new headquarters at 5750 Cedar Springs Road. The program (which includes a raffle) runs 7–10 p.m.

Dallas Blooms, the annual celebration of colorful flowers at the Dallas Arboretum, is in full glory now, but tonight you can enjoy the scenery and sit wine and nosh on treats with the first-ever Food and Wine Festival. Find out more about it here.

Jaap van Zweden will lead the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in a concert starting tonight and going though Sunday featuring the music of Brahms. Learn more here.

Theatre 3’s production of the awesome but rarely-revived musical Passing Strange picks up with more performances tonight and continuing through next weekend. Get tickets here.

Cirque du Soleil’s dazzling circus Kurios — Cabinet of Curiosities, pictured, continues through March 26 under le grand chapiteau in the parking lot of Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie.

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