Austin Splash Days returns Labor Day weekend; tickets on sale June 1

Posted on 25 May 2016 at 8:36am

Splash-5Maybe it’s because our third annual Swimsuit Edition comes out Friday, but we’re in the mood to think about summer swim parties. And not all of them are in North Texas. For a number of years, Splash Days — the Austin event benefiting the LGBT community (AIDS Services of Austin and Care Communities) — didn’t have as much water to splash around in. But while the drought isn’t over, lake-goers have even more H2O to play in with the annual music, dance, Pride and unity celebration,  which takes place over Labor Day weekend.

splash-2013-ASThis year welcomes men and women for the festivities … and more parties that before. Friday night is Swim Meet at The Belmont with DJ Benson Wilder the official welcome party. Saturday is the main event Splash Dance with DJ Roland Belmares. Sunday daytime is the Get Wet lake party at Hippie Hollow (where Lake Travis is at high water mark). That night is the High Tide recovery party with DJ Grind, followed by daytime Monday’s Adult Swim (pool party T-dance) at Hotel Van Zandt pool.

You can buy a weekend pass, a VIP pass or individual tickets. Visit here for more information and tickets, starting June 1.


Resource Center calls on Dallas Police to repudiate any affiliation with First Baptist

Posted on 24 May 2016 at 11:42am
Ribbon cutting

Chief David Brown, left, at LGBT Community Center ribbon cutting ceremony on May 21

Resource Center responded to statements by the Rev. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church Dallas by calling for the Dallas Police Department to repudiate any involvement with that organization.

Over the weekend, Jeffress said transgender friendly businesses are a bigger threat than ISIS. Yes, he is saying it is safer to vacation in Fallujah than to go to a Target.

In April, First Baptist Church offered free counseling to Dallas police as well as scholarships to church camp for officers’ children. First Baptist honored Dallas police at service that Chief David Brown attended.

A similar offer of counseling by Cathedral of Hope was ignored by Brown. Brown did, however, attend the opening of the new LGBT community center on Saturday, May 21.

Here’s Resource Center’s statement calling for Dallas Police to repudiate any affiliation with Jeffress.

Resource Center is calling on the City of Dallas and the Dallas Police Department to reassess its relationship with First Baptist Church of Dallas in light of recent statements made by church leadership comparing business supporters of the transgender community with a terrorist organization.

This most recent fanciful statement from the church in and of itself does not deserve a response. Our concern is with the alliance announced last month between DPD and the church, which has a history of making inflammatory remarks about women, Islam, the Catholic Church and the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Dallas Police, as does the city of Dallas, has a responsibility to be an open and inclusive organization that serves all people as reflected in the city’s internal and external nondiscrimination statements. The Center believes the city of Dallas must make decisions and take actions that are consistent with those values. The partnership with First Baptist Church of Dallas fails that test.


Dallas Zoo welcomes baby elephant

Posted on 24 May 2016 at 11:14am

Elephant calf May17_2016 LH11 logoThe Dallas Zoo has welcomed a big new arrival: a male African elephant calf born May 14 to Mlilo, one of the elephants rescued from drought-stricken Swaziland this spring.

The calf stands about 3 feet tall, and his tiny trunk is just over a foot long. His ears are light pink, contrasting with his darker gray body. He weighs 175 pounds, which is on the low end of the 150- to 300-pound range for newborn African elephants. A low birth weight isn’t surprising, given the difficult conditions in Swaziland during his 22-month gestation.

The calf, who isn’t yet named, is active and exploring the barn, although he doesn’t get too far from mom. He’s nursing and vocalizing as expected.

“This birth validates the critical importance of our rescue efforts and why we worked so hard to get these animals to safety as quickly as possible,” said Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Dallas Zoo.

The birth was quick and uneventful, and the calf arrived at 10:15 p.m. For several nights, Dallas Zoo elephant keepers stayed in the barn overnight to monitor the herd round-the-clock.

“Our entire animal staff, from keepers to veterinarians to the nutrition team, is involved in caring for this remarkable calf, as well as our other nine elephants,” said Lynn Kramer, D.V.M. and vice president of Animal Operations and Welfare at the Dallas Zoo. “He is doing well; playing hard and nursing often. And Mlilo is proving to be a very attentive and patient mother.”

Mlilo (pronounced “ma-LEE-lo”) arrived in Dallas showing signs of a possible pregnancy, but all tests conducted were inconclusive. Additionally, breeding-age bull elephants in Swaziland had been vasectomized, so the chances of a pregnancy were extremely low. Regardless, the Dallas Zoo staff was careful with the day-to-day care of Mlilo, creating positive conditions for her to have a successful birth.

“The small risk of moving a potentially pregnant animal was far outweighed by the certain death she and her calf faced in Swaziland,” Hudson said. “I shudder to think what would have happened to Mlilo and her calf without the last six months of food and water we provided while they were in Swaziland, as well as the excellent care and nutrition they received upon their arrival.”

Zoo officials don’t yet know when the public will be able to see the calf. It could be several months, while mother and calf continue to bond with each other and the rest of the herd. The introduction process between the other four Swaziland elephants and the Dallas Zoo’s four well-known “Golden Girls” is continuing.

“This calf will be an excellent ambassador for his species, helping us teach guests about the grave crisis facing elephants in Africa, and inspiring them to help protect this majestic species from extinction,” Hudson said.

This is the first birth of an African elephant calf in the United States in nearly two years.

The Dallas Zoo collaborated with conservation officials in Swaziland, Africa, and two other accredited U.S. facilities to provide a safe haven for 17 African elephants. The elephants had destroyed trees and other vegetation in the managed parks where they lived, making the land uninhabitable for more critically endangered rhinos. Swaziland managers planned to cull the elephants in order to focus on rhino conservation. The zoos’ collaboration to relocate the elephants was conceived not only to save them, but to support Swaziland’s rhino conservation efforts.

In a complex process that lasted nearly two years, the Dallas Zoo, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo applied for permission from the U.S. government to accept the animals. The permit was granted in January after extensive review, and a detailed move was planned for nearly two months. The elephants were flown to the U.S. aboard a chartered 747 jet, arriving March 11, 2016. Five of the elephants found a home in Dallas, while the other two facilities are each caring for six of the rescued animals.

In addition to Mlilo, who’s believed to be about 14 years old, the Swaziland elephants at the Dallas Zoo include bull Tendaji and females Zola, Amahle and Nolwazi. All range in age from 6 to their mid-20s. They join the zoo’s four “Golden Girls” – Jenny, Gypsy, Congo and Kamba – in the award-winning Giants of the Savanna habitat.

All three zoos have expansive new habitats that set the standard for an advanced way of managing elephants in human care, allowing for socialization, herd behavior and extensive walking. Public support for the rescue has been overwhelming, given the critical situation in the animals’ native land. African elephants face many threats, ranging from human encroachment on their habitat to extreme poaching, which claims the life of nearly 100 elephants every day.

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Cuellar family to open new ‘Ranch-Mex’ concept, Fajita Ranch

Posted on 24 May 2016 at 8:41am

Tex Mex Combo Plate

We’ve long been huge fans of the culinary Cuellars, who helped transform North Texas’ Tex-Mex cuisine. (Oak Cliff’s El Corazon is always a fave.) Well, the family has a new idea coming to Plano: Fajita Ranch, which co-owner Gilbert Cuellar Jr. describes as “Ranch-Mex.”

What exactly is Ranch-Mex? Well, it’s less about innovation than traditional comfort food, Gilbert says. The menu will include “the most popular things I grew up enjoying as a child,” he says.He’s looking to “reflect on my family’s history and give guests the opportunity to dine on what my family considers traditional Texas Ranch-Mex cuisine.” That means chicken fried steak and enchiladas and fajitas and even mashed potatoes. Plus season margaritas. The exact opening date hasn’t been released, but will be “coming soon” they say to North Central Expressway and Parker Road in Plano.


Oklahoma Legislature wants to ban trans peeing and impeach Obama

Posted on 23 May 2016 at 4:36pm
Gov. Mary Fallin

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, who figured out a way to veto an unconstitutional bill last week, may be faced with more nonsense to veto

Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin found a reason to veto an unconstitutional bill banning abortion in her state. So the legislature reacted by dealing with other pressing issues facing the state.

Oklahoma’s crumbling infrastructure? No, even though the day they passed the abortion bill, the May Street bridge in Oklahoma city collapsed on the highway below, inconveniencing at least some members of the legislature on their commutes home.

No, the Oklahoma Legislature turned from abortion, settled by the U.S. supreme Court 40 years ago, to peeing, this year’s important social issue.

The state Senate passed a resolution instructing its U.S. representatives to draw up articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama, the U.S. Attorney General and the Secretary of Education, according to the Daily Oklahoman.

Their crime? Instructing all school to treat all students equally.

Last week, the Department of Education issued guidance to all school districts about the pressing bathroom issue. If articles of impeachment were drawn up, they would be the first in U.S. history to involve urine.

In addition, the legislature introduced bills to authorize students and parents to request religious accommodation if their school allowed trans students to use restrooms, locker rooms or showers other than for the sex they were designated at birth. Providing a single-occupancy accommodation would not be considered an appropriate accommodation.

In other words, they want the trans student to be banned from peeing in school.


Pride — and love — in Tyler

Posted on 23 May 2016 at 4:02pm


About 100 people showed up at Bergfield Park, in the heart of Tyler, Texas, on Sunday for the Deport Hate Bike Ride/Hike and Picnic, according to organizers.

Hannah Morris, who spearheaded the efforts to stage the gathering, explained that the idea for it began after some local residents began seeing a man riding his bike through the city’s Azalea District wearing a t-shirt with the message “Deport LGBT.” But instead of staging an angry rally, organizers called for LGBT people and their allies to come to Bergfeld — the part from which Nicholas West was abducted in 1993 before he was taken to a gravel pit in Noonday and murdered — to for a showing of pride and love.

Participants gathered in the park, then traversed a route about a mile long through the adjacent Azalea District before ending up back at the park for a picnic. It was, Morris said, a huge success.

Jenell Vollmer, who went to high school with Nicholas West and then came out publicly at a rally held after his murder, lives in Austin now. But she went back to Tyler Sunday for the Deport Hate event, and was kind enough to share these  photos and video with Dallas Voice.


Arlington full of hate, Abodo survey says

Posted on 23 May 2016 at 3:11pm

Screen shot 2016-05-23 at 3.02.20 PM

The housing web site Abodo recently conducted a survey, as part of its “Best Places to Live” study, on what are the most and least hateful states/cities based “ language Americans use when tweeting about different races, ethnicities, genders, religions, and sexual orientations.”

Guess which state placed third on the most hateful list. Yep, it was Texas, with 929 per 100,000 tweets including derogatory — aka hateful — language. Louisiana was in first place, with 1,155 per 100,000 tweets with derogatory language. Nevada barely beat out Texas for the No. 2 spot with 929 per 100,000 tweets including hateful language. Rounding out the top 10 were, in order of hatefulness, Maryland, Delaware, Ohio, California, Michigan, Georgia and Rhode Island.

(Rhode Island? Really?)

The survey also breaks down the hate, by state and by city, based on which particular slurs are used — anti-black, anti-Hispanic, anti-woman, anti-gay/lesbian and anti-transgender. The study also includes information on which states generated the most tweets with language that was derogatory toward the cognitively disabled and/or derogatory toward those who are overweight.

There are six charts included in the study that compare derogatory tweets on specific subjects by city — two on anti-woman tweets, one including “bitch” as a keyword, and one without — and at least one Texas city makes the top 10 on all six lists. And, here’s the interesting part, Arlington, Texas makes the top 10 on every list but the anti-trans list.

Let’s go subject by subject (each number is derogatory tweets per 100,000).

First of all, lets talk LGBT topics.

Screen shot 2016-05-23 at 3.02.47 PM

Anti-gay/lesbian: Suprisingly enough, Buffalo, N.Y. claims the No. 1 spot on this list with 168 tweets per 100,000. And good ol’ Arlington is right up there at No. 2 with 161. The only other Texas city to make this list is Corpus Christi at No. 10 with 122. I admit, I was surprised to see that five California cities were on this list, including Riverside, Fontana, Bakersfield, Modesto and Oxnard. Round out the top 10 are Lincoln at No. 5 and New Orleans at No. 10.

Screen shot 2016-05-23 at 3.03.43 PM

Anti-transgender: This one, quite frankly, really surprised me. The No. 1 city for anti-transgender tweets is Las Vegas, with 99 per 100,000. It also surprised me that not one Texas city — not even Arlington — is in the top 10. Instead, Florida and California cities dominate.  Following Las Vegas, from No. 2 through No. 10, are Orlando, Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Pittsburgh and — believe it or not — San Francisco.

San Francisco registered 15 anti-transgender tweets per 100,000. Maybe that doesn’t sound like many, but it was No. 10 on the list. San Francisco registered more anti-transgender tweets than any city in Texas!

Moving on.

Anti-black:Baltimore leads with 82. Arlington is No. 5 with 56, and Garland, Texas isNo. 9 with 51. Others in the top 10 are, Atlanta, New Orleans, Newark,Norfolk, Lincoln, Buffalo and Madison (Wisconsin).

Anti-Hispanic: Bakersfield, Calif., was No. 1, with 24. Garland is No. 6 on this list, with 14, and Arlington is right behind at No. 7, with 13.  San Antonio makes the list in the No. 10 spot. Six of the 10 are California cities — Chula Vista, Modesto, Fontana, Riverside and Morena Valley (Nos. 1-5 and No. 7). Rounding out the top 10 is Miami at No. 9.

Anti-woman, including “bitch”: New Orleans is No. 1, with 3,696. Houston is No. 4 with 2,353, and Arlington is No. 6 with 2,252. Also in the top 10 are Atlanta, Baton Rouge, Baltimore, Cleveland, Newark, Detroit and Norfolk.

Anti-woman, excluding “bitch”: Atlanta takes the top spot here, with 1,580, and Arlington — the only Texas city on this particular list — is No. 3 with 1,253. Also in the top 10 are Newark, New Orleans, Boston, Orlando, Miami, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Oakland.

To read the entire study, go here.


Dallas Voice a finalist in four Lone Star Awards, including Journalist of the Year

Posted on 23 May 2016 at 9:42am

Arnold Wayne Jones’ review of Uchi netted him a top-three finalist placement in the Lone Star Awards for criticism, as well as a nomination for Print Journalist of the Year.

Dallas Voice is a finalist for four 2016 Lone Star Awards, presented for excellence in journalism across the state of Texas. The nominations were announced last night by the Houston Press Club, and honor work in newspapers, magazines, TV, radio and public relations. The club also recognizes work in student journalism.

Dallas Voice Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones was named a finalist for Best News or Feature Story for “Soup 2 Nuts,” his profile of the making of Pink Magnolia restaurant. He was also nominated in the category General Commentary/Criticism for “Uchi coochie — could she cook!,” his review of the Uptown restaurant Uchi. Jones is also one of the three finalists for Print Journalist of the Year, based on “Soup 2 Nuts,” “Uchi coochie” and “Remembering Mom,” his personal account of having to write an obituary for his own mother.

In addition, former staff writer James Russell is a finalist for Internet-Based Opinion for his “Bought and Sold” series about the Texas legislature.

The winners will be revealed during a gala banquet at Rice University in Houston on June 25.


Dallas Wings dominate the court in home opener

Posted on 23 May 2016 at 9:19am

Odyssey Sims

The Dallas Wings, the area’s new WNBA franchise, pulled ahead of the San Antonio Stars in the first minute of the game and maintained their lead throughout the team’s sold-out home opener.

Odyssey Sims is quickly becoming a team favorite. Not only did she grow up in Irving, but she scored 10 of the team’s 21 points in the first quarter, continued scoring throughout the game and intercepted the ball in every quarter.

Although the Wings kept their lead throughout the game and were winning by more than 10 points through much of the third quarter, the game wasn’t without excitement. San Antonio finally seemed to wake up during the middle of the fourth quarter and narrowed their deficit to just two points. At four seconds before the final buzzer, the whistle blew calling a foul.

Sims scored two points. The score was 82-77.

The whistle again at 3 seconds. San Antonio had the ball. Final buzzer the Wings won their home opener.

The Wings opened their season out-of-town and are 3-1 on the season so far. If they keep playing like this, they’ll be a championship team soon.

Some notes about the game:

WNBA games are a whole lot of fun. Although the games are played on the UT Arlington campus, lots of people from the community made the drive from Dallas.

The Dallas Wings transferred from Tulsa, where they were known as the Tulsa Shock. Judging by the T-shirts people wore, lots of people made the drive from Oklahoma are are remaining loyal to their team.

Most of the team is new. Plenette Pierson is the team’s elder statesman. When I spoke team members several weeks ago at their College Park Arena home, the rookies look up to her for advice. She along with Coach Fred Williams, who’s from Oak Cliff, by the way, have done a great job of bringing this group of women together to work well as a team. Each time Sims signaled one of her teammates, that person was clear to catch her passing the ball. Watching such team work, especially among a group of women working together for the first time in their new home, was a pleasure.

I should note that the team played with just 11 players. Glory Johnson, one of the team’s stars, is on a seven-game suspension. She’ll be back in a few weeks and so will I. Can’t wait to see her on the court.

One thing I’ve noted before is I’m not a sports reporter, but I played one on TV. You know something I love about reporting sports? When I write anything else, I have to maintain some objectivity. When it comes to sports reporting, I can throw my objectivity out the window. You never heard a Dallas reporter talking about how great the Yankees are after they’ve blown out the Rangers. Or, hey, wasn’t that a great Giants win against the Cowboys.

So I can say it. San Antonio pretty much sucked throughout the game, and I love our Dallas Wings. The next game is Friday, May 27 against Atlanta. Do yourself a favor, have some fun and go.

Dallas Wings play at College Park Arena. Exit I-30 at Center Street and go south several miles. You’ll see the parking garages on your right. Parking is just $10.


PHOTOS: First look at House of DIFFA 2016: Circo Rouge

Posted on 22 May 2016 at 8:53am

Scenes from House of DIFFA 2016: Circo Rouge.