One Pulse, one love

Posted on 13 Jun 2017 at 1:07pm

Orlando marks the anniversary of the Pulse massacre

Mike Schneider and Terrance Harris
Associated Press

Artist Yuriy Karabash hugs a family member of a victim at the Pulse nightclub, Monday, June 12, in front of his mural commemorating the one-year anniversary of the June 12, 2016, massacre that killed 49 at Pulse. (Joe Burbank /Orlando Sentinel via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. — At 2:02 a.m. Monday, June 12, the names of 49 people killed in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history were read out loud outside the Pulse nightclub, marking the exact time a year ago when a gunman started firing during “Latin Night” at the gay club.

“I realize that gathering here in this place, at this hour, is beyond difficult,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told survivors, victims’ families, club employees and local officials during the private service. “But I also know that the strength you’ve shown over the past year will carry you through today and in the future.”

The service began what would be almost 24 hours of observations to remember the victims and the dozens of Pulse patrons who were wounded when Omar Mateen opened fire and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. He was eventually killed by police after a three-hour standoff on June 12, 2016.

Later Monday morning, hundreds of people dropped off flowers, drawings and cards at a memorial near Pulse. Another midday service was held, followed by an evening gathering in the heart of downtown Orlando and a final, music-filled late-night service at the nightclub.

“It still hurts, it’s still very raw,” said Erin Anderson, a friend and former co-worker of Pulse victim Xavier Serrano Rosado.

Jeannine Williams used to live within walking distance of Pulse and was a frequent visitor. She had made plans to be there the night of the shooting but decided to go another nightclub instead.

“A year later I think the thing that is most important is this community and why I live here and why I’m so happy to live here,” Williams said through tears. “The support we not only have from our city government — it’s not fleeting support, it’s not support on certain days. It’s the way the community is. This is Orlando. This is why I just love living here.”

At noon, church bells throughout the Orlando area rang 49 times. Gov. Rick Scott ordered U.S. flags around Florida to be flown at half-staff and a giant rainbow flag would be unveiled at the Orange County government building.

At a midday service at the nightclub, Pulse owner Barbara Poma said when people ask her what has changed in her life since the tragedy, she tells them “everything.” But she said she is grateful for the outpouring of support. She plans to build a memorial at the site of the nightclub, which has been closed since the tragedy.

“I miss Pulse,” she said. “We are one Pulse. We are one love.”

Local leaders said Mateen’s act of hate caused an outpouring of love from Orlando and the wider world.

“What a terrorist tries to do is divide us,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. “Isn’t it interesting it had the opposite effect? It brought us together in unity and love.”

Monday’s services culminated several days of events aimed at turning the grim anniversary into something positive. A foot race was held over the weekend, and eight gay and lesbian students were awarded $4,900 toward their college studies by a local businessman. Local officials have declared the one-year mark as a day of “love and kindness,” and they are encouraging residents to volunteer or perform acts of compassion.

An exhibit of artwork collected from memorial sites set up around Orlando after the massacre will be shown at the Orange County History Center.

In one sour note for the day,an anti-gay protestor, Daniel Maguire, was arrested Monday near the nightclub and is facing misdemeanor charges of breach of peace and resisting an officer without violence.

According to an Orlando police officer, Maguire, 36, of Ruskin, Fla., ignored the officer’s request to move away from the club for his own safety. Maguire and another protester were wearing shirts with anti-gay slogans.

Local TV news footage shows Maguire asking an officer, “What law am I breaking?” An officer holds out his hand to stop Maguire. The two push one another briefly, and Maguire falls.

Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, is facing charges of aiding and abetting and obstruction in federal court. She has pleaded not guilty to helping her husband.

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Dallas Wings Pride Night promo

Posted on 13 Jun 2017 at 11:02am

Dallas Wings celebrate LGBT Pride Month with Pride Night on Friday, June 16, when they host the New York Liberty in a 7 p.m. game at College Park Center, 600 S. Center St. in Arlington.

And since the Wings want their LGBT fans to turn out in force for the festivities, the team is offering a special promotion to Dallas Voice readers: Buy your ticket online and use the special promo code to get a discount on your ticket price:

DallasWings.com/promo
Promo Code: VOICE17
Price range $10-$20

Get your tickets now and be there to cheer with Pride for our hometown team.

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Cazares-Thomas reads names of Pulse victims

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 3:05pm

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope read the names of the victims of the Pulse massacre that happened in Orlando a year ago today, June 12. The bell on the John Thomas bell wall rang in between each name he read.

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UPDATE: 2 people injured in drunk driver incident at Marty’s

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 1:03pm

UPDATE:

Dallas Police wrote to Dallas Voice:

“Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 11:42 p.m., Dallas police officers received a call regarding a major accident in the 4200 block of Maple Avenue.  The reporting person and a witness asked the suspect to leave the location.  Soon thereafter, the witness observed a vehicle collide into the rear patio fence of the business, injuring two people. The witness approached the vehicle and observed that the driver was the suspect they had previously asked to leave the establishment.

“The suspect then fled in the vehicle, southbound through the alley behind the business, then westbound on Knight Street.  One victim was transported Parkland Memorial Hospital by DFR 11.  The other victim initially refused medical transport, but later stated she would go to Parkland via private vehicle.

“… this incident is under investigation.”

ORIGINAL POST:

A drunk driver drove through the back gate at Marty’s last night (June 11) injuring two people. Farrah Moan was performing at the club on Maple Avenue and cut her show short when her mother was one of the injured. She and Alexis G. Pantoja went by ambulance to the hospital.

On her Facebook page, Moan said her mother had driven in from Oklahoma to see her show.

Pantoja wrote, “Ok so tonight while me and Farrah moans mother were outside the patio at Marty’s when some drunk idiot ran his car through the back gate sending us flying through to the ground.”

The driver got away in a “red dodge neon 90s model” according to one eyewitness.

We have message in to Dallas Police for more information and will update this afternoon.

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Dallas Voice staffers win 4 first-place awards from Houston Press Club

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 9:46am

Bette Midler and the Dallas Theater Center aren’t the only award-winners of the weekend. Dallas Voice staffers and contributors fared very well at the Houston Press Club’s annual Lone Star Awards this weekend, taking four First Place trophies, as well as three other awards.

Senior Staff Writer David Taffet and Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones each walked off with two First Place awards. Taffet won for Print News or Feature Story for “Rehabilitated?,” about an anti-gay hate crime and the perpetrator’s quest for reconciliation. That piece also helped Taffet win Print Journalist of the Year. Judges singled out his work as “lively and engrossing… it doesn’t hurt that he finds surprising subjects with great stories to tell.” Dallas Voice Managing Editor Tammye Nash took Second Place in the same category.

Jones won the top award for Print Photography for his photo of a hot-air balloon mid-flight. “The stunning, color image of the hot-air balloon highlighted by the stream of fire is an exciting photo catching a brief moment of time,” opined the judges Jones also won First Place for his op/ed piece “David Bowie Allowed You to Be Gay.” The judges said, “What a tribute to an incredible icon! Strong writing, interesting subject and thought-provoking presentation.” Jones also took Third Place for Internet Opinion for “Winter is Coming,” in which he analyzed the dangers of a Trump presidency in the hours after his election.

Finally, columnist Cassie Nova (aka James Love) won Third Place for General Commentary for her piece “Cassie Gets Serious About Orlando.”

You can see all winners here. Congrats!

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Equality March Dallas honors Pride, remembers those lost to violence

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 9:45am

Dallas’ LGBT community joined LGBT people and our allies nationwide on Sunday in marching for equality and unity and Pride. After gathering for a rally at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road, participants marched down Cedar Springs Road to the Legacy of Love Monument, at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn Avenue, where a ceremony was held remembering and honoring the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, and the trans men and women who have been murdered this year.

A national Equality March was held Sunday in Washington, D.C., and — following the model of the Women’s March in January — events were held around the country on the same day, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Abilene and Texarkana.

Chuck Marcelo with Marcelo Media captured the Dallas rally and march in photos for Dallas Voice.

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Here’s a complete list of Tony winners

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 12:42am

Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Tony winners for ‘Dear Evan Hansen’

The Dallas Theater Center was already a winner long before the curtain rose on Kevin Spacey’s opening number marking the season’s crop of Tony Award. DTC was already announced as winner of the Tony for outstanding regional theater. Artistic director Kevin Moriarty accepted the award, although his moment during the broadcast were fleeting. Still, it was a highlight for local theater lovers.

It was a gay night from the start. Out actor Gavin Creel beat tough competition for Hello, Dolly! as best featured actor in a musical, and his win was followed immediately by out actress Cynthia Nixon for featured actress in a play for The Little Foxes. Then the third live award went to recent Oscar winners (La La Land) Benj Pasek and Justin Paul for best score for Dear Evan Hansen; Pasek is gay. Hello, Dolly! also took best actress for gay icon Bette Midler (whose speech went on so long they cut to commercial) and best revival of a musical for out producer Scott Rudin, who thanked his husband.

The big winners of the night, in fact, were Dolly with four (revival, actress in a musical, featured actor in a musical, costumes); and Dear Evan Hansen with six (best actor in a musical, featured actress in a musical, score, book and orchestrations).

Here’s a complete list of honorees, in the order presented:

Featured Actor/Play: Michael Aronov, Oslo

Costume Design/Play: The Little Foxes (Jane Greenwood)

Costume Design/Musical: Hello, Dolly! (Santo Loquasto)

Featured Actor/Musical: Gavin Creel, Hello, Dolly!

Featured Actress/Play: Cynthia Nixon, The Little Foxes

Scenic Design/Play: The Play That Goes Wrong (Nigel Hook)

Scenic Design/Musical: Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (Mimi Lien)

Lifetime Achievement: James Earl Jones

Score: Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, Dear Evan Hansen

Actor/Play: Kevin Kline, Present Laughter

Glenn Close presented best actress to Bette Midler

Lighting Design/Play: Indecent (Christopher Akerlind)

Lighting Design/Musical: The Great Comet (Bradley King)

Actress/Play: Lauri Metcalfe, A Doll’s House Part 2

Featured Actress/Musical: Rachel Bay Jones, Dear Evan Hansen

Director/Play: Rebecca Taichman, Indecent

Director/Musical: Christopher Ashley, Come from Away

Book: Steven Levenson, Dear Evan Hansen

Revival/Play: Jitney

Orchestrations: Dear Evan Hansen (Alex Lacamoire)

Choreography: Andy Blakenbuehler, Bandstand

Play: Oslo by J.T. Rogers

Special Award for sound designers Gareth Fay and Pete Malkin

Isabelle Stevenson Award: Baayork Lee

Regional Theater: Dallas Theater Center

Revival/Musical: Hello, Dolly!

Actor/Musical: Ben Platt, Dear Evan Hansen

Actress/Musical: Bette Midler, Hello, Dolly!

Musical: Dear Evan Hansen

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Congresswoman Johnson on Comey testimony

Posted on 09 Jun 2017 at 12:09pm

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson — the Dallas Democrat who has long been one of the LGBT community’s strongest allies, both when she was in the Texas Legislature and now in Congress — has released a statement regarding testimony delivered yesterday on Capitol Hill by former FBI Director James Comey.

Here’s what EBJ had to say:

“Hearing the live testimony by former FBI Director James Comey leaves us with more questions than answers. However, one point is clear — we can no longer excuse the president’s behavior and complete disregard for maintaining a sense of propriety and lawfulness in his actions as a public official. The fact that Mr. Comey had to take deliberate steps to protect himself due to the lack of trust and apparent conflicts of interest among cabinet officials in the White House is deeply disturbing. It is quite unfortunate that President Trump has chosen to undermine the credibility of the federal government in this way and detract from the more meaningful discussions we should be having about issues facing our nation.

“Mr. Comey’s need to testify before Congress [Thursday] highlights the dire consequences of delaying a fully independent commission from investigating the Trump-Russia connection and the possibility of collusion during the 2016 campaign between President Trump, his associates, and Russian operatives. After [Thursday’s] hearing, it appears that Mr. Comey was fired for his unwillingness to yield to President Trump’s demands to subvert such an investigation. That is wrong.

“When the president of the United States chooses to influence an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it can create the appearance of a conflict of interest. This can undermine the American people’s trust in our government, our rule of law and the elected officials who serve them. If a sitting president chooses to fire the law enforcement officials investigating allegations of wrongdoing committed by the administration, it sets a dangerous precedent if no repercussions follow such actions. This is where Congress must play a bigger role.

“Mr. Comey recalled in his testimony that President Trump demanded and expected loyalty. The American people demand the same of our president, and they expect loyalty to our country — not to foreign adversaries.”

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Fighting for healthcare for all

Posted on 09 Jun 2017 at 8:10am

Danielle-Pellett

 

When you find your house on fire, you don’t have to wait for your co-pay to be approved before the fire department decides to take action and save your life or work to stop the fire from spreading to the next building. Everyone pays in a little to have a system in place to help all of us should the worst come to happen.

This is a basic concept we all have agreed to in various ways; either we pay taxes into a government that protects us with police and fire departments, or we purchase health insurance to cover us should we fall ill and need care at a hospital.

The first is technically Democratic Socialism, while the second is more capitalist in nature.

Before President Obama reformed our healthcare with the Affordable Care Act, fetuses were being turned down for having pre-existing conditions. Because healthcare companies needed to protect their profits, people would be declined for coverage for cancer because they had acne when they hit puberty.

Even now, patients have to go to court to demand coverage for healthcare when facing immunodeficiency diseases.

In 2015, Gillen Washington actually had to file a breach of contract lawsuit against Aetna for improperly denying him life-saving medication. His trial finally began this month, two years later … all because health insurance companies don’t want to have to pay for medication that costs tens of thousands of dollars each year.

Health insurance companies aren’t short on funds, and with their 80/20 rule in the ACA, they are required to keep overhead costs capped at 20 percent of what we pay into it. The only motivating factor for these billion-dollar industries is maximizing profit for their shareholders as well as quarterly bonuses for those at the top.

When the ACA went into effect, Health insurance companies weren’t “forced” to drop policies that covered people; they were simply supposed to raise their standards. Rather than do that, profiteering middle-men decided to instead just drop coverage, blame the ACA and then offer more expensive policies that would meet those requirements.

It was a win-win for them.

This is why we need to acknowledge that the problem isn’t ObamaCare/the ACA. It’s trying to make healthcare insurance work as a for-profit entity. We literally put a price on people’s lives, and we are at the mercy of “survival of the richest.”

If that isn’t a death panel, then I don’t know what is.

I’m running for Pete Session’s seat in Congress so I can improve the ACA by including a single payer, Medicare-for-all option that will help drive down the costs across the board.

Pete Sessions has been a rubber stamp for TrumpCare, which will gut Medicaid and abandon people with pre-existing conditions.

You can read more about my platform and support my campaign at DaniForCongress.com.

Danielle Pellett, Richardson
Candidate for Congress

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 9, 2017.

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Kathy’s mistake

Posted on 09 Jun 2017 at 8:05am

Griffin’s severed head photo  was tasteless, but shouldn’t  end her career

Kathy-Griffin's-apology

 

David WebbOne word probably best describes most Americans’ reaction to the recent image of bawdy comic Kathy Griffin holding a bloody-like simulation of President Donald Trump’s head: aghast.

That said, I doubt anyone viewed the photo — shot by photographer Tyler Shields, who has made a name for himself with controversial, shocking art — as inspiration to assassinate Trump, as seems to be implied by the U.S. Secret Service opening an investigation of Griffin. What a waste of time such an investigation is for an agency charged with protecting the First Family and other high officials against the real threats that reportedly pop up daily.

The Secret Service is not to be blamed for the decision, though. Political pressure from inside and outside the White House to investigate Griffin probably blew the lid off the office of Director Randolph Alles, who was appointed by the president and took office in April of this year.

The White House Communications Department staff probably dropped to their knees in unison in an expression of thanks when they first heard about Griffin’s ill-conceived publicity stunt. Finally! Finally, they had something to distract the media, and in turn the public, from those pesky questions about the Russia investigation, the impending testimony by fired FBI Director James Comey, Trump’s unpopular plan to pull out of the worldwide Paris Climate Accord to fight man-made climate damage, the president’s failure to release his income tax returns and the daily headaches created by Trump’s early morning tweets that often defy logic.

To be sure, Trump wasted no time in going after Griffin — who starred for five years in her own reality show on Bravo, My Life on the D List  — on Twitter, calling her “sick” and shaming her. First Lady Melania Trump — who, by the way, posed nude for photo shoots before and after marrying Trump — chimed in, implying Griffin might be mentally ill.

Both claimed their 11-year-old son, who undoubtedly must be exposed to a wealth of lurid news about his family daily, reacted in fear to the photo after seeing the image on television.

Really? Fear?

I wonder what channel Barron Trump was watching? I never saw the actual image on TV because all the broadcast outlets blurred the image of the fake head. When I finally saw it on the Internet with the help of a Google search, after listening to and reading about all the hoopla, I thought it looked sort of ridiculous.

I thought the concept rose to the level of atrociously bad taste, but I certainly didn’t view the image with any horror.

Griffin, 56, simply played into the hands of those who already hated her and her work. I have many conservative associates on Facebook (I like to keep up with what they are thinking and saying) and their messages mirrored each other. They all professed longtime disgust with the comic, and they celebrated CNN’s decision to fire her from the network’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, which she has co-hosted with Anderson Cooper for more than a decade. They also rejoiced in the mass cancellations of her scheduled gigs and cancellation of an endorsement contract and advertising campaign by Squatty Potty.

A chorus of “she deserves everything she gets” arose.

On Facebook, one critic said Griffin only apologized because she was about to get fired by CNN. I personally can’t think of a better time to apologize, and I’ve employed the same tactic to spare my ass during my four-decade career. I probably even managed a few tears.

That’s what happened to Griffin. Appearing — without false eyelashes — she begged for forgiveness and, at a press conference, nearly collapsed in tears. But the blood in the water only sealed her fate, as the sharks circling her moved closer for the kill.

No one cared about her explanation that Trump’s comments about blood seeping out of TV interviewer Megyn Kelly inspired the photo shoot. Everyone forgot about Trump’s unrelenting and brutal attacks on many women (whom he once advocated grabbing by the pussies) and his failures to apologize to them. His only apology went to his wife and daughter when the infamous tape recording of his conversation with TV personality Billy Bush outed him.

In retrospect, Griffin might have fared better had she not apologized and held her ground. That’s the course of action chosen by the photographer.

Griffin has received support from other comics, such as Alec Baldwin, Jerry Seinfield and Jim Carrey. Unfortunately, Anderson Cooper, who kept the closet door in his Vanderbilt-sheltered ivory tower barricaded as long as possible before coming out, abandoned Griffin, using words such as “disgusting” and “appalling” to describe the photo.

Griffin, who has raised so much money for equality and championed the LGBT rights movement, made an error in judgment. But who hasn’t?

I’m hoping her career will recover in time. Everyone deserves a second chance if they are truly interested in avoiding such missteps in the future. I’m going to miss her on New Year’s Eve in Times Square on CNN, but I won’t be watching Cooper even if he manages to recruit his friend fellow gay personality, Andy Cohen, to the vacancy as is being rumored.

David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than three decades of experience, including a stint as a staff reporter for Dallas Voice. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake and writes for publications nationwide.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 9, 2017.

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