Meryl Streep: The gay interview with the icon and star of ‘Florence Foster Jenkins’

Posted on 11 Aug 2016 at 8:31am

Meryl Streep as Florence Foster Jenkins in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS by Paramount Pictures, Pathé and BBC FilmsMeryl Streep is laughing her signature laugh. You know it: Sometimes light and airy, sometimes a surge of boisterous euphoria that carries well into the next question — but always unmistakably Meryl.

Cinema’s grand dame cracks one of her warm, famous chortles during our recent interview, while entertaining the idea that her latest chameleonic role, as real-life opera diva Florence Foster Jenkins in the movie of the same name, could once again spur drag queens to emulate another one of her queer-loved characters. Then she laughs again as she fondly remembers locking lips with Allison Janney in 2002’s The Hours. Meanwhile, the mere mention of 1992’s Death Becomes Her Meryl unleashing a hearty roar. Another laugh, too, when she ponders how sexting and Snapchat are related.

Gay audiences know this laugh because they know Meryl Streep. They also know her compassion for LGBT issues, both as an extension of her queer-inclusive acting repertoire and more explicitly, when, during her Golden Globe acceptance speech in 2004, she slammed then-president George W. Bush by condemning his anti-gay marriage stance. They’ve learned the art of shade from her sharp, searing tongue in The Devil Wears Prada, and they live for all the campy one-liners in Death Becomes Her. And during Angels in America, HBO’s 2003 watershed miniseries about the AIDS crisis, they wept.

Now, Streep, 67, sheds her skin once again to portray Jenkins, one of the worst singers in the world. In the poignant dramedy Florence Foster Jenkins from Stephen Frears, director of The Queen, the esteemed once-in-a-lifetime luminary plays a wannabe opera singer with a voice so hysterically appalling her loyal husband (Hugh Grant) bribes critics into letting her think she can sing.

Here, during this rare and revealing one-on-one conversation with Streep, the three-time Academy Award winner and record holder for most Oscar nominations discusses why she regards Angels in America as one of the most important LGBT-themed films she’s done and how she feels about gay men performing Meryl monologues. And looking ahead, is the biopic queen ready to consider her own story becoming a feature-length film in the future? Streep laughs at the very thought, of course, but she’s not kidding when she says, “I hope I fade into oblivion.”

Dallas Voice: You’ve given the gay community a breadth of greatness over the last four decades. When you look back at your gay roles, which has been the most important to you?  Streep: Oh, gosh. To me, I mean, Angels is such an important piece of history, and I felt really lucky to be part of that because I don’t think there was anything like it before. It really felt like being at the Democratic National Convention in the moment that Hillary shattered the glass ceiling — a big deal. The Hours was important, too. And of course I got to kiss Allison Janney, which was a perk!

Don’t tell Emma Thompson, who famously tongue-kissed you and gave you an orgasm in Angels.  Yeah, right! The Hours was nothing like that!

I remember Emma talking about that kiss in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. She’s very proud of it. She said she learned that “you have to use tongues even if you’re not a lesbian.”  Oh yeah, you really do. [Laughs]

When you look back at that moment, how does your takeaway from that kissing scene compare to Emma’s?  It’s just, you can’t take the baby from the bathwater. You can’t. It’s just the whole thing of it — that [orgasm scene] was just like the culmination of it. But what [screenwriter Tony Kushner] was doing was for a really mainstream HBO audience at that point — just groundbreaking. That hadn’t been on television. Movies, yes. But not television. So it was very cool.


While Drumpf continues to mount campaign of hate, Hillary reaches out with love

Posted on 10 Aug 2016 at 8:12pm

The internet and social media have made it amazingly possible to get a political message out to people that really resonates with constituents without having to pay Super Bowl prices. Take, for instance, this well-produced 75 second video from the Hillary Clinton camp, that reaches out to LGBT voters. Not that she needs to, but have you seen anything like then from the GOP? Like… ever?


N.C. gov. losing supporters

Posted on 10 Aug 2016 at 3:53pm

Gov. Pat McCrory

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, who has been a steadfast supporter of the anti-transgender law HB2 despite overwhelming evidence of the damage the law has done to his state, has been steadily losing the support of North Carolinians.

McCrory faces N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper in a tight race for governor’s race. Cooper immediately condemned HB2 and has refused to defend the law in court.

In a Public Policy Polling survey, 58 percent of North Carolina voters said HB2 is hurting the state, compared to 22 percent who think it’s helping. Oddly, 19 percent actually believe HB2 has had a positive effect on the state’s national reputation.

The poll was taken after the NBA announced it would pull its 2017 All Star game from Charlotte. In addition, North Carolina has lost millions of dollars in lost conventions and tourism. Companies have pulled expansion plans from the state as a result of the passage of HB2.

Only 43 percent approve of McCrory’s job performance while 47 percent disapprove. Fewer people know Cooper with 36 percent with a favorable opinion of him and 34 percent unfavorable. 30 percent are unsure.

In the race for governor, Cooper has a 1 point lead with 11 percent undecided.


Tallywackers is closed; owner says watch for new location

Posted on 10 Aug 2016 at 3:38pm
Screen shot 2016-08-10 at 3.16.39 PM

Tallywackers featured shirtless male waiters wearing tight shorts, and drag shows, as seen in this Aug. 5 post to the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Tallywackers has closed, but owner Rodney Duke  says the closure is only temporary until the restaurant can find a new location. Duke told, “What it boils down to is the location we had [at 4218 Lemmon Ave.] didn’t work for us and our lease was up.”

A post on the Tallywackers Facebook page, dated Wednesday, Aug. 10, noted that the restaurant — which featured shirtless male waiters in tight shorts, a kind of male version of the popular Hooters restaurants — had “gone through many changes” since opening at the end of May, 2015. The post also thanked “the masses who have shown their support and love,” and urged fans to “stay tuned for our new location to be announced.”

The post promised the restaurant is growing “larger and better,” and ended, “Do you wanna see ‪#‎Tallywackers‬ in your city?? Tell us how much by commenting below! See you soon world ;)”

Apparently, at least some of the employees were not told the restaurant would be closing. One source said that a friend “went to work today [Tuesday, Aug. 9] to find out it’s no longer open. That’s fucked up.”


Texas Bar won’t sanction Paxton for telling county clerks to ignore Obergefell ruling

Posted on 10 Aug 2016 at 1:52pm
Ken Paxton

Texas AG Ken Paxton

Even though he told county clerks across the state of Texas that they could ignore a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court and refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the State Bar of Texas won’t be sanctioning Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

The Texas Tribune reports that the state bar has dismissed a complaint filed against Paxton by more than 200 Texas attorneys, who said the AG “violated his own official oath of office” in June 2015 when he issued a written opinion telling county clerk’s they could ignore the high court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which established marriage equality as the law of the land, if same-sex marriage goes against their personal religious beliefs.

Paxton originally promised to back up any county clerks who were sued for refusing to issue licenses, but as it turned out, he didn’t mention that if they were sued it would be them, personally, paying the costs of defending themselves and paying any settlements that might be awarded.

In an Aug. 3 notice obtained by the Tribune, “The Chief Disciplinary Counsel has determined that there is no just cause to believe that [Paxton] has committed professional misconduct.” At least, not in connection with that opinion regarding marriage licenses. As a report by the Austin American-Statesman notes, Paxton still has plenty of legal woes to contend with.

On Tuesday, Aug. 9, prosecutors in the felony case charging Paxton with securities fraud and failing to register with state securities regulators urged the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the state’s highest criminal appeals court, not to dismiss the charges, as Paxton has asked.

Paxton also faces a separate lawsuit filed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accusing him on federal fraud violations. He has also moved that those charges be dismissed, and a hearing on that motion has been rescheduled for Sept. 2 in the Sherman federal courthouse


With rights come responsibilities

Posted on 10 Aug 2016 at 9:58am

Taffet, DavidDonald Trump’s threat against Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be taken lightly by the Secret Service or anyone else. His statement that supporters of the Second Amendment could do something about Clinton repealing the Second Amendment — something she’s never said — is simply against the law.

Yes, we have freedom of speech in this country, but along with our freedoms come responsibilities.

There’s the old saying that you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater. Why not? Because that would create panic and people could be injured or killed in a stampede out of the theater.

On a number of occasions, I have spoken to police to get more information about a story I’m writing. In some instances, they’ve given me the information I’ve asked for and asked me not to print it until a particular time or after something happens.

Could I have printed it? Yes, and without any penalty other than I wouldn’t be trusted next time.

Should I have printed it? No, because that could have tipped off a suspect that police were on to them, or even put someone else in danger.

Recently, a couple of days after the Dallas Police ambush, reporters were moved away from DPD headquarters while police searched for someone suspicious in the DPD parking garage, and reporters were asked not to release any video or print any pictures while the search continued. Could I have released a photo? Yes, and it would have been exclusive, since someone at Dallas Voice lives in a building overlooking the garage. Should I have? Of course not. This could have been a very dangerous situation.

Freedom of speech and freedom of the press come with responsibilities.

But one of our candidates for president of the United States thinks he can say anything he wants, and do so with impunity. And apparently he can.

Had anyone else made a statement like Trump did yesterday, Secret Service would have detained that person for questioning. Had they been unsatisfied with the answers, they would have charged that person with a crime. You can’t threaten harm to or incite others to harm someone under Secret Service protection. That’s the law.

Trump’s own Secret Service contingency should have escorted him off the stage as those words left his mouth. The very first people Trump was threatening were the people assigned to protect him. Should someone with a gun appear, Secret Service would place themselves between the gunman and the person receiving protection. So Trump was not only threatening the life of his opponent or encouraging others to take action, he was threatening the lives of the people assigned to protect him and other candidates in the race.

Trump’s explanation? He was encouraging supporters of the Second Amendment to vote. I’ll believe that once Secret Service has interrogated Trump and are satisfied he poses no threat to them, other candidates or the country.

And along with responsibilities that come with free exercise of the First Amendment are responsibilities that come with exercise of Second Amendment rights. Among those should be valid background checks and mental competency.


Resource Center signs letter against BYU entering Big 12

Posted on 09 Aug 2016 at 4:17pm

Big 12Resource Center has signed onto a letter from Athlete Ally opposing the addition of Brigham Young University to the Big 12 conference. Lambda Legal, GLAAD and National Center for Transgender Equality are among the national organizations that have signed the letter.

Brigham Young University has in its so-called “honor code” that homosexual behavior is forbidden.

“Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

Baylor, which is a member of the Big 12, removed a similar policy from its “honor code” in 2015. Rape, apparently, is still allowed on the Baylor campus, because the former president of that school who did nothing to investigate a string of campus rapes, remains employed as a law professor.

In its letter, Athlete Ally wrote:

“We are writing to express our concerns about Brigham Young University’s (BYU) candidacy for Big 12 Conference membership. As organizations committed to ending homophobia, biphobia and transphobia both on and off the field of play, we are deeply troubled by this possibility.

Currently, the Big 12 as a conference is overwhelmingly LGBT-inclusive. Nine out of ten of your member schools have explicit protections for students based on their sexual orientation. Eight out of ten of your member schools have explicit protections for students based on their gender identity. And nine out of ten of your member schools have LGBT resource centers to proactively make their schools safe and welcoming for LGBT people.

BYU has no protections for LGBT students or faculty and openly discriminates. On this year’s Princeton Review list of homophobic schools, BYU earned the No. 6 spot.

Locally, the Big 12 includes Texas Christian University in Fort Worth and the league is based in Irving.

BYU’s athletic director Tom Holmoe responded with a tweet: “LGBT players, coaches and fans are always welcome to the BYU campus. Everyone should be treated with respect, dignity and love. Tom.”


Judge rejects Roy Moore’s efforts to have ethics complaint dismissed

Posted on 09 Aug 2016 at 11:29am
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 28 on charges that he violated judicial ethics by repeatedly refusing to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling, in Obergefell v. Hodges, on marriage equality, and that he encouraged the 68 probate judges in the state — the elected officials that issue marriage licenses in Alabama — to ignore the ruling, too.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary, the panel that disciplines judges in the state, refused Moore’s motion to dismiss the ethics complaint against him. But the panel also refused a motion from the group of civil rights organizations, led by the Southern Poverty Law Center, that filed the complaint to have Moore removed from office immediately.

At the September hearing, a panel of nine judges will determine whether Moore did, indeed, violate judicial ethics and if he did, what punishment he will face. If the judges determine that he did violate ethics, Moore could be removed from his seat on the state Supreme Court.

If that happens, it will be the second time that Moore will have been removed from the court. He was ousted from the office in 2003 after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monuments from the state judicial building. But the state’s voters returned him to the same office in 2012.

Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission suspended Moore in May based on the complaint.

The Associated Press has compiled this timeline of Moore’s efforts to stop same-sex marriage in Alabama.


Rainbow LULAC and Congregation Beth El Binah team up for school supply drive

Posted on 09 Aug 2016 at 9:51am

LULACRainbow LULAC and Congregation Beth El Binah teamed up for a second time for a Back to School Mixer and School Supply Drive. School supplies may be dropped off at the mixer from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 at Havana Lounge, 4006 Cedar Springs Road. Food will be catered by Tallywackers.

The list of supplies includes notebooks, looseleaf paper, construction paper, blunt scissors, pens, pencils and 3-ring binders.

The school supplies collected will be donated to Oak Lawn area schools.


Last gasp beach reads: A late-summer reading list

Posted on 09 Aug 2016 at 9:31am

ObergThere’s still lots of summer left. Time for one last dip in the lake. A few weekends left for romantic getaways. Time to say goodbye to your new college freshman .. or senior. Time to spend a weekend at the beach. And time left for a good book, so why not try one of these…?


If a wedding was in your summer plans this year, you’ll still want to read Love Wins by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell. It’s the story of the people – lawyers and otherwise — who fought for marriage equality and won. Pair it up with Then Comes Marriage by Roberta Kaplan with Lisa Dickey, a book about the United States v. Windsor and the end of DOMA.

QVFor the reader who’s spent the summer looking for a spiritual home, Queer Virtue by The Reverend Elizabeth M. Edman could be what you need. This is a book about how the church needs LGBTQ worshippers to strengthen their core and to return the church to a true Christian faith.

Sometimes, all you need for the end of summer is a good romp in the paper, right? So look for Fun with Dick and James by Rich Barnett, and buckle your seatbelt. It’s a story of a rich Delaware man with an ex-wife and other assorted problems, who is plagued by a malicious dentist nemesis. How does he extricate himself from trouble? All it takes is a good boyfriend…

RELATIONSHIPS. How many times have you fallen in love this summer? Maybe more than you think, and you can find out by reading Happily Ever After… and 39 Other Myths about Love by Linea & Charlie Bloom. This book could enhance your relationship. It could make you lucky in love. It could make you fall in love with your spouse a time or two before summer’s over.

FOOD. No doubt, you’ve enjoyed a lot of good things to eat this summer. BBQs and cookouts re too irresistible, but did you ever wonder what your ancestors might have enjoyed under the stars? If you ever considered it, then read 100 Million Years of Food by Stephen Le and see how food has evolved, how palates have changed, and why we should care.

stuntwomen_coverHISTORY. Did you have your dose of adventure yet this summer? If not, then grab Stuntwomen: The Untold Hollywood Story by Mollie Gregory and hang on to your seat. It’s the story of Hollywood stunt doubles, the dangers they undertake, and their fight for recognition.

POLITICS. With politics on everyone’s mind (including yours!), you owe it to yourself this summer to read something that will make you think before you vote. In Are We Better Off? Race, Obama and Public Policy by Dr. Julianne Malveaux, you’ll be asked a lot of questions that will require you to think deeply.

ANIMALS. Here’s something for animal lovers to take to the beach: Smoke the Donkey by Cate Folsom, the story of a small stray donkey found by soldiers in Fallujah. Who could resist a friendly animal like that? No soldier could, which is why Smoke became mascot, pet, friend, and ultimately, a new American resident. You can’t resist, either.

Filled with quirk, Goat Man by Thomas Thwaites is the story of a man who decides that it would be fun to be an animal for awhile. Seriously, so he “becomes” a goat and, in the meantime, learns a little about animals and himself. Pair it up with Pound for Pound by Shannon Kopp, you’ll read how one woman found several BFFs in an animal shelter in California. But who saved whom here?

HEALTH. If summertime’s got you down, then you might feel a little better with Ordinarily Well: The Case for Antidepressants by Peter D. Kramer. It’s a look at depression, the pills prescribed to fix it, and whether they’re a good idea or not.

And there you go — a lot of suggestions for a lot of summer left. Pick a book, because there’s time.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer