Our mission: Giving voice to our community

Posted on 20 Oct 2014 at 9:15am

Our Mission

Our mission is right there in our name: We want to give a VOICE to our community, the LGBT (and Q and A) community of Dallas, and beyond.

To that end, each Friday we publish our weekly newsmagazine, Dallas Voice. And each day, we update our website, primarily the blog section of our website, which is called Instant TEA.

We use our Instant TEA blog in a variety of ways. We post breaking news stories there. We post photos and videos of events — like parades and concerts and fundraisers — on the blog. And sometimes, we use the blog as a forum to express our opinions in a way that we can’t — or won’t — do in news stories. We can use our blog to entertain and inform and, most importantly, create positive change.

Recently, DV staff writer David Taffet posted a series of entries on our blog regarding Ugandan President Yaweri Museveni, who backed legislation in his country punishing LGBT people simply for being LGBT, and his plans to hold an event at the Irving Convention Center during which he planned to promote tourism to his country and talk about “investment opportunities” there.

David — alerted by Ugandans living in DFW after being forced to flee their home country because of Museveni and his regime — began contacting city officials in Irving. He talked to Convention Center officials, to police officials, to folks at the hotel where Museveni planned to stay. David’s calls and his posts on Instant TEA resulted in the Irving hotel canceling Museveni’s reservations and the convention center canceling his event. Those posts also helped convince officials at the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine not to accept Museveni as a guest or to host his event.

Museveni eventually had to hold his event at a private venue outside Allen, and during his speech there the Uganda president acknowledged the power of the LGBT community (and David’s blog posts). Although he initially threatened, in veiled terms, to make the LGBT people of Uganda pay for what happened to him here in North Texas, since returning home, Museveni has decided that perhaps persecuting the LGBT people of his country is not in Uganda’s best economic interests.

All because of a little (Instant) TEA and the power of the LGBT voice.

We here at Dallas Voice strive, constantly, to be a voice for and give voice to our community, to your community. But we also know that our community is so large and so varied that we can never hope to accurately reflect its full and beautiful diversity on our own.

That’s why we have created CommuniTEA, this new page on our website is devoted to being a blog for and by the people of our LGBT community.

Do you have something to say? This is where you can say it. Do you have a voice that has gone unheard? This is where you can be heard. CommuniTEA is for your VOICE.

As managing editor of Dallas Voice and Voice Publishing, I have already been talking to several people who have agreed to help populate this CommuniTEA page. But it is important to me that you all know that you are all welcome to submit contributions, too. We can’t offer any financial compensation, just the chance for you to be heard.

Please understand that, as editor, it is my job to make sure that nothing gets posted that can get Dallas Voice, Voice Publishing Co. or you, the writers, in any kind of legal trouble. And we do want to keep the blog focused on the LGBT community and issues relevant to our community. And we reserve the right to edit (for grammar, spelling, etc., but not content or intent) submissions, and to refuse submissions when necessary. Other than that, I’m not limiting the topics.

Submitting a blog post to CommuniTEA is easy. Just email it to me at nash@dallasvoice.com, and put CommuniTEA in the subject line.

“Your life. Your news. Your voice.” That’s our Dallas Voice slogan. Help us truly be the Voice of the community by sharing your Voice with CommuniTEA.

– Tammye Nash


New Gay Stars

Posted on 20 Oct 2014 at 8:47am

Emerson Collins suggests its time to create our own out gay icons. We would have far more gay stars if we would make more gay artists into stars. It really is that simple. The impact of the gay community on our culture — through our disproportionate influence in the media, pop culture and news, along with our much-buzzed-about buying power — should make it extremely easy to propel gay artists to the forefront of the American cultural conversation.

We have done so in many areas already. We are significantly and successfully represented by respected experts and geniuses at the pinnacle of many of the arts, especially in fields where the artist is the driving force behind the work: Writers (including screenwriters, novelists, playwrights, journalists, non-fiction and activist writers); visual artists; behind-the-scenes types in film and television (directors, producers and series creators and the accompanying creative departments). There are choreographers, fashion designers and the catch-all “creative directors” in nearly every industry. We’ve exploded most noticeable in the area of “personalities” as talking-heads experts on a myriad of topics and as the standout characters from all avenues of reality programming.

Where we continue to be under-represented, despite the recent trend of higher-profile nonchalant coming out adventures, is in the two areas that allow the opportunity for the greatest level of cultural saturation: singer (or musician) and actor.
For better or worse, these professions sit atop the pyramid of celebrity and influence in modern American culture. While we fill the ranks of the support systems of these two professions, we are not represented as we could be — and should be — as the talent out front.

(Resist the urge to count off currently notable out gay musicians and actors. The fact that it is possible to name nearly everyone of note in both categories does not counter my point, but reinforces it.)

Why is this the case? Certainly the resistance of certain swaths of Duck Dynasty America to embrace gay on any level has kept those that hold the purse strings from introducing gay artists because it brings an unknown factor that has little to do with the TV show, film or album being promoted. Openly gay actors and musicians could fill a volume of encyclopedias with horror stories of being shut down by casting directors, filmmakers, music venues, labels, etc., unwilling to take the “risk” on a gay artist. The motivations behind the business side of the delay are sadly not a mystery.

No, what I’m interested in the lack of enthusiasm and support by the community for fledgling gay singers and actors. As a community, we will fangirl like Beliebers for singers, actors and projects with a gay sensibility. Every diva has her diehard gay fanbase, esteemed actresses of any era can induce hour-long monologue tributes to the greatness of their ranges and shows, films and albums with gay-friendly themes or camp appeal are often defended to the death.

But things that are directly, outright and completely gay? Those we seem permanently ambivalent or outright derisive about. Bravo (which, full disclosure, I appear on via The People’s Couch) and HGTV have legions of loyal gay fans. Logo has received sneers for its entire existence (Drag Race being the exception). Films with gay storylines from straight filmmakers with straight actors receive our thunderous applause, while gay films from gay writers and directors, with gay actors — if not snubbed completely — rarely register. If you’ve never heard “ugh, all gay films are terrrrrible” said before, then you’ve never been in a discussion about gay films.

Whitney, Mariah, Gaga, Madonna, Justin Timberlake or John Legend make new music and a massive gay following goes all One Directioner-level crazy. Adam Lambert? He’s all right. Clay Aiken? Ha-ha-ha (insert punchline). TV series with a gay sensibility like Girls are heralded as the best thing on television. Looking, by all accounts from the gay blogosphere, was basically on par with Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

There seems to be a permanent refrain cheering loudly for token storylines on popular vehicles and celebrating the gay-friendly rather than working to find and promote the actually and absolutely gay. We’ve taken our adoration for the celebrity straight ally into nearly fetish territory. Sexy, straight allies get our covers and huge feature stories because we’re so glad that Adam Levine or Josh Hutcherson like us.

I’m not knocking our allies or the importance of reinforcing our support for them when they step up and publicly support us. Wielding our influence to show them we appreciate them being in this fight with us is important. I’m simply saying that at the absolute least, showing the same level of enthusiasm for those that actually and directly represent us because they are us should be easy to do. And we don’t.

A straight guy plays gay and we laud him (well, if he’s hot) and he gets to be the featured story across all gay media. Gay actors and gay musicians and gay filmmakers and gay films do not receive equal time and attention, even from gay media and press. They never have. I realize the reality is, gay media and news outlets need sales and clicks so they continue to exist to tell our stories at the level they do. They have a business to run.
However, the rest of us could show them that stories that don’t just recycle the entertainment news from every other news site and blog, but with a gay twist or perspective, are actually interesting to us by paying attention. If we showed up, showed we cared about new and definitively gay artists, actors and content that cannot be found in any other aspect of the news media … they would give us more of it.

So while straight actors tell our stories, gay actors don’t get to play gay often because they aren’t well-known enough and so many established straight actors are now thrilled at the chance to do it because it’s so “brave.” Gay actors also rarely get to play straight either, again — not famous enough, and of course there’s the scary risk that the audience “might be able to tell” or worse, if they know he’s gay, they “won’t buy the story.”
A straight rapper puts out an LGBT-affirming track and wins every award known to music. A gay singer sings about that actual experience from the inside, and he struggles to get booked in the terribly-attended afternoon slots at Prides. Can you name five openly gay musicians beyond the standard 10-or-so listicle tokens? Or two? Or even one that you are as passionate about as the gay-friendly ally musicians?

The immediate response I regularly receive to this particular soapbox amounts to some variation of self-righteous tastemaker indignation stating, “we shouldn’t have to like something just because it is gay!” … as though there is some code of ethics we must adhere to as arbiters of taste lest we lose our credibility as the great Columbus of all things new and wonderful in pop culture America. Like defending a work or artist that is gay but has imperfections, or isn’t fully-formed as an artist, will destroy our integrity because we appear to like it just because it’s gay.
Oh shut up. Seriously. Shut up.

We will defend to the death the rough edges, plot problems and personal issues of our films, shows and artists of choice because we see the inherent genius in them despite the flaws. However, when it comes to similarly championing something or someone actually gay, we are unwilling to do so if they aren’t the perfect specimen of all that is gay, along with being a similarly perfect human being and activist. Eloquent but not arrogant. Stunningly gorgeous but not caught up in it. Spectacularly gifted by just the right amount of humble. Harvey Milk meets Laurence Olivier meets John Lennon with a six-pack and bedroom eyes.

While we wait for that never-going-to-happen guy to appear, we go overboard to show just how completely aware we are of its flaws by rushing to be the harshest critics and the first to be “so not impressed.” We stand with our arms crossed, one hip popped out, and an eyebrow raised while projecting an air of, “all right homo, impress me.” When we aren’t impressed, we eat our own. With relish.

This is the crux of the issue. The greatest inhibitor to using our massive cultural reach to actually push some of our own to the levels of stardom that create icons is seems ultimately to be a resistance to seeing one of us succeed beyond the rest of us. We all struggled. We all worked to become confident in who we are. We’re all special. Why should one of us be more special than the rest of us? That hot straight guy we want to be or want to bed — he’s special. That diva we want to be who sings the song that lives in our soul — she’s special. That actress who stands up to the same men we have to stand up to and chews the scenery off the walls — she’s special. That homo who might have a talent in these areas we all consider ourselves to be experts on? Yeah, he’s probably not that special.

Part of our collective stereotypical charm is the cutting wit that makes us great purveyors of the good, the truly terrible and the absolutely fabulous in pop culture. The result is we carefully choose the very specific and rare moments in which we unabashedly gush over something or someone. We just have not committed to regularly doing that for our own.
We whoop and holler (when we aren’t begrudging how long it took them) when those who are already famous come out to represent “our team.” Especially if they’re hot. Well, mostly if they’re hot. But what if we started even earlier? What if we found gay artists — YouTube, gay film festivals, shorts films and web series are littered with them — and discovered our own next generation of stars and celebrities? Ones who never needed to come out because they started “out?” What if Pride headliners were not gay-friendly superstars but actually gay stars? What if we stopped giggling at that gay boy online who made a cheesy video for his new dance track because it’s all he could afford and heard the talent in the voice and supported him into a place where he could afford to make videos he and we both would love? What if we fought for gay actors to play most of the gay roles until it becomes commonplace for the industry to not see it is a problem in casting them in straight roles?

Steve Grand should not stand as a singular exception as a gay star who arose without the help of the great machine, with the pointed caveat that the first Buzzfeed article promoting this brand-new, never-before-seen performer allowed us to find him to champion. (And yes, he’s one of the ones that establishment gays have rolled their eyes at for “needing to be shirtless” or having “mediocre talent” while all I could think was “good for him!”) You don’t like Steve Grand? Or Clay Aiken? Or Matt Dallas? Or Luke McFarlane? Or the newly-minted Sam Smith? Fine. Find a few that your sense of “this talent is genuinely worth supporting” and introduce him to the rest of us and let’s make him a star!

We are one of the only major minority groups regularly represented in entertainment that doesn’t fiercely support the artists that can represent it. The ALMA Awards recognize Latino artists exclusively. The NAACP Image Awards do the same. It’s telling that there is no LGBT equivalent … and I’m not talking about the GLAAD Media Awards, which love to laud allies with all the honors while real gay folks struggle for attention. I’m talking where you have to be a member of the minority group to receive the award. Imagine a best actor in a film award race at the LGBT Awards with a five gay guys — one black, one white, one Japanese, a bisexual Puerto Rican guy and a Korean trans man — all phenomenally talented? (OK, I PC’d that awfully far, but a boy can dream, and how legit exciting would that be?)

It’s not favoritism or nepotism or any kind of other –ism that would suggest lowering the standards of quality by focusing only on our minority group. If anything, what other minority groups understand, that we so often do not seem to, is that this kind of specific celebration is actually a promotion and celebration of how much quality there is in the work of performers and entertainers from that minority group that those outside it may not be familiar with. Yet.

I’m not asking anyone to lower his standards — heaven forbid. My point is not throwing taste to the wind to willy-nilly support any homo who claims to be a great singer, musician or actor. But with the wealth and depth of LGBT artists and actors waiting in the wings for their opportunity, choosing to promote the best of them with collective zeal would not require any lowering of standards. There are so many more than enough for us to have dozens of each to be championing without feeling as though our pop culture perceptiveness is being compromised by doing so. The best of ours can certainly compete with, and often beat, the best any other group has to offer. Let’s put in a little effort to find them, support them, promote them and prove it.

After all, fangirling over our own should be an easy source of pride. We found them, we brought attention to them, we supported them and used our influence to make the rest of our culture pay attention to what they have to offer. We talk so often of Pride, and finding and cheering our own is something we can all be proud of if we just go the extra mile to do it. Driving the cultural commentary is important, and having more of our artists at the center who are shaping that culture would benefit our community, our society as a whole, and our continued journey to being more — and better — represented within our culture.
We can do better. We should do better. And with all of the power we truly do wield, we simply have to decide to do better.
– Emerson Collins •


BREAKING: Judge strikes down Wyoming’s same-sex marriage ban

Posted on 17 Oct 2014 at 4:16pm

safe_imageA federal judge in Wyoming ruled today, Oct. 17, that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional.

As we reported yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl heard arguments on Oct. 16 to Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriages. Judge Skavdahl initially said that he would issue his ruling by 5:00 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20.

But his ruling came sooner than anticipated.

Skavdahl stayed his ruling until Oct. 23 pending an appeal by state government officials.

According to the Casper Star Tribune, Republican Gov. Matt Mead, who is up for re-election, said in a debate on Thursday, Oct. 16, before Skavdahl released his decision, that the state should not appeal the ruling.


Emerson Collins’ TV show is back for a second season

Posted on 17 Oct 2014 at 3:16pm

Emerson Collins

One of our favorite Texas Voices is Emerson Collins. This week he wrote Broadcast News for us.

Emerson will be spending time in Dallas working on Del Shores’ Sordid Lives sequel.

But Emerson can be seen on Bravo’s show The People’s Couch. He’s one of the couch potatoes who comments on Bravo shows as well as some of the network hits. At least Bravo understands that its other shows are crap and lets Emerson and friends rip into them. Here’s a clip from the new season.


Food Network casting home cooks for reality series Saturday

Posted on 17 Oct 2014 at 10:59am

Food Network host Alton Brown is due in Dallas later this month, but you don’t have to wait until then to meet someone from that channel. On Saturday, producers will be in Dallas searching for the next great home cook. Last season, the show America’s Best Cook (it will be renamed for the upcoming season) was won by Stephanie Goldfarb, a lesbian from Chicago, so the LGBT community is batting .1000 so far with queer cooks! (Subject to change.)

If you’re interested, come by the Dallas Farmers Market between 1 and 6 p.m. Oct. 18 with a savory dish (no desserts!) that highlights your cooking style, plus a photo of yourself and your dish. Or visit HomeCooksCasting.com for more details. Bonne chance… and bon appetit!


Arizona is the latest marriage equality state

Posted on 17 Oct 2014 at 10:30am

arizonaArizona became marriage equality state No. 31 this morning when a federal judge struck down the state’s ban calling it unconstitutional.

There’s no word yet on when the state will begin issuing marriage licenses. Arizona is in the Ninth Circuit, which recently struck down marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. Those states and Alaska became marriage equality states this week.

Suits are pending in Kansas, South Carolina, Montana and Wyoming. Decisions are expected in those states soon. By the end of next week, there may be 35 marriage equality states.

In Texas, we’re working hard to ensure that we go down in history as last in equality as No. 50.




Cocktail Friday: The Basil & Lime

Posted on 17 Oct 2014 at 10:06am

Basil and LimeHere’s a trend we can get behind: Mixed cocktails on tap. Why should beer have all the convenience of a quick pour? That’s why Rocco Milano, beverage director at Barter, came up with this refreshing little number, called the Basil & Lime. Of course, you might not have a spigot of vodka in your home, but you can still make it the old fashioned way.

1.5 oz. Reyka vodka

1 oz. fresh lime juice

3/4 oz. basil syrup

1/2 oz. Amer Picon

Fresh basil sprigs.

Making it: Combine all the liquid ingredients into a shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into an 8-oz. footed Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with basil sprig  and to “wake up” the flavor. (Note: Rocco always tests his cocktails with the finger-and-straw technique before serving to his guests. It’s a nice touch if you’re making it for someone else.)


Candlelight vigil for Ebola-stricken nurses

Posted on 17 Oct 2014 at 9:15am

Ebola VirusBapnar, a company that does healthcare staffing, is hosting a candlelight prayer vigil for Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, the two Presbyterian Hospital nurses who became infected with the Ebola virus.

The event, called “An Evening for Our Nightingales” takes place at Dallas City Hall Plaza, 1500 Marilla St., on Sunday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. Everyone is invited.

Both nurses have been transferred to other hospitals — Pham to Emory in Atlanta and Vinson to National Institute of Health in Baltimore — that seem better equipped to care for them and are outside the media hysteria going on in Dallas. Both are being treated with experimental drugs.

We wish them both a return to good health soon and a quick return home.

Speaking of media hysteria, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd is about the only other writer here in Dallas addressing the Ebola cases with facts rather than frenzy. Here’s a link to her wonderful column: Good sense will inoculate you against Ebolaphobia.

And here’s an interesting fact. While the right wing wants to close the southern border so that no one can sneak in from Africa and wants to impeach President Barack Obama for his handling of the Ebola “crisis,” Obama is naming an Ebola czar after three cases in the United States. President Ronald Reagan didn’t mention AIDS until more than 20,000 gay men were dead from the disease.


Wyoming federal judge to announce marriage equality decision by Monday

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 at 2:44pm

safe_imageMarriage equality may come to Wyoming as soon as Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Scott W. Skavdahl heard arguments today, Oct. 16, to Wyoming’s ban on same-sex marriages. Judge Skavdahl said that he will issue his ruling by 5:00 p.m., Monday, Oct. 20.

“We are grateful that the court has moved quickly in handling our case, which affects so many families across Wyoming who are seeking equal dignity and full legal recognition. We are confident that the judge will give this important case the consideration it deserves, and we look forward to the court’s decision,” said Wyoming Equality Executive Director Jeran Artery in a statement.

The case was brought by Wyoming Equality and four same-sex couples who requested an immediate order directing state officials to comply with two decisions of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit establishing that a state’s refusal to allow same-sex couples to marry violates the U.S. Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear two appeals from the Tenth Circuit striking down marriage equality bans, meaning all states within the Tenth Circuit, including Wyoming, must comply with those decisions.

“The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that state laws prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying violate the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection of the laws. The State of Wyoming is obligated to follow the law as interpreted by the Tenth Circuit,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights attorney Chris Stoll. NCLR is one of the organizations representing the plaintiffs.

In 30 states, same-sex couples have the freedom to marry: AK, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IA, IL, IN, ME, MD, MA, MN, NC, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OK, OR, PA, RI, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV and WI.

In an additional five states, including Wyoming, federal appellate rulings have set a binding precedent in favor of the freedom to marry, meaning the path is cleared for the freedom to marry there: AZ, KS, MT, SC, and WY.

In an additional 8 states, judges have issued rulings in favor of the freedom to marry, with many of these rulings now stayed as they proceed to appellate courts. In Texas and four other states, judges have struck down marriage bans — AR, FL, KY, MI, and TX — judges have struck down marriage bans. In three states — LA, OH and TN — judges have issued more limited pro-marriage rulings.

In Missouri, the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other states are respected.

Courts have cases pending, but have yet to rule, in seven states: AL, GA, MO, MS, NB, ND and SD.


Allison Tolman to receive Topaz Award from Women in Film Dallas

Posted on 16 Oct 2014 at 2:39pm
Allison Tolman (with Bob Oedenkirk in 'Fargo') will receive a Topaz Award from Women in Film Dallas.

Allison Tolman (with Bob Oedenkirk in ‘Fargo’) will receive a Topaz Award from Women in Film Dallas.

Allison Tolman — the Baylor grad, co-founder of Second Thought Theatre and award-winning star of this season’s hit series Fargo — will join legendary comic Ruth Ruzzi as the recipient of a Topaz Award, presented by Women in Film Dallas at their annual gala on Nov. 22.

Tolman received an Emmy Award nomination (she lost to Kathy Bates — not bad) and a Critics Choice Award as deputy Molly Solverson on Fargo. She is familiar to Dallas stages, but has spent the last several years in Chicago. Buzzi, of course, is the iconic comedian, best remembered for her days on Laugh-In opposite Lily Tomlin and Arte Johnson.