Protestors at DFW Airport demand refugees be released

Posted on 29 Jan 2017 at 6:37pm

Attorney Pete Schulte said attorneys were speaking to immigration officials on Sunday afternoon, Jan. 29. Schulte spoke from the ticketing level of Terminal D, away from the chaos of more than 1,000 protestors on the arrivals level below.

Shannon Bailey arrived at the terminal to protest at about 4 p.m.

“I’m here because I do not support the order from the president,” Bailey said. “It’s against American values and my personal values.”

One DFW Airport police officer put the crowd in the arrivals hall outside immigration at 300, which, he said, was the capacity of that room. But hundreds more held signs and protested up and down the hall that connects that arrival hall with the other halls.

Protesters chanted about the immigration order and about the wall along the southern border.

Each time someone exited immigration, the crowd cheered, but it wasn’t clear if any of those entering the arrival hall were refugees.

This protest, and others taking place at international airports across the country, is in reaction to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump on Holocaust Remembrance Day restricting immigration by Muslims from seven countries. The countries targeted are not countries Trump has businesses and are not countries terrorists who have targeted the U.S. have come from.

The administration released a statement on Holocaust Remembrance Day that did not mention the Jews killed in the Holocaust. The irony of the executive order is that had the U.S. opened its borders to refugees during the Holocaust, hundreds of thousands of lives might have been saved. Instead, the U.S. blocked Jewish immigration leading up to and during World War II.

Under the Trump executive order, Syrians are permanently banned. Those stuck at airports across the U.S. are refugees who have already been cleared to resettle in the U.S. by both the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security.

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Rylee Spire becomes first-ever trans Mr. Texas Leather

Posted on 29 Jan 2017 at 6:14pm

This week, I wrote about Rylee Janus Spire, a trans man who two weeks ago became the first trans man ever to take the Mr. Dallas Eagle leather title.  I mentioned in the article that he would be competing this weekend for Mr. Texas Leather — a direct feeder event to the International Mr. Leather competition — and if he won that, would also be the first-ever trans holder of that title. And that’s exactly what happened Saturday night.

Spire bested a strong lineup of seven contestants to be named Mr. Texas Leather. First-runner-up went to Ursus.

In addition, Dawn was named Ms Texas Leather. All of the contestants also auctioned off at least one basket of goodies; Dawn broke the band — her one basket took in $1,400 alone.

Congrats to everyone!

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Arrest made in assault on Derek Whitener

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 10:49pm

Derek Whitener

WFAA Channel 8 is reporting that police have arrested one of two suspects in the Jan. 14 attack on Derek Whitener that left the theater director/actor with injuries that required him to undergo brain surgery.

The first suspect, a juvenile, was taken into custody tonight (Friday, Jan. 27). The second suspect remained at large as of 10:30 p.m.

Whitener, artistic director at Firehouse Theatre in Farmers Branch, stopped at the Target on Haskell Street on his way home after performing in “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee”at the theater. Two young men approached him, one carrying a wooden rod. He went past them into the store and reported them to the police officer working security inside. The officer and a Target employee then went out and told the two young men to leave the premises.

But when Whitener left the store later, the two suspects attacked him. One beat him with the wooden rod, leaving him with a fractured skull and injuries that impair his ability to speak and his motor functions.

The suspect still at large is described at about 5’9” and 150 pounds. He was wearing a black hoodie and red jeans at the time of the attack. Anyone with information is asked to call police at 214-671-3639 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-TIPS/

Friends have started a GoFundMe page to help pay Whitener’s medical expenses.

The man in the black hoodie and red-and-blue jeans, above right, is still at large.

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Stage reviews: ‘Mame,’ ‘Silent Sky’

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 2:57pm

For more than seven years, Jay Dias has been delighting local audiences by taking the original, full arrangements of classic broadway shows — The Most Happy Fella, Anything Goes, The King and I, My Fair Lady and more — and remounting them with 30-plus piece orchestras at Lyric Stage in Irving. Having accomplished most of what he set our to he do, he raised his baton on the final show he’s doing for Lyric (other than occasional projects) last night, Jerry Herman’s Mame. And what a lovely note to go out on.

Based upon Patrick Dennis’ memoir of his irrepressible aunt — a flapper who became a Svengali to an impressionable young man by living life to its fullest (“life is a banquet and most poor sons-of-bitches are starving to death!” was her motto) — Mame was Herman’s follow-up to Hello Dolly about another flamboyant broad. His style as a composer exemplifies the brassy showmanship we usually associate with the Broadway style. But as big and sentimental as the showstoppers can be, Herman is equally gifted in small moments with beautiful music and touching lyrics. “Open a New Window” and “If He Walked Into My Life” capture both the ebullience and the humanity of Mame, who struggles to provide for her nephew while remaining committed to being a role model for progressivism. She’s the fun relative we all wish we had (though in real life would be exhausting).

Herman and Dias are aided immeasurably by Julie Johnson as Mame. Even in this concert version (orchestra onstage, using minimal sets and blocking) Johnson’s charisma exudes from every pore. She hits the big notes like a Streisand and plucks the heartstrings. It’s a big show with big numbers and a big leading role, and she has the personality to match. Indeed, most of the principal actors — Christopher Sanders, Jack Doke, Daron Cockerell — are just as fabulous. The lone exception is Amy Mills as Vera Charles, Mame’s best friend and supposedly the greatest stage actress of her day. Mills just doesn’t have the presence to stand up to Johnson — she shuffles around the stage in dowdy black looking more like Mr. Chipping than Helen Hayes, and seems far out of her element. But who can hold focus with Johnson drawing your eye and Dias’ conducting engaging the ear. The show only runs through Sunday; see it while you can.

You’ll also want to catch another based-on-a-true-story production, this one in Addison. Three smart women, called “computers,” work diligently in the male-dominated field of science, with none ever getting the recognition they deserve, despite their fabulous contributions to our understanding of outer space. I’m talking, of course, of Hidden Figures… well, that, and Silent Sky, now onstage at WaterTower Theatre. Like the film, Silent Sky gives us a long-overdue alternative history of astronomer Henrietta Leavitt (Anastasia Munoz), whose work at Harvard study cepheid stars at the turn of the last century forged the way for our understanding of how vast the universe really is … and how we can calculate astronomical distances. Edwin Hubble fully credited her with opening doors and making his work possible. The named a telescope after him; you’ve probably never even heard of her.

Which is the point of Lauren Gunderson’s play. She presents a Henrietta who was smarter than the men around her but considered a troublemaker also by women who saw her as defying conventions of femininity and not knowing her place. A good point, but the play tends to rest of cliches as it rewrites history with large doses of poetic license, including a fictionalized romantic interest and a squishy timeline. Gunderson tends to write in modern idioms, making the characters sound a little to 21st century. I wish the play itself were stronger, but I have no quibble with the production. Munoz shines as the fiercely intelligent Henrietta, and Shannon J McGrann provides perfectly-timed comic relief as one of her co-workers. The rapport between them and Marianne Galloway as an early suffragette holds the play together, even during the overlong first act, when seems to lurch toward four different breaks before finally settling on one.

Clare Floyd Devries’ set and Kelsey Leigh Ervi’s direction add to the wonder and beauty of the universe. Try not to be inspired by the legacy these nasty women left.

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Rinaldi confronted on bathroom bill

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 12:20pm

Rep. Matt Rinaldi

Several resistance groups showed up to the Coppell Republican Town Hall meeting and posed questions to Reps. Matt Rinaldi and Rom Simmons. Questions regarding SB6 “bathroom bill” elicited this response from Rinaldi (thanks to Joanna Cattanach for the heads up):

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Alternative Sympathy: Donald Trump’s statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 11:42am

Ok, so very many things I could say about this. But I’m gonna just go with: Irony much? The pure hypocrisy of it all gags me.

Statement By The President On International Holocaust Remembrance Day

 “It is with a heavy heart and somber mind that we remember and honor the victims, survivors, heroes of the Holocaust. It is impossible to fully fathom the depravity and horror inflicted on innocent people by Nazi terror.

“Yet, we know that in the darkest hours of humanity, light shines the brightest. As we remember those who died, we are deeply grateful to those who risked their lives to save the innocent.

“In the name of the perished, I pledge to do everything in my power throughout my Presidency, and my life, to ensure that the forces of evil never again defeat the powers of good. Together, we will make love and tolerance prevalent throughout the world.”

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What Sen. Tim Kaine has been up to

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 11:07am

Wonder what Sen Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate, has been doing since the election. Well, for one thing, he tweeted this picture of himself officiating at a same-sex wedding last weekend:

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Donald Trump: Don’t Use LGBTQ Communities As Political Wedge

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 10:45am

By Sasha W.,
National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA) Organizing Director

It’s a hard time to be part of our LGBTQ Asian Pacific Islander (API ) community. As queer and  trans Asian Americans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and Pacific Islanders, we are facing a moment of repression and rollbacks that we have not experienced since the Reagan years. In his first week in office, Donald Trump has already begun to implement the extremist campaign promises he ran on. We hold our Muslim members close as Mr. Trump enacts the promised Muslim ban. For 30 days, individuals from Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq and Iran will be banned from entering the U.S., simply because they live in a Muslim-majority country.

According to Mr. Trump’s Executive Action, one of the reasons for this ban is that foreign nationals from these countries “would oppress members of [marginalized] gender or sexual orientation.” As queer people, we need Mr. Trump to know — you are not protecting us. Instead, you are putting members of our community at grave risk. This ban affects ourselves, our families, our loved ones, our communities. What happens now to the lesbian asylum seeker in search of a semblance of safety in the U.S.? What happens to the bisexual student who came here on a visa, and now does not know if they can return? What happens to the parents of a transgender child, who can no longer come to the U.S. even to visit?

For the next 30 days, no refugees from these same countries will be allowed to enter the U.S. President  Trump claims that “deteriorating conditions” are causing refugees to use “any means possible” to enter the U.S. What Mr. Trump fails to acknowledge is that the U.S. has created those conditions. In Yemen, U.S. drone strikes have killed more civilians than Al Queda. The Iraq War is the U.S.’s 3rd longest war, at nearly 9 years long, surpassed only by Afghanistan and Vietnam. Refugees from these countries are our families; many are part of our queer and trans communities.

In our #RedefineSecurity April 2016 week of action, we told the stories of institutional Islamophobic and xenophobic hate violence against our LGBTQ API communities. We told the stories of an Indian transwoman harassed by immigration officials; of a Pakistani traveler being invasively examined by TSA, in her body and belongings; of a queer South Asian organizer whose home was raided; of a Bangladeshi traveler who has been on the “no-fly list” since she was a child. The National Coalition to Protect Civil Freedoms routinely publishes “Portraits of Injustice,” detailing the plight of Muslim political prisoners unjustly incarcerated for their religion. In their last report, “Power, Pain, Potential: South Asian Americans at the Forefront of Growth and Hate in the 2016 Election Cycle,” South Asian Americans Leading Together documented the increase of state & hate violence in our communities since the beginning of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Last year, in the midst of this national uptick in hate and vigilante violence, NQAPIA submitted a model guidance to the Department of Homeland Security, urging DHS to adopt protections against profiling on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion. Trump is doing the opposite – he is choosing to embolden the white nationalist, Islamophobic, and xenophobic elements of his campaign. The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) implemented after 9/11 did not lead to a single terrorist conviction; neither did the PATRIOT Act.   Trump is continuing to enact policy that simply does not work, while actively inciting the recorded biggest extremist threat facing the U.S.: white nationalists.

To our LGBTQ API and people of color family: We are still here. We are still fighting. We are still resisting. Our communities have survived war and torture; asylum and resettlement; migration and displacement; hate crimes and violence; trumped up walls and arbitrary borders; and daily attacks against our bodies, minds, and spirits. Here at NQAPIA, we are committed to continuing to fight over these next four years. And, we will always have your back.

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Outrageous Oral breaks attendance records

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 9:59am

Rob Emery wants everyone to know that Outrageous Oral 24, held in the Rose Room on Thursday, Jan. 26, broke all attendance records. By his court, more than 2,000 people attended, but by the middle of the event, his recount had attendance at 3,000 and by the end of the evening, 4,000. Emery is a wonderfully obsessed emcee, but what follows aren’t alternative facts.

This edition of Outrageous Oral recorded the stories of two groups in the LGBT community — Lambda A.A, and The Federal Club.

Tom told his story of finding the group and of the alcoholism in his family as well as the history of the group. The group currently meets at 1855 W. Mockingbird Lane across from the DFW Gun Range, where, he said, many members check in when they attend. Over Memorial Day, the group hosts Big D Roundup each year, which will take place at the Hilton Anatole this year.

Cathi Scalise moderated a panel of Federal Club leaders that included Alan Levi, Worth Ross, Anne Fay and Jaime Duggan.

Levi was a member of the founding group. He said his contribution was to begin to bring in the women, who were noticeably absent from the first meeting. That was because the other founders, he said, told him they didn’t know any. Levi knew plenty, invited them in, and women have been an important part of the group since then.

Originally the group was called Dallas Insiders. At the first luncheon, 49 people joined the group, pledging $100 a month to HRC. Other groups like this were being formed around the country to help fund Human Right Campaign. At the time, 49 was an incredible number — New York had 10 and there were only 60 members around the country.

When HRC prepared to purchase a new headquarters building, Lucilo Pena from Dallas chaired the building committee. Worth Ross arranged for Roger Staubach to negotiate the deal for HRC. Ross said there was some controversy about having Staubach do the deal, but Staubach said he had a number of LGBT employees, he’d turned down much larger deals with organizations he didn’t want to be associated with and that “he’d love his name attached to HRC.”

Politically, the panel noted that since Texas doesn’t have senators who represent our community, senators who do support the LGBT community often stop in Dallas for fundraisers. They called that a wise investment, because HRC has four staff members they’ve sent to Austin to help defeat bathroom bills and other discriminatory legislation this session.

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I am a racist

Posted on 27 Jan 2017 at 7:30am

(and if you’re white, you probably are, too)

Tammye NashI am a racist.

Trust me when I say I take absolutely no pride nor pleasure in that confession. But it’s the truth. And if you are white, it’s very likely that you are racist, too.

I’m not saying that I am (or that you are) a card-carrying, Confederate-flag-waving, pointy-white-hood-wearing member of the KKK. And I am not saying that either you or I deliberately discriminate against people of color (or anyone else).

What I am saying is that racism is built into us because it is built into the society and the culture in which we live. And so is “white privilege,” another phrase that tends to raise blood pressures and voices.

Don’t believe me? Think about it. When you drive through a minority neighborhood, do you automatically look to make sure your car doors are locked? Do you even drive through a minority neighborhood if you can help it?

Someone told me a story once, about a white woman driving in Houston. She pulled up to a red light and when she glanced to her left, realized that the only person in the car next to her at the light was a black man. It was a nice car; he was a well-dressed man who did nothing but glance toward her, just as she had glanced toward him.

Still, without even realizing what she was doing, she reached over and locked her car door. This was back in the day when the lock was a knob on the door up by the window, not a button on the door handle. That meant her action was clearly visible to the man in the car next to her.

The woman realized what she had done, realized how insulting it was, and gave the man a sheepish smile. He smiled back, then very deliberately reached across his front seat to very visibly and obviously lock his own car door that was nearest her.

That’s what I mean about built-in racism. We don’t do it on purpose. We never consciously intend to behave that way. And sometimes we don’t even realize what we’ve done, even after the other person “locks their own door” against us.

But lack of ill intention aside, it is still racism. It is still hurtful to those individuals, and it is still harmful to all of us on both sides of the racial equation.

Here’s another example:

The weekend of Jan. 20-22, I traveled to Washington, D.C., to cover the Women’s March there. On the trip back, I had to fly first to Atlanta, then switch planes to get from Atlanta to North Texas.

On the first leg of my trip, I boarded in the “C” group, the third group to get on board. The flight was sold out — they had already asked for volunteers to wait for a later flight — and we were told as we got on the plane to take the first available seat. I ended up in the center seat of the back row, right side of the plane.

As the remaining few passengers got on board, I waited to see who would be sitting beside me (the window seat was taken by a young woman who at least pretended to already be asleep when I sat down and who never really stirred throughout the flight). The aisle seat beside me was quickly taken by a young man of Middle Eastern descent.

He nodded as he sat down, and I nodded back. We sat there silently for a bit, and in my mind, I immediately started flipping through all these doomsday scenarios of this nice-looking, neatly-dressed young man with the dark skin, and beard and big brown eyes leaping up during the flight, pulling some weapon from hiding and hijacking the plane, blowing it up, forcing it to crash.

Not because he did anything or acted in any way suspicious. Not because there was anything alarming about him — other, of course, than the fact that he appeared to be of Middle Eastern descent.

And that? That was my racism at work.

I knew I was being ridiculous the minute that the little scenes started playing in my head. I knew it, and I scolded myself for it. But it happened.

That young man and I ended up talking for a good bit of the two-hour flight. He told me he had flown to D.C. to visit an old friend, without realizing that it was inauguration weekend. He said he and his friend, curious about it all, had gone down near the Capitol to see the inauguration and people watch.

It was all amazing, he told me, but there was this one street where he didn’t feel comfortable at all. It was full of people waving flags and wearing red hats and oozing hatred. He talked about the way people had glared at him, about the hateful language they had used.

If this was Trump’s America, he said, it was a scary place.

This young man talked about being worried about the way people were behaving these days, like it was good and right to hate people who were different. He was a bit concerned, he said, of things to come. He was a little afraid about his place now in this country. “I’m mostly Muslim, and that’s not a good thing to be in America these days,” he said. “These days if you aren’t white and Christian, then it’s like you aren’t safe.”

He didn’t include “straight” or “cisgender” or “male” or “rich” in that list but they fit there too. And he’s right. We aren’t safe.

That’s why those of us who don’t fit the criteria for power and safety in Trump’s America have to look inside ourselves and really see our own prejudices — our own racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny — and recognize it for it is, admit what it is. We have to reach deep down, grab that prejudice by its neck and pull it out of ourselves into the light of day, where it cannot thrive and survive.

I am racist. Many of you are racist. That doesn’t mean we are bad people. It just means we are human and we are a product of our society. The important thing is that we — all of us, no matter who we are — recognize our own prejudices, admit them and take control of them, instead of letting them control us.

Because we all have to come together and fight together, for ourselves and for each other, if we want to win this battle and take our country back.

Tammye Nash is managing editor of Dallas Voice. Contact her by email at nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 27, 2017.

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