DVtv in Spayse

Posted on 01 Apr 2017 at 10:42am

This week, Israel Luna, Brandi Amara Skyy and I talk about TGRA’s Texas Gay, about transgender visibility, about Brandi’s column on asking her evangelical Christian parents for their blessing before her wedding, about PrEP and the new format and new website for Dallas Pride.

Check us out! And don’t forget you can watch DVtv in Spayse live each Friday on the Spayse Station YouTube channel, and then catch the reruns right here every on DallasVoice.com.


TITAS announces 2017–18 season

Posted on 31 Mar 2017 at 8:04pm

Herve Koubi’s muscular dancers return in 2018

At the opening night performance of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, TITAS executive director Charles Santos announced the 2017–18 lineup — which, once again, is all dance. All performances will take place at either the Winspear Opera House or the City Performance Hall. Tickets will be available at ATTPAC.org.

MOMIX. The company known for its elaborate costumes and and colorfully modern dance returns for its umpteenth encore, featuring Moses Pendleton’s evening-length work Open Cactus. Winspear Opera House, Aug. 31, 8 p.m.

Ballet Hispanico. This company fuses contemporary and classic techniques of Latin dancing with passion and theatricality. City Performance Hall, Sept. 15–16. 8 p.m.

Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company. This troupe from Israel is one of the top touring dance companies in the world. City Performance Hall, Oct. 27–28. 8 p.m.

Malpaso Dance Company. With the borders now more open, this Cuban-based company makes its Dallas debut with a bold repertoire cultivated in its brief (five years) existence. City Performance Hall, Nov. 10–11. 8 p.m.

La Compagnie Herve Koubi. This French troupe, which made its Dallas debut a year ago as part of the 2015–16 season, and will kick off performances in 2018, this time at the Winspear. Jan. 20. 8 p.m.

Lucky Plush will make its Texas debut with this quirky, superhero-inspired production. City Performance Hall, March 9–10. 8 p.m.

L.A. Dance Project. Another Texas debut from this new Los Angeles-based company. March 30–31. 8 p.m.

Alonzo King LINES Ballet. The return of this powerful modern ballet company, which pulls from many traditions. Winspear Opera House, June 9. 8 p.m.

Parsons Dance Company. The New York company is known for its athletic and colorful ensemble. Winspear Opera House, June 30. 8 p.m.

In addition, the annual Command Performance Gala will take place at the Winspear Opera House, May 5. 7 p.m.



Things to do this weekend

Posted on 31 Mar 2017 at 12:13pm

Alvin-Ailey-American-Dance-Theater's-Jamar-Roberts-and-Glenn-Allen-Sims.-Photo-by-Andrew-EcclesThere’s a lot going on tonight, tomorrow and Sunday so rather than make you look for it, I figured I’d put it all in one place.

There are some musicals in town just for another week or so — both of which I have reviewed here: Uptown Players’ It Shoulda Been You and Dallas Summer Musicals’ national tour of Kinky Boots.

For dance, there’s Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at the Winspear tonight and Saturday (both matinee and evening). I’ll be there tonight — say hi if you see me,

Trees has a performance by bounce pioneer Big Freedia, with former Dallasite Dezi 5 — he recently relocated to New York City — opening.

Saturday afternoon, Prep Warriors DFW are hosting a Q&A with medical professionals regarding the use of Truvada, also called the PrEP pill, at Sue Ellen’s from noon to 2 p.m.

And Saturday and Sunday, the Dallas Travel & Adventure Show plays… I already wrote about it here.


On marriage, being gay and asking your born-again parents for their blessing

Posted on 31 Mar 2017 at 8:00am


Brandi Amara Skyy

I was never the kind of girl who daydreamed about her perfect wedding day — the perfect white dress, the perfect location . . . the perfect man.
Hell, I wasn’t even the kind of girl who thought about getting married period. Marriage was an antiquated tradition that I never wanted to be a part of.

If I thought about marriage at all, it was only to contemplate what it would feel like to love someone so much that you willingly want to devote your entire being — your entire life — to that one person. I had never loved someone that much and wasn’t even sure if I believed that kind of love existed.

Still, I would have my moments, like when I was watching a movie and all my convictions would melt away upon seeing a father walk his daughter down the aisle and “give her away.”

Even for a hard-core nontraditionalist like me, there was something so symbolic in that scene, the idea of growing beyond what one had been and into a self-made life with another. It was a profound symbolism that had nothing to do with tradition and everything to do with me being a daddy’s girl.

I love and respect my father so very much. He was the first person to teach me feminism — always telling me I could do anything boys could do and to never let my gender stop me from doing and becoming anything I wanted. He taught me the beauty and art of valuing people’s diversity — including my own.

My mother was the first to be “born again,” sometime in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Some things shifted, but her love and support never did.

My father was “born again” many years later, around 2013 if I had to guess. Someday I’ll ask him to tell me his story. Right now, I’m not sure I want to know.
In 2015, he was ordained as a minister and now conducts funerals and marriages.

By the time I reached my mid-twenties, marriage had taken on a whole new meaning. It became a world for the privileged few who lined up according to someone else’s definitions and beliefs. It became a world of protection under the law that I no longer had access to.

When Candace and I started getting serious about setting a date, every now and then I would allow myself to daydream about being the girl in the movies, arm-in-arm with her father, walking towards her future … .

Then those scenes would be broken by my memory of a sticker my parents had on their fridge. A sticker that, in the height of the 2015 gay marriage debate, gave me every answer I needed to know.

It was a foreshadowing that I refused to heed as a warning of reality; instead, I chose to cling on to my naive hope of love conquering all.

Candace and I weren’t together in the same place on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court handed down its ruling and history was made as gay marriage became legal. But I ran home as soon as I could to be with her. That night, I celebrated at her well at JR.’s Bar and Grill and in the streets with hundreds of my closest Dallas LGBTQ family and friends.

It was the day that love won everywhere — except my own home.

Asking each other’s family for our hands was extremely important to both of us. But when we sat down in our house to talk to my parents, my hands were shaking, and the pit that had made its bed in my belly began to grow.

I was nervous … and scared.

Scared that things were going to be said that would never be able to be taken back. Scared that I’d react in the manner of who I used to be rather than who I was now. Scared I already knew their answer and terrified to hear it said out loud.

My father was quiet for a second before speaking. What came out were words I expected to hear from my mother, but never from him:

“Our faith . . .”

“We love you. We love her. Separately. But as a couple, we can’t . . .”

“We can’t do that  . . .”

“. . . between a man and a woman . . .”

There was no hate in his voice. No anger. Just jagged words that raked my ears as they went down and broke my soul when they landed.

My heart was shattered. I was shattered.

My mother cried. My father remained silent. Candace remained in a state of calm, but I could feel the fire of anger raging in my belly.

What happened next surprised me. Instead of rage, I returned his words and beliefs with love. How? Because I was sitting right across from it, from her, from Candace.

I was in the kind of love I hadn’t believed existed. The kind of love that eases the pain of not being accepted or acknowledged by your own blood family.

And even though I wanted it all really badly — my parents’ blessing, their presence at our wedding, the dream of my father walking me down the aisle — I didn’t need it.

My parents’ words had broken me, yet I remained whole.

I was whole because I already knew, loved and fully accepted who I was.

With each exchange of words with my parents, I walked myself further down the aisle away from the little girl seeking approval from her family and into the first energies of union with her, my future — a future my parents and many others may not agree with it, but one that is and always will be rooted and centered in love.

Love is never wrong.

Being who you are is never wrong.

Being who you are meant to be — who you are born to be — to be is never wrong.

But it’s not easy.

I still hurt. I still cry. In fact, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

But it’s also been the most rewarding.

Because I have given myself permission to love who I love and be who I am, I have been blessed with so much love in return. And strength. And confidence.

You have your own unique coming out and growing into your future self story(ies). Find them, share them, and unleash your bold, beautiful, fully “out” self to the world.

We need it. I need it.

Brandi Amara Skyy is a drag artist who writes and plays in magic. You can find out more about her and many projects at brandiamaraskyy.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 31, 2017.


Come learn about LGBT travel Sunday at Dallas Market Hall

Posted on 30 Mar 2017 at 1:09pm

The LGBT community loves to travel, but there’s more to life than Olivia Cruises and time-shares in P’town … as wonderful as those are. In fact, there’s a lot more. Wanna know what the hot spots are, how to get discounts, when to book, where to stay and other tricks of the trade? Well, that’s what the Seventh Annual Dallas Travel & Adventure Show is for.

On April 1 and 2 at Dallas Market Hall, purveyors and experts — including NPR stalwart Rick Steves, and yours truly — will be showing their wares and sharing their knowledge about travel. In fact, I’ll be participating in a panel presentation Sunday morning specifically discussing gay travel.

Doors open 10 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, with one- and two-day admission tickets available here… although, if you contact me directly in my Twitter (@CriticalMassTX) or Instagram (@Cineastex), I’ll be happy to see about getting you a discount.

See y’all soon!


Funeral arrangements set for Rene Moreno

Posted on 30 Mar 2017 at 11:23am

MorenoRene Moreno, the acclaimed local director who died of cardiac arrest earlier this week at age 57, will be interred at Restland Funeral Home in Dallas, on Greenville Avenue near the intersection with LBJ. The service will be at 11 a.m. Saturday. A memorial will be set for some time in April. Family requests that in lieu of flowers, mourners make a donation to the charity of their choice.


ATTPAC hosts a Broadway Bar Crawl on Greenville Avenue Thursday

Posted on 29 Mar 2017 at 3:33pm

We don’t really need a reason to go on a bar crawl, but hey, what better reason than to sing a showtune.

Earlier this week, the AT&T Performing Arts Center released its lineup for the 2017–18 season (I wrote about it here). To commemorate the shows in its season, host Rob McCollum will lead guests on a walking tour that includes The Libertine Bar, Truck Yard, Blind Butcher and HG SPLY Co. There will be free cocktails, bites and sign-ups for raffles and prizes. We said it was free, right? Just remember to RSVP here.

The tour starts at 6 p.m. at the Libertine and ends around 8:30 p.m. Come on out!


TGRA Royalty competition is on Thursday

Posted on 29 Mar 2017 at 11:31am

TGRA’s Texas Traditions Rodeo takes place this weekend, Friday-Sunday, March 31-April 2, at the Diamond T. Arena in Denton. But competition for the titles of Mr., Miss and Ms. TGRA takes place on Thursday night, March 30, at Club Reflections in Fort Worth.

Reigning TGRA titleholders will step down during the Thursday night show, as well. Show time is 7 p.m.

Contestants will compete in Talent, Presentation and Western Wear categories. Winners will be announced in the arena during the Grand Entry on Saturday, April 1.



Appreciation: Rene Moreno, 1959–2017

Posted on 28 Mar 2017 at 10:14pm

MorenoThere’s a secret in the restaurant business that a lot of chefs can flambe cherries jubilee or bananas foster tableside, and many can toss around their knives like a magician in a side show, but when you wanna hire someone to run your kitchen, you ask him to cook an egg. Flamboyance is great and showmanship is wonderful, but mastering simplicity is the true sign of talent.  Can’t cook a measly egg? You’re all sizzle, no steak.

The same holds for a number of disciplines, not the least among them the craft of theater. I’ve seen directors crash chandeliers and fly helicopters and I’ve thought “Wow.”  But until you’ve seen a director who can break your heart and make you smile simultaneously while showing you an awkward Irish couple navigate their feelings for each other,  or gasp at the humor and humanity of an octogenarian and his prickly relationship with a young gay man, you don’t know what great directing means.

Rene Moreno directed Outside Mullingar and Visiting Mr. Green and dozen of other plays during his illustrious career. And damn, that man could cook an egg.

I first encountered Moreno as an actor. It was nearly 25 years ago I saw him in a minor role in Dallas Theater Center’s production of A Christmas Carol, and  he stood out — not because he used a wheelchair, but because he grabbed your attention. He made an impact as an actor — in the Dallas-filmed movie Late Bloomers, on Broadway in the original run of Amadeus (before the accident that paralyzed his legs), even in a late-career return to the stage as the title villain in Richard III — but his true calling was really behind the scenes. It probably wasn’t long after that Christmas Carol that he ventured into directing full-time, starting in 1996 with Miss Julie. He took to it like a duck to water. What was that mystical conjuring that allowed him to extract such painfully beautiful performances out of any cast of actors he blessed with his touch? He could turn a seemingly mild comedy-drama like Good People into something profound; in my review, I noted it was “directed, as always, with deft understanding for the subtleties of humanity by Rene Moreno.” That was it, all the time. He knew the human psyche so intimately, he was able to coax out breathtaking work — not just from actors, but designers, too. His prowess at storytelling was legendary. He could tackle massive American dramas like Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and August: Osage County with brilliance, spin back to adapting a Restoration comedy like The Lucky Chance to swingin’ Mod London with light-footed farce, turn to a chamber comedy-drama like The Trip to Bountiful and manage to helm a Strindberg to rarefied heights. He wove the most exquisite tapestry of life, one where you never saw the seams.

So when word broke late Tuesday that Moreno, who had undergone recent surgeries, has succumbed to a heart attack in the hospital, it didn’t just feel like the Dallas theater community had lost as artist; it felt like the soul of all North Texas had been somehow vanquished.

In a region flush with amazing theater professionals, from actors to directors to producers, musicians and designers, I don’t think anyone would disagree that Rene Moreno was nonpareil — not merely the best of the best, but virtually peerless. He had the incredible ability to elevate everyone in a show he was in charge of. (He won more Dallas-Fort Worth Theater Critics Forum Awards than I can count.)

“WaterTower Theatre Board and Staff offer their deepest condolences to the friends and family of René Moreno,” Gregory Patterson, managing director at WTT, messaged me. “Rene was a longtime colleague of WaterTower’s and he will be greatly missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with the DFW theatre community as we mourn the loss of this great artist.”

“It’s an extraordinary loss,” Susan Sargeant, founder of WingSpan Theatre Co., told me. “My heart aches.” (Moreno’s final directorial effort, WingSpan’s staged reading of Rose, will proceed as planned this weekend at the Bath House Cultural Center.)

But it wasn’t just that he was a director, but a consumer of theater. I last saw Moreno — whom I count as a personal friend (our birthdays were just days apart — both Geminis, which Rene found humorous) — watch a show a few weeks ago. We chatted that he was undergoing several surgeries; he seemed upbeat but a bit sanguine as well at the prospect. Still, the heart attack at age 57 that took his life following, reportedly, a recent back surgery, came as a shock. The outpouring of grief on social media was immense, with condolences conveyed to his longtime partner, Charles McMullen.

Perhaps it was his comparative youth, or the suddenness, or the realization of the loss of his good humor, that surprised people most. But speaking personally, it feels deeper than mere loss. Rene Moreno was an authentic genius of his craft whose work transformed all who saw it. The cost feels incalculable.


Hearing set on anti-LGBT HB 3859, a ‘religious refusal’ bill

Posted on 28 Mar 2017 at 4:09pm

The Texas House State Affairs Committee is holding a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday, March 29), at 10:30 a.m. in Room 140 of the John H. Reagan Building, on HB 3859, which would allow child welfare providers that contract with the state to discriminate against LGBT families in foster care and adoptive placements.

So if you care about the well-being of children in the Texas foster care system and those up for adoption, and if you care about the rights LGBT Texans, you might want to think about heading to Austin tomorrow for that hearing.

The bill was introduced by Wichita Republican Rep. James Frank.

Ali Lozano, outreach and field coordinator for Texas Freedom Network, said that HB 3859 is one of “at least 17 bills” filed in this session of the Texas Legislature that would allow people to use their personal “religious beliefs” to discriminate against LGBT people.

“This is our first chance to reject this perversion of religious freedom,” Lozano said in an email message. “If we are going to stop this and other ‘religious refusal’ bills, we’ve got to turn out and resist in the same numbers and with the same fervor as we did for SB 6 (aka, the ‘bathroom bill’).”

Equality Texas CEO Chuck Smith reiterated that urgency.

“Using religion to refuse service to LGBTQ people is discrimination,” Smith said in a separate email. “The primary consideration for a child welfare agency or organization and its employees should always be the best interests of the child — not advancing the interests or beliefs of a state contractor. HB 3859 would allow the religious beliefs of child-placing agencies to be placed above the needs of our most vulnerable children. That could jeopardize the health and well-being of children in our system.”

Smith also pointed out that HB 3859 would allow state contractors to discriminate against single or divorced people, interfaith couples people of different religious faiths or denominations.

“This is morally wrong and legally problematic,” Smith said, ending with a plea to those that oppose the bill to “come to the Capitol complex … and register in opposition to HB 3859.”

Go here to watch a short video on how to register in opposition to the bill.

Equality Texas offers these talking points for anyone interested in testifying against the bill.

This page allows you to rush a message to members of the State Affairs committee urging them to oppose HB 3859, and this one lets you send a message urging your representative to oppose all of the anti-LGBT religious refusal bills.