2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: Keep your elves warm this year

Posted on 28 Nov 2014 at 9:30am

FullSizeRender2Keep your favorite Santa’s elves warm and comfy and stylish this holiday season with the Tipsy Elves Fur Christmas Hat, and the Nutcracker sweater.

The hat, available in red houndstooth, is $25, and the sweater is $65. Both are available at Outlines Men’s Wear, 3906 Cedar Springs Road. 214-528-1955 OutlinesMenswear.com.


Give the gift of comfort with The Affair trunk from 2(X)IST. The trunks come in soft, stretch Modal with a boosting original contour pouch, hip rise and truncated leg length. Comes in black or cranberry. $38. Available at Outlines Men’s Wear,3906 Cedar Springs Road. 214-528-1955 OutlinesMenswear.com.



‘Identity theft’ in the AIDS-free generation

Posted on 28 Nov 2014 at 7:30am

Don’t let the importance of education and prevention efforts get buried amid science and technology

Kirk MyersThe theme for World AIDS Day 2014 — “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation” — is much more than rhetoric. Since the inception of World AIDS Day in 1987, Dec. 1 has offered all people a simple promise: We not only will survive the global onslaught of HIV and AIDS, but together we will stop it!

Focusing on leveraging available resources and then collaborating with the most unlikely of partners, realistically we are poised to achieve our quintessential hope: an AIDS-free generation.

But even as this dream becomes reality, I harbor a faint amount of cynicism. Let me explain.

History teaches us that those who would conspire to destroy humanity’s potential often do so through means that can have unimaginable consequences. Think of the trans-Atlantic slave trade or Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The word we most often hear in reference to these periods of history is “genocide.”

But, the descendants of enslaved Africans and the survivors of the Holocaust have refused to fade into obscurity. Their resilience and determination are seen around the world, as their response to genocide has been harnessing a shared power to prevent any reoccurrences. In doing so they not only honor their ancestors but also ensure that the ultimate defeat of genocide must be — has to be — will always be the human effort to prevent it.

My faint cynicism comes in when I contemplate how the “AIDS-free generation” will record the story of how the HIV/AIDS pandemic was eventually defeated. My faint cynicism exists because I intentionally fight on the side of HIV prevention. But, in this fight, HIV prevention has not been the most sensational weapon, the most well-funded weapon or the most star-studded weapon.

Truth be told, we who have insisted on HIV prevention as the first and best weapon against HIV/AIDS could become victims of what I see as “identity theft.”

Abounding Prosperity Inc. since 2005 has been on the front lines of the fight in Dallas. And as the founding CEO, I would be disingenuous if I did not question how our message of HIV prevention will be recorded in history. Once we have “an AIDS-free generation,” who will speak on behalf of HIV prevention? Will anyone remember the HIV prevention message? Who will remind the children born in AIDS-free Africa, AIDS-free China, or AIDS-free Texas of their benefactor?

And who will be responsible for teaching the AIDS-free generation about not only their benefactors, but just as important, their bonds to the more than 36 million people worldwide that AIDS has killed, and the estimated 35.3 million people around the globe (including myself) who have resolved to live — abounding and prospering — even with HIV?

As a person who has been living with HIV for the past two decades, the cynical tempering of my own belief in an AIDS-free generation is warranted. From the ever-developing fields of science, technology and medicine, we are experiencing such breakthroughs that it is finally possible to envision our world completely free of HIV/AIDS.

But please do not misunderstand my reticent cynicism as professional aggrandizement in regards to those of us toiling in HIV prevention.

Rather, as I sit here writing, I look out the windows of my agency and see our target population: young, black gay men so hungry for not just love, but also connection and belonging. Abounding Prosperity Inc. was founded to sustain them, sustain us — black gay men who, just like myself, are neither invisible nor insignificant as our agency’s focus on HIV prevention especially targets  our extremely vulnerable and overrepresented demographic in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

By God’s grace, Abounding Prosperity Inc. remains a shining thread of hope that daily decries the genocide of HIV/AIDS on behalf of all humanity, but especially those who identify as black gay men. AP Inc., has never (and will never) re-brand our message or re-think our focus. Even if no one else delivers the HIV prevention message to black gay men, AP Inc. definitely will continue to do so, making sure HIV prevention gets her just due. Because HIV prevention is our agency’s business and the precise reason why so many young, black gay men in Dallas can now live out in the open, accepted, affirmed and AIDS-free.

This December, let us all proudly proclaim the HIV prevention message to ensure that neither the message nor its messengers fall victim to identity theft when the annals of HIV/AIDS history are written.

Kirk D. Myers is the founding and current CEO of Abounding Prosperit, Inc. where he and his staff serve African-American gay men, bi-sexual men and transgender male-to-female individuals as well as all their families. If you would like to support this mission and join in the work of­­ AP, Inc., please call 214-421-4800, visit the agency’s website at AboundingProsperity.org or email kmyers@aboundingprosperity.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 28, 2014.


2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: The couch potato’s heavenly remote

Posted on 27 Nov 2014 at 9:30am

HarmonyUltimateHome_Group1_300_dpiForget the TV remote. Your couch potato needs the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home universal remote that works with more than 270,000 connected devices to make your home “smarter” than ever. And you can use the Harmony Mobile App to create customized activities that group device commands to initiate at the same time. For instance, create the Good Morning or Welcome Home activity that can activate lighting, locks, the thermostat and entertainment devices to all work together. Now if you can just get it to fry your eggs over easy and make your coffee, you’re all set.

$349.99. Available at all Best Buy locations.


2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: Doggy styling

Posted on 26 Nov 2014 at 6:30pm

Petrageous Quilted Christmas Jacket

The weather forecasters are predicting an especially cold winter this year, so you want to make sure your dogs are warm and cozy when the cold winds blow. And this Petrageous Quilted Christmas Jacket fits the bill not just for warm and cozy, but for stylish too. Available in sizes XS to XL, from $26-$32, at Dee’s Doggie Den, 6444 E. Mockingbird Lane in Dallas. 214-823-1441. DeesDoggieDen.com.


Overlooking the obvious cause of the Irving earthquakes

Posted on 26 Nov 2014 at 9:16am

IrvingSince Saturday, five earthquakes have hit Irving. Most people are blaming fracking and are overlooking the obvious cause.

When Human Rights Campaign released the latest Municipal Equality Index earlier this month, five cities received a score of zero. Irving was among them.

So Irving receives a zero MEI rating and then is hit by five earthquakes.

As we all know, gays cause tornadoes, hurricanes and terrorist attacks. Well, we also cause earthquakes and until Irving adds some nondiscrimination protections, the earthquakes in that city will continue.

This is not the first time the gays have warned that city about its refusal to include the LGBT community in its policies. The Cowboys didn’t move to Arlington because Irving wouldn’t build Jerry Jones a new stadium. The Cowboys moved because of da  gays.

Look Irving. We know you don’t have many gays working for your city government. That’s obvious when you drive down Airport Freeway, the ugliest expanse of highway in Texas. No gay person would have ever allowed that abomination in his city. But you do have LGBT residents and it’s time to stop being a bunch of blathering bigots and pass some protections.

Hell, you were named after Washington Irving, a gay man, so let’s get with it.

And when it comes to those earthquakes, let’s stop trying to use science to point fingers at the innocent fracking industry and put the blame where it belongs — on the gays — and yes, we’re that powerful. Or, to paraphrase Joan Crawford: Don’t fuck with us fellas.


UPDATE: Mississippi and Arkansas marriage bans overturned

Posted on 26 Nov 2014 at 7:17am

Marriage_Equality_Map11-26A federal judge in Mississippi who heard a marriage ban case last week declared the law unconstitutional on Tuesday, Nov. 25.

In Arkansas, a federal judge also threw out the state’s marriage ban. In June, another judge ruled discrimination unconstitutional and about 500 couples married before the ruling was stayed.

“The Fourteenth Amendment operates to remove the blinders of inequality from our eyes,” U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves wrote in the Mississippi decision. “Though we cherish our traditional values, they must give way to constitutional wisdom. Mississippi’s traditional beliefs about gay and lesbian citizens led it to defy that wisdom by taking away fundamental rights owed to every citizen. It is time to restore those rights.”

Both the Arkansas and Mississippi rulings were put on hold allowing the states to appeal. The Mississippi ruling is stayed just two weeks.

Mississippi is part of the 5th Circuit, which will hear appeals of the Louisiana and Texas rulings on Jan. 9.


REVIEW: ‘Foxcatcher’

Posted on 26 Nov 2014 at 5:09am

Carell and Tatum

Bennett Miller has only directed a handful of feature films: Capote, the stark, ominous true-crime  story behind gay author Truman Capote’s efforts to write his masterpiece, In Cold Blood; and Moneyball, about A’s manager Billy Bean’s formula for for turning a last-place ball club into pennant champs. Combine the catchwords of both those films: True-life, gay, sports, crime, murder, even one-word title … all elements that emerge, in various levels, in Miller’s newest effort, Foxcatcher. It could — should? — be the perfect confluence of topic and talent. But while there’s no denying the craftsmanship and sincerity that goes into the film, it’s also difficult to shake the sense that there isn’t enough undergirding its tone, its artistry, its seriousness.

The film is based on actual events that, while shocking at the time, haven’t lived on in popular culture like they might have. Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum) hasn’t lived well off the glory of a gold medal, remaining in the shadow of his more legendary older brother David (Mark Ruffalo). Then one day the eccentric billionaire John DuPont (Steve Carell) calls on him: How would Mark like to join Du Pont and his band of merry athletes at his Foxcatcher estate to train for the next Olympics? Du Pont fancies himself a world-class coach and sports benefactor — equal parts Bela Karolyi, Vince Lombardi and Tex Schramm, but it’s apparent to everyone but him he’s merely a world-class creep. Du Pont — remote, humorless, socially awkward, patently sexually repressed and lacking in any self-awareness — is a professional dilettante, a dabbler who has found the homoerotic world of pro wrestling as a weird outlet for his need for masculine physical contact. He writes laudatory speeches about himself for others to deliver. He creates a seniors wrestling league so that he might win a trophy. He commissions a documentary about himself and dictates the outcome. (It is not, in the world of the film, totally his fault. He is part of a profoundly disconnected family that has a history of making documentaries about themselves. The rich really are different from you and me.)

Tatum and Ruffalo

You know — both because pre-opening press mentions it, and the tone of the film practically projects its ominous outcome from get-go — that Du Pont is a brittle twig who will snap and commit a seemingly senseless act of violence, a crime made more tragic because of its pointlessness. You hope that the goal of the movie will be to provide context — to frame the crime and make it seem less random than inevitable. You want to, if not assign blame, figure out not just what happened by why.

And that’s where Foxcatcher fails. Indeed, it never even comes close.

There are many images and a spooky vibe that linger after the film ends, but what you never get is a sense of purpose. Miller has made a haunting story that doesn’t haunt you, a tragedy with no flawed protagonist to sympathize for. The film, like John Du Pont, is a cypher.

Miller has allowed all the artists involved so much latitude to create that he seems to have forgotten his role is to unite them together. I venture to guess that half the below-the-line budget was spent on singlets, nose putty and false teeth: Carell, Tatum and Ruffalo are all made the physically transform for their roles, getting seemingly lost in the characters, the way Philip Seymour Hoffman did in Capote. But Hoffman had a deceiver’s heart at work behind the scenes; you could tell what he was thinking. Carell is a wall of unfathomable mystery, like the patients in the criminally-insane wards of bad horror movies. You can’t understand him, just observe him. All of which keeps everything perpetually on the surface.

The actors are all quite good at their impersonations: Tatum is lurching and damaged, and you feel for him as an inarticulate man daring to find a form of expression that makes sense to him; Ruffalo’s big-brother pal-ness feels lived in, his accent authentic; and Carell is sometimes so strange that it gives you gooseflesh. But their characters, like the pacing and tone of the film, never alter. Miller’s preoccupation with silences and stillness begins to feel like a cheat, a substitute for figuring out these characters and really providing insight. (The horrible events for which the entire incident is remembered occur in the final minutes of the film, with only a few post-script paragraphs to inform us of what eventually happened. Wikipedia is more informative.)

Foxcatcher has a distinct European air to it, not unlike Capote, but without the passion that European films usually find simmering beneath. It’s OK to be cold, but to make the audience care, there has to be a spark of humanity. This film never generates that kind of heat.

Two and half stars. Now playing.


Gay-interest, Texas films score with Independent Spirit Award nominations

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 8:38pm

‘Love Is Strange’ nominees Alfred Molina, John Lithgow and Ira Sachs.

The Film Independent Spirit Award nominations came out today, and films with gay content or interest — and one biggie from Texas — figured prominently.

Among the gay-interest films were Love Is Strange, about a late-middle-aged gay couple transformed by their marriage. The film was nominated for best feature, leading male John Lithgow, supporting male Alfred Molina and the screenplay by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias. Gay African-American filmmaker Justin Simien was nominated for best first feature and best first screenplay for his race comedy Dear White People.

Julianne Moore was nominated for leading female for Still Alice, about a woman ravaged by Alzheimer’s, in the drama by gay filmmakers Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. Foxcatcher, which opens in Dallas Wednesday (and which I review here in the morning), received the Special Distinction Award.

Among the other nominees are Austin-based director Richard Linklater’s Boyhood, which scored noms for best feature, director, film editing, supporting female (Patricia Arquette) and supporting male (Ethan Hawke). Strangely overlooked? The title actor, Ellar Coltrane.

The excellent Birdman, with Michael Keaton as a movie star making a serious stage comeback, had the most nominations, for best feature, director, leading male (Keaton), supporting male (Edward Norton), supporting female (Emma Stone) and cinematography. It has some lesbian content as well.


2014 Holiday Gift Guide online special: ‘Cher’-ing some holiday cheer

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 6:30pm

Cher Upon a Midnight ClearWe gay people love our divas, and Cher is one of the diva-est. So it seems only fitting that there should be a book in which Cher saves Christmas.  “If 8-year-old Luca can’t convince his parents to give him the white ice skates he has his heart set on, Christmas is going to be ruined. Who does a child turn to when he can’t even county on Santa Claus?” Why, Cher, of course. Cher Upon A Midnight Clear is the “Christmas fable for children of all ages and the homofriendly/genderqueer holiday story your modern family has been waiting for.”

Cher Upon A Midnight Clear, by Matteo B. Bianchi. $8. Available online at FourCatsPress.com/new-releases.


New York and Atlanta fire departments are worlds apart

Posted on 25 Nov 2014 at 3:49pm

Jonathan WestAtlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran published a book called Who Told You That You Were Naked? In it, he calls homosexuality “unclean,” “a sexual perversion,” “vulgar” and “inappropriate.”

Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed suspended Cochran without pay and said in a statement, “I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration.”

The suspension lasts one month. Before returning to work, Cochran must complete sensitivity training and he’s prohibited from distributing the book on city property.

In New York, former gay porn star Jonathan West went to work for the fire department this week. Questioned about it, the department’s spokesman said the city has age and fitness requirements, but the city’s civil service law doesn’t bar candidates who have posed nude or starred in X-rated films.

“The legal department is aware of his work history,” the spokesman told the New York Daily News.

The newspaper talked to other firefighters in his new station.

“Whatever, I don’t care,” one firefighter told the reporter.