A brief window to help LGBT kids in Fort Worth

David Mack Henderson

DAVID MACK HENDERSON  |  Fairness Fort Worth

Junior high. High school. Funny how quick those little words can raise the hair on the back of your neck if you grew up struggling with your identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. No matter the challenge — whether internal acceptance or finding your place in an unwelcome, sometimes hostile environment — nearly all of us wish we’d had the chance to reach out for help when the world felt like it was against us and we didn’t know if there was anyone, anywhere we could turn to.

And now there is.

In five days several local leaders will be teaching a three-hour LGBT Awareness class to nearly every counselor and intervention specialist in the Fort Worth ISD. It’s practically unheard of in this part of the country. Yet, we’ve been building a relationship over time — and then the call came.

Then it dawned on us. Wow, here’s our chance to implement the incredible “Safe Places” program created by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network). Each school kit only runs $20. They contain useful training manuals and resources for on-site counselors and educators, awareness posters, and maybe most important — “safe place” stickers for understanding teachers and administrators to place on their doors signaling to LGBT students in need that their room is an immediate harbor to escape bullying and harassment, or simply to find someone who’ll lend a kind ear and offer guidance.

—  admin

Concert Notice: Ricky Martin at Verizon in April

Ricky Martin is back out on the road and he comes back to North Texas later this spring. He’s touring in support of his new album, Musica Alma Sexo, which drops Tuesday. This is his first album release after coming out last year.

I was kind of worried because his lead single “The Best Thing About Me is You” isn’t the usual bombastic Latin dance music people are used to from him, but after listening to other tracks from MAS, it’s clear he hasn’t abandoned his signature sound completely (check out the feel-good vibe of “Best Thing”). MAS is a Spanish-language album, but he recorded “Best Thing” in English with Joss Stone. Check out the video below.

Martin is scheduled to play Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie on April 22.

—  Rich Lopez

Laura McFerrin screens ‘March On’ in NYC with Dan Choi; Dallas premiere set for February

Local filmmaker (and new mom) Laura McFerrin screened her documentary March On on Saturday in New York City, and she sent pictures. The documentary about 2009′s National Equality March screened Saturday at the Gay & Lesbian Center with approximately 150 people in attendance, including Dan Choi, and the event benefited Marriage Equality New York.

Dallas audiences get their first chance to see the film in just a few weeks. March On will screen at the Studio Movie Grill Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. The event will benefit GetEQUAL, and although the screening is free, donations will definitely be accepted.

—  Rich Lopez

Movie Monday: ‘The Mechanic’ with Jason Statham in wide release

Statham sizzles, but The Mechanic fizzles

It’s hard to know whether to be angry at the filmmakers or frustrated with the audience about the gay content in The Mechanic. I suppose we should be glad that gays figure anywhere in this quickie actioner, even though the portrayal is hardly flattering.

Bishop (Jason Statham, above right), an experienced hitman, is training his protege Steve (Ben Foster, above left) how to take out a rival assassin. Bishop says the bad guy is gay, so Steve — a twinkie who looks to weigh 95 pounds dripping in paving tar —seduces him. As they begin to undress each other, straight men in the preview audience emitted audible, horrified chants of “Dude!” and “Gross!” and “Ah, shit, man!” (If they were smarter, they’d be quiet and let their girlfriends get turned on.)

Two stars (out of five). Read the entire review here.

DEETS: The Mechanic starring Jason Statham, Ben Foster, Donald Sutherland. Directed by Simon West. In wide release.

—  Rich Lopez

What’s Brewing: GLAAD slams SNL commercial; UT study on gay cheating; civil unions in Illinois

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. GLAAD is outraged over a Saturday Night Live spoof commercial for “Estro-Maxxx,” which the organization says mocked the lives of transgender people. If the commercial were the least bit funny, we’d accuse GLAAD of not having a sense of humor. GLAAD is demanding that the commercial be pulled from Hulu and all future airings of the show. At the same time, the controversy ensures that thousands of smart people who don’t watch SNL because it’s not funny will see the commercial, which is above.

2. Half of men would forgive their female partner for cheating with another woman, while only 21 percent of women would forgive their male partner for cheating with another man, according to a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin. This could mean  straight guys are more forgiving and tolerant of homosexuality than straight women, or it could mean they’re just pigs who see a lesbian affair as an opportunity for a three-way.

3. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn will sign a civil unions bill today, in a ceremony that’s expected to draw a capacity crowd of about 900 gays. Meanwhile, a Wyoming House committee voted down a civil unions bill on Friday.

—  John Wright

Pink Noise: The Dallas Voice Podcast

In this week’s episode, Rich Lopez and I talk about anti-gay discrimination by the Baylor Health Care System; follow up on the Club Dallas raid; discuss plans for Buli Cafe to become a piano bar; comment on Out Magazine’s 100 Most Eligible Bachelors; and more. Listen by going here.

—  John Wright

UPDATE on Brenda Namigadde: Deportation delayed by temporary injunction

As I noted here earlier, Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namigadde — who fled to the U.K. in 2002 to escape persecution in her home country where homosexuality is outlawed with those who break that law subject to up to 14 years in prison — was scheduled to be sent back to Uganda at 9 p.m. tonight (London time). But word now is that a High Court judge has granted a temporary injunction preventing her deportation, according to reports by BBC.

Namigadde’s earlier pleas for asylum in the U.K. had been denied after a judge said there was no evidence she is a lesbian.

Efforts to halt Namigadde’s deportation took on added urgency on Wednesdays after news broke of the murder of Uganda’s most prominent gay rights activist, David Kato.

—  admin

More on the anti-gay Baylor Health Care System

OK, so if anything I should be working on my Super Bowl centerpiece story for next week’s Voice right now, but I felt compelled to provide an update on the situation involving the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center given the comment thread below.

Today I spoke with Beverly Davis, a very sweet woman who’s in charge of the city of Dallas’ Fair Housing Office, which investigates complaints under the sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance.

Davis explained that her office did not, as alleged, advise Steven Johnson to withdraw his complaint against the Fitness Center last year because the Fitness Center is considered exempt from the ordinance as a “private club.”

Davis, whom I trust, said the city never got a chance to determine whether the ordinance applies to the Fitness Center, because Johnson withdrew the complaint voluntarily and on his own before the investigation began. (I have my suspicions as to why Johnson chose to withdraw the complaint, but I won’t get into that here.)

So, no determination has been made about whether the ordinance applies to the Fitness Center. And again, there is no specific mention in the ordinance of an exemption for “private clubs.” Furthermore, the exemption for religious organizations should not apply because despite any affiliations the Fitness Center is not engaged in religious activities.

Alan Rodriguez, another gay man who was discriminated against by the Fitness Center, says he plans to file a complaint on Monday.

Which, I think, is a good thing.

After all, what’s the point of having the ordinance if you’re not going to attempt to use it? Filing a complaint will force the city to investigate, and it will undoubtedly force Baylor to get its attorneys involved. And at some point, they may start to wonder whether all this is really worth it to defend some backward-ass policy that probably loses money for the Fitness Center.

The city may offer mediation to Baylor and a chance to change the policy. If Baylor refuses, the City Attorney’s Office will decide whether there is cause to prosecute. If they choose not to prosecute, it becomes a City Council issue. These cases shouldn’t be decided by the City Attorney’s Office; they should be decided by judges and juries. Again, in the nine years since the ordinance was passed, there have been more than 40 complaints filed, and not one has ever been prosecuted by the city.

Granted, even if the city were to prosecute a case successfully, it’s only a maximum $500 fine per violation. But that’s not the point.

—  John Wright

In wake of one activist’s murder, another faces deportation back to homophobic Uganda

As mourners in Uganda on Friday laid to rest gay activist David Kato, bludgeoned to death on Wednesday in his home in Kampala, in Britian several members of Parliament were calling on their government to halt the imminent deportation of Brenda Namigadde, a 29-year-old lesbian activist who was supposed to be sent back to Uganda tonight.

Same-gender sexual contact is illegal in Uganda, with those convicted facing sentences of up to 14 years in prison. Some government officials have in the last year been pushing to make the laws regarding homosexuality in Uganda even harsher, including death sentences in some cases.

According to reports by the BBC, Namigadde, who fled Uganda for the United Kingdom in 2002, said she was beaten and victimized in her home country because of her sexual orientation. However, when she applied for asylum, British immigration officials denied her application, saying that “an immigration judge found on the evidence before him that Ms. Namigadde was not homosexual.”

Ugandan MP David Bahati, the main force behind the death-to-gays legislation there, has said that Namigadde must either “repent or reform” or she will be arrested on her return, according to reports in The Guardian.

Although Namigadde’s first appeal asking for an injunction to stop her deportation was denied, her lawyers continue to work to have the deportation stopped.

Among the MPs calling on immigration officials to halt Namigadde’s deportation is Andy Slaughter, MP for Hammersmith where Namigadde lived while in England. Slaughter said, “Whatever the circumstances surrounding Ms Namigadde’s presence in Britain, it is clear that she cannot be deported to Uganda at present. Both the public mood and the official stance towards homosexuals in Uganda are lethal at the moment — we should not be contemplating sending my constituents back to a society where she will be in grave danger of her life.”

—  admin

Pentagon provides update on DADT repeal

Clifford Stanley

Few spousal benefits will be available to gay and lesbian servicemembers after the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” is implemented, according to Defense Undersecretary Clifford Stanley and Gen. James Cartwright.

Stanley and Cartwright spoke at a press conference this afternoon on the progress of implementing the repeal of DADT.

In his State of the Union address this week, President Obama said, “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.”

Stanley said the Pentagon is still working through the process of drafting new policies needed to implement DADT repeal.

Asked to pinpoint a timetable for implementing the repeal beyond “expeditiously” or “quickly,” neither Stanley nor Cartwright was specific.

However, Cartwright said, “Expeditiously is better than dragging this out,” citing the experience of other countries in allowing gays and lesbians to serve in their armed forces. Training, they agreed, should begin in February.

Stanley and Cartwright addressed chaplains — one of the largest and most vocal groups opposing the repeal of DADT — saying they practice their own faiths and no rules changes would be needed. The two officials did not address chaplains refusing to serve gay and lesbian troops.

—  David Taffet