GIVEAWAY: Tix to Festival of Black Dance and to Brian Stokes Mitchell with Lea Salonga

We’re doubling up on you today with tickets to two major events coming up.

The Black Academy of Arts & Letters (TBAAL) is offering Dallas Voice readers the chance to win tickets to Friday (opening) night of its 8th Annual Festival of Black Dance. The show will feature Jamaica’s Stella Marris Dance Company, the Dallas-based Happy Nia Dance Theatre and the Djely Kunda West African Dance and Drum Ensemble. The festival will be held at the Naomi Bruton Main Stage, 650 S. Griffin St. at 8 p.m.

We’ll keep this one easy. Just send an email my way with “Dance the night away” in the subject line and your name and phone number in the body. TBAAL has been pretty generous so please state if you prefer one or two pairs of tickets.

Broadway fans can rejoice because we also have tickets to the upcoming show Do You Hear the People Sing at American Airlines Center. The showtune extravaganza will feature Broadway stars Brian Stokes Mitchell and Lea Salonga headlining with the Dallas Pops Orchestra performing signature tunes from Les Misérables, Miss Saigon, The Pirate Queen and more.

To win a pair of tickets to this epic-sized show, send your email here with “SING” in the subject line as well as your name and number to contact winners.

The show is scheduled for March 23.

—  Rich Lopez

Idina Menzel to perform at Fair Park in June

OK, we’ve been here before but I’ll take it this it’s true: Idina Menzel will be appearing in Dallas.

This isn’t the first time she was scheduled. Menzel, who won a Tony Award for Wicked, was supposed to perform her show at Fair Park Music Hall last fall, but the shooting schedule for Glee forced her to postpone. She’s now set to bring it to the Park on June 13 — just in time, we don’t mind noting, for National Pride.

Like all gay men, we love Idina, because she (a) starred in Rent; (b) starred in Wicked, (c) appears on Glee and most of all (d) married Taye Diggs. That’s basically the life and career I’d like to have. Tickets for the show go on say Friday at 10 a.m. at Ticketmaster. Please don’t disappoint us, Idina! And if Taye wants to sit with me, well, I won’t complain. And if you don’t already know why you should love her, check this out:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Ted Cruz’s local field director speaks to gay Republican group by her ‘own choice’

Ashley Sewell

Metroplex Republicans of Dallas got a lesson on social media and politics at their Monday night meeting courtesy of guest speaker and conservative blogger Ashley Sewell, who also happens to be the North Texas field director for anti-gay GOP Senate hopeful Ted Cruz’s campaign.

“This is my own time and my own choice,” Sewell told Dallas Voice of her appearance after the meeting, where she spoke to the audience about various social media platforms. “This was scheduled many, many months ago before I did anything for Ted.”

Metroplex Republicans was the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans chapter before it was dechartered by the national organization for various reasons last year.

Sewell said her position with Cruz’s campaign involves helping volunteers “get plugged into events and groups and make sure that they are contributing to the campaign in a way that they are excited about.”

A Jan. 12 posting on Sewell’s website mentioned that she would be working as “an independent contractor in his run for U.S. Senate as his DFW Field Director. Sounds snazzy, huh? Snazzy or not, it’s going to be a big job but I’m excited about it. I’ll help manage the events and meetings in north Texas, as well as the volunteers, all in an effort to get Ted’s message out to the voters.”

—  Dallasvoice

Coffee Spiel Open Mike tonight at Mokah

Words with friends

Mix a little word action into your coffee tonight at Coffee Spiel. The Green Bandana Group and Red ID present a night of creativity by inviting poets, spoken work artists, spectators and brave souls to hang out for the night, have a latte and snap your fingers in applause for area artists (and maybe you, too) bringing in their open mike talents.



—  Rich Lopez

Madonna adds 2nd Dallas show, drops new single

Madonna offers fans here a double dose of good news. First, as you may have heard, she’s released her second single of her upcoming album. She dropped “Girl Gone Wild” today much to the likely pleasure of pop music bloggers everywhere. I can’t say I’m knocked out by it compared to her first single, but I’ve had some deadlines today that have kept my focus elsewhere. As we do. I kinda miss the sophisticated edge she had for Ray of Light or Music. I fear she’s trading her hot cougar-ness for some reductive pop confections.

No video yet, but you can give the song a listen on this lyric video.

To add to a good day of Madonna, we found out a second show has been added to her Dallas date at the American Airlines Center. She’s added Oct. 21 to her itinerary with tickets going on sale March 5. So save up your $358.50 for some primo seats at AAC.

—  Rich Lopez

1st of 3 suspects in brutal anti-gay hate crime in Reno, Texas, sentenced to 8 years in prison


Victim Burke Burnett is shown after the attack.

James Mitchell Laster

One of three suspects in a brutal anti-gay hate crime in East Texas in October has been sentenced to eight years in prison.

James Mitchell Laster, 33, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and was sentenced to eight years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice on Thursday, Feb. 23, a representative from the Lamar County District Clerk’s Office confirmed today.

Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young was in a jury trial and unavailable for comment this afternoon, according to his office. However, Young told the Paris News last week that Laster also “pled true to the hate crime allegation.” Young said Laster must serve a minimum of four years before he’s eligible for parole.

Laster was one of three suspects charged with multiple counts of aggravated assault, in addition to hate crime enhancements, in the beating of 26-year-old Burke Burnett.

Burnett, who’s gay, suffered second-degree burns and needed more than 30 stitches following the attack at a private Halloween party in Reno, a small town just east of Paris and 100 miles northeast of Dallas, in the early morning hours of Oct. 30.

Burnett said his three attackers yelled anti-gay slurs as they sucker-punched him in the eye, stabbed him in the back and arm with a broken beer bottle, and threw him onto a lit burn barrel. The case made national news after graphic photos of Burnett’s injuries were posted on Dallas Voice’s website.

Burnett, who now reportedly lives in Houston, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment this afternoon.

The other two suspects in the attack, 25-year-old Micky Joe Smith of Brookston, and 33-year-old Daniel Shawn Martin of Paris, are awaiting trial, according to online Lamar County court records.

Laster was initially charged with one count of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, hate crime, repeat offender; and two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, hate crime, repeat offender. The other charges reportedly were dropped in exchange for Laster’s guilty plea. Aggravated assault is a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison. However, the hate crime designation could have enhanced the charge to a first-degree felony, punishable by life in prison.

—  John Wright

Rep. Jessica Farrar uses facebook to support marriage equality

Rep. Jessica Farrar

A couple of weeks ago Houstini reported that State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, had blogged his support for marriage equality in Texas. A couple of eagle-eyed Houstini readers wanted to know why Rep. Jessica Farrar, D-Houston, who made a similar statement via Facebook last week, didn’t get the same attention. Farrar took to the social media site to express her approval of the passage of marriage equality legislation in Washington state:

“I am excited that Washington can now be added to the list of marriage equality states! With Valentine’s Day approaching, I vow to continue working with advocates to fight for marriage equality, same-sex partner benefits, and laws that protect all of my constituents regardless of sexual orientation.” (Screen grab below)

Farrar and Coleman have long histories of supporting the LGBT community (both were among the group of only 25 Texas House members who unequivocally opposed the 2005 legislation that led to the passage of Texas’ constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.) Even with that history there is a difference between opposing discriminatory legislation and publicly supporting marriage equality, and it’s heartening to see both House members express their support in such a public venue.

—  admin

Business Briefs: AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

AssociaTitle names Mark Sadlek director of business development

Mark Sadlek

AssociaTitle announced it appointed Mark J. Sadlek director of business development at its corporate headquarters in the heart of Uptown Dallas at Crescent Court.

“We are thrilled to be adding Mark Sadlek to the AssociaTitle team,” said AssociaTitle President Paul Reyes. “He is a seasoned real estate professional in the Dallas area with a track record of proven success and will serve both our clients and our company well.”

Sadlek joins AssociaTitle from Republic Title of Texas, where he served as vice president of business development and director of coaching services. He worked to build and promote the company externally with Realtors, developers and lenders. His focus also included business coaching and training.

He has also served as vice president of business development for American Title and as home mortgage consultant for Shelter Mortgage & Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. Previous to his work in the North Dallas real estate industry, Sadlek worked in marketing and sales for almost 20 years and was intimately involved in the start-up of two companies, VerCeram and Velux-America.

For the past nine years, Sadlek has worked in the North Dallas real estate industry, building positive relationships with local Realtors and lenders. He was awarded the 2010 Affiliate of the Year Award from MetroTex Association of Realtors, served on the MetroTex Board as an affiliate appointee board member, and chaired the Affiliate Forum Committee of MetroTex.

He was a co-founder and co-chair of Leadership Lambda Inc., an LGBT leadership development organization. He was also a board member of Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and has chaired the Heart Strings Fundraiser at the Majestic Theatre. Additionally, Sadlek served on the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign, as well as a co-chair of the Dallas-Fort Worth Federal Club.

Ernst & Young Announces Gross Up for Jan. 1

On Jan. 1, Ernst & Young joined more than 30 major U.S. employers that are equalizing the pay for gay and lesbian employees by covering the cost of state and federal taxes for domestic partners.

Employees enrolled in domestic partner benefits incur additional taxes as the value of those benefits is treated as taxable income under federal law, while the value of opposite-sex spousal benefits is not.

Federal law treats domestic partner benefits differently from federally-recognized spousal benefits.

—  David Taffet

Texas Flaggers to participate in Bridge-o-Rama

Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

This weekend, as we mentioned in Friday’s Voice, Dallas will celebrate the opening of the new Calatrava bridge spanning the mighty Trinity River.

Among the groups that will perform, according to Randall White, president of the West Dallas Chamber of Commerce and chair of the West Dallas group Bridge-o-Rama, is the Texas Flaggers, who will perform on Saturday afternoon. The Flaggers are a gay group. Look for them on the West Dallas side of the bridge.

The flaggers will perform as part of a Texas Flaggers weekend that includes a meet-and-greet at Club One on Friday at 7 p.m., and a tie-dye open studio and flagging class on Sunday.

White’s partner, Jeff Herrington, who is doing publicity for Bridge-o-Rama, said a free concert will take place Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. He said the World Music Stage will be set up about a half block from the bridge along Singleton Boulevard.

One feature of the celebration is the Parade of Giants — 15 giant, hand-carried puppets ­ representing individuals from West Dallas’ past that are being created by community groups in partnership with artists from La Reunion, Texas. Among the figures portrayed will be Bonnie and Clyde, Victor Considerant, Mattie Nash, Fr. Sebastian Valles and Judge Barefoot Sanders. One of those puppets was to be created by an LGBT rights groups based in San Diego called Empowering Spirits Foundation, but that partnership fell through. An Oak Cliff group has stepped in to create a puppet instead.

Herrington said this is the only time people will be allowed on the bridge as pedestrians. For safety, the number of people allowed on the bridge at any one time will be limited to 6,800. He pointed out that railings are designed for vehicle traffic and are lower than if designed for pedestrian traffic.

Although Herrington said he couldn’t speak for the city’s reasons for limiting the number of pedestrians on the bridge at any one time, we’re assuming it would be bad publicity for the city and the bridge if it got too crowded and people fell off.

—  David Taffet

Keynote speaker, dates change for TCU Southwestern LGBT Leadership Conference

Tyler Oakley

A few changes have been made to the 2012 Southwestern LGBT Leadership Conference at TCU’s campus this weekend.

The dates were originally March 1-3, but they have changed to Friday night registration and a kickoff at 7 p.m. Breakout sessions, a two-hour service project and the keynote address are now set for Saturday, March 3, conference Co-director Jamal King said.

The decision to change the dates was primarily for travel reasons, King said, as the conference will have an attendance from Kansas and Arizona colleges with the regional focus this year.

San Francisco YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley will give the keynote address instead of the Shane Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride.

After Windmeyer was unable to attend, King said Oakley’s experience with the Trevor Project and his national impact with his YouTube channel made him an obvious choice.

Several LGBT organizations including PFLAG, Q Cinema and the AIDS Outreach Center are still expected to attend to discuss issues affecting the community.

Registration for the conference is $25, and people can register up until the day of the conference. The new fee is lower than the initial cost of $50 and $40 for early registration. King said those who registered before the fee reduction will receive a refund.

For more information, to register or download the conference schedule, visit the Southwestern Association of Gay-Straight Alliances website or the Facebook event page.

—  Dallasvoice