Susan Sarandon: An American for marriage equality

Award-winning actress and progressive activist Susan Sarandon has made this video (below) for the Human Rights Campaign’s marriage equality campaign. She says: “While marriage might not be my thing, if it’s your thing you damn well ought to be able to have it equally and unequivocally.”

—  Tammye Nash

So what if being gay IS a choice?

Despite some activists’ outrage over actress Cynthia Nixon’s recent comments, it doesn’t really matter how we became LGBT

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

After four decades of watching people struggle to keep up with the politically correct standard of the day in discussing LGBT life, I’m beginning to think it’s time for everyone to relax a little.

I reached that decision this week when I read about activists getting in an uproar over Cynthia Nixon, an actress who starred in Sex and the City, telling the New York Times Magazine she preferred being gay to straight because she had lived both types of lives. Her remarks created a furor among those who demand we frame all of our speech in a way they think best advances the LGBT rights movement. A few days later Nixon softened her stance in a Daily Beast interview by saying she was a bisexual by no choice of her own, presumably in an effort to quell the controversy.

Frankly, Nixon’s first remarks in the New York Times Magazine article made sense to me, and so did her later remarks about believing she never made a conscious decision to be a bisexual. It’s just that I regretted she felt compelled to revise what she had said earlier to appease her critics. I got what she meant the first time without her follow-up explanation, and I imagine most other enlightened people did as well.

Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon

Nixon, who gave birth to two children with a male partner, probably did make a choice to live a gay life when she became sexually involved with a woman. If someone is attracted to both the opposite and the same sex, there probably does come a point when the individual might need to make a choice in terms of permanent or semi-permanent partnership.
Certainly Nixon ought to be the best judge of what happened in her own life, so what’s wrong with her telling the truth as she sees it?

Nixon noted correctly that many LGBT activists shudder every time they hear the word “choice,” “preference” or “lifestyle” because they fear it supports conservative religious arguments that homosexuality is a perversion practiced by degenerates who get their kicks out of being wicked. As the theory goes, that gives credence to the evangelists’ claims that bisexuality, homosexuality and gender variance can be cured by the administration of a good dose of Bible verse in quantities sufficient enough to scare the holy bejesus out of the sinner.

As we all know, that doesn’t work. Actually, even most straight people realize that won’t work because most of them have also suffered the wrath of the evangelical community in condemnation of some aspect of their lives, such as the urge to masturbate or engage in sexual activity before marriage. In reality, the only ones who truly believe a pack of Bible thumpers can transform a person’s sexual orientation are people who are lying about it, have been brainwashed into believing it or are just too ignorant to understand scientific research.

Decades of scientific evidence make it clear that every aspect of a person’s physical and mental makeup — which certainly includes sexual orientation — comes about as a result of heritable genes and the impact of sex hormones on the brain and other body parts of the developing fetus.

In his 2011 book Gay, Straight and the Reason Why, neuroscientist Simon LeVay outlines decades of scientific studies that all point to the same conclusion: In essence, people are what nature made them.

LeVay, who served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has pointed this out in various articles and books he has authored over the years. The results of a scientific study LeVay published in Science in 1991 showing marked differences in the brain structures of gay and straight men is credited with helping spur the two-decade wave of scientific research aimed at determining a biological basis for sexual orientation.

What the body of scientific evidence does for most reasonable people is confirm what common sense had already told them. There’s just no way certain people with obvious mental and physical characteristics could have been anything other than what they became — namely gay, lesbian or transgender.

With others in the LGBT community it’s a little trickier because they display either few or none of the obvious characteristics identifying them as anything other than straight. Environment might have played some role in their development, but again the scientific evidence points to biological factors. What’s more the individuals usually report experiencing feelings since their earliest recollections that set them apart from heterosexual people.

Still, the unpredictability of humans makes it impossible to categorize all people. Some members of the community undoubtedly did feel an attraction to the LGBT lifestyle and chose to embrace it for that reason. The very size and the diversity of the world’s LGBT community is so staggering that if we come across some people who are merely practicing free will, it shouldn’t be so surprising.

That’s why I liked Nixon’s earlier remarks that it didn’t matter how people came to be a part of the LGBT community. As she said, it doesn’t matter how each and every person got here, and words will never sway the opinions of bigots and opportunists. It will require life experiences — such as coming to realize they have a child or grandchild who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender — to hopefully educate them about the realities of life.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has reported on LGBT issues for three decades for the mainstream and alternative media. He can be reached at davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Jennifer Hudson book signing at Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble

She’s gonna tell you

This almost came and went under the radar. Oscar-winning actress and Grammy-winning singer Jennifer Hudson can now add author to her resume. She comes to Dallas to sign copies of her newest inspirational book I Got This: How I Changed My Ways and Lost What Weighed Me Down at the Barnes and Noble store in Lincoln Park. The memoir details her loss of over 80 lbs. and learning to adhere to a new healthy lifestyle. Sounds just like the right book for the new year.

Just so you know, the store has special instructions. From Barnes and Noble.

Wristbands: 9:00 am, January 19 — Present B&N receipt for I Got This for band to save your place in line. One band per person. Ms. Hudson will sign I Got This and CDs purchased at the event only. Limit two books and two CDs per customer. No books or CDs from home allowed. No personalization, no pos.

DEETS: Barnes and Noble, Lincoln Park, 7700 W. Northwest Hwy., Ste. 300. 7 p.m. BarnesAndNoble.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Latin flair

comedy
MUY FUNNY | Dan Guerrero works for laughs while being gay and Latino in his one-man show.

Before he could write ‘¡Gaytino!,’ Dan Guerrero first had to find his roots

rich lopez  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Growing up gay and Latino can be a tough hand to play. In a culture that revels in religion and machismo — hell, the word “machismo” is Latino — coming out poses pitfalls.

But Dan Guerrero lucked out. With some artsy upbringing by a musician dad and a not-so-practicing Catholic background, Guerrero’s closet was easy to open. In fact, it was harder for him just to be Hispanic.

“Los Angeles never made me feel like I was good enough,” he says. “I fell in love with musicals in junior high. I wanted to hear Julie Andrews in Camelot! Who gives a rat’s ass about mariachi?”

His dad might have given one. He was famed musician Lala Guerrero, the father of Chicano music who popularized the Pachuco sound in the 1940s (the beats most associated with Zoot suits and swing dancing). While Guerrero appreciated his father’s legacy, he established his own identity by moving to New York to become an actor. That didn’t work out so much, but becoming an agent did.

“It was kind of by accident, but I ended up being an agent for 15 years,” he says. “I got into producing and I loved it.”

Although he stepped away from performing, Guerrero finds himself back onstage Friday and Saturday at the Latino Cultural Center with ¡Gaytino! The autobiographical one-man show is part comedy, part cabaret, with Guerrero recounting in lyrics and punch lines his experiences growing up gay and Latino, life with father … and having to rediscover his roots after moving back to L.A.

“The main reason I did the show is, I wanted to know more about my dad and my best friend. I was already fabulous,” he laughs. “So I don’t think of this as my story. I wanted to embrace his legacy and celebrate him and our lives, but also tell of being a born-again Hispanic.”

In L.A., Guerrero rediscovered his heritage. While still working in entertainment, he noticed a lack of Latinos behind the scenes. He started a column in Dramalogue to change that, interviewing actors like Jimmy Smits and Salma Hayek and producing shows that spoke to Latin audiences.

And then came ¡Gaytino!

“Well, the word itself hit me first so I trademarked it. Then it was madness as I set about writing it,” he says.

When the show debuted in 2005, Guerrero hadn’t performed in 35 years. He was a different man, no longer a young buck with nothing to lose and untarnished optimism. He was a behind-the-scenes producer and casting agent. He was — gasp! — older.

“I remember thinking, ‘What am I gonna do? What if I forget my lines?’ I’m an old codger,” he says. “But I got onstage and it was like I had did it the day before. Performing is just part of who I am.”

With his successful day job (he once repped a young Sarah Jessica Parker), a healthy relationship (32 years this November) and irons in many other fires, why bother with the daunting task of writing a show and carrying it alone?

“It still feels like I’m breaking into show business. At least when you’ve been around as long as I have, you can get the main cheese by phone,” he answers. “But really, I had something I wanted to say and I love doing it. I’ve been lucky to stay in the game this long but it’s not by accident; it’s all been by design.”

What he loves isn’t just doing his show, but how it pushes positive gay Latino images. He’s dedicated this chapter in his life to that. Guerrero now feels parental toward the younger generation — maybe because he has no children of his own.

“I do feel a responsibility and not just to younger people, but to all,” he says. “For ¡Gaytino!, I first want them entertained, but I hope audiences will leave more educated about some Chicano culture and history and Gaytino history.”

……………………………………

QUEER CLIP: ‘BEGINNERS’

screen

 

Beginners is such a dreadfully forgettable and generic title for what is the year’s most engaging and heartfelt comedy, you feel like boycotting a review until the distributor gives it a title it deserves.

Certainly the movie itself — a quirky, humane and fantastical reverie about the nature of love and family, with Ewan McGregor as a doleful graphic artist who, six months after his mother dies, learns his 75-year-old dad (Christopher Plummer) is gay and wants to date — charts its own course (defiantly, respectfully, beautifully), navigating the minefield of relationships from lovers to parent/child with simple emotions. It’s not a movie that would presume to answer the Big Questions (when do you know you’ve met the right one? And if they aren’t, how much does that matter anyway?); it’s comfortable observing that we’re all in the same boat, and doing our best is good enough.

McGregor’s placid befuddlement over how he should react to things around him — both his father’s coming out and a flighty but delightful French actress (Melanie Laurent) who tries to pull him out of his shell — is one of the most understated and soulful performances of his career. (His relationship with Arthur, his father’s quasi-psychic Jack Russell, is winsome and winning without veering into Turner & Hooch idiocy.) But Plummer owns the film.

Plummer, best known for his blustery, villainous characters (even the heroic ones, like Capt. Von Trapp and Mike Wallace), exudes an aura of wonder and discovery as the septuagenarian with the hot younger boyfriend (Goran Visnjic, both exasperating as cuddly). As he learns about house music at a time when his contemporaries crave Lawrence Welk, you’re wowed by how the performance seethes with the lifeforce of someone coming out and into his own. His energy is almost shaming.

Writer/director Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical film suffers only being underlit and over too quickly. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to spend more time with these folks.

—Arnold Wayne Jones

Rating: Four and half stars
Now playing at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 10, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Bening Wins Best Actress for Kids

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT ANNETTE BENING JULIANNE MOORE X390 (SUZANNE TENNER) | ADVOCATE.COMAnnette Bening won the Golden Globe for best actress in a comedy or musical for her turn as a lesbian mother in The Kids Are All Right.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Broadway Actress Daphne Rubin-Vega Offers First Spanish Voice to New Yorkers for Marriage Equality

Broadway actress Daphne Rubin-Vega is the latest New Yorker to join the Human Rights Campaign’s “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” campaign.  Rubin-Vega lent her voice to the campaign with two videos, one in English, and the first Spanish language video of the series. Both new videos, and the entire campaign, can be viewed online at www.hrc.org/NY4marriage.

“There is nothing more important to me than the love and commitment that a family brings,” said Rubin-Vega. “That’s why I support equal marriage rights for all.”

ENGLISH VIDEO

SPANISH VIDEO

With the eight and ninth installments of the series; Rubin-Vega joins Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Mayor Bloomberg, Moby, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, actress Fran Drescher, Julianne Moore and designer Kenneth Cole to support marriage equality in the state. In the coming weeks and months HRC will continue the series of prominent New Yorkers speaking out in support for marriage equality to include: Whoopi Goldberg, David Chang, Tom Colicchio, Ethan and Ryan Hawke, Christopher Meloni and Joan Rivers.

A marriage equality bill failed last year by eight votes in the New York state Senate despite having the support of the Governor and being passed in the Assembly. HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage has worked tirelessly this election and had big wins throughout the state. Check out our election results page to find out more about our victories in New York.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

‘Spring Awakening’ opens at Bass Hall tonight

Just two days for ‘Spring’ break
Once you get past the darkness of the original version on Monday, do a 180 with the updated musical Spring Awakening. Musician Duncan Sheik penned the music and the touring show features local actress Elizabeth Judd. She’s kind of a big deal as the female lead.  So is the show which won eight Tony awards including best musical.

DEETS: Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Nov. 9–10. 7:30 p.m. BassHall.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Actress and Ally Julianne Moore Featured in HRC’s Equality Magazine

Julianne Moore is such a great friend of the LGBT community. And so much fun to talk to. The actress spoke with HRC’s Equality magazine about her new, big-buzz film, The Kids Are All Right, and more. She clearly knows a lot about our issues – speaking out, celebrating pride, safety in schools, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. Wow. We definitely need more allies like her.

Moore spoke about the need for everyone – straight and LGBT alike – to speak up about LGBT families – to help change public opinion, to help more people know we’re just like them, living very ordinary lives. Moore is also really fired up about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And she talks about that in our interview.

Moore, who lives in New York with her husband and two kids, doesn’t just talk the talk, either. She has a new children’s book coming out that includes a two-mom family.

Of course, Moore – known for her work in Boogie Nights and A Single Man – is pitch-perfect in The Kids Are All Right. She and Annette Bening are a lesbian couple – what a pair! – with two teens in this touching, funny film, directed by Lisa Cholodenko, known for the lesbian classic, High Art. We also interview Cholodenko, who is openly gay, in the summer issue of Equality.

Check out excerpts of our interview with Moore here. Or become an HRC member and start getting your own free issue of Equality.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Krystal Summers: 'I'm from Laurel, Miss.'

Today I came across the website ImFromDriftwood.com, a site that is working to gather together the stories of individual LGBT people from all over the world.

The site operators say their purpose is to show LGBT teens (and other lonely, isolated LGBT people) that they really aren’t alone, that there are others like them out there in towns big and small, all across the globe.

One of the stories on the site is a video clip of Krystal Summers, the trans actress and entertainer from Dallas who stars in Israel Luna’s film “Ticked-Off Tr***ies With Knives,” talking about growing up in a Southern Baptist home in Laurel, Miss., as “a little girl trapped in a little boy’s body.”

It’s not all weepy and dramatic and emotional. Krystal just talks very plainly about what it’s like to be different. And her story really hits home.

—  admin