Weekly Best Bets

Friday 04.22

Life is a … oh, you know it
This doesn’t look like your usual Liza version. The Dallas Theater Center stages the Kander and Ebb musical Cabaret, and by the looks of their ad campaign, it’s going to be sizzling. Sure Sally Bowles is the central character, but weren’t you always intrigued by the mysterious master of ceremonies? We’re even more so now.

DEETS: Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. Through May 22. $10–$80. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

 

Friday 04.22

La vida out and proud
Not only did Ricky Martin come out in one of the most eloquent ways ever, he took to using his celebrity in advocating for LGBT rights. That only made him sexier than he already is. As if he needed to add to his hotness, he’s been baring a whole lot more skin lately — and we likey.

DEETS: Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place., Grand Prairie  8 p.m. $40–$126.
Ticketmaster.com.

 

Saturday 04.23

Street art a different way
Before celebrating Easter in the Park, check-in to the Cedar Springs Art Festival. Local art, food booths and snowcones make this a must. Plus, it’s probably the only art fest with dance music.

DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street. 10 a.m. Free. ShopCedarSprings.com.

—  John Wright

ANNIVERSARIES: Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, George Amerson and Mike Grossman

ARMSTRONG-YOUNG  | Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong celebrated their 40th anniversary Monday, April 18. The couple met on the campus of the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1971 through the Gay Liberation Front organization there. They had a civil union in Vermont in 2000 and were legally married in California in August 2008.

 

GROSSMAN-AMERSON  | George Amerson and Mike Grossman marked their 40th anniversary Wednesday, April 20, after celebrating the event with a gathering of family and friends the previous weekend. Grossman is a Minneapolis native who had lived in Dallas a year when he met Amerson, a native of west Texas who had already lived in Dallas several years when they met. The couple say they are most proud of their children, Laura and Devon Cloud and Barney and Stephanie Grossman, and their grandchildren, Miles and Rachel. The two work in residential real estate, Grossman for 50 years and Amerson for more than 35 years.

—  John Wright

New CPAC Leader Already Turning Back On GOProud

Cpaclogo The gay conservatives of GOProud shouldn't get too comfortable at CPAC, because the newly selected chair of the American Conservative Union, which organizes the right wing gathering, has already started distancing himself from the group.

Al Cardenas, who replaced David Keene as Chair of the ACU this week, sat down for an interview with FrumForum today and lamented GOProud's public quarrels with anti-gay conservative groups, such as Family Research Council and the Heritage Foundation.

 

I have been disappointed with their website and their quotes in the media, taunting organizations that are respected in our movement and part of our movement, and that’s not acceptable. And that puts them in a difficult light in terms of how I view things.

 Cardenas went on to say that it would be "difficult" for his organization to keep working with GOProud "because of their behavior and attitude."

Cardenas' comments were in direct response to an interview Christopher Barron, the Chairman of GOProud's board, and Jimmy LaSalvia, the group's executive director, did with LGBT publication Metro Weekly, in which Barron blamed ACU Foundation chairman Cleta Mitchell for divisive arguments among the conservative camp.

Read more about GOProud's tenuous relationship with CPAC, AFTER THE JUMP

"I think there's a couple people in Heritage who, at the behest of Cleta Mitchell – who is just a nasty bigot … she got some of the people at Heritage early on fired up about this," Barron said in the interview, which was published this week.

Barron has since apologized, telling FrumForum, "For the past six months, we have watched as unfair and untrue attacks have been leveled against our organization, our allies, our friends and sometimes even their families."

He continued, "Everyone has their breaking point and clearly in my interview with Metro Weekly I had reached mine. I shouldn’t have used the language that I did to describe Cleta Mitchell and for that I apologize."

An apology may not be good enough to sooth over tensions, though, because Cardenas doesn't seem that into the idea of gay inclusion, anyway.

"[Keene] invited these folks in an effort to be inclusive," Cardenas explained."Having friends of ours leaving… presents difficulties to me. There’s always going to be some tension, [but] there should never be any tension between time-tested values.”

Cardenas also insisted true blue conservatives can't support marriage equality: "Not a Ronald Reagan conservative… I will say this: we adopted a resolution unanimously at ACU advocating traditional marriage between a man and a woman, so that answers how we feel on the issue."

If Cardenas has already come out against GOProud, their future relationship with CPAC looks pretty grim.


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Haters Already Crying About Prop 8 Panel

The judges for next week’s hearing on the overturn of Proposition 8 have been selected and the wingnuts are already screaming about judicial activists!!11one!

Via National Review:

The Ninth Circuit has just announced that the panel hearing the appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker’s anti-Prop 8 ruling will consist of Stephen Reinhardt, Michael D. Hawkins, and N. Randy Smith. As regular Bench Memos readers know, Reinhardt (appointed by President Carter in 1980) may well be the most aggressive liberal judicial activist in the nation—and the most reversed judge in history. Hawkins, a 1994 Clinton appointee, is also regularly on the Left on the Ninth Circuit. Smith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007, is much more of a judicial conservative.

The hearing is set for next Monday and as of today its telecast is still planned.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Elton John Already Knows You’re Adopting Lady Gaga’s New Single As Your Gay Anthem

Elton John is so convinced Lady Gaga's third studio album Born This Way is gonna rock your glittery disco ball world, it's given him reason to dismiss Gloria Gaynor: "Her record—it’s fucking amazing. ‘Born This Way,’ which is the title song, will completely get rid of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Will Survive.’ This is the new ‘I Will Survive.’ That was the gay anthem. This is the new gay anthem. Actually, it’s not a gay anthem—it can apply to anybody." Preemptively declaring a song the new gay anthem? Isn't that what Katy Perry tried to do with "Peacock"? How about we let the shirtless club kids pick their own playlist and go from there, okay Elton?

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

David Cicilline: Capital D.C. already on his monogram — next his address line?

From the Victory Fund’s Gay Politics:

Cicilline Election NightProvidence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline has won the all-important Democratic primary in the race to represent Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District, a key victory in an overwhelmingly Democratic state.



If he wins the general election in November, Cicilline will become just the third openly gay, non-incumbent candidate to win a congressional seat, and only the seventh openly gay person to serve in the U.S. Congress.


BREAKING: Cicilline wins Democratic primary for Congress [Gay Politics]

(Pic., L to R: Eric Hyers, campaign mgr.; DavidCicilline; Victory Fund’s Chuck Wolfe)

Cicilline will now face Republican state Rep. John Loughlin in the general. A man who recently said this:

A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, [Loughlin] said, he sees no reason to repeal the military’s “don’t ask-don’t tell” policy for gay servicemen because “service in the military is about defending our country … it is not necessarily about open sexuality of any kind.”

GOP Loughlin launches bid to unseat Kennedy [Pro Jo]

So basically, candidate Loughlin will now fight a metaphorical battle with a man who he doesn’t even think deserves the basic right to fight literal battles free from the fear that the merest of identity acknowledgements will derail his life and career. We’ll leave it at that for now.




Good As You

—  John Wright

Already Working With Bigot Ann Coulter, GOProud Adds Islamophobe Michael Lucas

How does GOProud improve on the free publicity it's getting by signing Ann Coulter to headline Sept. 25's Homocon event in New York City? By adding everybody's favorite Islamophobe Michael Lucas as a sponsor.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  John Wright

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright

More info on Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas

If you’re interested in helping out with Saturday’s Prop 8 protest in Dallas but couldn’t make last night’s organizational meeting, there’s plenty of contact info and volunteer opportunities after the jump.

—  John Wright