Arson spree in L.A. narrowly misses “Bite Marks” actor and SMU alum Benjamin Lutz

Lutz on the set of 'Bite Marks'

After director Mark Bessenger posted on Facebook that Benjamin Lutz was almost a victim of the recent arson attacks in Los Angeles, I contacted the former Plano resident and SMU alum to see just what happened. He responded with the good news that he’s OK, but described how it went down.

“Yes, my parking garage was one of the ones hit by the arsonist,” he said. “It was on New Year’s Eve and I was at my apartment getting ready for a dinner party.  I heard people yelling ‘fire,’ and sure enough the car next to mine was set on fire. I was lucky enough to move my car in time and the fire didn’t spread to my apartment. Sadly, three other cars and the side of the building didn’t make it. It was a weird holiday and I couldn’t get back in my apartment for a long while. I did not lose my car, but some of my friends mistook the info as my car being blown up.”

Lutz starred in the 2011 indie horror flick Bite Marks which we featured in our coverage of the Fears for Queers film festival and its recent DVD release. The perp was arrested on Monday and will appear in court today.

Scary stuff.

UPDATE: Soon after posting this, I learned that former Dallas Voice writer Alonso Duralde and his partner Dave White were directly affected by the arsonist as their two cars were firebombed at their West Hollywood complex. A fund has been set up to help cover repairs and replacement of their vehicles (one was not insured). To contribute, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

‘Hold Your Peace’ Dallas premiere tonight at Angelika

Free movie? Yes, please

When Southern Methodist University alum Wade McDonald set out to make his debut feature film, the one thing he didn’t want to do was make a “typical” gay film: No naked boys as the selling point, no ridiculous gay-angst drama, no coming-out story. McDonald loves romantic comedies and wanted to make his own — just with men.

His plan worked. The result, Hold Your Peace, seems to have resonated with audiences.

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: Angelika Film Center, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane. Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. Free (passes at Buli or Skivvies). HoldYourPeaceMovie.com.

—  Rich Lopez

In midst of gay teen suicide crisis, Houston’s Kinkaid School removes Safe Space stickers

Texas Monthly‘s March issue features an interesting piece (already available online to subscribers) about the ideological battle that’s gripped Houston’s prestigious Kinkaid School since a parent — who also happened to be one of the highest-paid bankers on Wall Street — wrote an e-mail that went viral in 2009 complaining that the school had become too liberal.

Texas Monthly‘s John Spong concludes that in the aftermath of the e-mail, conservatives appear to have won the day at George W. Bush’s alma mater: At least three openly gay Kinkaid staffers have resigned their posts, sexual orientation is excluded from a new diversity policy at the school, and GLSEN Safe Space stickers were removed from classrooms and offices:

With gay suicides and bullying in national headlines, that move struck many as beyond tone-deaf. For them, the school’s reasoning—that the stickers implied that one group was more protected than others—showed greater concern for some people’s political views than for the welfare of vulnerable students. The same objection was raised when the board clarified its edict on “student exposure to issues relating to sexual orientation.” Faculty had pointed out that kids trying to understand their sexual identity often reach out to them; a gay Kinkaid alum I talked to credited one such teacher with saving his life. Could that conversation now get a teacher fired? The board stressed that the proper place for these sorts of conversations was at home or in a counselor’s office, adding that teachers were not to initiate those discussions. As one current faculty member put it, “We’re allowed to have those conversations; we’re just not allowed to tell the kids we’re allowed to have those conversations. That’s the thing that’s confusing.”

—  John Wright