“Would You Like Guys With That?” tonight at UTD

Youth in revolt

In his theater piece, Would You Like Guys With That, John Michael Colgin’s main character (himself, really) is a snobby kid, the product of private-schooling and a sense of entitlement; he becomes even more judgmental when he attends college in Stillwater, Okla. But then he goes to work at McDonald’s as a kind of social experiment, he begins to see the world anew: Just because he hates small-talk with his co-workers, he discovers that listening to different music doesn’t mean you’re not a human being. His show explores not only his coming out experience but the awkward time before and the self-realization after.

Read our interview with Colgin here.

DEETS: Davidson Auditorium — JSOM 1.118, 800 W. Campbell Road on the UTD Campus, Richardson. Jan 30. 5:30pm. Free. UTDallas.edu/womenscenter

—  Rich Lopez

KALI at The Orange Show explores love, destruction

A depressed bride becomes her own ideal husband; the sun god is seduced by a warrior sent by his lover, the king; the world’s longest love poem is collectively composed on a dress; these, and other performance await at KALI at The Orange Show (2402 Munger Street), February 11 from 6-9 pm. The collection of performance pieces is named after Kali, the Hindu goddess of change and distruction and, in honor the upcoming Valentine’s day relationship gauntlet, explores ideas of relationships.

The venue for this project is Houston’s own outsider art masterpiece, The Orange Show. Built by postman Jeff McKissack over 24 years starting in 1956, The Orange Show covers a south-east Houston lot with found objects celebrating McKissack’s favorite fruit and his belief that hard work and good nutrition are the secrets to long life. The pieces in KALI are built to integrate with the surreal environment of The Orange Show and “take participants on a performance art adventure that will leave them with a new depth of appreciation for the dark side of love.”

According to Continuum Art Collective which is producing the event:

In “Unveiled,” a performance exploring self-acceptance and gender through self-love, Koomah embodies a depressed bride who repeatedly hurts herself in creative ways, culminating in a dramatic transition into a happy groom through an injection of testosterone.

In Joy Moore’s “All’s Fair”, a carnival-influenced game, couples (or friends) are given the opportunity to be rewarded by either protecting the one that they adore, or getting revenge for pain caused by the partner. Will the night end in disharmony or deeper love?

Julia Wallace follows the the arc of a love affair in a a self guided adventure for couples (pre-existing or two people who have just met at the event). The adventure consists of a variety of activities and actions that will have the couple exploring the venue and exploring each other. The result will be an experience like no other and a relationship that is forever changed.

Daniel-Kayne and John Pitale’s band “Cosmic Waves” present ‘The Seduction of Mithras,’ a performance that takes us through a journey of sounds representing a story of seduction, jealousy and love. Mithras the Persian Sun God is seduced by a beautiful warrior who is in the service of the King of Persia, his lover. This sound piece employs gongs, chimes, drums and audience participation.

In “The Wrath of Kali,” Continuum’s members deconstruct marriage, family life, and identity, by playing wedding videos overlayed with a soundscape made with found objects and pre-recorded tracks. Performers will then circulate through the audience, doing interactive performances, as they go. Finally, performers will score and chastise Raindawg, and then welcome him into a new identity.

Tina McPherson discusses and spreads love by attempting to compose the Longest Love Poem, inviting the audience to write romantic expressions on canvas from her lovely dress.

In “A Realistic Pledge,” Sway Youngston reinvents romantic commitments and provides couples a realistic alternative to marriage.

Y.E. Torres strips off clothing to share with us a narration of her tattoos that signify past and current loves.

In “Viscosity,” a durational performance addressing the complexity of relationship drama, Jonatan Lopez attempts to untangle piles of electrical cords with the aid of several lubricating fluids.

And as icing on the cake, Stephanie Saint Sanchez aka DJ ESTEFF will provide a heartbreaking soundtrack for the dance floor and showcase her new Valentine Musik Video: Everybody Loves Me Baby.

Tickets are $7 at the door. KALI at the Orange Show is for mature audiences only.

—  admin

Incumbants fair poorly in runoff election

We now have results from all precincts:

District A
Helena Brown: 55%
Brenda Stardig: 45%

District B
Alvin Byrd: 49%
Jerry Davis: 51%

Place 2:
Kristi Thibaut 49.9%
Andrew Burks 50.2%

Place 5
Jack Christie  54%
Jo Jones  46%

Both incumbents, Jones and Stardig, seem to have lost their bid for re-election, Thibaut misses a council seat by only 212 votes and Davis becomes the only candidate endorsed by the Houston GLBT Political Caucus to win in the runoff.

—  admin

MEXICO CITY: Woman Becomes Surrogate Birth Mother To Gay Son’s Baby

After an in vitro fertilization procedure, a 50 year-old woman in Mexico City has become the surrogate mother to her 31 year-old gay son’s baby using a donated egg and her son’s sperm.

The baby, called Dario, was born by caesarean section on November 1 and the mother and child were sent home after a 48-hour period of observation. Doctors said there were no complications. ‘I don’t feel like a mother nor like a grandmother,’ the woman told Reforma, a Mexico City newspaper. ‘When they say “mother” to me I feel strange, and when they say “grandmother” also,’ she said. ‘I mean, he was my first grandson, and I don’t feel that way because at the same time he is my fourth son.’ The family has fully documented the circumstances of the birth so that the child will one day be able to learn of his origins.

The birth has already gotten widespread coverage on anti-gay and Christianist blogs, where it is being ridiculed as yet another example of “bizarre gay parenting.” NOM tweeted the story this morning and the Freepers are having a field day.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

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