Taylor Dayne can’t stop the music

Taylor Dayne can’t stop the music

More than 20 years after she packed the gay bar dance floors with her debut hits, the songstress is still going strong, and says her performance at Black Tie is a ‘win-win’ for her and her fans

Dayne.TaylorRich Lopez  |  Staff Writer

lopez@dallasvoice.com

Helping out LGBT people is nothing new for singer Taylor Dayne.

She can’t quite recall when she knew she was a hit with the gay community: Over the course of her 23-year career in pop music, she’s played venues of all sizes, but she did notice early on how a certain fan base seemed to keep showing up.

“It’s kinda hard to remember, but I would perform very specific shows and then some gay clubs and it dawned on me,” she said.

With an explosive debut, thanks to her platinum selling 1988 debut Tell It To My Heart and the more sophisticated follow-up Can’t Fight Fate a year later, Dayne became a quick force to be reckoned with on the charts.

But her pop hits were just as big on the dance floor, and Dayne was resonating across the queer landscape.

“I’ve had wonderful relationship with gay and lesbian fans for years. I’m so glad to be doing Black Tie because I have a great core of fan base here,” she said. “It’ll be a good show with lots of fun and for a good cause. It’s a win-win.”

Dayne’s performed at gay bars and Pride events in Boston, Chicago and the Delaware Pride Festival. But appreciation of her work in the community was clearly evident in 2010 when she was asked to record “Facing a Miracle” as the anthem for the Gay Games.

“That was quite an honor and then they asked me to perform at the games,” she said. “It was very emotional for me. The roar of the crowd was great.”

Even after two decades, Dayne remains just as committed to music as she was in 1988. She’s embraces her sort of “elder” status in pop music and instead of seeing the likes of Nikki Minaj and Katy Perry as rivals, she enjoys what they are bringing to the landscape of music now.

“I love listening to all the new stuff going on. There is some great talent out there. It’s nice to know I was some inspiration to them, the way ladies like Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar were for me. The cycle goes on,” Dayne said.

But they still push her to keep in the game. She admitted, “I’m pretty competitive that way.”

This year, Dayne released the single, “Floor on Fire,” which made it to the Billboard Dance/Club Charts Top 10.

At 49, Dayne doesn’t show signs of slowing. Along with a rumored second greatest hits album, she recently wrapped up filming the indie movie Telling of the Shoes and she’s a single mother to 9-year-old twins. Juggling it all is a mix of emotions, but her confidence pushes her through.

“I can say I’m a great singer, so when it comes to decisions, I’m fine about recording and performing,” she said. “But I would say I work really hard at acting. It’s nerve-wracking but it’s also amazing. But I’m not a novice at any of this.”

With her children, she doesn’t make any pretenses about the difficulty of being both a musician and a mom — as long as she instills the proper principles in them.

“We don’t try to get wrapped up in small time crap,” she said. “At the end of day it’s about having a good heart and they have great heart.”

It’s likely she’ll show the same at Black Tie.

—  Rich Lopez

Solmonese fears 2012 setback

BTD-Solmonese

LAST NIGHT | Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese speaks at a previous Black Tie Dinner in Dallas. Solmonese will be leaving HRC next March, making this weekend’s event the last Black Tie Dinner he will attend as president of the national LGBT advocacy organization.

Outgoing HRC president says community must fight for Obama

JOHN WRIGHT | Senior Political Writer
wright@dallasvoice.com

Joe Solmonese admits he’s “very concerned” about President Barack Obama’s prospects for re-election.

But Solmonese says he’s equally concerned about how the LGBT community — and his successor at the Human Rights Campaign — would respond if Obama loses.

Solmonese will step down as president of HRC after seven years in March. On Saturday, Nov. 12, he’ll make his final appearance as the group’s president at the Black Tie Dinner, of which HRC is the national beneficiary.

In an interview last month with Dallas Voice, Solmonese focused largely on the importance of 2012 elections, saying that depending on their outcome, major advances during his tenure could be all but erased.

“I don’t think that he’s going to lose,” Solmonese said at one point, attempting to clarify his assessment of Obama’s chances. “I think that if everybody does what they need to do, I think there is just as good a chance that Barack Obama will be re-elected, but I’m as concerned that he could lose.”

Solmonese said Republicans already have a majority in the House, Democrats have only a slim majority in the Senate, and “everything about these [2012] elections points to us having real challenges.”

“I think that if everybody who has gained from the Obama administration does everything they need to do over the course of the next year, he’ll get re-elected,” Solmonese said. “But I would be lying if I said I’m not very concerned about the prospects of him getting re-elected.”

Solmonese said the message he wants to send to the LGBT community is that Obama has done more for us than any other president, and that the movement has seen more gains under the current administration than at any other time in its history.

“If we care about continuing with the forward motion that we’ve experienced, then we as a community need to do everything possible to re-elect Barack Obama,” Solmonese said. “And we can talk about and debate and press the administration on his ability to do more, and him coming out for marriage, or anything else that we want to talk about, but now is the time to sort of decouple that from all of the work we need to put into getting him re-elected. Because at the end of the day, it comes down to a choice, and the choice isn’t even hard for me: It’s Barack Obama or any of these other people who are running against him.”

Despite his concerns about Obama’s chances, Solmonese said he has no misgivings about leaving HRC seven months prior to Election Day. He said he made a commitment to give the organization six months notice, and his contract expires in March.

He said announcing his resignation at the end of August allowed HRC to begin the transition process, which will be completed when his successor takes over, midway through the Republican primary. Solmonese also said he’ll continue to be involved with the organization through next year, assisting with its efforts around the November election.

“I’m a lot more concerned about what happens the morning after the elections,” Solmonese said. “I’m a lot more concerned about this organization and its leader being in the best possible position to navigate those waters, and either we are contemplating a second term with Obama and a continuation of our agenda and perhaps a decidedly different Congress, or we’re contemplating President Mitt Romney and all of the implications that means for our community, and I want whoever is in this seat leading this organization contemplating where we go from there, to have had some time under their belt to figure that out.”

Asked whether that means he believes Romney will be the Republican nominee, Solmonese clarified that anyone claims to know definitively “doesn’t’ know what they’re talking about” — but he added that he thinks the former Massachusetts governor is the “odds-on favorite.”

And while Romney may appear less anti-gay than some other GOP presidential hopefuls, Solmonese called him “someone you have to be careful of” because “he’s essentially beholden to no issue.”

“He adopts a position that works best for the political predicament he finds himself in,” said Solmonese, a Massachusetts native who’s watched Romney’s political career closely. “So, while he was seemingly pro-gay as he attempted to unseat Ted Kennedy, and his rhetoric isn’t harsh and he doesn’t have the same sort of narrative that a Rick Santorum has, he’s effectively said that he doesn’t believe in the repeal of ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ and that he would support the federal marriage amendment. But what we don’t know, just like we didn’t really anticipate with [President] George [W.] Bush, is how beholden he is going to feel to the hard right once he becomes president.”

It was Bush, of course, whose administration was pushing a federal marriage amendment when Solmonese joined HRC in 2005. The marriage amendment, Solmonese said, represents the worst possible thing that could happen to the LGBT community, because it would enshrine discrimination into the Constitution. And although the threat of the amendment may seem like a distant memory to some, Solmonese warned that it could easily resurface. Which is why, he said, the 2012 elections are the biggest challenge HRC faces going forward.

“I think the elections loom largest because what the elections really represent to me is the potential for us to really stop, potentially derail and ultimately set back a lot of the progress that we’ve made,” Solmonese said. “What also concerns me then is that the community be braced for that, and we understand that we’ve been in these places before, and the measure of who we are and how we’ll be defined, is how we react in those moments, the degree to which we stay in the fight and make sure we continue to press forward regardless of the outcome of the election.”

Solmonese said he fears the progress of the last several years may lead to complacency. And he said based on his experience, when the LGBT community suffers setbacks, instead of regrouping and uniting, people have a tendency to lose their way and point fingers.

“If we lose, if the outcome is negative, if we go from the march toward marriage equality and the repeal of DOMA and the positive direction that we’ve been in, to a president and a Congress who decide they’re so troubled by all the success we’re having with marriage they want to take up the fight again to pass the federal marriage amendment — well, boy, we’ve come full circle from where we were back in 2005, the last time that happened,” he said. “And you can react to that in one of two ways. You can say this is the inevitable ebb and flow of social change, so pull up your boot straps and let’s get going and turn that around again — and understand that that sort of energy that the other side has around something like that is a reaction to their own fear of the progress we’ve made — or you can become very dispirited and depressed and disenfranchised and decide that it’s our own doing, it’s our own lack of progress, it’s our own failing. And that would be the worst possible thing that we could do.”

—  John Wright

Project to document Dallas LGBT history begins

Jack Evans, left, and George Harris

A donation of $1,000 was received to help kick off PROJECT: Dallas GLBT History, and about 20 people attended the first meeting last week.

The idea of documenting the history of the LGBT community in Dallas came from Jack Evans and George Harris earlier this year around the time they celebrated their 50th anniversary.

The focus will be on organizations and events as viewed through the experiences of individuals who were involved. The group hasn’t decided how the project will be distributed.

“It was an enthusiastic group,” said Evans. “The focus will be on the history of the community as told through the eyes of those who experienced it.”

At the next meeting the group will decide the form of the project, which will probably be some combination of video and written format. To start, they will choose about three organizations and three individuals to begin remembering and documenting.

Evans said he hopes the project will be housed at the Phil Johnson Library at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. But the video portions may also be available online.

He said that the people who attended were an incredible source of information about a variety of pieces of the Dallas LGBT community. He said Paul Williams will be invaluable in documenting the history of the Turtle Creek Chorale and several people who have been part of the Black Tie Dinner committee for years, including Mary Mallory and Robert Emery, are participating.

The next meeting will be Sept. 15 at ilume. Anyone interested in participating can contact Jack Evans and George Harris.

—  David Taffet

Black Tie names ‘Modern Family’ star as 2011 Media Award winner

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays gay father Mitchell Pritchett, got 2nd Emmy nomination this year

FROM STAFF REPORTS
editor@dallasvoice.com

Officials with the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that Emmy Award-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be the recipient of the 2011 Media Award at this year’s 30th annual dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

The Media Award is given to those who have promoted positive, increased awareness of LGBT issues in the media.

The 2010 Media Award was presented to newly out country music star Chely Wright.

Ferguson — who starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in 2005, where he originated the role Leaf Coneybear — stars as in the ABC comedy Modern Family as Mitchell Pritchett, who with his same-sex partner Cameron Tucker traveled to Vietnam to adopt their daughter.

Modern Family weaves together the interconnected stories of Mitch and Cameron’s family, Mitch’s sister, Claire Dunphy and her family, and their father, Jay Pritchett and his new wife and stepson, Gloria Delgado-Pritchett and Manny.

This is the second year in a row that Ferguson has been nominated for an Emmy as best supporting actor in a comedy for his role in Modern Family. He has also been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

Earlier this year, Ferguson, acting on behalf of the Modern Familyd cast, accepted the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comedy series when his show tied for the award with Glee.

Ferguson’s small-screen credits also include roles in The Class, Do Not Disturb and Ugly Betty. Among his film credits are roles in Untraceable, Griffin and Phoenix and Wonderful World.

Black Tie Co-Chair Nan Arnold, in a prepared statement announcing Ferguson as the Media Award winner, said the dinner is “thrilled” to present him with the award.

“As one of the few openly gay, working actors, he has established a wonderful and positive image on network television. The story of Mitchell and Cameron’s relationship is told with so much heart and love. Their storylines do not revolve around these characters being gay, but are instead about two new parents who are in a loving relationship and are trying to work their way through fatherhood together.”

Black Tie officials announced earlier this year that comedienne and Sordid Lives: The Series star Caroline Rhea will be master of ceremonies for the 2011 dinner, and that Chet Flake and his partner of 45 years, the late Bud Knight, will receive this year’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

Table Captain table sales are currently under way online at BlackTie.org/TableCaptains.

—  John Wright

‘Behind every good man, there’s a good man’

Bud Knight, left, and Chet Flake

BTD to honor gay Dallas couple Chet Flake and Bud Knight

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Chet Flake and Bud Knight are the 2012 Black Tie Dinner Kuchling Humanitarian Award recipients. For the first time, one of the awards will be given posthumously.

The award is presented annually by the Black Tie Dinner to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who have given their time and leadership talents on behalf of the LGBT community.

Knight died earlier this year after a battle with leukemia. He and Flake were together 45 years and were married in Vancouver on their 40th anniversary.

Nan Faith Arnold, co-chair of this year’s board of directors and Black Tie Dinner, called their award a slam-dunk.

“They gave years and years and years of service with no hint of ever wanting any recognition,” she said.

Flake and Knight have been Resource Center Dallas volunteers for about 20 years. Knight helped found Toast to Life, one of the center’s annual fundraising events. Flake mostly volunteered time at the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic where he did phone counseling.

Knight served on the board of Bryan’s House during the 1990s. He also initiated the Turtle Creek Chorale’s A-Z Auction.

Flake credited Knight with the couple’s work on behalf of the community.

“Behind every good man, there’s a good man,” he joked after talking about his husband’s many achievements but taking little credit for his own.

Flake served on the board of the Chorale for 13 years and was its chair for three years.

He was a lay chaplain for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas at St. Paul Hospital for 11 years. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic, he principally visited people at St. Paul and Parkland from out of town whose pastors were not available to visit.

He said that those visits ended with changes to the HIPPA law that prevented hospitals from releasing any information about its patients.

At their church, St. Thomas the Apostle, the couple headed a ministry for people who were HIV positive.

“People came who said, ‘I know I’m dying but my church won’t bury me,’” Flake said.

Their ministry expanded into a program to find churches to help care for those with HIV, which was the beginning of AIDS Interfaith Network.

The couple met in 1965 when Flake, who was from Los Angeles, was in Dallas working on a doctorate taking summer classes at SMU. Knight was a buyer for Neiman Marcus. They met through a mutual friend and played bridge together on their first date.

“Bud said he never played bridge so well,” Flake said.

He said it was a beautiful summer romance. But then, during a buying trip, Knight was offered a job at I. Magnin in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. He took the job in L.A.

Flake said Knight dressed many celebrities but his favorite story was about Bette Davis. She looked at Knight in the dressing room and said, “Do you smoke?” Knight said he did so Davis said, “Then sit down and smoke.”

In 1967, the couple traveled 16,000 miles across Canada and the U.S. for six months in a trailer.

When they got back to L.A., Knight was going to open a store on Melrose Place but the lease did not come through.

“Mr. Stanley [Marcus] heard about it and came out and insisted Bud come back,” Flake said. And Marcus made an appointment to help Flake get a job in Dallas as well. He became a consultant in math and science for the State Board of Education.

After two years, Knight was offered the position of president of Lester Melnick, a chain of women’s stores in Dallas, where he worked until he retired.

Flake later worked for Xerox, traveling around the world, training teachers to use the company’s products, including the Weekly Reader.

The Kuchling Award was founded as The Humanitarian Award at the second Black Tie Dinner in 1983. John Thomas, the first executive director of Resource Center Dallas, was the first recipient. The award was renamed for Ray Kuchling, a founder of the Black Tie Dinner, an early Dallas LGBT community activist and the third recipient.

Many of the recipients, including Carol West who was named last year, may have been better known throughout the community.

But when Knight and Flake were named, Arnold said, many members of the board were in tears.

Nominations are made by the board of directors, the advisory board and by the beneficiary organizations. The advisory board reviews the nominations and makes recommendations to the board of directors that votes.

Black Tie Dinner Co-chair Chris Kouvelis said that the vote for Flake and Knight was overwhelming.

Arnold said that selecting the Kuchling recipient is one of the most important things the board does during the year. She said that the chairs mostly preside over meetings but this is one of the few times they participate in the voting.

For his speech at the Black Tie Dinner on Nov. 12, Arnold and Kouvelis advised Flake that the best ones come straight form the heart.

“I’ll rely on Bud for my inspiration,” Flake said.

—  John Wright

Caroline Rhea tapped as Black Tie M.C.

Comedienne and actress Caroline Rhea will be master of ceremonies for the 2011 Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas, BTD officials announced this week. Organizers called the addition of Rhea “the latest in a fresh approach” for the dinner.

Caroline Rhea

Although Rhea started out as a stand-up comedian working in New York, she ended up moving to Hollywood to pursue an acting gig. Her small-screen debut came in the NBC series Pride and Joy, with Jeremy Piven, but her breakout role was as “Aunt Hilda” in WB’s Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. When Rosie O’Donnell left her syndicated talk show in 2002, she chose Rhea as her replacement, and the show was renamed, obviously enough, The Caroline Rhea Show. And she was the host of The Biggest Loser in its first three seasons.

Those of us who have kids and therefore watch The Disney Channel Cartoons (along with those of us who like watching Disney Channel cartoons just because they’re fun), may recognize Rhea also as the voice of Linda Flynn, the clueless mom on Phineas and Ferb.

But Rhea’s biggest “gay cred” came from her role as Noleta Nethercott in Del Shores’ Sordid Lives: The Series. (She stepped into the role when Delta Burke, who played Noleta in the Sordid Lives movies, wasn’t able to re-create the part on the small screen.)

BTD Co-Chair Nan Arnold, in a statement released today, praised Rhea’s “fresh, smart and spontaneous approach to comedy,” adding that Rhea’s “innate curiosity and formidable talents give her the natural abilities we’re looking for in a master of ceremonies.”

In other Black Tie Dinner news this week, online table captain table sales started today. For more information, go here. And BTD officials also said this week that they expect to announce the 2011 Kuchling Humanitarian Award winner very soon. So stay tuned.

—  admin

Black Tie online table sales start Wednesday

Online table captain table sales for the 2011 Black Tie Dinner begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The dinner, with a theme of “Shine!”, is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Sheraton Dallas hotel. Go here to get your table and find out more details.

The site allows table captains to organize their tables (each sits 10 people), communicate with table guests and plan payments. Table captain tables are available on a limited, first-come, first-serve basis, and table captains can choose their placement in the ballroom based on when their payments are completed.

Sponsor level tables — which come with premium placement in the ballroom and other benefits — are also available here.

—  admin

‘A roomful of silent witnesses’

NO LONGER SILENT | The Rev. Steve Sprinkle, assistant professor at Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, donated his stole to the Shower of Stoles project in 2001. He added the line of bells along the bottom so that he would never again be silent about his sexual orientation.

Collection of stoles from LGBT clergy on display at Northaven UMC, including stole from local minister Stephen Sprinkle

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The Shower of Stoles — a portion of which is now on display at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas — is a collection of liturgical stoles from LGBT religious leaders representing about 30 Jewish and Christian denominations from six countries on three continents.

Stoles are the religious garb worn by clergy around the neck, usually over a clerical robe. This collection, started by a lesbian minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) whose ordination was threatened when she came out, is designed to “connect with people emotionally,” creating an impact similar to that of the NAMES Project AIDS Memoral Quilt, said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Voelkel said the collection is an important artifact of the ongoing battle for ordination equality in mainstream churches.

In 1993, Voelkel explained, the Presbyterian Church called for a three-year period of open dialogue on human sexuality. The Rev. Martha Juillerat, a Presbyterian minister from rural Missouri, participated by traveling around her district participating in dozens of conferences and opening dialogues in churches throughout the area.

Despite the invitation to come out, there was no guarantee that Juillerat wouldn’t face repercussions.

And in fact, she did.

Voelkel said that when the Presbyterian Church threatened to revoke Juillerat’s ordination in 1995, she put word out for other LGBT clergy to send her their stoles and stories. Within a week she had 75.

When Presbytery officials gathered to discuss her case, “she lined the room with stoles,” Voelkel said.

Within a few weeks the collection had grown to more than 200.

After Juillerat retired, she donated the collection to the NGLTF’s Institute for Welcoming Resources, which now maintains it. The collection has grown to about 1,200 pieces.

Today, parts of the collection are exhibited in about 100 places each year. Voelkel said that some churches use the display as part of the welcoming process, but others bring in the collection before they are even ready to talk about it.

She called it “a roomful of silent witnesses.”

Those witnesses can have an impact. Just last week, 18 years later Juillerat’s fight, the Presbyterian Church voted to allow ordination of LGBT clergy.

A display of 50 stoles will be on exhibit at Northaven United Methodist Church through June 5, said the Rev. Eric Folkerth. The church is a welcoming congregation with a large LGBT membership. Northaven is also a beneficiary of the Black Tie Dinner.

Folkerth said his church has hosted the exhibit before: “It was very moving and an inspiring thing to see.”

While other churches use the collection to begin a dialogue, Folkerth said, “This is a reminder that we are so blessed.”

Folkerth said that in terms of creating change, it would be better for the stoles to be somewhere else. But, “It’s important to remind ourselves what’s going on in the rest of the church.”

Among the stoles in the collection is one from the Rev. Steven Sprinkle, an associate professor at Texas Christian University. In his accompanying story, Sprinkle said that he served several congregations as a single person. Congregants suspected he was gay and he was targeted with graffiti on his house and had his car ties slashed.

“In an attempt to drive me away, my pet Basset hound, Beau, and my English bulldog, Buck, were butchered and hung up in the back yard of my parsonage,” Sprinkle said. “There was a lot of fear in my life.”

But Sprinkle said he didn’t run. Instead he came out after a close friend told him, “If there are no secrets, Steve, there can be no ambushes.”

Shower of Stoles exhibit, Northaven United Methodist Church, 11211 Preston Road. Mon.–Fri., 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m. through June 5. 214-363-2479. Northaven.org.

—  John Wright

Chely Wright continues her gay offensive, signs on with Olivia Travel’s Caribbean Sun Cruise

In May, it was big news that country singer Chely Wright had come out of the closet as gay, with the release of a memoir and a new album. She followed up that announcement with word a few weeks ago that she would receive the media award at Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner in November.

But before she comes to Dallas, she’ll be hitting the high seas — and not the ones on the upper reaches of the treble scale.

Wright will be performing on Olivia Travel’s 20th anniversary Caribbean Sun Cruise, which weights anchor Oct. 30 through Nov. 6 … the latter date which is, by the way, the same day as the Black Tie Dinner.

That’s cutting it pretty close (though maybe she’ll helicopter out early). In any event, expect a newly bronzed singer at the often chilly gala.

For more info on the cruise, visit Olivia.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones