The beginning of the end of bigotry in Texas

Editor’s note: Below is an opinion piece written by Todd Whitley, a columnist who contributes regularly to the Texas Voices (formerly Viewpoints) section of the print edition of Dallas Voice. Whitley will also be a regular contributor to our new blog page, which will be called CommuniTEA and which will feature the voices of people of our LGBT community. Watch for CommuniTEA, coming to our website soon.

A vision of what could be, if we all turn out to vote next month

Todd Whitley, Contributing Columnist

I can still remember that moment as if it were just yesterday: I had watched the past two presidential elections with amazement. But never had an election seemed to affect me so personally — in my own state.

Todd WhitleyYou see, back then, although gays and lesbians were making great progress toward marriage equality in other states, in Texas the nation’s longest serving governor, the Republican-controlled state Legislature, both U.S. senators and most of the U.S. representatives were against us. We had no marriage equality and no job protection.

Heck, the establishment was against women and poor people, too.

I admit: I had felt helpless, as if my vote — my voice — didn’t matter. But still, I voted.

As the polls closed, we had only a glimmer of hope. But we had no idea that hope was about to be realized.

A small group of us were watching the election returns at JR.’s. First, the early vote numbers came in and how we rejoiced at the landslide! Then, county by county, we held our collective breath.

Most — but not all — of the rural counties went red, as expected. But the vote count was closer than anyone could have predicted.

But how would the four major urban areas turn out?

The wait was excruciating and the entire bar was on edge, waiting to see what Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Dallas would do.

Then, like a line of dominoes, they fell as something that had once seemed impossible happened. One county after another went blue — definitively so. People in overwhelming numbers — women, lesbians, gays, Latinos, African-Americans — had shown up at the polls and elected Wendy Davis as the first Democratic governor of Texas in 20 years, and only the third woman ever!

It is said, “As Texas goes, so goes the nation.” A state that had been so deeply red — the hateful, anti-gay, anti-women, anti-immigrant shade — began to change. And so did our country.

Our new governor set about to expand Medicaid so that the taxes we were sending to Washington came back home to take care of our most vulnerable citizens, including those with HIV/AIDS. She set a course for our Legislature that increased funding to our schools instead of slashing it. She fought the uphill battle to end discrimination of Texas gays and lesbians, both in matrimony and in the workplace. And she fought for the rights of young Texas “DREAMers” to receive higher education.

Eventually she increased the minimum wage and we experienced real job growth — not the kind that comes from more minimum wage jobs.

It was not easy at all. The stubborn, still-Republican-controlled Legislature fought her tooth and nail.

But by the next election, more Democrats and moderate Republicans had won seats in both houses, and the country began to take notice.

What our governor started could be continued for decades and could catch on in other formerly red states.

You see, no longer was Texas a safe haven for those who would try to oppress women, take away their access to safe healthcare or control their bodies. No longer would the state exclude lesbian, gay and transgender Texans from the benefits and protections heterosexuals enjoyed.

No longer did our students perform at the bottom of the nation but rather they excelled because of the investment we made in their educations. No longer was Texas a state that gave preference to white, heterosexual citizens and instead became known as the Everyone has a Chance State, where each one of us — white and Latino, straight and LGBT, wealthy and poor — had equal footing, was respected, and flourished.

We still had our guns. Churches still decided whether to perform same-gender marriages. But we moved ahead so far.  And the nation followed suit.

All because we showed up at that Nov. 4, 2014 election.

 *****

So.

This scenario is fiction, a vision of what could be.

This history has yet to be written. But it will be written, in just a few days.

And it could happen.

We are so close to seeing this vision become a reality. But only if you claim the power of your vote.

The future of Texas — and the nation — is up to you.

Todd Whitley is a local activist who can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping, or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at tdub68.wordpress.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Drawing Dallas • 11.25.11

As ‘Twilight’ returns, Skylar Brooks shows blood sucking can be a service

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Skylar Brooks, 24

Occupation: Testing coordinator, Resource Center Dallas, and shift manager, Starbucks

Spotted at: Exxon on the Run at Maple and Oak Lawn

A twinkle in her unbelievably pale blue eyes and an effervescent smile are the first things you notice about this fine Virgo. Born in Monroe, La., and raised in Euless and Bedford, the perpetually positive Skylar considers herself a clown and a jokester — smiles and laughter come to her quite freely. She came out at 16.

She loves the nightlife. Skylar loves to dance, and her freestyle moves on the floor have garnered her three “dance off” wins at Station 4. She also loves to sing, especially R&B (Brian McKnight is a favorite). She auditioned for American Idol last year, and while she didn’t get through, says she’s determined to try again. Her love of music and dance is hereditary: Her mother was on the drill team and danced ballet, and her father plays drums and the trumpet and loves to belt out a song.

In addition to indoor activities, she plays midfield and forward in a local soccer league, and basketball for fun. Skylar loves to travel, she has a special affinity for the Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Bahamas).

Enter love  “Three months in, I knew she was the one,” says Skylar of her fiancé, Shereen, whom she met through mutual friends 18 months ago; they have a wedding set in Vermont next June. Both of their families are excited for them.

Skylar’s goal is to become a surgical technician. Her motto: “I help people one blood draw at a time.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Red Houston: The city’s most socialist precincts

Amanda Ulman

Amanda Ulman

Houston has a reputation as a blue dot in a red state, but there’s more than one political movement associated with the color red. Perennial socialist candidate for mayor, Amanda Ulman, managed a respectable showing in last weeks municipal elections with 2% of the vote, a significant improvement from her .6% in 2009 but not quite as good as the 8% she pulled in 2007.

Ulman didn’t win a single precinct, but there were several where she pulled at least 5% of the vote. So if you’re looking for prime locations to foment a socialist revolution, check out these areas of red (or at least pink) Houston.


View Red Houston in a larger map

—  admin

LANDMARK EVENT

SUCCESS | Lisa Blue Baron, center, keynote speaker for the Landmark Dinner held Aug. 13 at the W Hotel is pictured with Lambda Legal Leadership Committee member Brian Bleeker and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. The event raised more than $120,000 for Lambda Legal. (Photo courtesy Debra Gloria)

—  John Wright

Driver’s Seat: Mark Trimble, Flutist

Name: Mark Trimble, 44.

Occupation: Musician (flute) and music educator.

How might we know you: My partner Ami Sadeh and I helped create the BearDance events.

Type of car: Blue 2008 Nissan Altima Coupe.

Best car memory? Driving my Nissan 350Z the first time with my partner around town with the top down!

Funniest road trip story: I don’t know if it’s funny or sad, but I had an audition in Tennessee and a drunk driver sliced off a big chunk of metal off the side of the trunk. It was my dad’s Oldsmobile Delta 88. I had to tie that chunk of metal back on the car as it flapped all the way back to Cincinnati where I lived.

Hmmm… we vote sad. OK, buy or lease? Lately I prefer leasing. I get the itch for something new or different about every three to four years. It doesn’t hurt that you can get a bit more car for less money per month!

You play the flute, but ever in the car? I think I’ve played it in my partner’s car while he’s been driving. It’s not at all practical for the driver and it doesn’t work well in the passenger seat either. There are better places to practice. Now I will practice finger patterns for music on the steering wheel from time to time though, and that’s a great way to practice without the instrument.

What do you jam out to? NPR or BPM on satellite radio. Sometimes it’s Beethoven or Lady Gaga.

Don’t you musclebear types drive Jeeps or big trucks usually? Am I really that now? Ha! Maybe I do need to get the requisite truck!  I’m not about all my image with my car, it’s more about the driving experience for me, and I like fun-to-drive cars usually as long as they are roomy enough for me.

Since it’s hot as hell out, how’s your A/C? It is fantastic! I’m lucky to have a garage to park in at home so that it’s not all heated up when I leave the house in the summer, but even when it’s been out in the sun, it cools down very quickly.

Sounds great. So, one last thing: flootist or flautist? Well, it can be both actually.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Pet of the Week: Church

Church

Church is a 1 ½-year-old blue domestic medium hair with a fun-loving personality. He is intelligent and obedient. Enjoys chasing rope and playing with toys. His fur is extremely soft and he likes to be brushed. When not playing, he likes to curl up and watch his surroundings or stretch out on his back for a nap. He enjoys having his chin, cheeks, ears, nose and belly rubbed. He is a very loving cat searching for his forever home.

Many other great dogs and cats are available for adoption from Operation Kindness, located at 3201 Earhart Drive, 1 street south of Keller Springs and 2 blocks west of Midway Road, in Carrollton. The no-kill shelter is open 6 days a week: Monday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Tuesday; Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The cost is $110 for cats, $135 for kittens, $150 dogs over 1 year, and $175 for puppies. The adoption cost includes the spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, vaccinations, heartworm test for dogs, leukemia and FIV test for cats, and more. Those who adopt two pets at the same time receive a $20 discount. For more information, call 972-418-PAWS, or visit Operationkindness.org

—  John Wright

Snap shots: ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ turns the camera on fashion’s most influential paparazzo

LENS ME A SHOE | The Times photographer documents foot fashion in ‘Bill Cunningham New York.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Maybe Project Runway’s to blame, maybe The Devil Wears Prada, but for the past few years there has been a surplus of documentaries about the fashion industry, with profiles of designers like Valentino (Valentino: The Last Emperor), Yves Saint-Laurent (several in fact), even young designers (Seamless) and Vogue magazine’s editor (The September Issue). (By contrast, I can only recall one fashion doc from the 1990s: Unzipped, about a young designer named Isaac Mizrahi.) Is there really that much to say about dressmaking?

Maybe not, but while Bill Cunningham New York fits broadly within the category of fashion documentaries, its subject is unusual because he eschews the trappings of haute couture even as he’s inextricably a part of it — a huge part, really.

If you don’t read the New York Times, you might not recognize Cunningham’s name, and even if you do read it, it may not have registered with you. For about, well, maybe 1,000 years, Cunningham has chronicled New York society with his candid photos of the glitterati on the Evening Hours page. At the same time, however, he has documented real fashion — how New Yorkers dress in their daily lives — with his page On the Street, where he teases out trends (from hats to men in skirts to hip-hoppers allowing their jeans to dangle around their knees). Anna Wintour may tell us what we should wear; Cunningham shows us what we do.

“We all get dressed for Bill,” Wintour observes.

What makes Cunningham such an interesting character is how impervious he seems to the responsibility he effortlessly wields. He loves fashion, yes, but he’s not a slave to it himself. He scurries around Manhattan (even in his 80s) on his bicycle (he’s had dozens; they are frequently stolen), sometimes in a nondescript tux but mostly in jeans, a ratty blue smock and duck shoes, looking more like a homeless shoeshiner than the arbiter of great fashion. He flits through the city like a pixie with his 35mm camera (film-loaded, not digital), a vacant, toothy smile peaking out behind the lens, snapping the denizens of Babylon whether they want it or not.

One of the funniest moments is when strangers shoo him away as some lunatic paparazzo, unaware how all the well-heeled doyens on the Upper East would trade a nut to have Cunningham photograph them for inclusion in the Times. Patrick McDonald, the weirdly superficial modern dandy (he competed as a wannabe designer on the flop reality series Launch My Line a few seasons back), seems to exist with the hope that Cunningham will shoot him. And shoot him he does.

Many artists are idiosyncratic, even eccentric, but Cunningham is supremely odd by any standards. He lives in a tiny studio near Carnegie Hall filled with filing cabinets cluttered with decades of film negatives on the same floor as a crazy old woman, a kind of urban variation on Grey Gardens. He knows tons of people but most of them seem to know very little about him. By the time near the end when the filmmaker, director Richard Press, finally comes out and ask him outright whether he’s gay, Cunningham arches in that prickly New England way, never really answering outright, though he says he’s never — never — had a romantic relationship. Things like that were simply not discussed by men of his generation.

In some ways, we never really know any more about Cunningham at the end than any of his friends do, and perhaps even him. Cunningham comes across as defiantly non-self-reflective. He lets his work do all the talking for him. And that work has a lot to say on its own.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Blue Hampshire: GOP House leader’s message on marriage was ‘SPIN’

I trust Blue Hampshire over a NH GOP leader any day. Yesterday, the GOP House Majority Leader appeared to indicate that repealing the state’s same-sex marriage law wasn’t on their agenda.

Anti-gay leaders are “undaunted” and seem pretty sure they’ll be getting their vote, according to the Boston Globe.

And, elwood at Blue Hampshire dissected what was — and wasn’t — said:

[Speaker Bill ]O’Brien and [Majority Leader D.J.]Bettancourt:
* Have NOT committed to “retaining” any social issues bills until 2012;
* Have NOT said that Committee chairs have been instructed to vote against these bills;
* Have NOT said the the leadership will provide cover to legislators against Tea Party wrath (you’ve noticed that tea party activists oppose gay marriage, right?) by publicly opposing these bills;
* Have NOT even said that votes on these bill will be entirely up to the conscience of the legislator, with no pressure from leadership.

There is nothing at all behind this announcement, except a desire to get the spotlights off themselves.

The homophobes want their vote. Seems like GOP leaders will eventually give it to them. In other words, the Majority Leader probably lied yesterday.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Movies: Blue Valentine, Rabbit Hole, Pixar Goes Postal and Andrew Tears Up

Bluevalentine_dance
  "You Always Hurt the Ones You Love" -Gosling serenades/warns Williams

NATHANIEL ROGERS

Guestblogger

…lives for the the tail end of each year. That's when Oscar buzz wags the film dog. He blogs daily at the Film Experience. Follow him on Twitter @nathanielr.


NOW PLAYING

You have your pick of Oscar hopefuls this holiday weekend. Black Swan (previously discussed), True Grit and The King's Speech have all recently gone wide. If you're on one of the coasts, you must check out Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in BLUE VALENTINE now in limited release. The drama has a fully earned reputation for being brutally depressing but there's so much electricity in their duet that it's not remotely a tough sit. The film juxtaposes Ryan and Michelle's initial courtship with their breakup, allowing you an insightful look at all the seeds that will grow into marital weeds. It's vaguely reminiscent of the great stage musical The Last Five Years albeit without all the singing. That said, former boyband hopeful Ryan Gosling does do a mean rendition of "You Always Hurt the Ones You Love" with a ukelele in hand.

Picture 36 A less depressing option is – surprise! – the grief drama RABBIT HOLE. It's based on the award-winning Broadway play with Nicole Kidman taking over Cynthia Nixon's role for the screen. Though it's a story of a couple who recently lost their only child, it's much more about healing than wallowing in grief. Out director John Cameron Mitchell, having already proven himself a thrilling filmmaker (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Shortbus), does an artistic about face and let's the actors shine while he works invisibly this time. Kidman gives her best performance since Birth, which, come to think of it, was also suffused with the mysteries of grief. She has a real gift for it, never playing just one note.

Both films will be expanding further in January. How widely they do so will probably depend on Oscar nominations.

BONUS SCENES

 road If Andrew Garfield gets Oscar nominated for his sympathetic turn as Eduardo Saverin in The Social Network, you know he'll be bombarded by Spider-Man questions on every red carpet. He'll be forced into giving a million superhumanly vague answers to protect blockbuster secrets. He's already quite an expert at being charming and articulate without actually saying anything, like in this new BBC interview.

MORE, AFTER THE JUMP

Andrew_bbc

In eight minutes we learn only that he loved Spider-Man as a 5 year-old and that Tobey Maguire gave his blessing for him to take over (though they've never met). He also didn't write an acceptance speech for the upcoming Golden Globes. But that's okay because he's not going to win (see the next bullet point).

Andrew is a little more effusive in this interview with Capital FM where he talks about wearing the Spider-Man suit.

"I shed a tear when I first wore the spandex. I didn't think that the spandex would make me so emotional, but it did."

 road Christian Bale will be hogging all the gold statues for his totally brilliant performance as a retired boxer/crack addict. Have you seen The Fighter yet?

Pixar_stamps  road This coming summer Pixar gets postage stamps celebrating their beloved characters from WALL•E, Cars, Ratatouille, Up and Toy Story. I thought you had to be more aged to receive your own stamps? Perhaps that only applies to flesh and blood characters and not pixellated ones.

 road Clint Eastwood has cast more stars for his upcoming J Edgar Hoover biopic including, probably, Charlize Theron and Dame Judi Dench. (I almost typed Dame Edna. What's wrong with me? One doesn't suspect Clint would go for Dame Edna even though Hoover was a rumored crossdresser.) There's no word yet on which role Dench would play but the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the famously closeted FBI director and Armie Hammer (The Social Network's Winklevoss twins) as his lover and star employee. It's now retitled J. Edgar.

 roadPicture 32 Here's an amusing bit about Oscar hopeful The King's Speech: Is it really just another Karate Kid remake?

  road Do you ever listen to soundtracks? The Academy has already declared a few major Oscar hopefuls like True Grit and Black Swan ineligible for their Original Score honor and now we know that Toy Story 3 won't be nominated either. The full list of 77 eligible scores is a thinner field than usual which might prepare the way for Oscar to get a little more experimental in what they choose; Could rock god Trent Reznor actually become an Oscar nominee for his thumping Social Network score? Or Perhaps it'll just clear the way for an Alexandre Desplat win? He's a likely nominee for The King's Speech (though his work on The Ghost Writer is even better) so if he can get around Hans Zimmer's big Edith Piaf flavored Inception score, he may be golden. Desplat is the movie's busiest composer now but I recently had a chat with him and he even let me know how he picks which scores go on his Oscar ballot.

 


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Sabrina Schlichting Wants Her High School Adorned In Blue To Fight Bullying

Speaking of awesome kids like Michigan's Graeme Taylor, let's meet Sabrina Schlichting. She's a fellow 14-year-old from Minnesota, and rather than let anti-gay bullying at Lincoln High School go unnoticed by administrators, she's organizing "Blue Days" where she and classmates wear blue (not purple?) tees in support of bullied kids. The 4-foot-11 freshman had her first one on Wednesday. This girl rocks.

CONTINUED »


Permalink | 13 comments | Add to del.icio.us


Tagged: , , , ,

Queerty

—  admin