Victory in HCC trans discrimination case (sort of)

As previously reported by our friends over at the Dallas Voice, in September a Houston Community College teacher, Donny Leveston, led an in-class conversation about “Taboo: Incest and Homoeroticism” in which transgender people were referred to as “freaks” and “weirdos.” In an official response from the HCC Office of Institutional Equality the school admitted that the instructor acted insensitively and failed to show proper concern for a transgender student in the class who later withdrew from the school over the incident. Despite this, HCC found that Leveston did not violate the school’s policy against Discrimination and Harassment and will not be disciplined or required to attend training on transgender issues.

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‘Tempest:’ You, us

Kevin Moriarty is a director who embraces the full spectacle of Shakespeare, and while you can disagree with his decisions sometimes, you have to respect his commitment. He likes elements we might consider by-products of the Elizabethan Age, its Hey-Nonny-Nonnyisms: Interludes of courtly ballets and minstrel-strummed songs, arresting, fourth-wall-violating asides to the audience, expository speechifying — everything Chekhov and Ibsen and a host of others steered away from.

But he’s also a director who appreciates contemporary stagecraft: Reconfiguring the structure of plays, emphasizing the astonishing pageantry of an evening at the theater — sometimes taking us out of the play, but often with grandeur. The balance isn’t always an easy one, but it can take your breath away.

There are several such gasp-inducing moments in his staging of The Tempest, starting with the opening scene, set on an airplane instead of a boat. As the wizard Prospero (Chamblee Ferguson, pictured left), like Desmond from Lost, rips the jet from the sky, the stage instantly transforms into a barren wasteland, as stark and beautiful as any set the Dallas Theater Center has ever produced. There are trap doors and bits of magic and flying fairies. It will make you say, “Wow.”

But there are also the many edits. Yes, some of the talkiness is removed, but also some of the scope. And keeping it without an intermission leaves one’s butt castigated by those Wyly seats for nearly two hours.

This Tempest feels more like a series of vignettes than a single story: The comic relief, the sappy romance, the political intrigue, the long-stewing recriminations, bracketed by Ferguson’s Ahab-like Prospero. At first, he’s a vengeful terrorist and hypocritical zookeeper, enslaving his island’s native fauna, the ethereal Ariel (lithe, white-eyed Hunter Ryan Herdicka, pictured right) and its Orc-ish Caliban (Joe Nemmers, delivering us Quasimodo of the mud with poignancy and humor). Then Prospero changes gears, softening and showing mercy, moved by his daughter Miranda’s love for his enemy’s son.

The Tempest is problematic Shakespeare, neither comedy nor history nor classically tragic, but a romance with obscure motivations (how quickly Prospero’s mind is changed by Miranda’s capricious libido, when her suffering for two decades went unnoticed) made more obscure in this version — Prospero seems more like ringmaster than protagonist. Ah, well: The Bard was a better poet than playwright, so let’s give credit to Moriarty for taking this Tempest out of the teapot.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Wyly Theatre, 2401 Flora St. Through Oct. 9. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

……………………….

Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

………………………….

Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Drawing Dallas

Even with a big family (3 kids and 5 grandkids), retired schoolteacher Richard John du Pont projects a dandy’s fashion sense

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name: Richard John du Pont

Occupation: Retired elementary school teacher

Spotted at: Kroger’s on the Strip

Colorful and vibrant, Richard was born and reared in upstate New York in a small town on the Mohawk River called Crescent. Retired since 2003, this tireless educator spent 30 years teaching 4th and 6th grades, and continues as a substitute teacher for the Dallas I.S.D (Sam Houston Elementary and Maple Lawn Elementary). He graduated with a bachelor’s in elementary education from the Central University of Iowa and a has masters in education from North Texas State University at Denton.

A man of taste: This silver-haired taste maker owns an exquisite collection of antiques, tastefully chosen to accent his beautiful home. He also lends his skill and expertise as a salesman to two estate sales and as a sales rep for Metrotex at the four large annual shows at the Dallas Trade Center.

Daddy dearest: This proud patriarch of two sons, one daughter and five grandsons sees family as the root of his life. His close-knit clan lives in the area so he is able to spend a lot of time with his children and grandchildren.

His hobbies include volunteer work for DIFFA, Legacy Counseling Center and Fresh, as well as traveling, reading, working out at Gold’s Gym Uptown, dancing and shopping. He collects vintage clothing and jewelry (more than 100 suits at least — he attends the Cathedral of Hope every Sunday in one of them with an antique brooch), and Converse and Vans shoes.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

DEATHS: James ‘Kissey’ Olson, James Edward ‘Beaux’ Geer, Ray ‘Alpha Pup’ Witt

James “Kissey” Olson, 62, died at his home in Dallas on March 30 after recently being diagnosed with liver cancer.

Olson was native of Iron River, Mich. After graduating from high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force for six years. He went to work for AT&T, living in Phoeniz, Little Rock and finally Dallas, where he retired.

He had lived in the Dallas area for more than 24 years.

His home here was party central and was always open to his many friends who will miss his and his hospitality.

Olson is survived by his mother, Minnie, and sisters, Ruth and Doris, of Iron River; his brother, Ron, of Milwaukee; his ex-wife, Jo, of Yuma, Az.; his two children, Scott and Amy of Phoenix, and six grandchildren; and his beloved Chihuahua, Moose.

Olson was cremated and his ashes were buried at Iron River. A celebration of his life will be held on the patio at The Hidden Door, 5025 Bowser St., on Saturday, April 30, at 2 p.m.

 

James Edward “Beaux” Geer, 46, died April 13.

Geer worked as a hairdresser with Salon D for 23 years. He was also an artist who founded “Healing Texas through the Arts” to showcase new artists and make their works available to the public.

Geer was truly loved by friends and family, and he had an innocent sweetness of spirit and extraordinary talent that turned everything he touched into a thing of beauty. His paintings provided a view into his soul. He will be profoundly missed by those who knew him and will keep him forever in their hearts.

Geer is survived by his mother and stepfather, Bill and Millie Ritter of Plano; his father, Thomas Geer, Lafayette, La.; his brother Greg “Blackie” Geer, wife Kayce, daughter Typhane and grandson Thor, all of Austin; his best friend and brother-of-the heart, Dale Hall; and a host of other family and friends. Plans are pending for a celebration of life memorial gathering.

 

Ray “Alpha Pup” Witt, 59, died March 30 from an apparent stroke. Witt, loving boy and partner to Daddy Ron Hertz of Dallas and a member of the Dallas leather community, was a former member of Discipline Corps and NLA-Dallas. He held the first International Puppy title presented in 2001, thus becoming the “Alpha Pup.” His gift for storytelling and his warm heart endeared him to many in the community and his presence will be missed.Witt is survived by his partner of 9 ½ years, Ron Hertz of Dallas; his mother, Duluth Witt of Lexington, Ky.; and his canine friend “Mugsy.” A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.

 

—  John Wright

Jonathan Ross: My Daughter is a Lesbian

JonathanRossx180 (Screengrab) | Advocate.comBritish TV presenter Jonathan Ross, who was accused of making an antigay comment in 2009, told a gay radio program that his daughter is a lesbian.
Advocate.com: Daily News

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UK Host Jonathan Ross: ‘My Daughter is Gay’

Former BBC host Jonathan Ross revealed his daughter Betty Kitten is a lesbian, in an interview with the UK's Gaydar Radio.

Said RossRoss

"My eldest daughter is gay, so that's a question which I've dealt with on a regular basis already, which is, providing it's a nice woman, I'm thrilled. I've got no problems at all, obviously. I think that's pretty much out there – she talks about it on her Twitter feed. As any dad, really, I love my kids regardless of who they are, what they do, and I would love them if they were in trouble, I would love them if they were going through difficulties. Certainly, their sexuality is a, really none of my business and b; certainly none of my concern. I just want them to be good, happy, stable people and so far, all three of them seem to be that."


Towleroad News #gay

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Christmas Shopping At Wal-Mart Means Browsing ‘Faggoty Vampire Books’ With Your Daughter

Shawn, the mostly anonymous father behind the website GodGunsGutsGlory.com (which has a whole section devoted to "expos[ing] the LIES of the Filthy Homosexual Agenda), went Christmas shopping with his daughter at Wal-Mart. They visited the books section. And while we already knew the store stocked anti-gay parenting guides, little did we know it also has a whole shelf devoted to gay vampires. Somebody call the quality assurance department.


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Unable To Hire Cabinet Due to Pay Limits, ME Gov-Elect LePage Hires Daughter. REALLY.

Chalk up another to the “You Can’t Make This Shite Up” Files. Oh, we’re having LOTS of fun up here in Maine- not just blizzards, but a series of snowjobs!

During the election season, we up here in Maine heard a LOT about how much taxpayer dollars were being wasted on state employees. How we needed a CHANGE; a fresh approach!

Then immediately after winning with a resounding mandate of 38.1% of the vote, Paul LePage declared that he was going to hire the best and the brightest, as well as swore there would be transparency in everything he did.

Did anyone ELSE think this was a load of buffalo gigolo bullshite?

Well, we were RIGHT.

The “snow” first started to fly a few weeks ago when the Gubinator decided to hire Teabagger Extraordinaire Maine Refounder/ Paint Maine Red leader Pete “The Carpenter” Harring as part of his transition team. Ole “Pete the Red” is infamous for this quote:


“Liberals are like slinkys and that’s because they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.”

Yeah. That really helps set a bi-partisan and professional gubernatorial tone, eh?

Then earlier this month, LePage made headlines, crying over how he wasn’t able to hire “the best and brightest” after all- because of the mean ole State of Maine rules that limit pay to Cabinet members! WAAAAAH!



AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov.-elect Paul LePage says he hopes to have his Cabinet named by the end of the year, but in an interview he acknowledged that state laws limiting how much he can pay those department heads have cost him some of his first choices.
“You try to get as much money as you possibly can for them, and if that is not enough, you have to go to No. 2, 3 and down the list,” he said. “I will emphatically say it is adversely affecting our ability to get the best people,” LePage said.

LePage said it is not only the private sector that is paying more than Maine state government, it is other state governments as well as he has searched nationwide to fill Cabinet positions.

“Not everyone can afford to take a 70 percent cut in pay to serve their state,” LePage said. He said he is taking a 70 percent cut from his salary as CEO at Marden’s. The governor’s salary is set in state law at ,000.

But… but… we pay our state employees TOO MUCH, Paulie!

So, finding himself with absolutely no one else who could possibly be better qualified to work in the Statehouse, Paul LePage decided to hire someone with no political background- or work background, for that matter. His 22 year old daughter Lauren.



Dear Ole Dad Demonstrates for Lauren and media his best air guitar rendition of “Money Changes Everything”.


AUGUSTA, Maine – Gov.-elect Paul LePage has appointed his daughter, Lauren, to a staff position within the upper echelon of his administration, members of the LePage transition team said Wednesday.

Lauren LePage, 22, will serve as assistant to the governor’s chief of staff, John McGough – a position that administration officials describe as entry-level and is commensurate with her experience, work history and education.

LePage, a recent college graduate, will be a salaried political appointee earning approximately ,000 a year, according to Dan Demeritt, incoming director of communications in the LePage administration.

Maine governors have wide discretion in creating staff positions within their offices, filling those positions and setting salaries. Because such appointments are political positions – known as “special assistants to the governor” – there are no rules barring Maine’s chief executive from hiring family members.

In a communication with the LePage team, Joyce Oreskovitch, acting director of human resources for the state, affirmed that Maine’s rules on prohibiting nepotism do not apply in such staffing decisions.

On Wednesday, Lauren LePage said that although she did not study politics in college, she enjoyed her work on the gubernatorial campaign and saw this as a unique opportunity.

Much more below the fold.
Demeritt penned the following “Maine Opinion” published in spoiler Eliot Cutler’s bff Richard Connor’s rag, the previously revered Portland Press Herald. Some snips:



Maine Voices: Lauren LePage perfect choice to serve in a LePage administration

The governor-elect is wise to fill a key assistant position with someone he knows he can trust.

AUGUSTA – Just before Christmas, Gov.-elect Paul LePage announced his decision to add his daughter Lauren to his staff. Many have been fixated on what Lauren LePage gets by joining the incoming governor’s staff. Please take just a second and think about why this is a smart and honest move for Paul LePage.

Paul LePage is about to become the chief executive officer of the state of Maine. He is promising to bring dramatic change to the way Maine works, and the political establishment in Augusta is beating the war drum.

The state employees union is telling its members they are in for the fight of their lives, and word on the street is that the Maine People’s Alliance is already circulating a petition to remove Paul LePage from office.

Going into what is certain to be an intense battle for Maine’s future, Paul LePage is seeking the counsel and assistance of people who are loyal to him and his agenda. Who better to watch out for his interests than his daughter in a key assistant position?… Lauren has been training for key elements of this job since birth.

My former Colby College professor, Sandy Maisel, said the hiring decision nearly took his breath away.

Find a chair, professor, because Paul LePage is going to make decisions that he thinks are right for Maine without giving a second thought to the political considerations.

Anyone else think the Maine forest is gonna be decimated with the flood of FOIA filings??

And for the record, the LePage paranoia regarding a recall is unwarranted. But I gotta admit, the idea is an interesting one!

Here was the Maine Democratic Party’s press release reaction:




LePage Friends and Family Plan

Promise to hire ‘best and brightest’ only applies to family and friends

AUGUSTA- Yesterday, members of Governor-elect Paul LePage’s staff confirmed that LePage had hired his daughter, Lauren LePage, to a high-paid position within the upper levels of his administration.

Ms. LePage, 22, is a recent college graduate with a few months of political experience on her father’s campaign and will be earning approximately ,000 per year. This figure is well above the current average for entry level jobs. According to the current administration, the average entry level salary is ,000.


“While I’m sure Ms. LePage is a bright young woman, this brazen display of political nepotism is disturbing,” said Mary Erin Casale, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party.

“Gov.-elect LePage made a promise to hire the ‘best and the brightest’, but it would seem that only his friends and family need apply. Who else was considered for this position? How was it advertised? Why is an entry level position being paid ,000 per year? These are questions that Mainers deserve answered.”

LePage campaigned on fiscal responsibility and complained about a ‘bloated’ government, yet just last week stated it was difficult to attract qualified candidates for commissioner positions due to low salaries. LePage also chose two close friends for commissioner positions – John Morris for Commissioner of Public Safety and Bill Beardsley to head the Department of Conservation.


“LePage hasn’t even been sworn in and he’s already going back on his campaign promises of attracting the best and the brightest. His staff and cabinets choices are his decision, but this ‘friends and family plan’ just displays the worst kind of business as usual,” said Casale.

From DownEast, the following reactions from Ben Grant of the Maine College Democrats:



Giving your daughter a job running the cash register at Marden’s is fine when you answer to no one except yourself, but the people of Maine expect more out of their state employees, and much better judgment from their Governor,” said MCD President Ben Goodman.

Other Mainers are furious as well as this disgusting act of placing family over an entire state, and a slew of anti-LePage websites and Facebook groups are rapidly popping up, thicker than mosquitoes, with some even having countdown clocks until he is out of office and a selection of bumper stickers.

A sampling:

When Life Gives You LePage.

Sh*t LePage Says.

Happy 2011, Paulie- and welcome to the Big Leagues. We don’t hold back- and we pitch them fast, hard and FURIOUS.  
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Terrible Advice On Turning Your Lesbian Daughter Straight

I have never heard of The Ladies Monthly, but I have to assume it's a parody site, sort of like ChristWire.org? After all, they're recommending American women show solidarity with our troops in the Middle East by wearing hijab swimsuits in red, white, and blue colors. And then there's that whole piece on why readers should support bestiality, because after all, "Ladies’ Monthly Research Lab has found that even today as we live in big cities, 53,8% of the American population regularly engages in naughty play with beasts big and small," which isn't true. (It's closer to 52.5%.) So when I got through "Setting Your Gay Daughter Straight," I didn't react like the 50+ commenters calling its author a "horrible person" for recommending parents retrain their gay daughters to be straight by "remind[ing] your daughter of the moral atrocity she is committing, as well as the ramifications of her decisions to her God." I mean, this is a straight up LOL, right?

CONTINUED »


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