Activist’s exposé on Perry hits the market

Former legislator Glen Maxey says he was motivated to write about governor’s alleged gay affairs by Perry’s hypocrisy; that he has moved to a ‘safe house’ following threats

TELLING THE TALE | After a story planned for the Huffington Post on Rick Perry’s alleged same-sex affairs was nixed, gay former Texas Rep. Glen Maxey decided to tell the story himself. (Associated Press)

David Webb  |  Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

AUSTIN — Life is changing quickly for gay former Texas Rep. Glen Maxey since the publication last week of his memoir chronicling a five-month investigation of Gov. Rick Perry’s alleged homosexual liaisons with a subordinate, steady boyfriends, anonymous sex partners, a hustler and others.

Prior to the book’s debut Maxey, who returned to activism after leaving the Legislature, had stocked his Austin apartment with food and other supplies, anticipating a period of time when he might want to stay out of sight.

But after his exposé attracted national media attention and outrage from Perry’s conservative religious supporters, Maxey decided to go further underground.

“Got some death threats of the crank level, but have moved to a safe house until it calms down,” Maxey told Dallas Voice in a message via Facebook following a telephone interview over the weekend.

Maxey, who is the only openly gay politician to have ever served in the Texas Legislature, sent the message as he prepared for a Univision interview Monday morning, Dec. 19, and a KLBJ drive-time radio interview that afternoon.

Perry.Rick

Gov. Rick Perry

The “calm before the storm” that Maxey had talked about in the telephone interview apparently has now erupted into a major disturbance.

Head Figure Head – The Search for the Hidden Life of Rick Perry is the product of Maxey’s work with a reporter from The Huffington Post and the frustration he felt when publisher Arianna Huffington killed what the former legislator claims was a completed story approved by editors and ready for publication.

When it became clear the story would never be published, Maxey started writing his book.

In his book Maxey does not name any of the sources he cites that claim knowledge of Perry’s alleged sexual escapades, nor does he
name the Huffington Post reporter, whom he refers to only as the national journalist.

The book was at first only available online, but now is available as a paperback through Amazon.com.

Maxey said other publications were interested in talking to him and his sources about the allegations of extramarital homosexual pursuits by Perry, but both he and the men who claimed to know the governor in the biblical sense were reluctant to start over with a new reporter.

“That was a mountain I couldn’t climb again, and the other folks had the same reaction,” Maxey said. “It’s difficult to get people to talk about sex in general, it’s more difficult to get them to tell their story to a reporter, and it’s an even bigger climb when it’s Rick Perry they are talking about.”

Maxey disputes Huffington’s claim to Politico that the story was never ready for publication, and that there was no real story. The activist claims the publisher killed the story after Perry’s campaign hired famed libel lawyer Lin Wood, and the lawyer wrote a letter to the Huffington Post threatening to sue if the story was published.

Huffington denied that the lawyer’s letter had anything to do with her decision.

But, Maxey said, “Arianna Huffington told a bald-faced lie.”

No response has been received to an e-mail sent by the Dallas Voice to Huffington Post’s media relations department seeking comment on Maxey’s claim.

Maxey concedes a high-priced call boy who claimed to have engaged in sex with Perry and another man for hire in hotel rooms several times never went on the record, even though celebrity attorney Gloria Allred reportedly was signed on to represent him when the story hit. An affidavit signed by the prostitute — whom

Maxey said was feeling “traumatized” by the prospect of going public with his allegations — might have convinced Huffington to go with the story. But the activist maintained there was already enough documentation to justify publication.

Maxey claimed Huffington exercised a “double standard” when she decided against publication of the Perry story, probably on the advice of AOL parent company corporate attorneys. If the story had involved extramarital heterosexual activities, the story would have run, he claimed.

In late August, the Huffington Post reporter, who made several trips to Austin and had contacted the Dallas Voice for information earlier in the investigation, wrote in an e-mail seeking clarification that he was putting finishing touches on the story before it ran.

Some political observers have speculated Perry’s drastic drop in the national opinion polls from frontrunner status might have contributed to Huffington’s decision to kill the story.

Another source familiar with the investigation said it appeared the publisher — for reasons only she knows — was never interested in outing Perry, and the story will never be published. The Huffington Post scribe reportedly indicated he had no problem with Maxey’s book, and that he thought Maxey needed to write it.

For his part, Maxey said that he is not worried about Gov. Perry filing a lawsuit against him, and he doubts anyone from Perry’s camp
will ever contact him. The former legislator also  doubts that he would lose a lawsuit if Perry filed one against him.

“Everything I said in this book is my opinion,” Maxey said. “I believe Rick Perry is homosexual or had relations with gay men. The evidence points to that conclusion.”

Maxey said it is unlikely Perry would file a lawsuit against him because if he did, the governor and his wife, Anita, would be forced to answer questions under oath about the widespread rumor that she caught Perry and another man having sex in the governor’s mansion six years ago.

At the time, a story was widely circulated that the governor’s wife had checked into the luxurious Driskill Hotel in Austin and hired a prominent divorce attorney.

The story became so widespread that Perry and his wife — who typically avoid one-on-one media interviews — sat down with an Austin American-Statesman reporter to refute the tale.

“If Perry was bold or stupid enough to file any action against me, my lawyers would welcome the opportunity,” Maxey said. “I don’t think Perry would take that risk.”

There has been no response to a telephone request by the Dallas Voice for comment from the  Perry campaign.

Maxey said that although he is gaining widespread attention for the book, his only motive in writing it was to expose the alleged hypocrisy of Gov. Perry, who is recognized as the most virulently outspoken anti-gay governor to ever hold office in Texas. The governor’s claim to conservative religious leaders after he announced for the presidency in August that there was nothing in his personal background to embarrass them rankled him, the Maxey said.

“How amazingly hypocritical he was, claiming there would be no scandal,” Maxey said. “It was astonishing to me. That was the impetus for writing the book.”

Maxey said at the time he wrote the book there were only a dozen men known who had claimed to have had sex with Perry. Now, there are twice that many, and new tips come in daily, he said.

“I went into publishing this with no real expectations,” Maxey said. “The story may get retold in a more comprehensive way, and people can make their own decisions about it. I think the rest of this will play out in the public discussion.”

Maxey said one thing is for certain: Perry will be a bigger enemy to the state’s LGBT community than he ever has before if his bid for the presidency continues on its failure track and he returns to Texas. The activist said he wouldn’t be surprised if Perry attempted to call the Texas Legislature into emergency session on an anti-LGBT initiative to pacify his conservative religious supporters.

“When you see a snake in the grass, you chop off its head,” Maxey said. “I believe this snake is coming back to Texas. He is going to be a meaner snake. He will have something to prove. He will take it out on gay people.”

And that threat is likely to keep Maxey, the author and the activist, busy on his anti-Perry campaign for a very long time.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Man confesses to murder of gay activist in Uganda; equality under attack in Utah

David Kato

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A man has confessed to the murder of Ugandan gay-rights activist David Kato, who was beaten to death with a hammer in his home last week. If you’ll remember, Kato had been outed by an anti-gay newspaper that called for him to be killed, and had received death threats since then. But the government-sanctioned cover-up is well under way: An anonymous police source is telling the media that the suspect killed Kato because he failed to pay him for sex.

2. Speaking of Uganda, the U.S.-based group that’s been linked to “kill gays” legislation in that country, the Fellowship, was also the sponsor of this morning’s National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., which was attended by President Barack Obama, among others. The LGBT direct action group GetEQUAL protested outside the event.

3. And sticking with this morning’s theme of religious-based bigotry and oppressive regimes, a Utah GOP lawmaker has filed legislation that LGBT advocates say would gut local nondiscrimination ordinances and nullify directives between same-sex partners.

—  John Wright

Indecent ‘Proposition’

For documentarian Reed Cowan, a gay man raised Mormon, taking on the LDS church became a different kind of mission

STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com




CHANGING FOCUS | Cowan saw a bigger story when his film about Mormon gay youth kicked out of their homes opened up to a world of prejudice by the LDS church detailed in ‘8: The Mormon Proposition.’




Proposition 8: Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Getting a movie into the Sundance Film Festival is an honor in itself, but unexpected consequences always follow. For some, it’s fame and fortune.

For Reed Cowan, director of 8: The Mormon Proposition, it was death threats — a result that was especially surprising since the movie he ended up making was not the one he set out to film.

“I was raised in Utah in the Mormon church and to know that other young Mormon kids were being kicked out of their homes after coming out really pained me,” says Cowan on a recent trip to Dallas. “Ninety percent of the kids on the street in Salt Lake City in the dead of winter are gay kids. I thought, I have a camera and I can shine the light on that. So we started out to do a film about that.
“Then Proposition 8 began to bubble.”

Cowan planned his movie to touch on the initiative though he never anticipated Prop 8 would pass. Then the vote happened.

“So many of us woke up the next morning just feeling like, are you kidding? If we can’t win California, we can’t win anywhere. So many of us — gay or lesbian or people sympathetic to LGBT causes — were sickened by it,” he says. “In a figurative sense, if we were in a battle, I felt like I was sucker-punched and I looked around at my feet to see what stones I had to throw.”

As a response to the vote, Broadway singer-actor Sam Harris recorded a video blog that caught Cowan’s attention.

“He was so incensed because he’d just gotten married and was working to adopt a child and he did this vlog that was so eloquent and so beautiful,” says Cowan. “My God, here’s an artist who’s taking his resources, his music, his talent, his voice and he’s doing something about it the very next morning! What do I have at my arm’s length? I have a camera. I have friends who can edit. So that’s what I began to do.
It’s been an incredible journey.”

The film began sending shockwaves through the church before it was even completed. But perhaps the most amazing development for Cowan was the amount of information that was dropped in his lap — literally, as the box of documents that is one of the movie’s smokingest guns.

“A young man who worked in the LDS church archives came out of the woodwork and approached me directly. [His] father is very high up in the Mormon church and he was allowed access to things that most people aren’t.”

Cowan’s informant learned that high-ranking Mormons put together an internal study about gay and lesbian issues.

“It was 1,500 pages he copied and took off with. I have every one of them,” Cowan says. Those documents have since been submitted as evidence in the trial challenging Prop 8, which began closing arguments this week.

Cowan’s own life has faced destruction on multiple occasions, many directly attributable to his Mormon upbringing. When Cowan was doing his missionary work (which brought him to North Texas), he genuinely believed what he was preaching and he believes even now that many people within the church aren’t motivated by hate.

“Prop 8 wasn’t done with malice. Bigotry isn’t often done with malice. As one of the people who was in my film said to me, ‘But we do it with a smile,’” he laughs. “We do it with a smile! You don’t have to have malice and desire to go slash somebody’s throat to actually do things to destroy their lives.”

After getting married and having a son, Cowan’s wife left him and he finally came out. Today, he has adopted two children with a partner, Greg Abplanalp, whom he’s known since elementary school.

“In high school we had a relationship and one night in our small Utah town I was beaten almost to death, almost Matthew Shepard-style, where they stood over me in disgust, where they had taken me to finish me off. I lived, but my dad was so afraid that he sent me on a mission and told me I was never to talk to that boy again,” Cowan says. “And I didn’t for 13 years.”

Cowan even was counseled by a church leader to write a letter to Abplanalp condemning him, which he reluctantly did.

After reparative therapy, aversion therapy, visualization therapy and other approaches to “cure” him failed, Cowan approached another leader for guidance. That’s when he was told to marry a woman; it didn’t last long.
“I had been divorced a year, had my first relationship, got my heart broken,” he says. “I believe in karma and the person who’d broken my heart kind of just dumped and ran. I thought I was obviously experiencing the pain I caused somebody else.”

He learned that Abplanalp lived two blocks from him while he was married. Cowan wrote him an apology and they decided to meet. The two reunited and began raising Wesley, the boy born from Cowan’s marriage. Two years later, Wesley died in an accident.

“Greg saved my life after the death of my son. He’s the reason we built 25 schools in Africa for AIDS orphans in my son’s name. That’s why I fight,” he says of his decision to make the movie.

“Life taught us we’re braver and stronger and smarter than we ever thought we were,” he says. “But our little boys deserve to know that we’re a family and that the U.S. government sees us as a family and that if they’re going to define families by marriage, which I have my issues with, and give benefits to families that are married, then by damn, my kids deserve that. My kids deserve the same thing.”
It’s a fight he’s willing to pursue even though some want to stop him. Which is where the death threats come in.

“You wouldn’t believe the letters I’ve gotten from religious people,” Cowan says. “Three days ago, a guy calling himself ‘Christian4life’ wrote, ‘God took your son away from you because you’re a faggot. And your son would’ve had a horrible life and that’s why he died.’”

So many people bring his son’s death into their hate-filled letters that he’s made the agonizing decision to move his son’s body to a private grave.
But the film has generated positive feedback, too.

“I’ve had letters from gay people in their 70s that say, ‘Finally you lanced the wound, thank you.’” he recalls. “I’ve had gay kids as young as 12 and 13 contact me. I’ve had religious people say, ‘Thank you, you helped me see things differently.’”

His goal for the film is simple: A complete and total separation of church and state in our country.

“This movie is ultimately for the voter. Look at what happened with your sacred vote. Look at how the blurring of lines between church and state resulted in your sacred vote being used to achieve the objectives of a religion. And look at the danger of becoming a theocracy in history. Do we want a democracy or theocracy?” Cowan asks.

Ultimately, though, he hopes his film brings about change.

“Gay people are tough. We’re resilient. We learned to be from the time we’re in school. Most of us survive, God rest the ones who don’t,” he says. “We lay our own lives down and give our days in the service of kids who are growing up gay to make it better for them.”

………………………………………..

Infuriating brilliance

Reed Cowan’s emotionally charged and ultimately enraging documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition opens today at the Angelika Film Center, almost two years to the day after the first legal gay marriages occurred in California. It’s a fitting release date for a film that so candidly and energetically explores the LDS church’s role in reversing the decision to recognize same-sex marriages.

His 80-minute film delves into the bowels of the church to uncover a history of bigotry and exclusion. Cowan, who was raised Mormon and persecuted for being gay, frequently sought for the Mormon church to tell its side of the story, though he was mostly refused.

Cowan’s connections gained him access to hundreds of pages of private documents as revolting as they are incriminating. 8 is powerfully inspirational and should prompt every LGBT viewer to action, no matter where they previously fell on the subject of gay marriage. Even when it’s at its hardest to watch during scenes of overt condemnation and reenactments of the covert torture of homosexuals within the Mormon church, the revelation of such raw hatred and destruction is impossible to shake.
— S.L.

4 stars
Opens today at Angelika Mockingbird Station.

This article appeared in the National Pride edition in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice