The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

At the barricade

A newly imagined ‘Les Miz’ is just as grand, less operatic

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OCCUPY PARIS | ‘Les Miz’s’ theme of proletarian revolt resonates as strongly as the thrilling score.

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

Chances are if you have ever seen Les Miserables, you think that it is either the greatest musical ever conceived, or precisely what’s wrong with musical theater since Mary Martin retired from playing a pre-pubescent boy. Of course, it’s possible both are true.

Detractors claim the musical — adapted from Victor Hugo’s massive novel about a thief, Jean Valjean (J. Mark McVey) pursued relentlessly by obsessive Inspector Javert (Andrew Varela)  — slogs through French history with bombastic pretension and repetitive musical motifs. Admirers — whom I happily number myself among, and have ever since I saw the original London production 25 years ago — fall sway to its sweep, its Big Themes, its thrilling score. And the ideas that right wingers can’t beat down the common man forever and get away with it resonate especially strongly even today. There’s no way you can see Les Miz and not think the distinction between musical and opera is all but irrelevant.

You might feel differently, though, with the current national tour, now at the Winspear. It reconceives the original with mind-blowing rear projection (Valjean’s escape through the sewers of Paris is as cinematic as anything I’ve seen on a stage; Javert’s suicide is a technical marvel) and a more intimate, almost claustrophobic staging. The show is still grand, though it feels less like grand opera.

That’s also a side effect of the singing, which has been modified from the rich, fluid style of the original to a more conversational, pop sensibility. It’s almost as if the creative team figured everyone already knew the songs and wanted to give them a more radio-friendly, Susan Boyle-ish treatment. That may be arresting only to nerds like me who can recite the score by heart, but I bet there are a lot of us out there.

Even so, the “money songs” — especially Valjean’s haunting “Bring Him Home,” that ravaged the house on opening night, and the Act 1 finale, though also Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream” and Eponine’s “On My Own” — are as stirring and flamboyant as they ever were, and the bawdy “Master of the House” remains a comic gem.

The latter is due in great part to Richard Vida and Shawna M. Hamic (looking like Edna Turnblad) as the Thenardiers, whose comic mugging steals scenes, and McVey’s Valjean grows in depth and power throughout the three hour run-time.

But the length is almost inconsequential. Les Miz, of necessity, rushes through great swaths of emotions, and it’s occasionally difficult to toggle through them; your heart can’t keep up with your head. But when it does? Well, that’s when Les Miz is as touching as a musical can be.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Democratic Party chairman in San Antonio calls gays ‘termites,’ likens Stonewall to Nazi Party

Dan Ramos sought Stoneawll Democrats’ endorsement during his campaign for chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party in 2010. But now he thinks Stonewall is “the equivalent of the fuckin’ Nazi Party.” (QSanAntonio)

It isn’t overly surprising to hear that a county party chairperson in Texas called gays “termites” and likened the Stonewall Democrats to Nazis. But it is a little surprising that it came from a county chairperson in the Democratic Party. Dan Ramos, the embattled chairman of the Bexar County Democratic Party, made the statements Friday in an interview with the San Antonio Current:

While the LGBT community has long found support within the national Democratic Party in its search for equal rights for gay, lesbian, and transgendered individuals, Ramos called the gay-rights movement a “very sinister movement” that is out of touch with San Antonio’s values.

In an interview with the Current today, Ramos blamed homosexuals in the party for both undermining his authority and for the poor election results in Bexar County in 2010. “They are all connected to the gay Democratic Party, the so-called Stonewall Democrats. Just like termites they managed to get some of their people in key positions,” he said.

The party faithful has been largely divided over Ramos since he was elected to office in May, 2010, but his chief detractors are all homosexuals, Ramos said.

Ramos said he opposes homosexuality on religious grounds and doesn’t believe gay-friendly Democrats like Stonewall reflect the values of Bexar County voters. “I liken them to the Tea Party — the Tea Party and the fucking Nazi Party — because they’re 90 percent white, blue-eyed, and Anglo, and I don’t give a fuck who knows that. Just like the blacks … they’re American, but you can’t get your way just because you’re black.”

The LGBT news website QSanAntonio reports that Eduardo Juarez, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, issued a statement today to the group’s Board of Directors in response to Ramos’ remarks.

“Mr. Ramos’ alleged comments blaming and condemning LGBT Democrats are so plainly ludicrous and divisive, they do not even merit a response,” Juarez said. “We Democrats are too busy right now working on real and important tasks at hand, including the task of uniting our party.”

QSanAntonio also reports that Ramos’ statements are especially surprising given that he sought the Stonewall Democrats’ endorsement in January 2010 when he ran for the position (photo above).

The Bexar County Democratic Party has been rocked by scandal in recent years, with its former treasurer awaiting trial on charges that he embezzled $200,000. The party was unable to fund a campaign in 2010, and Ramos reportedly has been a divisive figure ever since he took over as chair. State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, has filed legislation that would allow state parties in Texas to remove county chairs for “incompetency or official misconduct.” The bill reportedly is aimed at getting rid of Ramos.

UPDATE: Boyd Richie, chair of the Texas Democraticy Party, issued the following statement calling for Ramos’ resignation late Saturday.

“From virtually the first day he took office, Dan Ramos has kept the Bexar County Democratic Party in a constant state of turmoil. He has consistently refused to follow the Bexar County Democratic Party Rules and the Texas Democratic Party Rules, failed to call or attend meetings required by the local Rules, failed to recognize properly established local committees and officers, refused to elect Precinct Chairs in the manner required by the Rules and the Texas Election Code, and failed to assist Democratic candidates seeking office.

“I will not dignify Mr. Ramos’ most recent outburst by restating it, but I will make it clear that the bigoted attitudes he expressed are totally contrary to the Beliefs and Declarations of the Texas Democratic Party. I am shocked and outraged that an individual who claims to be an officer of the Democratic Party would hold such positions and I’m appalled that he would make such absurd statements.

“For many months, Democratic Party officials and activists have petitioned the State Party to intercede in the Bexar County situation. Until recently I resisted those requests because I believed that the best remedy would be one crafted and agreed to by Democrats inside Bexar County. Just yesterday I sent a letter to Mr. Ramos and other concerned individuals inviting them to a sit-down to discuss the problem. I no longer believe that such a meeting would be useful or have any purpose. What is necessary is for Dan Ramos to immediately resign and allow the Bexar County Democratic Party to move forward with new, more unifying leadership.”

Also, Daniel Graney, president of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus, sent over an open letter to Ramos that we’ve posted after the jump.

—  John Wright

Fairness Fort Worth, Joel Burns urge people NOT to attend tonight’s City Council meeting

On Monday we told you that some folks reportedly plan to speak at tonight’s Fort Worth City Council meeting, to air their disapproval of Councilman Joel Burns “It Gets Better” speech to LGBT youth on Oct. 12. But Fairness Fort Worth says that both Burns and the group are urging people not to attend tonight’s meeting. FFW’s David Mack Henderson said on Facebook that the threat is “not all that credible” and “does NOT warrant giveing them the public dog-fight they desire.” Here’s his full message:

On Monday many of you noted a brief, rather vague and titillating article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram suggesting that “at least one — and possibly more” persons plan to protest Councilman Joel Burns’ recent “It Gets Better” speech tonight in a city council meeting.

Given the international attention Joel brought to LGBT bullying and teen suicide rates you can understand how the blog comments went wild rather quickly. Joel’s amazing outreach produced loyal advocates ready to come to his defense in a heartbeat.

HOWEVER, both JOEL and FAIRNESS FORT WORTH are convinced that this protest threat is not all that credible. Sure, a handful of folks from a city straddling another county may show up and make a bit of noise. In any case, we’ve collectively determined that this does NOT warrant giving them the public dog-fight they desire. COUNCILMAN BURNS and FAIRNESS FORT WORTH urge you NOT to attend this city council meeting specifically to engage these folks. (If you’re there on other city business, by all means, be part of the process as any citizen should.)

Our LGBT Community now plays a strategic and productive role in the future of our city. We’ve earned our seat at the table. As such, WE get to determine the time and place for these discussions, not our detractors.

So, if you’re committed to devoting your Tuesday night toward making a difference in our LGBT Community, FAIRNESS FORT WORTH urges you to attend our general meeting instead. YOU’RE NEEDED THERE! Join us at 7:30PM. We’ll be at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania, creating initiatives and programs to advance equal access for all of us!

And yes — we DO have a gay agenda:

*** Anti-Bulling, Safe Schools project with FWISD
*** Hospital & Healthcare Providers Equal Access project
*** FW City Manager’s Diversity Task Force initiatives
…and more as we continue to grow and improve LGBT lives in Tarrant County. We’re on a roll!

Please join us. What a great time to live in Fort Worth, Texas — Where the West Begins — Again!”

—  John Wright

Tailwinds blowing Cicilline (and no, conservative detractors, that’s not a gay sexual euphemism)

6A00D8341C503453Ef0133F43B1522970BSome favorable polling for out mayor of Providence, RI, David Cicilline, in his bid for the congressional seat being vacated by Patrick Kennedy:

A gay Rhode Island Democrat seeking election to a U.S. House seat this fall is maintaining a double-digit lead against his Republican opponent, according to a recent polling memo obtained by the Blade.

Cicilline leads GOP opponent by double-digits: poll [Wash Blade]

So not to count chickens: But there’s certainly good reason for Barney Frank, Jared Polis, and Tammy Baldwin to rework their three part harmonies. Which is obviously good for LGBTs, counting all of the chickens who simply refuse to take on our matters.

Or better yet: Let’s get Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougnet and NJ’s Ed Postonak in their seats as well, and then we’ll have six — count ‘em — SIX LGB members of Congress. Because House glass ceilings are sooooo twenty years ago. Or sooooo senatorial, I guess you could say.




Good As You

—  John Wright