Reba McEntire: The gay interview

Reba2Even by phone, Reba McEntire makes you feel right at home. “Thanks for the visit; I’ve enjoyed visitin’ with you!” the singer drawls, wrapping up our conversation as if I’d just stopped by for buttered grits and a cup of hot coffee.

A music, television, film and theater superstar with a trove of prestigious awards, Reba is enormously famous, but talking to her, you wouldn’t know it. She comes across more like a friend. Fancy? Not so much. And she certainly won’t let her rabid gay following down – she has delighted in a friendship with the LGBT community since the beginning of her 40-year career.

Now, as she releases her 27th studio album, Love Somebody, the country icon’s ready to take some serious stands.

In a chat with Chris Azzopardi, Reba stresses the importance of gay marriage, how sad it is to know that some country artists feel they can’t come out, and her message to parents who can’t accept a child who’s not straight.

Dallas Voice: You grew up in a town with, like, 16 people and lots of cows. I imagine there weren’t a lot of gay people in Chockie, Okla.  Reba: Nope, nope. Not at all that I know of, or in high school. I guess in college was the first time I was around any gay people, and they became my friends first and then I found out they were gay, so there ya go! Didn’t change my opinion of ’em; I still liked ’em a lot.

One was a very dear friend of mine who helped me a lot with my singing and my music, and he was just a super sweet, gentle man who loved music with all his heart. I’m pretty sure that was my first introduction, the first time I met anyone who was gay.

As a longtime ally, how important are LGBT equality and same-sex marriage rights to you?  Very important. I just went to my first gay wedding a couple of months ago in California for Michael and Steven, my two great friends. They’ve been together for 20 years! I thought that it was not fair, and I didn’t understand why they couldn’t get married. It wasn’t because they just wanted to get married. If one of them had gotten injured and gone to the hospital, the other one couldn’t make decisions for them. It’s very upsetting. It’s not only for convenience or for romantic reasons —it’s for practicality. For practical reasons! I get a kick out of what Dolly said: “Why shouldn’t they get married and be as miserable as the rest of us?” 

You don’t seem so miserable in your marriage, though.  No, not at all. But I don’t understand why people have a problem with it. I’m a very spiritual person, but I don’t judge. I try not to; I’m only human. To each his own, and everybody is different. God did not make us all the same. So, I just pray for an open mind and a loving heart, and I think that’s all I can do.

In your four decades as a country musician, how much progress do you think the genre has made when it comes to embracing LGBT fans with open arms?  Well, I’ve always embraced gay and lesbian fans with both arms. I have a huge gay following!

Absolutely. But country music as a whole — do you see progress when it comes to LGBT equality?  Yeah, I do. There are more [artists] speaking out about it, but I can’t really speak for anyone else other than myself.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Rachel Potter takes on the hypocrites with ‘Jesus and Jezebel’

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Rachel Potter

A lot of folks think that country-western music is still a stronghold of homophobia, and in some ways, it might be.

But not completely. I mean, way back in the 1990s, C&W superstar Garth Brooks was speaking out for LGBT folks in his song “We Shall Be Free.” He also appeared at the Equality Rocks held in conjunction with the 2000 LGBT march on Washington. In recent years, C&W stars Chely Wright and Ty Herndon have come out. And then there are queens of country, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, who have both been vocal in their support for LGBT equality.

And you can add an up-and-coming star to that list, too. Rachel Potter has just released a new song and video called “Jesus and Jezebel,” in which she explores not only her personal issues with her Southern Baptist upbringing, but calls out  church folk for their less-than-loving ways toward LGBT people.

Potter tells ETOnline: “”I think that country music listeners are becoming more and more open minded every day, as is the rest of the country. I think a lot of people may misconstrue the song to say I don’t believe in what the bible says or like, ‘gay sex for everybody’ but that’s not what I’m trying to say, and I’ll make that as clear as possible. All I’m trying to say is that I think Jesus loves us all the same.”

—  Tammye Nash

Working on Ann Richards documentary became a passion for director

Keith Patterson wasn’t from Texas and hadn’t even spent much time here. Then while living in Los Angeles, a friend said he wanted to do a documentary about Ann Richards. Patterson was familiar with — even a fan of — the late Texas governor, “so I came on board” in late 2010, he says.

The following 20 months, however, have been a journey for the gay filmmaker, who ended up co-directing Ann Richards’ Texas, the documentary that kicks off Dallas VideoFest 25 at the Dallas Museum of Art Thursday night.

“We came to Texas for a year: Austin first, but we ended up everywhere,” he says on the phone from New York, a few hours before his planned arrival in Dallas to attend the festival. “I even have a place in Houston [still].”

Working on the documentary quickly became a passion for Patterson.

“I loved her,” he says. “You can’t get any larger than a Texas politician. That’s why The Best Little Whorehouse is so good — it captures the politics. That song where the governor talks about sidestepping [every issue]? That was [the governorship]. When Ann got in there and started passing a lot of reforms, she shook everything up.”

Richards had help from some powerful friends, including lesbian power couple Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner, who met and befriended Richards early in her political career. “They were friends from the 1980s when she ran for treasurer and helped write the comedy for Ann’s [historic 1988 Democratic National Conventional] keynote address,” Patterson says. “That’s when she met Dolly [Parton], too. I think Ann was a county commissioner when Dolly was [in Texas] shooting Whorehouse.”

Tomlin, Parton and a host of other celebs offer their voices to the documentary. It wasn’t difficult finding people anxious to talk on the record about the flamboyant Texas pol.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Perry Twins post high energy Houston tribute

While we may continue to honor Whitney Houston’s legacy, I think it’s fair to say we could be a little Whitney-ed out by the constant playing of her cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” in every tribute since last week’s tragic news. Heck, even Aretha couldn’t come up with another idea at her Radio City Music Hall concert Saturday night. But this just came on my radar. The Perry Twins, who performed at Station 4 in 2009, offer their tribute to the singer with this hour-long mix of deep cuts and big hits. It’s a welcome reprieve from the overuse of ballads used to remember her by, but also a reminder of her contribution to the dance floor. She was the Queen of the Night, remember?

—  Rich Lopez

Starvoice • 01-13.12

By Jack Fertigdolly-parton

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Dolly Parton turns 66 on Thursday. The Queen of Country Music is just as busy as ever. In 2011, she recorded her 41st studio album Better Day and subsequently hit the road in support of it. She returns to the big screen and costars with Oscar nominee Queen Latifah in the comedy Joyful Noise as a choir director’s widow. The movie was released this month.

………………..

THIS WEEK

Still in Capricorn, the sun squares Saturn, which can feel limiting; turn that “limit” into focusing on goals. Entering Aquarius on the 20th, the sun squares Jupiter in Taurus offering brilliant opportunities. Some are good, but be skeptical. If it looks too good to be true it is.
………………..

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
It’s easy to feel beat down about where your hard work hasn’t gotten you. Focus on what you have accomplished. That can lead you to a more effective use of your resources.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Some down time will do you good. Starting or joining a provocative family discussion can be very educational; go ahead, stir it up. Bruised feelings will quickly heal.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
You could be a big hit at a dungeon party. Personal insights are better explored with a friend you can really trust. You may uncover inner resources you’d never dreamed of.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
New friends tempt you to do things you’d never expect. That could get expensive. Opening your mind to new possibilities can lead to financial opportunities. but watch your wallet.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Vanity leads to a fall. You’ve nothing to prove. Those who love you may seem demanding, but rise to the occasion. The challenge will make you stronger.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Some things are better left unsaid. Much as you prefer full frontal frankness, think a bit about what the best strategy really is. However apt, sexual analogies can be more disruptive than helpful.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Re-affirm any New Year’s resolutions about quitting a habit or losing weight. To prioritize and simplify, make three lists: professional contacts; friends you care about; those you don’t.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Harsh words with colleagues come back to haunt you. Putting what needs to be said nicely can be a huge boost to your career. Accept an invitation to something you’d normally never do.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Your first ideas are likely to be extravagant and wasteful, but don’t let disillusionment stop you. Accept scarcity as a challenge to your creativity. At least you’ll never run out of ideas.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
A beautifying regimen causes your baby to wonder who you’re prettying-up for. It also arouses envy among your single friends. Focus on your health and your natural beauty will shine.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
A break from your past seems liberating. You need to criticize and innovate, but build on your past. Even negative examples and painful lessons serve a purpose.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Do something nice for your darling — housework is always appreciated. Showing off will mess it up. Just do whatever’s needed. The less you draw attention, the more it will be appreciated.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 13, 2012.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Chatting up the Secret Sisters before tonight’s benefit for The Women’s Chorus of Dallas

Tonight, the Secret Sisters headline The Southern Harmony Party at the Lakewood Theater, which also features local band The King Bucks and Audrey Dean Kelley. The night benefits The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, a very gay-friendly organization. In a recent interview with Dallas Voice, real-life sisters Lydia and Laura of the Secret Sisters talked up their connection with the gay community and how growing up Church of Christ never stopped them from accepting people as they are:

So first, how did you get hooked up with The Women’s Chorus of Dallas? We were playing a show in Birmingham, AL several months ago, and met a really nice promoter named De Foster, who loved our sound and was determined to have us play a show in Dallas.  We agreed that we would love to come there and play, and so not long afterwards, he contacted us about playing a show that would benefit the Women’s Chorus.  We love playing shows that are in conjunction with positive organizations, and especially those that are connected to our favorite hobby:  music.  So when we got the invitation to play, we were thrilled!  We are so excited to meet everyone involved with the chorus, and very excited that the focus of the evening will be on women and music.  We both feel that there just aren’t enough strong women in the music industry, and we know that the evening will be positive one, that’s also a lot of fun.

What do such groups mean to you? Any time that we can use our music to highlight organizations that do good things, we are eager to do so. Both of us were in our high school choruses when we were younger, and we know just how much fun it is to be surrounded by your friends, enjoying music that you are making together.  Music means so much to us, and to be able to spend the evening with others who are passionate about it as well is going to be an honor.  We’ve been looking forward to this show for a while now.

More after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

GIVEAWAY: Win Kristin Chenoweth’s new CD ‘Some Lessons Learned’

On Tuesday, singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth drops her fourth studio release Some Lessons Learned. She goes a little bit country this time and has said that this album is inspired by music legend Dolly Parton. Which would explain the track, “What Would Dolly Do.” She’s already previewed the album with the single “I Want Somebody (Bitch About),” and you might know the title track from Carrie Underwood’s debut album.

But Chenoweth likely will turn in her own cheerful spin on things in this album produced by Bob Ezrin and exec-produced by Dianne Warren.

Want one? OK. We’ll snail-mail you a copy if you can help us with this question. Chenoweth is up for an Emmy this Sunday. She already has one on her mantle. What show did she win for and what show is she nominated for this weekend?

We’ve got five copies of the album, so good luck. Just email your response here to win.

—  Rich Lopez

Dolly apologizes for shirt incident at theme park

Way back on July 20, we posted this story about a lesbian couple who were on their way into Dollywood’s Splash Country, the Tennessee theme park co-owned by country music legend — and gay rights supporter —  Dolly Parton, when a park employee at the front gate told Olivier Odom that she would either have to turn her t-shirt inside-out or change shirts. Odom’s shirt bore the message “Marriage is So Gay,” and the park employee told her Dollywood is a “family park” and that shirts with offensive messages are not allowed.

Dolly Parton

Odom and her partner, Jennifer Tipton, were there with friends who had their children along for the fun. So rather than spoil the day for the kids, Odom agreed to turn the shirt inside out. But she was still rather offended, and ended up writing a letter of complaint to the park’s management.

Being a huge Dolly Parton fan, I was rather disturbed that Odom’s shirt had been deemed offensive by employees at a venue so closely associated with Dolly. So I was really glad today to see this story from Edge Boston saying that Dolly had publicly apologized for the situation. Dolly, by the way, told Joy Behar on CNN in 2009 that she supports marriage equality.

The article says Dolly contacted ABC News with a statement that said, in part, “I am truly sorry for the hurt or embarrassment regarding the gay and lesbian t-shirt incident at Dollywood’s Splash Country recently. Everyone knows of my personal support of the gay and lesbian community. Dollywood is a family park and all families are welcome.”

She also said that the policy is in place to protect people wearing garments with messages that might make some angry, that she is looking into the incident herself, that she “hope[s] and believe[s] it was more policy than insensitivity” and that she is “very sorry it happened at all.”

So, here’s a big thank-you to Dolly for, first of all, acknowledging that even though our LGBT families might not look like “traditional” families, we are still families who deserve respect and recognition. Thanks, Dolly,  for being a public and vocal supporter of LGBT rights, especially since your core audience in country-western music are not known for being the most open-minded bunch. And thanks for restoring my faith in you, Dolly.

And now, for all you Dolly fans, like me, here’s a video of her singing her Academy Award-nominated song, “Travelin’ Thru,” which she wrote for the movie TransAmerica:

—  admin

Discrimination at Dollywood?

Now, I am and long have been a huge fan of Dolly Parton. Going to Dollywood would be almost a religious pilgrimage for me. My best friends says when he dies, he wants to be cremated and his ashes scattered over Dollywood.

And Dolly herself has never been shy about her love and support for the LGBT community. In fact, just last Friday we had an interview with Dolly in Dallas Voice leading up to her concert at the Verizon Theatre on Tuesday night.

So I was greatly surprised — and felt a significant wrenching in my heart — when I saw this news headline this morning from WBIR.com, the NBC affilliate in Knoxville.com: “Lesbian couples claims discrimination at Dollywood.”

According to the story, lesbian couple Olivier Odom and Jennifer Tipton recently took some friends’ children for a day of fun at the theme park nestled in Dolly’s hometown area of Pigeon Forge, Tenn. Odom was wearing a T-shirt that said “Marriage is So Gay,” and when they got to the gate, the attendant told her she would either have to change shirts, or turn that one inside-out so the message wasn’t visible. When she asked him why, she says, the attendant told her, “This is a family park.”

—  admin

Dolly Parton tonight at Verizon

Better night

What’s to be said about Dolly Parton that hasn’t already? She’s fabulous. She’s a drag icon. She’s friggin’ Dolly! On tour for her newest album Better Day, the superstar drops in town tonight complete with glitz and glamour. Not to mention a few good songs from the CD. But of course, we’ll still hope to hear the classics.

DEETS:

—  Rich Lopez