UPDATE: Suspect arrested in D.C. shooting

Police in Washington, D.C., have charged Darryl Willard with “assault with intent to kill while armed,” in connection with the shooting early Monday of a transgender woman in southeast D.C.

Washington, D.C. police are investigating the death of this unidentified person who was found wearing facial make-up and carrying a pair of light-colored heels

According to the Washington Post, after being shot at about 1:50 a.m. in the 2300 block of Savannah Street SE, the victim walked to the Seventh District Police Headquarters to report the crime. The Post reports that the victim knew her attacker and gave his name to police. Willard later turned himself in to authorities.

The victim, who is not named in the newspaper’s article, was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover from her injuries.

In the meantime, police continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of a man whose body was found early Saturday, according to reports by the Associated Press. Police said that when the man’s body was found, he had makeup on his face and had with him a pair of light-colored high-heel shoes. The man appears to be Hispanic or Middle Eastern and between the ages of 25 and 30.

Police said they have no information on whether the dead man was gay or transgender, and that his body showed no signs of trauma.

The Monday shooting was the fourth time in less than two months that a transgender woman has been shot or shot at in the D.C. area. On July 20, Lashai Mclean died after being shot by a man who approached her as she walked with a friend in the city’s Northeast section. The man asked Mclean a question and then pulled a gun and shot her before she could answer, according to the friend, who was uninjured.

Eleven days later and just blocks away from the site of Mclean’s murder, a suspect approached another trans woman, asked for change and then pulled a gun and shot at her before she could answer. The shot missed and the woman was uninjured.

And in August, a D.C. police officer on medical leave was arrested and charged with assault with a deadly weapon after he stood on the hood of a car and fired into the car containing two men and two trans women. One of the men was injured slightly in the attack.

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Do you Peru?

Even as fans rallied to help Coco Peru get her next film off the ground, the drag goddess still likes her comedy live

lead

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Expect a lovefest when Coco Peru comes back to Dallas for Pride weekend. With memories of a responsive audience, shopping and beef jerky during her last go-round here nearly two years ago, the drag goddess is hoping for a repeat performance. Sort of. She’s back on the road with a new show, but that’s not all the legendary queen has going on.

“Well, we’ve filmed Girls Will Be Girls 2 already,” Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) says. “Right now the writer/director is busily editing. It’s just one of those things: You film it and hope for the best.”

Peru has garnered a significant amount of film work over the years, usually with notable cameos in films like as Trick, but occasionally as the star, as with Girls Will Be Girls. But she admits live performance is where she’s at her best.

“I like to think my show is like watching a theater piece,” she says. “I love film acting, but it’s exciting on a whole other level. There’s not that energy of a live audience and no feedback. So often, comic timing is how the audience is reacting to you. With acting, you mentally feel it out, try it and mostly trust the director. I find sometimes I rehearsed a line so much in my head, it takes me a few times to take direction on it.”

For Girls 2, Peru discovered just how much her fans appreciated her work. As a micro-mini indie, the film went on the website Kickstarter to raise funds. As word got out that the film was in production and that Peru was in it, the money rolled in.

“The movie was completely funded by fans,” she exclaims. “It was just incredible that they would want to pay money! And I must say, most of it came from my fans. I’m just putting that out there.”

Along with funds from Kickstarter, the crew itself was almost all-volunteer. People would just show up, willing to help out. It turned into an actual labor of love.

Along with donated help, the production even received a donated green screen. All the generosity reminded Peru that people are that genuinely kind and that it’s all right to ask for things, which usually embarrasses her. She saw this particular filmmaking experience as a good lesson on many levels.

“Let’s just hope the movie’s funny,” she laughs.

Dating back to the “early ‘90s” — that’s as specific as her website will get — Peru gives much credit to her fans along the way for the success of her career. Even if they come up to once again mention her role in the film Trick, Peru takes none of it for granted. Perhaps it’s cliché for any type of celebrity to appreciate their fans, but she  talks at length about how her fans have kept her driven.

“It’s so overwhelming, whether it’s a movie or my own shows, that they will take time to contact me to tell me whatever it is they are feeling,” she says. “I feel lucky and blessed when they reach out to me and I strive to answer every email. I remember those days that felt so lonely and sad. Growing up gay and feeling rejected doesn’t make a happy life. But when you get over 800 birthday messages on Facebook, it’s amazing!”

She’ll meet a new slew of fans on her current End of Summer Tour, as she’ll visit Tampa and Las Vegas for the first time as a performer. Even with her experience onstage, Peru is still daunted by a new audience, the same way she was before playing Dallas the first time early last year.

“The first time, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I felt that audiences came wanting to have a great time. You go to certain cities and they have a bit of an edge, but in Texas, it was an immediate love fest on both ends.”

In her new show, There Comes a Time, Peru talks about getting older and reminiscing about her life. Fortunately, Dallas isn’t a punch line in her monologue. The city left a good impression on her and she only hopes to make another one of her own.

“Well, I’m happy to be coming back and they took such good care of me last time,” she says, “but I don’t wanna jinx myself. You never know.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Son of a beach

A family vacation proves unexpectedly gay as Myrtle Beach, S.C., gets Pride

RAINBOW TOUR | Nearly 200 beachcombers — including the author (dark green, just right of center) — stepped away from the surf and gathered in a field to form a human rainbow flag.

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

The trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., had more to do with a family reunion than finding a good destination for gay travelers. After all, Myrtle Beach is a pretty lazy, conservative town in the perennial Red State, one where teenaged spring breakers and families gather to enjoy the warm surf and the resort-town appeal of seafood and beachcombing and overpriced cocktails. Queer travelers can hit one of the three gay bars, all within blocks of each other — Club Traxx, Time Out! and the Rainbow House (a lesbian club).

But the weekend I arrived , just by coincidence, it turned out to be Gay Pride.

Keep in mind, the gay community in Myrtle Beach is small, so “Gay Days,” plural, felt more like Gay Day, singular: One major event and then life as usual in Coastal Carolina.

The major event, though, was an ambitious one: Gathering members of the LGBT community and their allies to form a “human rainbow flag:” People signed up to wear a pastel-colored T-shirt and arrange themselves in the traditional configuration. A few others wore black, forming the flagpole.

The entire event was threatened by showers late Friday and early Saturday, but despite a slightly muddy field, nearly 200 people turned out, huddled closely on a muggy afternoon, while a photographer flew above in a helicopter.

Numbers weren’t uniform; there were too many reds and too few purples; but the effect was one of a flag waving in the breeze.

In order to do the shoot, members faced each other before bending forward to allow the broad field of their shirts to form the colors. Directly across from me stood Elke Kennedy, a resident of Greenville in the Upstate. Elke and her husband established SeansLastWish.org, raising awareness of anti-gay violence, after their gay son was beaten to death and his killer spent less than a year in jail.

Elke spoke at a rally following the photoshoot, and dozens in attendance listened to her recount her  son’s harrowing attack and death before two drag queens performed and a DJ spun dance hits. People started to file out after a while, off to the beach, or the clubs, or even the boardwalk, where the Texas Star-like Skywheel gives great views of the beach … and sits next door to the campily named souvenir shop the Gay Dolphin.

The latter was always may favorite place when I was growing up; you’d think my parents would have caught on sooner.

Click here for additional photos.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Rawlings campaign staffer declares victory

It doesn’t take a CEO to decipher these numbers. Mike Rawlings chats with campaign staffer Paula Blackmon on the patio of the Meddlesome Moth a few moments ago.

Just arrived at the Meddlesome Moth in the Design District, site of Mike Rawlings’ watch party. Despite the heat, there’s quite a crowd here on the patio, where Rawlings was making the rounds as I came in. Rawlings campaign staffer Paula Blackmon told me he’ll be speaking at 9 p.m. When I noted that early voting results look pretty good for Rawlings, Blackmon replied, “It’s over.”

—  John Wright

Death: Burleigh John ‘B.J.’ Smith

Burleigh John “B.J.”  Smith, 62, of Dallas died March 29 from complications due to liver cancer.

Born in Shreveport to the late Bernard Cyril and Gwendolyn Smith, B.J.Smith worked 20 years for Cinemark Theaters as a film buyer before retiring in early 2010. He had a very outgoing and uplifting personality and he never met a stranger. His hobbies and interests included singing with the Turtle Creek Chorale for 11 years, movies, traveling, cooking and enjoying food and wine with friends.

He is survived by his partner of 31 years, Dennis Bellotto,; his sister Lynn Norton and family of Flower Mound; his brother Barney Smith and family of San Antonio; and his cherished cat Lance.

In lieu of flowers, Smith requested that memorial donations be made to AMFAR www.amfar.org or The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society www.lls.org. No formal memorial service is planned at this time.

—  John Wright

ilume for sale — presumably to raise equity for second phase of Cedar Springs development

An artist’s rendering of ilume when it was in the planning stages

The Dallas Morning News reported Thursday that the ilume building on Cedar Springs Road is for sale. A brief story in the newspaper mentioned this fact without much supporting information, merely that another company had it listed for sale.

This would be surprising, though there may be an explanation. On Wednesday night, I spoke with Luke Crosland, owner of the property. Crosland has long promised Phase II of the ilume development, slotted to go up on the lot catty corner from the current building (across Wycliff from the Kroger).

Crosland told me that they would be breaking ground “soon” on the new development. I had previously heard as early as May. Crosland said he was in the process of arranging the equity financing — in the more than $100 million range — for a series of ilume developments across the country. Perhaps sale of the building is part of the package raising that equity?

We have left messages with Crosland seeking more info and will update this post as soon as we have more information.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lady Gaga Collects Early Grammys

LADY GAGA GRAMMY ARRIVAL X390Several hours before she was scheduled to hatch at Sunday night’s Grammy
Awards, Lady Gaga collected the award for Best Female Pop Vocal
performance for “Bad Romance.” 
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  David Taffet

NY Senator’s early Xmas gift: Glowing front page NYT profile

Today’s New York Times features a great, front page feature on a great, front line ally:

NYT-Gillibrand[Senator Gillibrand (D-NY)], who had represented a conservative upstate district in Congress, was not well known to liberals or gay rights groups at the time. But in an interview, she said she had realized from an early age that discrimination against gays was wrong.



Her mother — a black belt in karate who the senator said “did things differently her whole life” — worked in the arts and surrounded herself with gay friends. During the height of the AIDS crisis, Ms. Gillibrand’s sister, a playwright and actress, volunteered to help children with AIDS.

And when Ms. Gillibrand was a young associate, working long nights at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, she recalled, “the straight men found time to date and get married and have kids and went home at six every night, and the only ones left were the women and gay men.”

So she wound up vacationing with gay colleagues on Fire Island and in the Hamptons, and forging lifelong friendships. “A lot of them are now having children,” she said. “And it never occurred to me that they should not have every benefit that I have.”

FULL PIECE: Gillibrand Gains Foothold With Victory on 9/11 Aid [NYT]

I’ve personally seen this senator hop on a barroom table and give a strong, off-cuff advocacy speech. I’ve also seen her stump in her own home’s back yard, with an on-the-go burger in one hand and a toddler in the other. Not to mention, oh yea — those bills she’s championed when others might’ve been ready to give up.

In politics, it’s sometimes hard to spot the real deal. But from what I’ve seen: Senator Gillibrand is either it, or she’s the Meryl Streep of the Democratic party.




Good As You

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Senate DADT Vote Could Come as Early as TODAY – Call Now

News broke this morning that the Senate could take up the National Defense Authorization Act — the bill to which “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal is attached — as early as today.  Now, it’s up to us. We’ve got to pressure wavering senators and tell them to debate the NDAA and keep the DADT repeal provision in tact.  Whether the vote comes up today or anytime soon, NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL.

Click here for details on how to call and what to say. Then tell report back to us that you called.

It only takes two minutes to call your senator’s office and every senator has staff on hand to answer the phones and speak to constituents. Call your senators now at 202-224-3121.

If you don’t get through right away, try again – the phones may be overwhelmed by hateful calls from right-wing activists, but it’s crucial that your voice is heard.

  1. Call one senator’s office, and tell the staff person who answers where you live so they know you’re a real constituent.
  2. Tell them you want the senator to support staying in session for as long as it takes to pass the defense bill, which includes repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” this year – and that you’ll remember how they vote when they’re next up for election.
  3. Thank them, hang up, and make your second call to the other senator.
  4. Click here to let us know you made a call – we use this information to guide our lobbying efforts, so please don’t skip it.

You’re not done: Save the Congressional Switchboard number – (202) 224-3121 – in your cell phone right now. Then hand it to a friend, then a co-worker, and ask them to make two calls. While you’re at it, tell your family and your Facebook friends to call as well.

We need as many calls as possible in order to make repeal happen in 2010.

The time for debate is over. Let’s end the discrimination and prejudice once and for all.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

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Pentagon to Release the Fabled DADT “Study” a Day Early

SECDEF Robert Gates has decided to release that DADT “study” to Congress on November 30 instead of December 1st, citing a need to accomodate the Senate Armed Services Committee's desire for time to review and hold hearings on the contents. From the Armed Forces Press Service:

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia, Nov. 21, 2010 – The report of a working group he created to research the ramifications for the Defense Department if the law banning gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military is repealed will be released to Congress and the public Nov. 30, Defense Department officials announced here today.

Gates formed the working group in February, appointing Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh C. Johnson, DOD’s general counsel, to lead the effort.

“Secretary Gates is pushing all involved in the Comprehensive Review Working Group's report to have it ready for public release on Nov. 30 in order to accommodate the desire of the Senate Armed Services Committee to hold hearings as soon as possible,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. “Frankly, Dec. 1 was already an aggressive deadline by which to complete the report, incorporate the views of service secretaries and chiefs and for the secretary to make a recommendation on the way ahead, but he has further compressed the timeline in order to support Congress' wish to consider repeal before they adjourn.

“Now,” Morrell continued, “the secretary has instructed his staff, without cutting any corners, to have everything ready a day sooner because he wants to ensure members of the Armed Services Committee are able to read and consider the complex, lengthy report before holding hearings with its authors and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.”

A whole day. Wow. Let's not forget that President Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, allegedly started consulting upper-level brass on how to study repeal in March 2009. I'm just curious as to why it took a whole year to formulate a series of biased, derogatory questions at a taxpayer cost of .4 million. Well, at least the entire “study” will be released a day early so John McCain can have his hearings. I can't wait for that dog and pony show.

Let's keep in mind the political warfare perpetuated against LGB troops by Republicans, and I don't just mean John McCain. Back in March, during the House Armed Services Committee hearings on DADT, Republican Rep. Joe “You Lie” Wilson accused the Pentagon of having a biased study in favor of repeal, and relying “too heavily” on the 1993 Rand study which showed that repeal of the ban on openly LGB servicemembers would have no impact. He actually used the phrase, “cook the books to the President's desires.” It's already been leaked that the Pentagon study is favorable to repeal. John McCain has said that the fact that the study was leaked invalidated the results, and he wants a do-over (presumably, as many do-overs as it takes to get the results he wants). The next talking point will be that the study was biased in favor of repeal. In fact, that talking point has already been around for a while.

As we say in the Navy, “Stand by.” The next act in the three-ring repeal circus is about to begin.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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