Hate group drops J.C. Penney boycott

EllenAd4

Ellen DeGeneres is shown in a Western outfit in a J.C. Penney commercial that aired during the Oscars — otherwise known as the gay Super Bowl — on Sunday, Feb. 26. The ad was one of five that premiered during the awards for the company’s new ‘Fair and Square’ pricing campaign.

One Million Moms announced this week that the group is ditching the J.C. Penney boycott to focus on other matters.

The group, affiliated with the American Family Association and considered an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, began the boycott shortly after the Plano-based company announced lesbian talk show host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres would be its new spokeswoman. One Million Moms said Ellen’s being gay meant she did not stand for traditional values.

J.C. Penney stood firm in their support for DeGeneres and aired five commercials featuring her during the Oscars Feb. 26 to kick off the company’s new pricing campaign.

In response to the boycott, the Facebook group “1 Million People Who Support Ellen for JC Penney” was created and quickly garnered more than 198,000 likes. The One Million Moms Facebook page has slightly more than 45,000.

OMM Director Monica Cole told One News Now this week that while the boycott has ended, the group still received responses from many people that would not shop at J.C. Penney while DeGeneres represents the company:

“But we have heard back from so many of our members,” she shares. “We have heard back from men and women – not just moms – saying they will no longer shop there at JC Penney, as long as Ellen DeGeneres is their spokesperson.”

Cole believes OneMillionMoms has done its job by educating members about the retailer and urging them to take their business elsewhere. She says only time will tell how business goes for JC Penney.

“Everyone works hard for their money, and they want to spend their money with companies that have the same values as them,” Cole explains. “And JC Penney stated that Ellen DeGeneres shares the same values that they do. So obviously, it’s not the same as Christians or conservatives, which is unfortunate [because] JC Penney was founded by a Christian man.”

Meanwhile, the OMM director finds it interesting that Fitch Ratings, a global agency, recently downgraded JC Penney’s credit rating to “junk.”

OMM is now targeting Toys ‘R Us for selling Archie comics with a gay marriage featured on the cover. The comics have reportedly sold out.

“Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in a toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand,” OMM writes on its website. “A trip to the toy store turns into a premature discussion on sexual orientation and is completely uncalled for. Toys ‘R’ Us should be more responsible in the products they carry.”

—  Anna Waugh

J.C. Penney tells One Million Moms to suck it

Ellen DeGeneres

Earlier this week One Million Moms, an affiliate of anti-gay hate group the American Family Association, sent out an email calling on Plano-baed J.C. Penney to fire Ellen DeGeneres — who’d just been named a company spokesperson — because she’s “an open homosexual.”

“Degeneres is not a true representation of the type of families that shop at their store,” One Million Moms wrote. “The majority of JC Penney shoppers will be offended and choose to no longer shop there.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which responded with a “Stand Up for Ellen” petition that has generated more than 24,000 signatures, reports today that J.C. Penney has rejected One Million Moms’ demands and “stands behind its partnership with Ellen DeGeneres.” GLAAD’s full press release is below.

—  John Wright

Starvoice • 01.20.12

edBy Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Ellen DeGeneres turns 54 on Thursday. The comedian/talk show host has won 13 Emmys during her career while parylaying successful endeavors as a spokersperson for Cover Girl and voicing the role of Dory in Finding Nemo, set for a 3D release this fall. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also named her Special Envoy for Global AIDS Awareness in November 2011.

…………………

THIS WEEK

Mars is turning retrograde and will backtrack through Virgo until April 13. In this period, recent pet peeves, critical arguments, bitchy outbursts and intestinal inflammations will come back to haunt you. Keep an eye on self-improvement without beating yourself up.

…………………

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Old arguments highlight your need to reconsider ideals you’ve taken for granted. Be careful that shrewd insight doesn’t push you to disillusion friends. You can be realistic and respectful.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Your debonair wit could easily backfire. The line between incisive epigrams and rude bitchiness is too easy to stumble over. If you need to be naughty, find an appropriate partner and a room.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
It’s very easy to talk your way into a hot little affair, but you may soon find it harder to get out of. Be sure of where the exits are before you step into anything.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
You’re cranky, even aggressive, especially with colleagues. Obsessing over details can distract you from bigger issues and dangers. But do heed details that concern your health.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Being nice comes off as manipulative. Use your overactive charms to deal with problems in a straightforward fashion. Resist the urge to gloss over them. Flirtations lead further than intended.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Disagreements at home get out of hand, especially when you just settled the problem. Be as patient and diplomatic as you can. Your attention soon turns to more interesting problems.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
A new passionate fling probably seems a lot more serious than it really is. Or less. Either way it’s sure to surprise you and probably a lot more people than you’d like to have know about it.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
It’s too easy to react to others. Your natural instinct is to be a control queen, but more productively, try to see why your nerves are so raw. Vigorous exercise will help your balance and insight.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
A cautious approach to a problem will open to more possibilities. Take that inspiration to work to find ideas pointing to new methods. With a solid grounding, advance bold new techniques.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Hitting a plateau is a natural stage. Don’t let it discourage you. Keep at whatever you’re doing, although if you can figure out why you’re stuck you may find better ways of doing it.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Frustration has more to do with your expectations. Brace yourself for problems to come back at you. Mouth off to friends who’ll help you develop a better perspective.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Talk with relatives about family health issues to get rude surprises to prepare your doctor than the other way around. Brush up on skills and get updated on technology that will help you at work.

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

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Laugh riot

Ellen cracks us up, on stage or page

……………

4 out of 5 stars
SERIOUSLY… I’M KIDDING
by Ellen DeGeneres
(Grand Central Publishing, 2011). $27; 241 pp.

…………….

Sometimes it’s hard not to laugh. When your 4-year-old says something hilariously profound, you bite your lip, knowing that you’d be in trouble if you bust a gut.  If your beloved does something silly but well-meaning, you twist your lips to avoid the outburst you know is coming. When your great-aunt shows up at holiday dinner dressed like that, you know there’d better not be even one “Ha!” to escape your lips.

Yep, sometimes it’s hard not to laugh — but you’ll want to when you read this book. “As it turns out, writing a book is hard,” Ellen DeGeneres says.

This is her third book, each one sharing the ellipses-in-the-title feature. She didn’t think writing it would be difficult because, after all, she has a lot to say every day for at least an hour. There’s a lot of talking on a talk show, you know.

There’s a lot of listening, too, and daydreaming is not allowed. DeGeneres listens to many famous people — one of her favorites is her wife, Portia de Rossi, who is “beautiful and one of the nicest people [she has] ever met.” No, she tells nosy people, they aren’t planning on having a family because “there is far too much glass” in their house. Besides, first you have to give birth.

“I won’t go into specifics,” says DeGeneres, “but ouch and no thank you.”

In case you’re thinking that this book is all fluff, you’ll also find useful advice in its pages. DeGeneres gives readers hints on being a supermodel and how to know what clothes will come back in fashion. She writes about polls and why people shouldn’t put too much faith in them. She offers several ways to gamble in Las Vegas, gives kudos to funny women who’ve paved the way for people like her.

But will you find laughs? Yes … but.

Seriously… I’m Kidding is like having a 241-page monologue in your lap. DeGeneres’ wicked wit beams bright from almost each page. But there are times when she dives below silliness. An entire page devoted to sound effects? Four pages of drawings for your child to color? Jokes like these and a few go-nowhere “short stories” may leave readers scratching their heads.

But if you’re a fan of DeGeneres’ talk show or standup, you’ll find a treasure-trove of classic humor that you won’t want to be without. For you, Seriously… I’m Kidding will be a hard book to miss. And we’re not kidding.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Ellen DeGeneres named special envoy for global AIDS awareness

Ellen DeGeneres

While speaking today on HIV/AIDS issues at the National Institutes of Health, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that out, proud lesbian comedian, actress and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has been named a special envoy for global AIDS awareness.

In a statement in response to the announcement, DeGeneres said she is honored to have been chosen by Secretary Clinton for the position.

“The fight against AIDS is something that has always been close to my heart.  And I’m happy that I can use my platform to educate people and spread hope,” DeGeneres said. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go look up what ‘envoy’ means.”

In a letter to DeGeneres, Clinton said the talk show host’s “energy, compassion and star power” will make her an effective voice for AIDS awareness.

“Your words will encourage Americans in joining you to make their voices heard in our campaign to achieve an AIDS-free generation. The enormous platform of your television show and your social media channels will enable you to reach millions of people with the strong and hopeful message that we can win this fight,” Clinton wrote.

In addition to her studio and television audience for her talk show each day, DeGeneres reaches 8 million followers on Twitter and 5.8 million people through Facebook. She has been outspoken advocate on anti-bullying issues and an advocate on animal rescue and rehabilitation and breast cancer issues. DeGeneres previously worked with the advocacy organization ONE to raise awareness on HIV/AIDS issues.

Clinton’s speech today is expected to be the first in a series of speeches and messages from the Obama administration leading up to World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

—  admin

Jill of all trades

From the Emmy red carpet to phlebotomy school, out comic Margaret Smith always has a plan

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

comedy

LAUGHING LESBIAN | Former Ellen writer and newly-minted Texan Margaret Smith steers clear of gay jokes.

For someone who’s been in a Martin Scorsese film (a bit part in GoodFellas), written a book about single motherhood and won six Emmys, it’s hard to find out much about comedian Margaret Smith. Her bios online are mostly mirror images of each other, and don’t even think of checking the social networks — she’s not on them.

“I think I’m the only person I know that’s not on Facebook,” she says. “People from way back pop on there.

If I haven’t seen them in so long, there’s probably a reason. Really, I’m just lazy. A friend of mine told me that there is only one YouTube video of me out there. ”

But the recent transplant to Texas (she moved to Austin with her two children last year) and former Ellen

DeGeneres joke writer is busy working on her stand-up again, so her focus isn’t likely on who her next friend request is from. Instead, it’s figuring where her next paycheck might come from. And that could be anywhere from telling jokes to drawing blood. Fortunately, she’ll be doing the former this weekend at Backdoor Comedy.

“I’ve sort of been ticking around, wondering what I want to do with the rest of my life,” Smith says. “After Ellen, I moved to Austin and became a phlebotomist, but then I couldn’t find a job doing that! People don’t want a joke and a poke — just the joke. I did some open mic stuff and got a writing job here. I liked it.”

Smith picked up several of her Emmys writing for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, leaving just before the writer’s strike of 2007. That move forced Smith to rethink her career strategy. With the strike, a writing gig wasn’t an option. Stand-up comedy was, but custody issues of her two sons forced Smith to move, either to Atlanta or Austin; the latter won. She became a Texan last year.

“I wasn’t gonna go anywhere without my kids,” she says. “But things were different in Austin. I was in a different arena of comedians and there was none of the Hollywood shit going on. It was kind of refreshing.”

Although she’s driving up I-35 for a Friday and Saturday performance, she might stick around Dallas to spend Sunday at the State Fair. She was thrilled at the idea of fried butter and fried margaritas.

“If I get invited and someone is willing to go with me, then I’d stick around,” she says. “With all that fried stuff, I guess I better serve up some fried jokes, huh?”

Most of Smith’s shtick relates to her experience with her family and as a single mom to two boys. She jokes about taking her son to get tested for ADD; it turned out he was fine — she was the one with the problem. She deadpans her family’s supportive nature of her comic memoir, What Was I Thinking, was evident in how they passed it around eight times rather than buy each family member their own copy.

But the out comedian doesn’t joke too much on the gay stuff, which she calls “not that funny and a little dirty.” Besides, not having dated anyone in over six years, she’s a little detached from the scene.

“What’s funny about being a lezzie? “ she quips. “I talk about dating guys when I was in my 20s but  I think those experiences are funny. Jokes about women can get easily graphic and I’d never do that onstage. Gay or straight, the crowd may not relate and start to disconnect. But I did receive the best compliment in the women’s restroom when this lady asked me if I had a tampon. I just wanted to make out with her because I’m too old to have one!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Cher is the latest gay icon to get a comic book

I’m not sure who’s running things over at Bluewater Productions comics, but they know their gay audiences. Following up on previous celebrity bio-comics like Lady Gaga, Madonna and Ellen DeGeneres, the publisher announced today that Cher will get the comic treatment this December. Her story will be the latest issue of their series Female Force. The 32-page comic will feature art by Zach Bassett and Warren Montgomery. The cover is by DC Comics Joe Philips. From BlueWater Productions:

Writer Marc Shapiro said Cher’s life and career “reads like a comic book.” “The clothes, the times, the attitudes of the decades she’s lived through. The different styles of music she’s been involved in. So much of what Cher has experienced is so flamboyant, over the top and just plain out there,” said Shapiro. “She has been very much the real life equivalent of a superhero, and writing about Cher, to a large degree, has been just about letting my imagination go.”

With no specific date mentioned, Bluewater says to expect the comic in the month of December at comic book shops, Barnes & Noble bookstores and Amazon.

—  Rich Lopez

Pride 2011 • Joel Burns: The difference a speech makes

When Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns followed his heart and spoke at a council meeting about his experiences as a bullied gay teen, the nation listened — and, he hopes, it helped make things get better

Burns.Joel
Joel Burns

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Honorary Grand Marshall

When Joel Burns made a speech to the Fort Worth City Council about his experiences being bullied as a teenager, he had no idea the kind of impact his words would have on people around this country.

But a year later, when organizers of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade chose “It Only Gets Better,” as the parade theme, Burns was the obvious choice for honorary grand marshal.

Burns said that his husband, J.D. Angle, calls the day Burns spoke at the council, “the day I blew up our lives.”

In some ways, that speech also blew up Fort Worth City Hall.

Burns received so many emails in the days following his emotional speech that the city had to replace its email server.

The phone system was so overwhelmed that it also had to be replaced.

And Burns’ office was so busy answering calls and replying to messages from teens from across the country who were bullied that the mayor’s office was running messages to him.

During a speech at the recent national convention of LEAGUE, the LGBT employee resource group for AT&T, Burns joked about what he learned from his sudden celebrity: “Between Ellen [DeGeneres] and Matt Lauer, Ellen’s the better kisser,” he said.

But on a serious side, Burns recalled receiving a torn piece of paper from a teen. It was what would have been the rest of a suicide note, which the teen decided not to finish after seeing Burns’ video.

“This is what remains of the note I left my roommate. Thank you,” the young man wrote to Burns.

Burns said that he wishes he could go back in time and tell his 13-year-old self that it really does get better.

He said that he believes that as human beings, we are drawn to bold action. But during our lives we tamp that impulse down. We learn that there are sometimes consequences and so we decide not to speak out, he said.

As a councilman, “My job is to fill potholes,” Burns said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

But last year he started hearing about young people taking their lives. He mentioned Asher Brown in Houston and a teen in Indiana who hung himself in his family’s barn. Then came another suicide in California, then Zack Harrington who killed himself after hearing anti-gay hate speech at a city council meeting in Norman, Okla.

“Someone should do something about this,” Burns said he told himself.

The Fort Worth City Council meets on Tuesday evenings with pre-council meetings held throughout the day. When Burns decided to tell his story, he told Angle, who advised against it.

“But I remember what it was like to be 13 and beaten up,” Burns said.

So when Angle realized there was no stopping Burns, he suggested that his partner write his speech down.

“J.D. said I suck extemporaneously,” Burns explained.

So Burns went home from the pre-council meeting and wrote a stream-of-consciousness account of what happened to him as a teenager. He said he had hoped to reach a few hundred people — those that actually watch Fort Worth City Council meetings online and those that sit through council meetings at City Hall.

But then local TV news stations broadcast portions of his speech, and then it was posted to YouTube. Burns called his parents as soon as he realized more people than just Fort Worth City Council junkies were watching it.

Inside Edition showed up at his parent’s house the next day.

Burns said that he’s closer to his family now than he’s ever been. He laughed about his parents’ differing reactions. He said his mother asked him if there was anything they could have done better and his father told him, “You need an alarm. And a gun.”

Burns said he had an hour-and-a-half conversation with his brother Cody that week as well, the longest conversation they had ever had. His brother was 15 years younger and so Burns was already out of the house through most of Cody’s life.

Burns said he cherishes that talk even more now because in March his brother was killed in a car accident.

When Burns spoke to the LEAGUE national convention in Dallas on Sept. 10, everyone attending had seen the YouTube video from the council meeting. As Burns told them the story behind the speech, the reaction was very emotional.

“I got beaten up everyday, not because I was gay but because I was Hispanic,” said Ernie Renteria, a LEAGUE member from Austin.

LEAGUE member Darrin Chin was attending from Los Angeles and said he first heard of Burns after speech at the council meeting.

“He’s a very inspiring person,” Chin said.

Chin and his partner have a 15-year-old adopted son. He said his son came out last year and they worry about him being the target of bullying.

Josh Hampshire of Bay City, Mich. said he was called everything from “sissy to the f-bomb. I was shoved into plenty of lockers.”

For him, he said, Burns’ speech really hit home.

“As someone who’s been on the edge, it really does get better,” Hampshire said. “I’m glad someone is looking out for our youth.”

One of LEAGUE’s youngest members is John Wakim of Providence, R.I. At 22, he’s already been with AT&T for five years. He said the company gives him a place where he feels safe for the first time in his life.

“I think everyone was bullied at school,” Wakim said. He agreed that things do get better for LGBT youth and that he can really relate to Burns’ story.

Burns said he has no idea how many young people may have benefited from his speech during the council meeting that night and his many appearances afterwards. But from the volume of calls and emails he has received, he said he does believe he’s made a difference.

But Burns said he is determined to not just use the video that went viral as platform for personal fame. He wants to make a real difference.

So when the Texas Legislature was in session this year, Burns lobbied House and Senate members with the parents of teen suicide victims Asher Brown. He said spending time with them was an honor, and Burns still tears up as he describes Asher’s mother’s anguish when she came home to a house wrapped in police tape.

In March, Burns also participated in a White House anti-bullying conference that he hopes will help set national standards for student safety in schools.

Burns said he is still surprised at the continued attention his council speech attracts, but that he realizes that his experience as a gay teen is a common one.

Burns said he learned from his experience that there are days that you’re supposed to fix the potholes but there’s a time when you have to speak out. He said that with two anti-bullying laws passed in Texas this year, “We’ve had amazing success here in Texas.”

For more information, go online to FortWorthGov.org/Government/District9.

To watch Joel Burns’ speech on being bullied, go to YouTube.com/Watch?v=ax96cghOnY4.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Sally Kern has a new website … or does she?

Sally Kern has a new website — SallyKern.com, also known as “Sally Kern: Bashing Gays for Jesus.”

Well, maybe it’s not hers. Maybe one of our readers just happened to notice that Kern had never registered her name as a domain, and neither had anyone else. Steve Rider deals in domain names regularly with his company, Steve’s Web Hosting (where you can also learn about the Gay Agenda).

“I have taken on Sally as a pet project,” said Rider, who describes himself as “a retired elderly homo with no respect for the Sanctity of Bigotry.”

Rider said when Kern first made national news with her “gays are more dangerous than Islam or terrorists” comment, “I discovered that she had never registered a dot-com domain in her name, so I took care of that for her.”

He has lots of fun stuff on the website, including a video from when Ellen Degeneres tried to call Kern on the air. And Wanda Sykes explaining she hopes Kern moves up in government so that she can pull the troops out of Iraq and attack West Hollywood.

In Kern’s new book, Stoning Sally Kern, she accuses the media of taking her out of context. Well, Ryder’s website allows you to hear her comments in their entirety. For example, let her tell you in her own words that blacks are in prison because they don’t want to work hard.

Oh, and in case you want more information about the book, Rider has registered Stoning Sally Kern as well.

In an interview this week with the conservative Tulsa Beacon, Kern compares same-sex marriage to marrying animals. The article describes Degeneres as “an avowed lesbian.”

But Kern explains that she doesn’t hate anyone. Everyone should have equal rights — it’s just that legislators should put biblical law before the Constitution.

“I am always being accused of hating homosexuals. I don’t hate anyone. This isn’t a matter of hating someone or trying to deny them their equal rights. All American citizens have equal rights under our Constitution. This is trying to get acceptance for a behavior that is specifically mentioned in God’s Word that is wrong.”

Kern’s book will be available on July 5. We’ve requested a review copy from the publisher.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Lady Gaga performs ‘Judas’ on Ellen

Ellen had Lady Gaga on today and this “world premiere performance” of her latest single,”Judas.” A fairly simple performance with lots of line dancing, but in case you missed it, here you go.

—  Rich Lopez