Who’s your favorite lesbian?

How could U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin, the first out lesbian elected to Congress, NOT be on anybody’s list of favorite lesbians?!

Who’s your favorite (celebrity) lesbian? AfterEllen.com wants to know. In fact, the website is currently conducting an online survey to find out “who ranks as the creme de la creme” when it comes to well-known lesbians. And AfterElton.com is doing the same survey, only with gay men.

Here are the rules: You get to vote for your favorite 10 open lesbians. They have to be women who are publicly out, not just ones that everyone knows are gay even though they have never said so publicly. They have to be living (so you can’t vote for Sappho). And they can come from any field, including politics, music, TV, movies, etc.

I went and voted and then I read some of the comments, and I have to say I was a bit disheartened to see that at least one person put Lindsey Lohan on the top 10 list. Lindsey Lohan? Give me a break! When we have women like Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and Ellen DeGeneres to choose from, you’re gonna pick Lindsey Lohan? Come on people, get on over to AfterEllen.com and vote so that Lindsey Lohan won’t make the list!

Voting is open through midnight on Friday, March 4 and results will be published on Monday, March 14. And you can only vote once, so make it count!

—  admin

News flash: Gays more humane than straights

The Humane Society of the United States presents the Genesis Awards, similar to the GLAAD Media Awards, to recognize outstanding presentations of the humane treatment of animals. And it’s no surprise — at least not to me and the gay vegans I know that gay-run businesses and gay-themed shows figure prominently in this year’s finalists.

Among them: How to Train Your Dragon is up for best feature film (it’s produced by DreamWorks, which is owned by gay mogul David Geffen); True Blood is up for best dramatic series (created by gay Oscar winner Alan Ball and with plenty o’ queer vamps, pictured); the Sid Caesar Comedy Award is between gay-friendly shows The Colbert Report, The Simpsons and The Daily Show; and TV newsmagazine faces off gay host Anderson Cooper of AC360 again lesbian host Jane Velez-Mitchell of Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell. And the schmancy Wyler Award goes to Kristin Davis of Sex and the City for her work bringing awareness to orphaned elephants. (It’s such a Charlotte thing to worry about orphaned elephants). Previous winners of the Wyler Award include Ellen DeGeneres and Portia Di Rossi.

The awards will be presented March 19 in Los Angeles.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Super Bowl XLV now officially gayest ever

First there was the Super Street Party on Cedar Springs, billed as the first-ever gay Super Bowl block party.

Then there was the Black-Eyed Peas and bisexual Fergie as halftime entertainment.

And now, to top it all off, the Village People — yes, those Village People — are slated to appear at Fair Park for an “XLV Party” a few nights before the big game, the Dallas Observer reports.

There’s no word on whether the Cedar Springs folks will try to get the Village People for the block party as well, since they’ll already be here and all. But either way, Super Bowl XLV is shaping up to be pretty darn queer. What’s next, Ellen DeGeneres as Fox’s sideline reporter? A special pregame screening of Glee on the big screen at Cowboys Stadium? Chely Wright singing the national anthem? Pastor Robert Jeffress performing the opening coin toss?

—  John Wright

WATCH: Madonna talks bullying on ‘Ellen’

In case you missed it, here’s the much tweeted-about appearance of Madonna on Ellen where she talks about bullying, teen suicides and how the gay community has helped her along the way.

—  Rich Lopez

Speaker at Fort Worth City Council meeting to ‘air disapproval’ of Joel Burns’ It Gets Better speech

Joel Burns

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns has said repeatedly that he was moved to deliver his Oct. 12 It Gets Better speech when he read about the death of Zach Harrington, a gay teen who took his own life after hearing hateful anti-gay comments during a City Council meeting in Norman, Okla. Now, someone reportedly plans to protest Burns’ passionate speech — and undoubtedly make more hateful comments that could drive LGBT teens to suicide — during this Tuesday’s Fort Worth City Council meeting. Unbelievable.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday that at least one person plans to speak during Tuesday’s meeting to “air disapproval” of Burns’ speech four weeks ago. The brief report in The S-T doesn’t identify the person or persons who plan to speak. It also doesn’t say where the newspaper got the information, which is strange:

At least one person — and possibly more — plans to be in attendance to air disapproval of the much-talked-about speech by Councilman Joel Burns last month in council chambers.

Burns, the first openly gay council member, gained national attention after delivering a stirring address, in the wake of recent incidents, pleading with gay teens not to resort to suicide.

Video of the speech became an instant sensation online.

Within a week, more than 200,000 people had posted the link to the speech on Facebook, and a media tour followed. Burns appeared for interviews on CBS’ Early Show, CNN, the Today show on NBC and the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Burns was among the speakers during Saturday night’s Black Tie Dinner in Dallas. Burns choked up as he talked about how he’d been contacted earlier in the day by Harrington’s father.

“Mr. Harrington said that Zach’s mom, a teacher, is having a particularly difficult time these days, and that he wishes he could let Zach know how much they miss him, but they can’t because he killed himself — after attending a City Council meeting,” Burns said. “As I said on Oct. 12, no child should be made to feel that they are without worth. Let us remind them of their value while we still can.”

Burns then led a moment of silence “in remembrance of the needless loss of teens who found the bullying too much to bear.”

Today we can add 14-year-old Brandon Bitner to the list of those teens.

Tuesday’s council meeting, should you wish to attend, is at 7 p.m. at Council Chambers at City Hall, 1000 Throckmorton St.

—  John Wright

Joel Burns nominated for Texan of the Year

Joel Burns

Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns has been nominated for The Dallas Morning News’ Texan of the Year based on his inspiring “It Gets Better” speech, according to DMN editorial writer Rodger Jones.

Burns has already been interviewed by national media and by Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show in the wake of his 12-minute speech at a council meeting last month in which he talked about being bullied as a teenager and the time he considered taking his own life. Video of the speech quickly went viral and Burns became one of the most visible faces of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Some of the other nominees are Southwest Airlines President Gary Kelly, philanthropist Elizabeth Shatto Massey, Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan and, a separate nominee, the “entire Texas Rangers baseball team.”

Well, win or lose, I love me some Texas Rangers. But when it comes to Texan of the Year, Joel gets my vote.

—  admin

National spotlight focuses on Burns

As Fort Worth councilman’s staff, volunteers continue to field e-mails, calls from bullied teens seeking help, Dallasites stage a 2nd vigil to remember teen suicide victims


DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

PROUD COUPLE  |  Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, right, and his partner, J.D. Angle, march with the city’s contingent in the Tarrant County Pride Parade earlier this month. Burns has garnered national attention with the “It Gets Better” speech he delivered during the Oct. 12 Fort Worth City Council meeting. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)
PROUD COUPLE | Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, right, and his partner, J.D. Angle, march with the city’s contingent in the Tarrant County Pride Parade earlier this month. Burns has garnered national attention with the “It Gets Better” speech he delivered during the Oct. 12 Fort Worth City Council meeting. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Joel Burns has been a familiar name and face in North Texas since 2007 when he was first elected to the Fort Worth City Council, becoming Cowtown’s first openly gay council member.

But in the last two weeks, thousands have learned Burns’ name and are hailing him as a hero of the LGBT community and the battle against bullying and teen suicide.

Fort Worth City Council’s Oct. 12 meeting started out as usual. But then Burns took his turn during that part of the meeting in which councilmembers routinely offer recognition to individuals and events in their own districts. But this time, Burns took on a national topic.

Struggling to choke back tears until finally giving up and letting the tears run down his face, Burns talked about several teenagers who were LGBT, or at least perceived to be LGBT, who had recently taken their own lives after enduring months, sometimes years, of anti-gay bullying and harassment.

And then the councilman told his own story, how he had himself been bullied as a teen and had contemplated suicide.

By the time he finished, everyone in the Council Chamber had risen to their feet to salute him with applause.

But it didn’t stop there. Burns posted the official  Fort Worth City Council video on YouTube as part of Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign to encourage and reassure LGBT teens — and suddenly, Burns was an Internet sensation.

Newspapers around the world posted the video on their websites and it went viral on YouTube. Before he knew it, Burns was being asked to be on, first local and then national and international news programs, including The Today Show with Matt Lauer. On Wednesday, Oct. 20, Burns was a guest on Ellen DeGeneres’ television talk show.

During an appearance on Ellen, Burns said that the best part of the last two weeks has been the number of teens from around the world who have e-mailed him and contacted him on Facebook.

“The countless number of kids from around the world … who said, ‘I was in a really, really bad place and I was making plans to take my own life,’” he said. “The fact that they have reconsidered — that makes it worth me crying at City Council, the heartache for my mom and dad, worth every bit of all that because they’re still alive.”

While Burns has been traveling coast-to-coast speaking out against bullying on all of the network morning shows in New York, on cable news and on Ellen in Los Angeles, a team of volunteers has been sorting through thousands of messages pouring into his e-mail inbox at Fort Worth City Hall.

By Monday, Oct. 18, more than 20,000 e-mails had arrived after the video had been streamed 1.3 million times. On Thursday, Oct. 21, the number of YouTube hits passed 2 million, and the e-mail and Facebook messages continue to pour in.

The YouTube page has logged more than 27,000 comments.

Actually reaching Burns or his office this week has been almost impossible. His office phone switches to directly to voice mail.

The Fort Worth City Hall media office said they would pass a message to his office to contact Dallas Voice. But spokesman Bill Begley said he’d walk a message down to Burns’ office himself.

Will Trevino in Councilmember Kathleen Hicks’ office said that former staff and volunteers in Burns’ office had been working overtime trying to keep up with the flood of messages.

Remembering the lost ones
Wednesday was Spirit Day, designated to remember young people who have committed suicide as a result of bullying. Many wore purple to show solidarity for efforts to stop the bullying based on actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined the call for an end to bullying by releasing an “It Gets Better” video earlier this week and wearing purple on Spirit Day.

More than 200 people gathered in the Caven parking lot off Cedar Springs Road and held a candlelight vigil marching to the Legacy of Love monument at Oak Lawn Avenue.

Marchers carried purple signs that read “Hope” and “It Gets Better.”

At the monument, organizer Ivan Watson read the names of recent suicide victims and a moment of silence was observed for each one.

Watson said he was inspired to organize the vigil after hearing about Asher Brown, the recent Houston suicide victim.

Organizer Steve Weir of DallasGay-Agenda.com billed the event as a peace march and vigil in memory of those who died and a stand against bullying D/FW area. He said that school policies must change to make schools safe for LGBT youth.

Rafael McDonnell from Resource Center Dallas said he searched bullying policies of school districts across the state and found none that specifically addresses bullying based on sexual orientation. Austin’s comes closest, he said.

McDonnell also said that Philadelphia’s school system passed a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that specifically addresses sexual orientation and sexual identity.

“It’s in Lew Blackburn’s hands,” McDonnell said.

Blackburn is the DISD trustee who has shown the most interest in crafting a policy that will protect LGBT students and those perceived to be.

The “It Gets Better” campaign continues. Randy Potts is the grandson of evangelist Oral Roberts. His uncle was gay and committed suicide. He is recording an “It Gets Better” video this weekend.

To watch video from Wednesday’s vigil, go to DallasVoice.com/videos

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Perez Hilton pledges to end his bullying ways

Last week, I sat down at the computer and watched a number of videos from people — famous and not-so-famous — who were participating in Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” campaign, sending video messages to LGBTQ youth that even though they may face bullying and harassment and discrimination now, life will get better if they just hang on.

One of the videos I saw was from gay gossip maven Perez Hilton. I have to admit, I didn’t even finish watching his video because I — apparently like a lot of other people — couldn’t stomach the apparent hypocrisy of watching this man — who has made a living bullying people and outing people who weren’t ready to be out — speaking out against bullying and trying to console young people who were being bullied.

Apparently, Perez realized the hypocrisy of it, too. And he went on Ellen DeGeneres’ show to acknowledge that hypocrisy and to pledge to change his ways. Will he change? I guess we just have to wait and see. But in the meantime, watch the video, and decide for yourself whether you believe he is sincere.

—  admin

De Rossi to become DeGeneres

Several weeks ago, I did a story on same sex couples who change their names. Ellen and Portia must have been reading.

This week, Portia de Rossi announced that she filed to legally have her name changed to Portia Lee James DeGeneres. This won’t be her first name change. The actress was born Amanda Lee Rogers. De Rossi met partner Ellen DeGeneres in 2004.

—  David Taffet

Ellen’s out: DeGeneres quits ‘American Idol’

Ellen DeGeneres won’t return to American Idol as a judge next season, she announced Thursday night.

DeGeneres came on board as a “replacement” for Paula Abdul, although it was generally acknowledged she was added to the lineup to provide continuity once Simon Cowell, the tart-tongued judge who, let’s face it, made the show a hit in the first place, left at the end of last season. DeGeneres admitted her contract allowed her to have a say in who would replace Cowell. No replacement for him has been named yet, and nationwide auditions are set to begin next month.

DeGeneres cited how hard it is to be mean as a reason for her departure, but the show is undergoing other shakeups. In addition to Cowell’s departure, this season was generally seen as one of the weakest, with talented but lackluster singers, too much chatter from four judges (instead of three) and declining ratings (though it’s still a mammoth hit). Nigel Lythgoe, who executive-produced American Idol before leaving a few years ago to run So You Think You Can Dance, has been brought back on board. He reportedly dislikes the four-judge panel

Ominously, he seemed to like Randy Jackson, who is embarrassingly banal deadweight whose critiques are repetitive and childish. At least Paula was watchable, like a train wreck. Kara DioGuardi is more flotsam.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones