Starvoice • 12.02.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Ann Coulter turns 50 on Thursday. The political commentator/author has never been a friend to the gay community, but her association with Taylor Garrett of A-List: Dallas resulted in alleged hate crimes against Garrett. Coulter still stirs the pot on her own, recently calling for Occupy protestors to be shot and publicly insulting John McCain. You know, the usual stuff.

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THIS WEEK

This week’s lunar eclipse will be partially visible in New Zealand, but felt everywhere as brainstorms lead too easily to arguments. Rather than inadvertently showing off what you don’t know, think about what you need to learn.

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SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Standing up to authority will get you smacked down. It’s possible you could be wrong. Think ahead! Be very pragmatic about your goals and how you intend to make them.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Working hard is necessary. Working too hard is dangerous. Proper rest helps you work smarter. If you must tear apart authority figures, make sure they’re far away. Politicians are fair game.

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Listen to that deep inner voice as you consider sexual adventures. Trying to prove yourself can lead to injuries. Be especially careful of your mid and lower backside.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Turn lazy moods into times for creative reverie. Tough, honest introspection yields powerful insights. Guard against crankiness with your partner. You need to face some hard truths there.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Turn on the charm at work. Just don’t be too pushy about it. Jealous colleagues accuse you of brown-nosing. Be considerate, but don’t worry much. If you can’t win, don’t play the game.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Playful teasing gets out of hand. That goads you into adventures that will test your limits. Be careful what you talk yourself into. You’ll discover things that you’ve tried not to admit.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Conversations with friends degenerate into arguments. What do you need to prove? Aren’t you on the same side? Sexual tension is feeding into stress. Keep your home ready for company.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
Pay attention to anxieties. They can teach you a lot about yourself. New info from a distant relative or a spiritual teacher can help you better to understand family problems.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Playfulness is good for the soul. Worrying too much about the outcome inhibits your creativity and your growth. Get wild. What you release can offer insight into your work and your health.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Burying problems at home only makes them worse. Have the arguments and get them out of the way. Just remember that one of you is wrong and will realize it soon. Even odds on who that is.

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
Work out any domestic problems with your partner where money’s involved. No partner? Down-home charm can help you find one. Some witty flirtation will help get things started.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Arguments with friends over money can lead to betrayal, hurting you a lot more than you would expect. Don’t worry about the future. You’ll figure it out as it comes present.

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

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Feedback • 11.18.11

Double standard

Since the gay community and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation throw such fits when we feel we have been insulted or slighted (Wanda Sykes starring in a commercial chastising a group of teens using the term “so gay,” Blake Shelton coming under fire for anti-gay comments and most recently Brett Ratner resigning as producer of the Oscars for using the word “fag” in what was deemed a derogatory way), I am surprised and ultimately disappointed in the double standard the Dallas Voice borrows to do business their way.

In the article “Driver’s Seat” (Dallas Voice, Nov. 11), staff writer Rich Lopez actually quotes Drew Ginsburg as saying “Well, if you buy a SAAB, you’re retarded.”

First of all, I cannot believe he would use the quote and secondly, and more significantly, I cannot believe that a proofreader or the editor allowed this to go to print.

One would expect a certain level of professionalism, sensitivity, maturity and social responsibility to have prevented this from happening — not to mention human decency.

I hope others speak up about this, if only to raise awareness that the Voice needs to be more responsible and less hypocritical of what they don’t approve of, and ultimately take more caution in the future about what goes out the public. This is irresponsible journalism and further proof that Ginsberg is a jerk.

Geoffrey Bruce, via email

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TO SEND A LETTER  |  We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

—  Michael Stephens

Taylor Dayne can’t stop the music

Taylor Dayne can’t stop the music

More than 20 years after she packed the gay bar dance floors with her debut hits, the songstress is still going strong, and says her performance at Black Tie is a ‘win-win’ for her and her fans

Dayne.TaylorRich Lopez  |  Staff Writer

lopez@dallasvoice.com

Helping out LGBT people is nothing new for singer Taylor Dayne.

She can’t quite recall when she knew she was a hit with the gay community: Over the course of her 23-year career in pop music, she’s played venues of all sizes, but she did notice early on how a certain fan base seemed to keep showing up.

“It’s kinda hard to remember, but I would perform very specific shows and then some gay clubs and it dawned on me,” she said.

With an explosive debut, thanks to her platinum selling 1988 debut Tell It To My Heart and the more sophisticated follow-up Can’t Fight Fate a year later, Dayne became a quick force to be reckoned with on the charts.

But her pop hits were just as big on the dance floor, and Dayne was resonating across the queer landscape.

“I’ve had wonderful relationship with gay and lesbian fans for years. I’m so glad to be doing Black Tie because I have a great core of fan base here,” she said. “It’ll be a good show with lots of fun and for a good cause. It’s a win-win.”

Dayne’s performed at gay bars and Pride events in Boston, Chicago and the Delaware Pride Festival. But appreciation of her work in the community was clearly evident in 2010 when she was asked to record “Facing a Miracle” as the anthem for the Gay Games.

“That was quite an honor and then they asked me to perform at the games,” she said. “It was very emotional for me. The roar of the crowd was great.”

Even after two decades, Dayne remains just as committed to music as she was in 1988. She’s embraces her sort of “elder” status in pop music and instead of seeing the likes of Nikki Minaj and Katy Perry as rivals, she enjoys what they are bringing to the landscape of music now.

“I love listening to all the new stuff going on. There is some great talent out there. It’s nice to know I was some inspiration to them, the way ladies like Debbie Harry and Pat Benatar were for me. The cycle goes on,” Dayne said.

But they still push her to keep in the game. She admitted, “I’m pretty competitive that way.”

This year, Dayne released the single, “Floor on Fire,” which made it to the Billboard Dance/Club Charts Top 10.

At 49, Dayne doesn’t show signs of slowing. Along with a rumored second greatest hits album, she recently wrapped up filming the indie movie Telling of the Shoes and she’s a single mother to 9-year-old twins. Juggling it all is a mix of emotions, but her confidence pushes her through.

“I can say I’m a great singer, so when it comes to decisions, I’m fine about recording and performing,” she said. “But I would say I work really hard at acting. It’s nerve-wracking but it’s also amazing. But I’m not a novice at any of this.”

With her children, she doesn’t make any pretenses about the difficulty of being both a musician and a mom — as long as she instills the proper principles in them.

“We don’t try to get wrapped up in small time crap,” she said. “At the end of day it’s about having a good heart and they have great heart.”

It’s likely she’ll show the same at Black Tie.

—  Rich Lopez

Halloween: The gay high holy day

What is it that draws LGBTs to Halloween in such a way that even the most clueless straights know it?

Two or three decades ago, I saw a cartoon in a mainstream publication depicting a husband and  his wife walking down a city street where they encountered two gay men dressed up for Halloween. The publication might have been Playboy or the like, because those magazines occasionally ran cartoons and editorial content related to

LGBT issues that other publications’ editors wouldn’t have dreamed of touching at the time.

In the first frame of the cartoon, the husband calls the men “fairies.” In the second frame the wife is standing over a frog saying, “I told you it was their night.”

David-Webb

David Webb The Rare Reporter

I remember chuckling and wondering how Halloween ever got to be designated as “our night” in the first place, but I never pursued it any further.

The passage of the years failed to bring me any enlightenment so I recently decided to find an answer to my question.

My research revealed that both LGBT and evangelical writers have weighed in on the subject of the gay community’s fascination with Halloween. But the opposing sides, naturally, have reached far different conclusions about what it means. Both sides agree that Halloween’s origin goes back some 2,000 years ago to the Celtic feast of Samhain, but the concord ends from that point forward.

Dr. Terry Watkins of Dial the Truth Ministries based in Alabama views Halloween as a celebration of the devil and all else that is evil. He warns that Halloween is a modern-day continuation of Samhain, a pagan ceremony practiced by Celtic priests called Druids. The priests celebrated death and hell and oversaw a “terrifying night of human sacrifices” that included first-born children, according to Watkins’ writings.

In regard to the LGBT community’s celebration of Halloween, Watkins claims that the gay community adopted it because the night has always been a symbol of “misrule and the outrageous.” He claims that Halloween is responsible for society’s growing acceptance of homosexuality because of large parades that feature cross-dressing and “gaudy perversion and decadence.”

Watkins and other evangelists maintain that Halloween has turned the world “upside down,” and they claim the Catholic religion has perpetuated the legacy of Samhain through the observance of All Saints Day.

In contrast, LGBT writers, such as poet Judy Grahn, have written of Halloween as a “great gay holiday.” Grahn wrote in her history of gay culture, Another Mother Tongue, that Halloween came to be observed by gay people as their special night because LGBT people had served as priests, witches, shamans, healers and intermediaries between living and spiritual worlds in many societies throughout history. The Druids dressed up in elaborate costumes and interacted with spirits as part of their Samhain celebrations, according to Grahn.

Grahn theorized that the Druids’ practice of impersonation, dressing up in costumes and belief in crossing over between human and spiritual worlds appealed to gay people.

Other LGBT writers have noted that gay people began looking forward to celebrating Halloween as far back as the 1930s, because it provided a cover and an opportunity for them to revel without fear of law enforcement intervention.

Jesse Monteagudo, a gay South Florida writer, wrote in Halloween: the Great Gay Holiday, that he believes LGBT people adopted Halloween as their special night because it had “a lot to do with our role as outsiders in society; our propensity for cross-dressing and gender-bending; our love for the unusual and the fantastic; our ability to find humor in the absurdities and misfortunes of life; our fascination with festive costumes and the world of make-believe; and our special capacity to have fun.”

It would be hard to argue with Moteagudo’s reasoning, as that pretty much sizes up the LGBT community from my perspective. But as far as Watkins is concerned, I think he might be taking late night horror movies and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video a little too seriously.

As it happens, one of the reasons the question about the origin of Halloween as a gay holiday kept coming back to me was because of another memory from when I was about 8 years old. One night 54 years ago, I was worrying because I did not have a costume to wear out trick-or-treating. My mother, who for the most part usually was not operating on the same frequency as other kids’ parents, suggested I wear one of her dresses.

I recall being surprised by her remark, to the point of being aghast at the thought of parading up and down the street in one of my mother’s dresses in view of my classmates. As accustomed as I was to my mother’s peculiar thoughts, this sounded a little strange even for her — especially for the year 1958.

Over my protests, my mother assured me that boys dressing up as girls and girls dressing up as boys would be perfectly acceptable on Halloween. So yes, I wound up going out wearing one of my mother’s dresses that night. But I didn’t stay out very long, and every time someone approached or a car passed I darted behind some bushes or dived into a ditch.

When I returned home about an hour later I hadn’t knocked on any doors, and I had an empty Halloween bag. It was about then that I decided I had outgrown Halloween along with Santa Claus.

I have no idea why my mother thought cross-dressing was appropriate, and I’m sure she would have been hard pressed to have backed up the argument. But it would appear that she was oddly on track.

All I can deduce is that everyone — regardless of their perspective — realizes Halloween is a night where the unorthodox will be the norm.

It’s an easy bet for me that my mother never heard of Druids, Samhain, impersonation to avoid spirits or much of anything else associated with the origin of Halloween.

But she obviously knew it was a night where anything goes, and it was meant to be enjoyed — not feared.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has written about LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative media for three decades. E-mail him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Coming out as a gay hockey fan

Via OutSports and the brilliantly named gay hockey blog Puck Buddies comes this charming account of a gay Dallas Stars fan’s recent trip to a game at the American Airlines Center with his boyfriend. An excerpt:

After our hockey game (he bought the tickets as a surprise), it got me thinking – will there ever be a time when I can go to a Stars game and not be afraid to kiss my boyfriend in between plays or periods? I think this is something every gay hockey fan has thought about at one point or another, and I’m curious to hear from other guys around here if they’ve been in the same position. 

I had an amazing time watching hockey with Jon and I can’t wait to go back and do it again and again and again, but wonder if I’ll feel more comfortable and a little less self-conscious the next time. The concern is Jon is my first REAL boyfriend, we live in Dallas, TX, and the typical hockey crowd mayyyyyy not be the most tolerant towards fans like us. I really do hope that one day we’ll be able to take in a game and not feel odd, judged or so rare. There’s no way we’re the only gay guys who go ape for the Stars. No way.

Saturday night was great. These past two months have been great, and Jon is great because he’s not only willing to put up with my hockey obsession but he encourages it as well. Oh yeah, the Stars beat the visiting Blue Jackets 4-2, and the night only got better after the final horn.

—  John Wright

M Crowd’s Ray Washburne supports a Republican (but NOT Rick Perry) for president

Ray Washburne, who runs M Crowd Restaurant Group — the Dallas-based company that owns Mi Cocina, Taco Diner and other eateries — was interviewed on NPR’s Morning Edition today, talking about his fundraising for GOP candidates. Seems Washburne was an early supporter of Tim Pawlenty for president, and was disappointed when he dropped out. That meant Washburne had to refocus his fundraising efforts on another candidate, and naturally he chose … Mitt Romney. Yep, not Rick Perry, for whom he has been an ardent monetary supporter as Texas governor. Seems that even a Texas Republican who would benefit having another Texan in the White House, and one he has endorsed in the past, thinks Perry isn’t qualified for the job. You can listen to the audio here.

Now to me, that’s the story — it’s what I intended to blog about as soon as the audio came available. But waiting in my inbox when I arrived at work was an email from a gay Dallasite, encouraging gays not to patronize any of the M Crowd restos.”Before you spend another dime at Mi Concina, Taco Diner or the Mercury you may want to reconsider where you[r] money is going and it’s going to candidates that support anti-gay causes.”

I can’t say I fully agree with my friend on this point. I don’t think giving money to any Republican candidate is, by nature, supporting anti-gay causes. Does Mitt Romney favor same-sex marriage? He most certainly does not — he’s said as much. You know who else has said he does not support same-sex marriage? Barack Obama, who has also made that bias perfectly clear. So, as far as same-sex marriage goes, Romney and Obama seem identical. That does not, of course, mean that Obama is more hostile to gay causes in general, or that Romney is a good candidate for gay voters; it just means that if donating money to a Republican means that your business is “anti-gay” …. well, I think there are a lot of restaurants in town gays might have to boycott.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The New York Times on El Paso benefits fight

Pastor Tom Brown

The New York Times on Sunday took a look at the battle over domestic partner benefits in El Paso. The one thing about the story that stood out to me — in addition to some of the extreme anti-gay rhetoric — was this passage:

While some groups have organized in support of the three officials, the city’s gay community has been noticeably quiet.

Tony Ramos, a retired Army sergeant who works on a statewide H.I.V. and AIDS prevention program, said the gay community was taking a wait-and-see attitude. “For most of us here,” Mr. Ramos said, “being gay is not an issue.”

But he predicted that gay El Pasoans would band together to fight for those who had supported them.

“People are tired and they are fed up,” Mr. Ramos said. “And they do not appreciate El Paso being painted as such a backwards type of city.”

Let’s hope Ramos is right, and the LGBT community in El Paso does stand up. Furthermore, let’s hope the LGBT community around the state and across the nation stands up behind it.

The story notes that of the 19 El Paso employees who signed up for DP benefits, only two are gay. But make no mistake — anti-gay hatred was behind the 2010 ballot measure that overturned DP benefits, just as it is behind the effort to recall the city officials who voted to reinstate them.

National LGBT groups like the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force raise a lot of money out of Texas. This seems like one of those times when they need to put some back in.

—  John Wright

Pride 2011 • LGBT seniors in Dallas ‘just out of luck’

One man’s plight highlights the needs, dangers facing the entire community of older LGBT people

Kee-Holt
Kee Holt

David Webb  | Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

Almost a year after a well-known gay community activist was discovered wandering the streets and apparently suffering from dementia, he remains alone in a nursing home near White Rock Lake without any support from family or friends, according to representatives of Dallas’ Crisis Intervention Unit.

“He is completely alone,” said Valencia Hooper, a caseworker for the unit, which is a program administered by the Dallas Police Department. “He doesn’t have anybody.”

The activist, whose identity is being withheld because of his vulnerability, was arrested by police just before Christmas last year when he was allegedly discovered trying to get into a car that did not belong to him. At the time the activist was homeless and wandering the streets after being evicted from his Oak Lawn apartment.

It is suspected that at the time of his arrest he was too confused to understand what he was doing, and that he was likely trying to find shelter from the weather.

While he was in jail¸ the activist came into contact with a nurse who realized that he was suffering from dementia and did not belong there, according to Marilu Thorn, another caseworker with the unit that initially assisted him and tried unsuccessfully to locate family members or friends who knew him.

Thorn said that when she started looking into the activist’s personal history in an attempt to find help for him, she was shocked to discover that he had been so well-known in the community. A few years ago, the activist was on the Democratic Party’s ticket running for a state representative’s position for a district in central Dallas.

Thorn reached out to the Dallas Voice for help, and a notice was posted on the newspaper’s blog featuring a picture of the activist and asking for assistance in locating his family. The effort was unsuccessful so the activist now only has contact with nursing home staff, other residents and the caseworkers who still monitor him.

“He’s pretty much out of it,” said Hooper, who noted that he needs someone to visit him and make sure that he has the personal things he needs such as clothing and shoes. “He’s really a very sweet man.”

Hooper said that as it stands now, if the activist were to die there wouldn’t even be anyone to notify to determine if anyone wanted to hold a memorial service. “He is going to die someday,” she said.

The activist, who moved to Dallas in 1975, is believed to have a son and a grandson somewhere, but apparently no one knows how to contact them. A former roommate of the activist’s now reportedly lives in Florida.

Hooper said that when the activist was first evicted from his apartment, some of his neighbors tried to help him for a while. One neighbor would let him sleep on her sofa at night. He would go to the streets during the day when she left for work.

“They didn’t know what to do,” Hooper said. “They kind of treated him like he was a little dog.”

At the time the activist’s plight came to the attention of the Dallas Voice, research showed that there were scarce resources dedicated to aging LGBT people who lack personal resources. Although the activist’s plight sparked some concern in the community, apparently no progress has been made so far.

One reader who commented about the lack of resources said the community’s resources are rightfully dedicated to HIV/AIDS services, and that there is no room for other programs.

He said that LGBT people are already entitled to the same resources that benefit all elderly people, but another reader noted that many programs benefiting seniors are religion-based and reject homosexuality.

Resource Center Dallas sponsors a program for LGBT seniors, the GLBT Aging Interest Network or GAIN, but its primary focus is education, entertainment and social activities, according to Kee Holt, RCD’s center services manager who oversees the GAIN Program.

After the activist began receiving help from the caseworkers, he was transferred from jail to a medical facility for evaluation and eventually was placed in the nursing home.

Thorn said anyone who was aware of the activist’s plight could have called Dallas’ 311 service to report his situation. That would have resulted in his case probably being referred to the

Crisis Intervention Unit, and he would have avoided the trip to jail, she said.

“It shouldn’t have gotten that bad,” Thorn said.

Holt said that as unfortunate as this man’s story is, a nearly complete lack of services in Dallas for LGBT seniors means that he is probably not the only one in such a situation.

“There’s really nothing at all out there for GLBT seniors in this city,” Holt said. “If you’re an older GLBT person here who needs some specific services, you’re really just out of luck.

There are no GLBT-specific shelters, no GLBT-specific services or resources. Oak Lawn United Methodist Church does have a program that helps a lot of people, but it’s not GLBT-specific.”

There are, of course, more general services and resources for senior citizens in the area, and Resource Center Dallas recently became a member of the Community Council of Greater

Dallas, an umbrella organization for Dallas-area agencies on aging. But, Holt stressed, those services are often not educated on the special needs of LGBT seniors and in some instances are outright hostile.

“When I first took this job in 2008, I started just cold-calling all the nursing homes and assisted-living facilities I could find in this area, just to try and get a feel for what people knew about LGBT seniors and their issues and how welcoming they would be,” Holt said. “I got hung up on a lot of times, and I even had some people tell me that they didn’t have any LGBT residents because ‘they grow out of it by now.’ Some just told me, “We don’t have that kind of thing here.’”

It’s attitudes like those, Holt said, that put many older LGBTs in an untenable either-or situation: “They have lived their lives as out LGBT men and women, and now, they face the decision of either going back into the closet and spending the rest of their lives hiding who they are, or they can stay out and face being ostracized, maybe even mistreated, by staff members and other residents at the nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

“It’s just a really, really difficult situation, with no good answers right now,” he said.

Holt noted that the Dallas Area Agency on Aging has recently asked Resource Center Dallas to conduct diversity training for its staff in an effort to increase understanding on LGBT issues. That is a step in the right direction, he said, but there are many more steps that are needed.

“The Resource Center needs a full-time staff person to work on just these issues. I don’t have the time to do that, and the funding for that isn’t there right now,” Holt said. “What we need in Dallas is an activist organization focusing on these [LGBT senior] issues. I don’t think that GAIN will be that organization. But we need one.”

Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash contributed to this report.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Good Christian belle

Gay ally Kristin Chenoweth talks about her new country music CD (she adores Dolly!), queers … and the right way to be a Christian

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO KRISTIN | The performer has conquered stage, recording, TV … and uniting gay rights with her faith.

Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t get miffed very easily. But when she does, watch out. Last year, after Newsweek published a commentary on the inability of gay actors to play straight roles, she wrote an extensive letter to the magazine, calling the article “horrendously homophobic.”

But Chenoweth’s allegiance to the gay community goes back to growing up in Oklahoma — a place she returned to for her latest album, Some Lessons Learned, the first of four where the opera-trainer singer fully embraces her country roots.

We had lots to talk about when we caught up with Chenoweth, on a dinner break from shooting her upcoming series, Good Christian Belles. She discussed her history of dating gay men, her opinion on Michele Bachmann’s support of gay conversion clinics … and being a little bit wicked.

— Chris Azzopardi

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Dallas Voice: Your character’s name on Good Christian Belles is Cockburn — Carlene Cockburn. Chenoweth: I can’t wait for my family to hear that one. Are you kidding? I was like, “Wait a minute…!” But I just think the most important thing for me as an actress, because of the lines that come out of my mouth, is to just have to speak them and keep going, because they’re so funny and her name is so funny and the whole thing is just so great. I love it.

Does your character have anything in common with April Rhodes, who you play on Glee? Probably not on paper, but they’re both pretty outlandish people. Carlene, though, is the antithesis of April.

You grew up in Oklahoma, so country music is your roots. How is your new album a reflection of that? It’s so funny, because I get asked, “Why a country album now?” But that’s how it all began for me. Of course, why would anyone know that? It’s not something I’ve been talking about a lot, but it’s the music I grew up listening to. One of my biggest influences is Dolly Parton, and when you look at the history of songs in musical theater and in country, they’re both usually great storytellers.

I know just how lucky I am to do this kind of music. Getting to go to Nashville and sing this music that feels like home to me was a real gift, and one that I don’t take lightly.

The song “What Would Dolly Do?” reminds me a lot of Dolly herself. I co-wrote that. [Producer] Bob Ezrin asked, “Who’s had the biggest influence on you country music-wise?” I said, “Dolly, without question.” And he said, “How would she approach it? Let’s think: What would Dolly do?” I said, “Bob, why aren’t we writing that song?”

There’s something about her that I feel very attuned to. There’s only one Dolly. I’m not comparing myself, but I’m just saying her spirit and the way she looks at life is pretty similar to me. And the cover I did of hers [“Change”] is actually a very emotional thing and it reminded me — of course, how could I ever forget? — what an amazing songwriter she is. You know, I didn’t do a lot of covers. I did two covers, one of Carrie [Underwood] and one of Dolly’s, and I just love both of them. I love their music, I love their spirit — everything they stand for.

It makes total sense, because, to me, both you and Dolly epitomize happiness. Oh my god, thank you. That’s the biggest compliment you could give me.

So, being so happy… what pisses you off? Oh, gosh! I don’t really get mad that often. But I’m not going to lie: When I do, there’s a quiet that comes over me that is a little like whoa, and that happens when I don’t feel other people are prepared or doing their job or pulling their weight. I come from a family where my dad came from nothing and worked hard to get where he is, and he said, “Work hard, play hard, Kris,” and I guess that’s kind of been my motto in life. So when I see people squandering opportunities or having a sense of entitlement, that really makes me crazy. Because I don’t understand it. It’s not a world I get.

One thing that does make you upset is homophobic people. I don’t like that, you’re right.

Your letter in response to that Newsweek column said it all. Why was it important to address your feelings on that issue? To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen. I was on Broadway doing Promises, Promises, and I read the article and I actually thought it was pretty irresponsible. I’m not even talking about whether a person agrees with being gay or not, I’m talking about artistry and gay

actors trying to play straight. It just made me mad, because I thought, “Well, I’ve played a prostitute, does that mean I am one? No.” I just thought it was a little bit of a bullying thing, and I honestly prayed about it — no kidding, I prayed about it.

And by the way, I’m a big fan of the magazine, which is why I was so bummed. But I think that they felt bad and hopefully there’s been some discussion about it and some learning, because that’s what we’re here to do on this Earth, to learn our purpose. Well, one of my purposes in this life — since I’m a believer and a Christian — is to help people realize that not every Christian thinks that being gay is a sin.

To reinforce your point, you made out with your Promises, Promises co-star Sean Hayes at the Tonys last year. It might’ve been a little jibe. It might’ve been a little one! Ha!

What was it like to make out with a gay man? Was that your first time? Well, let’s face it, my high school boyfriend is gay, so I don’t think it’s my first time making out with gay men! I bet a lot of women don’t even know they’ve done it! And Sean Hayes is just a darn good kisser, what can I say?

Wait, so you dated a gay man in high school? Yeah, and I’m like, “Well, that’s why we were such a great couple!” He didn’t pleasure me in any way but he helped me pick out my prom dress!

Was he one of the first gay people you knew in Oklahoma? Yeah. I want to tell you something I know about myself: When I was in the second or third grade, I first heard the word “dyke,” and it was in reference to a girl in our school who was very, very tomboyish. I didn’t really understand what the word was, but I knew I didn’t like the way it was said. And for some reason I’ve always been drawn to the person that was alone, and I don’t mean to make me sound like I’m Mother Teresa, because I’m not. But I’ve always been drawn to people who felt left out or different, and maybe it’s because, I too, felt different and unique. People would not think this of me, because there’s this perception of me that, “Oh, life’s been perfect and things have come so easily.”

But let’s face it: My speaking voice is very interesting. Yes, I was a cheerleader but I also wanted to do all the plays, I was in renaissance choir, and, I too, felt a little bit like an outsider. I was always drawn to people who felt that way, too. And sure, some of them were gay and I never did understand — I guess the word is fear.

God made us all equal. He made me short, he made someone gay, he made someone tall — whatever it is, it’s not a sin; it’s how we’re made. And that’s the way I feel about it. It flies in the face of a lot of what Christians believe, but as I’m finding out there’s a lot of Christian people who think the same as me. So that’s my deal, and I think we should not be careful of the unknown but rather accepting and loving of it.

As someone who’s Christian and supports the gay community, how do you feel about the pray-away-the-gay program that Michele Bachmann supports? [Long pause] You know what, you can have your opinion. One of the great things about being in this country is we get to freely say what we believe. I just don’t happen to agree with that. Though I like the “pray” part!

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

—  Michael Stephens

My way or the highway: Gay etiquette book trades on stereotypes and typos

The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, by Corey Rosenberg. (2011, Chelsea Station Editions) $15. 120 pp.

Oscar Wilde, as usual, said it best: “A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone’s feelings unintentionally.”

Corey Rosenberg’s current-day homage to homosexual decorum, The Gay Man’s Guide to Timeless Manners and Proper Etiquette, deftly seizes upon Wilde’s Victorian-era kernel of truth and expands it into a post-modern banquet of American gay, fast-food sensibilities.

More pamphlet, unfortunately, than book, Rosenberg’s opus would have benefited greatly from decent editing: Wise amelioration would certainly have gone a long way toward persuading Rosenberg’s readers to trust his voice. When he refers to himself in the preface as, “the consummate host,” the reader is absolutely ready to follow him down the path of how to do the right and proper thing; sadly, when he goes on to own up nobly to some “shear [sic] and vile behavior,” the reader is caught flat-footed by poor editing.

Unacceptable typos aside — even in a book professing to divulge proper gay etiquette — Chapter 1’s title alone, “The truth about ‘pleases’ & thank you’s’” is too littered with grammatical heresies for any person (say nothing of whether they’re gay) interested in learning proper behavior to take cues from this puffery of sheer syntax laziness; that said, Rosenberg is spot-on regarding why one should never forget to say “please” or “thank you.”

How this common-sense wisdom applies to gay men exclusively is not elucidated upon, except the dismissive assertion that, “attitudes of entitlement are a commonality in the gay community.” Bullfeathers! This reviewer, as a card-carrying member of the club himself, has a very difficult time accepting the cliché of all gay men being self-centered prima donnas.

The book is a puzzling

parade of mixed-message brevity. Chapter 3’s full 110 words, entitled “The Gym,” rather preciously proclaim, “Please remember that the only person you are meant to compete with at the gym is yourself;” yet, Chapter 13’s subject, “Being Attired Properly and Appropriately,” states, “A respectable gay man never wears a skimpy Speedo unless his stomach is tight, his skin is a few shades darker than a wintry shade of pale and he is under the age of 50.” Which is it: Are gay men only complete with themselves when they’re young and physically attractive to others; or are they only complete with themselves once they’re too old to pass for under-50?

At worst, Rosenberg’s guide to gay propriety is an innocuous piece of fluff, like bellybutton lint illuminated by a reflected disco ball’s ray upon your trick’s glistening, shirtless torso.

Rosenberg does offer useful visuals on how to loop a genteel bow tie knot, even if he doesn’t tackle acknowledging the difference between modern life and yesteryear: As he attests in Chapter 18, “Social climbing is a sleazy act of using people to quickly achieve higher rank or status within the community. A proper young man knows the difference between innocent social networking and skipping lines and climbing ladders.”

Here’s to all “proper” young men, then — past, present and future.

— Howard Lewis Russell

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

—  Michael Stephens