Gay dad, son lost everything in Oak Lawn fire

Danael Broussard and his son Samuel, 7, lost all of their possessions in a fire on Holland Avenue on July 12. They escaped uninjured, but with only the clothes they were wearing, his phone and car. Their condo is one of the ones that was destroyed.

Fellow gay dad Cooper Smith Koch wrote in an email to Dallas Voice, “They really need our help to rebuild their lives.” Broussard was renting the condo and had no insurance, according to Smith Koch.

Toys, clothing and housewares can be dropped off at the children’s store Layette, 4214 Oak Lawn Ave. (in the Shops of Highland Park at the corner of Wycliff Avenue) or Larry North Fitness, 6025 Royal Lane, Suite 120 (on the northeast corner of Preston Road).

Dianna Miller, a friend of Broussard’s who works at Layette, said the outpouring of help has been amazing. She said that housewares were particularly needed — dishes, glasses, silverware.

Broussard has found a new place to live, and he and Samuel will be moving in over the weekend. Since the fire, they have been staying with friends.

Miller said, “He’s one of those people who, if he saw someone at the side of the road, he’d stop to help them.” She said she hoped people would help him and Samuel after this disaster.

—  David Taffet

A few Oscar oddities

Among the unexpected, bizarre or surprise decisions at this year’s Oscar nominations ceremony:

• Only two songs were nominated — and neither went to Elton John for Gnomeo and Juliet’s ”Hello Hello” or Madonna for W.E.‘s “Masterpiece.” They may be in terrible snits about it.

Undefeated, fortunately not the documentary about Sarah Palin, The Undefeated, was nominated for best doc feature. But I did do a double take.

• The two noms for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close show the power of a marketing campaign. I do love me some Max von Sydow, though.

• Sydow’s supporting actor nom seemed to “steal” the one expected for Albert Brooks in Drive, who was considered a frontrunner. This may lock up the win for Christopher Plummer as the gay dad in Beginners.

• The eye-straining visual effects of Transformers 3 and Real Steel over Captain America and MI: Ghost Protocol? Puh-leez.

Carnage, with high-caliber Oscar written all over it (Roman Polanski, Kate Winslet, Jodie Foster) was completely overlooked.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A Tale of Two Gingers: How Jesse Tyler Ferguson stole my spotlight (but later melted my heart)

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here’s a remembrance by one of our contributors about his connection to recent Black Tie Dinner honoree Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Enjoy!

By Jef Tingley

Two looks for BTD: JTF, above, and JT, right.

Long before he was charming his way into living rooms nationwide as gay dad Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family or originating the role of Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Jesse Tyler Ferguson was cast as something else: My unwitting nemesis. See, Ferguson and I both grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. We were just your typical, fair skinned, sassy, red-headed boys pining away our post-pubescent years singing along to show tunes and dreaming of life on the Broadway stage.

Although we were the same age, we went to different schools so our paths didn’t officially cross until a fateful early 1990s production of the musical Peter Pan at the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera. (Fun fact: the ‘88 production of the show included our fellow gay New Mexican, Neil Patrick Harris, as John.) While Ferguson was cast as a pirate and other miscellaneous roles, I had a much more important, yet far less stripy-sock-wearing, job: Assistant stage manager. Truth be told, my heart ached that it was my Doppelganger who got to bask in the warmth of the spotlight on the very obscure, Day-Glo Neverland set complete with a neon-green pirate ship and fluorescent-orange Jolly Roger flag (it was the ‘90s, after all).

The show itself was haunted and filled with mishaps. The woman playing Peter Pan was stricken with laryngitis. After emergency rehearsals (arranged by a certain trusty assistant stage manager), Tiger Lily stepped into the lead role only to have the power go out in the middle of her very first performance, leaving the audience full of children in pitch black, screaming in horror. But the true tragedy of the show came during a cast and crew “lottery” where a few lucky Thespians were selected via name-draw to experience the thrill of being hoisted into the air and flying on stage just like Peter Pan. My name was chosen, but when it came time to suit up I was too big for the lithe flight harness. To my horror, Jesse’s name was called next and within minutes his slender frame was soaring in the air — a real-life Tinker Bell.

Peter Pan eventually ended, and so did my one-sided rivalry with JTF. Sure, I would see him perform musical medleys with jazz hands and sparkly vests as one of the entertainers at the local (albeit creepily named) amusement park, Uncle Cliff’s, but I figured that was his crowning glory on the road to fame. Meanwhile, I dabbled in acting and even worked seasonally renting Halloween costumes for the Civic Light Opera. But little by little, theater eventually became just a hobby and not a career.

A few years later, I was attending college in New York. While thumbing through Time Out magazine one day, I saw a site that’s still etched on my retinas. It was none other than carrot topped Jesse clad in a sailor suit and “shuffling off to Buffalo” next to lesbian chanteuse Lea DeLaria in a revival of On The Town. It was official: He was on Broadway, and I was twenty-something undetermined major. I had lost the battle and the war.

As time went on, I continued to Google-stalked Jesse. While one part of me cheered on his continued successes on stage and screen, another less admirable part of me wanted to pull a Jennifer Jason Leigh a la Single White Female and just steal his life. Jerrett, my partner of 13 years and also an Albuquerque native, can almost repeat verbatim my diatribe whenever someone would mention “that red-headed guy from Modern Family” and “Albuquerque” in the same sentence.

You can imagine my reaction when I found out the Ferguson would be coming to Dallas for Black Tie Dinner to receive an award. Clearly it was just his way of reminding me who really wore the Tinker Bell harness. To add insult to conspiracy, I had also opted to wear a freshly tailored vintage brocade-silk jacket to the event that had sat in my closet for years after being procured from either my high school drama department or my stint renting Halloween costumes. What are the odds? Even my clothing was teen angst!

When Ferguson took the stage, I was prepared for him to be pompous and arrogant. I expected a narcissist who would bore us for hours with stories of self-grandeur and unnecessary name-dropping as he described being Albuquerque’s first-and-only, ginger celeb. Instead, he was charming, funny, cute and humble telling stories about being embarrassed when the staff of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in N.M. would sing to you on your birthday (another childhood memory we both shared).

In a moment of catharsis, I realized something very important: I was no longer green with envy about JTF, I was orange with pride. Sure, maybe it wasn’t me standing on that stage but I was sitting in the room surrounded by people I love as a crowd of 3,000 cheered on a ginger from the Land of Enchantment for breaking down barriers and making same-sex couples part of the social norm. I’m not even sure if Jesse remembers me, or my one-sided jealousy, but as it turns out it doesn’t matter. In our own special way, we’ve each been given our own chance to fly.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Protesters gather at Houston courthouse as judge signs order limiting gay dad’s rights

Pro-LGBT protesters gathered outside the civil courthouse in Houston on Friday.
William Flowers, top left, and Jim Evans, who were married in Connecticut last year, have five children between them.

A while back we told you about a Harris County associate judge’s order barring a gay man from leaving his children alone with his husband. On Friday, protesters gathered outside the civil courthouse in Houston (above) as Judge Charley Prine signed the order, which he first issued in June.

William Flowers married his husband, Jim Evans, in Connecticut last year. Flowers has three children — a 14-year-old boy and twin 9-year-old girls — from his marriage to Lacey Flowers, which ended in divorce in 2004 after he came out as gay. Evans also has two children from a previous marriage.

When William Flowers tried to get full custody of his three children, a jury ruled against him. Then Prine issued the order barring the kids from being alone with Evans — or anyone who isn’t related to them by blood or adoption — without Lacey Flowers’ consent.

There are no allegations of abuse in the case, and Williams Flowers says he believes the judge is trying to punish him for being gay. Prine has declined to comment, and the couple says their only recourse is to appeal to a higher court.

A Facebook page has been launched calling for Prine’s removal from the bench. There’s also a petition at Change.org. Watch a video report from ABC 13 below.

—  John Wright

SHADY IDEA: A good gift for dad

Whether you are looking for a gift idea for the gay dad in your life, or you want to give your straight dad something that reflects your fabulous sensibility, you can’t go wrong with a pair of shades from N3L.

The company’s name is short for Newton’s Three Laws  of Motion, which establishes its ethic as a sports-based product designed for the active dad, whether he enjoys motorcycle racing or golf — or a backyard trampoline.

It’s not just the styles that you can use to capture pop’s attention, but the technology: Imaging systems allow you to directly compare the effectiveness of certain lenses under various conditions. (Amber lenses, in general, make the environment more vivid, and are great for enjoying sunsets on the beach; darker shades filter more light and provide serious protection from glare.

A variety of brands from Maui Jim to Oakley are available within a range of prices (most in the $200 neighborhood), each offering their own styles and options (such as replaceable lenses and custom colors).

—A.W.J.

N3L at NorthPark Center on the second level near Nordstrom. N3LOptics.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Scouts decommission the ‘popcorn colonel’

Gay dad fights back after Boy Scouts tell him he’s not ‘morally straight’ enough to be a leader

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

PROUD PAPA  |  Jon Langbert and his son, Carter, smile for the camera during a Cub Scout ceremony when Carter was in second grade. Langbert said he will let Carter decide whether they will continue participating in the Scouts after District 10 leaders said Langbert can’t be a leader in the troop because he is gay.
PROUD PAPA | Jon Langbert and his son, Carter, smile for the camera during a Cub Scout ceremony when Carter was in second grade. Langbert said he will let Carter decide whether they will continue participating in the Scouts after District 10 leaders said Langbert can’t be a leader in the troop because he is gay.

Jon Langbert knows that, thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court back in June of 2000, the Boy Scouts of America have the right to discriminate against gays.

The real question, though, is should the Scouts discriminate, even though they have the right, Langbert said this week.

Langbert is the gay father of 9-year-old triplets, two girls and one boy. And when his children were in second grade, his son Carter brought home a flyer for the Cub Scout troop at their University Park elementary school.

“Carter asked me about it. He said he wanted to be in Cub Scouts,” Langbert said. “I was concerned about it, because I know the Scouts aren’t pro-gay, to say the least. But I took him to the meeting, and that first night I went up to the Scout leader and told him, ‘Hey, I am a gay dad, My son is in second grade, and he wants to join Cub Scouts. Will that be a problem.?’”

The man who was troop leader at the time, Langbert recalled, “told me, ‘Absolutely not. Sign him up.’ So I did. And we really had a good time. We went to all the den meetings and camp outs and pack meetings. We were a very active family in the Scouts.”

The next year, when Carter was in third grade, the pack leaders approached Langbert and asked him to be the “popcorn colonel,” the volunteer in charge of the pack’s annual popcorn sale to raise the funds to pay for the scouts’ activities. When he agreed, the pack gave him a scout leader shirt — tan, with all the usual patches — to denote his position as popcorn colonel for the pack.

So Langbert — an entrepreneur who recently sold the finance company he had founded — put all his business skills to use. That year, the pack’s popcorn sale brought in $13,000 — more than triple the previous year’s total of about $4,000.

Robert McTaggert, the troop’s new leader, knew a good when he saw it, and when Carter entered fourth grade and started a new year with the Cub Scouts, he asked Langbert to once again lead the annual fundraising effort. And Langbert readily agreed.

“He told me we had done such a great job with the fundraiser the year before, that if I would do it again, Carter wouldn’t even have to pay any dues this year,” Langbert said.

Then on Wednesday, Oct. 13, Langbert got an e-mail from McTaggert, telling him plans had been changed: Carter’s gay dad could no longer be the Cub Scout pack’s popcorn colonel.

McTaggert explained that the father of one of the other scouts in Carter’s pack had gathered up a couple more fathers and the group had complained to McTaggert and another troop leader, saying they didn’t want a gay man associated with the pack, and especially not in any kind of leadership position.

McTaggert, Langbert said, “stood up for me. He asked the guy [who initiated the complaint] if he was willing to head up the popcorn sale. The guy wouldn’t do it, of course, and [McTaggert] told him that I was still heading up the sale and to get over it.”

But the angry father wasn’t done; he took his complaint over McTaggert’s head to Roger Derrick, head of the Scouts’ local District 10 council. And Derrick sided with the unhappy father.

“He [Derrick] called Robert [McTaggert] and said I had to go, and that I couldn’t wear the popcorn colonel shirt anymore,” Langbert said. “I was very, very unhappy with that. Being told you are a second-class citizen, that you are not morally straight and not a good role model, that’s something nobody wants to hear. I may not be straight but I am morally straight, no matter what they say.”

Langbert’s neighbor, Merritt Patterson, found out about the situation and wrote about it in her column in the Park Cities People newspaper.

“It was very brave of her to do that, to risk making some people upset. I mean, this sure isn’t an issue without some heat surrounding it,” Langbert said, adding that Patterson’s column “got the ball rolling.” Before he knew it, he was getting requests for interviews for media from around Dallas — and even beyond.

By Friday, Oct. 16, Scout officials were backtracking, at least a little.

“They came back on Friday and said I could keep selling popcorn, and I could be a volunteer, ‘Just don’t stand up in front of the boys and represent yourself as a leader, as a role model.’ And it made me mad again,” Langbert said. “They are still sending the same message of exclusion. They are still robbing Carter and me of the full experience of Scouting and they are sending a message to other dads and sons that there is something wrong with me.

“Scouting is an institution, and that message they are sending will mean something to people who don’t know better,” Langbert continued. “The Scouts have a lot of wonderful things about them. But this policy is out of touch and it sends the wrong message, to my son and to a lot of other boys. It’s 2010 already. We have a black president. A lesbian is the mayor of Houston. Even the policy against gays in the military is ending. So why can’t gay people be leaders in Scouting.

“The policy has to end, and if it doesn’t they need to take Scouting to the churches and get it out of my tax-dollar-supported schools!”

Langbert said despite the insult, he will finish the popcorn sale this year because “I gave my word, and I am a man of my word.” But as to whether he and Carter will continue in Scouting beyond that — “Well, I am going to let Carter make that decision.”

“I guess maybe it seems like I am wimping out, to leave it up to Carter to decide. But he has known me as his gay father for nine years. He is comfortable with me. Still, those boys in the Scouts are his friends, his classmates,” Langbert said. “Scouting has some positive aspects and he will get value from the activities. And if I have to suck it up and go without wearing the shirt or being a ‘leader,’ then I will do that for my son.”

That doesn’t mean Langbert is letting the matter drop, though: “I will make sure they know that I am here, and that I am not going anywhere as long as Carter wants to be in the Scouts,” he declared. “I am talking out about this, and I will continue to talk out. I am not a trained speaker, but I believe strongly enough in this issue to take the chance.

“Maybe it will be enough to get the Boy Scouts to actually join us in the year 2010,” he said. “Change has got to start somewhere.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

WATCH: Gay popcorn colonel Jon Langbert of University Park takes on the Boy Scouts

Jon Langbert, the gay University Park father who’s been told he can’t serve in a leadership role in his 9-year-old’s Cub Scout troop, appeared on three local newscasts Monday night (you can watch CBS’ coverage here). Langbert’s message is that it’s 2010, and while a 2000 Supreme Court ruling gave the Scouts the right to discriminate against gays, that doesn’t mean they have to. “They’re out of touch,” Langbert says, adding that he plans to finish out the year as popcorn colonel for his son’s troop. After that, he says he’ll leave it up to his son whether they continue in the Scouts.

WFAA has a poll up on their site asking whether the Boy Scouts should change their policy of excluding gays and atheists from leadership roles. As of this post, 62 percent said the Boy Scouts SHOULD NOT change the policy.

—  John Wright