The Oscar scorecard

The-Artist

Gay folks — both actors, characters and behind the scenes — are easier to find at the Tonys and Emmys than at the Oscars; it’s one of the reasons we get so excited about Brokeback Mountain and The Kids Are All Right.

But the Oscars do occasionally have their queer appeal — one of the frontrunners this year is an elderly man who comes out as gay to his adult son’s dismay.

Here’s a scorecard for those keeping track,
including who will win and who should … and who might sneak in. Let the office pool begin!

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Picture: Who will win: The Artist, pictured. Who should win: The Help. Spoiler:
The Descendants.

Director: Who will win: Michel Hazavanicius, The Artist. Who should win: Terrence Malick,
Tree of Life. Spoiler: Martin Scorsese, Hugo.

Actor: Who will/should win: Jean Dujardin, The Artist. Spoiler: George Clooney,
The Descendants.

Actress: Who will/should win: Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady. Spoiler: Viola Davis, The Help.

Supporting Actor: Who will/should win: Christopher Plummer, Beginners. Spoiler: None.

Supporting Actress: Who will/should win:
Octavia Spencer, The Help. Spoiler: None.

Original Screenplay: Who will/should win: The Artist. Spoiler: Midnight in Paris.

Adapted Screenplay: Who will/should win: The Descendants. Spoiler: Tinker Tailor Solider Spy.

Cinematography: Who will win: The Artist. Who should win/spoiler: The Tree of Life.

Film Editing: Who will win: Hugo. Who should win:  Moneyball. Spoiler: Descendants.

Art Direction: Who will/should win: Hugo.

Costume Design: Who will/should win: Anonymous. Spoiler: Hugo.

Score: Who will/should win: The Artist.

Song: Who will/should win: The Muppets.

Sound Mixing: Who will win: Hugo.

Sound Editing: Who will win: War Horse.

Visual Effects: Who will/should win: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Spoiler: Real Steel.

Makeup: Who will/should win: Albert Nobbs. Spoiler: The Iron Lady.

Foreign Language Film: Who will win: In Darkness. Spoiler: A Separation.

Animated Feature Film: Who will win:
Chico and Rita. Spoiler: Rango.

Documentary Feature Film: Who will win:
Undefeated. Who should win: Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory. Spoiler: Pina.

Live Action Short Subject: Who will/should win: Raju. Spoiler: Tuba Atlantic.

Animated Short Subject: Who will/should win: The Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore. Spoiler: La Luna.

Documentary Short Subject: Who will win:
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

There’s no place like home

With the Mavs’ victory and the Super Bowl, all eyes are on Dallas lately. But many locals don’t know just what Uptown has to offer

CLANG CLANG CLANG WENT THE … | Uptown’s trolley service has a history and plans for expansion. Best of all, it’s free. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

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

Every year, when they bring in travel journalists from all over the world to promote Dallas as a gay destination, the Tavern Guild shows them everything the city has to offer a visitor. (See sidebar.) Just this week, all eyes were on Victory Park as the Mavericks won their first NBA championship title. In other words, lots of people from outside have had Uptown Dallas on the brain.
So let me ask: Where, exactly, is Uptown?

There’s a lot even Dallas natives don’t know about the Oak Lawn-adjacent neighborhood. And that’s something the local association is trying to change.

Uptown, officially, is just a single square mile, bordered roughly to the south by Woodall Rodgers Freeway, to the west by the Katy Trail, to the east by North Central Expressway and to the north by Haskell Street. But they’ve packed a ton of stuff in that district: Five hotels, all pretty high end (the Stoneleigh, the Ritz-Carlton, the Crescent Court, Zaza and the Hotel St. Germain); 90 bars and restaurants; three live theaters … and tons of gay folks, of course.

Uptown didn’t used to be “up;” it used to be “low.” When the plans were drafted in the 1980s for construction on the Crescent, the area was described as “Lower Oak Lawn,” which is how many in the gayborhood still see it. But Uptown has some attractions unique to it.

Not the least of these is the McKinney Avenue Trolley system, which circles Uptown before crossing over the Woodall canyon and dead-ending on St. Paul Street between the Dallas Museum of Art and the Fairmont Hotel. That’ll change soon; plans are underway to extend the end of the line and make it a true loop. That should add to the 390,000 riders who hopped one of the three trolleys in 2010. And best of all, they rode them for free.

If you haven’t ridden the trolley yet, it merits your time. Because they are antiques, these are not cookie-cutter light rail trains but variously sized, one-of-a-kind streetcars loaded with history. One of the cars is 101 years old; one has distinctly European styling; they come from as far away as Australia, and run on tracks that won’t need to be repaired for decades.

One trolley trip can take you from right next to Stephan Pyles Restaurant back up McKinney Avenue, where you can grab a cocktail at Sambuca and an appetizer from Fearing’s across the street; up toward State-Thomas, which hides some hip bars like The Nodding Donkey; and past the West Village where Cork has a variety of wines. And you’re just a few paces from the Cityplace DART stop, so you don’t have to drive home after indulging.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Baptists from Venus (Texas) crash LGBT tax day demonstration outside Dallas Main Post Office

Last-minute tax filers encountered two opposing groups while driving toward the Main Dallas Post Office on Monday: about a dozen queer activists protesting anti-gay tax laws, and an equal number of Kingdom Baptist Church members protesting the queer protesters.

The gay group’s hand-painted posterboards read, “Equal Taxes, Equal Rights,” “Love Knows No Gender,” and “With Liberty and Justice For ALL.”

Kingdom Baptist’s professionally printed signs read, “REPENT ABORTION AND MURDER,” “TURN OR BURN” and  “GAY IS NOT OK.” Over bullhorns the church members yelled ceaselessly about sin and sodomy while the gay folks occasionally shouted back about a loving God and the separation of church and state.

As it currently stands, federal law makes it illegal to lie on tax forms. But the Defense of Marriage Act requires legally married same-sex couples to file as two separate single individuals, which is, well, a lie. A recent campaign called “Refuse to Lie” urged wedded gays to file as married couples. Married gay couples pay higher taxes for filing separately and risk a potential IRS audit if they try to file as a married couple.

According to protest organizer Daniel Cates, “Today in America [marriage] brings with it 1,138 rights on a state and federal level. That’s what we’re after. We’re not asking [for people] to change what they believe religiously or to even to endorse our marriages in their churches. But we are asking for equality under the law.” The gay protesters want to reform the tax law through a DOMA repeal and full LGBT equality nationwide.

—  admin

A look at the past can help us appreciate the progress we’ve made in the struggle for equality

Every day, the fight for LGBT equality continues. We have made some huge strides forward — DADT repealed, the hate crimes law passed, legal marriage in some jurisdictions — but we have also had some huge setbacks. Sometimes, it’s really easy to get frustrated at our snail-like progress. And sometimes, it’s really difficult not to get depressed and disheartened when you see the hate and outright ignorance from some people. (Read some of the comments from some folks here on Instant Tea if you want to see what I mean.)

So sometimes, we need a little perspective.

A friend of mine e-mailed me the link to the video below, and I found it so touching that I decided to share it here with our Instant Tea readers. As you watch, remember to never give up the fight. Remember how far we still have to go. But also remember how far we have already come.

—  admin

A note on gay Pride — in and out of the community

I had an annoying conversation this morning.

A publicist for a troupe we (let’s put it this way) “recently profiled” called to ask for a change online to the story: Seems like we referred in the headline to the person we interviewed as “gay.” She wanted it removed.

“I’m sorry — is that not true?” I asked.

“No, it’s true. He’s gay.  He would just prefer you not mention it.”

The conversation continued like this for a long time.

Now, I’m happy to correct errors, especially ones caused by us. But this person was pitched to me as the “gay head of this troupe,” and I assigned the story accordingly. If he had not been gay … well, let’s just say the troupe was not on my radar enough such that I would have been all that interested in the story without a hook, an angle. That was his.

Part of the mission of this newspaper is to draw our readers (many of whom are straight) to what’s going on in and by the gay community. Sometimes it’s homophobes attacking us and our rights. Sometimes it’s our allies who embrace us for who we are and treat up as equals. Sometimes it’s just celebrities who have an interesting perspective on their gay fans. Sometimes it’s openly gay people who are victimized by bigots, or leaders who step up to improve the lot of the community.

But a lot of the time, it’s just ordinary gay folks doing something out in the world we think people might want to know about. A trans woman who continues to be a personal trainer. A musician who wants to save the Great American Songbook. An auto mechanic who runs a garage and offers his gay clientele a friendly environment. An actor who steals the show in a national tour of a terrible musical. A museum curator who brings his unique perspective to a major art museum. Maybe being gay doesn’t directly affect what they do too much. But maybe it does. And it’s good to have a sense of pride knowing the vast landscape of opportunities out there — and that being openly gay, bi or trans is not a hindrance to success.

So when someone who is gay — and claims to be out — asks me to hide that fact … well, it angers me. You don’t need to do an interview with me. You don’t need to discuss your sexuality if you do agree to the interview. You don’t even need to be gay for me to write about you. But don’t come to me with the pitch that our readers might be interested in reading about you and then leap back in the closet. Because there are a lot of people out there proud to be called gay. I’m one of them.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay Alaska? You betcha

It ain’t the Castro, but our 49th state has gay appeal amid the natural beauty

ANDREW COLLINS  | Contributing Writer outoftown@qsyndicate.com

Harvard Glacier
NICE ICE BABY | Harvard Glacier is one a highlight of a cruise through College Fjord. (Andrew Collins)

Things may be bigger in Texas, but nothing’s quite as big as Alaska, America’s largest and least populated (by density) state. More than twice Texas’ land mass, sometimes it’s difficult to grasp the state’s sheer dimensions — for example, Alaska is about 15 times bigger than Pennsylvania, but Pennsylvania has 17 times the number of residents. Aside from geeky stats like these, it’s difficult to describe Alaska’s terrain and scenery without resorting to trite superlatives. You must visit this land to comprehend it.

Among the highlights for most visitors are up-close views of massive glaciers, a fascinating array of wildlife and North America’s highest peak (20,320 foot Mt. McKinley in Denali National Park). Alaska also offers rafting, hiking and camping. The abundance of delicious fresh seafood makes this a terrific dining destination.

Alaska is ideally suited to outdoorsy travelers, but thanks to cruise ships and scenic railroads it’s relatively easy to enjoy the natural beauty from a comfy and controlled environment.

But is there a gay scene in the 49th state? Let’s put it this way: I wouldn’t recommend a trip just for a tour of gay nightlife, or meeting other “family.” But Anchorage is a large, modern city with a couple of gay bars, including the extremely fun and friendly dance club Mad Myrna’s. And you’ll find excellent museums and many stellar restaurants here. The state’s second largest city, Fairbanks, has a small but active gay scene, some of it tied to Alaska’s oldest college, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.

Juneau, with a population of about 30,000, is the capital and is generally considered the most progressive city in the state — a fair number of gay folks live here, and bars and restaurants are generally gay-friendly. Also noteworthy is tiny but funky Talkeetna, midway between Anchorage and Denali National Park. This cool little village is a great base for exploring Denali and a haven of free spirits (it was the inspiration for Northern Exposure). Throughout Alaska, and especially around Anchorage, you’ll find many gay-owned and gay-friendly inns and B&Bs (there’s a good list at PurpleRoofs.com; an excellent general LGBT resource for the state is BentAlaska.com).

Even if you’re not especially enamored of cruises, traveling by boat is without question the best way to see southeastern Alaska’s scenery, including areas like Glacier Bay National Park and College Fjord. Many major cruise lines offer Alaska cruises, with Holland America Line and Princess Cruises offering the greatest variety of itineraries, along with the exceptional line of smaller, upscale ships, Cruise West.

These are all extremely gay-friendly and gay-popular cruise lines. Several LGBT-oriented tour operators, notably RSVP Vacations, Olivia and Atlantis, book all-gay charter trips on some of the major lines that ply Alaska waters, including Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean. Ultra-luxurious lines such as Silversea and Regent Seven Seas regularly visit Alaska.

Even on cruises booked to the general public, you’ll nearly always find gay and lesbian passengers (and certainly some crew), and there’s usually at least one and sometimes several LGBT mixers or meet-ups onboard during a week trip. (If you’d like to find other gay travelers booked on the same cruise, or read other LGBT feedback related to cruise travel, check out the gay cruising forum at Cruisemates.com.)

My recent rip aboard Holland America’s exceptionally well-outfitted Statendam set the bar. I chose a glacier-intensive itinerary, through the Inside Passage, with calls at Ketchikan, Juneau (my favorite) and Skagway, plus a day each sailing through Glacier Bay and College Fjord. This Holland America cruise was a wonderful adventure from start (out of Vancouver) to finish (Seward). And if you are planning a trip with a few friends or relatives, a cruise can be ideal in terms of logistics, value and the pure fun of sharing countless memorable experiences together.

Alaska cruises range greatly in price, starting for as little as $600 (double-occupancy) for with an inside cabin on less-fancy ships (the Carnival Spirit or Norwegian Star) during the shoulder months (May and September). For a stateroom with balcony on an upscale line like Holland America, expect to pay $1,500 or more, depending on the size of the cabin, the ship and the time of sailing (June through August are high season). If there were ever a great time to splurge for a balcony cabin, it’s an Alaska cruise, as a huge part of the experience is observing the magnificent scenery from aboard the ship.

For those who prefer less structured tours, you can get around via an extensive network of state-operated ferries, just as many Alaskans get from town to town, either without a car or (at considerably greater expense) with one. This is an adventurous way to sail through the Inside Passage, starting either down in Bellingham, Wash., or much closer to Alaska in the Canadian port city of Prince Rupert. The ferry stops at all the major towns in southeast Alaska.

You can also sail via the ferry system through Prince William Sound to Kodiak Island (with stops in Valdez, Cordova, Whittier, Homer and others), or through southwestern Alaska’s remote Aleutian Chain, from Chignik all the way to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. Again, traveling with a car and sleeping onboard in cabins can make this a fairly costly trip — figure on about $800 to $900 for two passengers, a car, and a cabin for a one-way trip from Port Rupert to Skagway. But you can choose an itinerary that allows you to get on and off at a number of ports, and it’s still cheaper and allows for greater flexibility than a cruise.

Whether you reach Alaska by cruise ship, plane or car (the 2,300-mile drive from Great Falls, Montana to Fairbanks on the Alaska-Canada Highway is memorable), it’s worth taking some time to explore some parts of the state’s rugged and largely unspoiled interior.

Many cruise lines offer one-way itineraries that begin or end in Alaska, typically in a port that’s relatively close to Anchorage, such as Whittier or Seward. You can, as we did, rent a car and explored the area, continuing on to Anchorage and stopping in Talkeetna. Other notable areas within relatively easy driving distance of Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula include the charming little vacation town of Girdwood, which is home to upscale Alyeska Resort; Homer, a popular fishing town; and Whittier, which has kayaking and boating on Prince William Sound plus access to several stunning glaciers. Farther afield and also well worth investigating are Denali National Park (four to five hours north of Anchorage), Fairbanks (two hours farther north of Denali), and Valdez (six to seven hours east of Anchorage).

One way to explore the interior without a car, as far north as spectacular Denali National Park and on up to Fairbanks, is via the scenic Alaska Railroad. Many Alaska cruises offer post- or pre-trip options that include several days on the railroad, or you can book your own railroad package, which includes riding the railroad’s gleaming railcars past incredible scenery, tours at different stops, and overnight hotel accommodations. Packages start at five nights for around $1,800. Shorter day trips are also available on the Alaska Railroad — among the most rewarding itineraries are the ride from Anchorage to Denali (starting around $150), and the Glacier Discovery Trains to Grandview (starting around $85).

Another great option is to book a trip with a local outfitter. Based in Fairbanks, Out in Alaska is a highly reputable, gay-owned tour operator that offers exciting trips, both camping (starting around $1,800 for six days) and hotel-based (from $2,500 for seven days), to some of the state’s most scenic areas. Out in Alaska trips typically last a week to 10 days, have five to 10 participants, and include meals, transportation within the regions visited, activities and — in the case of camping — gear.

Some Out in Alaska trips are oriented primarily toward sightseeing and might cover major national parks (Denali, Kanai Fjords, Wrangell-St. Elias) and the regions around Fairbanks and Anchorage. The more activity-driven trips — which can be themed around glacier trekking, hiking, rafting, or kayaking — venture into the state’s remote wilderness, from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to the Yukon or Copper rivers. The company also organizes small LGBT group adventures on some of the mainstream cruises offered through the Inside Passage.

However you explore this majestic land, it’s absolutely worth the time and effort to get yourself up here — and to plan on spending a minimum of seven days. When even seasoned travelers talk about “trips of a lifetime” and “most memorable travel experiences,” they’re often referring to adventures had in Alaska.

…………………………………

Little Black Book

Cruise lines and charters
Atlantis, AtlantisEvents.com.  Carnival, Carnival.com.  Celebrity, CelebrityCruises.com. Cruise West, CruiseWest.com.  Holland America, HollandAmerica.com.  Norwegian Cruise Lines, NCL.com.com.  Olivia, Olivia.com. Princess, Princess.com.  Royal Caribbean, RoyalCaribbean.com, RSVP Vacations, RSVPVacations.com.

Resources
Alaska.net. CruisesMates.com.
PurpleRoofs.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Vial brings a taste of Hawaii to town

Vial brings a taste of Hawaii to town

Deborah Vial
Deborah Vial

Former Dallasite Deborah Vial is going to do her best to introduce local peeps to her discovery of Hawaiian music — especially that of vocalist Amy Hanaialii Gilliom. She plans to add it to the quirky Texas/Hawaii connection she’s found ever since she moving to the Aloha state.

“I can’t go to a dinner party without running into former Dallas peeps,” she says. “It’s a weird connection — particularly gay men. And all of us gay folks over here love Amy.”

After Aug. 20, maybe a few here will too.

— Rich Lopez

House of Blues Cambridge Room, 2200 N. Lamar St. Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. $25. HouseOfBlues.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas