So what if being gay IS a choice?

Despite some activists’ outrage over actress Cynthia Nixon’s recent comments, it doesn’t really matter how we became LGBT

David Webb
The Rare Reporter

After four decades of watching people struggle to keep up with the politically correct standard of the day in discussing LGBT life, I’m beginning to think it’s time for everyone to relax a little.

I reached that decision this week when I read about activists getting in an uproar over Cynthia Nixon, an actress who starred in Sex and the City, telling the New York Times Magazine she preferred being gay to straight because she had lived both types of lives. Her remarks created a furor among those who demand we frame all of our speech in a way they think best advances the LGBT rights movement. A few days later Nixon softened her stance in a Daily Beast interview by saying she was a bisexual by no choice of her own, presumably in an effort to quell the controversy.

Frankly, Nixon’s first remarks in the New York Times Magazine article made sense to me, and so did her later remarks about believing she never made a conscious decision to be a bisexual. It’s just that I regretted she felt compelled to revise what she had said earlier to appease her critics. I got what she meant the first time without her follow-up explanation, and I imagine most other enlightened people did as well.

Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon

Nixon, who gave birth to two children with a male partner, probably did make a choice to live a gay life when she became sexually involved with a woman. If someone is attracted to both the opposite and the same sex, there probably does come a point when the individual might need to make a choice in terms of permanent or semi-permanent partnership.
Certainly Nixon ought to be the best judge of what happened in her own life, so what’s wrong with her telling the truth as she sees it?

Nixon noted correctly that many LGBT activists shudder every time they hear the word “choice,” “preference” or “lifestyle” because they fear it supports conservative religious arguments that homosexuality is a perversion practiced by degenerates who get their kicks out of being wicked. As the theory goes, that gives credence to the evangelists’ claims that bisexuality, homosexuality and gender variance can be cured by the administration of a good dose of Bible verse in quantities sufficient enough to scare the holy bejesus out of the sinner.

As we all know, that doesn’t work. Actually, even most straight people realize that won’t work because most of them have also suffered the wrath of the evangelical community in condemnation of some aspect of their lives, such as the urge to masturbate or engage in sexual activity before marriage. In reality, the only ones who truly believe a pack of Bible thumpers can transform a person’s sexual orientation are people who are lying about it, have been brainwashed into believing it or are just too ignorant to understand scientific research.

Decades of scientific evidence make it clear that every aspect of a person’s physical and mental makeup — which certainly includes sexual orientation — comes about as a result of heritable genes and the impact of sex hormones on the brain and other body parts of the developing fetus.

In his 2011 book Gay, Straight and the Reason Why, neuroscientist Simon LeVay outlines decades of scientific studies that all point to the same conclusion: In essence, people are what nature made them.

LeVay, who served on the faculties of Harvard Medical School and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, has pointed this out in various articles and books he has authored over the years. The results of a scientific study LeVay published in Science in 1991 showing marked differences in the brain structures of gay and straight men is credited with helping spur the two-decade wave of scientific research aimed at determining a biological basis for sexual orientation.

What the body of scientific evidence does for most reasonable people is confirm what common sense had already told them. There’s just no way certain people with obvious mental and physical characteristics could have been anything other than what they became — namely gay, lesbian or transgender.

With others in the LGBT community it’s a little trickier because they display either few or none of the obvious characteristics identifying them as anything other than straight. Environment might have played some role in their development, but again the scientific evidence points to biological factors. What’s more the individuals usually report experiencing feelings since their earliest recollections that set them apart from heterosexual people.

Still, the unpredictability of humans makes it impossible to categorize all people. Some members of the community undoubtedly did feel an attraction to the LGBT lifestyle and chose to embrace it for that reason. The very size and the diversity of the world’s LGBT community is so staggering that if we come across some people who are merely practicing free will, it shouldn’t be so surprising.

That’s why I liked Nixon’s earlier remarks that it didn’t matter how people came to be a part of the LGBT community. As she said, it doesn’t matter how each and every person got here, and words will never sway the opinions of bigots and opportunists. It will require life experiences — such as coming to realize they have a child or grandchild who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender — to hopefully educate them about the realities of life.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has reported on LGBT issues for three decades for the mainstream and alternative media. He can be reached at davidwaynewebb@hotmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

What gay looks like

Photographer Scott Pasfield toured the U.S., finding unique stories of gay men in every state

Lead-Books-1

A NATION OF GAYS | All 50 states are represented in Scott Pasfield’s photo essay book, including Ken from Maryland (far left), a triad relationship from New York (top), Daniel from California (above) and, of course, a Texan (far right). (All photos copyrighted by Scott Pasfield in his book ‘Gay in America’ (Welcome Books), GayInAmerica.us.

Taking its place alongside such coffee-table books as Tom Atwood’s Kings In Their Castles, David Fields and the late Anderson Jones’ Men Together and Michael Goff and Out Magazine’s Out In America, is now Gay In America (2011: Welcome Books; $45) by Scott Pasfield. Consisting of 140 gay male subjects, all of whom responded to a call to be photographed and tell their unique stories, Gay In America is a colorful portrait of 21st century gay life in all 50 states.

We spoke with the photo essayist, who will be in Dallas this week as part of a nationwide book tour, about his project and what he learned about gay men … and himself.

— Gregg Shapiro

Dallas Voice: Gays are traditionally dog lovers, including myself, so one of the first things that I noticed in the pictures was that there are more than a dozen pictures of men and dogs.  Pasfield: And so many dogs got cut from the book! I think there was something like 30 or 35 dogs that I photographed over the course of the project. I was always excited to try and include pets when I could. I think they are such an important part of gay men’s lives. More often than not, if the dogs or pets were around and seemed intrigued by the whole process, I asked if we could try to get them in the shot and most pet owners are happy about that.The dogs by far were the most popular. I think there were five cats, some goats and lots of birds, too.

GayinAmerica_hirescoverHow involved were the subjects in the final decision about which pictures appeared in the book? Not at all. After I did the photoshoots I would always send people my favorites from the shoots shortly after it was done. A lot of times years went by before we actually started making the book from when they had seen my selects. We laid the book out alphabetically and the rhythm and flow of the book was determined a lot of times by that ordering. In some instances, we weren’t able to use a photo that we thought would be the image because of the layout and what shoots preceded and followed that particular one. In other instances, it wasn’t OK picking the best photograph and running with that; it had to work in its setting and in the book’s layout and the rhythm of who was on each side of that spread.

Reading Ken from Maryland’s story, it’s understandable why he got a few more pages to tell his story. What came first in the process, the photos or the subjects’ stories?  I decided who to photograph based on their story. They had to write the story to me as a complete stranger in a way and have that leap of faith and honesty to share that. That had a lot to do with why I picked them, it really wasn’t trying to come up with the story after the photo shoot. Their story had to ring true to me and it became very clear right away who was right for the book and who wasn’t. It hit me like over the head like a ton of bricks. This person was being so honest and their story is so wonderful and I haven’t heard anything like it before, therefore I’m going to go photograph them. I had that knowledge walking in to the photo shoot, I had the story in mind, I knew what the photo should look like in my head a little bit or what I thought it should look like. In reality it didn’t often end up looking like that, but having that knowledge beforehand of who they were and what they were willing to share and how that might help others dictated how I approached them photographically.

ScottPasfield-ByPlaton-300

Scott Pasfield by Platon.

Of the 140 men in the book, five are from Alaska and seven from Georgia (three from Atlanta), but only one from Illinois, for example. How did you settle on the geography? The stories really dictated who I picked so as long as every state was represented at least once, I felt that I could move on to another state. But when I was really torn in terms of stories and who to include, I would often include them both because I couldn’t decide at that point who was right and wrong. And when I felt so strongly about two different people in the same city, I would photograph them both thinking that in the end the editor might narrow that choice down. As was often the case, both subjects same city ended up making it in the book and the editors really enjoyed the comparative stories in the same city. You would think that some places, like Chicago, would be a very easy place but for some reason it wasn’t. People didn’t reach out to me in the same way. I had a feeling that if something was meant to be it was meant to be and I wasn’t going to kill myself trying to find people or persuade people to be in my book because I needed somebody else from Chicago. Many times I thought, “Why is it so difficult to find someone in New Orleans?” I went to New Orleans three times looking for that perfect person and couldn’t find them ever. It was a very interesting process. I just didn’t want to question it so much and said I’m just going to move forward and just try to pick the most interesting story and not really think about where people should be or what geography should be more represented. I looked at it from an interesting standpoint to say, “Wow, so many Alaska and Maine guys.” I had no idea I would be blown away by the amazing gay men in Maine. So many wrote me the most wonderful stories and I picked five and I could have picked 20.

More than a few times in the book, there are men who say that they “happen to be gay.” What do you think that says about being gay in America?  I think so many people in society want gay men to clarify themselves or distinguish themselves from the rest of society nearly by that one sexual trait: “I’m gay therefore that defines me.” I think so many gay men when asked what truly defines you as a person and what wisdom would you like to share with young kids who are struggling with being gay or closeted adults, a lot of them have that response. “I am so-and-so of a person. I have these interests and I went through this and I overcame it and I just happen to be gay. That’s not the whole reason why I went through all of these things,” even though at face value it might seem that for a lot of people. People struggle because they’re gay. So I think when asked and pressed on that issue a lot of people say, “You know I struggled with everything, but it’s not all based on me being gay.”

How different do you think this book would have been if you’d done it 10 or 20 years ago? The Internet played a big part in how I found people. It would have been much more difficult to find them. The thing that surprised me the most is the regularness of all these guys. I think most outspoken gay men and all facets of the LGBT community are those people who defined themselves very much by being gay and they have that issue that they really want to share with the world. They’re very outspoken. I think the type of men I was looking for aren’t as outspoken as a lot of those advocates are. That difficulty in finding them was made so much easier by the Internet. Ten, maybe 20 years ago, I’m not quite sure how I would have found the same men because they’re not going to gay community centers, most of them. They’re not out at a lot of gay bars or clubs in urban areas. I think that that’s one of the major differences doing it now. That I was really able to connect with a lot of gay men that are for the most part under the radar and what most see of the gay community.

Do you feel like you learned things about gay men that you didn’t know before?  I talk a lot in the introduction about why I did the book and the healing and the personal issues that I had to work out with my upbringing and my father with his being born again and condemning my lifestyle. Really a lot of the reason for the book was to search out that wisdom from gay men in determining how to live a happy fulfilled life and not to let other people’s views of homosexuality affect your being. I think that having a disapproving parent or friends or family who are so against what it means to be gay really affects gay men and gay people in general. I was able to learn from them just how not to let all of that get to you, how to be happy, how to come to some realization that you are gay not for a lot of the reasons that society tells you you are. To understand from these men that it’s just a part of who you are and how you can live your life and go about being a happy, fulfilled person and provide in your community and all of those things. To give back in a way and still love yourself and still love the way God made you. I think so much of the pain that so many gay people experience is through those opinions of the people we love and when they’re telling you that it is so wrong. It is a very hard thing to overcome. I think the more we share our stories and we learn how other people overcome those same things, it can help us all understand what it does means to be gay in America a little better.

Would you say you also learned something about yourself in the process of creating this project?  Oh, very much, yeah, in terms of not questioning it so much anymore. There was always a little part of me that felt it is wrong just because my father disapproved so much of it until he died. That was something very difficult for me to get over. The intelligent person inside of me told me that it wasn’t a choice I had made and I was sinning and I wasn’t going to go to hell. And the wisdom that these other men brought to me in their lives and their loves and how they related to other people and how they overcame tragedy and adversity in their lives made me realize I’m doing okay and I’m a good person and I’m like everybody else. You can’t that away from me just because I like the same sex; that is so ridiculous.

……………………………….

CharlieFtLauderdaleFL2006Blake Little, bear hunter

You could say that photographer Blake Little is more used to men out of their clothes than in them. With a focus on the nude figure, Little has made a strong and reputable name behind the lens. Not just nudes, either: Top tier celebrities Josh Duhamel and Adrien Brody have posed for him to grace the covers of magazines like USA Weekend and Cigar Aficionado.

But what Little himself is really drawn to are everyday, blue-collar guys. With that in mind, he published The Company of Men.

“I wanted to take photographs that captured the strength and integrity of each individual, distilling exactly what I find compelling about men into a photograph without showing everything,” he told Wessel and O’Connor Fine Art, who displayed his work as an exhibit in 2008.

Starting with friends, Little explored this facet of masculinity that he felt wasn’t shown elsewhere — in particular, a gay masculinity he hadn’t seen portrayed in any media, which you can see for yourself at his Dallas appearance later this week.

“I wanted to document a particular type of masculine gay male that I appreciated and related to,” he says, “an alternative to stereotypes or what is usually seen as the physical ideal of a man in the mainstream.”

And he achieves it in heaps. The Company of Men is an outstanding collection of photographs that idealize the everyman and yet still exudes a high sensual characteristic. Simply, each man photographed is hot, but it’s their lack of touch up or waxing that makes them so. Little strived to capture each in their own element, at their own house and in natural light.

Not surprisingly for the photographer, he created well-constructed shots that are both artistic and, let’s face it, sexy with the best looking bears this side of the National Geographic.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.


Blake Little book signing of The Company of Men
.
NUVO, 3900 Cedar Springs Road.
Oct. 27 at 5 p.m.
NUVODallas.com.

—  Kevin Thomas

Black defends ‘J. Edgar’s’ gay content

Last week, I wrote about a report that Clint Eastwood was getting snippy at questions about the “gay side” of his biopic J. Edgar, about the closeted FBI director. The script was written by Oscar winning writer Dustin Lance Black (right), who has had some success with gay profiles (Milk). Well, now Black goes on the record to the film’s defense. In Next magazine, he says this:

“I wrote this with Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine company, and there was never any limitation in terms of where I could or should go except they were very interested in finally figuring out the truth about Hoover. We all wanted to find out what really happened. What was his sexuality. What did it look like. I wanted to get to the truth of his political work and the things that deserve applause and things that were heinous. The gay stuff was only ever going to be a third of it. It’s not Milk, but it’s there. When I finished a draft I liked, and think I got to what the truth is, it’s a story that reflects what gay life was like pre-Stonewall, which was very different from what it looked like for Harvey Milk. That’s the script Clint and the studio read and I’ll tell you what — not only did Clint and the studio never cut or change a word, they never had a note about it. Clint said some things that were so incredibly moving that he understood the struggle young gays go through today. If anything, Clint made it even more human and universal.”

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Small-town gay life

GAY MICROCOSM | With fewer than 50,000 residents, San Luis de la Paz doesn’t even have a gay bar, but that hasn’t stopped queer Dallasites from calling it home. (Photos by Jesus Chairez)

JESUS CHAIREZ  | Special Contributor
chairezstudio@gmail.com

SAN LUIS DE LA PAZ, Guanajuato, México — No rainbow flags, no gay bars, no Pride parade, but for ex-Dallasites Ron Austin and Lamar Strickland, this small Mexican town has plenty of gay life in it.

Austin and Strickland sold most everything and packed up what they could, moving to San Luis de La Paz four years ago. Austin says that he first discovered San Luis years ago when accompanied his best friend Manolo Arrendondo, also from Dallas, back home to visit his family for Christmas one year. When Arrendondo moved back to México to care for his ailing mother, Austin and Strickland soon followed.

Austin used to work for AIDS Arms for many years before retiring from the Baylor Geriatric Center. Strickland still works but telecommutes to his job in the U.S.

Though most people think that it is not safe — and even dangerous — for LGBT people to vacation much less live in México, Austin says that he and his partner feel safe.

“In general I have not found much homophobia here and for most people it seems like a non-issue. But yes, there are homophobic people in San Luis and Mexico. We get called names now and then, but then we sometimes got called names in Dallas, too.”

RURAL DRAG | Clockwise from above: Karla aka Carlos and ‘La?Mosca’ aka Adry staged a successful drag pageant this month in the new hometown of Dallas transplants Lamar Strickland and Ron Austin.

Things have changed in San Luis, says the couple, who have spoken to their trans friends Carlos, now known as Karla and Adry Pardo Garcia, known by his nickname, la Mosca (“the Fly”) about the changes: Harassment is basically verbal today and not physical like in the past.

Though there are no gay bars in San Luis, a town of about 49,000, gay people do go out and dance. It is sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation where gays blend into the crowd; two men dancing together is something gay men just don’t do.

Though Austin and Strickland say they don’t feel much homophobia in San Luis, “Only the drag queens get by with gay behavior, like dancing together or displays of affection,” says Austin.

Though there are no official gay events in San Luis, five years ago Karla and Adry Pardo Garcia, leaders in the trans and drag queen community, and several of their friends got together to have a Ms. San Luis de la Paz annual pageant called Nuestra Belleza Gay (Our Gay Beauty). Carlos and Garcia say their pageant does give pride to San Luis’ growing LGBT community.

In the U.S., drag queens and transsexuals are often at the forefront of the LGBT movement; it is no different here in México, especially in San Luis. For example, earlier this month the girls got into a Blazer and put loud speakers on the roof of the automobile that blared out announcements for their Ms. San Luis Gay 2011 event held at Bar One, a club almost in the center of town.

As the Blazer drove down San Luis’ narrow streets, the girls — in full makeup and outfits — handed out flyers as they approached anyone on the street. Everyone seemed to be fine with all the glitter and glamour. The Nuestra Belleza Gay marketing worked; it was a sold-out crowd at Bar One. Austin was a judge for this year’s event, as he was last year.

Even before the pageant started there was enthusiasm: As the sun was setting all Nuestra Belleza Gay participants, along with their supporters, gathered at the main bus station where the contestants sat on the hood of a car and everyone caravanned through town with a police escort — basically a very small Pride parade. Small clusters of people did wait along the route that went through the center of town to wave and enjoy the beauty.

Though there may not be gay bars or a gayborhood to speak of, Austin and Strickland, along with their two dogs, Osa and Hoppy and a cat named Miche, are enjoying their new life in  México.

Jesús Chairez is an activist and freelance writer; former producer and host of U.S.’s first LGBT Latino show Sin Fronteras (Without Borders) on KNON 89.3 FM. He resides between Dallas and México City.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

TUBE REVIEW: ‘Two Spirits’ looks at LGBT Native Americans, airs on KERA tonight

KERA closes out National Gay Pride Month with a program both unusual and intriguing: A glimpse at gay American Indianrican life.

In American Indian culture, there are not two sexes, but four: Men, women, feminine men and masculine women. Persons who embrace the “other” in themselves are seen as having Two Spirits, which is the name of this documentary from Independent Lens. Traditionally, such people have been respected in their tribal cultures (marriages between nadleehi were common), though in modern society there is still some resistance on the reservation.

It wasn’t all that bad for Fred Martinez, who early on started dressing in his mother’s clothes — sometimes going to school as a boy, sometimes as a girl. “He had a high degree of self-acceptance about who he was,” notes one friend.

But somehow these stories never end happily. Fred was eventually gay-bashed in a brutal murder that the local authorities refused to categorize as a hate crime.

What sets Two Spirits apart from the usual gay-crime procedural — introduce the victim, explain and humanize him, lay out the crime, walk through the hunt for the killer and the trial — is that the latter part doesn’t really happen. The murderer is caught quickly and pleads guilty. That frees up a lot of the hour-long doc to concentrate not on the perpetrator —nor even the victim himself — but on the culture and its approach to queer issues. It’s a perspective not often seen in reference to gay life, and completely compelling.

Airs on KERA channel 13 at 10 p.m. tonight.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Texas Theatre series honoring Fassbinder, Sirk continues tonight with, ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul’

Rainer Werner Fassbinder was one of the most prolific filmmakers in history, making 40-plus films before dying of a drug overdose at age 37. His style was varied, from comedy to epic to intense frank films that explored gay life in Germany in the 1970s. He was also a huge fan of Hollywood director Douglas Sirk, whose melodramas influenced a host of other gay filmmakers, including John Waters and Todd Haynes.

The Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff is holding a free Monday movie screening series that honors both Sirk and Fassbinder. It started last week with the screening of Sirk’s All that Heaven Allows; tonight, it screens Ali: Fear Eats the Soul, Fassbinder’s remake of that. The series continues on May 2 with Sirk’s Imitation of Life, followed on May 16 by Fassbinder’s In a Year with 13 Moons.

It’s free, and all showtimes are at 7:30 p.m. Bring a hankerchief — they tend to be weepies.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BOOKS: ‘Gay Bar: The Fabulous, True Story of a Daring Woman and Her Boys in the 1950s’

Will Fellows and Helen P. Branson
University of Wisconsin Press (1957/ 2010), $26.95, 166 pp.

TGIF: Four little letters that, alone, have different meanings. One is a beverage. One, a gentle expletive. One a personal pronoun, and the last is… well, it’s a letter. Add them together, though, and they bring smiles to the faces of weary workers who’ve done their time for the week.

But what if your options for Friday night were limited? What if you couldn’t go out because you couldn’t come out? In Gay Bar, you can read about a woman who solved that problem when doing so was bold.

For most of her adult life, Helen Branson was interested in the occult and what we now call New Age subjects. Straight, married and a mother, Helen was also a woman ahead of her time: She was extremely interested in friendships with gay men.

Back in the 1950s, homosexuality was still considered an illness that could be “cured” with intensive therapy and classes. Gays and lesbians were degenerates shunned with horror by much of straight society. Some even considered gayness to be a threat comparable to Communism.

Helen didn’t care. Her “boys” were welcome in her establishment, as long as they behaved — and she wasn’t afraid to oust anyone who didn’t. She protected her clients from the police, roughnecks, haters, scammers and themselves. She fed them, gave them a safe place to congregate and became a surrogate mother to them. She also studied them, and encouraged their families to love them, too.

Will Fellows had seen a book that Branson wrote in the mid-’50s, and he thought the memoir/social commentary might make a good play. Fascinated, he began to dig into the life and thoughts of this progressive straight woman who embraced gay men.

If Fellows had just left well-enough alone, if he had just let that book stand on its own merits, this book might have been better. Gay Bar — the original version — had its charms. It offered a unique and honest vintage look at gay life from the perspective of a woman who genuinely loved them for who they were and who hated their persecution. Branson had some (very un-PC) theories on being gay, and she was obviously willing to discuss things with anyone who would listen, as evidenced by her friendship and correspondence with a sympathetic psychiatrist who also studied homosexuality.

But Fellows steps in and puts Branson’s words into today’s perspective. I thought his ideas were intelligent and well-considered, but against Branson’s bygone-era charm, they muddy the appeal of the original.

Read it only if you remember that this is more a gay academic history book than it is pleasure reading. If you’re looking for something fun, leave Gay Bar for another day.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Stephen Frears uses sexual politics as a metaphor for oppression

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Stephen Frears was sexy before sexy was cool.

Well, maybe not exactly. But over the British director’s long career in film, he’s often been at the forefront of frank sexual portrayals onscreen, often of the radical kind.

“You make me feel like a pervert!” Frears exclaims during a recent visit to Dallas.

That’s not the point, of course, but it’s also not something he denies. Frears first gained notice in the U.S. with My Beautiful Laundrette, a disarming story about an immigrant family living in London that expectedly injects a queer twist when the audience discovers the scion of the Pakistani clan is gay. His next film, Prick Up Your Ears, was a darker tale of gay life, chronicling the murder of playwright Joe Orton by his lover. (That was followed by Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, whose title alone got it banned from many multiplexes; in The Grifters, he kept Annette Bening naked most of the time.)

But Frears, who is straight, says that gay storylines have interested him because outsider stories of all kinds spark his artistic curiosity.

“I couldn’t give you a moment when I was asked to do a racy film or a family film,” he says. “There was only one film I didn’t do, where I said, ‘No — I’ve got kids.’ But I think in my own head, it has all to do with being in opposition, as a way of attacking Mrs. Thatcher. [I see] women and gays and immigrants as a metaphor for being oppressed.”

His newest, Tamara Drewe — now playing at the Angelika Film Center — has limited gay content but is nonetheless casual with its sexual free-spiritedness.  A small English village is a haven for artistic types, including a famous novelist and his patient wife. When a former local, Tamara, moves back to town (complete with a nose job and makeover), she sets off a series of escapades that are dramatic, comic, even tragic. The film, though, feels softer than some of his earlier films.

“You make me ashamed that I have gotten tamer,” he says. “But we don’t live in very radical times.”

Frears’ left-leaning politics have often emerged in his films, including The Queen, which netted his a second Oscar nomination. ” [Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair] was a very, very complicated figure. This absurd business of leading countries into war really changed the Labour Party. I’m not a monarchist, but in the end I think you could call me a ‘queenist’ — she reminds me of my mother.”

A queenist? He’s a man after my own heart.

Tamara Drewe is now playing at the Angelika Film Center — Mockingbird Station.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lee Park Fest: The Unsung Fun of Pride

“Thunder is good, thunder is impressive,” said Twain, “but it’s lightning that does all the work.” The same is true with Dallas Pride: Everyone talks about the parade, but it’s the festival in Lee Park, with food, concerts and booths, that provides the best views  of gay life in town. Dallas Voice will have a booth as always, handing out goodie bags and such, but we know focus will probably center on our neighbor, Advanced Skin Fitness, who this year tapped trainer and bodybuilding champ Tony DaVinci, pictured, to man (and we mean man) its kiosk, signing autographs and passing out flyers. We’re over here, guys! Thanks for noticing.

Festival in Lee Park at Turtle Creek Blvd.
11 a.m. DallasVoice.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas