Joan of Snark

Comic icon (and queer fave) Joan Rivers is (gasp!) a Republican … but only when it comes to her money

Joan-Rivers

RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT | The comedienne has long been a ‘friend of the gays.’

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

There is something fascinating about Joan Rivers eating a sandwich on the phone during an interview. She’s demure about it and never talks with her mouth full, but she acknowledges its existence. Is it a ham sandwich? With pickle? Celebrities eat sandwiches?

“They just brought me my lunch,” she says,” Hope you don’t mind.”

Of course not — it’s fucking Joan Rivers!!!

While she’s never fully on the road anymore like she was in her heyday, the comedy icon (and celeb-basher) can’t help but return to her standup roots — even if her shows are in glamorous venues (like Fort Worth’s Bass Hall, where she’ll be Wednesday) instead of dank comedy clubs of one-liners past .

“I love to get out there and do it,” she says. “And those gays better show up.”

Rivers knows she can count on her gays. And with her foray into fashion and celebrity dish, well, what self-respecting gay man could resist? Her show on E!, The Fashion Police, has become a huge hit since she and her daughter Melissa (who produces the show) took over, with Rivers’ fashion shtick both hilarious and spot-on. But with such gay appeal, many of her fans are surprised to learn that Rivers is (cue the collective gasp) a Republican. (It’s no secret — she’s mentioned it in previous interviews.)

“Yes, I am,” she says. “I am a Republican who believes in gay marriage, is pro-choice … all that stuff. My assistant once said that I’m only a Republican when it comes to my money. I’ve already paid my taxes so shut up, people. Don’t touch my money!”

As Rivers comes to Texas, she isn’t all that impressed with Gov. Rick Perry who has been sliding in recent polls for the Republican nomination to vie for the presidency. But really, she’s not impressed with anyone on either side.

“Ugh, that Rick Perry is hideous,” she says. “Everyone [on the GOP front] is a moron in this race, but so is Obama. Plus, I wish I could fix his teeth. I can’t stand that whistle.”

Rivers isn’t optimistic about the direction the next election will take. For her, it’s not about which party comes out ahead, but if there will ever be the right person (or people) in charge. But she keeps trying when it comes to heading to the ballot box.

“This country is in such trouble, there’s nobody out there you want,” she bemoans. “They are all liars and cheats and stupid and they only vote on the party lines.  I feel sorry for the person behind me at the booth because I vote all over the place. My ballot looks like a drunk driver going, from person by person.”

But fans tune in and turn out, not for her punditry, but for her outlook on celebrities. Lately, she’s been hammering at Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher’s marriage and Christina Aguilera’s … um, curvier lines. Rivers takes to Twitter to unleash her comic bullets that are both scathing and hysterical, which sometimes come back to bite her in the ass. She tweeted recently after running into Demi Moore on a flight: “Now for the awkward moment! After joking about Demi on last week’s Fashion Police I hid under a blanket for the entire flight.” Awkward moment indeed, but Rivers doesn’t shy away from them.

“Those come with the job,” she says. “What I really am is a critic and I think that’s what makes the show so good. We tell the truth, but it’s fun for people who like fashion.

We have a good time, we gossip. It’s not for the uptight.”

What people might forget is the number of hats Rivers wears. Besides hosting Fashion Police, she designs jewelry and fashions for QVC, she’s a radio host, she has the Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best show on WE, in addition to her occasional live performances. At 78, not much is stopping her.

“Well, at this age, it does take careful planning,” she laughs. “But you know, I love what’s happening around me. I do it with fun and it’s not always easy but I love my work.”

Rivers is almost as famous for her plastic surgery as she is for her comedy. She knows the gay boys have their narcissism and offered these tips for those considering going under the knife or sticking a needle in their forehead.

“Oh, do it while you’re young,” she insists. “That’s the trick. And just do it a little bit at a time. The thing is, you don’t want anybody to think that you’ve done anything.”

Rivers doesn’t mind so much what people know about her. She’s willing to head into TMI territory and proudly proclaims she’s been sexually active recently, even if it’s been a few years.

“It was about three years ago the last time I got laid,” she admits. “That’s why I’ve gained a little weight. Anyway, this hotel is now closed.”

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

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Photographer Blake Little talks more about his (very hot) photo book, ‘The Company of Men’

Tonight at Nuvo, photographer Blake Little will sign copies of his pictorial The Company of Men. The book includes photos of everyday men who you wish would show up on your Grindr and Scruff apps. Little talked to us a little more about how the book came to be, which we first wrote about here.

Interview with Little — and some more pictures — after the jump.

—  Rich Lopez

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

Appeals court rejects ‘homophobic panic’ claim

Lawyers for Robert Van Hook, convicted of murdering gay man in 1985, told court psychological reports could have supported his claims of mental disease

Van-Hook.Robert

Robert Van-Hook

LISA CORNWELL  |  Associated Press
editor@dallasvoice.com

CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court on Tuesday, Oct. 4 upheld an Ohio man’s death penalty for killing a man he met in a gay bar in 1985, rejecting claims that prosecutors violated his rights by not providing psychological reports showing he may have been motivated by “homophobic panic.”

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed a lower court’s ruling upholding the death penalty for Robert Van Hook, 51. The panel also rejected claims of ineffective counsel.

Van Hook’s attorney, Keith Yeazel, said Tuesday that he will either appeal to the full 6th Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court after he has a chance to review the ruling.

The Supreme Court in November 2009 reversed an earlier decision by the 6th Circuit panel that had found ineffective trial counsel, and the panel said Tuesday that it was bound by the high court’s decision.

Van Hook’s latest appeal argued that the psychological reports showing he may have been motivated by “homophobic panic,” or rejection of his homosexual urges, rather than robbery, could have been used to support his claim of mental disease. The reports also would have been used to counter the murder element of “specific intent to cause the death of another person” and the aggravated robbery factor contributing to the death penalty, the appeal stated.

Van Hook claimed temporary insanity, but never denied strangling and then stabbing David Self to death at his Cincinnati apartment.

Prosecutors said he lured Self to the apartment with the intention of robbing him. He then mutilated Self’s body with a kitchen knife, hiding the murder weapon in the corpse before fleeing to Florida, where he was arrested and confessed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Making a difference

When Dallas resident David McCrory learned of the plight of a homeless gay teen in Colorado and tried to help, he discovered he could help make things better, but it wasn’t easy

McCrory.David

David McCrory

Draconis von Trapp  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

One person can make a difference.
It’s been said a million times, and while some believe the old adage, some are still skeptical.
David McCrory used to be one of those skeptics.
But McCrory, a gay man who works for Dermalogica and a native New Orleanian who moved to Dallas from Los Angeles, discovered a whole new perspective after he helped a 19-year-old boy from committing suicide — from two states away.
McCrory moved to Dallas for his job and ended up participating with the Human Rights Campaign’s entry in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade this year for the first time. The parade featured British ex-rugby star Ben Cohen, who founded the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation that focuses on battling bullying and homophobia in schools.
After working with Cohen, McCrory started paying attention to the StandUp Foundation’s Facebook page, and that’s where he happened upon a post about how Jamey Rodomeyer, a young gay boy, had committed suicide.
As with most celebrity Facebook updates, there are usually several hundred comments. McCrory, usually not one to bother reading those comments, decided this time to take a look at the feedback.

“I was just browsing through the comments and I noticed this post from A.J.,” McCrory said. “And I guess it was the timing, having just read about Jamey, that I felt like I needed to reach out to him.”

A.J. had commented about how he felt that his only option was to end his life, saying that he was homeless just because of his sexual orientation. He said that he didn’t want to kill himself, but he didn’t know what else to do.

The comment was left in the morning on Sept. 21. It only took 30 minutes for someone to respond to A.J.’s post, recommending that he call the Trevor Project. But it took another eight hours for someone to proactively do something about it.

McCrory, after reading and responding to A.J.’s comment, emailed Cohen’s manager, Jill Tipping, confirming that both she and Cohen had read that post and responded to A.J. with suicide hotline numbers and contact information for different organizations that could help.

Feeling that more needed to be done, McCrory added A.J. as a friend on Facebook, started emailing him with reassuring messages and exchanging phone numbers with the young man.

After feeling out A.J.’s situation a little more, McCrory discovered that the teen had been living on a park bench for two days with no food after an altercation with his father.

“I left Colorado to go to Michigan to get in touch with my family there,” A.J. explained. “That kinda went south, so I came back to live with my father and things were fine.”

But the next day his father started questioning A.J.’s orientation. While A.J. had been out to his friends, he hadn’t yet come out to his family and wasn’t sure how they would take it. While he figured they would react negatively, he said, “I didn’t expect it to go as far as it did.”

After that, AJ’s father told him to leave.

McCrory said he did contact the Trevor Project, and while they were friendly and helpful, ultimately they could do nothing for A.J. immediately.

They provided some more contact information for organizations and crisis intervention programs in A.J.’s area — and that was the end of it.

McCrory said he tried all the contacts that were given to him but had little to show for it. Most numbers led to voice mailboxes and the one immediate crisis line he contacted could only help by advising he call the police.

At this time it was starting to rain where A.J. was, and McCrory was running out of options.

Finally, using his hotel points, McCrory booked a room for A.J. at a Marriott Hotel and, after discussing A.J.’s situation with the manager, was given the room for free as well as two meal vouchers so A.J. could eat that night and the next morning.

With cab services refusing credit card numbers over the phone and the police being short staffed, McCrory’s cousin used her credit card to have a driving service fetch A.J.

The next day McCrory tried to contact the LGBT community center in Colorado, but never got through to anyone. In a moment of clarity, it occurred to him that most towns had an LGBT-friendly church, and upon researching it, he found one close by A.J.’s location.

The Metropolitan Community Church’s pastor, Weff Mullins, provided McCrory with more up-to-date, reliable resources for A.J. and welcomed the teen into the service that Sunday.

One reputable organization Pastor Mullins recommended was Inside/Out Youth Services, which McCrory contacted, finally talking to someone who was able to get the ball rolling on providing A.J. with housing, therapy and a job to help him get back on his feet.

It was the help the young man needed.

A.J. has been living for free at a hotel since then and said that he has a brighter outlook on his future — one that doesn’t include suicide.

“I’m actually much better than I was before,” he said. “I’m mostly stable now and I’m pretty good.”

A.J. and McCrory have kept in contact and often talk on the phone.

“He’s a good kid,” McCrory said. “It’s pretty amazing that we’ve gotten so close and we’ve never met. I never thought that I would be helping someone out of a crisis situation like this.”

McCrory’s company has since made a $1,000 donation to Inside/Out Youth Services, which is being matched by the Gill Foundation, along with $100 from one of McCrory’s coworkers.

They worked together to get some Wal-Mart gift cards so A.J.could buy some clothes for himself.

“Plus, being gay, you know he will need some beauty products,” McCrory joked.

McCrory said that his involvement in helping A.J. has opened his eyes to how influential one person can be when they simply take the initiative to care.

Working with A.J. has furthered his inspiration to start a non-profit organization through Resource Center Dallas that features a 24/7 crisis center for teenagers who need help.

“It really blew my mind that there is a missing link in that chain, like you can get counseling over the phone, but you can’t get help after hours,” McCrory said incredulously.

“You can have a crisis as long as it’s within business hours.”

McCrory also said that had A.J. been underage, this whole thing could have ended up a lot worse. Due to the possible liabilities in dealing with a minor, most people don’t want to deal with them — and they can’t check into hotels alone. The only thing left to do would have been to call the cops and let Child Protective Services handle it, “which is kind of shocking,” McCrory said.

“I thought it was kind of an amazing story that select people think there’s nothing you can do,” McCrory said. “But it takes one small step of doing something that, as little as it may be, it could be the one thing that changes that one life, really.”

In the Dallas area, Promise House in Oak Cliff is a shelter for LGBT teens in crisis. They have a 24-hour crisis line that can be called at 1-866-941-8578. They are located on 224 W. Page Ave. and provide crisis intervention services along with case management, counseling, emergency and long-term shelter as well as advocacy and outreach.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Senate confirms gay U.S. attorney for W. Texas

The U.S. Senate confirmed Robert Lee Pitman (right), an openly gay man, as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas on Monday.

Pitman is believed to be the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas, but he is not the first in the nation. Nominated by President Barack Obama, Pitman will serve as chief federal prosecutor for a 68-county region.

Interestingly, Pitman’s nomination was supported by anti-gay Republican Sens. John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Pitman is a Fort Worth native and graduate of Trinity Valley School. Read a detailed profile here.

—  John Wright

Drew’s clues

Our ‘Most Eligible’ gay gets real about reality TV

ON THE TOWN | Ginsburg, above left, attends DIFFA, showing Bravo audiences the gay side of Dallas.

Love it, hate it or maybe just love to hate it, reality television has put Dallas right in the middle of its crosshairs with shows like Big Rich Texas, the upcoming A-List: Dallas and Bravo’s newest beehive of bitchery, Most Eligible Dallas, filming around town in recent months.

Eligible promises a front row seat to the lives of six of our city’s most see-and-be-seen socialites (although popular opinion seems to question some of their pedigrees). We had a chance to visit with the lone gay member of this glitterati: Drew Ginsburg. As is boasted in his Bravo bio, the 29-year-old is “a proud gay man, [who] prefers cars to couture” and works for his family’s business of high-end automotive dealerships.

Ginsburg shared some local haunts that did not make it on camera, and how he felt Dallas’ reputation, and his own, were faring in the warmth of the Hollywood spotlight.

— Jef Tingley

…………………….

Dallas Voice: How did you get involved in the show to begin with? Ginsburg: I was actually approached on Facebook by producers.

What was your reaction to the first time you saw yourself on TV?  Was it the same as when you hear your own recorded voice and think, “I don’t sound like that?”  I was actually quite shocked. I thought I was going to come off funny. I didn’t know I was going to come out looking as good as I am. I really had no expectation of how I looked on camera.

The night the first show aired, we saw many Facebook posts about one of your first on-camera lines where you said you can “have everything you want at the push of a buddon.” You seemed to catch a lot of flack for that pronunciation, especially given the context. Anything you want to add in your defense? Well here’s a fact about the way that I said the word button: I’m dyslexic, I have ADD, and I was actually born with a speech impediment so some words just don’t come out right. And if you don’t like it, guess what? I’m lucky that I can even say “buddon.” If [people] are going to attack me on the way I say button, I think it’s kind of funny. Those are things I wear with honor and pride because they make me who I am. I was born this way, and if they don’t like it they can go complain somewhere else.

In the second episode, you went to a matchmaker — a very old-school one who relies strictly on index cards, no computers. How did you even find her?  My friend found her by Googling gay matchmaker Dallas. I was shocked to go to her house in Bluffview and meet her. For some reason, when I heard matchmaker, I was thinking like matzo balls and dates — my family’s Jewish. I was expecting Yiddish and Yenta… but I didn’t get Yenta.

Even though your date with J.P., a diminutive-statured redhead from Chihuahua, Mexico, whom you called an “endangered species” didn’t work out, would you recommend matchmaking for a friend? I’d recommend matchmaking to anyone. I mean, there’s nothing wrong in my mind in taking a shot in the dark sometimes…especially when it comes to love.

Who on the show would benefit the most from matchmaking? I think Courtney. I feel like sometimes you need to get your feathers ruffled and break out of your old routines.

How do you think Dallas comes across on the show? I think Dallas looks incredible. They got a picture of the new bridge. That was kind of cool.

Speaking of Dallas, we’ve seen you on the Katy Trail with cast mate Glenn Pakulak (and his dreamy washboard abs) and at other notable locations like Sfuzzi and Naan. Do you have any favorite local spots that didn’t end up on camera so far? The Grapevine has not ended up on camera. It’s one of my favorite hangouts. Same with Company Café and Bolsa.

Since you’re Most Eligible’s lone homo, where would you take your fellow cast mates to paint the town pink? [We’d] probably start at the Grapevine as a primer even though it’s not a gay bar. Then around 11 p.m., I would take them to the Round-Up. It’s fun and legendary… I got to meet Lady Gaga at my building after her performance at the Round-Up. She called me a “Little Monster,” but I explained to her that I was six foot four and not that little!

While we are on the subject of being “the only gay in the village,” were you out before the show aired? Did you just quote Little Britain to me? Yes, I was out before the show aired. But I have [heard from] a bunch of, like, high school friends … they were all shocked to find out. I was the one in high school who was caught drinking with all the cheerleaders. I was also on the football team, so everyone thought I was a playa. But I was just hanging out with them.

Weight loss seems to be a big catalyst in your life. How long has it been? And how did you go from gastric bypass to injecting yourself with HCG (a hormone produced during pregnancy that helps with weight loss)? I’m glad you brought that up. In 2002, after watching my grandma pass away I decided that I needed to do something. I was 420 lbs., and I realized dieting was not the path to do something drastic to jumpstart the process. I talked to several doctors who said my only option was gastric bypass.

I started that process and my alcoholism took into effect after my gastric bypass about two years later. I had to deal with that road bump, which I am glad I did because it helped me get to grips with my sexuality. Getting sober made me realize I had to be more honest with myself and come out of the closet.

When I came to Dallas, I did not have the same support system [as in California]. I went from 250 lbs. to 280 lbs. in 2010, and that’s when I started HCG and working with a trainer and on my nutrition. My weight still fluctuates. During filming, I jumped from 212 lbs. to 235 lbs. because of the stresses of filming, work and not getting to go to the gym. But I have not used HCG since April of this year.

One of your claims to fame is that you are a car fanatic. What are you driving right now? I’m in the 2012 Audi A6. It’s a brand new car. I’ve had every single model variation [of Audi] since I started driving. I’ve always loved this car: in my teens, in my 20s and now into my 30s.

Cast mate Tara Harper is very involved with Paws in the City, a North Texas animal charity. Do you have a favorite local charity you support? I support Legacy Counseling and Hospice and DIFFA. My family has been supporting DIFFA since I was 16 years old.

You mention that because of HCG, your pee will actually test positive during a pregnancy test. Have you ever been brave enough to waltz into the drugstore for your own box of EPT? Yes I did…and it did work!

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

—  Michael Stephens

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

………………………..

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

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