Roseanne as SLC gay Pride grand marshal

Roseanne Barr-slash-Arnold-slash-nothing has been pretty upfront about her personal history, being abused while growing up in conservative Salt Lake City. She’s certainly been a pioneer for gay issues over her long career, from her Roseanne sitcom, where she routinely featured gay characters and had a famous prime-time same-sex kiss with Mariel Hemingway. (Sara Gilbert, who recently announced her split from her partner, was one of the stars of the show before coming out.)

On the next episode of her new show, the reality-based quirkcom Roseanne’s Nuts, Roseanne returns to SLC to serve as grand marshal of the city’s gay Pride parade, stoking the flames of the attendees with her fiery rants about equality and revisiting old memories.

The episode, called “Homecoming Parade,” airs Friday at 9 p.m. on Lifetime, with replays throughout the week.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

BREAKING: President certifies DADT repeal

President Barack Obama is shown signing the law repealing ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ on Dec. 22, 2010. After a delay of more than six months during which the U.S. military branches received training on DADT repeal and dealing with openly gay and lesbian servicemembers, the president today certified repeal of the gay ban. DADT will officially be lifted in 60 days.

 

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

President Barack Obama has put his signature to certification of the repeal of the military’s anti-gay “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which means that the ban on openly gay and lesbian members of the U.S. military officially ends in 60 days, or on Sept. 20.

“Today, we have taken the final major step toward ending the discriminatory ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ law that undermines our military readiness and violates American principles of fairness and equality,” the president said today after signing the repeal certification, adding that he had indeed “certified and notified Congress that the requirements for repeal have been met.”

The president continued, “As Commander in Chief, I have always been confident that our dedicated men and women in uniform would transition to a new policy in an orderly manner that preserves unit cohesion, recruitment, retention and military effectiveness. … Our military will no longer be deprived of the talents and skills of patriotic Americans just because they happen to be gay or lesbian.”

Obama also praised “our civilian and military leadership for moving forward in the careful and deliberate manner that this change requires, especially with our nation at war.”

Word came last night that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Adm. Mike Mullen would be certifying the repeal today, but there had been no confirmation then that the president would also certify repeal today.

“The days of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ are quite literally numbered,” Laura W. Murphy, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Washington Legislative Office, said in a press release announcing that Obama had signed the certification. Murphy then went on to say that many other statutes that discriminate against LGBT people are still on the books, at the state and federal levels, and that the ACLU would “continue to seek justice” for gay and lesbian servicemembers discharged under DADT, and that the organization would continue to push for repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal recognition to legally married same-sex couples.

“The countdown to repeal begins today!” Aubrey Sarvis, executive director of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network declared in a statement released by his organization. But Sarvis also warned gays and lesbians in the military that they are still at risk and that it is unsafe for them to come out until the ban is lifted in 60 days.

And Alexander Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United and himself a former Army intelligence collector who was discharged under DADT, called certification of repeal “nothing short of historic,” adding that “gay and lesbian servicemembers can and will breathe a huge sigh of relief” now.

But even as many LGBT rights advocates were exulting over certification of repeal of DADT, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, earlier today issued a statement reminding advocates that the battle is not yet over: transgender and transsexual servicemembers still have to stay closeted or risk discharge.

“NCTE rejoices whenever discriminatory laws end, and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was a discriminatory law and it needed to go,” Keisling said. “However, as repeal is certified, transgender servicemembers continue serving in silence. NCTE looks forward to the day when the U.S. Armed Forces ends discrimination in all its forms,” Keisling said, adding a call for the Pentagon and the Obama administration to “address the gap” in DADT repeal.

—  admin

Get your Pride on!

DANCING DOWN MARKET | A dancer performs for the crowds along Market Street during the annual gay Pride parade in June 2010 in San Francisco. (Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

North Texas’ largest Pride events don’t happen until September and October, but there are plenty of Pride festivities happening now, from Houston to New York to San Francisco

DRACONIS VON TRAPP  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

Break out your rainbow flags and spray-on glitter for the month of June, the official national Gay Pride Month. All over the United States folks are setting up their parade floats and getting ready for a month-long Pride celebration.

If you’re in Dallas then you’ll have to wait until September to ride along in the parade, but other major cities from coast to coast — including plenty in Texas — have already started their club parties and street festivals.

The Pride parade and celebration in Dallas was moved to September in the early 1980s to commemorate Judge Jerry Buchmeyer’s ruling that overturned Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, also known as the state’s sodomy law.

Even though Buchmeyer’s decision was overturned on appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court, Dallasites decided to keep the Pride celebration in September in part to take advantage of cooler temperatures.

Dallas’ annual parade is called The Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, named in honor of the former Dallas Tavern Guild executive parade who was a longtime activist and primary organizer of the parade from the time the Tavern Guild took it over in 1983 until his death in 1995.

This year’s parade is set for Sunday, Sept. 18, and other events on the September Pride schedule include Gay Day at Six Flags and more.

For more information, go online to DallasTavernGuild.org.

Earlier this month, Dallas’ one-time traditional June Pride party, Razzle Dazzle Dallas, was resurrected after several years, coming back as a five-day slate of events culminating with a street party Saturday, June 4, on Cedar Springs. Proceeds benefit several community organizations, and will be distributed Monday, June 20.

Tarrant County Pride Week events were moved to early October several years ago, but following the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge, enthusiasm for the celebration regenerated, making the 2011 events — including the parade, the always-popular Pride Picnic and the newly added street fair — the largest in years.

This year the parade, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, is being moved downtown, and the Pride Picnic will be held Sunday, Oct 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Trinity Park.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week 2011 begins Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 9, with the International Gay Rodeo Association bringing its international finals rodeo to Cowtown for the final weekend of Pride week.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

The Dallas Black Pride celebration — this year presented by DFW Pride Movement and called “HIS-Story and HER-Story” — is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Author Uriah Bell and adult film star and CEO Rock Rockafella are already confirmed as special guests.

For more information, go online to DFWPrideMovement.org.

June Pride in Texas

But if you are looking for a June Pride celebration close to home, don’t despair.

Collin County has become quickly burgeoning into a gay hotspot in the DFW area and they’re holding their first-ever Pride event this year with the “Come as you are Pride Party” at Aparicio’s Restaurante Mexicano and Sports Bar, 216 E. Virginia St. in McKinney, on Saturday, June 25, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

The party is a fundraiser for C.U.R.E., an organization committed to raising funds for and awareness of HIV/AIDS programs and organizations. C.U.R.E.’s next project is to bring to Dallas the largest display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt since the Quilt was displayed in Washington, D.C., in 1997.

For more information go online to CureNTx.org or look for event information on Facebook.

Texas’ largest June Pride celebration happens in Houston, and it all kicks off this weekend with Opening Ceremonies beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Jones Plaza, followed by the Gay Men’s Chorus’ “Anything Goes” Concert, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Jones Hall. The opening night of Pride winds up with Matt Alber Live at the Hard Rock Café, beginning at 10 p.m.

‘“Divas of Diversity,” the opening of a nationwide comedy show tour, begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at The Houston Club.

Midweek, on Wednesday, June 22, you can “Dine With Pride” all day at The Chelsea Grill to help support the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration. Thursday night, June 23, beginning at 10 a.m., head to Meteor Lounge to watch the finals of Pride SuperStar, and on Friday, June 24, you can “Rock the Runway,” beginning at 8 p.m. at South Beach Night Club.

But the biggest of the big Pride events in Houston start Saturday, June 25, with the Houston Pride Festival, a multi-block party in the heart of Houston’s Montrose gayborhood, taking place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and featuring a wide variety of performers on different stages.

And just as the festival is winding down, the Pride Parade will be gearing up. The parade through Montrose — Texas’ first night-time gay Pride parade, steps off at 8:15 p.m. and the parties carry on through to Sunday.

For all the details, go online to PrideHouston.org.

There’s not a lot of information available yet on Pride in Amarillo, which has been hosting a Pridefest for 20 years. But we do know that another, much smaller group — Repent Amarillo — has its Jesus Fest on the same day every year for the sole purpose of preaching loudly to the Pridefest participants.

El Paso has already held their Pride events for 2011 and have scheduled next year’s events for June 8-12. Galveston and Austin are holding their Pride events later in the year. Galveston’s

Pride is in October with a celebratory block party while Austin’s is in September, kicking off Sept. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. with a Festival in Fiesta Gardens in East Austin.

Pride around the U.S.

The majority of the U.S. still celebrates Pride in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where LGBT New Yorkers retaliated against an unjust police raid on a gay hangout in Greenwich Village. After that, resistance efforts took place all over to fight discrimination.

New York

Of course, one of the largest Pride celebrations is in New York itself, and it starts this year with the Rally Pride kickoff at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Saturday, June 18, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Well-known performers, such as cast members from Broadway’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and motivational speakers from the LGBT community will be featured.

Ross “The Intern” Matthews and comedian Christine O’Leary will be M.C.s for the rally, and headline performer is singer Oh Land.

The women-only Rapture on the River event, with DJs Susan Levine and Mary Mac, is being held on Pier 54, 13th St. at the West Side Highway, on Saturday, June 25, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

New York’s 2011 Pride March is Sunday, June 26, beginning at noon. The parade steps off at the intersection of 36th and 5th streets, and ends at the intersection of Christopher and Greenwich streets.

Grand marshals for the NYC Pride March this year are Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, creators of the It Gets Better Project, the Rev. Pat Bumgardner of MCC New York and The Imperial Court of New York.

The Pride Festival begins at 11 a.m. that day and runs through 7 p.m. It takes place on Hudson Street between Abingdon Square and West 14th Street.

The party winds up with Dance of the Pier, from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at Pier 54 in Hudson River Park, 13th Street at the West Side Highway. Wynter Gordon will be on hand for a special early performance, and DJs Lina and Vito Fun back up headliner DJ Ana Paula.

For complete details on NYC Pride, go online to NYCPride.org.

San Francisco

Another of the largest celebrations San Francisco Pride, where they have an astonishingly large number of events.

The prade along Market Street kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on June 26 at Market and Beale streets and ends at Market and 8th in Downtown.

Among the Grand Marshals this year are Chaz Bono and Olympia Dukakis.

The Trevor Project is being honored as National Organizational Grand Marshal. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will appear with the Trevor Project.

A large percentage of Pride events have been always 18- or 21-plus, due to their venues, but in San Francisco they’ve got a few youth-appropriate events, including Kidspace Chef, where LGBT families and their kids get to cook together, held at 10:30 a.m. on June 18 at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center (and it’s free).

San Francisco held a Youth Prom on June 10, for youths aged 13 to 20, which was not unlike Dallas’ Gayla Prom that happened in May.

For complete details on SF Pride, go online to SFPride.org.

International Pride

Mexico City

If you are looking to head south for the summer, the Mexico City Pride parade is on Saturday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. The parade is known as Marcha del Orgullo Lésbico, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero, Travesti, Transexual e intersexual, and this year binational activist Jesus Chairez of Dallas and Mexico City will be on hand for the celebration and will report on it for Dallas Voice.

The parade route begins at the Ángel de la independencia and proceeds to the Zocalo.

For complete details on Mexico City Pride, go online to Orgullo.com.mx

Toronto

Canada’s Pride Toronto holds its official Pride Launch Party on Thursday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with performances by bands The Clicks and Creature.

The Toronto street festival begins on Friday, July 1, with a Trans March in the evening and a Trans Verse stage amongst others, and runs through to 11 p.m. Sunday night, July 3, with entertainment on eight stages.

For complete details on Toronto Pride, go online to PrideToronto.com

So whether you’re getting your Pride on with gay happy hour or marching in a parade, there’s a Pride event somewhere in the U.S. suited just for you, beginning in June and lasting all the way through October.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Lady Gaga does Rome

Calling herself a ‘child of diversity,’ she denounces discrimination at Europride

FRANCES D’EMILIO  |  Associated Press

ROME — Lady Gaga sang a few bars of her smash hit “Born This Way” and demanded the end of discrimination against gays as she proclaimed herself a “child of diversity” at a gay pride rally Saturday night in the ancient Circus Maximus.

The star, whose Born This Way album recently topped 1 million sales in a week, delighted tens of thousands of people at a brief concert in the vast field where the ancient Roman masses would gather for spectacles.

Wearing a green wig, she played the piano and sang a few numbers. But she devoted much of her appearance after an annual European gay pride parade to denounce intolerance and discrimination against gays and transgender people. Among the places she cited was the Middle East, Poland, Russia and Lithuania.

Lady Gaga told the crowd she is often asked “How gay are you, Lady Gaga?”

“My answer is: ‘I am a child of diversity.”’

She also proudly cited her Italian roots — saying she was really named Stefania Giovanna Angelina Germanotta.

And she told fans her costume — a sleek black top with one bare shoulder and billowing plaid skirt — were from the last collection of Gianni Versace.

Decrying intolerance of homosexuality, Lady Gaga lamented that young people who are gay are susceptible to “suicide, self-loathing, isolation.”

Many in the crowd had participated in an hours-long parade of colorful floats and brightly costumed marchers through Rome’s historic center before the rally. The events were part of the annual Europride day to encourage gay rights on the continent.

Lady Gaga praised her audience for its “great courage” which she says inspires her.

Europride organizers hope the event will draw attention to discrimination gays face in many parts of the world. The U.S. ambassador was among those who invited Lady Gaga to Rome.

“I am so honored to be here,” Lady Gaga said, recalling how, earlier in the day, she lay naked in silk sheets in her hotel room and enjoyed the din of adoring fans and packs of photographers in the street below.

Organizers said Rome was a significant choice of venue, since it is home to the Vatican, which staunchly opposes legislation that would recognize same-sex marriage or adoption by gay couples.

Others hoped the turnout would send a message to Premier Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian leader dogged by a sex scandal involving an alleged 17-year-old Moroccan prostitute. The billionaire media mogul triggered outrage from gay rights groups last fall when he contended during a public appearance that it was “better to be passionate about a beautiful girl than a gay.”

Berlusconi’s equal opportunity minister, a woman, defended the premier, saying he had just been joking and had no intention of offending gays. A government undersecretary further provoked protests when she said she was sure “all Italian parents hope to have heterosexual children.”

The premier, who is on trial in Milan for allegedly paying the teenager for sex and then using his office to try to cover it up, has denied any wrongdoing.

—  John Wright

Doing things the Fort Worth way

THE DIFFERENCE 18 MONTHS CAN MAKE | Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable says that with the initial issues of the Rainbow Lounge raid addressed, FFW can move forward toward its goal of being an LGBT clearinghouse that works to match those with needs with those who have the resources to meet those needs. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Formed to meet the immediate needs of Tarrant County’s LGBT community in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid, Fairness Fort Worth is evolving into a cornerstone in building a stronger community

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Even though Fort Worth in 2001 became one of the first Texas cities to include sexual orientation in its citywide nondiscrimination ordinance, the city known as “Cowtown” and the place “where the West begins” was never known for having an especially active LGBT community.

There were gay bars here, sure, and plenty of LGBT citizens in Cowtown. But there was no recognizable “gayborhood,” no active LGBT organizations. Fort Worth’s LGBT churches got lost in the shadow of Cathedral of Hope, “the largest LGBT congregation in the world” located just east in Dallas. And the city’s annual gay Pride parade, while older than Dallas’, had in recent years dwindled away to nearly nothing.

But then came June 29, 2009 — the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York and the night that Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission raided a newly-opened gay bar called the Rainbow Lounge.

In the tumultuous days and weeks after the raid made headlines across the country, Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief insisted the city would handle the uproar in “the Fort Worth way.”

Some angry activists, many of them younger and more radical folks who didn’t actually live in Fort Worth, responded with jeers. To them, “the Fort Worth way” was just code for ignoring the problem and looking for some way to sweep it all under the rug.

But a group of stalwart Fort Worth LGBTs took a different tack. They decided to take Moncrief and other city leaders at their word and opted for a more low-key, although no less insistent, approach.

Moncrief said “the Fort Worth way” was to talk things out and work together to find ways to solve problems, and these Fort Worth LGBT leaders stepped up and said, “OK. Let’s talk. But you’d better be ready to do more than just talk. We want solutions.”

And that was the birth of a new day in Fort Worth.

Fairness Fort Worth is formed

ANNOUNCING A NEW DAY | On July 8, 2009, Fort Worth attorney Jon Nelson announced at a press conference the formation of Fairness Fort Worth, a new organization that would initially focus on helping coordinate between law enforcement agencies to gather the testimony of witnesses to the Rainbow Lounge raid. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Less than two weeks after the raid, a group of LGBT business, civic and religious leaders held a press conference to announce the formation of a new organization called Fairness Fort Worth. Attorney Jon Nelson explained that the group’s initial priority was to help locate witnesses to the Rainbow Lounge raid, providing those individuals with legal advice while also coordinating with TABC and Fort Worth police to get their testimony recorded as part of the several investigations into what actually happened that night.

But even then, FFW founders knew they wanted to do more.

“Even though our city strives to be open, equal and caring, we have much more work to do,” Nelson said at the time.

Over the next several months, FFW continued to coordinate the LGBT community’s response to the raid. The organization marshaled hundreds of citizens to turn out in support of a new ordinance protecting transgenders from discrimination, offering measured, reasonable responses to the bigoted rants of those who opposed the change.

FFW members volunteered for the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force that created a list of policy changes and new initiatives to make Cowtown a more LGBT-friendly place to live and work. And they met frequently with Police Chief Jeff Halstead and other city officials, making sure that those officials followed through on promises they made.

On Sept. 15 that year, FFW incorporated. The organization’s first board meeting followed in January 2010. Lee Zolinger was elected as the first FFW president, but he soon realized that his job was keeping him from being as active in FFW as he wanted.

That’s when Thomas Anable stepped up and offered to run for the office, and in June that year, he was elected as FFW’s new leader.

Anable, a CPA, was new to the world of LGBT activism. He readily admits now that he had always relied on his status in the business world and his ability to “pass,” and had never felt the need to be active in the LGBT community.

But Anable was the accountant for Rainbow Lounge, and he was in the bar the night of the raid. What he saw then made him realize that no one is immune to anti-LGBT bigotry. And he was determined that FFW and its opportunity to be a force for change would not fade away.

A new focus

Under Anable’s leadership, FFW members decided to focus on two specific areas where they felt they could help enact that change: bullying in schools and LGBT issues within Fort Worth’s hospitals.

Anable said that the hospitals in the area had never participated in the Human Rights Campaign’s annual report on policies regarding LGBT issues “because they knew they wouldn’t meet the criteria to get good scores. So we decided to take a new approach. We decided we would encourage them to take the HRC survey, but instead of submitting it, they could use that as a guideline on how to improve.”

Anable said shortly afterward, the federal Health and Human Services department came out with new guidelines on how hospitals should deal with LGBT people and access to health care services. And with approval from the FFW board, Anable talked with Resource Center Dallas’ executive director and associate director of community programs, Cece Cox and Lee Taft, about working together to approach the hospitals.

According to FFW treasurer David Mack Henderson, that partnership is in full swing now as the two organizations develop a strategy in approaching the hospitals on those issues.

On the issue of bullying in the schools, FFW has worked behind the scenes to provide the Fort Worth Independent School District with the information and resources it needed to enact comprehensive anti-bullying policies.

The district has already adopted such a policy for faculty and administrators, and Nelson said this week he is “fully confident you will see a comprehensive anti-bullying policy [pertaining to students] in place by the beginning of the next school year, as well as a mindset that will exist on cooperation and treating people fairly with respect, and not just in the LGBT community.”

Plus, Anable noted, FFW was instrumental in helping secure the assistance of the Human Rights Campaign, which created a new staff position for someone to work with school districts to implement anti-bullying policies and programs. The first person hired, Rhonda Thomasson, is already working with schools in Dallas and Fort Worth, Anable said.

The Tarrant County College system also recently adopted anti-bullying policies specifically including protections based on sexual orientation. And Anable has spoken to the system’s board members on including protections based on gender and gender identity, as well.

Collaboration

A YEAR LATER | Fairness Fort Worth board members Carol West, left, and David Mack Henderson, right, talk with Police Chief Jeff Halstead at a 2010 Gay Pride Month event at Rainbow Lounge marking a year since the raid and celebrating improvements in the relationship between the city’s police force and the LGBT community. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Anable said that as FFW president, another of his priorities was to make sure FFW worked with other LGBT organizations in North Texas and at the state and national levels. With that in mind, he said, he asked all FFW board members to get involved with those organizations as volunteers and board members.

The reason, Anable said, is that FFW can be most beneficial by acting as a kind of “clearinghouse” for LGBT issues in Tarrant County, helping to identify needs and then matching those needs to the resources that already exist.

“We want to be a coordinator,” Anable said. “We won’t really do programs ourselves. We will identify the needs that are out there, and then match them with the providers who have the resources already to meet those needs.”

So far, the strategy seems to be working. In just 20 months, Anable said, FFW has played a role in making changes that in other cities have taken years to accomplish.

Carol West agreed.

“This organization has had a tremendously positive impact,” West said. “In those early days after the raid, things could have gone either way. I think it was absolutely necessary to have Fairness Fort Worth there doing what we did, and doing it in a very positive way.

“Now, more and more people are getting involved and becoming aware,” she said, adding that diversity training for all city employees is a “direct result of the work of Fairness Fort Worth. … We’ve got a lot of good things happening here.”

West, who is herself on Chief Halstead’s citizens advisory board, said those good things include a focus on improving services for LGBT youth in Tarrant County, developing an LGBT archive for the county that will be housed at Celebration Community Church, and establishing an LGBT hotline that will also be housed at the church.

“Fairness Fort Worth has become a really tremendous organization that really is the face of LGBT politics in Fort Worth, the face of justice in Fort Worth. I think we have really made a difference for the better,” West said.

Nelson said that impact dates back to the first city council meeting after the Rainbow Lounge raid.

“I think it really had quite a sobering effect on the city council and the mayor and the city manager to sit there at that table and look out into the crowd and see hundreds of people there wearing our yellow Fairness Fort Worth buttons,” Nelson said.

“Even then, in its infancy, Fairness Fort Worth was able to do something few had been able to do before: marshal enough people to come to City Hall and really have an impact. When those elected officials saw more than 450 people wearing those yellow buttons that said Fairness Fort Worth, something was different, and they knew it. That perception could easily have dissipated, but because of Fairness Fort Worth, we didn’t let that happen,” Nelson said.

With FFW, Nelson said, LGBT people in Tarrant County now know “they have somewhere to turn if they have questions or concerns.

“They know we aren’t just focused on one issue. We are broad based and we can be that clearinghouse they need.
“And those in the straight community know we exist and that we have the ability to take their concerns out into our community. That has never existed before,” he said.

The existence of FFW, Nelson said, gives the LGBT community and the individuals within that community a tangible presence to the community at large, “both the perception and the reality of an organization and a community that can make a difference. That has never existed before in Fort Worth,” Nelson said.

The Fort Worth way

Some in Fort Worth reacted angrily to activists who converged on Fort Worth after the Rainbow Lounge raid, taking to the streets with chants and placards and bullhorns, and standing up in council meetings to make demands until the mayor had them removed.

But both Nelson and Anable were quick to point out those protesters played a necessary role in the progress that’s been made in Fort Worth.

“I don’t think any right we have today was garnered without protests like that,” Nelson said. “But protests alone get nothing done. At some point you have to sit down with both sides and discuss things. Both sides have to be able to understand each other and trust each other. You can’t do that with placards and bullhorns. And that’s what Fairness Fort Worth has brought to the table.”

That, Anable said, “is what we mean when we say ‘the Fort Worth way.’ It means, let’s sit down and talk about it. Let’s be reasonable and act like adults and have a real conversation that can come up with real solutions. That’s what happened here.”

Anable, who said that before the Rainbow Lounge raid never felt the need to be involved in LGBT political issues or to even make a point about being openly gay, decided at the beginning of this year that he has a new calling in his life.

So he sold his CPA practice to his business partner and now plans to devote himself fulltime to LGBT activism.

He said, “It’s been a really strange 20 months. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would be where I am today, I never would have believed you. My whole life has changed.

“In one night, my life changed. This city changed. And it’s still changing. And Fairness Fort Worth is going to help make it happen.”

————————————————————————–

Fairness Fort Worth Timeline

• June 28, 2009: Rainbow Lounge Raid (TABC report says 1:28am).
• June 28, 2009: Protest Rally on Tarrant County Courthouse steps.
• June 28, 2009: Press release from FWPD (mentioning 3 sexual advances).
• July 1, 2009: Candlelight vigil for Chad Gibson.
• July 2, 2009: Chief Halstead announces suspension of joint operations with TABC.
• July 2, 2009: First gathering at Celebration Community Church to form Fairness Fort Worth.
• July 8, 2009: Press conference announcing FFW.
• July 8, 2009: FFW begins coordinating Rainbow Lounge witness interviews.
• July 14, 2009: Officer Sara Straten appointed as interim liaison to the LGBT community.
• July 14, 2009: City Council meeting, more than 450 LGBT citizens and allies attend.
• July 21, 2009: City Council votes on resolution calling for independent federal investigation.
• July 21, 2009: Council votes to establish the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force.
• July 23, 2009: First meeting of City Manager’s Diversity Task Force.
• July 28, 2009: The FW Human Relations Commission votes for resolution trans protections.
• Aug. 6, 2009: Press release of Phase 1 of TABC report.
• Aug. 6, 2009: FWST reports that U.S. Attorney won’t investigate Rainbow Lounge raid.
• Aug. 17, 2009: FFW leaders meet privately with Halstead to hammer out differences.
• Aug. 18. 2009: Halstead tells city council that investigation will require more time.
• Aug 28, 2009: TABC announces it has fired three agents involved in Rainbow Lounge raid.
• Oct 11, 2009: Chief Halstead attends the Tarrant County Gay Pride Picnic.
• Nov 3, 2009: Crime Control Prevention District measure passes with support of FFW.
• Nov 5, 2009: FWPD holds press conference releasing report on investigation into raid.
• Nov 5, 2009: TABC releases excessive force findings.
• Nov 10, 2009: Diversity Task Force recommendations presented at City Council meeting.
• April/May, 2010: Volunteers train to teach GLBT Diversity Training Class to city employees.
• May, 2010: GLBT Diversity Classes commence with Mayor Moncrief in the first class.
• June 28, 2010: BBQ Anniversary with police and city officials invited to Rainbow Lounge.
• April 27, 2011: Final Diversity Task Force Meeting. More than 1,200 city employees trained to date.
• May 3, 2011 : Assistant city manager and FFW members address council on progress to date.

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Leppert lies to National Journal, claims he was never asked about gay marriage

Former Mayor Tom Leppert shakes hands with spectators along the route during the 2007 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Dallas’ annual gay Pride parade.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In an interview with the National Journal’s Hotline on Call blog that was published Thursday, former Dallas mayor and current Senate candidate Tom Leppert addressed his recent shift to the right on LGBT issues, claiming his views haven’t changed:

Leppert insists that he has not pivoted to the right in preparation for his statewide run. Observers simply mischaracterized his beliefs in the past, he said.

“My positions that you’ve seen that would put me clearly on the conservative side, they’ve never changed,” Leppert told Hotline On Call. “I was somebody that got some things done and somebody that could bring people together. Sometimes that got labeled a certain way.”

Leppert said he worked together with gay rights groups and other typically liberal constituencies in order to successfully run the city of Dallas. But he maintained his beliefs have never wavered, regardless of public perception. Leppert explained that he was never asked for his position on gay marriage during his City Hall tenure.

“As mayor I thought it was my responsibility, and I think I did a good job, in leading the city where I engaged all groups,” Leppert said. “On a lot of the issues I would disagree with the folks, but I would still find common ground.”

Leppert’s assertion that he was never asked about same-sex marriage while mayor is patently false. I posed the question during an interview with Leppert about his first year in office in 2008. And I posted his response on Instant Tea:

“I don’t know, to be truthful with you,” Leppert said when asked if he supported same-sex marriage. “It hasn’t come up. It hasn’t been an issue that I’ve spent any time on. I don’t know. I’d probably have to give it some thought, to be truthful with you. I would see pieces on both sides, to be truthful with you, so I haven’t thought about it.”

2. The Texas Legislature refuses to protect gays from workplace discrimination, but Tarrant County Republican State Rep. Bill Zedler has filed a bill that would protect creationists.

3. A majority of Americans now support same-sex marriage, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll. Support for same-sex marriage has gone from 36 percent five years ago to 53 percent today.

—  John Wright

Russian gay leader Alekseev coming to Dallas

Nikolai Alekseev

According to information I received this morning Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev is coming to the U.S. at the end of February for a short tour that will include a stop in Dallas. He will be in Dallas March 3-4, but speaking venues have not yet been finalized.

Alekseev is probably best known to Americans as the man who organized Moscow’s first gay Pride parade, which city officials then banned that year and each subsequent year, threatening organizers and marchers with arrest when they persist in marching anyway. Alekseev himself has been arrested several times, including once last year when he was taken from an airport as he was leaving for a visit to Switzerland and held for three days. He was released after a flood of international protests against what his supporters called a kidnapping.

One of his primary opponents in his activism has been Moscow’s rabidly homophobic former mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, who once called gay Pride marches “satanic.” Since Russian President Dmitri Medvedev fired Luzhkov last year, Alekseev and other activists hope that they will be able to hold a Pride march this year without threat of violence or arrest. Moscow’s gay Pride march this year is scheduled for May 28.

Alekseev has also been instrumental in organizing LGBT activists around Russia and in other countries, and has used the European court system to fight back against anti-gay oppression. Last year, Alekseev won the battle when the European Court issued a sweeping ruling in his favor.

Alekseev’s U.S. tour was organized by the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network, and he will be accompanied by GLN’s Andy Thayer. Supporters hope the tour will raise Alekseev’s profile here in the U.S. and bring more international scrutiny to the plight of LGBT Russians, thereby providing even more protection for them by increasing international scrutiny on the way Russia treats its LGBT citizens and activists.

Watch Dallas Voice for an interview with Alekseev at the end of February.

—  admin

Bill White says LGBT vote ‘absolutely critical’

Democratic challenger says he expects ‘a very close election’ as he works to unseat incumbent Perry

John Wright  | Dallas Voice wright@dallasvoice.com

OPPOSITE SIDES  |  Democrat Bill White, above, has courted LGBT votes in his bid for Texas governor, including making appearances at the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meetings (above). Republican Gov. Rick Perry (below) has courted anti-gay conservatives, suggesting that same-sex marriage hurts job growth.
OPPOSITE SIDES | Democrat Bill White, above, has courted LGBT votes in his bid for Texas governor, including making appearances at the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meetings (above). Republican Gov. Rick Perry (below) has courted anti-gay conservatives, suggesting that same-sex marriage hurts job growth.

A strong turnout from LGBT voters is “absolutely critical” to his chances of unseating Republican Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday, Nov. 2, Democrat Bill White told Dallas Voice this week.

In an exclusive interview, White said he expects “a very close election” and that gay voters in Texas shouldn’t stay away from the polls because they may be frustrated with a perceived lack of progress on LGBT issues in Washington.

White declined a request for a phone interview but agreed to answer questions via e-mail.

“It’s absolutely critical. This will be a very close election,” White said when asked about the importance of the gay vote. “I’m proud of my support in the community and so grateful to all the volunteers who have been raising funds, making phone calls, and knocking on doors to spread the word about the choice we have for the future of our state. This is no time to stay home. Whatever is going on nationally, we have major issues facing our state and need a leader to take them on.”

White, the former Houston mayor, is widely considered a strong LGBT ally, and he appeared in Dallas’ gay Pride parade in September.

White had a gay brother who died several years ago and has said he voted against Texas’ 2005 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which was championed by Perry.

However, White hasn’t made LGBT issues a major part of his gubernatorial campaign, presumably in part because they might be used by Perry to energize right-wing voters.

Some Democrats seeking statewide office, including Barbara Ann Radnofsky and Hank Gilbert, have published policy statements in support of LGBT equality on their websites.

“Actions speak louder than words, and I have a track record of inclusive leadership,” White said in response to a question about why he hasn’t focused on LGBT issues. “That’s why I’ve received a rare endorsement from the Human Rights Campaign. Rick Perry wants to divide Texans — it’s what we’ve seen from him for decades. He’d rather divide for his personal political purposes than bring people together to get things done. Major corporations in our state, like Shell Oil for example, know that being inclusive makes them more competitive. But Perry recently made some comment saying that Texas’ job growth was somehow tied to the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. What? It just shows you how clueless a professional politician is.”

White was referring to Perry’s comment during a campaign stop in Temple in August, when the incumbent said: “There is still a land of opportunity, friends — it’s called Texas. We’re creating more jobs than any other state in the nation. … Would you rather live in a state like this, or in a state where a man can marry a man?”

Dallas Voice also asked White whether, as governor, he would support or sign bullying legislation that provides specific protections for students based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Texas public schools.

Asher Brown, a gay 13-year-old from the Houston suburbs, committed suicide in September after his parents say he was bullied relentlessly at school. Asher’s suicide was one of several across the country in recent months by teens who were gay or perceived to be gay.

“Asher Brown’s suicide is a heartbreaking tragedy,” White responded. “I’ll support policies that prohibit school and workplace discrimination and harassment of any kind, and I’ll work hard to build an atmosphere of respect in Texas.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Can Razzle Dazzle be revived?

Group of business owners, nonprofit reps call for meeting to set up board, discuss options for reinstating Dallas’ June Pride event

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Scott Whittall
Scott Whittall

More than 25 years ago, organizers for Dallas’ gay Pride parade moved the event from its original Gay Pride Month date in June to September in recognition of an early court ruling striking down the state’s sodomy law.

Even after that ruling was overturned, parade organizers decided to keep the parade in September, in part to escape the oppressive heat of the North Texas summers.

But that was OK, because Dallas still had Razzle Dazzle Dallas to celebrate Gay Pride Month every June.

Razzle Dazzle Dallas had been held at the Dallas city impound lot, at Fair Park, at Market Center — and it finally ended up as a street party on Cedar Springs. It featured DJs, live music performances, vendor booths, informational booths and, of course, beer, food and lots of dancing.

It was the party of the summer.

But by the turn of the 21st century, Razzle had begun to lose some of its dazzle. Attendance dropped; profits dropped, and costs soared. The last Razzle Dazzle party was held in June 2004.

But while the party may be gone, it has not been forgotten. Now, a group of business owners and nonprofit representatives are working to bring it back.

“There are a lot of different nonprofits and business owners, both on and off the Cedar Springs strip, who have been talking about it,” Scott Whittall, owner of Buli Café and president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said this week.

Whittall said the idea of reviving Razzle Dazzle first surfaced a few months ago when he, Brick owner Howard Okon, Jimmy Bartlett and Resource Center Dallas’ Henry Ramirez “started kicking the idea around.”

He said, “A lot of people talk about the fact that we love having our Pride parade in September, but at the same time, we feel like we are missing out on June Pride. I, for one, think we have the greatest LGBT community in the world here in Dallas, and there should be a good reason for people to come to Dallas in June to celebrate Pride. Razzle Dazzle used to be that reason. And it will be again.”

Whittall said that the core group has had several exploratory meetings, “asking questions like ‘Can we do it again? Should we do it again? Is there enough interest to revive Razzle Dazzle?’”

The answer, he said, seems to be a definite yes.

“I don’t think I have talked to even one person who didn’t get excited when they just heard the words ‘Razzle Dazzle.’ Everyone has their own memories of Razzle Dazzles from the past, and everyone so far loves the idea of bringing it back,” Whittall said.

Now they want to bring the idea to the community and get as much input as possible. To that end, there will be a meeting Thursday, Oct. 28, and every local organization, nonprofit, church, business, sports team and Pride organization is invited to send representatives.

“We have held off on putting an actual board together. Hopefully we can do that at this next meeting,” Whittall said.

“But we want it to be a good mix of nonprofits and business owners and organizations who are willing to commit to making this happen. If enough people get excited about it, if enough people come to this meeting and make the commitment, we can make it happen.”

Whittall said “nothing is set in stone yet,” but those who have been discussing the idea have already come up with a general plan for a new, revitalized and expanded Razzle Dazzle Dallas. “We all remember what worked and what didn’t work, and having that in mind, we have some ideas.

First and foremost, it has to be what it was always meant to be — a charity event. Everything that is raised has to go back to the charities that work to make it happen.

“We understand that this first year will be all about pulling it together and getting it going again. But we also believe that we can put together a great event that will just keep getting better,” he said.

In the past, Razzle Dazzle Dallas was a one-night fundraising party. But Whittall and his cohorts have envisioned something much bigger for Razzle Dazzle’s rebirth, taking it from a one-night dance party to a five-day celebration.

“Cedar Springs is still the hub, the heart of the LGBT community in Dallas. But we have LGBT communities spread out everywhere now,” Whittal said.

“We want the party to include everyone.”

Tentative plans have the new Razzle Dazzle taking place in the first week of June 2011, starting with First Wednesday Night on Cedar Springs. Then the party would move south the next day for First Thursday in the Bishop Arts district.

On Friday night, there would be an organized “bar-hopping” party featuring LGBT clubs both on the Cedar Springs strip and elsewhere. During the day on Saturday would feature a street festival on Cedar Springs, building up for the big bang on Saturday night.

Plans are to have the Saturday night party held at an indoor event venue with dancing, booths from community organizations and possibly a separate live cabaret show, with shuttle transportation provided to and from the city’s various centers of LGBT nightlife.

“Saturday night would be the big event, of course, but we want to take it even a step further and have some sort family event, a picnic or something, in the park on Sunday to wind everything up,” Whittall said. “We think it is a great idea, and we really hope everyone else will think so, too.

“For those who really remember Razzle Dazzle, we think it’s time to bring it back,” he continued.

“We’re living in good times right now, in terms of the community really working together. The economy has been tough, and that has made all of us have to learn to work together even better to keep things going.

“So we think this is the perfect time to revive Razzle Dazzle, to bring it back and celebrate our community.”

For information on the Oct. 28 organizational meeting, e-mail info@razzledazzledallas.org.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

MESSAGING FAIL: Tarrant Pride attendee tells Channel 5 that being gay is a choice

It’s good to see local TV news stations covering the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade. But it’s unfortunate that NBCDFW.com posted this quote from an attendee on its website:

“I think whatever a person’s choice is, is their choice. I’m not out here to judge nobody, but I’m out here to standup and help be a part of that voice,” said one of the attendees.

If you watch the station’s video from the parade above, you’ll notice that whoever is responsible for the quote doesn’t appear anywhere in it. And who knows, maybe a homophobic intern at the station just decided to make an editorial statement. Let’s hope so, because it’s difficult enough fighting off the “gay is a choice” attacks from right-wingers. The last thing we need is be hearing it from within our own community.

—  John Wright