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

Grapevine’s Ohlook Performing Arts Center wins competition, but is on the hunt for new home

A few weeks ago we reported that Grapevine’s Ohlook Peforming Arts Center, which incongruously specializes in edgy, queer-friendly fare, was headed to a community theater play competition with Dog Sees God, which deals humorously with homophobia and other issues. Well, last month the production took home lots of kudos at that festival in Rochester, N.Y., winning best overall production, ensemble, director, featured actor, supporting actor and sound design.

The news came, unfortunately, just as word that Ohlook’s landlord informed the company that he would be selling the property they have called home since 2004. They are on the hunt for a new space.

Here’s a suggestion: Since you do so much gay stuff, how ’bout relocating closer to the gayborhood?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

ACLU accuses Texas’ Goose Creek school district of building a cyber-dam to block LGBT content

A while back we told you about the American Civil Liberties Union’s effort to get school districts in Texas and several other states to stop illegally filtering LGBT content on the Web. And we’d like to think that maybe, just maybe, a student in Baytown’s Goose Creek school district saw our post and contacted the ACLU.

Either way, the Goose Creek district now stands accused of maintaining a cyber-dam to shield its little goslings from the gay stuff. According to MyFox Houston, district officials say they received a public information request from the ACLU Foundation of Texas on April 7 about their web filtering practices. But you’ll never guess the Google search that led to the ACLU’s investigation:

ACLU’s outcry stems from a Goose Creek Memorial High student’s research for a news story about Chik-Fil-A donating to anti-gay organizations. The senior’s search hit a bump when several sites appearing on Google News were blocked by the district.

The ACLU says the district is violating free speech rights as well as the Equal Access Act. By failing to remain “viewpoint neutral,” the ACLU claims the district is denying helpful support information for gay or transgendered students.

—  John Wright

Gay for pay

GayTravel.com kicked off its tour in Dallas with new queer travel guru Nick Vivion

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

ON THE ROAD  |  Nick Vivion spent family time in Dallas but never doin’ gay stuff.’ Now as the GayTravel.com guru, all he does is the gay stuff. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
ON THE ROAD | Nick Vivion spent family time in Dallas but never doin’ gay stuff.’ Now as the GayTravel.com guru, all he does is the gay stuff. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Nick Vivion’s grandparents were from Dallas, so he visited the city many times when he was younger. “But I’d never been here doing gay stuff,” he says.
That changed last week. In a big way.

It might not be MacArthur returning to the Philippines, but Vivion marched victorious to his old family haunts with great fanfare, as Dallas was the first stop on the GayTravel.com “Travel Guru” tour. And Vivion is the guru.

In some way, it’s a far cry from where the 27-year-old Seattle resident imagined he’d be back in college. He went to school hoping to become a movie director of features, “like Spielberg.” Then he discovered documentary filmmaking and his outlook changed. “There are so many good stories out there you don’t have to make up,” he says.

His interest in filmmaking, photography and travel led to a passion and his livelihood since graduation: Making travel videos for Lonely Planet and YouTube, where his videos scored more than a million hits.

“I’ve been traveling doing films for about four years,” he says. “It is my profession.”

So when he heard that GayTravel.com was holding a contest to find an ambassador to scour the globe coming up with unique stories about gay destinations, he threw his hat in the ring.

“This is not the first travel contest I’ve applied to — probably the 12th or 13th,” he says. But it did seem like a good fit: GayTravel.com wanted a gay guy to do gay city tours. Still, it did require a leap of faith.

“I had always been reluctant to be the gay host or the gay travel guy. Then Prop 8 happened and that changed my perspective a little bit. I saw that I have the ability to capture the essence of what it means to be gay, to get paid to do what I do and share the gay experience a little more.”

Vivion won the contest during a competition last month in Las Vegas, where finalists were told to make a good travel video within 36 hours of touring the city. His product, plus an interview that was included a pageant-y question-and-answer portion, cinched his victory.

Dallas had dibs to be the first city on the tour, and Vivion had hoped to be here for Pride, but the timing was too tight. Instead, he launched his tour last Thursday, spending five days exploring everything from the Strip to the State Fair.

“I had a lot of fun at Gay Bingo — it was a blast to be silly with Jenna Skyy,” he says. “I have a lot of respect for drag queens and what they do, and she’s one of the best I’ve ever seen at being witty without being mean — very even-handed. And just to see the energy of so any people coming out for it, so many people to continue to support it was inspiring.”

Vivion admits he was a bit unprepared for the first leg of his trip — “It’s a blur” — but over the course of his six-month commitment as the guru, he hopes all the cities are as welcoming as Dallas proved to be.

“I’m hoping to kind of find good content about gay destinations. There will be plenty of nightlife coverage but I’m not trying to talk just about places to get drunk. In the end, it’s about inspiring people to travel. That’s what’s important to me.”

Vivion went from Dallas to Santa Fe with plans to spend Halloween in New Orleans. You can follow his tour — and see what he has to say about Dallas — at GayTravel.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas