Sleepy genius

PGcover

Mike Hadreas — aka Perfume Genius — has grown into an ethereal messenger since 2010’s Learning. Touching on themes that can apply to anyone, Hadreas is both a beacon of hope and a teller of dreamy tales on his new CD, Put Your Back N 2 It (Matador Records).

Hadreas starts the album on a sleepy, languid path with “AWOL Marine” and stays consistent throughout the 12 tracks. This can be a turn-off for someone looking for a more spirited album, but Hadreas is about depth and his lyrics reveal a major advance since Learning.

Finding inspiration from homemade basement porn never sounded so exquisite as it does in “Marine,” but the minimalist approach adds gravitas, not to mention beauty. He adds stunning emotions to “Take Me Home” (based on “hookerism”) and “Floating Spit” (about overdosing). Hadreas is fearless about turning out butterflies from such depths of social standards.

On “17,” Hadreas writes an ode to gay men who have issues with image. He admits the song is a “gay suicide letter” (and a short one, too, at 2:30) but it’s a shattering one. He doesn’t shy from abstract lyrics but they still bring enough poetic power to have a heartbreaking impact. When he quietly sings In the body of a violin/String it up on a fence/Cover it with semen/I am done, I am done with it, the words are piercing even through his simple delivery.

From suicide to romance, the title track is a love song that floats on a lush piano and brings to light the feelings of budding love and awkward gay sex. Hadreas is gloriously blatant, but decidely poignant. Lyrics like There is love with no hiding/Nothing you’ll show me I will never leave here/Let me be the one to turn you on whisper gently and before you know it, it’s already on your mixtape to your beau.

Put Your Back N 2 It is impressionistic in its package and addresses life as a gay man, but also life in general. He sings about his mother, holding his boyfriend’s hand and even death, all with a delicacy that speaks volumes if you listen closely.

— Rich Lopez

Three and half stars.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Top 10: Suicides led to anti-bullying law

Anti-bullying-Press-conference-at-Texas-Capitol-March-7,-2011-0-02-25-07

PARENTAL RESPONSE | David and Amy Truong, the parents of 13-year-old gay suicide victim Asher Brown, became tireless advocates for anti-bullying legislation this year. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

No. 4

In the fall of 2010, a number of high-profile suicides brought attention to the problem of bullying in schools. This year, the LGBT community worked to change laws and save lives.

After helping to push through policies in the Dallas and Fort Worth school districts, as well as a few others around the state, the LGBT community focused on passing statewide anti-bullying legislation in the 2011 session of the Legislature.

Equality Texas made the legislation a priority and a number of bills were introduced.

In February, Equality Texas hosted a Lobby Day. Several hundred people from around the state participated.

Among them were Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, suicide victim Asher Brown’s parents — Amy and David Truong — and a group of 10 students from Youth First Texas.

Burns and the Truongs met with key legislators including members of the committees that would  hear the bills.

The students from YFT spoke to their senators and representatives telling their own stories of being bullied.

Legislators not usually considered allies were visibly moved by stories of violence in schools in their hometowns.

Equality Texas board chair Anne Wynn, Executive Director Dennis Coleman and Deputy Director Chuck Smith spent the spring lobbying on behalf of the bills.

The organization arranged for the Truongs as well as the parents of Montana Lance and Jon Carmichael, two other Texas suicide victims, to testify at committee hearings.

As originally crafted, the bills specified categories that would be covered. National studies have shown that the more specific the law, the more effective it is in protecting LGBT students. When sexual orientation and gender identity are not specified, school staff often ignore anti-gay bullying. But to increase the chances that anti-bullying legislation would pass, several bills were combined and all references to specific groups, including sexual orientation and gender identity, were deleted.

The new anti-bullying “super bill” passed unanimously in the Senate and by a wide margin in the House — and was eventually signed by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.

Under the new law, for the first time, the bully rather than the victim can be transferred to another classroom or school. Parental notification rules were strengthened and protections added for the person reporting the bullying. The definition of bullying now includes electronic means, or cyberbullying. And every school district must adopt an anti-bullying policy, including any necessary procedures to address the prevention, investigation and reporting of incidents.

A second bill also passed that provides money for counseling services, which includes services for both the bully and the victim. School staff already receive training to recognize potential suicide risks. That training will be expanded to include victims of bullying.

Meanwhile, although the Dallas Independent School District approved an LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying policy last year, Resource Center Dallas and Lambda Legal accused some DISD officials of blocking its implementation.

RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox along with Lambda Legal community educator Omar Narvaez addressed the DISD board about the problem in December.

Cox said she had gotten word from frustrated school district employees that principals were being instructed not to use the electronic reporting system that the board mandated. She said she would continue to track the district’s compliance with the policy in 2012.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay LULAC chapter names Sanchez, Mancha as People of Year, lauds Univision’s LGBT coverage

Jesse Garcia | President, LULAC 4871

LULAC 4871 – The Dallas Rainbow Council will hold its third annual Holiday Party this Friday, Dec. 17, featuring traditional Mexican holiday dishes, Christmas music and awards to recognize outstanding achievement in the LGBT Latino community.

LULAC 4871 will award its “Man of the Year” to gay rights activist Fernie Sanchez. Sanchez was instrumental in getting the word out about the anti-bullying movement in the Dallas Independent School District to Spanish-speaking households. He shared his own personal story of being harassed for being gay and advocated for acceptance during interviews with the local affiliates of Telemundo and Univision. Sanchez also coordinated interviews with other LGBT Latinos to share their bullying stories on a nationwide Univision program. Sanchez was instrumental in holding immigration forums in the LGBT community, assisted with LULAC 4871’s very first National Latino AIDS Awareness Day event and helped promote the Census in both LGBT and Hispanic communities.

“Woman of the Year” will be awarded to Patricia Mancha, a straight ally who has advocated for the LGBT community. Along with Sanchez, Mancha has done outreach with Spanish-language media during the height of the gay suicide epidemic in the fall and also helped dispel myths about HIV during National Latino AIDS Awareness Day. Mancha volunteered to co-sponsor a LULAC youth council and mentors the group every other week.

The “Se Presta Award,” a community award that lauds a non-member of the council who has partnered with LULAC 4871 during the year and made a difference, will recognize long-time community organizer Rosa Lopez. Lopez helps organize West Dallas neighborhoods. She advocates for better streets, public safety and improved schools. Her mostly Hispanic and African-American neighborhood associations consider her a great leader and have no problem with her being a lesbian. She commands the respect that most of us in the LGBT community ultimately want by mainstream America. She is involved her community’s issues and gives a voice to those who have none.

Univision Television and Radio will receive the organization “Se Presta Award” for its in-depth coverage of gay suicide tragedies and the DISD anti-bullying movement.  Univision covered this issue more than their English language counterparts. The local network and radio station have shown that they are community partners with the LGBT community — even asking members of our community to sit on their advisory boards and placing us on their public service announcements. The LGBT community has a friend in Univision.

LULAC 4871’s holiday party caps off a year of success for the five-year-old organization. LULAC 4871’s accomplishments include: renaming a downtown Dallas street after Cesar Chavez, raising $2,600 for AIDS Arms LifeWalk, holding several immigration forums in the LGBT community, partnering with the Dallas Hispanic Bar Association for a legal clinic, partnering with AIDS Arms to test 96 individuals for HIV during National Latino AIDS Awareness Day, registering more than 1,000 people to vote and successfully advocating for a DISD anti-bully code. In July, LULAC 4871 was named “National LULAC Council of the Year” by its national leaders, along with “National LULAC Man of the Year” for LULAC 4871 member and DREAM Act activist Ramiro Luna.

For more information about the Holiday Party, e-mail LULAC4871@aol.com or visit www.lulac4871.org. New members are welcomed.

—  admin

Rally to support gay youth Friday in Oak Cliff

A rally is planned Friday afternoon in Lake Cliff Park to bring attention to the ongoing gay youth suicide crisis, according to Damien Duckett, secretary for the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

“The purpose is to bring attention to the tragic loss of gay teens to suicide and highlight legislative opportunities to help bring an end to bullying in our schools, and also to direct participants to various volunteer opportunities as it relates to the mentoring of our GLBT kids, teens and young adults,” Duckett said.

Duckett said the rally is joint effort between DGLA and several other groups and individuals, including Youth First Texas,  LULAC #4871, the Cathedral of Hope, Resource Center Dallas, Equality Texas, Dallas County Schoools President Larry Duncan, State Rep. Roberto Alonzo and Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso.

“They will all be at the rally,” he said. “Most of the organizations will have representatives who speak.”

Below is the flier, and as you can see, attendees are encouraged to wear purple. Duckett said Dallas County Schools will provide a free shuttle to the event beginning at 5:30 p.m. from the DART station at 8th and Corinth to the park, and then back to the station after the event ends.

—  John Wright

WATCH: ‘A Vigil for the Lost’ on Cedar Springs honors victims of anti-gay bullying, harassment

The names of gay suicide victims were read during a brief ceremony at the Legacy of Love Monument.

About 100 people gathered on the Cedar Springs strip Sunday night to pay tribute to the many young victims of anti-gay bullying and harassment who’ve taken their own lives in recent weeks.

Turnout was surprisingly strong given that the vigil had been publicized primarily on Facebook. However, the Dallas Voice appeared to be the only media outlet present.

“A Vigil for the Lost,” organized by the DFW Sisters, began in the parking lot of the Oak Lawn library, where the Sisters passed out programs, glowsticks and ribbons. The Subway store on Cedar Springs donated 200 sandwiches.

One of the Sisters was wearing a “Veil of Tears” that was laid over the back of a pickup truck in the parking lot. People were encouraged to use Sharpies to record on the veil anti-gay epithets that have been used against them. Attendees scrawled things like “Faggot,” “Fucking Queer” and “God made AIDS to kill faggots.” The Sisters said the Veil of Tears would be burned following the vigil.

From the library, the mourners walked silently down the north side of Cedar Springs Road, taking up more than a full block at times, to the Legacy of Love Monument at Oak Lawn Avenue. Revelers outside bars on the strip asked what the vigil was about as the marchers walked silently past.

At the monument, the names of youth who’ve committed suicide were read, between refrains of “Stop the Bullying” and “Never Again,” during a brief ceremony. Video and more photos from the vigil are below.

—  John Wright

Sarah Silverman gets serious about gay suicide

Sarah Silverman is one of comedy’s edgiest talents, with her prom queen innocence masking her ignorance and prejudices. (It’s just an act.) Her shtick is being sweet and a bigot with sunny irony.

So I was a little caught off-guard seeing this video. Not a moment of irony, not a word of joking. It appears shot in her home while she was emotional about the deaths of gay teens nationwide. It also capsulizes lots of other gay rights issues. Watch.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas vigil for gay suicide victims

It’s about time someone organized something locally to honor the many recent gay suicide victims, and we can’t think of anyone better to do it than The DFW Sisters. According to their Facebook page, the Sisters will host a candlelight vigil and silent march on Sunday night on Cedar Springs Road. More info on the Facebook page. The Sisters, whom you’ve probably run into if you’ve been to any gay event in Dallas recently, “are a modern, communal order of 21st century nuns dedicated to community service, fund raising, outreach, advocacy, education for safer sex awareness, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment.” The first such group was the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in San Francisco.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Rally, vigil for Asher Brown


A rally and vigil were held Tuesday in honor of 13-year-old gay suicide victim Asher Brown outside the middle school he attended near Houston. From organizer Barry Ouellette of the Foundation for Family and Marriage Equality:

“It was a great event, very touching. We had about 30 people for the demonstration and about 70 for the candlelight vigil where there were some touching stories and kind and inspiring words from many teenagers as well as concerned parents, clergy and Houstonians.”

However, KTRK-TV reports that other parents weren’t happy about the demonstrations and are defending the school against allegations that it failed to do anything about bullying complaints from Asher’s parents:

“I think it’s terrible because it has frightened all of our children too. For this reason, I am here to pick up my daughter today. Because it has scared my daughter,” said Shay Phillips.

“I don’t worry about bullying in this school or any other school. But I do worry about it in general,” said Sheila McGraw-Hall. “I think the school is being wrongfully blamed in this case. Or at least to the magnitude that it is being put out there right now in the media,” said another parent.

Below is a report from MyFoxHouston.com, and Channel 2 has a report here.

—  John Wright