Rethinking tradition • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

From ‘broomsmaids’ to choice of wedding planner, newlyweds Hal Wallace and Johnathon DeJarnett made their nuptials their own

boys to men | DeJarnett and Wallace partake in the tradition of feeding each other cake, but they mixed up the ceremony in other ways to reflect their own gay sensibilities.

By Jef tingley

A straight friend of mine once said, “I am totally against gay weddings. I’ve seen the extravagant lengths the gays go to for theme parties and Halloween, and, quite frankly, I think you’re going to raise the bar too high.”

Clearly she was speaking tongue-in-cheek, but there was also a kernel of truth in her statement: We gays do love to do it up for memorable occasions … or even simple Sunday brunches. Need proof? Look no further than the bearded bears wearing leather and lavish feather bonnets with LED lights at Easter in Lee Park. Or how about that couple who makes a custom Carmen Miranda outfit for their Jack Russell terrier? You know the type.

Yes, with great gayness comes great responsibility. And when Dallas couple Johnathon DeJarnett and Hal Wallace decided to get married, they made sure to keep up some time-honored traditions common to most straight unions … but added a touch of excess (and glitter) to mark it with a trace of fabulosity.

First was the proposal — an unlikely but successful stealth mission.

“Hal proposed to me on Dec. 19, 2009, at our friend’s holiday party,” says DeJarnett. “I was so surprised. He can’t do anything without me hearing about it, so for the entire party to know and me not to was absolutely phenomenal.”

The couple has been together five years, but has known each other much longer. They grew up in the same small town; Wallace was in the same grade as DeJarnett’s older sister.

They cleaved to tradition with a legal, official wedding ceremony in Boston on Aug. 13, but the real fête came on Nov. 20, when they hosted a Dallas wedding dinner and reception for 135 of their closest family and friends.

In keeping with the uniqueness of the event, DeJarnett’s first step was to establish a new member of the wedding party: the “broom.”

“The ‘broom’ started out as a joke,” he explains. “Since I am the obviously more, umm, colorful of the pair, people were playfully calling me the bride. That would be fine if I were a woman. Instead, I started calling myself a hybrid of the bride and groom. I was the ‘broom.’”

Finding a venue was easy — DeJarnett’s has worked for the InterContinental Hotel in Addison for four years. But finding time to plan the affair was another issue — even the best of “brooms” can get overloaded. DeJarnett’s boss, Tamara, served as interim wedding coordinator and assistant to the “broom,” tackling details ranging from cake toppers to toasting flutes.

“Hal works full-time and is a part-time student. I am the exact opposite, working only part-time and I’m a full-time student. Our wedding was right in the middle of my semester. I would receive phone calls with [wedding] questions, and I would just say, ‘ask Tamara,’” laughs DeJarnett.

When not employing the services of Tamara, the couple worked together on the details of their wedding, even designing their own invitations. As DeJarnett tells it, “Hal actually recovered from our duel bachelor party by arranging our flowers with our friends Don and Judy.”

In keeping with their theme of unique combinations, the duo also had a mixture of men and women in their bridal party. “Hal and I had our best friends Kit and Jeff, respectively, as our best men, and they accompanied each other down the aisle. Luckily, they are a couple so no one was uncomfortable,” says DeJarnett. “Then I had my best friends Holly, Vanessa, and Mytzi as my ‘broomsmaids.’ They where escorted through the ceremony by Hal’s groomsmen, Chris, Tim and Josh. And to round off the queen’s court, as it were, were our friends David and Don, who so graciously allowed their holiday party to be high-jacked for our engagement.”

With the wedding ceremony itself nearly five months passed, DeJarnett and Wallace still treasure the photos and memories of their friends and families at their side. But be it brides, grooms, or “brooms,” DeJarnett is quick to point out one common theme lifelong commitment:

“Marriage is not easy. We didn’t start out as Ward and June Cleaver. And we kinda, foolishly, thought that we would just ride off into the sunset,” he says. “Even though the horse left without us, we are still very much committed to our relationship and still very much in love.”

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When kids ParTAKE in SAME-SEX weddings

I love children’s books, especially those with an affirming message for alternative families, and Leslea Newman’s Heather Has Two Mommies is one of my favorites. Whenever friends have babies, I make sure it’s in their library. Heather and And Tango Makes Three — that’s the one about the gay penguins that made this year’s list of most complained-about book at libraries — are must-have literature for gay or lesbian parents.

Newman’s latest book, Donovan’s Big Day, is one more to add to the list. Not only does Donovan have two mommies, but they’re getting married.

Donovan is taking his role as ring bearer very seriously. He can’t oversleep. He has to remember to wash and dress in his new clothes. And he can’t forget that white satin box. At the church, he must walk down the aisle very seriously. And he can’t fidget while that poem is being read or the piano is played.

His grandfather wakes him. His aunt meets him at the church. His cousin will be there. Of course the entire family is attending. It’s a wedding — why wouldn’t the whole family be proudly involved?

These are subtle touches, to be sure, but Newman is a master of telling children a simple story and making them feel included. We don’t know that it’s two moms who are getting married until the last few pages when Donovan kisses the brides. The story could have ended with a husband and wife. After all, illustrator Mike Dutton is married — to a woman.

That’s Newman’s point. It’s all about families and it’s all the same.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Video: Most of our CPAC#11 posts concern boycotting or gayness. This one lets us remove the ‘or’:



[CBS News]




Good As You

—  David Taffet

Johnny Weir Isn’t About To Start Celebrating His Gayness (Or Become An Activist)

Because he wasn't hiding in the closet, DIDN'TYOUKNOW. Out promoting his memoir Welcome To My World this morning on Today, Johnny says he does want you to judge his book by his cover. Also, that he's "very surprised" by the reaction to his big reveal, which surprises me, because I'm pretty sure everyone out there knew this already? "I was born a white male. A white gay male. And I don’t celebrate being white or male. So why should I celebrate being gay? … I know people who have been activists for years and have worked so hard and tirelessly … and they have definitely wanted me to be an activist, but I think the best way I can be an activist is to live my life and not make that the main thing that is Johnny Weir. I'm much more than just a gay man." So true. You are Evan Lysacek's mortal enemy!


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Queerty

—  admin

Nature or nurture? Or maybe it’s diet

Scientists in Florida have discovered that ingesting too much mercury apparently turns male white ibises gay. But they stress the research has no bearing on human sexuality

Leslie Robinson  General Gayety

ARE THEY OR AREN’T THEY? | Only their dietician knows for sure. Recent research indicates that male white ibises that ingest mercury go gay.

Scientists in Florida have discovered that when male white ibises eat too much mercury, they turn gay. Don’t blame an overbearing ibis mother. Blame the metal.

Suspicious that mercury had led to lower breeding levels among the wading birds, researchers fed groups of ibises varying levels of mercury over three years. The results shocked the stuffing out of the scientists:

The higher the mercury dose, the more likely a bird was to sing show tunes.

These new Friends of Dorothy “pretty much did everything except lay eggs,” said study leader Peter Frederick to The Miami Herald. “They built nests, they copulated, they sat in the nests together.”

They went to a lesbian flamingo therapist when no egg appeared.

Male ibises with any mercury intake were more reticent to perform ritual courtship displays, causing numbers of female ibises to cry together over Cosmopolitans.

In the high-mercury birds, reproduction plunged 35 percent. Complaints from wannabe grandparents soared 65 percent.

The mercury levels in the experiment mirrored those found in the birds’ natural wetland habitats. Frederick, a wildlife ecologist at the University of Florida, told Nature.com “the implication is that this is probably happening in wild bird populations.”

Which means the wilderness is getting wilder. Not a good thing, in this case.

These beautiful, long-billed birds are being poisoned into gayness. In wild populations of ibis with no mercury exposure, same-sex pairings don’t occur.
Well, it probably happens once in a while, when the tequila is plentiful and the birds are bi-curious, but not as a rule.

We should go with what nature intended. Let’s keep the ibises straight and the people gay!

In south Florida, mercury leeched into the Everglades for years, mainly from the burning of municipal and medical waste. Frederick said, “Most mercury sources are local rather than global — local enough that we can do something about it, such as installing scrubbers on smoke stacks.  Ecosystems respond very quickly to regulatory action when it comes to mercury.”

But how will the birds respond? If their diet is cleaned up, will they revert to being straight?

If they need a little help, then by George, we might’ve found an actual use for ex-gay groups. Ex-gay leaders can take ibises under their wing and lead them back to heterosexuality. The success rate can only be higher than it is with people.

Speaking of people, Frederick frets that “people will read this and immediately jump to the conclusion that humans eating mercury are going to be gay. I want to be very explicit that this study has nothing to say about that.”

Doubtless some parents have nonetheless purged their larder of tuna fish, tossed the thermometer, and made a date at the dentist’s to convert all of Junior’s mercury fillings. And if they hadn’t already banned from the house the music of Freddie Mercury, they have now.

Frederick also said that what’s true for ibises isn’t necessarily true for other species, even other bird species. So jump to no conclusions about a couple of male green herons that adore each other’s company. Make no assumptions about the two roseate spoonbills with a passion for pomegranate martinis.

The turtles that hide during mating season are simply shy. And the alligators that agree they’d make lovely boots are just metrosexual.

I visited South Florida this past year, and I watched ibises. I admit to my shame that I didn’t notice any gay goings-on. This is probably because I can’t tell males from females.

I needed obvious indicators of homosexuality. Now, had two canoodling birds sported Prada shoes, I would’ve caught on.

Leslie Robinson should learn to tell male from female. E-mail her at lesarobinson@gmail.com, and check out her blog at GeneralGayety.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Born this way

Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why by Simon LeVay Oxford University Press, 2010; $28; 412 pp.

We all have our quirky preferences: Some don’t like it when food touches other food on their plate, or when socks don’t match up. But are our selves shaped by outside influence, or did we enter the world this way? Was our behavior learned or innate? In Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why, you’ll find answers to similar questions of a more intimate sort.

Nearly two decades ago, Simon LeVay published a scientific paper asserting that gay men differed from straight men in their brain structures — specifically, a cluster of nerve cells controlling sex drive in gay men were the same size observed in straight women’s brains. Since publication of that paper, vast amounts of research have probed same-sex attraction and the nature/nurture debate. Here, LeVay takes a deeper look at some of the newer findings.

While some gays and lesbians are surprised later in life by feelings of same-sex attraction, LeVay says that sexual identity, while not always immediately apparent, is present at birth (although women, throughout life, appear to be more fluid). He points to several cases in which male infants were, for one reason or another, “assigned” to live as the opposite sex. In most cases, upon adulthood, the “assignment” turned out to be wrong.

Some theorize that childhood abuse has influenced gayness, but survivors deny it as a factor. Some theories claim that older siblings or domineering parents hold sway. And as for “choice,” LeVay cites several quasi-claims of “conversions” in which therapy reportedly changed sexual preference.

Overall, LeVay says, nothing is cut-and-dried, but the probable reason that someone is gay has to do with genetics, hormones and stress that individuals receive in utero. Studies show, for instance, that mice are influenced by chemicals secreted by their mothers and by littermates. Humans, likewise, are affected in similar ways, which could lay to rest many questions. And one of the hints may literally be at your fingertips.

While there’s no doubt Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why is an intriguing book that makes sense on several levels, there’s one big problem with it: you almost need a Ph.D. to follow much of what LeVay says. It’s steeped in medical lingo, and while LeVay includes a glossary and substantial notes to explain the scientific terms and acronyms, this book is a challenge.

But if you’re up for that challenge, you’ll be rewarded with a thought-provoking examination of a private subject that has a very public focus. LeVay leaves no hypothesis unexamined, which leaves readers satisfied that every corner of this argument has been thoroughly dusted off.

Give yourself some time if you decide to tackle this book, because it’s nowhere near light reading, but it is fascinating — and ultimately a plea for tolerance.

— Terri Schlichenmeyer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Godly & gay

Bishop Bean writes spiritual memoir

3 out of 5 stars
I WAS BORN THIS WAY,
by Archbishop Carl Bean (with David Ritz). Simon & Schuster (2010). $24. 264 pp.

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Carl Bean never really knew his father, and he barely knew his birth mother. Born and raised in a poor area of Baltimore, Bean was basically raised by a village of “warm and wonderful women,” who nurtured him even though he admits was a girly little boy, soft and feminine. Attracted to other boys at an early age, he knew he couldn’t hide his feelings from those around him, though nothing was ever said. Bean was loved, and that’s what he knew.

In his book I Was Born This Way, Bean recounted that embracing childhood, as well as his career and finding God’s love and acceptance.

The shining point of his life was his godmother’s mother, the woman Bean called Nana. She cared for him, took him to church, and made him happy, but when he was just 3 years old, Nana died and life changed drastically. He was taken in by his godparents, who loved him but didn’t seem to like him. Shortly after that, Bean was sexually assaulted by an uncle.

Though various abuses continued well into his teens, and though Bean had fully acknowledged his gayness, he maintains that he was cherished and accepted — especially by the unaware wives of his abusers.

Fortunately, he found solace in God and in song. Bean sang in good times and bad, for audiences of none or many. Because he knew that God is love, most of his favorites were gospel songs that Bean sang in the church choir. He was encouraged and tutored, and when he was old enough, he moved to New York City to pursue a gospel music career, quickly making a name for himself on the gospel circuit. He followed that with a disco career and a top-selling record.

But at different points in his life, Bean was homeless, which showed him what God truly wanted him to do. After his musical career ended, he started a church and opened his arms to the LGBTQ community. He began an AIDS outreach program through his ministry — he became unconditional love.

Though it sometimes drags, particularly in the middle section, I Was Born This Way is a wonderful biography about a religious man comfortable with his orientation, and it’s curiously soothing to read.

Bean is brutally honest in telling his story, which is both sweetly idyllic and frighteningly horrifying. Still, despite the nastiness he endured, he manages to convey a sense of calm and comfort, and a peaceful demeanor. That makes this, oddly, more like a hug than a book.

Readers looking for heavenly succor will find it in Bean’s reassuring teachings, while others will be merely treated to a unique memoir. If you’re up for something good, I Was Born This Way is worth laying eyes on.

— Terri Schilechenmeyer

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Disco ballsy

Party Animals by Robert Hofler. DaCapo Press (2010); $15.95. 308 pp.

White suits with shiny polyester shirts — remember those? The thumpa-thumpa of the beat and the hazy feeling of strobe light on mirror ball?

If you’re of a certain age, those are either good memories or echoes of “disco sucks.” Either way, Party Animals will tell you about one man who never wanted to stop the music: Allan Carr, who produced Grease and the Village People movie.

Carr, who was gay when it was taboo to talk about such things, became manager to the stars, a job that fully utilized his skills. (anyone who angered Carr himself received a blistering tirade). He could charm anybody, often sweet-talking sponsors into funding his lavish parties so he didn’t have to pay for food or drinks for his guests.

But Carr wanted to be a movie producer, so when he fell in love with the Broadway musical Grease, he knew he could reinvent it for the big screen. He got the rights, tweaked the show and his career took off…for awhile.

Carr’s sense of timing was ultimately poor and his visions bloated. Following the mega-success of Grease, projects flopped or never went anywhere; when Carr finally got his Oscar chance, the entire world witnessed the mess.

Filled with big names and little scandals Party Animals is exhaustively researched, over-the-top snarky, sarcastically funny, and teetering on the very edge of boring. If you’re a Baby Boomer or behind-the-scenes Hollywood die-hard, you’ll get much more out of this book than not. For the rest of us, these Party Animals fail to roar.

— T.S.

Two stars

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Teabagger Senate Candidate Ken Buck: Gayness Is A Choice, Like Alcoholism

Today on Meet The Press, teabagger Senate candidate Ken Buck declared that being gay is a choice. Except when it’s not, like for alcoholics. Or something. Via Talking Points Memo:

Colorado Senate candidates Ken Buck (R) and incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D) met for a debate on Meet The Press this morning and sparred on the budget, the Tea Party and flip-flops. But the most controversial moment came when host David Gregory asked Buck if he believes that being gay is a choice. Buck responded that he thought it was a choice, but allowed that “birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things.” The comments came at the end of the debate, when Gregory asked Buck to expand on some recent comments he’d made about “lifestyle choices” when expressing his support for the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Buck said he believed being gay is a choice, and Gregory asked him: “based on what?” “Based on what?” Buck said. “I guess you could choose who your partner is.” “I think that birth has an influence over it, like alcoholism and some other things,” Buck continued. “But I think that, basically, you have a choice.”

Buck currently leads incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet by four to seven points in the polls.

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign responds via press release.

“Mr. Buck’s ill-informed views are not only factually inaccurate, but they are extremely dangerous,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “In the past six weeks a number of teenagers have taken their own lives after being the victims of anti-gay bullying and harassment. When public figures like Mr. Buck make statements like he did today, kids struggling with their identities question their self-worth and other kids justify bullying. Ken Buck must correct his remarks now.” “This is yet another in a long line of examples showing that Ken Buck is out of touch with the majority of Coloradans,” said One Colorado Executive Director Brad Clark. “Instead of focusing on common values of respect for all people, Buck is spewing divisive, extreme rhetoric. His claim that homosexuality is a choice is yet another example of his extreme views falling out of step with everyday Coloradans.”

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

American Family Association: Ann Coulter Is The Godess Of Gayness

“Ann Coulter is the headliner at “Homocon 2010,” a Sept. 25 gathering of so-called gay “conservatives.” And Glenn Beck has folded his hand and cashed in his chips on the issue of gay marriage. Even Rush Limbaugh, who supports counterfeit same-sex marriages in the form of civil unions, won’t go that far.

“Let’s be clear: Endorsing homosexual behavior is not a conservative position, period. Supporting special rights based on aberrant sexual behavior is not conservative, period. Supporting either civil unions or marriages based entirely on using the alimentary canal for sexual purposes is not conservative, period. Even Darwinian evolutionists know better than to believe there is something healthy about homosexual conduct. They know it cannot lead to the propagation of the species, which, after all, is what evolution is supposed to be all about.

“Coulter justifies her Benedict Arnold impersonation by saying she speaks all the time in hostile environments, such as Harvard. OK, Ann, how exactly is this a hostile environment? You’re being welcomed as a heroine, as the Joan of Arc of homosexuality, literally the poster child for ‘Homocon 2010.’ You are the goddess of gayness for the moment. You are taking money from people who want to destroy the U.S. military and destroy the institution of marriage. Good luck getting us to believe that’s a good thing. ” – American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer.

And the lunatic fringe continues to eat its own. Delicious, delicious.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright