Celebrating excellence in the North Texas LGBT community

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce has released the names of the winners of its 2016 Business Excellence Award honoring business and community leaders. Awards will be presented at the chamber’s Celebration of Excellence on the Red Carpet dinner on Friday night, April 28, from 6-9:30 p.m. at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.

Winners are:

• Business of the Year Award: Fastsigns-Irving/Las Colinas

• Corporate Ally of the Year Award: American Airlines

• Extra Mile Community Service Award (sponsored by American Airlines): Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center

• Member Service Award: J. Waylon & Associates

• Emerging Leader Award (sponsored by Raytheon): Joshua Cogan, Outlast Youth

• Supplier Diversity Champion Award (sponsored by Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau) Douglas Roark, Staff Perm

• Chairman’s Award: Ron Allen, CPA.

North Texas GLBT CHamber of Commerce has offices at 4123 Cedar Springs Road, Ste. 1206. Call them at 214-821-4528 or visit GLBTChamber.com. For more on the awards dinner, visit CelebrationOfExcellence.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Cassie Nova • 04.01.16

Cassie calls ‘Shenanigans!’ on liars


Photo courtesy Krisofer Reynolds

Hello all. As most of you know, I watch way too much TV. I watch hours of mind numbing fluff — possibly as a way to get out of my own head, or because I have very questionable taste. I do not keep up with the Kardashians, but I do visit Redneck Island from time to time. From Face Off to The Real O’Neals, my preferences are varied. If I cooked as much as I watch cooking shows, I’d be a Michelin-star chef.

The other night I was sitting in bed watching the hypnotic screen as it lulled me away to sleepy town when I accidentally hit the remote and it went to live TV. It just so happened to be the opening credits of Brokeback Mountain. I hadn’t watched the movie since it came out in 2005 so I decided I would watch a few minutes. I ended up watching the entire film.

If you haven’t watched Ang Lee’s masterpiece film, based on a short story by Annie Proulx, I urge you to do so. (I’m talking to you millennial gays.)
It’s about a secretive relationship between a couple of cowboys that starts while watching over a heard of sheep on Brokeback Mountain in 1963. The movie is heartbreaking and beautiful. It got me thinking of all of the real life stories of guys like Jack Twist and Ennis Del Mar. Men and women throughout human history that could not truly be with the person they loved and it breaks my heart. How many gays hid their relationships, only meeting in secret? How many found true love and actually had a happy life together. I like to think that for every sad, heartbreaking story out there, there are a hundred more that found their happily ever after.

The sad truth is that we will never know much about real gays through history. The stories we get are only speculation. The people in charge that get to shape history tend to omit and edit things so the past is biased. Part of me wants to research more on the topic of gays past, but I’m also not sure of how much of the truth I can take. I know what was done to gays during the Holocaust. I know what is still being done to them in Middle East. I know there was a little more sexual fluidity during Roman times.

It reminds me of how thankful I am to be alive today. We are a lucky lot. Your opportunities to love and be loved are better now than any other time in gay history and some of y’all still can’t get a man. (Winky face!)

Dear Cassie, I have a friend that lies so much. He lies about everything. He lies about guys he’s slept with to the places he has vacationed. It drives me crazy. Should I call him out on it or just let it go. It’s so annoying! Thanks, Ty.

Dear Ty, I think we all lie a little bit. We lie to make ourselves seem more interesting. Sometimes we lie just to hear ourselves talk. Well, not me. I have never lied. That’s a lie. If your friend’s lies are not hurting anyone, I say let it go. Naw, just kidding’! Call that bitch out. Every time you know he is lying call shenanigans. Yell at the top of your lungs Shenanigans!!!

I have a friend that lies a whole lot as well. She must also have a short memory. Once she told me and a group of my friends a story about how she put a sample of Selsun Blue shampoo in the mailbox of one of her enemies. Only it wasn’t shampoo in the bottle, it was Nair mixed with blue food coloring. The story ended with her enemy sporting short hair a few days later. Great story. Only one problem: She was telling a story that had happened to me. I did the exact same thing to my best friend’s ex-boyfriend. He cheated on, stole from and just really fucked my best friend over.
Long story short, I am a horrible person but a great friend.

Anyhoo, back to the liar. She told the anecdote to our group like it was 100 percent her story. I couldn’t believe she didn’t remember that not only was I the one that told her that story, but I had even written about it in this very column about a year before. I should have called shenanigans but I just let her go on, knowing that the people she was talking to knew the truth. It was unreal. Surprisingly enough that was just one of the many times we let her tell us a story that we knew didn’t happen to her. It was very… really, queen?

I admit, I like to embellish — that is part of being a good storyteller. But the balls on that bitch were enormous. We all want to feel interesting so maybe your friend that lies is just trying to fit in. Hoping that if they entertain you, a little white lie is no big deal. It’s when they start to believe their own lies that you have a problem. Live without regrets, call shenanigans! Good luck, Cassie.

Dearest Cassie, First let me say I adore you. Would you ever go or have you ever tried to go on RuPaul’s Drag Race? I think you would kill it. Forever a fan, Jeremy.

Dear Jeremy, Thank you for your kind words. I have been asked and answered this question in the past and the only reason I am revisiting it is because my thoughts on the subject have changed — well, not really changed, but I have come to a realization on the subject. In the past I have joked about not caring to be on that show, but the truth is, I think I would do horribly on Drag Race. Don’t get me wrong: I have more personality than any one show can handle, but that might not be enough to do well on that show.

I don’t think I would do well with the dancing challenges. It takes me forever to learn very basic choreography, but when I have it learned I know it to my core. I just need more time than what you get on such a tight shooting schedule. I don’t sing at all. They always have at least one challenge where those poor queens are forced to sing. There is a reason I lip-synch for a living. And to be perfectly honest, my taste in clothes is very questionable. I have a very certain look I like, and anything away from that look bothers me to the point I am uncomfortable. I am not fashion forward. I don’t wear enough — I like my little hooker dresses and big hair. I definitely have my own style but I don’t think it would do well there.

Plus, it seems exhausting. I’m not sure I have the energy and stamina to keep up with those damn kids. Not to mention, I have a temper and might actually punch the first the first bitch that called me old or fat. I guarantee you it would be good TV but I don’t think it would be fun (for me at least).
Who knows, maybe I will find a show to be on that lets me be me without having to kill myself! Oh my God, I’m lazy!

Remember to always love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova.

If you have a question of comment, email it to AskCassieNova@gmail.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Cassie Nova • 03.04.16

CN3-KristoferReynoldsCassie and Celeste go wig shopping

Hey-diddly-ho, gayborinos! I hope you’re all having a fabulous day.

Over the years, I have had a few young queens ask me if I would be their drag mother. For those that don’t know, a drag mother is a more established drag queen who finds it in their heart to help a little newbie in the ways of a showgirl. A drag mother helps their child with all things drag-related: makeup tips, wigs, lets them borrow clothes and costumes and sometimes lets them use their last name. There are quite a few O’Haras, even more Davenports and even a few Summers babies.

But alas, there are no baby Novas running around annoying the masses. Nova is just not a great last name for anyone but me. If I did have a drag child, I would want her name to be Bella. She would have to be funny, but not too funny. Pretty, but not too pretty. She would have to be a smart ass without being a cunt. Edgy, but still true to the art form. In other words, I am barren because of my high standards. I’m not going to let some little sissy-boy walk in and ruin the good name Nova.

I had a few queens help me along the way but only one I would call my drag mother: Celeste Martinez. In the early days of Cassie Nova, Celeste taught me to do hair, let me borrow clothes and taught me some valuable lessons, but most of all, she always had my back.

The timing for us to be friends was perfect. She needed a roommate and I needed a place to stay, and we got along, so for me it was a match made in heaven. Looking back, I feel sorry for her. I wouldn’t wish me on anybody. I was messy, loud and annoying. Thank God I have changed (I’m not as messy now).

I remember once when Celeste and I were going to pay the rent. We decided to stop in the wig store that use

d to be across the street from where Whole Foods is now. It was very uppity, bougie and way overpriced. The lady that ran the place looked like an Asian Tammy Faye Bakker but spoke with a Russian accent and had on a long blonde fall o

n the ba

ck of her head, while her bangs were teased up and out. From the moment we walked in the store she was on us. She looked down her nose at us and was very rude. “Whatchoo need?” she demanded. Celeste asked if she could see this lovely long brown wig that was up on a shelf; that bitch replied, “Dat one iz berry expensive.” Celeste looked at me like, “did this bitch really just go there?” I looked at her like, “Oh no she better don’t.” Then Celeste got this twinkle in her eye that said, “Watch this!” Celeste reached into her bag and pulled out our rent money. Yes it was all in cash, as we were on our way to get a money order. And you know coming from two drag queens it was a huge pile of bills. It was a few hundred dollar bills, a shit ton of twenties, tens, fives and ones. We looked like we was big pimpin’ and Celeste told her that money was no object.

The woman’s whole demeanor changed and she was suddenly our best friend. “Ooooh, dis wig look good on yoo skin tone. Dis one highlight yoo pretty face.” Celeste said we would take them all. Miss Bitch got so happy, running around the store almost dancing getting us whatever we needed.

We get up to the register and the bouncy happy bitch starts to ring the wigs up when Celeste said, “Hold on. You know what?
Never mind. We are going to go down the street to Lemmon Wigs and get this same shit cheaper and without the bad attitude, but thanks. Bye!” Celeste put away the wad of cash and we sashayed away out of there. If

looks could kill, we both would have been vaporized. It felt very Pretty Woman.

Here’s another memory. Every year, Caven Enterprises — which is the parent company for the Rose Room and the surrounding clubs — would have a huge Christmas party. The first few years I worked for Caven we had the party at the Lizard Lounge in Deep Ellum. It was always a blast — free food and free liquor. Celeste and I went one year out of drag. Just a chill night of fun was what I was hoping for, but No… I had to go and get in a fight.

It was a festive atmosphere and I was walking around, mixing and mingling. I stopped to talk to a group of friends and strangers and casually inserted myself into the conversation. It was just some light banter, nothing too serious. Then Valerie Lohr walked by with her husband Johnny, I yelled hello to them both and waved like some weird fanboy. I turned back to the group and said, “Oh my God, I love Valerie Lohr.” This one guy, kind of tall and good looking, had this look of disgust on his face. He said, “Gross, I hate drag queens.” I immediately got defensive and said, “Whatever dude! You don’t even know her, she’s…”

Then BAM! He punched me in the face.

I swear I don’t remember the next few seconds, but apparently I grabbed him and started to punch him repeatedly in the nose.
Then someone broke us up. I do remember when it was over and seeing blood on the ground. I just knew I was going to be fired, I was never going to be booked again. I was crying hysterically like a pussy, overcome with emotion. I had only been in a few fights growing up but I had never been punched in the face. It was shocking to say the least.

My friend Celeste was there telling me to calm down, everything was going to be okay. I looked around for the douche that popped me and realized the blood on the ground was not mine. We followed it to the front door, they had thrown him out and I figured I was next to be escorted out. Then I saw Paul Lewis, our big boss. He was my bosses’ boss and what he said was law. I saw him and started to cry again. He was a father figure to a lot of people in our community and I feared and respected him. He came up to me, put his arm around me and said, “I think you broke his nose.” Then he started to laugh. “He started it, you finished it. I tell people all the time, you don’t mess with a drag queen.” Then told me, “Let’s go get a shot.” And we did and all was well.

The dillhole that punched me was apparently some random dick dancer. I did break his nose. His ex-boyfriend still comes out to the Rose Room and tips me on occasion and every time he gives me a dollar he says, “Remember that time you broke my boyfriend’s nose?” and I always say yes, I remember.

My favorite part about this story is something I did not see, but which many people have told me: That when I got punched, my good Judy, Celeste Martinez jumped over a table and ran to the action to help me out. Just like Wonder Woman ready to kick some ass. There is no better feeling than knowing someone has you back. Celeste and I are not as close as we once were, she is off on a great adventure, but I will always consider her one of my best friends and my drag mother. I love that bitch!

Remember to always, love more, bitch less and be fabulous. XOXO Cassie Nova

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

A Brunching of Gays: The Social House



With news last week that Dish Restaurant at the ilume would be relocating — and that Feb. 28 would be the last “Drag Brunch” in that space, at least until owner Tim McEneny opens Dish’s replacement concept, Cedar Grove (planned for Memorial Day) — came the sudden realization that some queer folks would be without their traditional brunch hang. And since I believe the proper collective noun for gay men should be “a brunching,” it falls upon me to come up with some alternatives. Here, then, the inaugural column looking for new spots to mimosify and gossip on a warm spring Sunday. First up: The Social House.

My initial foray to scavenge for a suitable booze-and-protein-binge before 5 p.m. took me to this prodigal gastropub in Uptown. Prodigal only because it initially opened its doors in the West Village, only to relocate to Addison a few years later.
Then about three years ago, it returned to Central Dallas, this time tucked away in a quaint, parking-challenged corner between the Quadrangle and Gold’s Gym. But really, that just creates a little more buzz, a bit greater intimacy. Social House has “social” in its name, after all; you’re meant to feel the bustle and hear the hum.

And hum it does. On our visit — a gorgeous Sunday around 1:30 p.m. — the patio was packed with energetic (and good looking) diners, a diverse and friendly crowd that was also reflected in the servers, all of whom were gracious and easy-going. We didn’t make a reservation, so had to wait half an hour for our table, but no worries — bellinis and mimosas are available by the carafe (10 bucks!), and you can buy those at the bar and set up shop inside the foyer, where a shelf makes for the perfect setting to hold a flute or two of bubbly and o.j. (The two of us got two carafes before the meal was over; don’t judge.) The full menu — with its selection of burgers and tacos, pizza and pub grub — was available, and while my dining companion was focussed on the adult beverages, I came for brunch food.

The selection was what you’d expect at a gastropub in Texas: eggy offerings, gourmet meats and a dose of Tex-Mex sensibilities. I was drawn to the steak benedict ($13.95) or the breakfast tacos ($9.95) or even the chicken and waffles (at $15.95, the priciest item on the very reasonable menu), but stuck with my favorite Latino standby: chilaquiles ($9.95).
Triangles of crisply-fried corn tortillas serve as the foundation upon which are dome of ingredients create a kind of working-class casserole: marinated pulled pork weaves between a salad of lettuce, avocado, salsa, onions and an smattering of diced tomato, capped by a fried egg with lovely runny center, queso fresco and its French cousin, creme fraiche. It’s a full meal on a plate, with the added benefit of texture, deftness and a cocktail close at hang. My dining companion’s decision to order from the house specialities was forgiveable. That’s the beauty of brunch: Something for everyone, and everyone feels at home.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

2708 Routh St. Sunday brunch from 11 a.m.

Have a suggestion for a brunch place in or around Uptown that we should check out? Email your recommendation to jones@dallasvoice.com or tweet it to @criticalmasstx.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Bob Harper comes out as gay to help a contestant on ‘The Biggest Loser’

Unknown-1Bob Harper, from the reality weight loss competition show The Biggest Loser, came out to help a contestant who was struggling with his own sexuality. The Huffington Post reported 48-year-old Harper came out Tuesday.

Contestant Bobby Saleem Saleem came out as gay on the show, but struggled to break the news of his sexuality to his father. To help encourage Saleem to come out to his dad, Harper decided to share his own story.

“I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever,” Harper said. “And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame.”

So, Harper sat down with Saleem on camera and publicly came out for the first time.

“I’m gay. I knew I very long time ago that I was gay,” the Tennessee native said. “When I came out — when I was 17 years old — it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak. And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”

—  Steve Ramos

Sandra Day O’Connor officiates gay wedding at Supreme Court

Sandra Day O'Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor

WASHINGTON — For the second time since June, a gay couple married at the United States Supreme Court. Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor officiated at the wedding of Jeffrey Trammell and Stuart Serkin of Washington on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

In June, the Supreme Court justices stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide but struck down a federal law barring benefits for spouses in same-sex marriages.

On. Aug. 31, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg officiated at a same-sex wedding at the Supreme Court. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Washington, D.C., since 2010.

O’Connor presided over the private ceremony in the court’s lawyers’ lounge, AP said.

—  Steve Ramos

Couple released after marriage sit-in arrest

LGBT protesters gather outside the Lew Sterrett Justice Center on Thursday evening.

Beau Chandler, left, and Mark "Major" Jiminez apply for a marriage license at the clerk's office.

After about four hours in custody, Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler were released from jail after being charged with criminal trespass, a class-B misdemeanor. The couple refused to leave the County Clerk’s office on Thursday when they applied for and were denied their marriage license.

“The arresting officers were very quiet in the police cars,” Jiminez said. “But we told them we weren’t trying to be assholes.”

When they got to the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, they were processed and put in holding, where there are three TVs. A story about their arrests had just appeared on Channel 8 when they got there.

The others being held turned to them and said, “Hey! I know you!”

“We had a discussion with a community I never thought I would have this discussion with,” Jiminez said. They talked to the others in the holding cell about marriage equality.

Someone Jiminez described as a “friendly cop” escorted them to the 7th floor.

“Just please don’t kiss or hold hands,” the detention officer told them. As they were being escorted,  other officers asked if they could help. But the “friendly” officer told them, “No, I got this.”

Bail was set at $500 each. The couple withdrew the money from the ATM outside the courtroom inside the jail.

As they left Lew Sterrett, they were figuring out how to get back to their cars, which were parked near the Records Building a few blocks away.

On the corner they saw some protesters.

“We thought Westboro Baptist had come down to protest us,” Jiminez said.

But he said they saw members of the DFW Sisters and other friends and supporters.

“They told us they were prepared to stand there all night until we got out,” he said.

When they got home, they had 400 emails. Jiminez said that by the time he answered 150 of them, there were 200 more.

The couple has a court date at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 2. They both have the same date and time, but will appear in different courtrooms.

A class-B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and/or a maximum $2,000 fine.

Jiminez said they are looking for an attorney and plan to plead not guilty. If convicted, they plan to appeal.

“We took this step and we’re not gonna let it stop,” he said.

—  David Taffet

Nearly 100 attend Dallas vigil for teen lesbian couple shot in South Texas (photos, video)

More than 75 people gathered at the Legacy of Love Monument at Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue at sunset on Saturday, June 30 to remember the teenage lesbian couple shot last week in Portland, Texas. Many brought candles and flowers they left on the monument.

The rally was organized by Daniel Cates, North Texas regional coordinator for GetEQUAL.

Norma Gan, congregational care minister at Cathedral of Hope, began the rally with a prayer for Mollie Olgin, 18, who was killed, and Kristene Chapa, 19, who remains hospitalized.

The first speaker, Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, said attacks on the LGBT community are increasing.

“I wish I could tell you these horrific attacks were a diversion from the norm, but I can’t,” he said.

He listed a number of recent incidents in Texas including a teen suicide that was the result of bullying.

“People are gathering at vigils like this one and saying ‘enough,’” Coleman said. “Demanding children — all children — be safe. This is a dark day for our community.”

—  David Taffet

LGBT groups praise Supreme Court’s health care decision — except for Log Cabin Republicans

The Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholding the Affordable Care Act will affect access to healthcare across the LGBT community. People will not lose their health insurance because of HIV status or other pre-existing conditions, and transgender people cannot be denied coverage.

In its decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the penalty for not buying insurance under the “individual mandate” is a tax and is therefore constitutional.

While the ACA makes insurance coverage more widely available to the LGBT community, the ruling allows states like Texas to refuse federal money to expand Medicaid to cover more people unable to afford private health insurance.

Insurance should be more accessible once statewide insurance exchanges are created, but Texas has done little to begin creating those exchanges, banking on the ACA being declared unconstitutional. State exchanges will not be allowed to discriminate based on sexual orientation, gender identity or sex.

Dallas’ AIDS Interfaith Network called the decision a “major step forward in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

In a press release, AIN wrote:

By upholding the Affordable Care Act, ensuring more individuals can obtain health insurance coverage, the Court removed a major roadblock to ending AIDS in America.

People living with HIV will have access to the reliable health coverage they need to seek and maintain continuous care, without unnecessary worrying about interrupts in care because of inadequate coverage or inability to pay.

National LGBT organizations, with the exception of Log Cabin Republicans, praised the decision.

—  David Taffet

Advocating for LGBT youth in foster care will be topic of CLE panel discussion Wednesday

Mark Niermann

Dallas CASA and the Gay & Lesbian Fund for Dallas are collaborating with Lambda Legal to present a program for continuing legal education credit. “Legal and Ethical Issues Regarding Representation of Children in CPS Care Who Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning” offers 1.5 CLE credits.

GLFD co-founder and board member Mark Niermann said his group has maintained a strong relationship with Dallas CASA since raising more than $50,000 for the group that advocates for more than 2,000 abused and neglected children that live in foster care in Dallas on any given day. CASA, which stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates, works with many LGBT children who’ve survived abusive family environments.

“There’s little support for people advocating for gay kids,” Niermann said.

Among the topics covered at the forum will be a general discussion of the importance of understanding LGBTQ youth issues, an overview of relevant statutory and other legal authority, and of available resources for additional guidance. A panel will discuss attorney ethical responsibilities.

Panelists include:

• David Chard, Ph.D., Dean, Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, Southern Methodist University
• Carolyn Hill, J.D., Private Law Practice
• Julie Johnson, J.D., CASA Supervisor, Dallas CASA
• Edward J. (Ted) Keating, J.D., Former Managing Attorney, TDFPS
• Cheri Whiteside, J.D., CASA Supervisor, Dallas CASA
• Ken Upton, J.D., Supervising Senior Staff Attorney, Lambda Legal, South Central Regional Office

The CLE takes place on Wednesday at the Rees-Jones Training Center for Dallas CASA, 2715 Swiss Ave. from 4:30 to 7 p.m. The program is $20 but free for GLFD members and for attorneys who have represented a party within the last 12 months in a suit affecting the parent‐child relationship filed by Child Protective Services. Non-attorneys may attend.

—  David Taffet