A Del in concert!

(And he won’t cancel!) Shores returns to his native Texas bruised but busy

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NATIVE SHORES | Winters provided the backdrop for Del Shores’ comedy, but his Hollywood connections include directing Oscar hopeful Octavia Spencer in her next film role. (Photo courtesy Alan Mercer)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Already, 2012 looks to be a busy year for Del Shores. That wasn’t among his New Year’s resolutions, but it has ended up being a blessing for him right now. Having something to do distracts him from those empty moments. After separating less than two months ago from his partner of almost 10 years, singer/actor Jason Dottley, spending quiet times alone was the last thing Shores wanted.

“With something this tragic, I have to stay busy,” he says. “This is a huge tragedy in my life. The depression comes in so I’m taking care of myself by writing or preparing other works. Just keeping occupied is so important. I couldn’t survive otherwise.”

As irony would have it, 2012 could end up being Shores’ biggest year yet. The Winters, Texas, native kicks it off in the Rose Room with a standup performance Jan. 27. For this show, he specifically returned to Dallas to film his performance for an upcoming DVD release. And for good reason: He feels the love here.

“I’d rather just go to Dallas,” he says. “I have the hugest fan base there and I should go back to the city that loves me the most to film the show. I love it so much.”

Just a year ago, Shores started a new phase of his career by adding “standup comedian” to his resume with a performance of his new act, Sordid Confessions, at the Rose Room. In fact, he’s less a comic than whip-smart storyteller, but he acknowledges that audiences who saw him last year should expect new stuff this time.

Does that mean he’s adding some of his recent personal drama to the bit? Not just yet.

“I haven’t yet put anything about it in my show,” he admits. “I can’t pretend that the elephant isn’t in the room, but I don’t plan to disrespect what we had … not yet at least!”

The closest he plans to get right now is reciting some letters of support he received after he announced his divorce publicly last November.

They were genuinely heartfelt, but hilarious enough to add to the show.

Shores is also writing the screen adaptation of his play Yellow, and is completing a new play about four women called This Side of Crazy. He’s also collaborating with his Sordid Lives star (and long-standing best friend) Leslie Jordan on the mockumentary The Happy Hullisters, about a gospel family hanging onto their last shred of fame. The plan is to begin shooting it in Dallas starting in June; Tony Award-winner Levi Kreiss and comedian Caroline Rhea (who MC’d this year’s Dallas Black Tie Dinner) attached to the project.

“I’m getting my acting company back together for this. And I’ll be in the Hullisters!” Shores beams. “I am embracing the actor in me. I’m still in negotiations to do one more Sordid Lives film that would be a sequel to the movie, but a prequel to the series. And I’m hoping to open [the play] Yellow in Dallas as well. Maybe I’ll be busy for the next two years!”

Shores is also in post-production of his play-turned-movie The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife starring newly-minted Golden Globe winner and likely Oscar nominee Octavia Spencer. Spencer is reprising her role she originated onstage for the play as LaSonia (pronounced “lasagna”) Robinson. Shores admits that if she wins an Oscar it could help his movie, but he was already suitably moved by her Globes win.

“This couldn’t have happened to a better person,” he says. “When she won, my daughter and I were sobbing like Mexican women at a funeral.”
When Shores posted a note on his Facebook page last November (it began, “It saddens me to inform you that Jason Dottley and I are divorcing”), the obvious question among his friends was, “What happened?” But even Shores doesn’t quite seem sure. Soon after his announcement, Shores received notes of support, but also some not so friendly. That added to the shock of his marriage ending. (Dottley was contacted for this piece but declined to comment.)

“We were this couple held up to the light as an example of gay marriage in a working relationship,” he says. “I had no idea this was coming.

My marriage ended, just like straight people. I had to start a process of healing.”

But were there no signs, no inkling of what was to happen? Shores searches for the words, but stammers as he decides whether to answer and what to say. And then finally:

“Let me put it this way,” he begins, “I’ve been working in the entertainment business for a really long time, I get a lot of actor-auditions. For some, I come up with reasons I don’t cast certain ones, but the bottom line is, ‘I don’t want you to play this role.’ And so no matter what was said or the reasons behind it, the bottom line was Jason said, ‘I don’t want to be married to you anymore.’ And there was no negotiation on any level.”

For a moment, he pauses. That inevitable lump jumps into his throat and one of Texas’ funniest funnymen all of a sudden isn’t laughing.

“There is never a great day,” he admits, choking up. “There are partial good days but good days … not yet. It happens.”

Creative types have the luxury of turning pain into their art and it’s easy to imagine Del Shores turning this pain into a comic masterpiece. He insists he’ll heal and move on. Eventually. Born gay into a Southern Baptist family in Texas, life hasn’t always been the easiest. And at the very least, he may take the advice of one fan, a straight woman, who wrote him.

“She told me there was one thing good about a breakup,” he says, “New dick!”
Badum-bum.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 20, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

PwC’s LGBT employees coming to Dallas for summit

Out Professional Employee Network to discuss best practices and personal branding at two-day summit in Dallas

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William Arruda

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Human Rights Campaign sponsor PricewaterhouseCoopers is holding a two-day diversity summit for members of its LGBT resource group at the Joule Hotel in Downtown Dallas beginning Friday, Nov. 11, in conjunction with Black Tie Dinner set for Saturday night.

The company is headquartered in London, with offices worldwide, including Dallas.

Mark Niehaus, partner chair for the National GLBT Partner Advisory Board, explained that the resource group holds “periodic gatherings of our GLBT members from throughout the country,” and that this year, “We decided to connect it to a national event” (the Black Tie Dinner).

Jennifer Allyn, a managing director in the PwC office of diversity, said that normally a business meeting wouldn’t be held into Saturday. But, she said, the Black Tie Dinner was a good reason for people to stay through the weekend. She said the meeting will include people who are out, visible and successful.

“The group includes some of our highest-performing GLBT professionals,” she said.

Also among the speakers is personal branding expert William Arruda.

He begins the event on Friday morning by discussing how diversity can be what differentiates a person and how to use that to accelerate a career path.

“How do you put yourself out there?” Allyn said, explaining what Arruda will discuss. “Are you being thoughtful about your reputation?”

She said Arruda will discuss managing one’s reputation to succeed at the highest levels.

When he worked for KPMG, Arruda was closeted and spent about 20 percent of his time covering up who he was, she explained. But at PwC, it’s important to be out at work, especially in jobs dealing with clients and building trust.

“Integrity is important,” Allyn said. “When you’re hiding, you come off guarded. To build relationships, you have to build trust.”

She said that building trust is difficult with someone who is closeted because it becomes apparent that person is always hiding something.

In a business environment, people are always coming out. Members of PwC’s Out Professional Employee Network (OPEN) will share best practices.

“A lot of our focus is based on how we fit in the organization,” Niehaus said.

He said the group focuses on strengths and leveraging those individual personal traits.

“What makes you different is what’s important,” he said. “It connects you with clients and makes you succeed. We don’t want to lose what’s unique about each individual.”

The meeting will focus on other issues relating to personal branding and career development as well.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese will speak along with Point Foundation President Jorge Valencia.

While Solmonese will discuss political initiatives, Allyn said the group is especially anxious to hear from Valencia because “PwC has a big commitment to education.”

Other speakers include New York State Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David, who was involved in the fight to pass same-sex marriage in New York, and LGBT retention and advancement consultant Jennifer Brown, who will discuss career development tailored to an LGBT professionals.

“One of our initiatives is energizing allies,” Allyn said.

In conjunction with that, OPEN published I Am Open. The book complied interviews with 18 gay and straight people at PwC who have built strong working relationships with each other.

In a professional setting, the book suggests inclusive language such as asking if someone is in a relationship rather than if they’re married or invite team members to bring a guest rather than something more specific.

PwC is the first of the Big 4 accounting firms to have an LGBT Partner Advisory Board made up of openly gay partners and managing directors in the company. Many of those partners, including Niehaus, will be at the conference in Dallas.

“We want everyone to leave inspired,” Allyn said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t ever forget the anti-gay bigots who voted against repealing DADT

The impending end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” doesn’t change the fact that Texas’ two anti-gay senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, voted against repealing the policy. The beauty of the standalone bill to repeal DADT, aside from the fact it had enough votes, was that it forced lawmakers to take a position on the policy itself. On Saturday, Cornyn, Hutchison and 29 others went on record as supporting injustice, dishonesty and discrimination.

It’s truly sad that both our senators would vote to harm our national security during a time of war by continuing to discharge valuable servicemembers for no good reason. Indeed, those who voted against DADT repeal will go down in history as being on the wrong side of it, and we should never, ever forget that.

Which is apparently why GetEQUAL Texas is moving forward with plans for protests/celebrations outside Hutchison’s offices around Texas on Tuesday. From Facebook:

GetEQUAL Texas will go forward with their planned protest of Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison scheduled for Tuesday, December 22 at noon in front of the Senator’s offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio. The group is celebrating Saturday’s repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, but recognizes the importance of highlighting the oppressive vote of Ms. Hutchison on a measure which had the support of over 70% of Americans in several major polls.

Please join GetEQUAL Texas and other community members and allies to celebrate this victory by telling Kay Bailey Hutchison that “Enough is Enough.”

“We will no longer sit by and allow votes like that of Sen. Hutchison on the repeal measure to go unnoticed. Although the repeal measure passed the Senate with a filibuster proof majority, Senator Hutchison attempted to silence those willing to defend the rights and freedoms of the United States with their lives by voting against the repeal. We will not be silenced. The freedom of speech is guaranteed to all Americans, not just those who the Senator prefers.” stated Michael Diviesti an Army veteran and state coordinator for GetEQUAL Texas.

Both Texas Senators Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn voted against repeal, which passed with a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

—  John Wright

Austin City Limits preview: Festival won’t be supergay this year, but it’s still worth the trip

If you’re venturing down for this year’s ACL fest, chances are you’ve mentally prepared for a lack of personal space over the next two days. The weather will eventually get too hot, the treks too long and there’s bound to be mud somewhere. And that makes the music fest all the more glorious.

The roster of players is always impressive with at least one band that should appeal to the finickiest of music lovers. But I got a little curious as to finding the gay angle to ACL, which really is just seeing who’s playing that also plays on the LGBT side of the fence. Plus, I hope you won’t mind just a couple of non-gay recommendations along the way.

Friday night — If you missed them Wednesday night, Vampire Weekend, below,  plays at 7 p.m. on the ZYNC Card stage. I feel like I’ve pointed to gay member Rostam Batmanglij a lot this past week, but really, the band’s live show has a reputation of greatness. I wouldn’t know. Although The Strokes don’t have any confirmed gay members, there was that gay porn incident.They play at 8 p.m. on the AMD stage.

—  Rich Lopez