Gay Scouts call for end to ban in advance of National Council vote

Gay Scouts and leaders participate in panel about how the Boy Scouts’ gay ban affected them during the Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine on May 22, 2013. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Gay Scouts and leaders participate in a panel about how the Boy Scouts’ gay ban affected them, during the Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine on Thursday. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor

GRAPEVINE — LGBT advocates called on the Boy Scouts of America Wednesday afternoon to pass a resolution that would welcome gay youth into its ranks, so the organization can remain relevant in an accepting America.

In a crowded meeting room at the Great Wolf Lodge, dozens of advocates for the resolution listened to two panels of leaders and Scouts who’d been affected by the national gay ban during the first day of the Equal Scouting Summit.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality, spoke about his time in the Scouts with his two moms. He said the push for inclusive Scouting has grown over the past year, adding that full inclusion of gay leaders also needs to happen with a BSA nondiscrimination policy.

“It is clear that if Scouting is not willing to move forward on this issue, it will be left behind,” Wahls said, adding that Scouting is too much of an American institution to lose it over hate. “We cannot afford to lose this great cultural icon.”

Maryland Scout Pascal Tessier will be directly affected by the vote the National Council takes Thursday. He is months away from receiving his Eagle Scout Award, only having to complete his leadership service project over the summer to be eligible. But his being an openly gay Scout will prevent him from receiving an honor he’s worked toward since he was 7.

Tessier said he was told that his council likely would not approve the award if the resolution fails. And he will miss out on the joy of receiving the honor that his older brother, who is also gay, received years ago.

“Being gay doesn’t define who I am,” he said. “But because I want to stand up for what I believe is right, I won’t be able to get my Eagle Scout Award like my brother did.”

Tessier told Dallas Voice that he didn’t even think about being kicked out when he decided to come out as a gay Scout, wanting to “put a voice to the people who can’t come out.”

“I thought I should be here for all people that can’t,” he said.

—  Anna Waugh

Stay tuned to Instant Tea for coverage of Boy Scouts meeting in Grapevine

scouts

Supporters of lifting the ban on gay youth in the Boy Scouts will convene today for the first day of a three-day Equal Scouting Summit in Grapevine.

At noon, Eagle Scout Dave McGrath and his son will arrive at the Great Wolf Lodge, 100 Great Wolf Drive, completing their 1,800 mile Bike for Equality campaign that began when they left Idaho Falls on May 3.

McGrath, Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls and Inclusive Scouting Network founder Mark Noel will address the audience.

Gay Scouts and leaders will then speak, including former Ohio den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, gay Eagle Scout Will Oliver, Greg Bourke, a gay dad removed from his position as Scoutmaster with his son’s troop, and Pascal Tessier, a gay Boy Scout who was told he would not be eligible to earn the Eagle award his older brother received.

Events for the summit will take place today at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fallen Timber A Meeting Room. They are expected to conclude around 2 p.m.

Across the street at the Gaylord Texan, where the roughly 1,400 members of the BSA’s National Council will vote on the resolution tomorrow, opponents of allowing gays Scouts will protest at Texas Values’ Save Our Scouts rally from noon to 4 p.m.

Dallas Voice will be in Grapevine to capture all the excitement and will be tweeting live from the press conferences and rally. Follow us on Twitter here.

Yesterday 20 members of Congress signed a letter supporting the resolution to welcome gay youth into the BSA. Among them was Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth.

“As part of its mission, the BSA seeks to instill traditionally American values of tolerance, acceptance and inclusion of others in youth scouts in preparation for the responsibilities of citizenship,” the letter reads in part. “Today, BSA has a policy that excludes gay Scouts and Scout leaders from participating. This is counter to BSA’s mission to teach our youth to combat discrimination. We are pleased to learn that the National Council will soon take up a resolution at the May 22nd meeting to update its membership standards policy. We strongly urge the BSA to pass the proposed resolution to end discrimination against gay youth.”

Read the full letter here.

—  Anna Waugh

Ohlook gets new address, and chance to go North with gay play

Ohlook, the self-described “crazy little theater in Grapevine” which we’ve reported on in the past because of their odd, gay-friendly slate of definitely-not-the-’burbs theater, needs to raise some dough. As we noted last summer, their gay little production of Dog Sees God won some awards at a play festival in Rochester, N.Y. They have the chance to do the same in Canada, but need to raise funds to get it there.

They hope to represent the U.S. at the Liverpool International Theater Festival in Nova Scotia (May 16–20). Any contributions to their travel fund (you can donate at OhlookPerform.com) would help them spread a little queer culture north of the border.

In other news, Ohlook — which has been on a hunt for a new theater space — finally has nailed one down, and will open soon at 1631 W. Northwest Highway in Grapevine. To say goodbye to their old space, this Friday will be a marathon performance of Evil Dead: The Musical. Starting at 8 p.m., it’ll be performed every two and a half hours until they can’t go on. It’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Blanket).

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gary Johnson slams both Obama and Santorum on gay rights, will appear in Grapevine in Feb.

Gary Johnson

For those who’ve been watching the GOP presidential debates on TV and wishing they could attend one in person, here’s your chance. Well, sorta. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that the Texas Libertarian Party will host a presidential debate in Grapevine on Feb. 25. The debate is open to the public, and among the candidates who’ve confirmed their participation is former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Johnson dropped out of the Republican race last month and filed as a libertarian. And, unlike some other so-called libertarians who are still seeking the GOP nomination, Johnson actually supports same-sex marriage. In fact, Johnson sent out a press release just the other day in which he managed to slam both President Barack Obama and anti-gay GOP candidate Rick Santorum for their positions on LGBT equality (alas, “at least [Santorum] is consistent”). We’re not sure why Johnson left out Ron Paul, but here’s an excerpt:

“Rick Santorum’s position is unconstitutional. The Constitution requires that all citizens be treated equally and makes no reference to gender in assuring those equal rights,” said Johnson. “By any fair measure, equal access to marriage for all Americans is a right — guaranteed by the Constitution. Senator Santorum’s claim that legally recognizing gay marriage would be no different than legalizing polygamy, child molestation or bestiality is repugnant and insulting to millions of gay Americans,” said the former New Mexico Governor.

Johnson had equally harsh criticism for President Barack Obama. “The New York Times reports that while President Obama gives lip service to gay equality, the President will not support gay marriage before the election because of the opposition of African Americans, as reflected in his polling, and the need to assure maximum support from African American voters in November,” said Johnson. “Instead the President sends out surrogates to imply that he will support gay marriage in a second term.

“President Obama did the same kind of dance around the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’. He promised to repeal it in his campaign, then dragged his feet on repealing it as President, even sending the Justice Department’s lawyers into court to defend it. Then when ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ was finally repealed by Congress, he claimed victory and a promise fulfilled.

“As for Rick Santorum, at least he is consistent. He not only opposed the repeal of DADT, he has promised to return our military to the Dark Ages and reinstate it, and claims that repealing such a discriminatory policy has somehow been ‘detrimental’ to gays.

“I, for one, am tired of seeing candidates for president – including the President himself, play political games with people’s lives and happiness. Perhaps it’s time for a president who leads based upon principle instead of polls,” he said.

—  John Wright

Lakewood Bar & Grill, which was home to queer music event Twist Dallas, shuts its doors

Jay Bean, left, and SuZanne Kimbrell performing at the now closed Lakewood Bar & Grill. (Photo via Facebook)

Perhaps this is why local musician SuZanne Kimbrell, pictured, was looking for a new spot for Twist. She had mentioned that she wanted to move the bi-monthly queer music event to another venue, but was this the reason? Pegasus News reports today that LBG “closed abruptly on Wednesday, with the news delivered via a lock-out and ‘non-payment of rent’ sign taped to the front door.” According to the post, Emmeline was among those booked for the remainder of the week. She had performed at one of the Twist events before.

With the Balcony Club’s troubles and the Lakewood Tavern set to close in October, Lakewood is drying up fast with venues and bars. What does that mean for the gays? Maybe not much, but the area is quite gay-friendly as have those venues been. They don’t walk the line of gay/straight like The Grapevine or Barbara’s Pavilion, but Lakewood as a nightlife destination, even for LGBTs, would be sorely missed.

—  Rich Lopez

Aspiring queer journalist Daniel Villarreal of Dallas vies to become America’s next Gay Travel Guru

Aspiring Dallas homo-journo Daniel Villarreal is competing for his dream job as GayTravel.com‘s Gay Travel Guru, and he needs your help by July 30. We’re going to overlook the fact that Villarreal writes for Queerty.com and focus on the fact that he’s a native Texan with a lot of experience who probably deserves this opportunity. Villarreal is among 60 contestants who’ve advanced to Round 2 of the competition, and the field will be narrowed to eight next month based on this public vote. It looks like Villarreal is currently at No. 3 with 755 points, so he’s definitely viable. Above is a video about Grapevine Bar that Villarreal produced for the competition (you can watch one about Lower Greenville by going here), and below is the flier he’s been circulating in the gayborhood, which includes instructions for voting. Here’s the note Villarreal sent us on Monday:

My name is Daniel Villarreal and I’m an aspiring queer journalist and regular contributor to the LGBT blog Queerty.com. I’d like you to vote for me so I can become GayTravel.com’s travel reporter. Your support would go a long way towards helping me highlight the diversity of national LGBT culture and assisting in my continued aims of being a serious queer journalist.

A) I’m mega-qualified: I have 17 years experience in print journalism, an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, a handful of web-based comedy sketches, a vast growing social network, a love of people, and extensive travel experience around the US, Japan, India, and Europe. All of these enable me to deliver travel coverage that’s fun, insightful, and entertaining.

B) I’ll represent everyone: In my work with Queerty.com, I have always tried to give a voice to under-represented parts of the LGBT community including local activists, artists, women, trans folk, people of color, the elderly, the poor, and HIV-positive people. As a travel writer, I would give coverage not only to popular LGBT destinations but to worthwhile local venues and events welcoming of our entire community.

C) I’m a good long-term investment: This vote isn’t just about the travel job. Working with GayTravel.com would also provide me the exposure and training I need to continue developing into an asset to the national LGBT community as a serious queer reporter.

—  John Wright