NY gay bar closed by health department

Julius on Waverly Place at 10th Ave in The Village

New York’s oldest (sort of) gay bar — Julius — was closed by the board of health this week. Julius is located one block up and one block over from the Stonewall Inn.

The bar opened in 1867. Not until 1966 was it officially a gay bar. But for years, gay men hung out at Julius, even though they were subject to constant harassment.

As Greenwich Village became more and more gay during the 1950s and ’60s, its gay residents hung out at this friendly neighborhood bar. People like Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote used to go to Julius.

Nearby Stonewall was not nearly as nice (or historic) as Julius and Stonewall was known more as a hangout for drag queens (and people like Dallas’ Phyllis Guest who was at Stonewall the night of the raid).

Owners of Julius resisted having the bar turn gay, so they enforced the New York State Liquor Authority rule that prevented bartenders from serving the disorderly. Homosexuals were included in the liquor authority’s definition of disorderly — which makes this a good place to insert that this is one of the first gay bars I ever hung out in after I came out in college and hung out in Greenwich Village in the early ’70s. I was probably attracted to this bar at the time because scenes from the film Boys in the Band — the only gay film out there at the time — were filmed at Julius.

In 1966, in a final attempt to keep gays out, Julius hung a sign after a police raid that said, “This is a raided premises.” The hope was that gays who were afraid of being arrested, exposed as gay and fired from their jobs would stay away.

The Mattachine Society had filed a lawsuit challenging the liquor authority’s rules, claiming a right to assemble. That was followed by an investigation by the city’s Human Rights Commission. Mattachine won its suit and sometime that year, Julius’ owner realized his clientele was gay, had been gay and the neighborhood was becoming more gay. It’s been a gay bar — officially — since then.

Owners said they plan to clean up the mouse and roach problem that caused the health department to close the place and, after a new inspection this week, be reopened by the weekend.

Big news for Dallas? Not at all. But when I saw a news item about Julius, it brought back memories of being a kid hanging out in the Village.

And many people think gay history— and gay people — began with Stonewall on June 28, 2008. We were actually around — and going to bars, protesting, organizing and living our lives — long before that.

—  David Taffet

Tasting notes

Photo-2---Murray's-in-Kroger-Shot
SAY CHEESE | Murray’s Cheese Shop just opened at the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station with a delectable selection.
Murray’s: What a friend we have in cheeses; White Rock holds a picnic

What a friend we have in cheeses, now that Murray’s Cheese Shop has moved out of the ghetto of Greenwich Village in New York City and hit the real center of the cheese world, the hometown of Paula Lambert: Dallas.

At least, that’s how I approach it at my house, where a day without cheese is like a day without sunlight. So to have the celebrated fromagerie inside the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station is a coup for local cheese lovers.

The shop groups its cheeses by use more than style: Melting cheeses, stinky cheeses, spreadable, etc. Even better, there’s a section for this month’s specials, where you can get great deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples, or go outside your comfort zone, such as a deliciously crunchy version of two-year gouda called Reypanaer, or the veiny, pungent Smokehaus blue.

White Rock Lake celebrates its centennial with several culinary events this weekend. On Saturday, the beach turns into the Veranda Lounge, with a day-long choice of meals. Culinary couple Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare of Good 2 Go Tacos serve brunch from 10 to 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch and wine at noon, afternoon tea at 2, cocktails at 4:30 and dinner with chef Marc Cassel starting at 7 p.m., followed by music and fireworks.

Then on Sunday, Brian C. Luscher, chef/owner of The Grape, hosts Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, starting at noon at the Bath House Cultural Center. Cassel will be back, along with Jeff Harris of RedFork, Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava and others. Visit HighlandParkCafeteria.com for more info and to purchase tickets.

Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck recently adopted a dog, which motivated her to hold a benefit for Operation Kindness. (It’s also a mission close to our hearts — Dallas Voice profiles a shelter pet for adoption every week.) On June 30, the restaurant at the Hotel Palomar will hold a VIP Party — that’s Very Important Pet — on the patio, with drink special and all-you-can-eat bites for just $10. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dish is back with its drag brunch this Sunday, and will do them twice a month from now on, with bottomless mimosas and a special brunch menu.

Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park, Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10. The annual festival of food features live music, contests and lots of tastings. Among the chefs on-hand are gay restaurateur Scott Jones of Macho Nacho and Cowtown Diner and Jason Boso of Twisted Root Burger Co. and Cowboy Chow. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the gate. See the full lineup at TasteofDallas.org.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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NUP_141681_0107TRAVEL DIARY

Josh Flagg, pictured, a star of the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing who came out earlier this year, is letting his Pride flag wave. Flagg will host a four-day dance party in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica next month. It takes place July 21–25 in a gated community on the Latin American nation’s South Coast. To learn more, visit HMCRPride.com/party.

GayTravel.com is reaching out to the queer artistic community to highlight the local arts scenes in destinations for its readers.
LGBT artists and allies who work in any media are invited to submit pieces that would be of interests to gay travelers — pieces promoting events, trends or just themselves that can add to the experience of visiting new locales. You can read more about it on the website, or email sophie.needelman@gaytravel.com for details.
— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

The Village comes to Big D

ECLECTIC BOUTIQUE | Designer Tom John shows off some of the ‘retro, vintage chic, eclectic’ items for sale in his new shop Bryan Street Traders. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Store features an eclectic array of items from art to clothing created by owner Tom John

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When clothing designer Tom John moved to Dallas, he found himself missing his Greenwich Village hangouts. So he decided to recreate that Village atmosphere here in Big D, and thus was born John’s new Bryan Street Traders in East Dallas.

John’s career as a designer started back in the 1970s in Mexico where he designed jewelry and swans made of papier-mache and wood that he sold to upscale galleries in Manhattan.

Then he started designing clothing made from hand-woven cotton found only in Mexico, turning peasant designs into high fashion and creating a clothing line that was an instant success. In the 1980s, his clothing was featured in magazines such as Exercise for Men Only.

John ended up in Dallas because the area’s airport allowed him to commute easily between Guadalajara and New York. And since 1990, he has manufactured his garments here. Although the wholesale cost, he said, was a few dollars more than producing in Mexico, he saved in shipping and travel costs.

In describing his creative process, John explained, “I see it in my head and an artist draws the pattern.” Then the pattern is cut and sewn into a test garment and John uses that to decide if that was what he had in mind.

Changes are made if necessary, and then the pattern is sized. John’s new store features his shirt designs that run in sizes up to 5X.

From his women’s rack, John pulled one dress that he said comes from his very first design — a cream-colored dress that he said he based on a design from a 1951 Sophia Loren film.

But Bryan Street Traders is more than clothing. John described the array of items as “retro, vintage chic, eclectic.”

The offerings range from art to jewelry, from furniture to an array of household items.

“I have ‘pickers’ who find things,” John said, describing how he assembled his assortment of merchandise, “But we don’t buy off the street.”

One customer in the store brought a straight-edge razor up to the counter.

“The razor is from Sheffield, the oldest metalworking factory in the world,” John explained and with a magnifying glass found identifying marks on the piece.

“Everything in the store is authentic,” he said.

The store is located just off Peak Street in an area just being redeveloped with new restaurants. on the corner and apartments on the block.

Bryan Street Traders, 4217 Bryan Street. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. BryanStreetTraders.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

‘Born This Way’ truly is an LGBT anthem

No matter what machinations may be hiding in the background, the message shines through in the new song from Lady Gaga

RAFAEL MCDONNELL | Special Contributor

Last Friday, Feb. 11, as I drove into work, I listened to Lady Gaga’s “Born this Way” on the music player built into my cell phone. I mention that because I’ve never been the most technically-proficient person. In fact, among my friends and family, I’m known as a “late adopter” of technology.

Yet, I daresay that I likely wasn’t the only person to listen to the song that way, that day.

You couldn’t go anywhere last weekend without bumping into “Born This Way.” From restaurants, clubs and shops to radio, TV and the Grammy Awards, the song was everywhere. According to Billboard magazine, “Born This Way” was downloaded nearly 450,000 times between that Friday and Sunday, Feb. 13 — setting a record for a female artist.

The song also debuted at number one on the “Billboard Hot 100” this week. Only 19 songs have done that since 1958, including those by Elton John, Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Aerosmith.

But before this column turns into a Casey Kasem imitation, let me say I’m mentioning these statistics for a reason.

It’s not important if “Born This Way” sounds like a song Madonna released in the late 1980s. It doesn’t matter if you’re a fan of Lady Gaga or not. It also doesn’t matter why she recorded the song — whether it is a paean to her LGBT fans or merely a cynical marketing ploy to sell a product.

The rapid pervasiveness of “Born This Way,” much as the “It Gets Better” videos did last fall, has the potential to spread discussions of LGBT issues far from Oak Lawn, Greenwich Village or West Hollywood. It transcends borders of geography, race, class, social status and history. How could it not, with lyrics like “No matter gay, straight, or bi/ Lesbian, transgendered life/ I’m on the right track, baby/ I was born to survive”?

Think of it for a moment. A kid in rural America, miles away from a traditional LGBT community, might be questioning her sexual orientation or gender identity. That kid may not have an understanding family or easy access to supportive resources. But if she has an Internet connection, or a digital music player, or even (gasp!) a CD player or radio, she will hear a message affirming her individuality played either on demand or seemingly every 90 minutes.

Saying the specific words of support and affirmation towards the LGBT community are what matters. Who cares if Lady Gaga emerged from an egg while doing it?

Let’s look at it from another perspective.

The field of semiotics is the study of communication through signs and symbols. Those who study semiotics believe that all cultural phenomena can be studied as a form of communication. Since bursting onto the musical scene, Lady Gaga is undoubtedly a cultural phenomenon. But, what’s the message being sent, and what’s being received?

To me, the message is a simple one.

From her concerts to her activism supporting the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” Lady Gaga has reiterated a clear and consistent message of support for the LGBT community, whether she’s wearing a meat dress or a bra shooting sparks.

With the debut of “Born This Way,” she has cranked that message to maximum volume via multi-channel distribution. Its permeative nature will undoubtedly shape conversations from Dallas to Dime Box and beyond, and it has the potential to open minds and change hearts. If it does that, it’s a success.

Yes, there have been other songs offering support and understanding to the LGBT community. For example, I remember hearing Erasure’s “Hideaway” in the late 1980s. But at the time, that song was never released as a single and it never garnered much radio airplay.

Other pop songs, from “Over the Rainbow” to “I Will Survive” to “It’s Raining Men” have been adopted as anthems for the LGBT community — even though they weren’t directly written for us.

Add to that the technological changes that allow stories, music and art to go viral. The phone on which I listened to “Born This Way” can also play the YouTube video of the Grammy Awards performance, and upload comments and links to Facebook and Twitter. All of this serves to amplify the message behind the music.

That’s what makes “Born This Way” different. Lady Gaga is in your face with a specific message that all people — not just the LGBT community — should, as the song says, “rejoice and love yourself today,” and it’s being communicated on an unfathomable scale.

It also doesn’t hurt that it has a good beat and you can dance to it.

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager at Resource Center Dallas. E-mail him at rmcdonnell@rcdallas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

2 arrested in anti-gay beating at famed gay bar

JENNIFER PELTZ  |  Associated Press

NEW YORK — A patron at the Stonewall Inn, a powerful symbol of the gay rights movement since protests over a 1969 police raid there, was tackled to the floor and beaten in an anti-gay bias attack over the weekend, authorities said Monday, Oct. 4.

Two men were arrested in the early Sunday beating, which came little more than a day after a group of male friends bidding an affectionate good night to each other were attacked in another anti-gay assault elsewhere in Manhattan, prosecutors said.

The attacks came amid heightened attention to anti-gay bullying following a string of suicides attributed to it last month, including a New Jersey college student’s Sept. 22 plunge off the George Washington Bridge after his sexual encounter with a man in his dorm room was secretly streamed online.

But the attack prosecutors described at the Stonewall Inn especially galled and saddened gay rights advocates, some of whom wondered whether a place known for a defining moment in the history of gay rights might spur a new push for tolerance.

For the Stonewall’s owners, the episode was a sharp and upsetting contrast to its legacy.

“We at the Stonewall Inn are exceedingly troubled that hate crimes like this can and do still occur in this day and age. Obviously the impact of these men’s violent actions is even deeper given that it occurred on the premises of the Stonewall Inn,” an owner, Bill Morgan, wrote in an e-mail.

The victim was using a restroom at the Greenwich Village bar around 2 a.m. local time Sunday when a man at the next urinal, Matthew Francis, asked what kind of an establishment it was, prosecutors said. On being told it was a gay bar, Francis used an anti-gay slur and told the victim to get away from him, assistant district attorney Kiran Singh said.

“I don’t like gay people. Don’t pee next to me,” Francis added, according to the prosecutor.

Francis, 21, then demanded money, punched the victim in the face and continued beating him after a co-defendant blocked the door, tackled the victim and held him down, Singh said. The victim was treated at a hospital and was released, she said.

Francis said nothing at his arraignment Monday. A defense lawyer said that Francis wasn’t the aggressor and that the episode wasn’t motivated by bias.

“Mr. Francis is not a violent person. Nor did he try to rob anyone,” said the attorney, Angel Soto. “There may have been a fight, but it certainly wasn’t a hate crime.”

Francis was held on $10,000 bond. His co-defendant was awaiting arraignment.

Just before midnight Friday, Oct. 1 several male friends hugging and kissing each other good night in Manhattan’s gay-friendly Chelsea neighborhood were confronted by a group of more than five people who used an anti-gay epithet and told them to go home because “this is our neighborhood,” according to a court document filed by prosecutors. Two other men lashed out with fists as Andrew Jackson hurled a metal garbage can into one victim’s head, prosecutors said.

Jackson, 20, was arraigned over the weekend on hate crime assault and other charges. His lawyer, Anne Costanzo, declined to comment Monday.

The Stonewall Inn became a rallying point for gay rights in June 1969, when a police raid sparked an uprising in an era when gay men and women were often in the shadows. Stonewall patrons fought with officers, and several days of demonstrations followed, in an outpouring that became a formative moment in the gay rights movement.

“The riots at Stonewall gave way to protests, and protests gave way to a movement, and the movement gave way to a transformation that continues to this day,” President Barack Obama said at a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month reception at the White House in June 2009.

The Stonewall riots’ influence also is reflected in the names of some gay resource organizations, including student groups at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa.

For the New York City Anti-Violence Project, which works to combat attacks on gays and others, assaults like this weekend’s remain all too common problems. But the attack at the Stonewall Inn reverberates with a particularly disturbing resonance, executive director Sharon Stapel said.

“Even in a bar like the Stonewall Inn, which started a huge part of the gay rights movement — even the Stonewall Inn is not immune to this sort of violence, despite all of the work that they do to create a safe and tolerant atmosphere,” Stapel said. “It’s incredibly sad.”

But she said she hoped the incident and the atmosphere of concern about anti-gay harassment would spark new conversations about how to respond.

The Stonewall Inn has raised money for the Anti-Violence Project and other groups, and managers strive to make the bar inclusive, Morgan said.

“We do our best to run a nice, welcoming establishment where anyone can and should feel safe,” he said.

—  John Wright