Latin flair

comedy
MUY FUNNY | Dan Guerrero works for laughs while being gay and Latino in his one-man show.

Before he could write ‘¡Gaytino!,’ Dan Guerrero first had to find his roots

rich lopez  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Growing up gay and Latino can be a tough hand to play. In a culture that revels in religion and machismo — hell, the word “machismo” is Latino — coming out poses pitfalls.

But Dan Guerrero lucked out. With some artsy upbringing by a musician dad and a not-so-practicing Catholic background, Guerrero’s closet was easy to open. In fact, it was harder for him just to be Hispanic.

“Los Angeles never made me feel like I was good enough,” he says. “I fell in love with musicals in junior high. I wanted to hear Julie Andrews in Camelot! Who gives a rat’s ass about mariachi?”

His dad might have given one. He was famed musician Lala Guerrero, the father of Chicano music who popularized the Pachuco sound in the 1940s (the beats most associated with Zoot suits and swing dancing). While Guerrero appreciated his father’s legacy, he established his own identity by moving to New York to become an actor. That didn’t work out so much, but becoming an agent did.

“It was kind of by accident, but I ended up being an agent for 15 years,” he says. “I got into producing and I loved it.”

Although he stepped away from performing, Guerrero finds himself back onstage Friday and Saturday at the Latino Cultural Center with ¡Gaytino! The autobiographical one-man show is part comedy, part cabaret, with Guerrero recounting in lyrics and punch lines his experiences growing up gay and Latino, life with father … and having to rediscover his roots after moving back to L.A.

“The main reason I did the show is, I wanted to know more about my dad and my best friend. I was already fabulous,” he laughs. “So I don’t think of this as my story. I wanted to embrace his legacy and celebrate him and our lives, but also tell of being a born-again Hispanic.”

In L.A., Guerrero rediscovered his heritage. While still working in entertainment, he noticed a lack of Latinos behind the scenes. He started a column in Dramalogue to change that, interviewing actors like Jimmy Smits and Salma Hayek and producing shows that spoke to Latin audiences.

And then came ¡Gaytino!

“Well, the word itself hit me first so I trademarked it. Then it was madness as I set about writing it,” he says.

When the show debuted in 2005, Guerrero hadn’t performed in 35 years. He was a different man, no longer a young buck with nothing to lose and untarnished optimism. He was a behind-the-scenes producer and casting agent. He was — gasp! — older.

“I remember thinking, ‘What am I gonna do? What if I forget my lines?’ I’m an old codger,” he says. “But I got onstage and it was like I had did it the day before. Performing is just part of who I am.”

With his successful day job (he once repped a young Sarah Jessica Parker), a healthy relationship (32 years this November) and irons in many other fires, why bother with the daunting task of writing a show and carrying it alone?

“It still feels like I’m breaking into show business. At least when you’ve been around as long as I have, you can get the main cheese by phone,” he answers. “But really, I had something I wanted to say and I love doing it. I’ve been lucky to stay in the game this long but it’s not by accident; it’s all been by design.”

What he loves isn’t just doing his show, but how it pushes positive gay Latino images. He’s dedicated this chapter in his life to that. Guerrero now feels parental toward the younger generation — maybe because he has no children of his own.

“I do feel a responsibility and not just to younger people, but to all,” he says. “For ¡Gaytino!, I first want them entertained, but I hope audiences will leave more educated about some Chicano culture and history and Gaytino history.”

……………………………………

QUEER CLIP: ‘BEGINNERS’

screen

 

Beginners is such a dreadfully forgettable and generic title for what is the year’s most engaging and heartfelt comedy, you feel like boycotting a review until the distributor gives it a title it deserves.

Certainly the movie itself — a quirky, humane and fantastical reverie about the nature of love and family, with Ewan McGregor as a doleful graphic artist who, six months after his mother dies, learns his 75-year-old dad (Christopher Plummer) is gay and wants to date — charts its own course (defiantly, respectfully, beautifully), navigating the minefield of relationships from lovers to parent/child with simple emotions. It’s not a movie that would presume to answer the Big Questions (when do you know you’ve met the right one? And if they aren’t, how much does that matter anyway?); it’s comfortable observing that we’re all in the same boat, and doing our best is good enough.

McGregor’s placid befuddlement over how he should react to things around him — both his father’s coming out and a flighty but delightful French actress (Melanie Laurent) who tries to pull him out of his shell — is one of the most understated and soulful performances of his career. (His relationship with Arthur, his father’s quasi-psychic Jack Russell, is winsome and winning without veering into Turner & Hooch idiocy.) But Plummer owns the film.

Plummer, best known for his blustery, villainous characters (even the heroic ones, like Capt. Von Trapp and Mike Wallace), exudes an aura of wonder and discovery as the septuagenarian with the hot younger boyfriend (Goran Visnjic, both exasperating as cuddly). As he learns about house music at a time when his contemporaries crave Lawrence Welk, you’re wowed by how the performance seethes with the lifeforce of someone coming out and into his own. His energy is almost shaming.

Writer/director Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical film suffers only being underlit and over too quickly. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to spend more time with these folks.

—Arnold Wayne Jones

Rating: Four and half stars
Now playing at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 10, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Judge to rule this week in Nikki Araguz case

Nikki Araguz

Transgender widow vows appeal if she loses case

JUAN A. LOZANO  |  Associated Press

WHARTON, Texas — The transgender widow of a Texas firefighter will likely learn next week whether his family’s request to nullify their marriage and strip her of any death benefits will be granted, a judge said Friday.

State District Judge Randy Clapp made the announcement after hearing arguments in a lawsuit filed by the family of firefighter Thomas Araguz III, who was killed while battling a blaze last year. The suit argues that his widow shouldn’t get any benefits because she was born a man and Texas doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage.

The widow, Nikki Araguz, said she had done everything medically and legally possible to show that she is female and was legally married under Texas law. She believes that she’s entitled to widow’s benefits.

“I believe the judge is going to rule in my favor,” Araguz said after the court hearing.

The lawsuit seeks control over death benefits and assets totaling more than $600,000, which the firefighter’s family wants to go to his two sons from a previous marriage. Voiding the marriage would prevent Nikki Araguz from receiving any insurance or death benefits or property the couple had together.

Thomas Araguz died while fighting a fire at an egg farm near Wharton, about 60 miles southwest of Houston, in July 2010. He was 30.

His mother, Simona Longoria, filed a lawsuit asking that her son’s marriage be voided. She and her family have said he learned of his wife’s gender history just prior to his death, and after he found out, he moved out of their home and planned to end the marriage.

But Nikki Araguz, 35, has insisted that her husband was aware she was born a man and that he fully supported her through the surgical process to become a woman. She underwent surgery two months after they were married in 2008.

Longoria’s attorney, Chad Ellis, argued that Texas law — specifically a 1999 appeals court ruling that stated chromosomes, not genitals, determine gender — supports his client’s efforts to void the marriage.

The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision that threw out a wrongful death lawsuit filed by a San Antonio woman, Christie Lee Cavazos Littleton, after her husband’s death. The court said that although Littleton had undergone a sex-change operation, she was actually a man, based on her original birth certificate, and therefore her marriage and wrongful death claim were invalid.

Ellis presented medical and school records that he said showed Nikki Araguz was born without female reproductive organs and that she presented herself as a male while growing up and going to school. He also said her birth certificate at the time of her marriage indicated she was a man.

“By law, two males cannot be married in this state,” Ellis told the judge.

Nikki Araguz, who was born in California, did not change her birth certificate to reflect she had become a female until after her husband’s death, said Edward Burwell, one of the attorneys for Thomas Araguz’s ex-wife, Heather Delgado, the mother of his two children.

But one of Nikki Araguz’s attorneys, Darrell Steidley, said that when his client got her marriage license, she presented the necessary legal documents to show she was a female. He also noted changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed people to present numerous alternatives to a birth certificate as the proof of identity needed to get a marriage license. That was an example, he argued, of the state trying to move away from the 1999 appeals court ruling.

The changes in 2009 allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license. The Texas Legislature is currently considering a bill that would prohibit county and district clerks from using a court order recognizing a sex change as documentation to get married.

After the hearing, the firefighter’s family and attorneys for his ex-wife criticized plans by Nikki Araguz to star in a reality television dating show and implied she was only interested in money and fame that the case would bring her.

“That is absurd,” Nikki Araguz said in response. “I’m after my civil equality and the rights that I deserve as the wife of a fallen firefighter.”

If the judge rules against the firefighter’s family in their motion for a summary judgment, the case would then proceed to trial. Araguz said if the judge rules against her, she would appeal, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

—  John Wright

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo on the Strip

Fiesta on the street

Sure Cindo de Mayo has turned into a drinking-based American celebration, but we’re gonna drop some history here on you.From the completely reliable source of Wikipedia, May 5 is the “date observed in the United States as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride, and to commemorate the cause of freedom and democracy during the first years of the American Civil War.” What’s that? Still wondering where your margarita is? Well, hit up the Strip tonight as it gets a touch of Latin flair for the holiday. From Sue Ellen’s to TMC: The Mining Company, the celebration highlights the block tonight.

DEETS: Blockwide Fiesta at Sue Ellen’s, TMC: The Mining Company, S4 and JR.’s Bar & Grill. Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street. 8 p.m. PartyAtTheBlock.com.

 

—  Rich Lopez

CORRECTION: All major candidates for Dallas mayor vied for LGBT vote in 2002

In my cover story for this week’s paper, I made a minor mistake. Actually it was fairly major. The opening paragraph of the story, as originally written, stated that 2011 marks the first time in history that all major candidates for Dallas mayor have actively courted the LGBT vote.

As former DV staff writer David Webb pointed out in the comments to the story, that’s not true. In 2002, Laura Miller, Tom Dunning and Domingo Garcia — the three major candidates for mayor — all courted the LGBT vote.

From The Dallas Mornings News on Jan. 15, 2002:

Dallas gays and lesbians, who used to hope that they could just find a candidate who wouldn’t be hostile to their interests, find themselves for the first time being wooed from all directions in what boils down to a three-way citywide race – and disagreeing about whom to support.

“It’s the first time I haven’t had to go vote for the lesser of two evils,” said Deb Elder, a Laura Miller supporter and political organizer. “Nothing has piqued my passion like this mayoral vote.”

Put another way, with major candidates Ms. Miller, Tom Dunning, and Domingo Garcia all touting their support for including gays in a nondiscrimination ordinance, a sector of voters that was shunned not long ago can’t lose this time around.

“It’s historic. I knew it would happen, but I didn’t know it would be this soon,” said Michael Milliken, one of the city’s first publicly identified gay appointees. “The gay community is in a unique position this year.”

I had based my report on statements by openly gay former City Councilman Ed Oakley, who called the 2011 mayoral election “a watershed moment for the community” and “unprecedented.”

While that may be true in some other respects, this isn’t the first time all major mayoral candidates have sought the LGBT vote, and I apologize for the error.

—  John Wright

Music Video: OMD’s ‘History of Modern (Part 1)’

Omd

The video for OMD's title track from their recent album is a charming, stop-motion wink at the past.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP

Also, don't miss this week's music update


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Obama rewrites a wee bit of history on DADT repeal

President Obama just said in his press conference, referring to DADT repeal, that people get all upset and think something isn’t happening if it doesn’t happen immediately.

Sorry, but that bird isn’t gonna fly.

DADT repeal was dead in the water. The President’s plan to wait until 2011, endorsed by HRC, was scotched by the GOP takeover of the House – something a lot of us predicted, or at least fretted about, a good year ago. The President and HRC decided to have the Pentagon do a study, due in December, a month after the 2010 elections, thinking they could handle repeal in 2011. They were wrong.

Repeal didn’t take a long time because that was part of the plan. The legislation passed because we got lucky. As you’ll recall, it was dead, having been filibustered repeatedly by the GOP. The only reason it came back up, at the very last minute, was because the GOP filibustered the continuing resolution and Harry Reid had had it, pulled the CR, and suddenly there was one last final chance for DADT repeal (or something short of repeal) to pass.

You’ll recall that HRC sent out an email in December basically calling repeal dead for the year. Was that part of the secret plan too? Here’s HRC’s email, dated December 9, 4:52pm, sent out at literally the same moment that Lieberman, Udall and Collins were announced a last minute effort to get a stand-alone bill passed. HRC had no idea the stand-alone bill was even coming. They thought DADT repeal was dead in the Congress. So with all due respect, the “plan” failed.

HRC seems to have forgotten its own email of two months ago. Today, in their magazine, HRC is now claiming that DADT repeal was all part of a well-oiled plan. Uh huh. That’s why HRC announced that repeal was dead just as the legislation, that was ultimately to pass, was being announced. Here’s their magazine today:

A WHITE HOUSE MEETING IN NOVEMBER 2009….

What’s crucial to note, says HRC’s Smith, is that the gears to repeal started rolling intensively in November 2009. That’s when Solmonese, along with Smith, met with Jim Messina, one of President Obama’s deputy chiefs of staff, in his White House office. Solmonese stressed to Messina that HRC was ready to mount a massive campaign to get “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repealed in 2010. It was after this meeting that things began to move, said Smith.

Yeah right. Good try, though.

So, please, stop the “it was all part of our plan” stuff. It wasn’t. If it weren’t for GetEqual, Dan Choi, the gay blogs, our straight blog allies, groups like SLDN, .SU and Palm Center, and lots of current and former gay servicemembers, DADT repeal would not still be on the table.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

HRC Celebrates Black History Month

The following is from HRC’s Editorial and Web Content Manager, Carolyn Simon:

African-American leaders are some of the strongest voices advocating for equality. And no wonder. The civil rights victories during the 1960s, led by the black civil rights movement, helped propel civil rights advancements for many communities, including the LGBT community.

There’s U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., who gave an impassioned speech on the House floor, urging his fellow representatives to “vote yes” on the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” There’s Whoopi Goldberg, a comedian, actor and a New Yorker for Marriage Equality. There’s Bishop John Selders, a founding member of HRC’s Religion Council, who speaks eloquently about the role of sexuality-based stigma in contributing to the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic – especially within communities of color. There are Drs. Johnnetta Cole and Michael Lomax, black educators and scholars who are unafraid to raise the issue of LGBT inclusion in black higher education. And there are Rosalyn Taylor O’Neale and Lee Daniels, who are showing our black LGBT youth that being black and being out as LGBT is a powerful way to walk in this world.

We salute and celebrate these and countless other African-American leaders – straight allies and LGBT people – each February as part of Black History Month. HRC is thankful each and every day that we can draw strength from the diversity of the LGBT community and our allies.

Some of HRC’s most important initiatives – such as the Historically Black Colleges and Universities program – demonstrate that African-American LGBT people and straight allies are critical to winning the fight for equality.

“Our sisterhood and our brotherhood – black, gay and straight alike – are found in the common hopes and dreams that we all share for full equality and freedom,” said Cuc Vu, HRC’s Chief Diversity Officer.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  David Taffet

GLBT History Museum Opens in San Francisco’s Castro District

Museum1

The GLBT History Museum, a 1600 sq ft. facility housing archives from the GLBT Historical Society, is now open at 4127 18th Street in San Francisco's Castro district. The grand opening is next week, on January 13, from 7-9 pm, and is open to the public.

Following are a few images from within the museum, and some info about its origins and support.

Check it out, AFTER THE JUMP

Museum4
The "Textiles" section of "Great Collections" features the pantsuits worn by lesbian pioneers Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon when they became the first same-sex couple to wed during San Francisco's "Winter of Love" in 2004 and again when California briefly legalized such marriages in 2008. A couple for more than half a century, Del and Phyllis were cofounders of the Daughters of Bilitis, established in 1955 as the first lesbian organization in the United States.

Said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the Historical Society, in a statement to press.: "A quarter century after the founding of the GLBT Historical Society, we're proud to open a museum to showcase our community's history. The GLBT History Museum is in the heart of the Castro, a neighborhood visited not only by locals, but also by tens of thousands of tourists every year who come in search of queer culture. At our museum, they'll discover treasures from our archives that recount the diverse and fascinating stories of our lives. We have gone all out to create a museum as rich, diverse and surprising as the GLBT community itself. Whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight, visitors are sure to be moved, enlightened and entertained."

Museum3
"Military Matters: Divergent Duties" in "Our Vast Queer Past" focuses on both GLBT demands for equality in military service and GLBT opposition to war and militarism. The document at upper left is the 1919 honorable discharge of gay novelist and short-story writer Clarkson Crane, who served in the U.S. Army medical corps in combat in France in World War I. It's one of the oldest items on display in the exhibition.

The museum will feature two debut exhibitions: In the main gallery, "Our Vast Queer Past: Celebrating GLBT History," curated by historians Gerard Koskovich, Don Romesberg and Amy Sueyoshi; and in the front gallery, "Great Collections of the GLBT Historical Society Archives."

Museum2
"Bar Life: Going Out" section of "Our Vast Queer Past." The display includes 120 different matchbooks from San Francisco and Bay Area GLBT bars and clubs (1950s-1990s). The screen in the center shows more than 100 slides of façades of San Francisco LGBT bars (1968-1973) taken by Henri Leleu.

Funding for the museum has come from Levi's, the City of San Francisco, Castro district merchants, and numerous other sponsors and individual donors.

You can check out a whole gallery of these photos HERE (if you're on Facebook).


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

This Is How The White House Will Cement Obama’s Name In History Books As The DADT Killer

In the White House's latest attempt to control the Don't Ask Don't tell propaganda machine, it has released this EXCLUSIVE BEHIND THE SCENES VIDEOS of last week's Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal signing. It's almost enough to distract you from the fact that Don't Ask Don't Tell, uh, has not been repealed. 12/12/10: Never forget.


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History

Joe. My. God.

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