Easter in the Park back on; so is Creek Craze

EASTER PARADE | The pooch parade, a picnic and a concert by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra in Lee Park are an Oak Lawn tradition.

After Easter in the Park was dismantled, the Lee Park Conservancy and Cedar Springs Merchants put it back together

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The annual Easter in the Park picnic, Pooch Parade and concert that draws hundreds to Lee Park each Easter Sunday nearly unraveled before being put back together this week.

Groups that were competing just a few days ago are now working together to stage two Sundays of events in Lee Park.

While final funding is not yet in place, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra concert in Lee Park that begins a series of free outdoor concerts will remain on Easter Sunday. What had been billed as “family-friendly” events the week before — including an Easter egg roll for children, concessions and vendors — will take place on Palm Sunday.

While the two weekends were still in competition last week, John Williams, president and CEO of the Lee Park and Arlington Hall Conservancy, put the best face on it and said he preferred to think of the weekends as “bookended Easter week events.”

That’s not how some members of the LGBT community in Oak Lawn saw it. “Family-friendly” was taken as an anti-gay buzzword, and detractors described TCA as homophobic, calling the Easter in the Park event including the Pooch Parade “hijacked.”

The Conservancy operates Lee Park while the Turtle Creek Association, a neighborhood group that has landscaped medians along Turtle Creek Boulevard and Lemmon Avenue near Lee Park to supplement city services, runs events — including the popular Easter in the Park.

Most of the concern in the LGBT community centered around moving the Pooch Parade — an event started by the LGBT community — to an event that most in the LGBT community had no interest in attending or that they perceived they were not welcome to attend.

TCA renamed it the Pet Costume Contest that would be hosted by 98.7 KLUV’s Jody Dean.

Williams said the Conservancy understands how seriously members of the community treat their canine family members, which is why his group created a special membership category for dogs.

Keith Nix, a gay board member of TCA, said that “family-friendly” meant all families and the LGBT community was certainly welcome. They wanted to create an Easter event for children but no slight, he said, was ever intended.

After calls from Dallas Voice, Williams met with the representatives of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association and with David Berryman, who has worked with Dallas Tavern Guild for years and was grand marshal of the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. Berryman operates a company called Bravo Event Group.

Williams was concerned because the DSO had not been contacted about the date change and the orchestra was still scheduled to perform on Easter Sunday. The orchestra had $60,000 committed to setting up and performing in Lee Park that day, with or without an audience.

To put Easter Sunday back together, Williams convinced TCA to call the events in the park on Palm Sunday something other than Easter in the Park. They’re billing it now as Creek Craze.

On Monday, Williams, Berryman and TCA President Cathy Golden met with Mayor Dwaine Caraway’s chief of staff, Chris Heinbaugh.

In previous years, the Park and Recreation Department picked up the cost of the Pooch Parade. This year, that department is short of funding, affecting both weekends’ dog events.

The city agreed to pick up some of the costs including permits for Easter in the Park.

However, Berryman, who became the event coordinator this week, said that they are scrambling to find underwriting.

In the last year, his company staged the successful Cedar Springs Super Street Party, the annual Christmas Stocking Auction at the Round-Up Saloon and the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and Festival in Lee Park.

But Berryman had much longer lead times to line up sponsors.

He said that he has budgeted $14,000 to cover required expenses including police and medical, printing, street closure, insurance, port-o-potties, clean up and trash removal. Off-duty police officers, he said, must be hired based on the number of people expected at the park. By city ordinance, two Dallas Fire and Rescue EMTs and an ambulance must be on hand.

Recent changes to city ordinances do not allow volunteer squads.

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said, “We’re trying to get it underwritten,” and he said he was confidant the money would be found.

Berryman said that permits must be in place so that people can drink in the park. Open containers are not allowed in city parks without special event permits. If funding did not materialize and Easter in the Park falls through, picnickers watching the DSO could be issued citations if caught with alcohol.

But Williams said that other than underwriting, the event is already organized.

“We’re just waiting for funding,” Williams said on Thursday morning.

He said he was working directly with Heinbaugh and they have been in touch daily this week. The mayor’s office is helping them line up title sponsors for both events.

“We have everything in place, so as soon as the money’s there, we’re ready to go,” Williams said.

By the middle of the week, TCA, CSMA, Dallas Tavern Guild and the Conservancy were planning to cross-promote each other’s weekends.

In the long run, John Williams said, he thought this brought a number of disparate groups together that would work with each other in the future.

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

—  John Wright

Donald Trump comes out against same-sex marriage in possible step toward presidential bid

Nene Leakes

Is the first step in entering a national race on the Republican side to show how homophobic you are?

Donald Trump announced this week that he is against same-sex marriage and isn’t sure partners should receive even receive “medical or civil benefits.” Trump has not announced whether he’s running for president but did indicate an interest in the office when he appeared at a conservative conference last week.

Trump said he’ll make an announcement about his intentions in June. One serious matter stands between him and the presidency — the fourth season of Celebrity Apprentice. The NBC show begins on March 6.

The network has a rule against stars of its shows running for public office. So Trump said he would wait until the end of the season in June to make his decision.

At least he has his priorities straight. Homophobia first. TV show second. Country third.

Last week, before announcing his run for U.S. Senate, former Mayor Tom Leppert sent out a homophobic tweet. Leppert hasn’t explained the message, but it was probably sent to distance himself from his Pride parade and Black Tie Dinner appearances, as well as his openly gay former chief of staff.

Oh, and Nene Leakes, who was one of the stars of Real Housewives of Atlanta, is one of Trump’s new season of celebrity apprentices. No word on her position on same-sex marriage, but it probably matters about as much as Trump’s.

—  David Taffet

Jury deliberates fate of homophobic reggae artist Buju Banton, who faces life in prison

The Associated Press is reporting that closing arguments have been given in the case of reggae singer Buju Banton’s drug case.

The 37-year-old Banton is accused of conspiring with two other men in setting up a drug deal in December of 2009. His album “Before the Dawn” won a Grammy for best reggae album this week, and he remains wildly popular in his native Jamaica.

A jury deadlocked in his first trial last year. If convicted of all the charges, he faces up to life in prison.

Every seat in the federal courtroom in Tampa was filled as the lawyers gave their closing arguments. Many of the seats were taken by Banton’s friends and fans, including well-known reggae artists Gramps Morgan and Wayne Wonder. During the lunch break, about a dozen supporters held hands and prayed for Banton in the court hallway.

“I’m fighting for my freedom,” said Banton, whose given name is Mark Myrie. “I’m fighting for my life.”

Banton is notorious for his strongly homophobic songs calling for the torture and murder of gay men — or “batty boys” as they are known in his native Jamaica. He came to Dallas in 2009 on tour to face a protest at his concert at the Deep Ellum reggae venue The Palm Beach Club.

—  Rich Lopez

Man Stabbed in Homophobic Attack Leaving Gay Bar in London

A man was stabbed twice in a homophobic attack in North London after leaving a pub on Valentine's Day.

Blackcap The London Daily News reports:

At approximately 02:15hrs, a man, aged 36 years, was assaulted near Camden Lock Bridge, Camden NW1. The victim had spent the evening with friends in The Black Cap. Shortly after leaving the venue with two friends, he was approached by a group of four men. One of the suspects asked the victim 'Are you gay?', and after being ignored the suspect walked off. Minutes later the suspect returned and stabbed the victim in his chest and leg.

The victim was taken to a Central London hospital where his condition is described as stable.

Although police believe this assault was a homophobic attack, it is being treated as an isolated incident. Additional police patrols are being conducted within the area by Safer Neighbourhoods officers. Police LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Liaison officers have visited local venues to reassure the LGBT community.

Four men in their early 20's are being sought by police.

Said Acting Sergeant Aaron Clarke, Camden Police LGBT Liaison Officer: "Attacks of this nature are, thankfully, rare but affect the whole community in which they take place. We are working alongside the investigation team and with our external partners to ensure that the concerns of the local and LGBT communities are addressed quickly. We are also providing constant support and advice to the victims."


Towleroad News #gay

—  David Taffet

Quote of the Day: Pat Carlson

Pat Carlson

“There is a continual effort by the homosexual community to push their agenda on the rest of us. The bottom line is they are trying to destroy traditional marriage as we know it in the country and make their lifestyle the norm. They make it seem that anybody who has a problem with it is homophobic.”

Pat Carlson, president of the Texas Eagle Forum, in a Star-Telegram article about marriage equality demonstrations on Valentine’s Day in Texas

—  John Wright

Colorado: officer resigns – posted hundreds of racist, homophobic comments on news sites on the job

It must be really difficult for someone to handle their own racism and homophobia that is so intense that you can’t think straight, as it were. A 13-year member of the Douglas County (Colorado) Sheriff’s office resigned for posting bigoted statements on public news sites while on duty and on a county computer.

Lt. Jeff Egnor resigned Tuesday after Douglas County officials confronted him about hundreds of postings on the 7NEWS website, www.thedenverchannel.com, and the KUSA-TV website, according to Undersheriff Tony Spurlock.

Posting under the screen name “Abu Mybutt“, Egnor commented on various stories from police shootings to the elimination of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that will let gay soldiers serve openly in the military. “New miltary slogans: The few, the queer, the Marines! Butt Rangers lead the way! Be as gay as you can be! Aim for a high hard one, Air Force! Join the Navy, see naked men!” Egnor posted on Dec. 20, 2010, misspelling military.

Two similar posts: “Now we have a new weapon against our enemies: the sissy slap! :-P ” and “I hear the Army is forming a new division: The Rump Rangers! :-D .” Egnor also made comments about religious figures and attacked liberals, saying Democrats are ruining the United States.

Egnor made it clear that he worked in government and when other readers of TheDenverChannel.com complained, 7NEWS filed an open records request to determine who was using the Douglas County Internet Provider address linked to the postings. After the 7NEWS request, Spurlock said superiors confronted Egnor Tuesday morning. He resigned that afternoon.

He also commented on stories about sports figures like the arrest of Parrish Cox for sex assault.

“Another member of the ‘thug’ culture that the NFL promotes. You can take the player out of the hood, but you can’t take the hood out of the player! Hey I’ve got a great idea, let’s take a gangbanger from the hood, throw millions of dollars at him, worship him as a god, kiss his butt night and day, let the media slober all over him! Then they are all suddenly shocked when the thug acts like a thug!”

I think this shows you that many news sites (that often times are not moderated), are  havens for some of the most, um, unbalanced extreme commenters, who like to hide under the cloak of anonymity. That this ass disclosed that he worked for the taxpayers in Douglas County, saved everyone the trouble of purging Abu Mybutt/former Lt. Jeff Egnor from the comments. For now. Abu can now look for work.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

Russian gay leader Alekseev coming to Dallas

Nikolai Alekseev

According to information I received this morning Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev is coming to the U.S. at the end of February for a short tour that will include a stop in Dallas. He will be in Dallas March 3-4, but speaking venues have not yet been finalized.

Alekseev is probably best known to Americans as the man who organized Moscow’s first gay Pride parade, which city officials then banned that year and each subsequent year, threatening organizers and marchers with arrest when they persist in marching anyway. Alekseev himself has been arrested several times, including once last year when he was taken from an airport as he was leaving for a visit to Switzerland and held for three days. He was released after a flood of international protests against what his supporters called a kidnapping.

One of his primary opponents in his activism has been Moscow’s rabidly homophobic former mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, who once called gay Pride marches “satanic.” Since Russian President Dmitri Medvedev fired Luzhkov last year, Alekseev and other activists hope that they will be able to hold a Pride march this year without threat of violence or arrest. Moscow’s gay Pride march this year is scheduled for May 28.

Alekseev has also been instrumental in organizing LGBT activists around Russia and in other countries, and has used the European court system to fight back against anti-gay oppression. Last year, Alekseev won the battle when the European Court issued a sweeping ruling in his favor.

Alekseev’s U.S. tour was organized by the Chicago-based Gay Liberation Network, and he will be accompanied by GLN’s Andy Thayer. Supporters hope the tour will raise Alekseev’s profile here in the U.S. and bring more international scrutiny to the plight of LGBT Russians, thereby providing even more protection for them by increasing international scrutiny on the way Russia treats its LGBT citizens and activists.

Watch Dallas Voice for an interview with Alekseev at the end of February.

—  admin

Did Scott Lively’s homophobic ‘nuclear bomb’ cause a death in Uganda?

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Photobucket Last week, anti-gay activist Scott Lively whined in a local Boston newspaper that he is being unfairly criticized for his stances against the lgbt community, including playing a huge role in the creation of the infamous “kill the gays” bill in Uganda.

After an incident in Uganda yesterday, he may want to keep his mouth shut:

An outspoken Ugandan gay activist whose picture recently appeared in an anti-gay newspaper under the headline “Hang Them” was beaten to death in his home, Ugandan police said on Thursday.

David Kato, the activist, was one of the most visible defenders of gay rights in a country so homophobic that government leaders have proposed to execute gay people. Mr. Kato and other gay people in Uganda had recently warned that their lives were endangered, and four months ago a local paper called Rolling Stone published a list of gay people, and Mr. Kato’s face was on the front page.

At press time, the police do not view Kato's murder as a hate crime, but a robbery. However some lgbt activists in Uganda disagree:

Gay activists . . . said Mr. Kato was singled out for his outspoken defense of gay rights. “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. Evangelicals in 2009,” said Val Kalende, the chairperson of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, in a statement. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood!”

Mrs. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals who held anti-gay rallies and church leaders who authored the anti-gay bill, which is still pending, attended those meetings and said that they had worked with the Americans on their bill.

One of the those activists was Scott Lively He even bragged that the 2009 visits created a “nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.”

Kato's death comes almost a month after the arrest of Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa on conspiracy charges. Ssempa, a chief pusher of the country's “Kill the Gays” bill and also for his penchant for showing “scat porn” in church is among eight people  who was either detained or sought after an “alleged conspiracy to injure the reputation of Pastor Robert Kayanja of Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral, Kampala.”

Ssempa and eight others had been charged with spreading rumors that Kayanja was gay, which is supposedly a common way to settle political scores in Uganda, but has deadlier implications since the controversy about the anti-gay bill.

The webpage Box Turtle Bulletin said the following:

David Kato was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name). Kato was one of three applicants who had been named by the tabloid under a headline tagged “Hang Them!” His photo appeared on the tabloid’s front cover.

LGBT Ugandans have lived under a menacing atmosphere for more than a decade. The anti-gay hysteria has increased significantly since the introduction of the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill into parliament in 2009. That bill, which remains under review Parliamentary committee, would impose the death penalty on LGBT Ugandans under certain circumstances and criminalize all advocacy by or on behalf of LGBT people. It would also criminalize even knowing someone who is gay if that person fails to report their LGBT loved one to police within 24 hours. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for February 18, and the bill is expected to be considered after Parliament returns for a lame-duck session before the new Parliament begins in May.

Now in all honesty, we do not know the truth behind Kato's murder at the present, so it may be unfair to blame Lively. Certainly he never told people to kill anyone. And according to him, he never agreed with the death penalty facet of the Ugandan anti-gay bill.

But he did fan the flames of hatred towards lgbts in Uganda and that's the funny thing about fanning flames.

They always get out of hand and sooner or later, someone gets burned.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Chris Brown’s Homophobic Twitter Feud

Singers Chris Brown and Raz-B trade antigay slurs in Twitter tirades.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Palm Springs Police Chief Apologizes For Homophobic Remarks

Yesterday, Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez publicly apologized for homophobic remarks he made during a sex sting operation that targeted gay men in that city.

David_dominguez Valley News reports on exactly what Dominguez was caught saying: "What a bunch of filthy mother (expletive). You guys should get paid extra for this."

According to court documents, Dominguez used the phrase "filthy motherfuckers” while another officer involved in the sting was overheard using the slur "cocksuckers."

It took Dominguez a few months (and a couple of denials) but he has now apologized: "An inappropriate comment made by me did not display the utmost professional conduct expected from the chief of police and I sincerely apologize to the community at large."

The apology came only after City Manager David Ready released a memo to the Palm Springs City Council that criticizes the way in which the stings were conducted: “Portions of the operation were not conducted according to the professional standards that are expected of our Police Department. As a result, appropriate disciplinary and correction action has already been taken.”

Valley News provides more information about the findings: "In the city's report, Ready said police should have reached out to hoteliers, businesses and residents to warn them about the sting operation. He suggested the sting could have been done with surveillance instead of undercover decoys."

You may recall that the sting operation caused quite an stir among the city's gay community over the summer. The undercover operation targeted gay men involved in public sex and were charged under a harsh and unusual section of the Penal Code that would require them to register as sex offenders for life.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin