Uptown Players adds Dan Savage to Pride Fest

Dan Savage for Intiman by LaRae Lobdell | PhotoSister.comUptown Players has added queer advice/sex columnist Dan Savage’s one-man show Savage Love Live to the lineup of its fourth annual Pride Performing Arts Festival, which runs in September. In addition to his column and books, Savage is best known as co-founder of the It Gets Better Project.

UP had already announced several of the shows, but today came out with the full schedule, which adds Savage and Steven Jay Crabtree’s Dysfunctional Divas.

Opening the festival on the Kalita Humphreys mainstage will be the concert version of The Last Session, a revival of a show first produced in UP’s inaugural season. It will kick off the fest Sept. 12 at 8 p.m. Savage Love Live will bring up the rear, closing the festival on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m.

Here’s a list of the rest of the shows, including performance dates. You can get more information and purchase tickets here.

Mythical Beastie. Former college roommates Mark (a gay architect) and Greg (his straight friend) find themselves living together again after years of estrangement. Greg, a serial womanizer, invites his latest crush Wendy home to meet his best friend and to make an announcement that throws everyone and everything into a tailspin. Written by local playwright Bruce R. Coleman. Performances: Sept. 13 at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m., Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 2 p.m.

From White PlainsA 2013 Off-Broadway hit, it  follows four men, straight and gay, as they attempt to take responsibility for past actions and move beyond them, aided and frustrated by celebrity, social media and viral videos. The play examines how male relationships change as boys grow into men and asks who speaks for a victim of bullying when he is no longer here to speak for himself. Performances: Sept. 13 at 3:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 2 p.m., Sept. 19 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 4:30 p.m.

CommencingThe beautiful Kelli can’t wait for the blind date her friends have set her up on, until it turns out to be one very disappointed lesbian named Arlin. Mutually appalled, yet appallingly intrigued, they proceed to pull the screws loose on both straight and gay women’s culture, to find the common ground beneath in the search for love and self. Performances: Sept. 13 at 2 p.m., Sept. 15 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Falling Man. This play examines the lives of a diverse group of gay men from various backgrounds. Join Brandon Simmons in a tour-de-force performance as we meet a former drag queen, a young hustler who is taken over by the spirit of Tennessee Williams, the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer, and a former cha-cha champion who just wants to be remembered. Performances: Sept. 13 at 8 p.m., Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. and Sept. 18 at 8 p.m.

Dysfunctional Divas. Steven Jay Crabtree presents yet another evening in the lives of his outrageous characters: the drama queen of lip-sync, Trayla Park; the superhero, Warrior Woman; the bombastic screen vixen, Martini Glass; plus other of Steven’s weird, wigged alter egos! Crabtree switches from boy to girl and boots to heels while playing his collection of kooky characters.  Rated R for adult language and humor. Performances: Sept. 13 at 9:30 p.m., Sept. 14 at 4 p.m. and Sept. 17 at 8 p.m.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Frank Librio resigns his post as Dallas spokesman, takes CVB job

Frank Librio, shown here in the city's 'It Gets Better' video last year.

Frank Librio, shown here in the city’s ‘It Gets Better’ video last year.

City of Dallas spokesman Frank Librio has resigned from his role as managing director of the Public Information Office to become the Convention and Visitors Bureau’s vice president of communications.

Librio, who’s openly gay, has worked for the city for nearly a decade and was instrumental last year in the making of an “It Gets Better” video, which featured more than a dozen city employees including himself. His last day is March 21.

In his resignation letter, Librio called his new role a “dream job” where he’ll “continue to help promote our great city.”

“I have worked with so many smart and talented employees — all working together to make our city better,” he wrote in the letter. “I will look back on my time at City Hall fondly and with great pride and gratitude.”

Read his letter below.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Texas state legislators tell LGBT youth, ‘It Gets Better’

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Several LGBT allies in the state Legislature have teamed up to make a two-part “It Gets Better” video to encourage queer youth that even in Texas, times are changing.

Lawmakers featured in the video are Rep. Mary Gonzalez, Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, Sen. Wendy Davis, Rep. Mark Strama, Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, Rep. Rafael Anchia, Rep. Senfronia Thompson, Sen. Kirk Watson, Sen. Royce West, Rep. Chris Turner, Sen. Jose Rodriguez, Rep. Garnet Coleman, Sen. John Whitmire, Rep. Donna Howard, Rep. Justin Rodriguez, Rep. Gene Wu, and Sen. Sylvia Garcia.

The video was made in memory of Asher Brown, a gay Houston teen who committed suicide after being bullied. It was produced by Omar Araiza and Brianna Roberts, with filming and editing by Nathan Burkhart.

Araiza said coming out to his family at 16 was the hardest thing for him because many people in his life has homophobic beliefs. But things changed and he made it through the dark times when he wanted to end his life.

Now, he said he has hope because of the changing attitudes across the state, which was reflected by the strong support for LGBT issues in this year’s legislative session with a record number of pro-LGBT bills filed.

“This change in conversation needs to be made visible to LGBT youth who believe they are alone,” Araiza said. “Because they are supported and cared for by many. These videos are proof that in Texas, we have brave elected leaders willing to stand and support what many call today’s civil rights movement. While Texas may not be on the forefront of civil rights, change experienced here is a sign that full LGBT rights are inevitable.

“Things will continue to get better. We will all make it better.”

Watch the videos below.

—  Dallasvoice

WATCH: Brittney Griner is ‘6-8 walking proof’ that it really does get better

Brittney Griner

Brittney Griner

Former Baylor basketball player Brittney Griner came out several weeks ago with little attention, but she’s already using her announcement to speak to LGBT youth in an “It Gets Better” video.

In the video, Griner talks about being different growing up and being teased because of it, but she says she’s “6-8 walking proof” that things get better.

“As somebody that grew up taller than everybody, a little bit different than everybody, always voiced my opinion on my sexuality and who I was as an individual,” she said. “I got teased. With big hands, a little deeper voice, big feet. … It was hard growing up but you have to find an outlet. Basketball was my outlet.”

Griner, the WNBA No. 1 Draft pick, wrote about her coming out experience to her family as a teen in The New York Times yesterday. She addresses that while she didn’t feel the need to come out publicly until recently, being gay doesn’t define her any more than being a basketball star defines her.

In the NYT piece, she expresses her pride in Jason Collins for becoming the first male pro-athlete to come out while still playing. But she doesn’t address the lack of attention she received when she came out compared to the media firestorm surrounding Collins’ announcement.

Collins was praised for his trailblazing declaration last week by national media. When Griner came out a few weeks before, people barely blinked, and only sports media covered it.

While female athletes are often assumed to be gay — especially if they are masculine — Griner certainly isn’t the first to come out. Tennis players Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova led the way in the ’80s. And major male sports have always attracted larger audiences and have been plagued with more homophobia.

Still, that’s no excuse.

When the No. 1 Draft pick in any sport comes out, it’s news. And it’s rude to assume masculine women athletes are lesbians. It’s just as offensive to assume a gay male athlete must retire before coming out.

But just as Collins broke the mold by coming out and still continuing his career, he’s set the pace for more male athletes to be true to themselves and come out still playing. That’s where I agree with Griner in her NYT piece. I, too, am “more optimistic than ever that people are ready” for more gay athletes to come out.

Watch the video below.

—  Dallasvoice

13 LGBT Dallas employees honored for participating in ‘It Gets Better’ video

ItGetsBetter

City employees who took part in an It Gets Better video with council members and video funders Ed Oakley and Greg Kilhoffer.

Dallas City Councilwoman Delia Jasso honored 13 LGBT city employees who participated in the city of Dallas “It Gets Better” video at a council briefing this morning.

Jasso said what the employees did was truly special.

“They sat in front of a movie camera and told stories of being picked on and bullied at school and losing family and friends,” Jasso said.

She said she was proud this video that has been viewed more than 3,000 times. She also thanked former Councilman Ed Oakley and Caven Enterprises President Greg Kilhoffer for providing the funding.

“To make the video happen quickly took money,” Jasso said.

Oakley described the 13 participants as people you work with everyday who revealed part of their life you don’t know about. He said he hoped the video would inspire LGBT youth to know they could serve on City Council or run for mayor.

He said some of the people in the video he worked with everyday when he served on the council and didn’t know they were part of the community.

Mayor Mike Rawlings concluded the presentation.

“I love our LGBT community,” Rawlings said.

—  David Taffet

Delia Jasso to recognize employees featured in city’s ‘It Gets Better’ video

Councilwoman Delia Jasso addresses an audience of  about 80 people at the LGBT Pride month kick-off Wednesday in the Flag Room at City Hall. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Councilwoman Delia Jasso at Dallas City Hall

Councilwoman Delia Jasso will recognize Dallas city employees who participated in the city’s “It Gets Better” video released in January at the council briefing tomorrow.

The video includes 13 LGBT city employees who told their coming out and bullying experiences. They talk about challenges they faced, hoping to inspire others who are struggling with their identity. Also featured are Mayor Mike Rawlings and City Manager Mary Suhm.

The video is part of the It Gets Better Project, whose mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that their situations will get better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.

At tomorrow’s council briefing, Councilwoman Delia Jasso will recognize the city employees who participated, as well as Ed Oakley, Gregg Kilhoffer and Caven Enterprises, who funded the video’s production.

The meeting takes place at Dallas City Hall, Council Briefing Room – 6ES, 1500 Marilla St. tomorrow at 9 a.m.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Mayor Mike Rawlings says ‘baloney,’ I say ‘malarkey’

When CW33′s Doug Magditch said he wanted to talk about Mayor Mike Rawlings and the city of Dallas’ “It Gets Better” video on this week’s “The Gay Agenda,” I was happy to oblige him.

That’s because I’m among those who feel pretty strongly that Rawlings recent appearance in the “It Gets Better” video is no substitute whatsoever for supporting the LGBT community in other ways — including signing a pledge in support of marriage equality and backing two pro-LGBT resolutions introduced by Councilman Scott Griggs.

In fact, Rawlings has said repeatedly since he refused to sign the Freedom to Marry pledge almost exactly one year ago that he wants to focus on substantive things he can do to support the LGBT community, not symbolic ones. But it doesn’t get much more symbolic than an “It Gets Better” video, which also ultimately sends a mixed message to LGBT youth.

LGBT youth commit suicide in part because they are constantly told by society that they are less than equal — including that they can’t get married. So when the mayor of Dallas refuses to sign a pledge in support of marriage equality, it reinforces that message — and thus the mixed one.

Don’t get me wrong: City leaders and especially gay employees deserve credit for the “It Gets Better” video, which is a powerful statement. But if Rawlings thinks he’s going to win over LGBT voters in 2015 by merely appearing in this video and at gay Pride, I think he’s sorely mistaken.

To make matters worse, a few days after the IGB video was released, Rawlings stood at a press conference and said pledges like the ones he’s been asked to sign on gun control and marriage equality are “baloney.” Really? Standing up for civil rights is baloney? I think that’s malarkey, which is what I told Magditch. And you can watch it below.

—  John Wright

Rangers record anti-bullying PSAs — without telling gay youth ‘It Gets Better’

In my post the other day about a homophobic tweet sent from Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland’s account, I mentioned that a team official told Instant Tea last year that the Rangers would consider filming an “It Gets Better” video, but they never did.

This week we again reached out to the official, Rangers executive vice president for communications John Blake, who responded by pointing out that three Rangers players did in fact record anti-bullying PSAs as part of a campaign unveiled last month.

“These PSAs and the pledge campaign have been very well received in school systems throughout the area and the state of Texas,” Blake said in an email.

Rangers players Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, and Michael Young filmed the PSAs, which can be viewed here.

“The public service announcements were created in August and are currently being distributed to school districts in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex for their use,” according to a press release. “Murphy and Young taped the messages in English while Andrus filmed a Spanish version.

“The Rangers are encouraging all students 14 years of age and older to make an anti-bullying pledge for this school year at texasrangers.com/stopbullying,” the release states. “All students who make this pledge can download a special full color anti-bullying poster of Elvis Andrus, David Murphy, and Michael Young. Students can also share the pledge with their friends through Facebook and Twitter. The PSA’s will also be distributed to local media outlets and are available for viewing online at texasrangers.com/stopbullying.”

I suppose this is better than nothing, but I can’t help but wonder why the Rangers wouldn’t simply join all of the other MLB teams that have filmed “It Gets Better” videos — which are, of course, specifically geared toward LGBT teens. Here’s the response to that question I got from Blake:

“The aim of our campaign is to deliver a message that all forms of bullying are abhorrent,” Blake said. “We wanted to reach the widest possible audience and encourage students all across the Dallas/Fort Worth area to take a stand against all forms of bullying.”

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gay BYU students say “It Gets Better”

As I’ve mentioned from time to time (but try my best to forget), I lived in Utah for three years just prior to moving to Dallas in early 2006. Two of those years were spent in Logan, a very heavily Mormon area two hours north of Salt Lake City that’s home to Utah State University. Logan was a college town, but with only three bars, and USU — though public and not affiliated with the LDS church — was commonly referred to as “BYU 2.” It’s probably because of this experience that I consider this to be the most astonishing “It Gets Better” video I’ve seen yet (sorry, Joel). Watch it below.

—  John Wright