Feedback • 11.18.11

Double standard

Since the gay community and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation throw such fits when we feel we have been insulted or slighted (Wanda Sykes starring in a commercial chastising a group of teens using the term “so gay,” Blake Shelton coming under fire for anti-gay comments and most recently Brett Ratner resigning as producer of the Oscars for using the word “fag” in what was deemed a derogatory way), I am surprised and ultimately disappointed in the double standard the Dallas Voice borrows to do business their way.

In the article “Driver’s Seat” (Dallas Voice, Nov. 11), staff writer Rich Lopez actually quotes Drew Ginsburg as saying “Well, if you buy a SAAB, you’re retarded.”

First of all, I cannot believe he would use the quote and secondly, and more significantly, I cannot believe that a proofreader or the editor allowed this to go to print.

One would expect a certain level of professionalism, sensitivity, maturity and social responsibility to have prevented this from happening — not to mention human decency.

I hope others speak up about this, if only to raise awareness that the Voice needs to be more responsible and less hypocritical of what they don’t approve of, and ultimately take more caution in the future about what goes out the public. This is irresponsible journalism and further proof that Ginsberg is a jerk.

Geoffrey Bruce, via email

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—  Michael Stephens

Update on murder of Arkansas trans woman

St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May has said that while his department is waiting on lab reports to determine actual cause of death, trans woman Marcal Camero Tye — found dead early Tuesday near a rural highway outside of Forrest City, Ark. — appeared to have been shot in the head and then dragged by a car, according to WREG tv station out of Memphis.

WREG said Tye was 25, while other news outlets have said she was 24.

May also said he had reports that people nearby the scene had heard two gunshots in the area. Investigators have made plaster impressions of tire tracks at the scene that they hope will help them identify suspects in the murder.

Jennifer Bohannon, identified by WREG as a friend of Tye’s, said she had seen the victim just hours the shooting at her cousin’s house, and that Tye left there saying she was going home. Bohannon said Tye did not try to hide the fact that she was transgender, and Bohannon suggested Tye had been picked up by someone high on drugs and looking for sex, “And when they brought him down here they probably figured out, you know, noticed that he was a “dude” and probably took it from there and shot him and killed him.”

The first reports by WREG identified Tye as “a man wearing women’s clothes,” and used male pronouns to refer to her. However, after complaints by commenters online who suggested the station contact the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for guidelines on reporting on transgender people, the station’s  latest reports identify Tye as transgender, saying she was “born male, but lived as a woman.”

Even though WREG changed its language, other news outlets in Arkansas have not. The Daily World out of Helena, Ark., which identified Tye as a former Helena-West Helena resident, reposted WREG’s original story including the “man in a dress” language. KTHV in Little Rock identified Tye as a “transgender man” and used male pronouns in its online story. And The Republic in Columbus, Ind., posted a story online calling Tye “a man dressed in women’s clothing.”

 

—  admin

Trans woman murdered in Arkansas

WREG News Channel 3 out of Memphis, Tenn., has reported that trans woman Marcal Camero Tye was founded murdered near Forrest City, Ark. The murder is being investigated by Forrest

transgender murder victim
Marcal Camero Tye

City Police and by the St. Francis Sheriff’s Department.

The brief news report says that Tye had been shot and then dragged several hundred feet.

The report has also raised the ire of some activists, who in comments posted online, urged WREG to contact the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for guidance on how to properly report on transgender issues and individuals. The WREG report refers to Tye as a man wearing a dress and a wig and uses male pronouns. It closes with the statement: “People we talked to in Forrest City said Tye was always dressed as a woman, caused no trouble and was liked.”

Forrest City is located just off Interstate 40, between Little Rock, Ark., and Memphis. WREG reports say that Tye’s body was found on Hwy. 334, which, according to an online map, is just south and east of Forrest City.

—  admin

New Facebook statuses applauded by gay users

Civil union, domestic partnership added to relationship options

JOCELYN NOVECK  |  Associated Press

NEW YORK — Jay Lassiter is no longer “in a relationship.”

Let’s clarify that: Lassiter, a media adviser for political campaigns who lives in Cherry Hill, N.J., is still with his partner of nearly eight years, Greg Lehmkuho. But since Thursday, when Facebook expanded its romantic-status options, Lassiter’s profile there echoes his relationship’s legal status: “Domestic partnership.”

It may not be a life-altering change. After all, you can call yourself anything you want on a social network. And Facebook is merely that.

But, Lassiter notes: “I’m no different from all those other Facebook users whose identity is tied up with their Facebook pages, for better or for worse.”

And so, he says: “It’s high time. It’s an affirming gesture. It’s sort of one tiny step for gays, but a giant leap for gay rights.”

Facebook’s addition of civil unions and domestic partnerships to the list of relationships its users can pick from came after talks with gay rights organizations, including GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The social network has “sent a clear message in support of gay and lesbian couples to users across the globe,” said GLAAD’s president, Jarrett Barrios. “By acknowledging the relationships of countless loving and committed same-sex couples in the U.S. and abroad, Facebook has set a new standard of inclusion for social media.”

He added that the new status options, available to Facebook users in the U.S., Canada, Britain, France and Australia, will serve as an important reminder that legal marriage is not an option for gay couples in most states.

Only Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Washington, D.C. allow same-sex marriages. This week Hawaii becomes the seventh state to permit civil unions or similar legal recognition for gay couples.

Of course, there’s also a Facebook option to say “It’s complicated” — and that’s exactly how some users felt about the new changes. Because, for people both gay and straight, more options mean more decisions to make: What exactly is my relationship, and what should I call it?

“You go into a store and there are 27 kinds of soda, and sometimes it would be easier if there were just Coke and Pepsi,” explains Erik Rueter, who works in marketing at an educational nonprofit institution in Pittsburgh.

To Rueter, the essence of his relationship is crystal clear: He and his partner, Robb, will be together forever. “We complete each other’s sentences,” he says. “We’ll be sitting there in the nursing home, gumming up each other’s food, chasing each other in our wheelchairs.”

Two years ago, Rueter, 34, proposed to his partner on bended knee, despite the fact that in Pennsylvania they cannot marry. They’ve been engaged ever since, and that’s been his Facebook status — until Thursday, when he changed it to domestic partnership.

But Rueter is conflicted about the change.

“Part of me wants to go back to ‘engaged’ — because I still am,” he says. “Part of me wants to say ‘married,’ as in, ‘I don’t care what the law says.’ And part of me says, ‘It’s just Facebook!”’

And then ANOTHER part of Rueter tells him just how powerful and influential Facebook is, with well over 500 million users across the globe. “Just having the option to say, ‘This is what my relationship is’ is a really good thing,” he says.

It can be a good thing for some straight Facebook users, as well. Michael Stimson, a Scot who lives in Marseille, France, is not married to his partner, Izzy (short for Isabelle), but they live together and have a young son. He’s just changed his status from blank to domestic partnership.

For Stimson, it helps to clarify to other users with whom he’s chatting that he is not, well, available. “People do flirt with you on the Internet,” he says. “I like to put them in the picture a wee bit, so there’s no confusion.”

Izzy approves of his decision. “Most people that you speak with on Facebook are people you don’t know,” she says, speaking in French from home in Marseille. “This makes things more clear.”

Of course, there are no political overtones to the couple’s change in status. In the United States, though, there is a passionate debate over gay marriage. Lassiter, the campaign adviser from New Jersey, changed his status from “in a relationship” to “married” last year in an act of political defiance, he says, when the state legislature rejected a bid to recognize gay marriage.

But it just didn’t feel right, and he changed it back to “in a relationship” months later. Besides the fact that “married” wasn’t accurate, “I’m not really the marrying type,” he says. “Me and my partner have an equilibrium as things are.”

But “in a relationship” made it sound like a high-school relationship, rather than one that’s lasted a number of years.

So the new status feels better, says Lassiter. And he’s been encouraged by the positive feedback he’s gotten on just the first day from Facebook friends — including people from as far back as high school — giving him a thumbs-up.

Lassiter also thinks the change is most important for gay people — especially younger ones — living in areas of the country where their sexual orientation is less accepted than in the liberal Northeast.

“For those people, it legitimizes being in a gay relationship,” he says.

And so, maybe a social network can be something of an agent of social change.

After all, Lassiter says, “As Facebook goes, so goes the world.”

—  John Wright

Facebook adds civil unions, domestic partnerships to relationship status options

Props to Facebook peeps. The word is spreading about their updates to the relationship status field. The HuffPo posted earlier that “civil union” and “domestic partner” are now listed under the field as options and are being rolled out as we speak.

The changes were made in consultation with Facebook’s Network of Support, a group that includes LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender] organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, and the Human Rights Campaign.

“As LGBT people face a pathwork of relationship recognition laws, this gives people more tools to adequately describe their relationship,” said Michael Cole, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. “Facebook has been a company that has tried to be inclusive of the LGBT community and this just one sign of it.”

Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters and former gay rights advisor to president Bill Clinton, echoed Coles’ praise.

from Huffington Post

—  Rich Lopez

Ricky Martin becomes a hero for Latino gays

SIGAL RATNER-ARIAS | Associated Press

NEW YORK — It’s been almost a year since Ricky Martin announced to the world he was gay, but among many gay Latinos, a community that has lived in obscurity for fear of harassment or rejection, his message is still making an impact.

“Today I ACCEPT MY HOMOSEXUALITY as a gift that gives me life,” Martin wrote last March in an open letter to his fans, after refusing to speak about his sexual orientation for years. “I feel blessed to be who I am!”

“By hiding, he validated millions of closeted gays’ that homosexuality is not honorable,” Daniel Shoer Roth, a Venezuelan columnist of the Miami Herald who is gay, told The Associated Press recently.

“In the gay community we have always known that Ricky Martin is one of us,” he added. “Because he is an idol, Ricky has paved the way so these gays now say, ‘If he could do it, so can I.”’

The revelation of the Puerto Rican singer and activist, whose album Music+Soul+Sex came out last week, has had positive effects for the Latino gay community and the society in general, according to advocates for the gay, lesbian and transgender community.

“The example of Ricky Martin as citizen of the world, humanitarian, father, intelligent person, is a good example for those who have obvious stereotypes and also for those who don’t have prejudice but have ideas that may act as barriers in the lives of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT),” said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). “Ideas like ‘a gay man is good to water my flowers at home but not for business’ limit the opportunities for the LGBT community.”

Pedro Julio Serrano, communications manager of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, says that “when Ricky made the announcement the tectonic plates moved, it was almost like an earthquake.”

“It was one of the most important news in the fight for equality that the Latino LGBT community leads. It touches the hearts and opens the minds of many people,” said Serrano, who became a friend of the artist after his announcement.

Ricardo Torres, a Mexican man who was raised in Texas and lives in Chicago, was in the audience when Oprah Winfrey interviewed Martin last year. He thanked Martin, saying that his revelation was good for his own relationship with his mother.

“For the first time my mother asked me personal questions. For almost 20 years she has known that I am gay but she never asked anything … she told me not to tell anyone else in my family. It was a secret … a big taboo,” Torres, 38, told the AP.

“Everything changed after Ricky came out of the closet,” he added. “Like someone in our family came out and by doing so gave us the right to live more openly.”

And the audience in general seems to support Martin.

Me, which came out Nov. 2, was a New York Times best-seller and its Spanish edition, Yo, reached No. 1 biography in the United States. His single “Lo mejor de mi vida eres tu,” released the same week of the book, was at the top of Billboard’s Latin Pop Songs chart (English version “The Best Thing About Me Is You” debuted on Oprah and was officially released on Feb. 1.)

“If in Puerto Rico people used to love him, now they love him even more,” said Serrano, who recounted that during Martin’s first public appearance post-announcement, in April at the Latin Billboard Awards, the singer not only received a standing ovation in the theater but a multitudinous cheer from the people on the streets.

“That says a lot about the welcoming and I think demonstrates the reality of our society,” he said. “Even though we still have to fight a lot of homophobia, there is much more acceptance today.”

According to statistics published online by The Trevor Project, a help-line for LGBT teenagers who may be contemplating suicide, LGBT youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers; more than one third have attempted taking their own lives and those in highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

Torres considers that “one of the biggest positive effects (of Ricky’s coming out) is that Latino teenagers that are struggling with their sexuality have an example to follow.”

“Ricky gives hope to thousands of teens that are recognizing their sexual orientation or their gender identity and this tells them that even when there is homophobia and lack of acceptance, they can get to be whatever they want to be,” Serrano concluded. “I believe that with his story he is saving lives, and for me that is crucial, it is wonderful.”

—  John Wright

Cox named to board of Women’s Foundation

Cece Cox

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

Cece Cox, executive director of Resource Center Dallas, has been named to a three-year term on the board of directors of the Dallas Women’s Foundation.

The appointment is effective Feb. 1.

The foundation, established in 1985, focuses on women’s philanthropy, grant making and gender-specific research. It has given more than $13 million to more than 950 organizations, with a net impact on more than a quarter-million women and girls primarily in Dallas, Denton and Collin counties.

The foundation is part of a global network of 145 womens’ foundations on six continents.

Cox became executive director of RCD in July, 2010, after about three years as the center’s associate executive director for GLBT community services. As associated executive director, Cox was directly responsible for creating and maintaining programs at the center.

She has also worked with and/or supported the Turtle Creek Chorale, Legal Hospice of Texas, Youth First Texas and the regional office of Lambda Legal.

Cox is a former president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and a former co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation/Dallas. She serves on the advisory board for both the Black Tie Dinner and SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development. In 1999, Cox received the Kuchling Humanitarian Award from the Black Tie Dinner.

Cox is an alumna of both Leadership Dallas and Leadership Lambda, a former board member of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Issues Law Section for the State Bar of Texas, and an attorney licensed in the state of Texas. Prior to joining RCD, Cox was an attorney focused on commercial litigation, bankruptcy, municipal law and commercial transactions. She is a volunteer attorney for Legal Hospice of Texas.

Cox earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and a law degree from SMU. She is the mother of a 12-year-old son and the partner of Judge Barbara J. Houser.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 28, 2011.

—  John Wright

Top 10: Controversy brewed success for ‘TOTWK’

TOTWK
UNDER ATTACK | Director Israel Luna, center, is shown with Jenna Skyy, left, and Krystal Summers, two of the stars of his ‘Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives.’

No. 6:

View all of the Top 10

Gay Dallas filmmaker Israel Luna has been building his reputation behind the camera since he wrote and directed his first feature film, Str8 Up, in 2001. His subsequent films — including The Deadbeat Club, RU Invited and Fright Flick — secured his place in the Dallas filmmaking community and made him a regular on the independent film festival circuit.

But it wasn’t until the early part 2010 and the release of his latest, the “transploitation” flick Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives, that Luna got a taste of the kind of fame that filmmakers long for. And it was due, in large part, to the protests of an angry transgender activist with nothing good to say about either Luna or his movie.

If Luna wanted attention, he got it, especially from local trans activist Kelli Busey, who at first protested the use of the word “trannies” — a word considered by many to be a pejorative term for trans women — but soon expanded her objections to include the movie’s content, which includes have trans women who have been bashed taking their revenge in a most brutal fashion.
Busey, who acknowledged never having watched the movie and refused Luna’s invitations to attend a screening, said the film painted trans women as psychotic killers who all have silly names, engage in campy dialog and work as “drag” performers. She said the film’s transphobic attitude was a reflection of Luna’s — and many gay men’s — own transphobia.

When, in mid-March, Luna announced that TOTWK had been chosen for the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival in New York, Busey turned to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for help in spreading protests against the film. GLAAD soon called for a boycott of Luna’s movie, and called on officials with TriBeCa to rescind their invitation.

TriBeCa officials responded with a reasonably polite but thoroughly firm “no” to GLAAD’s demands, and screenings of TOTWK at the festival not only drew sell-out crowds but received, for the most part, positive reviews — despite protests staged outside the screenings by transgender activists.

In June, Fort Worth’s Q Cinema film fest also screened TOTWK, and again, the movie drew protesters, this time led by Busey herself.

Yet again, though, the screenings sold out, and Q Cinema organizers put together a panel discussion of trans issues after one of them.

The panel included Fort Worth trans woman Tori Van Fleet who had initially agreed with Busey and was opposed to the movie.

Van Fleet, however, agreed to watch the movie before forming an opinion, and she came out of the first Q Cinema screening as a fan of both TOTWK and filmmaker Luna.

Luna’s movie went on to win spots in numerous festivals — including Seattle International Film Festival, Philadelphia Q Fest and Telluride Horror Shows — and audience favorite awards at many of those screenings.

As icing on the cake, in late July Luna reached a distribution deal with Breaking Glass Pictures that put the film on even more big screens through a limited theatrical run of midnight screenings that began in October, and a DVD release in November.

Earlier in the year, Busey turned her attention to an eventually successful effort to convince Dallas Area Rapid Transit to extend protections to its transgender workers, and she continues her trans advocacy online.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

GLAAD marks 25 years

DERRIK J. LANG | AP Entertainment Writer

LOS ANGELES — The gay advocacy group GLAAD is happy to be turning 25 years old.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation celebrated its anniversary Friday night, Dec. 3, with a swanky cocktail party at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Los Angeles. Chaz Bono, Jean Smart, Amber Heard and Ed Begley Jr. were among the celebrity attendees who toasted the group, which focuses on how lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks are presented in the media.

“We’ve made great progress in these media capitals,” said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD. “Beyond Hollywood, beyond New York, between these blue states, right at this nation’s red center, we have miles to go. How far do we still have to go to ensure that an environment of respect exists for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people?”

GLAAD was first formed in 1985 in New York to protest the New York Post’s coverage of AIDS. The organization went on to push for several changes throughout the media, such as the inclusion of a same-sex couple on the viewer-voted wedding contest on NBC’s Today show and modifications to how gays are referred to in The Associated Press Stylebook.

The group now annually holds the GLAAD Media Awards, which actor Steven Weber called the “gayer Oscars,” and releases the “Where We Are on TV” report, which tracks LGBT characters on network shows. This year’s report found that there were 23 gay and bisexual characters on scripted network TV out of a total of 600, up 3 percent from last season.

“The steady stream of negative portrayals and censorship of gay and lesbian lives on film and in television has given way to much more realistic and life-affirming depictions, such as this year’s The Kids Are All Right and TV’s Glee,” said Richard Jennings, a former president of GLAAD who received the first-ever Founders’ Award at the event.

Throughout the ceremony, attendees heard from former GLAAD board members, watched video montages of hallmark moments from the organization’s past 25 years — such as when Ellen DeGeneres’ character revealed she was a lesbian on her ABC TV comedy series in 1997 — and hissed at mentions of opponents of gay rights initiatives — such as Anita Bryant, Laura Schlessinger and Mel Gibson.

Jonathan Murray, co-creator of MTV’s The Real World, the long-running cable TV reality series that regularly includes gay and lesbian cast members, was bestowed with the Pioneer Award, given to a person or organization who significantly contributes to raising LGBT visibility in the media. Murray admitted the series never received much criticism.

“I think it’s because it was real,” he said. “How can you argue with something that’s real?”

—  John Wright

NFL analyst Dan Hampton to apologize on the air to the gays — but probably not the Cowboys

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reports that “Pro Football Weekly” co-host Dan Hampton is set to apologize on the air this week for a homophobic comment he made last week, when he said the Dallas Cowboys are more “Brokeback” than “Eastwood.” Hampton apologized Monday night for another offensive comment, in which he suggested that the Minnesota Vikings need to “hit that town like Katrina” when they play the New Orleans Saints on Thursday. From GLAAD’s blog:

Hampton publicly apologized for the Katrina gaffe, but has not yet addressed the Brokeback comment. Pro Football Weekly publisher Hub Arkush told GLAAD that Hampton will be leading this weekend’s show with an on-air apology for both statements. Arkush said “it shouldn’t have happened” and assured GLAAD that similar incidents will not happen again.

No word on whether Hampton plans to apologize to the Cowboys, who undoubtedly will perpetuate the homophobia by using his comment as bulletin-board material.

—  John Wright