The Gay Agenda • 10-28-16



­­­Have an event coming up? Email your information to Managing Editor Tammye Nash at or Senior Staff Writer David Taffet at by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for that week’s issue.

• Weekly: Lambda Weekly every Sunday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM; United Black Ellument hosts discussion on HIV/AIDS in the black community (UBE Connected) at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month at 3116 Commerce St., Suite C; Core Group Meeting every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; Fuse game night every Monday evening except the last of the month at 8 p.m. at the Fuse space in the Treymore Building, 4038 Lemmon Ave, Suite 101; FuseConnect every Wednesday from 7 p.m. For more information call or e-mail Jalenzski at 214-760-9718 ext 3 or

• Through Oct. 29: Screams
Three haunted houses, Carnevil, clown maze and zombie wasteland. 7:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights at Scarborough Faire site, Waxahachie.

• Oct. 29: Halloween Party on Cedar Springs Road
Cedar Springs Road closes between Reagan Street and Douglas Avenue for the annual Halloween street party from 7 p.m.-midnight.

• Oct. 29: Bayou Swing Masquerade
The Women’s Chorus of Dallas presents live swing band, dancing, silent auction, costume contest and more at 7 p.m. at Sammons Center of the Arts, 3630 Harry Hines Blvd.

• Oct 29: Celebration Costume Party
Costume Party from 7-10 p.m. at Celebration Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth.

• Oct. 29: Viva’s Lounge Costume contest
$500 in cash prizes and burlesque, circus and aerial entertainment. 9 p.m. at Viva’s Lounge, 1350 Manufacturing St. Suite 120. $20 for 18-21. $10 for 21 and up.

• Oct. 29: Lowest Greenville Derby
Teams of local runners compete to benefit Genesis Women’s Shelter from 2:45-7:30 p.m. on Lowest Greenville Avenue.

• Oct. 29: Dallas Marijuana March
DFW NORML presents the third annual march from 2-6:30 p.m. at JFK Memorial, 646 Main St. with speakers at 3 p.m. and a march to Dealey Plaza at 4:20 p.m.

• Oct. 30: Puppy Con 2.0
Petropolitan presents comic book vendors, pet rescues, merchandise and a costume contest from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Main Street Gardens, 1902 Main St.

• Oct. 30: Autumn Psychic and Holistic Fair
The Labrinth Walk Coffee House presents a shaman, tarot card readers, aura photography, vendors and more from 3-6 p.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 W. Kiest Blvd.

• Oct. 31: Halloween

• Nov. 1: Holocaust Museum Lunch and Learn
Dallas Holocaust Museum archivist Felicia Williamson discusses some of the most significant and interesting artifacts from the museum’s collection from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 N. Record St. #100.

• Nov. 4: Cedra Pharmacy Grand Opening
Cedra Pharmacy, a substance organic juicery and Vitae Med spa at 9669 North Central Expressway, holds the grand opening of its flagship location honoring The Family Place, from 4-7 p.m. For information email

• Nov. 5: The Sands
AIDS Interfaith Network presents a retro nightclub experience with open bar, live music, dancing and hors d’oeuvres from
9 p.m.-midnight at 2616 Commerce Event Center, 2616 Commerce St. $75-5,000.

• Nov. 6: PurpleStride DFW
Pancreatic Cancer Action Network 5K walk at 8 a.m. at the Deck Park, 2012 Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

• Nov. 8: Election Day

• Nov. 10: Black Tie Check Distribution Party
Black Tie Dinner check distribution party.

• Nov. 10: Gray Pride
6 p.m. at Resource Center,
5750 Cedar Springs Road.

• Nov. 10: DIFFA/Dallas Wreath Collection 2016
DIFFA/Dallas hosts the 2016 Wreath Collection, the 21st annual event, at Fashion Industry Gallery, 1807 Ross Ave., at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person and cocktail attire is requested. The event includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction of more than 80 one-of-a-kind wreaths

• Nov. 11: High Tech Happy Hour
High Tech Happy Hour, a monthly happy hour social event organized for the community by the TI Pride Network, is held at Mac’s Southside, 1701 Lamar St., from 5:30-7:30 p.m. For information call 214-567-0592.

• Nov. 11-13: Strength Conference for Men Living with HIV
AIDS Walk South Dallas presents a weekend of support, empowerment and education. Seminars, speakers, breakout sessions, build skills and leadership. Embassy Suites Dallas–Love Field, 3800 W. Northwest Highway.

• Nov. 12: LGBT Aging Summit, film screening
Coalition for Aging LGBT presents first Tarrant County summit from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at UNT Health Science Center, Carl E. Everett Education and Administration Bldg, 3500 Camp Bowie Blvd, Fort Worth. At 3:30 p.m., the coalition teams with Q Cinema and the city of Fort Worth Human Relations Committee to host a screening of the documentary GenSilent. Admission is free.

• Nov. 12: Turtle Creek Cleanup
Turtle Creek Association will provide trash bags and pickers. Volunteers should wear no-slip shoes. Meet at the foot of Beasley Steps on Hall Street at the Katy Trail. 214-400-8546.

• Nov. 17: Dallas Holocaust Museum Upstander Series
The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance completes its 2016 Upstander Speaker Series with a presentation by Mike Kim, author of Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country, talking about his efforts in helping refugees escape North Korea. The event takes place at the Communities Foundation of Texas, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane, with a VIP reception at 5:30 p.m., and the event from 6:30-7:30 p.m. For information call 214-741-7500.

•Nov. 17: Dallas LGBT Bar Association
Transferring real estate outside a closing may involve gift tax, marital estate and other problems. Noon at the Belo Mansion, 2101 Ross Ave.

• Nov. 17: GALA Ally Awards
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance of North Texas presents an evening to honor LGBT allies including Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and four city council members from 5:30-8 p.m. at Hilton Granite Park Prairie Fire Lounge, 5805 Granite Pkwy, Plano.

• Nov. 19: Nutcracker Gaybingo
Monthly fundraiser for Resource Center takes place 6-9 p.m. the third Saturday of the month at Rose Room at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. Doors open at 5 p.m. For more information, call 214-540-4458 or email

• Nov. 20: Transgender Day of Awareness

• Dec. 1: World AIDS Day

• Dec. 2: AIDS Arms 30th Anniversary celebration
Cathedral of Hope, 5901 Cedar Springs Road.

• Dec. 10: Super Hero Ball
Holiday party from 7-10 p.m. at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth.

• Dec. 24: Chinese food and a movie
Congregation Beth El Binah has a traditional Jewish Christmas Eve dinner at 7 p.m. at Thairrific, 4000 Cedar Springs Road.

• Dec. 25: Christmas




It’s Halloween weekend and the gayborhood on both sides of the Trinity River — that means in Dallas and in Fort Worth — will be abuzz with some spooky fun. Check the listings for Halloween-related events, including costume parties and the Cedar Springs Block Party, and choose your poison.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Pet of the Week • 10-28-16


Duke is a rottweiler mix, just under three years old, available for adoption at the Chuck Silcox Animal Care & Control Center, 4900 Martin St. He is a handsome black-and-brown boy of medium six. All animals at the city of Fort Worth Adoption Centers have had health and temperament assessments and have been deemed adoptable by a licensed veterinarian. Every animal has been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and licensed by the city. The cost to adopt a dog is $49. For information, visit, or call 817-392-1234. The center is open from noon to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

This time it’s different

leslie-mcmurrayI did something this week I’ve done dozens of times before in my life: I voted. The process wasn’t dissimilar from the many other times I’ve cast a ballot. This time it was electronic instead of on paper, but it was pretty straightforward.

I participated in early voting this year. I like taking advantage of voting when it’s convenient. There was a line at the Carrollton Library on Keller Springs, but it moved quickly.

After selecting my choices for president and in the down-ballot races, I made sure that everything looked right and confirmed my choices. I walked out of the polling place, got into my car and burst into tears.

That’s never happened before.

Sure, I feel very strongly about participating in the Democratic process. Yes, I wonder whether one vote really matters sometimes, and while I’ve come to the conclusion that while one vote rarely if ever actually decides an election, every last vote matters.

But tears? Really? What was that about?

I’m not alone in this reaction, either. I was surprised to see so many women I’m friends with having the same reaction of post-vote waterworks.

For a lot of reasons, this election feels different. It’s like more is riding on it than ever before. And for me, there is!

I believe for the most part, people tend to vote their own self-interest. And as a transgender woman, I’ve begun to feel like a deer at a hunting lodge.

As we speak, the Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, has filed a lawsuit that would permit doctors to use religious grounds to deny me healthcare. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan

Patrick is proposing a law to keep me from using the bathroom. And we have a nominee for president that would, if elected, nominate justices for the Supreme Court that would clear the way to try to legislate people like me out of existence.

This election could swing the U.S. Supreme Court in a way that could overturn Citizens United, protect Roe v. Wade and the Obergefell marriage equality decision, and quite possibly reverse the decision of federal Judge Reed O’Connor of the Northern District of Texas that declares war on transgender kids in school.

But if this election goes the other way, it could set LGBT rights back a generation — or more.

If North Carolina’s Gov. Pat McCrory is defeated in his re-election bid, that could send a message all the way to Austin: “Discrimination is not good for business. Don’t do it Dan! Texas doesn’t need an HB2-style bathroom bill. You aren’t protecting women by jeopardizing the livelihood of their families.”

But on the flip side, a McCrory win could send Dan Patrick a very different — and very dangerous — message.

As I stood in front of the voting machine this week I pondered just voting a straight ticket. (Well, there isn’t anything “straight” about me, sooo … .) Instead I felt it ws important to me to positively and intentionally vote for the people who support and affirm me and that I believe will be best for America.

So I did.

It felt SO good.

I don’t want to live my life in fear. I want our nation’s children to worry about getting good grades, not whether they can hold their pee until they get home from school because the Texas lieten has a hard-on for Trans kids. I want to be able to see a doctor because they are skilled and on my insurance, not have to worry about their religious affiliation getting in the way of providing care. I want a woman’s healthcare needs to be decided by her and her doctor, not a bunch of white guys in blue suits with zero knowledge of a woman’s healthcare needs.

I want the world where my grandkids grow up to be a world free from hate and bigotry.

I didn’t see any perfect candidates on my ballot. I made the choices I did because I believe these people give us the best chance for now to give us the world I want to live in — one where love always wins, where fear is overcome with compassion.

It’s been hard watching the presidential debates and reading and hearing the vitriol. It’s taken a toll. But for me, that’s over. I’ve made my decision.

So as I drove home with tears streaming down my face. I tried to process why this was hitting me so damn hard. It’s because this time, it’s different.

We can’t afford to screw this one up.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Speak to the heart and the mind will follow

We can’t move LGBT rights foes to our side with purely logical arguments

haberman-hardyI watched dumfounded recently as Charles Moran, a Trump delegate from California, was on TV extolling the virtues of the GOP when it comes to LGBTQ issues. He saw the candidacy of Donald Trump as being consistently supportive of LGBTQ rights.

This is a stance that even the Log Cabin Republicans don’t share.

How could this man see Trump as an LGBTQ ally when Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn marriage equality? When he chose as his running mate Indiana’s rabidly anti-LGBTQ governor, Mike Pence?

It is the same kind of logical disconnect that allows low-income white voters to see Trump as the man who will stop their jobs from leaving the country for China and Mexico, despite the fact that Trump has shipped the manufacture of his products overseas and bought boatloads of Chinese steel and aluminum for his buildings.

The same illogic reasoning that has unemployed garment workers in the U.S. wearing Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats that were made in China.

It is a case of “confirmation bias” and it’s something I have been guilty of as well.

It’s the tendency to hear only information that confirms an already-held belief. For example, if I strongly believe that Trump is utterly and completely anti-LGBTQ, I ignore the statements he made about making sure “LGBT citizens” were free from persecution (though that sentiment appears nowhere at all in the GOP platform.)
So the folks who are already strongly biased against LGBTQ rights will rally behind Trump, believing he shares their hatred. They already believe he shares their racial bias, because he questioned President Obama’s birth certificate, and he wants all Muslims to be banned from entering the country. They believe he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, even though he agreed with Democrat Hillary Clinton that people on the “no-fly” list should not be able to obtain firearms.

That confirmation bias works against Hillary Clinton, as well. The trope that Clinton is a liar has little or no basis in fact, but if her statements are carefully “cherry-picked,” you can find enough examples to support that belief.

In fact, watching one woman in a CNN focus group vehemently insist that all the politicians are liars except for Trump, because she just “know[s] they are lying to my face,” just drove the point home.  She was more willing to believe a man with a proven track record of deceit and deception in his business dealings than to believe a politician deemed by fact-checkers to be one of the most candidates in a long time, because she “believes” politicians are all liars.

How do you reason with people like this?  How can you sway their opinion?

Well, I don’t think you do it by giving them a litany of facts.  Facts are not what motivates them, feelings are.

If progressives are ever going to successfully make a case that can convince people like many Trump supporters, it will have to be made in terms that resonate with them. That means we have to start framing our arguments in more emotional language while not losing track of the facts.

We have to start making our case in ways that draw at the gut and the heart and know that the mind will follow.

For LGBTQ Americans, this means finding ways to let people know how deeply discrimination affects not just us but our families and friends.  If we speak to the heart of the matter, that hatred and bigotry are doing real emotional damage to our community, we might have better results than trying to educate folks on the Constitution.

We must make the case that young people are committing suicide, not because they are LGBTQ, but because of the way their families, friends and fellow Americans treat them. We must make the case that denying services to a woman strictly because of who she loves harms not just her but her children and family.

We must make the case that humiliating a transgender woman by refusing her access to bathroom facilities says more about our lack of common decency than trans women’s morals. We must make the case that firing a highly-qualified and beloved teacher strictly because he is married to a man harms his students and the community at large.

We must make the case that publicly humiliating a member of a church congregation by shunning him because of who he loves reflects on the church’s lack of compassion and puts the entire Gospel of Jesus in a bad light.

We have to start talking to people’s hearts and guts and their minds will follow.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a board member of the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Cocktail ramblin’

Dallas’ cocktail culture is as craft-centric as its chef-driven restaurants


Purgatory Lost was one of the twists on a tropical cocktail that Midnight Rambler debuted this summer; a new autumn menu has now been released.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES | Executive Editor

Ever since news broke that Leann Berry — one of the most popular (and acclaimed) bartenders in North Texas — would be taking a break for a few months, desperate alcoholi… err, “savvy cocktail enthusiasts” have been faced with a conundrum: Where to get their next friendly fix of smart adult beverages.

The good news is, Dallas is a cosmopolitan city … which means both that we like our cosmos (our lingering obsession with Sex and the City, no doubt), but also that we know a good cocktail when we taste one, and numerous establishments have turned up to serve that demographic. “It’s exciting,” says David Edessa, head bartender at Lounge 31 in Highland Park Village. “Customers know a lot more about [food and drink] than they used to, and sometimes even know more than [their bartenders]. They know what they want and what they like.”

But sometimes, customers benefit from being schooled a bit.

Chad Solomon, co-creator of the menu at Downtown’s Midnight Rambler — a funky, speakeasy-style cocktail den in the basement of the Joule Hotel — doesn’t design his cocktail menus as instructional texts; he’s all about serving his clientele something they will enjoy.

But he’s also a firm believer in the crossroads of art and science in designing the perfect drink.

That’s one reason why he and co-creator Christy Pope shake up the menu every so often. This summer, for instance, their inspiration was “Dark and Tropical,” a theme often associated with fruity rum drinks of the paper-umbrella-tiki-bar variety. But that’s exactly what they did not want to do at Midnight Rambler.

Take, for instance, one of the summer potables: the rum-less Savory Hunter. It’s Southeast Asian in terms of its conceptualization: lemongrass mixes with cilantro and coconut cream, and it’s put in the form of a gin fizz, only milkier, with a luxurious mouthfeel. There’s also a tiny underpinning of Thai chile tincture in the mix… and even a soupcon of fish sauce. “There’s a slight funk of fish sauce that you’ll never taste, but it lends an umami quality to the drink,” Solomon explains.

Even so, the summer menu boasted a fair supply of rum-based cocktails, but it’s not all cloying sweetness bombs. Some of the creations include Jamaican black rum, Trinidadian and Venezuelan rums, Brazilian cachaca (made from cane instead of molasses) and even Batavia-Arrack, an Indonesian variation of the island staple. Batavia-Arrack is the primary spirit in a drink Solomon called the Tiger Style, a recipe filled with unfamiliar ingredients: Palm sugar, calamansi (Philippine citrus), pippali and the aromatic essence of cassia (Indonesian cinnamon). (The menu has since changed for autumn with the theme “Electric Orchard/Gothic Harvest,” dominated by bourbons, bitters and brandies.)


Christy Pope and Chad Solomon, co-creators of the drink menu at Midnight Rambler.

All drinks, though, fall generally into either aromatic or sour-based concepts, and the role of a great mixologist is balancing the ingredients to navigate a unique taste experience. That can include decisions related to, for instance, the ice.

“Ice is very important,” Solomon insists. “The smaller the nugget, the colder the drink because there is more surface area; but smaller pebbles will also melt faster.”

Solomon can come across as much like a “chemistry nerd” as a “hipster bartender.” He let me tour his laboratory — a tight little room of flasks and centrifuges, gadgets and tinctures that looks like an apothecary run by a modern-day Frankenstein. It’s here that the recipes are perfected before they debut in the subterranean nightclub. But there is no perfect cocktail, as Solomon sees it.

“I need to know: What time of day is it? Where am I? What time of year it is?” he says. “You need to look at the quality of the distillate and how it works in the drink.”

Which is why, when it comes to cocktail culture, there’s always something new to explore.

Midnight Rambler, 1530 Main St. at the Joule. 5 p.m.–2 a.m.

Midnight Rambler bartender Kyoko Kinoshita is captain for Team Asia at the 5th annual Ultimate Cocktail Experience, a fundraiser for Trigger’s Toys at Klyde Warren Park on Saturday, Nov. 5. Five teams, representing the continents, will create at least 40 cocktails. Admission is $65 and includes all cocktails plus items at a food truck.

Cocktail Friday returns to the InstanTea blog this week. 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Get ready to Scream, Queen!

(It’s Halloween in the gayborhood)

It’s Halloween weekend, the LGBT community’s biggest and perhaps most sacred holiday of the year. And in Dallas, hundreds — if not thousands — of the faithful will make their annual pilgrimage to Oak Lawn for the Halloween Block Party on Cedar Springs, beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29.

The street will be blocked off in the 3900 block of Cedar Springs to make room for the costume catwalk, dancing, live music, beer booths and more.

Besides all the action out in the street, all the clubs in and around Oak Lawn will most likely have their own Halloween parties going on Saturday night — all weekend, really, right up through the actual Halloween night on Monday. Check our Scene section on Page 41 for details on some of the other activities, in Dallas and across the river in Fort Worth, too. And if you don’t see your favorite watering hole listed there, check online.

trunp-ahsParking is always at a premium, so be sure to get to the gayborhood early to find a good spot. And please please please remember: The bad guys also know that this is the night we turn out to party, so be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk alone. Put safety first.

Speaking of “bad hombres,” it’s very likely that we’ll see any number of them at the Block Party Saturday night, likely in the company of an equal number of “nasty women.” I expect we’ll also see a pretty significant number of Donald Trump costumes in varying degrees of creativity and varying shades of orange. Pantsuits and blond wigs will probably also be all the rage, although given the two presidential candidates’ positions on LGBT issues, I expect the Hillary Clinton costumes may be a bit more complimentary to the Democratic candidate than the Trump costumes will be to The Donald.

Pop culture is always a fertile ground for costume ideas. And American Horror Story is fertile ground for scary. Kathy Bates’ blood-dripping butcher is a strong likelihood, as is Lady Gaga’s witch, deer antlers and all. And any guy who has the body for it might try the shirtless guy with the pig’s head who runs around squealing.
(And in the crossover category, there’s the t-shirt I found on, featuring the American Horror Story logo with an image of Zombie Trump. Horror story indeed!)

Television offers other ideas, too. I mean, how can you dismiss Netflix’s Stranger Things? Barb is likely to be a popular sight on The Strip. And Eleven — aka El— would be easy to pull off, as long as you can find that Peter Pan collar and work up a killer fuck-you look.

There will be some big screen inspiration, too, I’m sure. Deadpool, Harley Quinn, any Star Wars character. And what about Pokemon Go? The T-Rex? Even some SnapChat filter costumes? But don’t forget the ever-present Scary Clown. Just be careful with that one though; scary clown costumes could get you shot.

Here’s the thing, though: Any of the costumes listed here can probably be found at any Halloween costume party across the Metroplex over the next three days. But we’re talking about THE Block Party! We’re talking about Oak Lawn, where Halloween is always a “go big or go home” event. Come on out and have fun, just be sure to bring your costume A-game to The Strip.
(Or, you know, just come to watch!)

— Tammye  Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Tammye Nash

A done deal

Venterra Realty has officially bought ilume and ilume Park



Tammye Nash  |  Managing Editor

Both ilume and ilume park in Oak Lawn now belong to Houston-based Venterra Realty, which bought the two properties from Dallas-based Crosland Group, the original developer.

The deal closed on Monday, Oct. 24, according to Venterra’s chief operating officer, Richard Roos.

ilume opened in 2009, on Cedar Springs Road at Knight Street, with retail/restaurant space on the lower floor, and residential space above that. ilume Park, a “boutique hotel-style apartment community” catering especially to people with dogs, opened in 2013, about a block away from ilume — on Cedar Springs at Douglas Avenue.

From the time ilume was first announced, it — and later ilume Park — sparked concerns that the properties would continue what many saw as the “gentrification” of Oak Lawn, with developers tearing down existing older complexes and homes to make room for expensive, cookie-cutter apartment complexes that would draw in “more straight people” with higher incomes, and drive out the gayborhood’s eclectic existing population.

But Crosland Group owner Luke Crosland pledged from the beginning that he and his company and his properties would work hard to retain the flavor of Oak Lawn and to be a good neighbor and a good partner to the LGBT community here. It was a promise that Crosland kept.
Roos said this week that the gayborhood doesn’t have to worry about that changing.

ilume“Our focus first and foremost is on our community,” Roos said, referring to the residents at the two properties. “But we know we have to be good citizens in the community around us, too. We didn’t come in here thinking to change things dramatically.”

Roos said that the LGBT community doesn’t need to worry that Venterra will try to change either the make-up of its residents or the make-up of the surrounding community.

As the company does every time it is considering purchasing a property, Roos said, “We’ve done lots of research on these properties and on this area. So if we had been worried at all about this being an LGBT neighborhood, we wouldn’t have bought these properties.

“At Venterra, we’re very good at being very good to all people,” he continued. “We get very high scores on diversity. This is a very diverse neighborhood, and we are a very diverse and inclusive company.”

He said Venterra has three primary pillars of business: Being a great operator (in terms of operating the properties in the most cost efficient and energy efficient way); creating the best possible work experience for Venterra employees, and creating a “better of way of living” for its residengts.

“We see that as being part of our path to success and that’s how we conduct our business,” he said.

There will be some changes happening very soon, Roos said, but those are changes that residents — both residential and retail — will appreciate since they involve updating facilities and catching up on maintenance that has been lagging.

According to a letter sent recently to residents at ilume and ilume Park, initial improvements at ilume are expected to include new carpeting and painting in the hallways, restriping and power washing in the parking lot, a new bike storage area and exterior metalwork repairs and paint. At ilume Park, the company will make enhancements to the dog park area.

Immediate improvements at both properties will include new fitness equipment, new and improved tanning beds, remodeling in the offices and clubhouses including color and decor changes, new landscaping and ground cover, new pool furniture and outdoor sitting area furnishings, and updated Mac computers in the business centers.

Roos said this week that property managers will also start looking at what events and activities they want to put in place as soon as possible for their residents — things like happy hours and re-opening the club room at ilume. Once that has been taken care of, he said, managers will look outward at ways to participate in the larger Oak Lawn community.

“We know the parade is a big event every year in September, and Halloween is another big event. We want to participate in things like that,” Roos said. He also said that at least for the time being, there will be no change in ilume’s arrangement with the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, in which the chamber offices at the property rent-free.

But really, the only people seeing changes at either property will be the residents, who can expect a higher level of service than before. Whereas The Crosland Group’s main focus is on planning, developing and building such communities, Roos said, Venterra’s primary focus is on managing properties in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

“That’s what we do. We don’t build properties, we manage properties,” he said. “The Crosland Group has been very successful in building properties, and we are very successful at managing properties.”

Because Venterra is focused on property management, Roos said his company has developed a specific process. And while it was “a very hard decision” to make, he said, Venterra chose not to retain employees that had been in place when Crosland owned and operated the properties, because, “By bringing in people who already know our system, we can get the changes we need to make completed as soon as possible.

“I know that there are people who are unhappy with the changes that are being made. I also know there are residents who have been unhappy with the way things have been,” Roos said. “Our job right now is to make the changes we need to make as soon as possible, so that we can make those residents happy to be living at ilume or ilume Park.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.


—  Tammye Nash

A ‘significant threat’ to LGBT people

Republican amendment to defense spending bill could nullify anti-discrimination protections


U.S. Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma, left and openly gay U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of New York


Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service

A significant fight is brewing in Congress over a defense funding bill and whether it should include language that would enable religiously-affiliated contractors doing business with the federal government to discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“We see this, in fact, as one of the most significant threats to LGBT people and to women that Congress has put forward in years,” said ACLU Deputy Legal Director Louise Melling.

The language appears in a House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2017 passed in May. The Senate passed its version, too, which does not include the language. A House-Senate conference committee tried to hammer out a final version of the bill to send back to both chambers but failed to do so before it recessed in September.

The language in the House version of the bill is known as Section 1094 or “the Russell Amendment,” named after its sponsor, Rep. Steve Russell of Oklahoma.

Opponents say the Russell Amendment would provide sweeping exemptions to federal civil rights laws for a wide variety of religiously-affiliated institutions. And, according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who is leading the fight against the amendment, the language would allow discrimination against women, LGBT people, and people of various religions in “every federal department,” not just the Department of Defense.

Blumenthal and 41 other senators signed an Oct. 25 letter opposing the amendment. They include 40 Democrats and two Independents. No Republicans signed.

The four Senate Democrats not signed onto the letter are Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and Sens. Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jack Reed of Rhode Island.

The letter states: “If enacted, Section 1094 would vastly expand religious exemptions under the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act to allow religiously-affiliated organizations receiving federal funds to engage in discriminatory hiring practices — using taxpayer dollars to harm hardworking Americans who deserve to be protected from workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, religious identity or reproductive and other healthcare decisions.”

The letter says Section 1094 would also undermine protections for LGBT people under President Obama’s Executive Order 13672, prohibiting sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination by federal contractors. In May, the Obama administration released a statement detailing a number of its objections to the bill, including that it “would make it easier to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The overall NDAA is an annual bill that stipulates how the Defense Department can spend its federal funding. The House version is HR 4909; the Senate version is SB 2943.

This year’s bills include a number of controversial measures, including language to require women to register for any potential draft into the military. A House-Senate conference committee was unable to come up with a final version of the NDAA before Congress adjourned in September. It will have to take the task up again when Congress reconvenes following the Nov. 8 election.

Only the House version of the bill includes the amendment that would seek to allow religious entities to discriminate against LGBT people, women and people of different faiths.

During House consideration of the NDAA in May, openly gay U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-NY, led an attempt to preserve President Obama’s LGBT executive order. Maloney’s amendment had sufficient support, but the Republican chair of the House allowed voting beyond the allotted time, until enough Republicans could be convinced to change their votes and the Maloney amendment failed.

House Speaker Paul Ryan later allowed the House to entertain the Maloney amendment again and it passed, but then the overall bill failed.

The text of the anti-LGBT amendment introduced by Russell sounds innocent enough: It states that the federal government will provide “protections and exemptions” for religious institutions “consistent with” certain sections of the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Of the Civil Rights Act, the amendment identifies Section 702(a), which says the act does not apply to religious institutions, and Section 703(e)(2), which says the act does not apply to any religiously-affiliated educational institution. Of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the amendment identifies Section 103(d), which says religious institutions can give preference to employees of a particular religion.

But opponents say the language would create a vast loophole for religious schools, hospitals, charities, and other institutions, large and small, to discriminate against employees who don’t comply with the institutions’ religious beliefs.

In a telephone press conference October 25, Senator Blumenthal said opponents of the bill hope to eliminate the language from the bill before the final version reaches the House and Senate floors again for approval.

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

The devil is in the drag-tails

Comedic ‘Drag Race’ champ Bianca Del Rio returns to Dallas with her Not Today Satan Tour


SCOTT HUFFMAN | Contributing Writer

bianca_reviewFor many — especially in the gay community — Halloween is a much-anticipated free pass to take a walk on the wild side, a safe harbor for experimenting with voluminous wigs, smoky-eye guyliner, ruby-red lipstick and size 12 stilettos. But for Bianca Del Rio (aka Louisiana native Roy Haylock), the pagan celebration is simply another day.

“As a clown, I’m always in costume,” says Del Rio, the champion of Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. “People ask me, ‘What are you going to be for Halloween?’ I say, ‘A man! A man!’ Every day is Halloween for me. I understand people get excited about it, but I have to do it all the time — it’s not that interesting!”

Make no mistake, though: This Saturday, Del Rio will appear in full headdress and war paint as she brings her latest comedy show — the Not Today Satan Tour — to Dallas’ South Side Music Hall. But what she has in store for her audience is anybody’s guess.

Del Rio plans each of her performances with “a series of Post-It Notes of my hateful thoughts,” she quips. While few topics are off limits, she deliberately avoids current politics in her current standup. (“That’s too easy right now,” she says.) Instead, Del Rio will fill the evening with pet peeves, travel stories and, as one would expect from any insult comic, a fair share of playful barbs.

“It’s not for the fainthearted,” she teases. “I talk a lot of shit. It’s an hour-and-a-half of me bitching about things that I hate and things that don’t make sense to me. What’s interesting is that people often feel the same way I do. It just fascinates me.”

The upcoming stop is not Del Rio’s first visit to Dallas by any stretch. Last year, the drag queen spent 18 days in town (“it was hotter than fuck!”) completing principal photography on Hurricane Bianca, an independent film (produced by local boy Ash Christian) that was recently released digitally and on DVD. The drag-queen-turned-film-star describes the crowdfunded movie, written and directed by her friend Matt Kugelman, as a comedy that tackles a serious LGBT topic.

“In 29 states it’s legal to be fired for being gay,” Del Rio says. “It’s a story about a [gay] schoolteacher who gets fired. He returns as Bianca Del Rio [to get revenge], and nobody knows it’s me!” The film offered Haylock a chance to work in and out of drag with celebrated comedic actors such as Rachel Dratch, Alan Cumming and Margaret Cho. It also features a number of former Drag Race contestants including Alyssa Edwards, Willam Belli, Joslyn Fox and Shangela Laquifa Wadley. Even RuPaul makes a cameo in the film. So, are Del Rio and RuPaul BFFs?

“Oh, hell no!” Del Rio exclaims with a laugh. “She’s not even real. She’s a hologram. We don’t hang out and chat. Michelle Visage and I do quite often; she lives near me in Los Angeles. We go vintage clothes shopping whenever we are on the road together. But [honestly], RuPaul has been unreal — a really kind, generous person and supportive of everything that I do. I’m grateful.”

Despite having both a Drag Race title and a feature-length film under her belt, Del Rio considers time she spent visiting her idol — fellow insult comic Joan Rivers — her proudest accomplishment. Del Rio, after winning RuPaul’s Drag Race, was a guest on Rivers’ internet chat show In Bed with Joan. It was a dream come true. “She was beyond kind and lovely,” Del Rio says of the late legend. “We sat there cackling for over an hour. Just talking shit about everybody. She just kind of fed me the lines and let me roll with it. She was very, very gracious.” It was an amazing destination for someone whose first job in entertainment was designing costumes for the theater.

It was chance — an acting opportunity playing a character in drag — that led to her first club gig. The rest is history. Today, Del Rio is probably more surprised by her drag success than anyone else… well, with the exception of her family, perhaps.

“I’m still the nasty little hateful child that they had,” Del Rio says. “They are shocked that the world thinks this is funny. I’m the fourth out of five [children]. Everything I was told not to do as a child, I am doing now as an adult. It’s quite magical. They’re amazed.”

Not long ago, Del Rio imagined the shelf-life of her drag persona was nearing its natural end. However, the Drag Race title has refreshed her career opportunities. Rather than retiring her wigs and eyelashes, Del Rio now plans to go with the flow.

“I really thought I was going to quit everything at 40,” Del Rio says, now 41. “I had worked every dirty bar I could possibly work. I had done every gay Pride I could possibly do. At 38, I did Drag Race which changed everything for me. I can’t quit now!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.


—  Dallasvoice

Wicked ally

Longtime LGBT advocate Kristin Chenoweth, on ‘Hairspray,’ the fan she saved and the chance of an Idina reunion


Chenoweth released her latest album the same day as her ‘Wicked’ co-star Idina Menzel, and will be on TV in December in ‘Hairspray Live!’ and performing in-concert in Dallas in January.

Before celebrated soprano Kristin Chenoweth morphed into a mélange of nice and naughty personalities both onstage and onscreen, from Galinda in Wicked in 2003 to her forthcoming role as Velma Von Tussle in NBC’s Hairspray Live! on Dec. 7 to a concert appearance at Dallas’ Winspear Opera House on Jan. 25, the Broadway icon was a “nobody.”

Except, she notes, to the gay community.

Our bond with the Emmy- and Tony-winning Oklahoman is for good, as demonstrated after the release of her sixth studio album, The Art of Elegance. Then, the 48-year-old rang to look back at the unexpected exchange that established her place within the LGBT community, along with an unforgettable moment in her career that “really affected me” — when a gay Christian man revealed to her that she saved his life.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: You and your Wicked co-star, Idina Menzel, both have solo albums being released on the same day! Why have we not heard another duet with you two since Wicked? I’m surprised. Kristin Chenoweth: I’m surprised, too. I think it’s just timing and scheduling, and what would we do? We’d probably want to make it really cool and different and original. But I don’t know. I think it’d be something we could write ourselves, maybe. That’d be cool.

What goes through your mind when you release an album? You just have to release it and just go, “That’s my creation and I hope you like it!” You know, it’s a lot of pressure, actually. But then once it’s out, it’s not, because then it’s just… what it is. And that’s a lot of relief.

How can a gay man like myself achieve elegance if he can’t sing? You guys actually have nailed the whole elegance thing already. You don’t really need my help! And if you can’t sing, I’m positive you’re doing it in other ways. I’ve always said: “If you want anything done right, if you want anything done good, if you want anything to look good, hire your gay best friend.” You guys have nailed it — nailed it! — when it comes to just about everything.

You’ve been employing a good portion of the gay community since the beginning of your career? Yes. That is true! That is very true. And it’s just a bond I have. I can’t explain it. I just can’t.

For your upcoming return to Broadway in November, what’s it like to know that your out costume designer and Project Runway winner, Christian Siriano, also designed for Michelle Obama? I am a smart girl; I know everyone who he designs for. I am lucky that he said yes!

What’s the most memorable conversation you’ve had with a gay fan? The second record I made was a Christian record [2005’s As I Am]. I was doing one of those moderated talks. After it was over, I did a meet-and-greet, and I was signing the album and a guy comes up to me — he was probably about 35 and he was so cute and kind — and he just said, “I want to thank you for helping me. Just recently you helped save my life.” And I was like, “Wait, whoa, what?” And he just said, “My whole life I’ve been told I was going to hell. And I’m gay and I love God and I’m Christian and I was able to show my family that, ‘Look at this girl. She made this album and she thinks I’m OK.’” That was 10, 12 years ago. That really affected me and stayed with me. One I really remember.

Do you think about these powerful exchanges when you’re making music? Yeah, I do. I think about lots of kids who are persecuted by their very own families for who they are or what they believe or even what they want to do with their life. That’s a really — that’s harsh. My parents weren’t that way. I have such deep compassion for anyone who feels like they’ve been ostracized by their own family.

When in your professional career did you know the gay community loved you back? Oh, gosh. The first time I felt it I was doing a show on Broadway called Steel Pier [in 1997], and it was not a hit. But it was a big, splashy Broadway musical, and I had a pretty incredibly difficult aria to sing in that show. I remember leaving the show one night. I was a nobody. I was just starting. And there was a group waiting for me. I figured they were waiting for Karen Ziemba or Debra Monk, and all of a sudden they were like, “Kristin, Kristin!” and I turned over and there’s this fabulous group standing there and they go, “Will you sign our program?” And I said, “Me? Are you sure? Really?” They said, “Yeah. You! You’re incredible. Your voice, your voice! And you’re not lip syncing — that’s fabulous!”

So I was signing the program and this one guy reached over and grabbed my hand and said, “Us gays love you!” I just remember smiling so big and feeling the power and the love and I sent it right back. I guess that’s been going on ever since. But really, ever since I was a little girl too, because I had friends who were outsiders because of their orientation. I am so thrilled at how far things have come and how far they’re coming. I just keep praying that it keeps evolving and changing and becoming more open and that people are allowed to love who they love and marry who they want to marry.

As someone who’s been a staunch supporter of LGBT issues and rights, what’s going through your mind regarding this election and whether, if elected, Donald Trump could affect the progress we’ve made in the LGBT community? I don’t think it will affect it that much in that arena, but I worry about other arenas. I worry about world safety — our safety. When your brother is kind of running off at the mouth, you go, “OK.” But when somebody you don’t know does it, it’s scary. That’s the way I view it. Like, how will we be viewed? So, I am like the rest of the world. I am in shock.

How much flak have you received from conservative Christians because of your support of the community? Oh, I’ve definitely lost fans. I’ve been fired from Women of Faith. The haters online and on social media are there. But I don’t know… I think I’ve gotten tougher or somethin’.

The negativity has had the opposite effect on you? Why do you think that is? Well, even if you believe different things, you still want to be able to have music in common. And now, I guess maybe what’s changed is, it’s OK if you don’t like my music. If you don’t like what I believe, maybe I don’t want you to.

If you have a random run-in with a gay man, what work of yours is he most likely to compliment? It varies! It’s so interesting. A lot of times it will be Candide, a lot of times it will be Glee or Pushing Daisies [for which she won the Emmy Award for outstanding supporting actress in a comedy series]. A lot of Pushing Daisies! It was a good one, right?

So good. And GCB, which was set in Dallas! And GCB! Oh my gosh, of course. How could I leave that one out? They love that one.

There’s a song on this new album for just about every occasion. If you could dedicate any classic song from this album to your gay following, which would it be? Just on sheer orchestration, melody and lyric and, of course, no soprano — all belt — I’m gonna go with “Skylark” because it’s complicated. It’s not easy to sing, and I feel like they’d know that and appreciate it and love it.

Your voice is surprisingly deeper on this album. I do go deep! It’s changing!

You’re going through a late puberty? I guess so! I’m like, when was someone gonna tell me this was gonna happen? I’ve still got the high, but my voice is dropping.

Are you comfortable with your voice changing? Oh, yeah! Because I think 10 years ago — five years ago even! — I would’ve done an even different piece and it would’ve been what you would’ve expected from me. But this necessarily isn’t. I love that.

As someone who played Galinda the Good Witch, what can people expect when you play her antithesis, Velma Von Tussle, in December in Hairspray Live!? I’m so lucky that I haven’t been too terribly typecast! You know, I’m definitely gonna have a fabulous wig. I’m definitely gonna have fabulous makeup and costumes. I’m also going to really go there with her. I mean, she’s not necessarily lovable, but I’m gonna try to make her fun to hate. [Hairspray composer] Marc Shaiman has been working with me a little bit to make the song “Miss Baltimore Crabs” a little more my own. More crazy high notes, some low ones too. Physically, a lot of fun stuff. I’m excited.

How do you like playing someone with opposite morals and values? I think that’s why I enjoy her — I’m thinking, “Kristin, you would never be that way!” It’s kind of fun to delve into someone who is polar opposite because she is polar opposite.

You’ve collaborated with many people throughout your career. What comes to mind when you think of the following? First, obviously: Idina Menzel. We made magic together.

She’s not into the idea of having other actresses take your parts in a Wicked film. How do you feel about it? I totally agree with her. We want someone who can do what we did. We don’t want someone who can make it sound good in the studio. We want someone who can actually sing.

How about when you sang Mika’s “Popular” mashup with him in 2013 in New York City? Oh, my gosh. He is — oh, let’s see — an open vessel! He has no edit. He’s like Prince in a way. He’s just music. So, I have so much deep love and respect for him. He is a star.

And Jennifer Lopez, whose BFF you played in 2015’s The Boy Next Door. She wants the best for me. Loyal. Real. A friend. And fun to work with! We laughed all the time. Ahh, I love her. And that movie — it’s a guilty pleasure.

I have a feeling the gay community might have found it more pleasurable than the general public. I think so! And I’m fine with that.

Your Glee co-star Matthew Morrison? Beautiful, best spirit, supportive, protective. He wants to be great so he works hard. Again, nothing but respect there.

And you worked with Betty White when you guest starred on an episode of Hot in Cleveland — what stands out to you about her? I said to her, “How do I find the balance in life?” And she said, “You don’t. You’re a lifer. Accept it. You’re a lifer. You were born to do this and this is what you’re supposed to do, period.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2016.



—  Craig Tuggle