Last call

Master mixologist Leann Berry bids farewell to Komali


Stop by Komali, 4152 Cole Ave., on Nov. 11, for Leann Berry’s final night behind the bar.


The career of a bartender is an itinerant one. Bars and restaurants come and go, but if you know how to mix a killer drink, you can write your own ticket.

Ask anyone in Dallas who can shake, stir and mix a drink with the best, and without question the name Leann Berry comes up. Where she pours, she reigns: She’s manned the bar at sadly shuttered The Bronx and Ciudad, then at Salum and, for more than five years, at Komali, the

Uptown modern Mexican restaurant that’s been a popular watering hole since it opened. Where Berry goes, serious cocktail aficionados follow.
So when she texted me last week with the mysterious missive, “We need to talk immediately,” I suspected what was coming. Berry has decided to move on.

“It was time,” she says with a hint of melancholy. She’s fond on John Broady and Emanuel Salinas, who bought Komali from original chef-owner Abraham Salum late last year; the parting is amicable. But she’s itching for something different.

It’s not like she doesn’t have options. There have been offers and feelers sent to her since word leaked. But Berry is thinking about waiting until the new year to make any big decisions — she’s focused on doing a few private gigs (“I always have to turn those down because I’m too busy during the holidays!”) and fielding her options.

And you haven’t seen the last of her yet. Her last night at Komali will be Friday, Nov. 11. Everyone is invited to toast her departure. Heck, she might even make a special drink for the occasion.            ­­­­

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Porn to run

How Garrett Clayton went from Disney Channel star to porn mogul Brent Corrigan  in a few sexy steps



“Do they like biting lips? Do they like using more tongue?” To play former gay porn mogul Brent Corrigan, Garrett Clayton had to answer those questions. So the 25-year-old ex-Disney star pored over videos of the notorious twink teasing the camera at just 17, when Corrigan starred in a throng of high-profile porn videos that led to his storied, controversial adult-film legacy.

Corrigan’s past is the lurid centerpiece titillating every juicy frame of director Justin Kelly’s sexy and scandalous King Cobra (now available via video on demand), embodied by Clayton and his hypnotic come-hither gaze. Christian Slater plays gay porn producer Bryan Kocis (renamed Stephen in the film), who gets tangled in a mess of controversy and murder after illegally jumpstarting Brent’s porn career. James Franco, who co-produced the project, sustains his oft-onscreen queerness, starring as a rival producer.

But who saw Clayton, who will star as Link Larkin in NBC’s Hairspray Live! in December, taking his post-Disney dive this deeply? After his role in Teen Beach Movie, the 2013 Disney Channel film that saw a squeaky-clean Clayton frolic beachside while singing surf, sun, sand /  It’s a bikini wonderland, Clayton laughs at a radical career shift even he can’t believe. (“It’s been kind of like a slingshot!”)

Read on for the ex-Mouseketeer’s thoughts on Corrigan’s criticism of King Cobra (“He opened Pandora’s box and he let the movie get made”) and Clayton’s vision for his agreed-upon butt shot.

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: How does a Disney star go from Teen Beach Movie to a porn biopic?  Clayton: I was attached to a film that fell through by the same producer, Scott Levenson. Then he pitched me for this to Justin Kelly, the director. I read it, and we agreed on a lot of the same points that were vital to the movie, so I sent him my audition scene. Then, bam. A couple of weeks later, I got the part. Obviously, I had nerves because coming from Disney, when any [former Disney stars] take that leap and are ready to do whatever adult thing, whether it’s a movie or music or anything, you hope it’s something that people will respect and see that you’re not just the person who portrayed that teenager on TV at one point.

Any trepidation taking on someone as controversial — in the porn world at least — as Brent Corrigan?  I didn’t know what to expect at first because you don’t know if you’re going to have a team of people who will be really respectful and take care of you or a group of people who are there to exploit you and make money off of how good you’ll be. I couldn’t have asked for more, especially jumping into such a controversial subject.

What kind of homework is involved in playing someone like him?  One thing I agreed with after Justin and I spoke: to separate the character from real life because to try to mimic him too much would come across like we were trying to make fun of his life, and that’s not what we wanted. We wanted a character who’s a little bit removed from him. I tried to have little things in there that reminded the audience of him, but a lot of it was trying to create a character that was separated enough to a degree that it just didn’t seem like we were mocking him. That was really important.

What was your process for embodying Brent’s mannerisms during the sex scenes?  You want to watch someone’s work and study the way they’re into somebody or not. How do they kiss? Do they bite? Do they like biting lips? Do they like using more tongue? Are they more aggressive in their work? Does he play the victim? I tried to look at all those things. And even watching that YouTube channel that he wanted to have for a minute — those videos were interesting to watch just because there are little things in there, too. How is he when he speaks to his audience? What’s his body language like when he’s talking about something he’s comfortable with versus uncomfortable with?

At one of the film festivals, somebody asked me and Justin what our favorite video of his was, and even though mine doesn’t sound as exciting, it’s the more fascinating one. It’s the first video he did with Bryan where he’s lying in the lawn. Nobody knew at that time that he was 17, and I was just surprised that there are so many sites that still have that video online. It’s crazy. And to see him as a 17-year-old doing this, and the fact that I can find it online — I literally just typed in “Brent Corrigan first video” and a bunch of different websites came up. I just think it was fascinating to watch somebody at that age doing what they’re doing. To me, that was the most interesting piece of work because, I mean, how could it not be?

What’s it like being naked at home versus naked on camera?  It’s a lot different being naked at home versus being naked on camera, in front of millions. When I’m naked at home, I’m not worried about what I ate three hours before! And it was really hard because catering, for some reason, kept making these crazy, unhealthy [meals], like macaroni and chili. Every day it was chili and macaroni and hot dogs, and I’m like, “I am on a diet. I can’t have bread, I can’t have carbs, I can’t have sugar, I can’t have dairy, and all you’re doing is supplying all those things.”

The struggles of being an actor who has to take his shirt off for the camera, right?  No. The struggles of being an actor who’s only wearing underwear and maybe nothing else — not even underwear at some points!

How was your nudity established?  I spoke to Justin about what I would agree to do, and it was: If you discuss with me first and I can understand logically why the nudity is a sexual act that can promote the plot in this scene, then I’ll do it. When I’m in the shower, it’s a sign he’s becoming comfortable with his sexuality. The montage is showing him becoming a star. At the end, I have my butt shot and, funny enough, that was my idea because Justin and me kept talking, saying, “When are we going to do the butt shot?” because [Brent is] known for his butt. And I was watching and I said, “Why don’t we make him getting the tattoo like ownership of self and being able to do what he wants to do with his body? If we show his ass at the end and we see there’s a tattoo on it, now he can do what he wants to do with his body and he has control over his life and where he’s going.”

Brent Corrigan criticized you on Twitter, saying you don’t “embody Brian’s preference for not legal boys” and taking a dig at your “boxcut Speedos.” Did his tweets affect you at all?  I think it almost started to affect me. But I made a little mantra: It’s not my place to judge; it’s just my job to tell the story. The reason we could use his name and likeness was because he got paid and he signed off on his name and likeness, so to a degree he opened Pandora’s box. He let the movie get made, so obviously he didn’t mind if it got made.

I guess he was just being critical of the outcome.  As anybody would be. My thing is, would he have preferred somebody who spoke down to him and didn’t have any respect for doing what we’re doing here? Because if you look at any interview I’ve done, I completely shy away from judgment and being negative about his comments and how he feels about the movie.

In the end, did you form an opinion about him?  It’s not for me — if I start doing that now, it’ll taint my mindset about the movie.

Because you’re playing gay in this movie, is there pressure to acknowledge your own sexuality? And how do you react to people who criticize you for not doing so?  I mean, they probably would feel a lot differently if people were calling them and saying, “So tell me: What you do in your bedroom every day?” This is my job. And I’m happy to promote my work. And I’m happy to stand up for things I believe in. If people can’t see the positivity in that, then I think that’s up to them. You can have Mother Teresa giving food out and somebody will find something negative to say. I moved to L.A. to have a career where I got to play characters and focus on work and do all these awesome things, and I’m getting to do that now. I just don’t think it’s pertinent to talk about my personal life. I don’t think it adds to the work; it just distracts from it.

I’m supportive of an open-minded lifestyle and letting people do what they want to do with their lives, so it’s nice to be able to do another, different type of role. Acting is about stepping out of body and getting to see different lives and experience different things, and I got to do that in this movie.

One thing I even took away from this: I gained a lot more sympathy for people who work in the adult industry. A lot of times society is so harsh on people who do work in porn, and they’re so judged and scrutinized, and yet they’re so accepted because porn drives the internet, and people watch it so consistently, and it’s a multi-billionaire dollar industry. When you’re done working in it, though, people shun you. They just treat people who work in this industry poorly, and yet they’re watching them alone in their bedroom, supporting them. You can’t pick and choose. You either are open-minded, or you’re not.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

UPDATE: Venterra COO notes ilume deal still pending; promises support for LGBT community


ilume Park

Venterra Realty’s Chief Operating Office Richard Roos said Wednesday that Houston-based Venterra Realty is “well aware of the GBLT community” in Oak Lawn, adding that while Venterra’s purchase of the two ilume properties on Cedar Springs Road goes through, the company will strive to be “inclusive and supportive” of the community.

Venterra is in the process of purchasing ilume and ilume Park, both of which were built by Luke Crosland’s The Crosland Group, and both of which have worked hard to be good partners to the LGBT community in Oak Lawn. Residents of the two properties received notices this week that Venterra intends to purchase the properties by the end of October, and that plans are already in motion to complete some physical updates and improvements right away.

Residents at ilume can expect 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.

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.

Improvements such as these, Roos said, are part of Venterra’s focus on “quality of living and great customer service.” Venterra, he added, has “a lot of exciting things lined up” for ilume and ilume Park. He said that initial changes will be focused on the physical facilities and management and staff transitions and converting operations to Venterra’s management system.

(Dallas Voice has heard from numerous sources that most if not all of the ilume and ilume Park staff have received termination notices, but we have not confirmed that.)

Roos said that while Venterra is aware of the LGBT community’s prominence in Oak Lawn, “We don’t really understand all the nuances of the community” and its previous relationship with the ilume properties and management. He said he is aware that the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce is housed in offices at ilume at a reduced rate for rent, but that his company has not yet explored that situation and how it might continue.

“Our first priority will be to take care of those first level things [like the facilities improvements and management changes]. There are a number of second- and third-level things that will come later, and understanding how we can best work with the GBLT community is part of those second- and third-level things,” Roos said.

ilume opened in the summer of 2009, and ilume Park opened in 2013.

—  Tammye Nash

Venterra Realty purchasing ilume, ilume Park


A company called Venterra Realty is purchasing both the ilume and ilume Park retail/residential properties in Oak Lawn, and will be taking over the properties by the end of October, according to a notice sent out to residents and shared today with Dallas Voice.

According to the Venterra Realty jobs website, “Venterra Realty manages apartment communities in Texas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee, encompassing more than 14,000 units.” The notice sent to residents indicates that Venterra owns “six other communities in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

The notice also tells residents that “shortly after acquisition” Venterra will be making a number of improvements to the properties. Residents at ilume can expect 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.

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.

Dallas Voice has reached out to Venterra Realty for comment and will update this post as soon as we talk to them.

—  Tammye Nash

Celebration of Life set for Anthony ‘Celie’ Gurley


Family and friends are invited to gather to celebrate the life of Anthony “Celie” Gurley on Saturday, Oct. 22, from 3-5 p.m. in the Granite Bar at S4. Those who plan to attend are asked to RSVP on Facebook to help organizers in planning the event.

Gurley’s body was found Oct. 4 in a field near the restaurant where he worked in Anna, Texas, just north of Dallas on I-45. He had been missing since Sunday afternoon, Sept. 18, when he left work early, around 1 p.m., saying he didn’t feel well. The Collin County Medical Examiner has not yet determined a cause of death.

Gurley lived in Anna with his mother and sister. The family has already held a private funeral service.

Blake Deeter, who is organizing the celebration of life for Saturday, said that Caven Enterprises is donating the use of the venue for the service, and Uncle Julio’s, where Gurley worked as a server, is donating food for the event. Juan Gaviota Flowers is donating flowers.

There will be a video wall featuring photos of Gurley — known to his many friends as Miss Celie — throughout his life, and displays of memorabilia will also be set up for the service.

Organizers will be accepting contributions, which will be donated in his name to Resource Center, as his family requested, Deeter said.

For more information, check the Facebook page.

—  Tammye Nash

Fox News’ Shepard Smith has officially come out


Shepard Smith

Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, long rumored to be gay, made it official today (Monday, Oct. 17), coming out as a gay man in response to a question over whether the network’s former head, Roger Ailes, forced him to remain closeted, according to a report by The Advocate.

The interview was conducted by Huffington Post D.C. bureau chief Ryan Grim and posted on the HuffPost site this morning,

In 2014 Gawker editor Nick Denton reported that Ailes told Smith, during contract negotiations, that he couldn’t come out because Fox News viewers wouldn’t tolerate a gay news anchor. Ailes and Smith issued a joint statement at the time denying that claim.

Ailes resigned his position as CEO of Fox News in July following allegations by numerous women that he had sexually harassed them. Smith told Huffington Post that the allegations against Ailes were “horrifying,” and “trusts were betrayed.”

—  Tammye Nash

Pet of the week • 10-14-16


Poor Henry, a 2/3-Westie mix, has been waiting more than two years for someone to see how special he is. He is a kind, shy, gentle boy who is looking for a calm home full of love. Henry says: “I like piña coladas, and getting caught in the rain. I don’t care much for health food but I do love some champagne. I would love to meet you any day at noon and cut through all the red tape … so you can complete an application to adopt me! I like dogs and am shy at first. But when I gain confidence, I am lovable and fun. I am available for adoption at”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

The Gay Agenda • 10-14-16



­­­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. 14: NTSO Movie Magic Gala
Gala evening of dinner, drinks and entertainment featuring cabaret singer Angie McWhirter to support the New Texas Symphony Orchestra at 7 p.m. at Sammons Center, Meadows Hall, 3630 Harry Hines Blvd. $100.

• Oct. 14: Oktoberfest High Tech Happy Hour
From 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Lakewood Brewing Company, 2302 Executive Drive, Garland.

• Oct. 14: Lory Masters 70th Birthday Roast
Master of Ceremonies Tim Seelig and comedian Paul J. Williams , friends and community leaders past and present roast community legend Lory Masters from 7-10 p.m. at The Rose Room at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road.

• Oct. 14: Rocky Horror Jack-O-Lan-Turnt Halloween Spooktacular
Join Amber Does Dallas for their most anticipated show of the year at midnight at the Angelika Theater, 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane.

• Oct. 14-16: Dallas Fan Days
Comic, sci-fi, horror anime and gaming event from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Sunday at Irving Convention Center, 500 W. Las Colinas Blvd., Irving.

• Oct. 15: Party for Peggy
Friends of Peggy Drury, a longtime bartender at Jugs and, later, Joe’s Place, are invited to a party in her honor from 7-9 p.m., at Liquid Zoo Bar and Grill, 2506 Knight St. The bar is providing sandwiches, chips and dips and there will be a cake, as well. Everybody is encouraged to wear Peggy’s favorite color, green, For information, contact the organizers, Deedee Heart, Shelley Benson or Norma Jean Featherson on Facebook.

• Oct. 15: Bewitched 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

• Oct. 15: PrEP Rally
United Black Ellument hosts medical professionals and community volunteers
who share their stories about PrEP as Resource Center plans to launch its PrEP clinic. From 2-5 p.m. at Resource Center,
5750 Cedar Springs Road.

• Oct. 15: Porchfest
Peak Addition Neighborhood Association block party and music festival from
noon-8 p.m. at 4700 Swiss Ave.

• Oct. 15: American Gothic
Oak Lawn Band presents a free concert at 8 p.m. at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, 3014 Oak Lawn Ave.

• Oct. 15-16: Old Oak Cliff Conservation League home tour
The city’s oldest and largest home tour. Buy tickets ahead of time for $15. Tickets the day of tour are $25 and can be purchased at Bishop and 8th streets in the Bishop Arts District. Money benefits Oak Cliff neighborhood improvement projects.

• Oct 16: LGBT Square Dancing
Pegasus Squares holds open house and dance lessons from 3-5 p.m. at Dallas School of Burlesque, 2924 Main St #103.

• Oct 16: Then Sings My Soul
Recital featuring mezzo soprano Brooke Clark with piano and violin features selections from the AIDS Quilt Songbook. 4:30 p.m. at Shipp Chapel, Lovers Lane United Methodist Church, 9200 Inwood Road.

• Oct. 20: ‘Upstairs Inferno’
Robert Camina’s film about the New Orleans mass murder will screen at 7:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Theater, 3699 McKinney Ave. followed by a Q&A. $15.

• Oct. 20: Art Show reception
Join the artists from the 10th anniversary Oak Lawn Library Friends Art Show from 6:30-7:30 p.m., Oak Lawn Library Auditorium, 4100 Cedar Springs Road.

• Oct. 22: Ranch Hand Rescue fundraiser
Benefit for the counseling center that uses equine and other rescued farm animals in therapy to help vets with physical disabilities and PTSD and children facing surgery and with other mental and physical disabilities. 6–11 p.m. at Hilton DFW Lakes Grand Ballroom, 1800 Hwy 26 East, Grapevine. $100.

• Oct. 22: Spooktacular
A fundraiser for GLBT LEAP Scholarships. Hollywood Glam and Hollywood Gore from 7-10 p.m. at ilume Park, 3109 Douglas Ave.

• Oct. 22: Texas Gift of Adoption dinner
Fajita dinner and silent auction benefits the Texas Gift of Adoption Fund Chapterfrom 6:30-10:30 p.m. at Ozona Grill,
4615 Greenville Ave. $40.

• Oct. 23: 25th Anniversary Hope Walk
The 25th annual Hope Walk benefitting AIDS Outreach Center in Tarrant County, includes a 5K family- and pet-friendly walk to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS and help AOC serve those living with or at risk of HIV. Includes burgers and beer provided by In-N-Out Burger and Ben E. Keith, a kick-off by Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, the Heels for Hope Dash, Kids Korner, Pooches on Parade, vendor and organization booths, awards, prizes and a raffle for a five-night Mexico cruise. Begins and ends at the Trinity Park Pavilion, 2300 W. 7th Street. For information or to register visit

• Oct 23: LGBT Square Dancing
Pegasus Squares holds open house and dance lessons from 3-5 p.m. at Dallas School of Burlesque, 2924 Main St #103.

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

• Oct. 29: 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. 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.

• 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. 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. 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
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.

• 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 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. 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.



Dance, lead or follow. Pegasus Squares, Dallas’ modern western LGBT square dancing group, holds open houses on Oct. 16 and 23 for couples or singles. Beginner dance lessons will be held through the fall. See details in the Gay Agenda.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

A gay view from a red state

Growing up ‘different’ puts a different spin on ‘the Trump Effect’

brent-paxtonIt’s never easy having a point of view at odds with the rest of your community. That is exactly how I’ve felt most of my life, having grown up in a small town in East Texas.

East Texas is VERY red — as Republican as you can get. I was taught that Republicans are Christians and that Democrats are atheists. No, really. I was taught this. I was also forced to watch a poorly made documentary in the late 1990s about how either Bill or Hillary Clinton was the Antichrist – or that they both were, simultaneously, in some unholy union.

This was my upbringing — and it’s not too far from the reality of many people, gay and straight, who live in rural areas of conservative states.

Like most families in most communities, I was indoctrinated into the right-wing conservatism of my community. Grandparents, preachers, teachers, parents and community leaders regularly reinforced their rules. I distinctly remember a grade school teacher telling me then-President Bill Clinton was “the devil.” Sadly, this didn’t shock me or bother me, because this was a sentiment I’d heard time and time again. Now, Donald Trump actually called Hillary Clinton “the devil” in the second presidential debate.

As I’ve gotten older and more independent, I’ve learned to come to my own conclusions about politics. I now identify as a Democrat and many in my family and community have accused me of “drinking the Kool-Aid.” This is code for saying that I don’t really believe in Democratic ideals, I’m just doing it to fit in with other gay people.

The truth is, I never agreed with the Republican platform or their ideas. I remember thinking from a very early age that there was something very wrong with what I was being taught. Perhaps it was my own internal moral compass. Or maybe it was the fact that Republicans, especially when I was younger, shunned and talked about gays with such hate and disgust that I simply had to distance myself from their ideology.

Whether it was the horrible things they said to me about people with AIDS, or maybe the “he had it coming attitude when Matthew Shepherd was murdered, or something else, I finally decided I couldn’t call myself a Republican.

Today, as an adult, I can express my political affiliations, opinions and concerns without fear of backlash. Or can I?

Presidential elections seem to bring out the worst in people. And this year, the Republicans have nominated Donald Trump, a man who has magnified the very worst attributes of his party. His inappropriate behavior has reached the point that the even Republican leadership have distanced themselves from him. But his supporters aren’t worried about the next election, and the “Trump Effect” is in full swing.

The Trumpians are everywhere. As polls indicate, they are almost half of the voting population; and they are truly everywhere. Sadly, this includes my Facebook.

This election, I’ve come to personally identify Trump supporters as “the angry mob.” “Angry” and “mob” go perfectly together because Trump has emboldened people to voice outdated opinions that are racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic and just downright hateful in general. The comments they leave on my Facebook posts are reminiscent of the crowd shouting, “Burn the witch!” from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Recently, I shared a few thoughts on Trump’s sexist comments about former Miss Universe, Alicia Machado. And the Trump train of comments came rolling in.

One read: “Well, what do you expect when Miss Universe turns into an overgrown cow!” (A reference to Machado gaining weight during her year as Miss Universe.) Another said: “She doesn’t belong here. Ship Ms. Piggy back to Mexico!”

Now, these are people I know! I ought to mention that Machado is from Venezuela and recently became a U.S. citizen.

These kinds comments perfectly intertwine sexism, racism and misogyny into one hateful bundle. And they show that Trump followers will defend anything he does. This became even more evident when Trump’s mob didn’t back down after he bragged about sexually assaulting women. Specifically, he said that he grabs them by their genitals and starts kissing them with no self control.

Shocking? Not to Trump supporters.

So, he doesn’t respect women. He doesn’t respect Muslims. He doesn’t respect people with disabilities (He mocked a reporter with a physical disability). He doesn’t respect Mexicans (i.e. calling them rapists and murders and advocating literally building a wall to keep them out).

What about the LGBT community? One comment on my page suggested that I should be happy that Trump is the Republican candidate. After all, the commentator said, “He’s the first Republican presidential candidate to support gay rights.”

What the hell?! Just to be clear, Trump has consistently opposed same-sex marriage in interviews since 2000. He also said he would appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would favor reversing the decision and leave the issue of same-sex marriage to the states. And he selected one of the most anti-LGBT politicians available to be his vice-presidential running mate.

Obviously the Republican Party hasn’t changed from when I was a child. They are just as angry a mob as they were before. And now they have a candidate just as angry and hateful as they are.

Trump has normalized the idea of spewing lie after lie with zero remorse; of perpetuating unsubstantiated and thoroughly debunked conspiracy theories; of objectifying and belittling women; of scapegoating the entire Mexican-American population; and too many others to mention here. Surely, by the time this hits newsstands another Trump controversy will have emerged.

As a proud gay person, I find Donald Trump reprehensible. Members of the gay community have struggled for so long to win even our most basic rights — like marriage equality, equal housing, access to partners in medical facilities, protections through hate crime laws and equal treatment in the military. How could I stand by and allow any man to say such horrible things about other communities engaged in their own fight for equality and equal footing in the world?

You see, it’s not really about being gay at all. It’s about being different. Growing up different is what lead me to the conclusion that the Republican Party is not for me. My childhood taught me that the party is for white, American-born straight people who claim to be Christians — no one else.

Trump is reviving this sentiment, with the occasional minority beside him as a political prop. And when commentators attack people of different backgrounds, people with disabilities and immigrants — I take that personally. As a person who is, and always has been, different, I know how wrong that is.

So, listen here my red state brothers, sisters, neighbors, co-workers, family and friends: When you defend racism, sexism, misogyny and xenophobia and claim that you’re “all for” gay rights, you are fooling no one. An attack against one is an attack against all.

Attacking people who are simply different than you because it gives you a sense of superiority is not okay. That superiority and privileged has been harnessed into a weapon this election, and I am not having it. This is why I’m voting for Hillary Clinton. I want to build bridges between us, not walls. Clinton’s slogan wraps up what we need to hear this election, “Stronger. Together.”

Brent Paxton is a freelance writer, filmmaker and political commentator living in Dallas, Texas. You can follow him on Facebook at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

What we’ve learned about Trump

The more I’ve learned about the GOP candidate, the more solid is my support for Clinton

david-webbFor four decades I avoided voting in political primaries because I thought it would be inappropriate for a reporter to align with a political party. I often covered political campaigns, so choosing one political party primary over another one would represent a bias in my view. I waited until the general election to cast my votes for candidates I preferred, and I usually kept my vote to myself.

That all changed when I retired and moved to Cedar Creek Lake in 2008. Down here, Democrats hold few offices, because East Texas is known as a Republican, Christian stronghold. I knew if I wanted my vote to count for much I needed to support moderate Republicans in the primaries for offices such as state representative and senator and for county offices.

That brings me to the 2016 presidential election. I did vote in the Republican Primary, and I voted for Donald Trump. At that time I knew what I thought was a lot about him, and I didn’t think of him as menacing. I knew that Ted Cruz would represent practically nothing I favored and almost everything that I deplored.

So here we are, less than a month out from the general election in November, and I’m mighty happy to know that even though I voted for Trump in the 2016 primary, I can cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton for president if I so choose.

Absolutely nothing prepared me for what I would learn about Trump during the past few months. Thank God for our relentlessly thorough media (hated by Trump for obvious reasons) that reveals what you need to know about political candidates and their agendas.

The media has revealed Trump lost almost $1 billion in 1995, according to a tax return obtained by the New York Times, and that allowed him to avoid paying federal income taxes for almost two decades.That pretty much shot down any claim to him being an “economic genius.” With that record, just think what he could do for America in four years.

We also now know that Trump is a sexist, racist, homophobe who would reverse every social gain made by any minority group if he only could become what he seems to really want to be — a dictator with absolute control over all of the branches of government.

Since the recent release of the Access Hollywood tape from 2005 that revealed him denigrating women and saying he could molest any of them he wanted because of his “star” status, Trump appears to be plummeting in the polls. In a four-way race, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed Clinton leading Trump 46 percent to 35 percent, with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson polling at 9 percent and Green Party candidate Jill Stein showing 2 percent.

In a head-to-head match, Clinton leads Trump 52 percent to 38 percent.

Trump’s core support appears to be white men without degrees and, in smaller numbers, white women without degrees, and also seniors, according to the Washington Post. The Atlantic reported that 90 percent of Trump’s support is white.

Trump already had failed to gain the critical support of the Bush family, and now that his conversation with Hollywood Access co-anchor Billy Bush (a first cousin to George W. Bush) has cost the younger Bush his job with NBC Today, that’s unlikely to change.

Clinton’s support is higher than Trump’s among female voters, blacks and Hispanics, according to the Washington Post.

It comes as a bit of a surprise to me that so many women dislike Clinton, given that she has worked most of her career as an advocate for women and children. In the Cedar Creek Lake area, I’ve yet to find a female senior, young woman or even a lesbian to say anything nice about her.

One of the most frequent complaints appears to be that she didn’t divorce Bill Clinton when the news about his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky became public and several other women claimed he engaged in affairs with them or sexually harassed and assaulted them.

The women to whom I spoke also claimed Hillary Clinton verbally attacked and ordered private investigations of Bill Clinton’s accusers. They called her a serial liar, and they criticized her sympathy for immigrants fleeing war-torn countries.

I would say the decisions of the Clintons to remain married is their business, and I’m not going to fault her for that choice. Most married people these days seem to be on at least their second marriage, and I’ve known people who were married as many as five times and divorced just as many.

One of the more bizarre comments about support for Trump after the release of the Access Hollywood dialog came from a Kansas woman who identified herself as a Republican Party chair. She said that although she deplored Trump’s remarks, she believed he would be the kind of man Christians should support: “God can use anybody,” she said. “God can use this man.”

I gather she thinks God is in charge of the Republican Party.

Neither Clinton nor Trump are models of propriety, but I know which candidate is most likely to take my interests to heart when it comes to really important matters, such as the appointment of a new justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, setting an agenda that protects the rights of all people and preventing our nation from taking rash military action that could lead to catastrophic results.

I’m for Hillary and the Democratic Party, and if you share my concerns, you should be too.

David Webb is a veteran journalist with more than three decades of experience, including a stint as a staff reporter for Dallas Voice. He now lives on Cedar Creek Lake and writes for publications nationwide.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice