Bam! Pow!

Our curated list of 15 unmissable events in the upcoming season of the arts

Cheryl-lMannb

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Theater, opera, dance, spoken word, art, music: There are endless options out there every year (heck, every week!) for people who consume culture… and we didn’t even mention comedy, film or performance art yet. So how do you choose? We’ve curated 15 events from now until this time next year, culled from across the Metroplex, highlighting the likely standouts. None of these catch your fancy? Well, go to Page 21 for a fuller lineup of arts seasons.          

— Arnold Wayne Jones

AUTUMN 2017

Cedar Springs or Big Scary Animals at the Theatre Too space, Sept. 7–Oct. 1. Matt Lyle, one of North Texas’ cleverest scribes, wrote this world premiere comedy about a straight couple who move into the gayborhood. Presented by Theatre 3.

Fun Home at the Winspear Opera House, Sept. 13–24. The Tony Award-winning musical about a girl who grows up in a funeral parlor and comes to terms with her own sexuality … and that of her father. Presented by AT&T Performing Arts Center.

Chita and Tune: Two for the Road at the Eisemann Performing Arts Center, Sept. 22. Two of Broadway’s most legendary performers, Chita Rivera and Tommy Tune, unite for this concert performance. Presented by Eisemann Center.

Michael Chabon at the Dallas Museum of Art, Oct. 2. The Pulitzer Prize-winning bisexual novelist speaks about his latest novel. Presented by Arts & Letters Live.

Truth: 24 frames per second at the Dallas Museum of Art, Oct. 22–Jan. 28, 2018. The DMA presents its first-ever exhibit devoted to time-based media. Presented by the Dallas Museum of Art.

WINTER/SPRING 2018

Something Rotten! at Bass Performance Hall, Jan. 17–21. If you missed the national tour of this hilarious musical directed by Casey Nicholaw (The Book of Mormon), don’t miss your second bite at the apple when it returns to Fort Worth. Presented by Performing Arts Fort Worth.

Lucky Plush at Moody Performance Hall, March 9–10, pictured. TITAS’ upcoming season is exciting for many reasons, but we’re really looking forward to the Texas debut of this Chicago-based dance troupe with superhero ideas. Presented by TITAS.

Sunken Garden at Winspear Opera House, March 9–17. Composer Michel van der Aa’s contemporary opera involves 3-D projections, taking opera to the next technological level. Presented by Dallas Opera.

Waitress at Fair Park Music Hall, March 28–April 8 and Bass Performance Hall, June 19–24.  Sara Bareilles wrote the score to this cult hit musical, based on the acclaimed indie film. Presented by Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth.

Jaap van Sweden’s final three concerts at Myerson Symphony Center, April 20–May 26. The acclaimed maestro leaves as music director of the DSO at the end of the coming season, and his busy lineup culminates in three concerts we cannot wait to hear: Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 (April 26–28), Wagner’s Die Walkure (May 18–20) and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (May 24–26). Presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

SUMMER 2018

Hir at Stage West, May 17–June 17. Genre-bending playwright Taylor Mac wrote this acclaimed play about a genderqueer son, a stroke-afflicted father and the rest of a dysfunctional family in this terrifyingly hilarious twist on the family drama. A regional premiere. Presented by Stage West.

Swan Lake at Bass Performance Hall, May 25–27 and Winspear Opera House, June 1–3. Tchaikovsky’s powerful ballet — breathtaking music, heartfelt story and lovely choreography. Presented by Texas Ballet Theater.

White Rabbit Red Rabbit at the Wyly Theatre, May 30–July 1. A play performed by a different actor every night, who has never read the script nor seen a production — he (or she) experiences the play simultaneously with the audience. Intriguing, and already an international sensation. Presented by Dallas Theater Center.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Kalita Humphreys Theater, July 13–29. The stage version of the hit movie, a jukebox musical with heart set in the Australian Outback. Presented by Uptown Players.

Hand to God at Addison Theatre Centre, Aug. 3–26. Joanie Schultz directs her version of this outrageous comedy about a puppet that make be an instrument of the devil. Presented by WaterTower Theatre.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Arts seasons at a glance

Your guide to theater, dance, music and more in 2017–18

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Truth: 24 frames per second will be at the DMA this fall.

 

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PLAYS AND MUSICALS

‘Waitress’ opens at the Dallas Summer Musicals in March.

Dallas Summer Musicals and Performing Arts Fort Worth (Broadway at the Bass)

The two companies again share marketing and booking this season, with plenty of overlap.

DSM’s season starts later than usual, with its holiday add-on, Irving Berlin’s White Christmas (Dec. 5–10). That’s followed in 2018 with the Tony Award-winning hit The Color Purple (Jan. 23–Feb. 4); the Gloria Estefan musical On Your Feet! (Feb. 27–March 11); the acclaimed Sara Bareilles musical Waitress (March 28–April 8), the revival of Les Miserables (April 24–May 6); umpteenth return of Disney’s The Lion King (June 13–July 8); Love Never Dies: The Phantom Returns (July 24–Aug. 5), Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to his monster hit; and finally Webber’s latest hit, School of Rock (Aug. 15–26). All performances take place at Fair Park Music Hall. DallasSummerMusicals.org.

PAFW still has two more shows this summer and fall (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, Sept. 12–17, and Rent, Oct. 17–22) before beginning its 2018 season in January with the hilarious Something Rotten! (Jan. 17–21); Finding Neverland (March 20–25); Waitress (June 19–24); Love Never Dies (Aug. 7–12) and finally School of Rock (Aug. 28–Sept. 2). Sister’s Christmas Catechism: The Mystery of the Magi’s Gold (Dec. 13–17) at the McDavid Studio and Chicago (Feb. 16–18). Performances are at Bass Performance Hall. BassHall.com.

AT&T Performing Arts Center

The Broadway Series starts with the Tony Award winner for best musical Fun Home (Sept. 13–24); followed by Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Dec. 5–17); Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I (Dec. 19–31); The 2016 best play Tony winner The Humans (May 9–20); and finally Bright Star by Steve Martin and Dallas native Edie Brickell (June 12–24). Bonus shows include Riverdance (March 20–25) and Jersey Boys (May 22–27). All performances are at the Winspear Opera House. ATTPAC.org.

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‘The Color Purple’ returns to North Texas in January.

Dallas Theater Center

The Dallas Theater Center — now officially the Tony Award-winning regional theater — starts off with a world premiere about the civil rights movement, Boo Killebrew’s Miller, Mississippi (Aug. 30–Oct. 1, Wyly Studio). That will be followed by the musical Hair (Sept. 22–Oct. 22, Wyly); Fade (Dec. 6–Jan. 7, Kalita) about a Latino writer hired for a TV show; Frankenstein (Feb. 2–March 4, Kalita); The Great Society (March 9–April 1, Wyly), the follow-up to last season’s All the Way about LBJ; the world premiere The Trials of Sam Houston (April 20–May 1, Kalita); and finally the unusual cannot-be-discussed White Rabbit Red Rabbit (May 30–July 1). As usual, the winter offers the add-on tradition: A Christmas Carol (Nov. 22–Dec. 28, Wyly). DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Uptown Players

The gay-centric troupe ends its 16th season this month (see the story on Page 18) with The Tribute Artist, then kicks off its 2018 season early, with The Full Monty (Oct. 20–Nov. 5); the regional premiere of The Legend of Georgia McBride (Dec. 1–17); the big summer musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (July 13–29); and finally Perfect Arrangement (Aug. 24–Sept. 2), a comedy set during the red scare. Bonus shows include its annual fundraiser, Broadway Our Way (June 14-17), and A Chorus Line, a one-weekend-only version performed at Moody Performance Hall (Feb. 2–4). All performances (except A Chorus Line) are at the Kalita. UptownPlayers.org.

WaterTower Theatre

The first season created by new artistic director Joanie Schultz includes a world premiere and several regional premieres. Pride and Prejudice (Oct. 13–Nov. 5), a new adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. That’s followed by Elliot, A Soldier’s Fugue (Jan. 26–Feb. 18) by Pulitzer winner Quiara Alegria Hudes; Bread (April 13–May 6), a world premiere family drama from Dallas native Regina Taylor; The Last Five Years (June 8–July 1), Jason Robert Brown’s romantic musical told in reverse time; and finally Hand to God (Aug. 3–26), directed by Schultz, about a hand puppet that might be the devil. A bonus show, The Great Distance Home by WTT artistic associate Kelsey Leigh Ervi, will play Dec. 1–17, and Detour: A Festival of New Work, will run March 1–4. All performances at the Addison Theatre Centre. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

Theatre 3

The theater just began its first full season under new artistic director Jeffrey Schmidt with The Minotaur (through Aug. 27) and continues with: Cedar Springs or Big Scary Animals (Sept. 7–Oct. 1), a world premiere set in Dallas from Matt Lyle (in the Theatre Too space); Adding Machine: A Musical (Sept. 28–Oct. 22); Prism Movement Theatre’s Lear (Oct. 26–Nov. 19), a wordless retelling of the doomed king (Theatre Too); Solstice: Stories and Songs for the Holidays (Nov. 24–Dec. 17); the 18th and final production of I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change (Jan. 11–March 4, Theatre Too); Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Jan. 18–Feb. 11); She Kills Monsters (March 8–April 1), a romp through role-playing games; The Last One-Nighter on The Death Trail starring the Disappointment Players (April 26–May 20), a locally-written world premiere musical; Self Injurious Behavior (May 17–June 10), a world premiere from local actress Jessica Cavanaugh about parenting an autistic child (Theatre Too); and finally Les Liaisons Dangereuses (June 14–July 8), Christopher Hampton’s delicious evil version of the epistolary novel. Theatre3Dallas.com.

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‘On your feet’ will play in 2018 at Fair Park Music Hall.

Stage West

The Fort Worth company begins its 39th season with Life Sucks (Oct. 12–Nov. 12), a modern updating of Uncle Vanya; Like a Billion Likes (Jan. 18–Feb. 4), a world premiere; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Gynecological Oncology Unit at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center of New York City (March 8–April 1), a regional premiere; Hir (May 17–June 17), Taylor Mac’s take on a family drama; Don’t Dress for Dinner (July 12–Aug. 12), the Marc Camoletti farce that isn’t Boeing Boeing; and An Octoroon (Aug. 30–Sept. 30), set on a Southern plantation. A season extra is An Act of God (Nov. 30–Dec. 31), starring B.J. Cleveland. StageWest.org.

Lyric Stage

The musical theater company enters its 19th season with a new artistic director and a new home. The season begins with the return of Dallas Divas, which takes place at the Meyerson with the Dallas Winds (Sept. 29). It then jumps to its new homebase at the Majestic Theatre with Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Nov. 17–19); Daddy Long Legs (Jan. 19–21); and finally Guys and Dolls (June 8–10). LyricStage.org.

MBS Productions

North Texas’ only company dedicated to forgotten classics and new works returns with its Halloween show, Blood Feast (Oct. 19–Nov. 5), and its holiday staple The Beulaville Baptist Book Club Presents: A Bur-Less-Que Nutcracker (Nov. 24-Dec. 26), which moves into the Addison Theatre Centre’s main stage; 7 Plays, 7 Days (Feb. 19–25), a festival of new works; Marianela (March 28–April 21); the world premiere Portrait of a Man (June 1–17) and finally A Lovely Goodbye (July 19–Aug. 12), about the third-rate drag queen Lovely Uranus. MBSProductions.net.

OPERA AND MUSIC

Dallas Opera

The Dallas Opera begins the 2017-18 with Camille Saint-Saens’ Samson & Dalila (Oct. 20–Nov. 5), performed in rep with Verdi’s La Traviata (Oct. 27–Nov. 10). Next up will be the duo of Korngold’s early, forgotten masterpiece The Ring of Polykrates and his Violin Concerto in D Major (Opus 35) (Feb. 9–17). Then comes the U.S. premiere of Michel van der Aa’s Sunken Garden (March 9–17) and Mozart’s Don Giovanni (April 13–29). DallasOpera.org.

Fort Worth Opera

North Texas’ oldest opera company returns with a new general director for its annual spring festival, which in 2018 will be Wagner’s Das Rheingold; Rossini’s Don Pasquale; and Piazzolla’s Maria de Buenos Aires. The festival runs April 28–May 13. FWOpera.org.

Turtle Creek Chorale

The men’s chorus’ 2017–18 season, called Renegades, features three mainstage concerts: Its holiday show, Snowflakes (Dec. 7–10); Anthems: The Songs That Shaped the Movements (March 23–25); and finally Outlaw (June 8–10). All performances take place at Moody Performance Hall. TurtleCreekChorale.com.

BALLET AND DANCE

Texas Ballet Theater

As usual, many shows will perform both at Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall and Dallas’ Winspear Opera House. Beauty and the Beast (Sept. 7–10 at Bass Hall; Sept. 29–Oct.1 at the Winspear); The Nutcracker (Nov. 24–Dec. 3 at Winspear; Dec. 6–24 at Bass Hall); The Nutty Nutcracker (Dec. 15 at Bass Hall); Henry VIII and Seven Sonatas (March 2–4 at Bass Hall); Mozart Requiem and Matinu Pieces (March 29–31 at Bass Hall); Swan Lake (May 25–27 at Bass Hall; June 1–3 at Winspear. TexasBalletTheater.org.

TITAS

TITAS kicks off its latest all-dance season later this month with MOMIX (Aug. 31, Winspear Opera House), followed by: Ballet Hispanico (Sept. 15–16, Moody Performance Hall); Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company (Oct 27–28, Moody); Malpaso Dance Company (Nov, 10–11, Moody); Cie. Herve Koubi (Jan. 20, Winspear); Lucky Plush (March 9–10, Moody); L.A. Dance Porject (March 30–31, Moody); Alonzo King LINES Ballet (June 9, Winspear); Parsons Dance Company (June 30, Winspear). As usual, the Command Performance Gala will take place at the Winspear in the spring (May 5). ATTPAC.org.

Bruce Wood Dance

The company has dropped the “project” from its title but will be back at Moody Performance Hall with Home (Nov. 17–18). BruceWoodDance.org.

This list is not, and cannot be, exhaustive. For more season information, visit the following arts organizations’ websites: KitchenDogTheater.org. Undermain.org. WingspanTheatre.com. CircleTheatre.org. TheWomensChorusOfDallas.com. EisemannCenter.com. DBDT.com. DMA.org. KimbellArt.org. TheModern.org. TicketDFW.com. ATTPAC.org. BassHall.com.

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FWO’s HGIC

(Head Gay in Charge)

Tuomas-HiltunenSix months after the Fort Worth Opera terminated Darren K. Woods — who brought national acclaim to the company — it has named another gay leader. The new general director, who took over at the beginning of the month, is Finnish-born, New York-based Tuomas Hiltunen. He shares leadership with newly-appointed artistic director Joe Illick, the company’s music director since 2002. Hiltunen, 45, who is an expert on Nordic drama, comes here with his husband Damon Clyde, a San Antonio native who works for OutRight Action International, a New York-based organization promoting global LGBTIQ human rights. We will have a full profile of Hiltunen for the Dallas Pride edition of Dallas Voice.

— Mark Lowry

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Best Bets • 08-11-17

Friday 08.11 — Saturday 08.26
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Morgana Shaw is back once more as Bette Davis

When Morgana Shaw performed the solo show All About Bette earlier this summer at the Margo Jones Theatre, it was hailed as an acting triumph. Now she’s back with two limited runs — for two days in Fort Worth, and for a week in Addison. Don’t miss the chance to see one of Dallas’ best actresses play one of Hollywood’s best actresses. But fasten your seatbelts — it’s gonna be a bumpy night.

DEETS: Stage West,
281 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth,
Aug. 1–12; Addison Theatre Centre,
15650 Addison Road, Aug. 18–26.
AnEveningWithBetteDavis.com.

Wednesday 08.16 — Sunday 08.20

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Women Texas Film Fest returns, with prominent queer content

For the second year, the Women Texas Film Festival — WTxFF — brings a slate of films of interest to women to Dallas screens, including some prominent gay content. The opening night film, And Then There Was Eve, involves a lesbian relationship, while the feature Ekaj, about two gay hustlers (one HIV-positive), has been heralded as a cross between Kids and Midnight Cowboy. It total eight features and three dozen shorts will screen.

DEETS: Studio Movie Grill,
10110 Technology Blvd.
And Then There Was Eve screens Wednesday at 7 p.m.;
Ekaj screens Thursday at 7 p.m. Individual tickets $10.
For passes and a complete schedule, visit WomenTxFF.org.

Sunday 08.12

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Hard Rock relives the ’60s … in a frock

Dish (and later Cedar Grove) at the ilume was one of the first restaurants in Dallas to offer a drag brunch, and now that it’s closed, other locales have picked up the slack. Among them: the Hard Rock Café in Victory Park, which offers a monthly show with a unique theme. This month: ’60s Showcase! So show up in your best Gidget gear … or just let the queens do all the work.

DEETS: Hard Rock Café,
2211 N. Houston St.
12:30 p.m. show.
$5 cover.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Scene • 08-11-17

 

Making the SCENE the week of Aug. 11–17:

Alexandre’s: Terry Loftis on Friday. Genre, featuring K-Marie, on Saturday. Wayne Smith on Sunday. K-Marie Broadway on Tuesday. Bianka on Wednesday. Chris Chism on Thursday.

BJ’s NXS!: Charity showcase on Sunday. 

Club Changes: Return of the
Divine Divas
at Cowtown Leathermen meeting at 7 p.m. on Monday.

Club Reflection: Cowtown Leathermen cookout at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Wall of Food Show at 8 p.m. on Thursday.

Dallas Eagle: International Leather boy Jake’s Kinky State Sale from 6–9:30 p.m. on Friday. Discipline Corps club night begins at 10 p.m. on Friday.

JR.’s Bar & Grill: Cassie’s Freak Show at 11 p.m. on Monday.

Marty’s Live: Tuesdays with Blake.

Round-Up Saloon: Project Funway, a design game show, hosted by Sassy O’Hara at 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Sue Ellen’s: Queen of the Underground women’s wrestling match at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Mojo Dolls on Saturday. Kathy & Bella at 3:30 p.m. followed by Bad Habits on Sunday. Open mic with Kathy & Bella on Wednesday.

The Rose Room: Top Dog Couture, a four-legged fashion extravaganza, from 6-9 p.m. on Sunday. $5.

Woody’s Sports & Video Bar: I Love the 90s at 9 p.m. on Monday.

Zippers: presents the all-new Confessional Booth.

Scene Photographers: Kat Haygood and Chad Mantooth

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Crossword Puzzle • 08-11-17

Click to download this week’s PUZZLE
Click to download this week’s SOLUTION

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

Editorial Cartoon • 08-11-17

sessncmyk

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

A Couple of Guys • 08-11-17

MOANANCV

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 11, 2017.

—  Dallasvoice

After months of homophobic attacks, Oklahoma gay man files federal lawsuit

OKLAHOMA CITY— Randy Gamel-Medler, a gay man, filed a federal equal protection lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma against nine defendants from Blaine County, Oklahoma, including Hitchcock Mayor Rick Edsall, Blaine County Sheriff Tony Almaguer and Blaine County Undersheriff David Robertson.

The complaint details months of police and government inaction in response to racist and homophobic threats and harassment including state law claims for assault, battery, destruction of real and personal property, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to information sent to Dallas Voice by Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson.

“When our family moved to the town of Hitchcock in rural Oklahoma we thought we were buying our last house,” said plaintiff Randy Gamel-Medler. “We wanted to know our neighbors by their first names and grow old together, but we were soon met with hatred, suspicion, and discrimination. We were terrorized, murder threats were made against our seven year-old African-American son. Town officials conspired to run us out of office, all while local law enforcement ignored our pleas for help. We are now left with the last 27 years of our life literally erased. What do we do now?”

Hitchcock is about 80 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

Gamel-Medler, a white gay man with a 7 year-old African-American son, was first threatened in September 2016 at a town council meeting one month after moving to Hitchcock. Upon learning that Gamel-Medler had an African-American son, defendant Meradith Norris, a town of Hitchcock Trustee, asked, “What’s going to happen when your house burns down and we don’t send out the fire trucks?”

Gamel-Medler filed a police report, but no criminal action was taken.

“We must not forget that after years of progress, crimes of bias still exist,” Stevenson said. “The allegations in Hitchcock are horrific, and show the intersection of hate aimed at the both the African-American and LGBTQ Communities. Freedom Oklahoma stands with all victims of bias, and will work vigilantly to ensure the state of Oklahoma passes Bias-Crime Protections for all Oklahomans.”

In early May 2017, Gamel-Medler was performing his duties as town clerk by clearing an obstruction from the road when he was assaulted by defendant Jonita Pauls Jacks, who tried to enter Gamel-Medler’s truck and then after realizing it was locked began shaking the truck, called him a “f***ing queer,” and said, “I’m going to grab your little boy, rip his n***er head off, and sh** down his throat.”

When Gamel-Medler attempted to file a police report after this incident, he was informed that the mayor had already described this incident to the police. The Deputy Sheriff refused to take a report, said that this is just how these folks are, and characterized the incident as free speech.

“This abhorrent incident underscores the urgent need for our communities and public officials to commit to combatting the epidemic of hate-based violence that continues to plague too many in the LGBTQ community,” said Robin Maril, Human Rights Campaign’s Associate Legal Director. “No family should have to fear for their safety because of who they are or whom they love. LGBTQ people in Oklahoma and around the nation need action. We must demand training to ensure that law enforcement officials have the tools they need to partner with LGBTQ community-members and to swiftly respond to hate crimes with sensitivity. Adoption of mandatory reporting requirements for hate-crime statistics coupled with the passage of statewide LGBTQ-inclusive hate crimes and non-discrimination protections are also essential to ending this violence. Our hearts go out to the Medler family during this incredibly difficult time.”

Over the next several weeks, the complaint states that one or more of the defendants threw gravel several times at Gamel-Medler’s home, posted a sign outside of the post office stating that “the town clerk is a “f***ing queer,” and attempted to run a friend of Gamel-Medler’s off of the road.

“No family should live in fear or have to endure harassment and threats based on racism and homophobia,” said Shannon Price Minter, legal director for National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We must hold those government officials, members of law enforcement, and others accountable.”

The complaint says that on May 28, Gamel-Medler heard the sound of glass breaking in his garage and called the sheriff’s office to report a burglary. He then saw a fire in his garage and called the fire department. Despite the fire department being located one block away from Gamel-Medler’s home, the fire department failed to arrive until the house had burned to the ground. While the house was burning, a number of the named defendants watched it burn, including Mayor Edsall, who sat and watched with his family in lawn chairs.

—  David Taffet

The sweet life

Dallas businessmen — and best friends — plan a golden future with their country farm and Queen Mary Honey

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Tammye Nash | Managing Editior
nash@dallasvoice.com

Think of them as the Golden Girls, except instead of four older straight women, they are four not-really-older gay men. And instead of Miami, their story is set (at least partially) in Canton, Texas.

And there are bees. Honeybees, in fact. Lots and lots of honeybees.

Now, there are a few other differences, too between TV’s Golden Girls and Canton’s honey boys. Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia and Rose started out as strangers who became roommates then best friends, while Clint, Jeff, J.T. and Derek were best friends who became roommates and home co-owners.

IMG_9725And while the Miami girls were at the end of or retired from their careers, the Dallas guys are at the height of theirs — and at the same time, just beginning a new adventure with Queen Mary Honey, their fledgling food and beverage venture based at their Canton-area vacation home.

Clint Thomson, the head bee charmer at Queen Mary, explained that he, Jeff Fielder and couple J.T. Williams and Derek Selders were best friends that spent all their time together. Before long, he said, they decided that since they already spent all their time together, they might as well live together.

“So we all moved in together a while ago, and it has worked out really well,” Clint said. It’s gone so well, in fact, that the friends decided to purchase a vacation home together.

“We started looking for property out in the country. We searched and searched until we found this property,” Clint said. The property is about 10 acres, just south of Canton on Highway 19, with two houses and a barn, heavily wooded and bordered on three sides by a large commercial nursery that focuses on growing various trees.

He continued, “We wanted a new adventure, some place where we could do natural things,” like raising livestock and gardening. And keeping bees.

Clint explained that the idea of keeping bees and harvesting and selling the honey came from him. “About 10 years ago, I lived in Goldthwaite, Texas, and I started keeping bees there. There was a man there named Ralph Ishmael who was my bee mentor. He was retiring from the business, and he gave me all his equipment.”

Back in Goldthwaite, Clint said, “I didn’t really harvest any of the honey. It was more about learning to keep the bees. They are fascinating creatures, and I really loved learning about them.

“But circumstances changed. I moved away from Goldthwaite and I gave up the beekeeping,” Clint added. “Then, flash forward 10 years, and here we are with this property, and I thought, why not do beekeeping again? And this time, actually do it commercially.”

So last year Clint ordered the hives, which arrived disassembled, and last December he put four of them together and situated them on the property. In early spring he introduced the bees — which can also be purchased via mail order, he said.

“It takes a little while to build each hive, to put it together,” Clint said of the high-tech bee homes he uses. “I have others to assemble that I will put out eventually. But they are still in boxes right now. You can only set up a hive in early spring.”

Bees are, in general, pretty self-sufficient creatures, Clint said. Once they are in their hives, “I really only have to make periodic checks. Here where we are, they have plenty of food sources around, and there is a creek that runs right through the property, so they have water, too.”

IMG_9768There are certain dangers to watch out for, he said, and he looks for ways to address problems in the most natural, most effective and most efficient ways possible.

“By bringing in the bees, we really are helping the whole area,” Clint said, explaining that by going about their usual day-to-day bee business, the bees are helping pollinate plants all around them, which keeps crops healthier and more productive.

“From the numbers I’ve seen, farmers can get up to a 30 percent increase in yield when there are bees to pollinate their crops. Some crops, like almonds, can’t survive without bee pollination,” he said.

That means that there is a market for beekeepers who want to lease out hives, placing them on properties where crops are being grown to help increase the crops’ yield. In fact, Clint said, he has already been approached by a man who grows flowers near Kaufman to do just that, and he hopes to be able to place some hives there by next spring.

The fact that honeybees have been dying off in large numbers has made plenty of headlines in recent years, and Clint said that is due to a “combination of factors,” with pesticide use at the top of the list.

The main problem, he said, are neonicotinoids, systemic pesticides that are put on the seeds of a plant so that as the plant grows, the pesticide is part of the plant itself, instead of a separate substance applied to the plant.

“The bees get on the plant and take the nectar or the pollen. They aren’t killed by retrieving the pollen or nectar, but they take it back to the hive, and the hive is slowly poisoned,” Clint explained. “The bees then flee en masse and die. That is called colony collapse disorder.”

There are also small parasites that can invade the hives and injure and kill the bees. One is the small hive beetle, which is really only a danger to hives that are weak to begin with. Another is the varroa mite, which bites through a bee’s carapace to suck its blood, compromising the bee’s immune system and weakening it.

While some beekeepers treat the parasites with chemicals, Clint said he chooses non-chemical methods. For example, while he hasn’t had any real problems with varroa mites so far, if he finds any, he simply heats the hive to 113 degrees — hot enough to kill the mites but not hot enough to harm the bees.

Clint said he also purchases queen bees bred to be more resistant to mites and uses other integrated pest management techniques.

He has also chosen to use high-tech hives that, while more expensive in the beginning and a bit harder to assemble, pay off in the end by allowing better honey harvests with less waste and less disruption to the bees.

“Harvesting the honey used to take forever the old way, and it was very traumatic for the bees,” he said. “With these new hives, we hardly have to disturb the bees at all.”

In “the old days,” bee hives had wooden frames lined up, side by side, inside the boxes, creating the bases on which the bees built their honeycombs. To harvest the honey, beekeepers had to remove each frame, cut the honeycomb from it then strain the honey.

In the new hives, the frames come with the “honeycomb” already built in. The bees deposit their honey, and when the time comes, the beekeeper can open a side panel — separated from the “honeycomb” and the busy bees by a clear panel, uncap the tubes that run from top-to-bottom in the comb, turn a key and watch the pure, clear honey drain into capture tubes.

“The honey is so pure and clean that I could take a piece of toast out there, wipe the honey off the [drain tube] with it and eat it right there,” Clint said.

“It comes ready to eat, straight from the hive. And all the pollen and good stuff that would have been strained out the old way is still in it. The savings in manpower alone is worth the extra cost initially.”

He said that each frame in the hive can produce a half-gallon of honey at a time, and it takes the bees two to four weeks to fill a frame. His hives have seven frames, which means every two to four weeks he can harvest about three-and-a-half gallons of honey from each of the four hives.

Next spring, he added, he plans to add six more hives.

“These hives just came out in the last couple of years, and it is making a revolutionary change in the honey industry,” he said. “It makes it possible for a much smaller operation to run a massive apiary. It cuts down on the cost of harvesting the honey, which means better profit in the short term. And in the short term, it will help bring down the price of quality, local honey.”

Some of the hives use frames that allow room for the bees to build their own wax honeycomb, and that comb can also be harvested and used for products, many of which Clint and the others intend to add to their product line.

They hope to add to their farm, too, and each one has his own specialty. J.T. is the one who looks after the elderly pig, Pork Chop, who came with the property. Derek does most of the gardening, and Clint and Jeff are the ones who look after the bees.

Right now, the four men are all very busy with their lives in the big city: Clint is a computer consultant who operates Solera

Tech, offering managed services to small businesses; Jeff and J.T. are both closers in the title industry, and Derek works in the mortgage industry.

They also stay busy as volunteers with various organizations in the LGBT community. Clint was co-chair for Lambda Legal and now serves on the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce board. J.T. founded The Red Party and is currently chair of the chamber.

But, Clint said, they hope to someday be able to retire from city life and focus on operating Queen Mary Honey and living the life of gentleman farmers on their property.

“We want to get some goats, and maybe make products that use goat cheese and honey,” Clint said. “We want to use the wax from the honeycomb to make lip balms and hair waxes and things like that. Maybe when someone is living here all the time, we’ll get some chickens. And we’ll sell honey.

“Someday, I’m gonna be able to just sit in my rocking chair and sell honey to the people who come by. That’s the plan.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 4 2017.

—  Tammye Nash

Bridging the gap

The complex relationship between the black transgender community and the larger black community

Sammi NesbitEvery time one of our transgender brothers or sisters loses their life to senseless acts of violence, I always ask myself: Who speaks up for them? We can sometimes rely on the LGBTQ community as a whole, but unfortunately, a majority of our community’s reactions to these outrages has lowered my expectations.

Many of those who are murdered are black transgender women. How does the black community as a whole respond?

The relationship between the straight, cisgender black community and the LGBTQ is complex and layered. Some of the fundamental components of this relationship are the black church, white vs. black privilege, and the black LGBT community’s relationship with the straight, cisgender black community.

At the beginning of the gay rights movement, it was white males who were the poster children for liberation, even though black and Latina trans woman threw the first bricks into the Stonewall Inn.

When the AIDS crisis plagued the community in the 1980s, most members of various resistance groups such as ACT Up were white. But the plague would end up nearly decimating the black LGBT people that lived in the shadows. So now, as we rise to fight for transgender rights, we must do better, because we deserve a better future.

The straight black community can be one of our strongest allies, if we extend the olive branch. And we must start by embracing our own black LGBT brothers and sisters.

We must recognize black gay men as more than fetishes and fantasies, and black trans women as more than sex workers.

When we fight for the rights of transgender children in school, we must remember that there are also black and Latina children who experience problems with acceptance, and we must place their stories alongside the various narratives of oppression and bullying.

To understand the straight, cisgender black community, one must understand the dynamics of the black church.

The black church has been the only constant in the lives of almost every black person living in the South. The black church was often a meeting place during the civil rights movement, a place of comfort when loved ones were dying from AIDS, and it serves as a place of unity when an unarmed black man dies at the hands of an officer.

But the black church has also played a part in the attempted suppression of LGBTQ rights, with preachers sometimes delivering fear-mongering sermons and churches expelling members discovered to be part of the LGBT community.

But now, the tide has begun to change, just not as rapidly as some would hope. The days of black church leaders preaching hate are almost gone, and those that still linger in hate face sharp retribution (i.e. Kim Burrell).

Still, the black LGBT community and the straight, cisgender black community have yet to cross one major hurdle blocking progress in building relationship: How do they address the murders of the black transgender women?

The murders of black transwomen at the hands of straight men have long plagued the community. But many have turned a blind eye because of the stereotype that many black transwomen were sex workers and therefore, somehow deserved what happened to them.

This problem was most recently reiterated during an interview with Lil Duval by Charlemagne tha God on the morning radio show The Breakfast Club.

The C-list comedian was asked, “What if you found out one of the women you were dating was a transwoman?” He said he would kill her.

His deplorable comments highlight the growing problem among black straight men (and some women) and their lack of acceptance of transgender women and men. And therein lies the problem.

To begin to change this way of thinking, we must first change our own ways of thinking. Many of our transgender brothers and sisters feel alienated from their lesbian, gay and bisexual peers; they feel excluded. We must support them wholeheartedly, invite them to the table, and let their voice be heard. We must understand their complexities and celebrate them for who they are — loving human beings.

As history is being made in the fight for the rights of the transgender community, this is the perfect opportunity to build a strong alliance with a community that understands the struggle for civil rights: the straight black community.

This is our opportunity to bridge the gap.

Sammy Nesbit is the chief science officer of the Center for Minority Community Health and is currently a doctoral candidate at University of North Texas. He currently researches adolescent black and Latino HIV sero-prevalence behaviors in large urban communities.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 4 2017.

—  Dallasvoice