Tex’n the City: Epilogue

In late September, we launched an online series called Tex’n the City, where former Dallasite Brandon James Singleton chronicled the months leading up to his 30th birthday as a transplant to Southern California. He started with a checklist, then moved one-by-one through the things he wanted to accomplish before the big day: 1. Live in a dream home, 2. have a well-paying career, 3. get a hot body, 4. enjoy his social circle, 5. have a great boyfriend, 6. be drama free, 7. have “respect,” 8. have security, 9. have a BFF and finally, 10. be ready for the future. Rarely did what he think he wanted — or had — turn out to be what he imagined.

On Dec. 15, Brandon hit his mark. Here’s Part 1 to his post-script to the first 30 years.

DOOMSDAY.

I’ve compared life to the cinema a lot over the last few weeks. But just like the movies, sometimes when things look slim, that silver-lining comes from nowhere.

1. DREAM HOME. I am enjoying living on the West Coast more than any place I’ve ever lived. I love Texas. I’ll always love Texas. But being in Hollywood has forced me to grow up, in every way.

There’s an energy that drives people out here to go after what they want. And succeed in obtaining it. It’s one of the busiest places in the world. And it can feel lonely and make you feel insignificant if you allow it to. But it can also make you feel inspired and motivate you to rise up to the challenge and achieve your dreams.

I am in love with Hollywood. I was born here. It just took nearly 30 years for the prodigal son to find his way home.

2. WELL-PAYING CAREER. A few days ago, I get the call I’ve been waiting for since September: I was offered a full time position with one of the companies I’ve been interning for. Within the week, I was working on sets for Lifetime, Nick@Nite and NBC.

All of these months of hard work are paying off.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tex’n the City: Item No. 7 — Respect

With Veterans Day just over, and his 30th birthday just a month away, Brandon James Singleton has been thinking a lot about respect lately — No. 7 on his checklist of accomplishments before the big 3-0. Here’s the latest Tex’n the City.

All my life I’ve been taught to show respect. Towards my elders. My fellow man. Really, to everyone I interact with.

As you get older, it seems to get harder. You throw in people with anger management issues, and some people’s personal beliefs and prejudices cause that respect to fly out the window.

But I gotta take my checklist serious, and No. 6 is “respect.” How do I get that in my life?

Ever seen a personality color chart? For the last few years I’ve structured my life around ‘em. The one I learned from has four basic groups: Red, Green, Yellow, and Blue. They all represent something different: “Reds” react without thinking. “Greens” have a logical explanation for everything — in their heads, at least. “Yellows” are always prepared.

And finally, “Blues.” Whereas Greens are all facts and figures, Blues are completely thoughts and feelings. They utilize empathy well. They adapt how they’re feeling to suit the energy of those around them. Plus side: It’s like having a mama or papa bear around. If you’re sick or hurt or feeling down, leave it to Blue to do whatever to make it better. Down side: They allow themselves to easily get taken advantage of. And sometimes, if there’s a lot of Red and Green personalities around in a conflict, Blue won’t be the one backing you up when you need it. Only because they don’t want to make the other party feel worse.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tex’n the City: Item No. 2 — Well-paying career

On his march to age 30, Brandon James Singleton continues his quest to check off as many items from his list of achievements as possible. Up this week: A career… or the start of one.

Mike check … 1 … 2. Testing. Test. OK.

Is this thing working?

Good. I’m ready.

“I’ve gathered you all here for an officially announcement that I’m sure will effect you all and even shock some. I. AM. POOR.”

There. I’ve said it. Now, if someone would kindly pass that info along to the bill collectors and those department store clerks who work off of commission, and smell my shopping addiction from a mile away, I’ll be set.

California is considerably more expensive than Texas. That also means it’s time to lock down a job, hopefully in the same industry now that I’ve settled.

I never thought I’d be one of the statistics. You know, single and pregnant. OK, I’m not pregnant, fingers crossed. But I def eat enough for two. Which means I need to be bringing in the bacon for two.

I had almost forgotten how to write a resume. It’s been so long since I had to make one. So, I asked my new neighbor, who ironically used to live in Dallas, for some assistance. Skip ahead with him trying to understand the way the entertainment business works, and we finally managed to make me something I could work with.

Morning of my first interview and I’m a wreck! Why am I so nervous? Oh, that’s right. No job, no money. And no money, no home. And, well, I don’t do homeless very well.

I spend the next week in and out of different offices around Hollywood. Not understanding why these people weren’t just snatching me up before I even left the office. I kept getting offers about interning.

Interning? Really? Um, no thank you. Try again.

I meet up with my friend Dustin for brunch. He had moved out here two years ago from Dallas, for a job, so maybe he’d have some critiques to give me on what I’m doing wrong. Before I even sit down at the table, he realizes the problem and calls me out.

“Brandon, you’re trying to get a job, not auditioning for the Real Housegays of Beverly Hills.”

I’m sure I have no idea what he’s referring to.

But as we eat, he explains how difficult it was for him to relocate. In 30-something years, he had never left lived too far from his family and close friends, so to move out to L.A. just for a job? He had to make that transition of finally taking his work seriously.

It wasn’t always glam. And it wasn’t something you’d always want to show off. But it was a career. Funny enough, he found himself interning at 32 in a strange new city. But a month later, he was given the position he wanted, and has since been promoted again. It was hard, but he was working even harder to set up a successful future for himself.

It was one aspect I never really needed to consider. Or at least, never took the time to. I mean, I just never considered that I wouldn’t be working alongside Kim and Kyle Richards, as I do in my head.

It’s like when you’re in grade school and the teacher asks you what you want to be when you grow up. Everyone would automatically say doctor or lawyer. But thanks to eight seasons of Grey’s Anatomy (still pissed about how Lexie died!), we know that it’s not simple to just become a doctor — that’s only after a lot of hard work, the gratification of knowing you worked your ass off makes it worth it. (Unless you work at Seattle Grace, where it seems the death rate is higher for its doctors than it is for its patients.)

But he was right. It was time to get over myself. So I responded to a few of the internship offers. I accepted one with this entertainment company casting for major networks. If I do well, I’ll have an actual paid position within the month as a casting associate.

Sure, I’m not working alongside Kim and Kyle. But I am casting for their network. That’s only one hop, skip, and diamond-motivated jump away from future BFFs.

Career? Maybe just the beginnings of one. But it’s enough to give me hope.

Peace out.

#TXNTC

Follow Brandon on Twistter @The_HugoBoss

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Local lez musicans to go west for their first out of state tour — and wouldn’t mind some help

I received an email from local musician Sonya Jevette that she was about to embark on her first tour outside of Texas with two other musicians. She along with SuZanne Kimbrell and Rocio Aranda, AKA Immigrant Punk, announced their tour to Los Angeles earlier this month and they are doing it on the DIY. It was an easy decision for Jevette, once Kimbrell suggested it.

“My whole attitude for this year is go big or go home,” Jevette says, “so when SuZanne said ‘Let’s go to L.A.,’ I said ‘When?’”

And they’re doing it. You can see all their upcoming dates here.

Now they are just asking for some help.

—  Rich Lopez

Arson spree in L.A. narrowly misses “Bite Marks” actor and SMU alum Benjamin Lutz

Lutz on the set of 'Bite Marks'

After director Mark Bessenger posted on Facebook that Benjamin Lutz was almost a victim of the recent arson attacks in Los Angeles, I contacted the former Plano resident and SMU alum to see just what happened. He responded with the good news that he’s OK, but described how it went down.

“Yes, my parking garage was one of the ones hit by the arsonist,” he said. “It was on New Year’s Eve and I was at my apartment getting ready for a dinner party.  I heard people yelling ‘fire,’ and sure enough the car next to mine was set on fire. I was lucky enough to move my car in time and the fire didn’t spread to my apartment. Sadly, three other cars and the side of the building didn’t make it. It was a weird holiday and I couldn’t get back in my apartment for a long while. I did not lose my car, but some of my friends mistook the info as my car being blown up.”

Lutz starred in the 2011 indie horror flick Bite Marks which we featured in our coverage of the Fears for Queers film festival and its recent DVD release. The perp was arrested on Monday and will appear in court today.

Scary stuff.

UPDATE: Soon after posting this, I learned that former Dallas Voice writer Alonso Duralde and his partner Dave White were directly affected by the arsonist as their two cars were firebombed at their West Hollywood complex. A fund has been set up to help cover repairs and replacement of their vehicles (one was not insured). To contribute, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

Dallas gets $1.28M HUD grant for HIV/AIDS

Officials with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have announced the allocation of nearly $9 million in grants to projects in seven states that provide permanent and transitional housing and support services to people with HIV/AIDS.

Of that total, $1,287,500 will be allocated to the city of Dallas’ Housing and Community Services Department, the only city or agency in Texas to receive one of the seven HUD grants. The money will be used to provide transitional housing support to 60 ex-offenders over the next three years. According to the HUD press release, the Housing and Community Services Department will be working with the city’s Project Reconnect and the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act in providing the housing and services.

And the city has committed to “creating an Integrated HIV/AIDS Housing Plan through a comprehensive community planning effort that involves 20 local partners operating in the eight county Dallas Metropolitan Statistical Area,” according to HUD. No word yet on whether those partners will include AIDS Services of Dallas, which is located in Oak Cliff and provides housing for as many as 225 men, women and children impacted by HIV/AIDS through 125 units in four complexes.

The largest of the grants, $1,375,000, is going to the Los Angeles County Commission on HIV. The city of Portland, Ore., gets the second-largest total with $1,365,900. River Region Human Services Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla., is getting $1,353,743, and the Corporation for AIDS Research Education and Services Inc. in Albany and Rochester, N.Y., gets $1,344,375.

Dallas is next on the list, followed by Justice Resource Institute Inc. in Boston, which gets $1,223,377. Rounding out the recipient list is the Frannie Peabody Center, a statewide organization in Maine, that is receiving $930,909.

The seven recipients were chosen “through a national HOPWA competition to identify special projects of national significance that will help advance understanding and improve the delivery of housing and care for persons with HIV,” according to HUD.

—  admin

DOMA ruled unconstitutional by bankruptcy court

A federal bankruptcy court in California on Monday ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles ruled that it is discriminatory to prevent a legally married same-sex couple from filing for joint bankruptcy.

The couple, Gene Balas and Carlos Morales, filed a joint chapter 13 petition. They were married in 2008 in California and remain legally married.

In his ruling, the judge wrote: “This case is about equality, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, for two people who filed for protection under Title 11 of the United States Code (Bankruptcy Code).”

It is “undisputed that the Debtors are a lawfully married California couple,” the judge wrote, adding that the couple came to the court to restructure and repay their debt following extended illnesses and long periods of unemployment.

The U.S. trustee for the case filed a motion to dismiss on the grounds that two men cannot file jointly for bankruptcy. The judge ruled the trustee did not ask for dismissal based on one of the 11 causes listed in bankruptcy law to dismiss, but simply because the couple are two men.

The judge said the trustee filed no relevant case law supporting his position and said the couple should not be singled out for discriminatory treatment. He cited the Obama administration’s position that DOMA is unconstitutional and ruled that, indeed it is.

—  David Taffet

Log Cabin Republicans to toss tea bags in L.A.

Could you hit the target? An image of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be on the targets in the Tea Bag Toss at the Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles' Pride booth this weekend.
Could you hit the target? An image of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be on the targets in the Tea Bag Toss at the Log Cabin Republicans of Los Angeles’ Pride booth this weekend.

While Log Cabin Republicans in Texas are getting ready to spend their weekend at the Texas State Republican Convention, their LCR colleagues in Los Angeles are celebrating Pride by tossing some tea bags — or rather, offering others the chance to do so.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Politics blog at SFGate.com, Log Cabin—Los Angeles will have a booth at the Christopher Street West Pride celebration where participants can buy a tea bag and try to toss it through the mouths of the representations of three different politicians: California Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown, U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and, the original Tea Bagger herself, Sara Palin.

(Log Cabin-L.A. President Scott Schmidt told SFGate’s Wyatt Buchanan that including Palin was their effort at being bipartisan, and besides, Palin raised the sales tax when she was mayor of Wasilla, a decidedly anti-Republican thing to do.)

Schmidt said the Tea Bag Toss was his group’s way of reaching out to others in the LGBT community and having fun at the same time. “We figured this year we ought to take it up a notch and do something that is engaging and somewhat amusing and shows that we can even laugh at ourselves,” he said.

—  admin

Dallas activist Laura McFerrin took one for the team to help disrupt Obama's speech

GetEQUAL, the direct action group that disrupted the president’s speech during a Los Angeles fundraiser last night, continues to take on a Dallas strain. Last month, local activists Chastity “Chaz” Kirven and Michael Robinson were among those arrested during sit-ins at the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And last night, our own Laura McFerrin was involved in the operation to disrupt Obama’s speech. I spoke briefly with McFerrin this morning as she prepared to board a plane back to Dallas. McFerrin said she was driving two other activists to the event, Michelle Wright and Zoe Nicholson, when the street was closed down in front of them because Obama’s plane had landed early.

“I told Zoe and Michelle to get out of the car and start running,” McFerrin said. “The important part was Zoe was able to get in, because she was one of the three people yelling. I said, ‘I’m taking one for the team, get out of the car.’”

McFerrin, who planned on filming the whole disruption, said she didn’t arrive until an hour later, after it was over. Despite the glitch, though, she said she feels it was a success.

“We had activists get in there, and Obama heard us,” McFerrin said. “I think he was upset that he was being heckled and yelled at. Sometimes you have to upset people. I just think he’s going to notice that we’re not going away.  We want to be heard. We want action. Some people in the gay community are like, ‘Let him do his job,’ but it’s an immediate issue for a lot of people who are in the military right now. Sometimes you have to be disrespectful.”

According to a statement from GetEQUAL, the protesters were escorted out by security, but there were no arrests. The statement, which includes bios of each activist, says McFerrin was the only one of the six involved who isn’t from California. From McFerrin’s GetEQUAL bio:

“She organized a protest at First Baptist Church in Dallas, TX after the minister preached a sermon, “Why Gay is Not Okay.” Laura is the director of ‘March On,’ a documentary following the lives of several LGBT families on their journey to the National Equality March in Washington last October.  She believes that this direct action will serve as a wake-up call to Obama and remind him of his promises.”

—  John Wright