Watch: Well-Known People We Lost in 2010

Faces

MSNBC looks back on the people we lost this year.

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP



Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

When will we address THIS reason why the Democrats lost the mid terms?

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Per usual, Rachel Maddow destroys conservative lies. It bothers me just a bit that while all these reasons why the Democrats got swamped in the mid terms are floating around, very few are calling attention to the right-wing echo chamber which ratcheted up the lies against Obama and the Democrats, thereby scaring Americans and exploiting covert prejudices against Obama.

Saying “that's just how politics is” is a cop-out. Strangely enough, the same people who always claim about how sick they are with Washington or how Washington is broken seems to always be silent when it comes to calling lies out. You can't defeat a disease without naming it.

And don't even get me started on Fox News. The fact that for the first time in history, a political party has an entire “news” network – the number one news network at that – in its back pocket and pushing its agenda seems to escape everyone. This is a shame because it's significant. And ironic. The clarion call against Obama seems to be that he is a dictator and runs a regime.

Who's more of a product of a “regime?” President Obama or a network fueling a political party?

Lastly, the lgbt community really needs to pay attention to this because there is a case to be made – which I will get into later – in how the campaign of lies against Obama and the Democrats are similar to the campaign of lies the religious right wages against us.

How sad is it that those who market in lies can borrow for one another, but those engaged in truth and progressive ideas can't. Or rather don't.


Hat tip to Joe.My.God.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Rep. Alan Grayson: I Lost Because Young Democrats Just Didn’t Come Out To Vote

According to Grayson, only one House Democrat who won in 2008 with a less than ten point margin was reelected on Tuesday. Grayson and 22 others were not. Grayson closes the interview with “we’ll see” when asked if he’ll run for office again.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Liveblog: Stepping on the third rail of race w/Steven Thrasher of ‘White America Has Lost Its Mind’

Join us tonight at 8PM ET for the liveblog with Steven Thrasher (http://tinyurl.com/ThrasherPHB)


Zap! It’s the sound of The Village Voice ‘s Steven Thrasher stepping on the third rail of race by taking a tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek, but deadly spot-on look at how the masks have completely dropped off with the election of Barack Obama — White America Has Lost Its Mind.

This post is a not-so-little primer in advance of tonight’s Blend live chat with Steven, whose piece is one of the most-read Village Voice’s stories of the year and has generated a record number of comments at the Voice. It has been shared on Facebook more than 21,000 times, and tweeted (and re-tweeted) extensively.

In terms of mail, poor Steven’s inbox has exploded — over 1,500 email responses to date. Most are overwhelmingly positive (though he says the negative ones were really negative – more samples of that later).

Why did this article strike a nerve with people, besides being a piece on race? Well…

1) The Title: This is obvious – saying “White America Has Lost Its Mind” is such a sweeping, hilarious generalization right up front – if you’re a person of color, you probably laugh right off of the bat. If you’re not, some white folks will laugh, and some will immediately get defensive, thinking the author is unfairly lumping all white people of all political persuasions in with the Limbaughs, Palins and the Teabaggers.

That’s the point – how often do you hear “the black community” discussed as a political or cultural monolith in the MSM? The fact that I had to explain this to some of my defensive white Facebook friends when I “shared” this article shows you how jumpy and paranoid some white folks are about raising the spectre of being judged as racist even when the finger isn’t pointing directly at them.

2) The truth in the piece. Steven Thrasher takes no prisoners from the very beginning to paint an epic mural of stereotypes that, sadly, are backed by cold hard facts covering very prominent bigot eruptions. How can you not laugh (and want to cry) at this:

About 12:01 on the afternoon of January 20, 2009, the white American mind began to unravel.

It had been a pretty good run up to that point. The brains of white folks had been humming along cogently for near on 400 years on this continent, with little sign that any serious trouble was brewing. White people, after all, had managed to invent a spiffy new form of self-government so that all white men (and, eventually, women) could have a say in how white people were taxed and governed. White minds had also nearly universally occupied just about every branch of that government and, for more than two centuries, had kept sole possession of the leadership of its executive branch (whose parsonage, after all, is called the White House).

But when that streak was broken-and, for the first time, a non-white president accepted the oath of office-white America rapidly began to lose its grip.

As with other forms of dementia, the signs weren’t obvious at first. After the 2008 election, when former House majority leader Tom DeLay suggested that instead of a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should “have a nice little chicken dinner, and we’ll save the 5 million,” black folks didn’t miss the implication. References to chicken, particularly of the fried variety, have long served as a kind of code when white folks referred to black people and their gustatory preferences-and weren’t many of us already accustomed to older white politicians making such gaffes? But who among us sensed that it was a harbinger that an entire nation was plunging into madness?

I have to disagree with Steven here – having covered the 2008 election year, the nation’s race-based plunge into madness began once it was clear that Barack Obama had a chance to win the Democratic nomination, and escalated into what we referred here on the Blend as the McCain mob incidents. White folks in despair of the thought of Obama being elected POTUS generated these (a small sample):

* The parade of racist images continues: Obama ribs ‘n chicken

* California: Sacramento GOP web site calls for the torture of Barack Obama

* Mike Signorile listens to The Hate Out There

* Here we go again: another Palin groupie shouts ‘kill him’ at PA rally

* Own it, bigot

* Missouri: More of the McCain/Palin/GOP Base

* Frank Rich on the fires stoked by McCain/Palin

* The GOP ticket draws, and apparently embraces, the bigot eruption crowd

* More fun in post-racial America

* John McCain forced to denounce racist, homophobic member of Virginia leadership team

* Kentucky, I know you can do better than this

* FL: middle school teacher uses ‘nigger’ to describe Barack Obama

* Palin praised racist writer who called for RFK’s assassination

* Values at the Values Voter Summit – Obama as a Muslim Aunt Jemima

* Westmoreland stands by ‘uppity’ remark about Obama

* White supremacists: Obama’s boosting our movement

* John McLaughlin: Obama fits the ‘Oreo’ stereotype

* Georgia: publication features Obama in crosshairs on cover for article on white supremacist threat

* Bigot eruption: GOP House member refers to Obama as ‘boy’

* South Carolina: black reporter attacked by white family (on camera!)

3) Declaring white folks insane. Satire aside, as you read the piece you have to wonder what is mentally wrong with a too-large slice of the white population.

But the more you shook your head at it, the more it seemed to have taken root deep in the lizard part of the white nervous system. Obama is not an American. He says he’s Christian, but he has a Muslim-sounding name. He’s not black, he’s not white. . . . Is . . . is he even human?

Today, Newsweek has found, nearly a quarter of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, with barely 42 percent of the nation accepting his claim that he’s a Christian. CNN finds that a quarter of Americans also believe that Obama was “probably or definitely” born in another country.

Harris found in an online poll that 14 percent of Americans believe in their hearts that President Barack Obama is the antichrist, with nearly a quarter of Republicans saying so.

More below the fold…
As I said earlier – if you’ve been reading the Blend, post after post covered absolutely certifiable people who have no compunction about declaring birth theories in public (e.g. Joseph Farah), hoping to be taken seriously.

4. The conclusion drawn in the piece. It’s a provocative and worthwhile discussion-generator — it’s not just race, it’s a generational conflict being stirred by yes, white folks — the elder, vulnerable Boomers.

For the first time in their lives, baby boomers are hard up against it economically, and white boy is becoming outnumbered and it’s got his bowels chilled with fear.

“In an age of diminished resources, the United States may be heading for an intensifying confrontation between the gray and the brown,” writes Ronald Brownstein in his July National Journal article, “The Gray and the Brown: The Generational Mismatch.” That’s a polite and understated way of saying that older white folks are losing their shit as they’re being replaced by young brown and black kids while the economy is in the crapper.

The demographics of this enormous, Social Security-crushing generation (80 percent white) mean all of us have been subjected to its cultural influences and impact as it matured in its 30s, 40s, 50s…and now a good slice of them are grandparents with retirement dead ahead. It’s also the generation that wants to prove itself immortal, highly potent, and powerful because it’s getting grayer, weaker and insecure as the country grows more black and brown. And this large group of historically self-focused people used to being the center of the universe are about to become dependent on these black and brown young people to pay their entitlement tab.

And yes, in that group of color-aroused people you can count a lot of Tea Party voters, and the right-wing MSM and political figures on the cover of the Voice piece.

And yes, there are also a lot of white progressive, white privilege-aware people in the Boomer Generation, as well as many more who really don’t think about the impact of race at all in their lives, living in mostly-white neighborhoods, sending their kids to majority white schools; they may work with people of color but most don’t have any close social connections with non-white people to discuss race matters with. Steven’s piece is meant to be provocative. And it has been. Take a look at the word cloud his piece generated. Foster Kamer at the Voice, in reaction to the initial response to the article:

Without further ado, we invite you to take a look around this word cloud of the 150 most popular terms in the first day’s comments (excluding otherwise common language):

If you can’t tell, it’d seem like white people love to talk about….White People! Thrasher’s name is invoked quite a bit, as is the word “America,” which, okay, are all in the title and byline of the story. Yet, even more interesting are the smaller words: “racism,” “racist” “think,” “folks,” and so on, but the real story comes in the occurrences:”democrat” and “liberal” are invoked more than “conservative,” none of which are invoked more than “blacks” or “lost.”

And about that hate mail? Well, you can only imagine what came flowing into the inboxes at The Village Voice. It was enough to generate two posts: The Village Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk (Letters to the Editor), and The Village Voice Institute of Crazy White American Folk, Pt. 2 (Letters to the Editor).

This week’s Village Voice‘s cover story by staff writer Steven Thrasher, an essay entitled White America Has Lost Its Mind, sure has attracted some interesting attention! Whether or not readers agree with what we have to say, we often get letters from them regarding our stories, many of which are exciting, substantial, or, at the very least, rational, nuanced, and psychologically stable. These letters are none of those things.

Not. Kidding. Look at these gems:

From: jay5775@ionet.net

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 7:08 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: Howdy

You racist fuck. Like to use the term white boy a lot huh? Well how about this black boy…. go fuck yourself. Regarding your recent article… sounds like you’re the one all gunched up with fear. I could smell it right from the page. Did I tell you to go fuck yourself? Oh yeah I guess I did. Have a great day now you silly little racist black boy.

***

From: Michael G Smith

Sent: Wednesday, September 29, 2010 6:46 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: I can see November from my house!

Steven….

If you’re this fucked up now, I can’t wait to see how over the top bat-shit looney tunes you’re gonna be after we kick your punk-ass to the curb come November! You and the Jug-eared pant-load deserve what’s coming. I’m giddy with sweet revenge. HA HA. Oh yeah, and nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah. Best buy some new panties. You’re gonna piss all over the ones you’re currently wearing……Girlie man!

***

From: Jerry Wigutow

Sent: Thursday, September 30, 2010 11:44 AM

To: Thrasher, Steven Subject: white American mind

You are very correct in pointing out the white American mind was in disarray. They white America elected obama and they have come to their senses by virtue of LEARNING that he is unfit and incompetent at the job of President of the USA. The man has a ghetto personality and it is quite obvious since that is where he was educated once he left college.

Jerry Wigutow

***

From: Clint

Sent: Sun 10/3/2010 2:05 PM

To: Thrasher, Steven

Subject: U r a piece of shit

The day your gun toting, drug selling, baby machines, non educated, prison filling race takes over white people won’t care. The US will be fucked…just look at all those African countries ran by all the browns….you poor soul really have no clue do you. You pretend to think you know but you don’t. Do you think white people are just gonna step aside after centuries of building this country…posh posh you poor thing. Think about it…white people may have lost it, but brown people never fuckin had it and will never have this country as successful as the crazy whites. You sir are a prime example of this idiocy, the moment your people deem they have control dumb bloggers like yourself will make articles like this that will inflame the white minority and talk about an uprising of people… The browns would be powerless…I hope when it goes to hell you have at least one white friend who can save you…it won’t be me!!! Hey have a good one, theres not to many left you silly browny!! You are just to funny..I hope your white boss don’t fire you!

Sent from my iPhone

You have to surf over to the Voice site to read how Foster Kamer handles these letters. Hilarious.

We can discuss all of this during tonight’s Blend liveblog with Steven, but I wanted to share a reminder that a post-racial society remains a distant dream, and not just because of the observations Steven Thrasher makes in White America Has Lost Its Mind.

Here’s very timely example that Adam Serwer pulled from C-SPAN the other day. The YouTube’s title is self-explanatory – “Haven’t We Done Enough For You People?”

A self-identified 90-year-old woman calls into C-SPAN’s Washington Journal discussion on Wall Street and the administration and tests the legendary professionalism of one of the show’s hosts, Robb Harleston, by saying she was just calling in to ask “a colored man,” why black people aren’t more thankful for everything whites have done for them. When he gently reminds her of the topic at hand, she assures him she’s not a racist.


Ta-Nehisi Coates notes that the host never accused her of being racist – he told her that she was off-topic, but in her mind he went there.

This leads me to separate point–I’m very interested in, precisely, what it means among white people to be considered a racist. I don’t mean under the sanction of black people. I mean in places where there are no black people. It almost feels like, among whites, to be accused of being a racist is a class slur. Like racist is short for “inbred uncultured hick.” It’s fascinating.

It’s an honest question I have as well — when cornered for saying/doing something blatantly racist, calling the person out as racist is always vigorously denied? What in their minds constitutes being racist if they aren’t? Are they thinking cross-burning and Klan night riding?

As you can see there are many facets to the discussion we’ll have tonight, and I hope you’ll come with your civility hats on as well as a willingness to be frank.

I’ll end with a snippet from a post I wrote a while back (“Revisiting the difficult conversations that people don’t want to have“) that’s particularly relevant here.

In my own blogging I have tried to made it safe to discuss race by saying no question is dumb, and that mutual understanding can be gained only be holding discussions, not shouting sessions. What this requires from me, though, is a lot of listening, and self-censorship to a degree — with those who disagree or are coming from a place of anger, resentment or fear, I really have no latitude to become angry or defensive. If I do, it only affirms the belief that the topic cannot be discussed and worse, they can’t trust engaging any black person on the topic. While that seems ridiculous, it has played itself over and over, as an entire race is colored by a single negative interaction with a person — as if class, education, local, family history has no bearing on the individual in question. How ludicrous would it be to say that if I were mugged by a white man that I would then fear all white men?

We’ll never know how to build bridges if people aren’t willing to express their fears and ignorance without getting their heads bitten off. By the same token, no rational discussion about sensitive topics can take place if that expression is not really about engaging tactfully or diplomatically, but unloading frustrations in a way that is hurtful and shuts down conversation. That’s what happens when people leave these discussions buried — they come out in all the wrong ways, resulting flashpoints at the completely wrong time.

***

On a completely different note, I want to again congratulate Steven for being honored with a 2010 Courage Award by the New York Anti-Violence Project. It’s the oldest organization in the nation that combats violence toward and within the LGBT community. Bil Browning, Joe Jervis, Andy Towle and I received it last year.

Steven’s going to be feted along with other winners of the award on October 18 at the Prince George Ballroom on East 27th Street, and event hosted by the oh-so-fabulous BD Wong (see his touching video for the It Gets Better series).
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL: ‘Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops.’

Expect more civil disobedience from GetEQUAL, One Struggle One Fight and Pride at Work later today in San Francisco.

A protest aimed at Speaker Pelosi for failing to get a floor vote on ENDA will shut down Market Street with a banner that states: “Pelosi: When Jobs are Lost, the Market Stops.” The protest is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST. Here’s a quote from GetEQUAL’s press release explaining the protest:

“We pay taxes, contribute to the economy, and create American-paid jobs that provide products and services world-wide. Yet we continue to be treated unequal and Speaker Pelosi has the power to bring us one step closer to being fully-protected American citizens – and workers,” said Dan Fotou, a California GetEQUAL supporter and participant in today’s rally. “As Speaker Pelosi and other members of Congress are out campaigning to keep their jobs, they should know we have every intent of continuing our campaign to keep our jobs, too. Speaker Pelosi has said that ‘our impatience is justified’ – but what isn’t justified is the unfulfilled promises she continues to make to the LGBT community. It’s time for Speaker Pelosi to do the right thing and schedule an immediate vote on ENDA.”

Yes. Members of Congress expect us to give them our money and our time so they can keep their jobs. It’s time for them to follow through on the promises to protect the jobs of LGBT Americans. (I hope to post photos and/or video later tonight.)

Last night, those same three groups disrupted Rep. George Miller’s debate with a similar ENDA message. Miller chairs the House Education and Labor Committee, which is still sitting on the ENDA bill. A hearing was held last .

Also, this morning, several ENDA protesters were arrested in Rep. Chris Carney’s office in Williamsport, PA. Zack Ford has the details on the ENDA phone swarm to Carney, the protest in the office and the arrests.

Many, many ENDA promises have been made — but not kept.

The protesters are just asking Pelosi and the other Democrats to do what they said they would do.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Kiss Controversy Lost on Modern Family

Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet Modern Family x390 (pub) | ADVOCATE.COMModern Family executive producer Steve Levitan said he doesn’t understand all the fuss about the kiss between gay characters Cam and Mitchell.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Dear Proposition 8 supporters – You lost because you lied

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Dear supporters of Proposition 8,

Please do not take my words as gloating but rather a clear and concise analysis of why you may be feeling dejected now over the overturning of Proposition 8.

In 2008, when you won, many of you stood with your arms raised in defiance of the bitter tears you caused in the lgbt community.

What a difference two years makes indeed.

But let me explain to you why you lost today. It’s not complicated, but rather simple.

Your side lost because you lied.

Oh I know that folks on your side will whine about “activist judges who make laws rather than interpret them,” but let’s be real here.

Your entire narrative has been a lie from the beginning.

Folks on your side, such as Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council, and the rest of the pseudo defenders of morality will probably whine about how you all have been unfairly labeled as “bigots.” And I am sure that they will point out that every time there has been a public vote on marriage equality, the lgbt community has always lost.

But they will conveniently omit how these victories were attained. You won’t hear about how they invoked images of gay boogeymen molesting children in false ads nor will they admit to telling lies about children supposedly being taught about gay sex. 

You won’t hear them admit to exploiting people’s unconscious fears and ignorance of the lgbt community in order to spin outrageous scenarios of what could happen should lgbts be allowed to marry.

And don’t be surprised by this. Those like Gallagher will never admit to the depths they stooped to win not only in California but other places like Maine.

But there is a reason why this country has checks and balances. And there is a reason why people can’t arbitrarily vote on the rights of others without having to defend this vote in the logical arena of courts, where you can’t invoke panic by proverbially yelling fire in a crowded theatre.

In the courts, you must defend your position. And in the long run, you couldn’t. Or rather many of you wouldn’t. Again, the specters of gay bogeymen were invoked as your leaders spun false images of avenging hordes for their reluctance to be questioned in the courts about the unprovoked lies they said in pulpits, in speeches, and on commercials.

This time, it didn’t work. The court saw through the phony claims and realized something, which I hope that many of you now do – you have no logical reason to either deny us the right to love or to deny us the ability to protect the ones whom we love.

But please don’t think that even though we are celebrating, the lgbt community is naive to think that this ends the struggle for marriage equality.

We know this is just the beginning of a long fight to attain something that should have been ours from the beginning.

But that’s okay.

We are a community who learn from our past mistakes. At times we lose, but we learn to adapt and we eventually win.

So bring it on. We are not afraid.

Related post:

Message to the religious right – this isn't just about marriage, it's about history

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright

Dallas could elect 1st gay judge

Judicial candidates John Loza, Tonya Parker among 4 LGBTs running in local races in 2010

By John Wright | News Editor wright@dallasvoice.com
IN THE RUNNING | Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, clockwise from top left, County Judge Jim Foster, attorney Tonya Parker and former Councilman John Loza are LGBT candidates who plan to run in Dallas County elections in 2010. The filing period ends Jan. 4.

Dallas County has had its share of openly gay elected officials, from Sheriff Lupe Valdez to District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons to County Judge Jim Foster.
But while Foster, who chairs the Commissioners Court, is called a “judge,” he’s not a member of the judiciary, to which the county’s voters have never elected an out LGBT person.

Two Democrats running in 2010 — John Loza and Tonya Parker — are hoping to change that.

“This is the first election cycle that I can remember where we’ve had openly gay candidates for the judiciary,” said Loza, a former Dallas City Councilman who’s been involved in local LGBT politics for decades. “It’s probably long overdue, to be honest with you.”

Dallas County’s Jerry Birdwell became the first openly gay judge in Texas when he was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards in 1992. But after coming under attack for his sexual orientation by the local Republican Party, Birdwell, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election later that year.

Also in the November 1992 election, Democrat Barbara Rosenberg defeated anti-gay Republican Judge Jack Hampton.

But Rosenberg, who’s a lesbian, wasn’t out at the time and didn’t run as an openly LGBT candidate.

Loza, who’s been practicing criminal law in Dallas for the last 20 years, is running for the County Criminal Court No. 5 seat. Incumbent Tom Fuller is retiring. Loza said he expects to face three other Democrats in the March primary, meaning a runoff is likely. In addition to groups like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, he said he’ll seek an endorsement from the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which provides financial backing to LGBT candidates nationwide.

Parker, who’s running for the 116th Civil District Court seat, declined to be interviewed for this story. Incumbent Bruce Priddy isn’t expected to seek re-election, and Parker appears to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination.

If she wins in November, Parker would become the first LGBT African-American elected official in Dallas County.

Loza and Parker are among four known local LGBT candidates in 2010.
They join fellow Democrats Fitzsimmons and Foster, who are each seeking a second four-year term.

While Foster is vulnerable and faces two strong challengers in the primary, Fitzsimmons is extremely popular and said he’s confident he’ll be re-elected.

“I think pretty much everybody knows that the District Clerk’s Office is probably the best-run office in Dallas County government,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think this county is a Democratic County, and I think I’ve proved myself to be an outstanding county administrator, and I think the people will see that.”

Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, said this week he wasn’t aware of any openly LGBT candidates who’ve filed to run in state races in 2010.

Although Texas made headlines recently for electing the nation’s first gay big-city mayor, the state remains one of 20 that lack an out legislator.

Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, said he’s hoping Annise Parker’s victory in Houston last week will inspire more qualified LGBT people to run for office.

“It gives other people permission really to think of themselves as leaders,” Dison said.

The filing period for March primaries ends Jan. 4.


This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 18, 2009.

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