What’s Brewing: Nikki Araguz back in court; SA homeless shelter allegedly refuses gay support

Nikki Araguz

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Transgender widow Nikki Araguz will be back in court today for a hearing on her motion for a new trial. Wharton County District Judge Randy Clapp ruled in May that Araguz isn’t entitled to death benefits from her husband, fallen firefighter Thomas Araguz III. Clapp ruled that the Araguzes’ marriage was invalid because Nikki Araguz was born male. Araguz has a new legal team and has vowed to appeal her case — which could have major implications for transgender rights — all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.

2. A homeless shelter in San Antonio is accused of refusing to accept donations from Pride San Antonio because it is a gay event. The shelter, Haven for Hope, also declined a public visit from recording artist Martha Wash, an advocate for the homeless who performed at Pride. In an email responding to the allegations, Haven for Hope CEO George Block told QSanAntonio that the shelter tries “to refrain from publicly aligning ourselves with any particular religious, political or special interest group.” Block added: “Like most public rallies, a Gay Pride Block Party will attract ardent supporters & equally ardent detractors. Since we serve both groups and rely on donations from both groups, it would be our preference to host Ms. Wash for a personal tour of campus, rather than participate in a public event.”

3. The Houston Chronicle gets some reaction to the release of Jon Buice, who’s been granted parole after serving 20 years for the brutal murder of gay banker Paul Broussard in 1991. The Chronicle’s headline says, “Gay community mixed over killer’s parole,” but the story identifies only one member of the community who believes Buice should be released — Ray Hill. Noel Freeman, president of the Houston Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, says the group voted to oppose Buice’s release. And Broussard’s mother says she fears Buice is still dangerous.

—  John Wright

Tony Award wrap-up: Totally gay (again)

It was an untenable situation for the gay Dallasite: Watch the Tony Awards or game 6 of the Mavs? Thank god I had two DVRs. Best of both worlds.

Of course, the Tony Awards are always the gayest of award shows, and they did nothing to disguise that Sunday night starting with the opening number by the telecast’s gay host, Neil Patrick Harris, “‘[Theater] is not Just for Gays Anymore.” He then did a medley duet with Hugh Jackman that was damn funny. (It got even gayer when Martha Wash performed “It’s Raining Men” with cast of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.)

Then the first award of the evening went to Ellen Barkin for her Broadway debut in Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, giving a shout out to the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic. She was immediately followed by gay actor and Plano native John Benjamin Hickey for his role in The Normal Heart. (He even chastised his family: “You’d better not be watching the Mavericks game.” Sorry, John, I for one kept flipping between them.) The play also won the award for best revival — a controversial choice, since The Normal Heart never opened on Broadway until this year, usually a requirement for a revival nominations (some thought it should be eligible for best play). Kramer accepted the award. “To gay people everywhere whom I love so, The Normal Heart is our history. I could not have written it had not so many of us so needlessly died. Learn from it and carry on the fight.”

The very gay-friendly Book of Mormon from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone won several off-camera awards, including score of a musical (the composers thanking gay producer Scott Rudin), orchestrations, scenic design, lighting design and sound design, before taking their first onscreen trophy for best direction of a musical to Parker and gay director Casey Nicholaw (The Drowsy Chaperone), on its way to winning nine total awards, including best musical, best featured actress (newcomer Nikki M. James, defeating prior winners Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone and Victoria Clark and prior nominee Tammy Blanchard) and book of a musical.

“This is such a waste of time — it’s like taking a hooker to dinner,” said best musical presenter Chris Rock before announcing The Book of Mormon for the night’s last prize, best musical.

Other winners in the musical category include John Larroquette for best featured actor (How to Succeed…, apparently the only straight nominee in his category), choreographer Kathleen Marshall for Anything Goes, which also beat How to Succeed for best revival of a musical and won best actress for Sutton Foster. Norbert Leo Butz was the surprise winner for best actor in a musical for Catch Me If You Can. One more really gay winner: Priscilla, Queen of the Desert took best costumes, natch.

The big winner in the play category (other than The Normal Heart) was the brilliant War Horse, which won 5: best play, direction, lighting design, sound design, scenic design, as well as a special Tony for the puppet designs of the horses.

Other play winners include The Importance of Being Earnest (costumes), Good People (best actress Frances McDormand) and Jerusalem, a surprise winner for best actor Mark Rylance.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones