“Country Gravy” dishes out relationship advice at Theater LaB Houston

Julia Laskowski and Patti Rabaza play the fiesty southern ladies with an opinion on everything

Anyone who’s lived in the south long enough knows this woman. She may be found at the local beauty salon, or in the canned foods aisle at the Piggly Wiggly, and her attendance at church potlucks is mandatory. Wherever you find her she knows exactly what you’re doing wrong in your relationship and how to fix it. From January 13 through 29 you can see her and her friends in all their glory in Country Gravy and Other Obsessions at Theater LaB Houston (1706 Alamo), produced by Magic Butterfly Productions. Co-writers and stars Julia Kay Laskowski and Patti Rabaza play two Texas women who decide that their myriad opinions on matters of the heart qualify them to lead a relationship seminar. When their antiquated attitudes meet real-world relationships musical hilarity ensues.

The original production features Aaron Ellisor on the piano and is directed and choreographed by Michael Tapley. Tickets are $25 and are available by calling the theater Box Office at 713-868-7516

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The Dallas Opera opens season with ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’

She will cut you

The Dallas Opera opens its season with Lucia di Lammermoor, about Lucia, who isn’t too fond of her future husband. So much so, she takes matters into her own hands. For opera newbies, TDO offers a free public simulcast of the opening night in Sammons Park. One way or another, you’ll see how Lucia copes with a deceitful brother and the man he tricks her into marrying.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. Through Nov. 6. $25–$275. ATTPAC.org.

—  Rich Lopez

SLDN’s Comm Director Trevor Thomas joins Socarides, Eleveld at Equality Matters

This evening I received an email from Trevor Thomas, the ace communications director at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announcing his move to Equality Matters, the new rapid-response LGBT venture of Media Matters for America. He will serve as Programs Director alongside President Richard Socarides and online editor Kerry Eleveld; he starts at EqM on January 24th. (MetroWeekly): Socarides:

“He is an incredible advocate and forthright spokesperson. We are excited he has agreed to join us and continue his work on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at Equality Matters.”

In an email sent this evening to friends and colleagues that he gave permission for Metro Weekly to publish, he wrote of his time at SLDN, “When I arrived to SLDN, I viewed it broadly as another gay rights group.  It didn’t take long to recognize SLDN was a military group first and foremost.  For so many on the staff and board, ending ‘Don’t Ask’ was deeply personal. Many of them were discharged or served in fear and silence.

“In my own life, my brother Ricky enlisted in the United States Army at age 18. My father served in the 126th Infantry of the Michigan National Guard. And my grandfather served as a U.S. Army Corporal during World War II. I’ve been fortunate to find my own road to pay it forward.”

***

On a semi-related note, as Kerry Eleveld wraps up her stint at The Advocate, don’t miss her latest interview — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A snippet:

Feeling your way through an interview with one of the world’s most powerful women is more art than science. Marriage seemed like the place to start, since Clinton had been caught off guard by a recent inquiry on the issue while visiting Australia. Her husband has said that he now supports full marriage equality: Many of his gay friends are in committed relationships, former president Bill Clinton said in 2009. As far as marriage goes, he said, he had just been “hung up about the word.”

Did she share his experience? I wondered. Was she at odds with President Barack Obama’s stated position in support of civil unions but against marriage equality?

But on the phone, Clinton is circumspect about her husband’s comments. “Well, I share his experience because we obviously share a lot of the same friends, but I have not changed my position,” she says without elaborating. The secretary wasn’t taking any political bait, nor was she going to tangle with anything that could figure negatively for her boss.

Clinton’s chief of staff and counselor, Cheryl Mills, had modeled the same on-message discipline when I sat down with her a few weeks earlier, avoiding any comparison between the secretary’s movement on LGBT issues and the president’s. Mills and Clinton have been friends for nearly 20 years, dating back to when Mills served as deputy White House counsel for President Clinton. She arrived on the national stage as part of a legal team defending the president during the 1999 impeachment trial. A quick Google search of Mills’s name turns up the crux of her argument, spoken on the Senate floor from the perspective of an African-American woman: “I’m not worried about civil rights, because this president’s record on civil rights, on women’s rights, on all of our rights, is unimpeachable…. I stand here before you today because President Bill Clinton believed I could stand here for him.”

(Note/disclaimer and all that jazz – I am a member of the Equality Matters advisory board.)
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

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Zoe Dunning on why that goofy Navy video matters

Zoe Dunning is a Naval Academy graduate, retired Navy Commander, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal advocate who stood alongside President Obama when he signed the repeal bill last month. I remember Zoe’s name from back when we were fighting to lift the ban in 1993. Zoe came out that year, while in the Navy Reserves, and subsequently won her court battle to stay in the military. She served our country as an openly gay service member for 13 years.

I asked Zoe if, as someone who served three years aboard an aircraft carrier, she’d be interested in writing for us about why the recent brouhaha over an anti-gay Navy video matters. Here is Zoe’s piece:

The recently publicized video that was filmed on the USS Enterprise a few years back doesn’t shock this retired Navy Commander for its content as much as for its demonstration of complete lack of Executive Officer leadership. I served three years aboard an aircraft carrier and I understand the need to maintain morale and break up the monotony of months at sea with some humor. If this were an underground video made by a young petty officer and distributed throughout the crew over email, it would not make the news. That sort of thing likely happens on a daily basis out at sea.

What makes this news is that the producer, writer, director and main star of these videos is the ship’s Executive Officer (XO for short) and broadcast across the ship’s internal television network to the entire crew. For those who have not served in the Navy, the Executive Officer’s primary responsibility is the ship’s good order and discipline. When someone gets in trouble or violates a regulation, they take the sailor to the XO for punishment. He or she is the Sheriff in town, and the Commanding Officer the Judge. So when the ship’s Sheriff is knowingly producing (on the ship’s equipment) videos that mock and denigrate women, gays and lesbians (and even Surface Warfare Officers), it sends a strong signal to the entire crew as to what is acceptable behavior. Even if someone turned the TV off or walked away, the ship’s chatter the next day would be all about the video. You wouldn’t be able to escape it.

When the XO tries to make a disclaimer each episode that the Commanding Officer (CO) and Admiral don’t know about it and should not be subject to any complaints, he just doesn’t get it. The CO and Admiral are accountable for EVERYTHING that happens on a ship. That’s why it’s such a tough job. That’s why COs are relieved of command when one of their officers runs the ship aground while the CO is sleeping. Accountability doesn’t go to sleep and can’t be swept away with disclaimers. Which is why I think more heads will roll as a result of this investigation.

On a final note, as a retired female Naval officer who watched all military women struggle to be taken seriously by our male counterparts as professional colleagues, I can empathize with how the women on the Enterprise must have felt. Your sheriff that is supposed to protect you from harassment and bullying is calling you “chicks” and incorporating video shots of you dancing or showering naked together. That’s how he thinks of you, and that’s how he wants the rest of the crew to think of you. It’s devastating if you want to serve as a respected peer alongside your shipmates. Talk about a hostile work environment.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Zoe Dunning on why that goofy Navy video matters

Zoe Dunning is a Naval Academy graduate, retired Navy Commander, and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal advocate who stood alongside President Obama when he signed the repeal bill last month. I remember Zoe’s name from back when we were fighting to lift the ban in 1993. Zoe came out that year, while in the Navy Reserves, and subsequently won her court battle to stay in the military. She served our country as an openly gay service member for 13 years.

I asked Zoe if, as someone who served three years aboard an aircraft carrier, she’d be interested in writing for us about why the recent brouhaha over an anti-gay Navy video matters. Here is Zoe’s piece:

The recently publicized video that was filmed on the USS Enterprise a few years back doesn’t shock this retired Navy Commander for its content as much as for its demonstration of complete lack of Executive Officer leadership. I served three years aboard an aircraft carrier and I understand the need to maintain morale and break up the monotony of months at sea with some humor. If this were an underground video made by a young petty officer and distributed throughout the crew over email, it would not make the news. That sort of thing likely happens on a daily basis out at sea.

What makes this news is that the producer, writer, director and main star of these videos is the ship’s Executive Officer (XO for short) and broadcast across the ship’s internal television network to the entire crew. For those who have not served in the Navy, the Executive Officer’s primary responsibility is the ship’s good order and discipline. When someone gets in trouble or violates a regulation, they take the sailor to the XO for punishment. He or she is the Sheriff in town, and the Commanding Officer the Judge. So when the ship’s Sheriff is knowingly producing (on the ship’s equipment) videos that mock and denigrate women, gays and lesbians (and even Surface Warfare Officers), it sends a strong signal to the entire crew as to what is acceptable behavior. Even if someone turned the TV off or walked away, the ship’s chatter the next day would be all about the video. You wouldn’t be able to escape it.

When the XO tries to make a disclaimer each episode that the Commanding Officer (CO) and Admiral don’t know about it and should not be subject to any complaints, he just doesn’t get it. The CO and Admiral are accountable for EVERYTHING that happens on a ship. That’s why it’s such a tough job. That’s why COs are relieved of command when one of their officers runs the ship aground while the CO is sleeping. Accountability doesn’t go to sleep and can’t be swept away with disclaimers. Which is why I think more heads will roll as a result of this investigation.

On a final note, as a retired female Naval officer who watched all military women struggle to be taken seriously by our male counterparts as professional colleagues, I can empathize with how the women on the Enterprise must have felt. Your sheriff that is supposed to protect you from harassment and bullying is calling you “chicks” and incorporating video shots of you dancing or showering naked together. That’s how he thinks of you, and that’s how he wants the rest of the crew to think of you. It’s devastating if you want to serve as a respected peer alongside your shipmates. Talk about a hostile work environment.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  admin

Media Matters starts Equality Matters, ‘war room for gay equality,’ run by Socarides and Eleveld

Breaking, exciting news on the activism front via Sheryl Gay Stolberg at the New York Times. Media Matters is creating a new entity focusing on LGBT equality called Equality Matters. The really big news is that the organization will be run by our good friends, Richard Socarides and Kerry Eleveld:

As gay people around the country reveled on Sunday in the historic Senate vote to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a liberal media watchdog group said it planned to announce on Monday that it was setting up a “communications war room for gay equality” in an effort to win the movement’s next and biggest battle: for a right to same-sex marriage.

The new group, Equality Matters, grew out of Media Matters, an organization backed by wealthy liberal donors — including prominent gay philanthropists — that has staked its claim in Washington punditry with aggressive attacks on Fox News and conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

It will be run by Richard Socarides, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bill Clinton who has been deeply critical of President Obama’s record on gay rights. A well-known gay journalist, Kerry Eleveld, the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, will leave that newspaper in January to edit the new group’s Web site, equalitymatters.org, which is to go online Monday morning.

Both Richard and Kerry are already important voices for equality. Having them in these new roles is going to be an amazing asset.

I have to give a very special shout out to Kerry, who has become one of my best friends. Having her in the White House press briefing room for the past two years has been incredibly important. She’s obviously an excellent journalist:

“I’ve spent the past two years with a front-row seat to history, and the longer I sat there the more I felt drawn to participating,” Ms. Eleveld said in an interview.

Next month, when she makes the transition to activism, she can participate. And, we’ll have an excellent new advocate.

Petey loves her and the feeling is mutual:




AMERICAblog Gay

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Socarides explains why ‘Equality Matters’ as HRC says

Last night, we posted the news that Media Matters was setting up a new entity, Equality Matters, which will be headed by Richard Socarides and Kerry Eleveld. In a post on the organization’s blog, Socarides explains the group’s mission:

Our culture is changing rapidly. Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as their fellow citizens, including now over 50 percent who believe in marriage equality.

We see other signs of progress too. For example, Ricky Martin, one of the biggest pop music stars of all time and Ken Mehlman, a former Republican Party chair turned Wall Street banker, felt comfortable enough to publicly proclaim their sexuality. Now, the gay high school kid on Fox’s Glee has a great, show-stealing boyfriend. A New Jersey teenager’s suicide gave new poignancy to a PSA campaign in which Americans from all walks of life, famous and not, spoke openly and candidly in record numbers about what it means to be gay and how “it gets better” – thanks to activist and writer Dan Savage.

In Washington, however, we have missed opportunities and have not so far been able to transform favorable public opinion into the powerful and undeniable force for change that it should have been. We believe that the moment for decisive action for full gay equality is here — that this moment is a historic imperative. The goal of Equality Matters is to leverage our expertise in media and communications, and politics and policy, to support those who share that belief and help create an environment where policymakers, the courts, the media and the public at large understand that gay rights are human rights.

Despite the important victory we have just witnessed, make no mistake about it: we are still the only class of Americans for whom discrimination is codified into state and federal law. We have a lot of work to do.

They intend to hold everyone accountable. That’s a welcome and needed change.




AMERICAblog Gay

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Media Matters to Launch New ‘War Room’ for LGBT Equality

Media Matters is launching a new division of its organization devoted to LGBT equality called 'Equality Matters' which will be run by former Clinton adviser Richard Socarides (pictured) and edited by Advocate reporter Kerry Eleveld, who is leaving that publication in January, the NYT reports:

Socarides While a range of groups are working to advance gay rights, the movement has lacked a national rapid-response war room of the sort that can push back against homophobic messages in the media and the political arena and keep the pressure on elected officials, said David Mixner, a gay author and activist.

“I think the lesson we have learned over the last two years is that you’ve got to be tough,” Mr. Mixner said, “and you’ve got to keep people’s feet to the fire.”

The organizers of Equality Matters say that is their intent. Mr. Socarides and the founder of Media Matters, David Brock, said they began planning Equality Matters several months ago. They quickly persuaded Ms. Eleveld, who covered the Obama campaign and has covered Washington for the last two years, to join them.

“I’ve spent the past two years with a front-row seat to history, and the longer I sat there the more I felt drawn to participating,” Ms. Eleveld said in an interview.

Mr. Brock, a former conservative journalist who is gay — and who broke with the right in the 1990s — has lately been expanding the Media Matters organization. He said in an interview that he had raised million in the last year for the group, which has an operating budget of million. His backers include George Soros, the liberal donor; the Hollywood producer Steve Bing; and gay philanthropists like James Hormel, an ambassador to Luxembourg under Mr. Clinton.

The group's website, EqualityMatters.org, will go live Monday morning.

One Battle Won, Activists Shift Sights [new york times]


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin

Size Matters

Salon reports that Turkish researchers have concluded that longer sexual stamina is correlated to increased body weight. But the reason that bigger dudes last longer may not be that sexy (for some).

Men with excess body fat last longer in bed. In fact, heavier men were able to make love for an average of 7.3 minutes, while slender men could count themselves lucky if they held on for a mere 108 seconds. The reason? Female hormones. Men with excess fat showed higher levels of the female estradiol sex hormone. This substance apparently disrupted their bodies’ natural “male” neurotransmitter chemicals and slowed their progression towards orgasm. Ironically, the less masculine their bodies appeared, the better lovers they proved to be.

Expect this story to dominate the tabloids for a few days, but be aware that the study only involved about 200 men.

Joe. My. God.

—  John Wright

Meet the grooms, Ed and Erwin. They’re legally married. And, it matters.

Joann Armao and her colleagues on the Washington Post’s editorial board think it’s acceptable to elect a NOM-backed homophobe, Delano Hunter, to the D.C. City Council. In fact, the Post endorsed Hunter, noting “Mr. Hunter is not a supporter of marriage equality.” Marriage equality matters to real people.

Armao and her colleagues should read the featured wedding story in today’s Post. It tells the story of Ed Urbaniak and Erwin Lobo, who got married in DC in August. They’re the parents of two young boys. And, Erwin is fighting a deadly cancer. Marriage equality matters:

“Everyone knows their time is finite, but you think about it more when something like this happens,” says Urbaniak. “Make sure you do today what you can’t do tomorrow.”

Lobo wept as he followed Urbaniak and their sons down a path between 50 friends, all dressed in white, who’d gathered in the sunlit garden of the Meridian House on Aug. 14. Urbaniak’s parents watched via webcam as the men promised to care for each other in sickness and health. Urbaniak’s parents would have been there, but his father had learned that he had lung cancer.

The day was, in Lobo’s words, “a celebration of life.”

“I’m very, very lucky,” he says. “A lot of people just leave their homes and get shot or get in an accident. They won’t have the chance to say goodbye to their families.”

Lobo worries that he won’t be able to repay the caring Urbaniak has given him. But he worries more about leaving the two young boys at the heart of their union.

“It’s unfair for them to lose me at this time,” he says. “That’s why I’ll hold on until I can’t.”

Take a few minutes to watch the video. It’s a tear-jerker.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright