“Head Figure Head” more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry’s sex life

Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author’s arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry’s gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry’s tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry’s time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who’ve attempted to look into the rumors of Perry’s trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.

The book is the narrative of Maxey’s research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, “the Journalist” is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry’s impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

—  admin

WATCH: Houston megachurch Pastor Joel Osteen equates being gay to having an addiction

Houston mega-church pastor Joel Osteen spoke to Sally Quinn of the Washington Post  as part of the media tour hyping his new book Everyday a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week. Quinn steered the conversation towards Osteen’s recent appearance on Piers Morgan, and his statement that he would attend a same-sex wedding, but not perform one.  Osteen has gotten a lot of flack from the religious right for his willingness to attend attend a “homosexual wedding,” and it must be said that, in the world of mega-church leaders, his position is remarkably tolerant.  Unfortunately, Olsteen’s attempt at a middle-of-the-road response to Quinn’s question quickly steered toward the absurd:

“Somebody that maybe had this certain difficulty now, maybe in five years they’re not if we will love them. You know, I think one of the messages I speak on sometimes is, you know, we can love people back into wholeness. But sometimes we want to beat them down — you got this addiction and you shouldn’t have that, or you did this — I just don’t think that’s the best way.”

Yes, because being LGBT is just like having an addiction. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t hear much of a difference between “love away the gay” and “pray away the gay.”

—  admin

Investigation clears gay Fort Worth teacher

Kristopher Franks set to return to work Friday after 4-day leave stemming from allegations of improper behavior

FWISD School board member Carlos Vasquez

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Gay Western Hills High School teacher Kristopher Franks, put on paid administrative leave on Monday, Sept. 26, following allegations of improper behavior, has been cleared of all allegations and was set to return to work today (Friday, Sept. 30).

Franks is the teacher who  became the target of ire from the religious right after he sent a student in his German 1 class to the principal’s office for saying in class that as a Christian he believed “homosexuality is wrong.” The school’s assistance principal then suspended the student, setting off a controversy that made headlines around the country.

That student, freshman Dakota Ary, and his mother enlisted the assistance of Liberty Counsel attorney Matt Krause in fighting the suspension on the grounds that Franks and the school had violated Ary’s right to freedom of speech.

District officials quickly reversed their decision, lifting the suspension.

But Steven Poole, deputy executive director for the United Educators Association of Texas, a teachers union, said Tuesday, Sept. 27, that the allegations leading to Franks being put on leave were unrelated to the incident with Ary.

Franks, who had not spoken to the press previously on the advice of his union representative, said Thursday afternoon that he had just met with Fort Worth Independent School District administrators, who told him the nearly weeklong investigation had determined that the allegations against him were unfounded. He did not elaborate on the substance of those allegations.

Franks also said administrators had given him the option of returning to teach at Western Hills High or transferring to another school in the district.

“I haven’t made up my mind yet what I’m going to do,” Franks told Dallas Voice by phone Thursday afternoon. “I’m going to go back to work tomorrow, and I will talk to my boss [the district’s world languages supervisor], and see what she says and decide what’s the best thing to ­do from there.”

FWISD Board of Trustees member Dr. Carlos Vasquez told Dallas Voice in a phone call Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 28, that any time allegations are made against a teacher, those allegations have to be investigated, and it is routine for the teacher in question to be placed on paid administrative leave.

Franks said Thursday that he was pleased with the outcome of the investigation, carried out by an independent investigator, and that interim FWISD Supt. Walter Dansby was “very nice” when they spoke.

“I think they did the right thing,” Franks said. “I can go back to work, which is great. But now I just have to figure out how to fix the damage this whole thing has done to my personal life.”

Franks said since the investigation is closed, he is no longer being represented by a union attorney. He has, instead, retained the services of attorney Stephen Gordon to “represent me on any aspects of this whole thing going forward.”

He also indicated that he and Gordon would be discussing what possible actions he might take against “those people who have lied and made false allegations against me.”

While Franks had previously declined to speak to the media, Daokta Ary, his mother and Krause as their attorney went immediately to the press, telling their side of the story in several TV interviews and saying Franks and the school had violated the student’s right to freedom of speech. The case quickly became a rallying point for the religious right.

Krause this week told Dallas Voice that he and his clients are satisfied with school officials’ decision to rescind the unexcused absences the suspension left on Ary’s record, but “we would still like for them [school officials] to completely vindicate him and say that he did nothing wrong. He should never have been written up for an infraction. He should never have been sent to the office, and he should never have been suspended.”

Ary said in  media interviews that he made the comment quietly to a classmate sitting next to him in response to a discussion going on in the class at the time.

Dakota Ary

But Franks told friends shortly after the incident that there was no discussion involving homosexuality at the time, and that Ary made the comment loudly while looking directly at Franks.

Franks also told friends that the comment was only the latest in an ongoing series of incidents in which Ary and a group of three of his friends have made anti-gay comments to and about him.

Franks told friends that the harassment by Ary and his friends began several weeks ago after Franks, who also teaches sociology, posted on the “World Wall” in his classroom a photo, taken from the German news magazine Stern, of two men kissing. The photo was ripped off the wall and torn in two at some point during Ary’s class, and Franks told friends he believes that Ary or one of his friends tore up the photo.

During a later sociology class students upset that the photo had been torn up replaced it with a hand-drawn picture, and another student then covered that picture with a page bearing a hand-written biblical scripture from Leviticus calling sex between two men an abomination.

Franks told friends that since that incident, Ary and his friends had continued to make derogatory and harassing comments.

Franks’ friends also said that the teacher, a Fulbright scholar, has been the target of anti-gay harassment for at least the last two years, including having hateful messages left in his classroom and, in one case, having his car vandalized.

FWISD teacher Martin Vann, spokesman for the group LGBTQ S.A.V.E.S. that was formed about a year ago to help protect students and teachers in the district from anti-gay discrimination and bullying, said that Franks told his version of the incident last week, before the current investigation was launched and Franks was required to sign a statement saying he would not discuss the incident with other teachers, administrators, parents or students. Vann said Franks denied getting angry and yelling at Ary, as Ary had said, and reiterated that Ary’s comments were not pertinent to any discussion in the class at the time.

Vann said Franks told him that another student had asked him what the German word for “Christian” was, and how, if he moved to Germany, he could find an English translation of the Bible. That’s when, Franks told Vann, Ary looked directly at him and said loudly that as a Christian, he believes homosexuality is wrong.

It was not, Franks told Vann, a simple statement of belief or opinion but rather an intentional effort to insult and harass the teacher that Ary perceived to be gay.

Krause this week again said that Ary did not direct his remark in class that day at Franks, and that Ary had nothing to do with tearing down the photo of the men kissing.

The attorney also said that Ary told him he did not know to whom Franks was referring when he talked about Ary’s “three friends.”

The Franks case comes in the wake of months of scandal over allegations by teachers that administrators routinely allowed some teachers and administrators to harass and bully students and other teachers, and that teachers who complained often faced retaliation.

Vasquez, who is openly gay, said Wednesday that he believed the Franks investigation would be fair, that he would watch the situation closely “to make sure all the proper procedures are followed,” and that he believed Dansby would handle the situation fairly.

“Considering all the problems we’ve had, I know he [Dansby] will be watching this closely,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez said it is the school district’s responsibility to make sure there is “no harassment in our schools, whether it’s from the teacher to the student, or student to student or even student to teacher. I know that happens, sometimes, too.

“There should be no harassment whatsoever in our schools,” Vasquez , himself a former teacher, said.

Fort Worth ISD has been credited with having one of the most comprehensive anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in the state, having adopted individual policies within the last year to include prohibitions against harassment and bullying, including that based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, for both teachers and students.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Do you Peru?

Even as fans rallied to help Coco Peru get her next film off the ground, the drag goddess still likes her comedy live

lead

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Expect a lovefest when Coco Peru comes back to Dallas for Pride weekend. With memories of a responsive audience, shopping and beef jerky during her last go-round here nearly two years ago, the drag goddess is hoping for a repeat performance. Sort of. She’s back on the road with a new show, but that’s not all the legendary queen has going on.

“Well, we’ve filmed Girls Will Be Girls 2 already,” Peru (aka Clinton Leupp) says. “Right now the writer/director is busily editing. It’s just one of those things: You film it and hope for the best.”

Peru has garnered a significant amount of film work over the years, usually with notable cameos in films like as Trick, but occasionally as the star, as with Girls Will Be Girls. But she admits live performance is where she’s at her best.

“I like to think my show is like watching a theater piece,” she says. “I love film acting, but it’s exciting on a whole other level. There’s not that energy of a live audience and no feedback. So often, comic timing is how the audience is reacting to you. With acting, you mentally feel it out, try it and mostly trust the director. I find sometimes I rehearsed a line so much in my head, it takes me a few times to take direction on it.”

For Girls 2, Peru discovered just how much her fans appreciated her work. As a micro-mini indie, the film went on the website Kickstarter to raise funds. As word got out that the film was in production and that Peru was in it, the money rolled in.

“The movie was completely funded by fans,” she exclaims. “It was just incredible that they would want to pay money! And I must say, most of it came from my fans. I’m just putting that out there.”

Along with funds from Kickstarter, the crew itself was almost all-volunteer. People would just show up, willing to help out. It turned into an actual labor of love.

Along with donated help, the production even received a donated green screen. All the generosity reminded Peru that people are that genuinely kind and that it’s all right to ask for things, which usually embarrasses her. She saw this particular filmmaking experience as a good lesson on many levels.

“Let’s just hope the movie’s funny,” she laughs.

Dating back to the “early ‘90s” — that’s as specific as her website will get — Peru gives much credit to her fans along the way for the success of her career. Even if they come up to once again mention her role in the film Trick, Peru takes none of it for granted. Perhaps it’s cliché for any type of celebrity to appreciate their fans, but she  talks at length about how her fans have kept her driven.

“It’s so overwhelming, whether it’s a movie or my own shows, that they will take time to contact me to tell me whatever it is they are feeling,” she says. “I feel lucky and blessed when they reach out to me and I strive to answer every email. I remember those days that felt so lonely and sad. Growing up gay and feeling rejected doesn’t make a happy life. But when you get over 800 birthday messages on Facebook, it’s amazing!”

She’ll meet a new slew of fans on her current End of Summer Tour, as she’ll visit Tampa and Las Vegas for the first time as a performer. Even with her experience onstage, Peru is still daunted by a new audience, the same way she was before playing Dallas the first time early last year.

“The first time, I was nervous and I didn’t know what to expect,” she recalls. “I felt that audiences came wanting to have a great time. You go to certain cities and they have a bit of an edge, but in Texas, it was an immediate love fest on both ends.”

In her new show, There Comes a Time, Peru talks about getting older and reminiscing about her life. Fortunately, Dallas isn’t a punch line in her monologue. The city left a good impression on her and she only hopes to make another one of her own.

“Well, I’m happy to be coming back and they took such good care of me last time,” she says, “but I don’t wanna jinx myself. You never know.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

‘Hairspray’ at Casa Manana tonight

What ozone layer?

Whether you’ve seen it onstage or at the movies (or both!), Hairspray is whole lot of delightful fun. Mixing social messages with drag characters is one thing, but to brighten it up with fun-loving tunes that feel like they popped right out of old-time radio is what makes the story work so well. Come on. How many times have we wished we could wake up singing “Good Morning, Baltimore” and feel that good about the day? Anybody? Just us?

Check out our piece on actor David Coffee who plays Edna Turnblad.

—  Rich Lopez

Here’s what Chick-Fil-A defenders don’t understand: The more they shoot the messenger, the more we’re going to dig up new messages!

First some background:

The WinShape Retreat Center on Berry College’s mountain campus is just the kind of development to advance Martha Berry’s vision, said Don “Bubba” Cathy, senior vice president of Chick-fil-A, at the retreat center’s grand opening on Wednesday.

Chick-fil-A has spent about million to renovate Berry’s old Normandy buildings — the long-time home of the school’s dairy — during the past year. The company now will run the WinShape Retreat Center, primarily as a marriage seminar and ministry center.

“We felt like God has given us a vision for this,” said Cathy, who led Chick-fil-A’s effort to find a use for the 70-year-old buildings.

WinShape Retreat Center to help mend marriage [Rome News-Tribune]

This is the same retreat center that hosts an annual Marriage Comission seminar, featuring invited guests like Maggie Gallagher, Jennifer Roback Morse, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, and many more who fight in the public square against equality for gay people. A seminar where Chick-Fil-A higher ups both speak and receive personal shout outs (see videos of that here). At a retreat that was born out of Chick-Fil-A profits: Profits you contribute to anytime you eat at one of the chain’s many locations.

So why are we bringing up more Chick-Fil-A stuff here and now? Well, we honestly didn’t want to. But to be perfectly honest: We’re pretty tired of the disingenuous way the company and its defenders keep acting like we were wacky and out-of-line for simply letting people know about the company’s ties to anti-gay advocacy. And we’re also getting annoyed with the way they keep making it all about the one Pennsylvania Family Institute sponsorship, when we’ve brought out soooooooooo much more than just that (and have clearly shown why that particular sponsorship does have demonstrable anti-gay advocacy attached via both its local and national parent).

Here are just two recent examples of defenders denying anti-gay attachment and generally sidestepping the actual message we brought forth:

“A local Pennsylvania Chick-fil-A decided to donate some box-lunches to a seminar called ‘The Art of Marriage: Getting to the Heart of God’s Design,’” reports Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins. “Since then, the fast-food chain has come under attack from liberals, who say these sandwiches are somehow a political statement against homosexuality.”

But Perkins points out that seminar sponsor Michael Geer sees nothing wrong with the donations and has issued a statement encouraging people to “applaud institutions that want to strengthen marriage.”

Anti-homosexual chicken sandwiches? [ONN]

Just last week, homosexual bloggers squawked that the Pennsylvania Family Institute was sponsoring what they called an “anti-gay,” “anti-equality” conference; and worse yet, that a prominent food chain, Chick-fil-A, was a co-sponsor. Of course, the conference was no such thing. The conference’s title is “The Art of Marriage, Getting to God’s Design.”

I happen to know the founder of Chick-fil-A—Truett Cathy—a wonderful, outstanding Christian businessman. Why should they be bashed for supporting a good thing—promoting healthy marriages?

Free to Speak [Chuck Colson's Breakpoint Commentary]

Issue-shirking asides that are especially annoying considering new evidence that was just sent this site’s way in the past 24 hours. Evidence that makes it even more abundantly clear that our loves, our lives, our families, our marriages are not part of this particular company’s vision:

201101260925

Bottom, undeniable line: Gay consumers are not included in the company’s view of love, family, and marriage. You, as a consumer, may be perfectly fine with that. Heck, you as a consumer might be happy about that. That’s all up to you. Personally, as a vegetarian in a city where Chick-Fil-A is as available as Dodo-Fil-A, I wasn’t likely to be found in one of the company’s stores anyway. So I don’t have a personal hen in this fryer — I’m leaving the consumer choice completely to the fast foodie’s personal discretion, and leaving the outreach choices completely up to the company.

But this site, as a defender of a societal standard that does include gay people, sees it fit to let you know what’s all crunching underneath that pickled bun. And the more the Chuck Colsons and Tony Perkins of the world paint us as radical squawkers who hate free speech for simply utilizing our own, the more compelled we will feel to defend our name. Our well-being. Our truth.




Good As You

—  admin

Mixed Messages From Cindy McCain

Cindy McCain x390 (Fair Use) I Advocate.comWhere does the wife of Republican senator John McCain stand on repeal
of “don’t ask, don’t tell?” After starring in a NoH8 video condemning
the policy, Cindy McCain tweeted Friday night that she “stand[s] by
[her] husband’s stance on DADT.”
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  admin

Are Pop Songs Pushing Pro-Gay Messages About Acceptance, Or Marketing Vapid Artists?

Katy Perry, Adam Lambert, Pink, Ke$ha, and Lady Gaga are all making "songs of survival," declares the New York Times, epicenter of trend spotting. This is actually not a new trend! "I Will Survive," anyone? What is new, however, is that with The Gays having gone mainstream, it's completely kosher for pop stars to include messages for homos — and even feature them in the music videos — as part of their branding strategy. You think Katy Perry gives a bigger shit about fostering an environment of acceptance for gays, or about selling the hell out of that "Firework" single? And while there's some evidence the pro-gay lyrics are coming from more than the pop genre (see: Mista Majah P's anti-gay bashing tune), call me when Korn records a gay anthem.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  admin

Signorile has had it with the religious-types who are killing our kids with their messages of hate

Watch this video of Mike Signorile’s conversation with a right-wing Christian caller from the show yesterday. I think Mike captures the anger in the LGBT community. And, I don’t think a lot of people outside the LGBT community and our close allies understand just how pissed off people are. The haters are killing our kids. And, our elected leaders are telling the world that we’re not equal. From Mike’s blog post:

The hate coming from the pulpits of most faiths cannot be denied as a factor in these suicides, and in gay-bashings. But many Christians don’t want to believe that, even as they condemn homosexuality. One of them, James from Louisiana, called in yesterday. I was definitely not in the mood to put up with any crap!

I think Mike is speaking for a lot of us here:




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright