UPDATE: Follow-up on the proposal during the Bulls game

screen-shot-2016-12-09-at-9-54-32-pm

Jacob proposes to Michael at Center Court

Last Friday night (Dec. 9), I posted this blog about a man surprising his partner by proposing at center court during a break in play in the NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs, at Chicago’s United Center. It started with Benny, the Bulls mascot, pulling Michael out onto the court to dance along with the Bulls Cheerleaders, turning Michael’s back to the court as the cheerleaders formed an aisle for Jacob. When Michael turned around, Jacob walked to him, dropped to one knee and presented him with a candy “ring pop” as he popped the question.

Watch the video below.

Today, I got this note from Jacob Conrad, the young man who got engaged to Michael at center court, telling a little more of their story, and offering some truly heartfelt gratitude to the Chicago Bulls organization:

Thank you, Tammye, for the kind posting of our engagement. It still feels like a fairytale. Here we were at the Chicago Bulls game because of an organization that we have always deeply admired, and they took a giant step towards inclusion, acceptance, and equality putting together an unbelievably special moment in front of 21,000 people. The Chicago Bulls offered Michael and me a lifetime memory, but what they offered the LGBTQ community is an opportunity to experience love fully, equally, without shame, and without compromise. During a time like we all must realize how fortunate we are to live in a society that embraces us and has shared this moment with us. Thank you for your kindness and support. It has been amazing to see how many people care! We are touched by the fabulous work of the Chicago Bulls and those that have shared our moment. It is incredible to think that just 3 years ago, Michael had never been to a gay bar and hadn’t even been on one single date!! Now he has been viewed breaking it down with Benny-the-Bull by over a million people!

 

—  Tammye Nash

Rally set for Sunday in response to attacks

Screen shot 2015-10-09 at 11.57.17 AMDallas LGBT activists are calling on the community to rally Sunday night, Oct. 11, on National Coming Out Day, at the Legacy of Love Monument as a show of strength and solidarity in opposition to a recent rash of possible hate crimes in the Oak Lawn gayborhood.

Three gay men have been injured in three separate attacks since Pride parade day in Dallas on Sunday, Sept. 20. About a month and a half earlier, on July 29, the body of murdered trans woman Shade Schuler was found in a field near the Medical District.

And overnight Thursday, Oct. 8, glass doors at JR’s Bar and Grill and TMC: The Mining Company — two Caven Enterprises bars located in the 3900 block of Cedar Springs Road — and at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar — one block over at 4011 Cedar Springs Road — were broken out when someone threw something, possibly bricks, through the glass.

“We say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!” declares the Facebook page announcing the Sunday night rally. “On this National Coming Out Day join members of the Dallas LGBTQ community and our allies as we say publicly that we will not be pushed back into the closet by fear, intimidation and hatred. Join our call for justice and vigil with us for the victims of these atrocities.”

We Are Not Afraid: LGBTQ Response to Hate begins at 7 p.m. at the Legacy of Love Monument, located at the intersection of Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road. The list of speakers is still being finalized, but you can check for updates at the event page on Facebook.

Organizers ask that those attending bring signs, banners, flags, candles and other light sources.

Here is the info on the three men who have been attacked:

• A young man named Blake, who has asked that his last name be withheld because his attackers are still at large, was walking near Cedar Springs Road at 9:15 p.m. on Sept. 20 after the Dallas Pride Parade when he was attacked him with a baseball bat and abducted by four men. They pulled him into a car and then dumped him, bloody and beaten, near the intersection of Sylvester and Wycliff.  Because his assailants used anti-gay slurs during the attack, police are investigating the case as a possible hate crime.This case is being investigated as a hate crime. A GoFundMe account is still collecting donations to help Blake.

Jaime (Michael) Domingez was walking home down Cedar Springs Road, near the Cedar Springs Tap House, when he attacked around midnight on Friday, Oct. 2. He was attacked from behind and stabbed and cut several times with a razor blade or knife, leaving him with stab wounds and cuts on his arms, stomach and across his eye. There is also a GoFundMe account set up to help cover his medical costs and other expenses.

A third man named Michael, who also asked that his last name be withheld, said two people punched him recently as he was walking to a Cedar Springs bar. He said he didn’t call police right away because he’d been drinking before the attack happened, but he changed his mind after seeing televised reports about the attack on Jaime Domingez.

Shade Schuler’s badly decomposed body was found July 29 near the 5600 block of Riverside Drive. Police are still trying to determine how she was killed and a possible motive for her murder. Schuler, 22, is one of 21 trans women killed nationwide this year. Most of those victims have been trans women of color.

—  Tammye Nash

A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar…

Michael Berry

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Conservative talk radio host and former city council member Michael Berry has been implicated in a hit and run accident outside of T.C.’s show bar last month. Berry has not been charged with a crime. In Texas leaving the scene of an accident is a misdemeanor.

KPRC reports that a bouncer for the gay bar witnessed a hit and run collision on Jan. 31st. The bouncer, Tuderia Bennett, wrote down the license plate of the vehicle and later identified Berry, the owner of the vehicle, as the man he had seen driving. Since then video of Berry inside the bar has been released.

And then the blogosphere exploded…

Houston Chronicle Newswatch blog: Michael Berry accused of ramming vehicle at gay club

Perez Hilton: Um, Oops? Conservative Radio Host Accused Of Hit-And-Run After Visiting Gay Bar

Texas Observer: Homophobic Radio Host Busted at Gay Bar

Towleroad: Conservative Talk Radio Host Michael Berry Was Definitely At That Gay Bar In Houston …

The site gayhomophobe.com even added Berry to their listing of famous homophobes later caught up in gay sex scandals.

The only issue with all this schadenfreude is that, as far as I can tell, Michael Berry isn’t particularly homophobic. The radio host has criticized other right-wing personalities for their homophobia. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time listening to old episodes of Berry’s show over the last few days (a painful experience) and I’ve yet to find anything hateful towards the LGBT community (please correct me if I’ve missed something).

Controversial black-face drag character Shirley Q. Liquor is a regular guest on Berry’s program which would seem to indicate that Berry at least has no issue with drag  queens (nor, would it seem, does Berry have any issues with astoundingly racially insensitive performances that rely on the most vulgar of African-American stereotypes).

I’m not saying that Michael Berry’s good guy (he once advocating bombing a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan), but I have to question why the media in general, and the LGBT media in particular, have been so quick to paint him as a homophobe caught with his pants down.

Perhaps after decades of Sen. Larry “wide stance” Craig and Rev. George “luggage lifter” Reker it’s an easy narrative to latch on to. But it’s concerning that this story has become about Michael Berry being the sort of person who (allegedly) visits gay bars instead of being about Michael Berry being the sort of jerk who (allegedly) hits a parked car and then drives off.

A conservative radio host walks into a gay bar, walks out, gets into his car, hits another car, and drives off… and what we find shocking isn’t the crime, but that he was in a gay bar.

What a joke.

—  admin

“Would You Like Guys With That?” tonight at UTD

Youth in revolt

In his theater piece, Would You Like Guys With That, John Michael Colgin’s main character (himself, really) is a snobby kid, the product of private-schooling and a sense of entitlement; he becomes even more judgmental when he attends college in Stillwater, Okla. But then he goes to work at McDonald’s as a kind of social experiment, he begins to see the world anew: Just because he hates small-talk with his co-workers, he discovers that listening to different music doesn’t mean you’re not a human being. His show explores not only his coming out experience but the awkward time before and the self-realization after.

Read our interview with Colgin here.

DEETS: Davidson Auditorium — JSOM 1.118, 800 W. Campbell Road on the UTD Campus, Richardson. Jan 30. 5:30pm. Free. UTDallas.edu/womenscenter

—  Rich Lopez

“Giant” today at the Wyly

Bigger is better

Any true Texan has likely seen Giant, the movie. It’s a thing, here. But now the story gets the stage treatment with musical numbers by Michael John LaChiusa ad directed by three-time Tony nominee Michael Greif. The Dallas Theater Center goes way big for this epic story of love, redemption and acceptance on the backdrop of the Texas flatlands and the booming oil industry.

DEETS: Wyly Theater, 2400 Flora St.2 p.m. $15–$85.DallasTheaterCenter.org

 

—  Rich Lopez

Annise Parker now co-chair of “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry,” Austin’s Leffingwell joins

Lee Leffingwell

Austin's Mayor Lee Leffingwell

Houstini reported yesterday that Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker was scheduled to appear at the “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry” press conference in Washington D.C., and that she was the only Texas mayor to participate. This morning we found out that Parker, along with New York’s Michael Bloomberg and L.A.’s Antonio Villaraigosa, is serving as co-chair for the effort. Additionally Austin’s Mayor Lee Leffingwell has joined the effort.

So that makes 2 of Texas’ 1,215 mayors with the bravery to stand up for what’s right, leaving the citizens of 1,213 citizens with the task of persuading their mayors. In Dallas Daniel Cates of GetEqual has started an online petition encouraging Mayor Mike Rawlings to sign on which currently has 216 signatories. The Dallas Voice reports that Rawlings claims to personally support marriage equality, despite his unwillingness to join “Mayors for the Freedom to Marry:”

“This one obviously was very difficult for me, because I personally believe in the rights of the gay community to marry,” Rawlings said Thursday… “I think this [same-sex marriage] is way overdue and we need to get on with it, but that’s my personal belief, and when I start to speak on behalf of the city of Dallas … I’ve got to be thoughtful about how I use that office and what I want to impact, and that’s why I decided to stay away from endorsing and signing letters like that.”

Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, told the Voice “the mayor does not plan to publicly support any social issues but would rather focus on the policy issues that impact Dallas,” adding “we have not signed onto other similar requests.”

—  admin

“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

—  admin

East coast victories for LGBT candidates

While we’re waiting here in Houston for the results of today’s municipal elections the Victory Fund reports of victories for LGBT candidates on the East coast where polls closed an hour earlier than Texas.

State Del. Adam Ebbin (D-District 30) was elected to Virginia’s state Senate today, making him the Commonwealth’s first openly gay senator.

“I am honored by the trust the voters have showed in me,”  Ebbin said in a statement. “During the campaign, I listened to the voters’ concerns and will work on behalf of the values we all share: improving our public schools, expanding our transit system and cleaning up Virginia’s environment. I will make sure their voices are heard…”

“Alex Morse, a 22-year-old graduate of Brown University, has just been elected mayor of Holyoke, Mass., a city of nearly 40,000 residents near Springfield…”

“Zach Adamson has won his race for city council in Indianapolis, giving the city its first openly LGBT city council member.”

“An incumbent on the Largo, Fla., City Commission who attacked her openly gay opponent over his sexual orientation has lost her reelection bid to him tonight. Michael Smith defeated Mary Gray Black, who has a history of anti-gay and anti-trans activism on the commission.”

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Siriano at Galleria, Voter turnout continues to lag

Christian Siriano

Christian Siriano

1. As previously reported by Houstini, Project Runway Season 5 winner Christian Siriano’s coming to the Houston Galleria Payless Shoe store today to show off his expanded Payless collection, including an assortment of shoes and handbags. Siriano will be available for photos with his “fierce” -ly loyal fans. The posing and pouting kick off at 5 pm at the Galleria, 5061 Westheimer Road.

2. Voter turnout continues to be paltry. So far 40,189 people have voted, only 71% of the 55,152 who had voted by this point during the 2009 municipal elections.  Early voting continues through November 4.  Election day is Nov 8. A list of all early voting locations and sample ballots  are available at harrisvotes.org.

3. Yesterday Rep. Todd Akin, R – MO, who successfully introduced an amendment to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year which would prohibit same-sex marriages from being performed on U.S. military bases, delivered a letter to the Senate calling on them to pass similar legislation.  The letter was signed by 86 members of the 435 member House, including 7 Texans, all Republicans: Mike Conaway, Francisco Canseco, Louie Gohmert, Ralph Hall, Sam Johnson, Michael McCaul and Randy Nuegebauer.

—  admin

Death • 09.30.11

Wendy Churitch, 55, died suddenly at her home in Irving early Thursday morning, Sept. 29.

Churitch was born July 26, 1956, and grew up in Chicago. She moved to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex in 1980.

She was known and much loved for her eccentric and ever-present sense of humor, her love of pranks and practical jokes and for her devotion and loyalty to her family and to her large number of friends that she thought of — and that thought of her — as family.

After seven-and-a-half years as a couple, Churitch and the love of her life, Kay Mathews Churitch, were legally married in Iowa on Aug. 17, 2009.

Churitch was preceded in death by her parents, Helen and Pete Churitch Sr., and by her brother, Michael.

She is survived by her wife, Kay Mathews Churitch of Irving; by her brother, Pete Churitch Jr., and one sister, Robin Littrell, both of Indiana; by her wife’s sister, Erin Urquhart of Coppell, and brother, Robert Mathews of Buda; by her wife’s two daughters, Courtney Mathews of Lubbock and Amber Mathews of Three Rivers, Mich., and three grandchildren, Michael and Jourdan of Mesquite and Makenzie of Lubbock; by her beloved dogs, Bailey and Pala; and by a host of loving friends.

Churitch’s remains will be cremated. A memorial service is pending and details will be announced when they become available.

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

—  Michael Stephens