Your curtain speech at “Avenue Q” delivered by Jac Alder … but which one?

When Avenue Q opens tonight following its weekend of previews, there will, as ever, be a curtain speech delivered by Theatre 3′s long-standing co-founder and executive producer, Jac Alder.

The question is, which one?

As I reported in this week’s edition, Michael Robinson and his team built a monstrous 36 puppets for the show … and one of them is of Alder himself.

So who will deliver the speech? Apparently, both: Alder will voice the reminder to silence your cell phones and drunk plus-ones, but someone else will be pulling the strings … or manipulating the hand.

This could start a trend. I’m sick of seeing the same folks trot up every show telling me how to behave — I already know, but increasingly, the folks sitting next to be don’t seem to. Maybe if they heard the same from a foam head, they’d actually pay attention.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Serrecchia receives award for dance excellence

Michael Serrecchia, center, with Gary Floyd and Patty Breckenridge.

Every year, the Dance Council of North Texas presents awards to local luminaries in dance, education and choreography, and this year’s recipient of the Natalie Skelton Award for Artistic Excellence goes to Michael Serrecchia.

Serrecchia,whose career on Broadway included being a member of the original cast of A Chorus Line and a national tour with Chita Rivera, has made Dallas his home for several decades, during which he has remained a sought-after choreographer and performer in shows like Urinetown and A Class Act. But he has also made quite a name as a stage director, recently helming memorable productions like Uptown Players’ Next to Normal (pictured center with stars Gary Floyd and Patty Breckenridge) and ICT’s How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying — doing the choreography for both as well. His most recent show is Cheaters at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas.

“Several of Michael’s productions were prestigious regional premieres,” the Council noted in its citation. “Michael incorporates a strong point of view and style … How fortunate for North Texas that Michael settled here.”

Serrecchia’s longtime partner is costume designer Michael Robinson.

The ceremony honoring Serrecchia and others takes place Oct. 2 at the Dallas Black Dance Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at TheDanceCouncil.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Talkin’ Prop 8 with Rick Vanderslice

Rick Vanderslice, left, speaks during last night’s Prop 8 rally at the Legacy of Love Monument.

Rick Vanderslice, whom I ran into Wednesday evening at the Prop 8 rally, sends along word that his radio show Thursday afternoon will feature a roundtable discussion about the ruling, what it means and what’s next for the LGBT equality movement. “The Rick Vanderslice Show” streams live from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at RationalBroadcasting.com. Panelists will include Blake Wilkinson, Rafael McDonnell, Michael Robinson, Israel Luna, Jack E. Jett and John Nelson. Vanderslice was kind enough to invite me to join them, but alas, it’s production day here at DV, so I’ll have to make my debut on the show another time. The call-in number is 214-631-1360.

—  John Wright

Get Equal Now protests Texas GOP platform

Protesters outside Blue Mesa Grill

A group of protesters from Get Equal Now braved the rain to protest the Texas Republican Party and its anti-LGBT platform on Thursday evening.

WBAP talk show host Mark Davis was the keynote speaker inside the Blue Mesa restaurant, at the meeting of a Hispanic Republican group.

Get Equal Now’s Chastity Kirven and Michael Robinson had reservations for the restaurant but were denied service. They were escorted out of the restaurant by Dallas police officers.

“We were met with security who escorted us off the property because they said we would be a threat to the event,” said Robinson. “C.D and I made dinner plans at Blue Mesa that evening at 7 p.m. and were refused service after confirming our reservation. Well at least we know we are a threat to them.”

Once escorted to the street, where they were allowed to protest, the group chanted “Gay, Straight, Black or White! Same struggle, Same fight!”

Kirven wrote to Dallas Voice:

“This protest today by Get Equal Now is a stand against oppression politics. The TX GOP’s divisive platform only creates divides that bind minority communities together. Whether its immigration reform, LGBT issues or an attempt to miseducate our future by rewriting the past in Texas schoolbooks, the platform leaves no room for inclusion and attempts to legalize bigotry. We will stand together and turn this red state blue.

“This is just the beginning and the gloves are off! We are not going to allow the TX GOP to legalize homophobia. We had a win with the federal judge finding parts of DOMA unconstitutional. We are in this to win this because it is about our lives, our families and our allies. We will GET EQUAL NOW!”

—  David Taffet

GetEQUAL NOW to protest anti-gay Texas GOP platform at Republican event in Dallas next week

When I caught up with Michael Robinson this morning, he was on his way to perform 10 hours of community service stemming from his arrest a few months ago in San Francisco at a protest related to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Robinson was arrested in the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during an action organized by GetEQUAL. Since then, he and fellow local activist CD Kirven have split off from GetEQUAL and formed thier own group, GetEQUAL NOW, which is aimed at bringing more diversity to the LGBT equality movement. (Incidentally, Robinson said GetEQUAL leaders have demanded that the new group use a different name, but he has no plans to change it.)

I was calling Robinson because I noticed that GetEQUAL NOW is preparing to stage its first action, and it looks like they’ve picked a good one. According to the Facebook page, they’ll be protesting anti-gay language in the Texas GOP platform next week outside the Blue Mesa restaurant across from NorthPark Center.

As best I can tell, that’s where conservative radio host Mark Davis of WBAP will be speaking on immigration at a meeting of the Dallas Chapter of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly.

Robinson noted that the GOP platform also calls for anti-immigration legislation similar to the bill that recently passed in Arizona. And he noted that even GOP groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus have come out against the anti-gay language in the GOP platform.

Robinson acknowledged that the anti-gay language in the platform is not new, but he said it’s time to do something about it before GOP legislators decide to act on it.

“Somebody needs to get mad,” he said. “They need to change that platform. It’s ridiculous, it’s stupid and it’s hurtful.”

Robinson said while many LGBT people are aware of the anti-gay language, they’re passive about it and choose instead to complain about President Barack Obama.

“We’re going to make some noise on this one,” Robinson said. “This is crazy. We’re calling them out, and we’re serious, we’re not playing.”

Rob Schlein, presdient of Dallas Log Cabin Republicans, told me earlier today he won’t be participating in the protest. Log Cabin has been working to remove the anti-gay language from the platform for several years, and the group issued an official statement about the controversy over the platform earlier today. Asked whether he would attend the protest, Schlein said: “No. Our disagreement is focused on the anti-gay elements and the harsh language. This protest takes a more broader vision of opposition.”

Here’s Log Cabin’s full statement:

Recent attention has been given to the Republican Party of Texas and what many consider are the anti-gay planks in its 2010 Platform.  Although these planks are not new, the attention is.  From the Dallas Voice to bloggers all over the nation, Republicans are being painted as anti-gay and intolerant.

At the Texas Republican Party State Convention we warned our fellow delegates of the consequences of including extremist language in the party platform regarding gay and lesbian Texans.  For years, Log Cabin Republicans (a group representing gay, lesbian and like minded Republicans) has submitted resolutions to remove the extremist language at the precinct and state senatorial convention levels.  Emails were also sent to every member of the state platform committee imploring them to either remove the passages or reword them, and  Log Cabin Republicans Dallas offered suggested substitute language.  Those resolutions and emails were ignored by the Platform Committee at the state convention.

Language such as, “We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders”, and language equating gay parents with child molesters and abusive parents is obviously not supported by the majority of Texans, rank and file Republicans or even people of faith.

We are regularly contacted by activist Republicans and Republican groups expressing their concern about the appalling language included in this document.  Many gay and lesbian business owners and professionals that are natural allies of the GOP sit on the sidelines at a time when we need their help more than ever.  Young Republicans and young evangelicals are often embarrassed by the antiquated statements in the platform. Worse yet, a recent fundraising drive by a left leaning Washington D.C. gay rights organization highlighted the language from the Texas Party Platform in a letter to its well healed contributors.

The enemies of the Republican Party will do anything during this election to distract voters from the dangerous consequences of their explosive expansion of government and unsustainable deficits.  Republican fiscal and pro-free enterprise policies can save our country.  Now is not the time to be shooting ourselves in the foot simply to pacify passionate but wrongheaded elements of our own party.

The party platform is controlled by a handful of party activists.  We call on Republicans at all levels to publicly repudiate many of the extremist positions taken in the Texas Party Platform.  It is time for Republican office holders to stop pointing fingers while claiming to have “never read the state platform” and clearly state their agreement or disagreement with such foolish language.

We are happy this language is receiving wide exposure since we are certain it cannot survive the light of scrutiny. That said, we also believe the stakes are too high and Log Cabin Republicans is committed to working toward Republican victory despite the language in the platform.

—  John Wright

Dallas activists CD Kirven, Michael Robinson launch GetEQUAL spinoff focused on diversity

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Two Dallas activists affiliated with GetEQUAL have launched a spinoff group aimed at bringing more diversity to the LGBT equality movement. Queerty has the scoop on the new group, called GetEQUAL NOW, formed by CD Kirven and Michael Robinson. I don’t know who wrote the Queerty article (there’s no byline), but it specifically calls out the Cedar Springs strip:

One needn’t look much further than their local gayborhood to see what Kirven’s talking about. On Cedar Springs, the gay strip in Dallas where Kirven lives, there’s only one lesbian bar and eight gay bars frequented mostly by white men. The gay bars have a black and Latino night once a month, but otherwise a gay person of color has to find a black or Latino bar far off the main strip. Cedar Springs has about five shops for gay men, but none for lesbians. In the magazine racks of the local video store, it’s rare to see a person of color on the cover of The Advocate, Out, Curve, Instinct, or any other gay mainstream publication that’s still around.

“There’s this idea that if you want a lesbian clothes store you should build it yourself, that if you want to be a member of this community you better have thousands of dollars for the price of admission, just to have access,” Kirven says. “But that doesn’t address the fact that queers of color often lack the education, the training, and the means to raise that money. We don’t usually get a seat at the table until it comes to needing our vote or needing tokens for a photo-op afterthought.”

Read the full article by going here

—  John Wright

ExxonMobil protesters brave rain to deliver 'Dump the Pump, Fuel Equality' message

About 20 protesters braved thunderstorms Friday afternoon to deliver a message that ExxonMobil Corp. discriminates against its LGBT employees, and to call attention to the need for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act.  The protest was organized by GetEQUAL.

Three ExxonMobil stations in the Oak Lawn area were targeted. Protesters with signs chanted and talked to passersby.

At the station at Lemmon and Wycliff avenues, the manager complained to police soon after two protesters arrived, telling officers that they were hurting his business. Protester Chastity Kirven said an officer came over and said she was only relaying a message and wasn’t stopping the protest.

“Hurting his business. That’s the point,” Kirven said.

—  David Taffet

Trans protections on fast track at DART

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Less than three months after Dallas Area Rapid Transit was publicly accused of discriminating against a transgender bus driver, a committee of the Board of Directors voted Tuesday to add gender identity to the agency’s employment nondiscrimination policy.

DART’s Economic Opportunity and Diversity Committee unanimously approved the proposal, which now proceeds to the full Board of Directors for a final vote in June.

“I think there’s little need to debate this,” said committee member John Danish of Irving, who serves as vice president of the Board of Directors. “This is just something that makes a lot of common sense. … We don’t discriminate against anyone for any reason.”

Michael Robinson, who was among a handful of LGBT activists who attended Tuesday’s committee meeting, said he was “shocked’ that there wasn’t more opposition to the proposal. A member of the direct action group GetEQUAL, Robinson said he’s been preparing to organize protests if DART doesn’t approve the new policy.

“I’m extremely surprised that it went that smoothly,” Robinson said after Tuesday’s vote.

—  John Wright

GetEQUAL's next target: ExxonMobil

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Local activists from GetEQUAL — the national LGBT direct action group whose members have been arrested recently in Washington and San Francisco – plan protests outside three ExxonMobil stations in Dallas on Friday, May 14.
The protests are designed to draw attention to Irving-based ExxonMobil’s anti-gay employment practices as well as the need for passage of the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act, according to GetEQUAL’s Mark Reed.
“When the world’s largest publicly traded international oil and gas company with nearly 30,000 employees in the United States refuses to protect the LGBT community against workplace discrimination, it underscores the need for Congress to pass ENDA now,” Reed told me Thursday. “Every day that Congress does not act on ENDA is another day when lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees can be fired from ExxonMobil for simply being who they are.”
The rallies will take place outside ExxonMobil stations at 3716 Maple Ave., 4239 Lemmon Ave. and 2503 Lemmon Ave. in Dallas, and GetEQUAL is hoping to have at least 25 people at each location. Anyone interested in participating is invited to attend a planning meeting at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at Wiedemark, in Suite 120 of the Ferrer Law Center Building at 2603 Oak Lawn Ave.

—  John Wright

Straight ally talks to reporters

David Bowling
David Bowling

Earlier this month, David Bowling was at Kay Bailey Hutchison’s office asking her support for ENDA. This week he was in front of the George Allen Courts Building talking to reporters who were there covering the same-sex divorce case.

Bowling is not gay. He’s a straight ally. He’d get straight married and he’d get straight divorced. But equality is important to him. He thinks his gay and lesbian friends should be able to get lesbian married and gay divorced and other people’s relationships don’t affect him. What does affect him is the attorney general interfering in someone else’s private life.

When asked by one reporter why he was there protesting Attorney General Greg Abbott’s actions in this case, Bowling was very clear.

“It is unconstitutional,” he said.

“They were actually married in Massachusetts so if they do recognize this divorce then they are recognizing gay marriage,” one reporter said.

“Beautiful!” Bowling said.

—  David Taffet