Spirit of Giving: Pam’s Presents Toy Drive for Genesis Women’s Shelter

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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PamDaphyneLyle

Pam and Daphyne Lyle

In December 2008, Daphyne Lyle didn’t know what to expect when she organized the first Pam’s Presents event. But that didn’t matter, since Lyle merely wanted to continue the charity work her mother Pam Lyle did during the holidays with her partner Pat Wilson.

Fast forward three years as the Pam’s Presents Christmas Toy Drive holds its sixth event at TMC: The Mining Company on Dec. 11.

“She and Pat would have Christmas parties at their house for the employees and asked people to bring an item or toy,” Lyle said of her mother. “She would donate those items to The Family Place. After she passed, I wanted to keep that spirit alive and do our own drive.”

Pam Lyle lost her battle to cancer in the spring of 2008, but Daphyne Lyle opted not to dwell on any misery. Instead, she seemed to feel beholden to continuing the legacy of her mother.

“She was a nurse and had such a caring spirit about people.

The death of anyone is traumatic, but I wanted something positive out of it. It’s such a warm feeling to see people with handfuls of donations and to have it honor my mom and help people out — it’s overwhelming,” she said.

The beneficiary for the event is Genesis Women’s Shelter, the nonprofit that offers assistance to women and children escaping situations of domestic abuse.

This year’s event features an all-day lineup of local musicians who have donated their time to the event. Familiar names such as SuZanne Kimbrell, Kathy Corbin and Heather Knox are among those set to play.

Santa Claus appears at every Christmas event for photos and an art auction has been added to help increase monetary donations. Gift donations are particularly needed for teenage boys and girls and newborns and infants.

The holiday season starts early for Pam’s Presents, with the Christmas in July event which collects school supplies and also has an art auction.

As people began to learn about the events, it grew and TMC was both the perfect fit and a big help.

“We were at Woody’s for the summer event, but we needed something bigger where bands could play in and out,” Lyle said. “When the TMC manager offered the club, we were very excited. People have been so kind donating space and time.”

And so Pam Lyle lives on with the help of Wilson and Daphyne Lyle and through their collective generosity, Genesis clients can look forward to a merrier Christmas.

“The only thing I want everyone to know is thank you,” Lyle added.

Pam’s Presents will be held Sunday, Dec. 11, at TMC: The Mining Company, 3903 Cedar Springs Road. For more information, search “Pam’s Presents’’ at Facebook.com.

— Rich Lopez

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

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Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

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Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Master of HIS domain

Ben Starr, the recently out Dallas cheftestant on Fox’s ‘MasterChef,’ camps it up on Gordon Ramsay’s cooking competition series

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

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MASTERCHEF
Airs Tuesdays on Fox (Ch. 4) at 8 p.m.

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When Lewisville-based travel writer Ben Starr auditioned for Fox’s MasterChef, he doubted they’d be interested in his style of home cooking. But not only did he make the cut, he’s been one of the more memorable cheftestants — just this week, he had the judge’s favorite dish.

The series is only halfway through, but for Starr, it’s already made a huge difference in his life: It forced him to come out to his parents just last month. We talked to him about the experience and his favorite meals.

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You’ve been struggling since you wowed the judges at your audition. The audition kinda set me up to expect that I would do well in the competition, but we spun pretty quickly into an emphasis on gourmet cuisine, which is not my thing at all. My street tacos were a little bit spiffy, and I am extremely well traveled, but I tend to eat peasant food even when I travel. I was seeing all these people around me making restaurant quality cuisine and trying to compete on their level. Nice to make a good ol’ catfish in a skillet.

What was the hardest challenge for you? The biggest challenge has definitely been psychological. I’m competitive by nature and I want to feel like I’m competition, but I was surrounded by chefs that were a little more connected to the Food Network that I am. They’d use words like umami [a Japanese word for a savory flavor] and I had to go look it up. There was a common lexicon among the contestants about what these famous chefs I’ve never heard of are doing in their restaurants. I felt like an idiot stumbling around in the dark. That started to leak into my cooking and I began to question, “Is this sophisticated enough? Is this even sophisticated?” The episode this week was a turning point. I felt like for the first time I’m back in my own element.

You certainly have made an impression with your outfits. I don’t wear those hats at home, though I do wear an apron, just for practicality. But [the show] has started this storytelling legacy — people expect me to wear them when they come over. My mom made me the pumpkin hat and apron. Actually, she made me five or six pairs to wear. That’s why you always see a different one on me each episode. I was going through them.

Was wearing them part of a conscious effort to stand during the auditions? I am fairly myself, though I had to set myself apart that wasn’t just about food. I needed to be someone [the judges] remember when they go home at night. That’s why I talked about my rural upbringing, because I thought it would generate a memory.

Had you watched the show before? Did you know what to expect? I don’t watch much TV, but this is not my first time being on TV, which is ironic because I abhor reality television —it brings out the worst in our culture. But I did Rachael Ray’s So You Think You Can Cook in 2007. The audience there was much more caring and nurturing than the machine on MasterChef, but I was a little bit prepared for the frank judgment.

I did not watch the first season of MasterChef, but my friend Karen Rutherford said, “I’ll never speak to you again if you don’t audition [for season 2].” So I watched them all on Hulu. I just sweated my way through them. I knew how intense and stressful it is to cook on TV, and saw how brutal Joe Bastianich and Gordon Ramsay were with the contestants. I thought: Screw this. Then a few weeks passed and the terror faded [and I went through the lengthy audition process]. It was a lot of work — the most difficult full-time job I’ve ever had that doesn’t pay.

What’s your favorite kind of cuisine? While my DNA wants to say Mexican food — I had it in the womb six times a week — I am most intrigued by Thai food. It is so complex, yet so much of it is cooked on the street in a tiny little cart. From the richest to the poorest, everybody eats on the street.

How about a favorite meal? One of the most memorable meals I’ve ever had was in Egypt on New Year’s Eve in 2001. I spent it on Mount Sinai and hiked eight miles back down to the car for the drive back to our resort. [The driver] fell asleep at the wheel and we plummeted into a canyon. Eventually a camel train of Bedouins came by the bottom of this canyon. They took us onto the camels and rode four or five miles to their camp. All the women came out, killed a goat and started cooking while the men tried to pull our car out of the canyon.

It was a humble meal — just a goat stew and some flat bread — but the flavors were really intense and felt they came right out of the desert. I could not even communicate with these people who live in abject poverty, but still they were willing to kill one of their last goats and throw a big feast for us because it’s in their nature to be hospitable. I realized it was important to me to use food to nurture people in my life — I could never be a chef and be in the back. I need to be with the people. My partner is one of the main reasons I cook — we’ve been together eight years and I want to marry him one day.

Did you plan to be “the gay guy” on the show? When I was on [Rachael Ray] it was not addressed and I didn’t talk about it openly. At that point my family didn’t know I was gay — in fact, I didn’t come out to my parents until about five weeks ago. They were totally shell-shocked — they didn’t have a clue.

Maybe mom should have guessed since she made you all those hats. Ha! Maybe.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 8, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas’ Gretchen Hamm among Human Rights Campaign’s ‘Mothers of the Year’

Gretchen Hamm

Gretchen Hamm of Dallas, who founded TwoBrides.com and TwoGrooms.com in 2000, is one of six “Mothers of the Year” announced today by the Human Rights Campaign.

Hamm’s lesbian daughter, Kathryn, was getting married in 1999 when Gretchen discovered that she couldn’t find things like photo albums for same-sex couples, even at the local gay bookstore. In 2005, Kathryn took over the business, which is now affiliated with GayWeddings.com.

HRC’s six “Mothers of the Year” were selected from hundreds of nominees by a panel of judges that included Betty DeGeneres, Ellen’s mom. From HRC:

Gretchen Hamm, Dallas, TX, is the mother of a lesbian daughter.  During the “difficult days” of her daughter’s adolescence, Gretchen gave her a large poster for her room that said, “Be Yourself.”  Later, during her daughter’s commitment ceremony to her partner, Gretchen famously took her Platform of Love to a whole new level when she founded an online boutique for same sex couples planning their ceremonies. Gretchen is a long-time HRC volunteer.

Congrats, Gretchen, and Happy Mother’s Day! To read about the other Mothers of the Year, go here.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Janet Dowell’s award-winning PSA

A few months ago, lesbian North Texas mom Janet Dowell made a PSA about bullying that ended up getting some recognition. Problem was, it wasn’t embeddable on our blog.

Well, that’s fixed. Now you can see the segment without searching the Internet. Here it is:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

OWN and ‘Becoming Chaz’

When I first heard that Oprah Winfrey was starting her own network — aptly called the Oprah Winfrey Network or OWN — I was expecting something like Lifetime or even The Hallmark Channel. Who knew we’d end up with a cross between Logo and Bravo and CNN?!

OWN is the home, of course, of Lisa Ling’s “Our America” series which has had installments so far featuring transgender people (“Transgender Lives”) and ex-gays (“Pray the Gay Away”). And today, I saw for the first time a short trailer about “Becoming Chaz,” a documentary on Chastity Bono’s transition to Chaz Bono which will include interviews with Chaz’s gay icon mom, Cher. It premiers in May on OWN

Here’s the trailer. I know I’ll be watching.

—  admin

‘Daphne’s Mom’ threatened with church expulsion

I love how this article begins, “Ruh-roh: The Daphne mom saga continues.” Not so crazy about the way this Mom is being treated by her church. John wrote about the mom whose boy wanted to be Daphne from Scooby Doo at Halloween, and it seems her church has become involved by threatening to deny her communion and kicking her out of the congregation for “bearing false witness.”

Now her church has jumped into the fray. According to a new post on her blog, the pastor of the church told Cop’s Wife that other church members were worried that she was “promoting gayness.” According to her, the pastor accused her of breaking the eigth commandment by “bearing false witness” against the moms who made disparaging remarks about her son’s costume. (Neither the church nor the other moms are named in any of her posts.) If she didn’t “repent,” apologize to the moms and take down the Halloween blog post, Cop’s Wife said, she was threatened with being barred from taking communion and being kicked out of the congregation.

She writes:

“I cannot tell you the betrayal I feel. The church, or at the very least Pastor is trying to bully me into shutting up, and I find that so disheartening. I am floored by the fact that they’ve gone to so much trouble regarding a post that discusses love and tolerance that was posted 3 months ago. I am shocked that they do not see the hypocrisy of what they are saying to me. I am in complete disbelief that this has been handled in the way it has. I have never felt less welcome in a church.
This is not the church that I grew up in. This is not the God that I know.”

How petty can a church be? As far as “promoting gayness” is concerned, I guess that is a new sin?




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet

Hope for the future: Another youngster speaks up for LGBT equality

Malcolm and his letter

Back in November, 2009, then 10-year-old Will Phillips of West Fork, Ark., made headlines around the country when he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance with the rest of his classmates because the pledge includes the phrase “with liberty and justice for all,” and Will knew that LGBT Americans aren’t really guaranteed that liberty and justice.

Now, a 7-year-old named Malcolm is speaking out for LGBT equality, and putting his money where his mouth is.

Recently, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center received an envelope containing a $70 donation and a hand-written note that read: “I am sending you this money because I don’t think it’s fair that gay people are not treated equally.” It was signed, “Malcolm.”

There was another note with the donation, this one from Malcolm’s mom. She explained that in an effort to help Malcolm learn the importance of helping improve the world around him, he had been given $140 to donate to the charity of his choice. And when Malcolm heard a story on the radio about LGBT people being mistreated, he got so upset that he decided he would donate his money to LGBT causes.

Malcolm chose to split his his $140, giving half to the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and the other half to the Human Rights Campaign.

We all know that nonprofits of all stripes always need money. But they — and all of us, in fact — also always need hope. Malcolm gave the Gay and Lesbian Center and the HRC both. And he gave hope to all of us.

—  admin

WATCH: Mom says son was stapled to wall by bullies at high school in South Texas

Mary Koch tells CNN that her 14-year-old son’s teacher at Carrizo Springs High School did nothing to stop the abuse. The district says the teacher has been placed on administrative leave, and that the students involved have been placed in an alternative school.

—  John Wright