OUT & EQUAL: What I DIDN’T learn this week

Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry

I asked a few simple questions at this week’s Out & Equal conference. That’s what I do. I like to break news in the Dallas Voice. After all, I’m covering this event and the New York Times isn’t.

So I asked Barbara Spotts, at the Out & Equal conference representing NASA, if she could tell me when the first manned mission to Mars would take place. She couldn’t tell me.

Neither could David Morse, also with NASA.

“Just one scoop. Anything,” I said.

“Wish I had one for you,” he said.

And FOR Michael Barber with the CIA, a few simple questions.

He’s here to dispel myths. One of my favorite is that “everyone drives a sports car with machine guns in the tailpipes.” He assured me that he didn’t, but wouldn’t reveal to me where he does hide the machine guns in his sports car.

And he couldn’t tell me, even off the record, the CIA’s budget or who’s the next dictator we plan to bump off. Off the record! Sheesh. I wouldn’t tell. I’d just say that I knew.

And when I approached people from Chevron, I told them I write for Dallas Voice and said, “So, say something nasty about ExxonMobil.”

I wasn’t expecting them to be so gracious. This is big business. One of the people I spoke to manages a $220 million project. His project is bigger than most companies. Bigger than the economy of some countries. I expected cut-throat. Mean and nasty. This is big business.

I didn’t expect, “We want them to get their benefits too.”

See what happens when gay people get into upper management in business. People turn … well, downright nice.

I did learn that the LGBT employee group at American Airlines is even larger than the more than 50 volunteers they had at the conference. Gay people at American Airlines? Who knew? One confided that there may even be some gay people at Southwest Airlines as well.

I spent time trying to understand the thinking behind one of the week’s awards but couldn’t find a good reason that Houston won “affiliate of the year” honor. At least not until I spoke to Paul von Wupperfeld.

Out & Equal spokeswoman April Hawkins told me that Houston had an active group with more than 80 companies participating. OK, I thought, staring blankly, shaking my head. She said there are lots of activities sponsored by the Houston affiliate. OK, I’m listening. They’re growing rapidly. They’re active with the national group. I’m still not convinced.

Von Wupperfeld, who heads the Dallas affiliate finally explained: “Dallas won last year. We won the first award.”

OK, so Houston is second. Hawkins should have just said that in the first place.

Click here for more pictures of the conference.

—  David Taffet

News: Lady Gag, Serbia, Microsoft, NASA, Claude Chabrol, KKK

 road 52-year-old Kansas City police officer charged with sexually assaulting his son's teenage friend.

 road Surf's up for gays and lesbians in Australia.

Lg  road Camille Paglia is not very keen on Lady Gaga: "Despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all – she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android."

 road Such intense hatred of gays in Serbia is common in others parts of the world: "Many places outside the highly developed world – and places within it, of course – remain violently homophobic, and even the most tolerant of countries have shaken off their intolerance only over the past 25 to 50 years. The situation in Serbia is surely not as bad as in Jamaica, for example, or even Russia. Homophobia remains, though, a tremendous problem in Serbia."

 road A Jersey Shore cast member sans hair gel.

 road Meghan McCain recounts her first foray into the world of blogging: “I was so honest and beautifully naïve to many things,” she told me. “I just thought I was doing a fun thing, and that everyone would want to get in on it.” By the time Ms. McCain turned 24 in October 2008, she was blogging from semi-exile. (Her father’s campaign manager, Steve Schmidt, “banished” her and her entourage from the main campaign five weeks before its close for being “too controversial.”).

 road Savannah's holds its first Queer Power March.

 road Microsoft apologizes to a gamer from Fort Gay, West Virginia after finding the name of his town offensive for its Xbox Live. Said gamer: "I thought, 'Wow, somebody's thinking I live in the gayest town in West Virginia or something.' I'm not even gay, and it makes me feel like they were discriminating."

 road Lindsay Lohan is a ginger once again.

Sun  road NASA to "bomb" the sun for samples for the first time: "Slated to launch no later than 2018, Solar Probe Plus will repeatedly plunge through the sun's superhot outer atmosphere, called the corona, coming as close as 4 million miles (6.5 million kilometers) from the star's fiery surface."

 road This can't possibly be true.

 road Former bodyguard accuses Britney Spears of physically abusing her children.

 road RIP French director Claude Chabrol.

 road KKK holds protest in Chattanooga, TN to "condemn illegal immigration, homosexuality, sex offenders, blacks and President Barack Obama."

 road Mario Lopez is now a daddy.

Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Mayor Annise Parker makes Time's list of 'World's Most Influential People'

Annise Parker is #13 on most influential list
Annise Parker is No. 13, just behind Glenn Beck

Houston’s hot and sexy new mayor, Annise Parker, came in at No. 13 on the Time magazine list of “World’s Most Influential People.”

In the list of leaders, Parker ranks right after Fox broadcaster Glenn Beck but before Tidjane Thiam, a former politician from Cote d’Ivoire and current head of British insurer Prudential that is buying AIG’s Asian unit.

Really? People know who the head of Prudential in Great Britain is?

And Barack Obama? He’s only No. 4. Brazilian President Luis da Silva gets the top spot. J. T. Wang, president of Acer computers is No. 2 and Admiral Mike Mullen is No. 3.

Um, I think the President of the United States is more important than the president of the number two computer maker.

—  David Taffet