Congrats to Martina and Julia, to Neil Patrick and David — but especially to Vivian and Nonie

Martina proposes

Martina Navratilova, left, proposes to Julia Lemigova.

Twenty-five years after she won her fourth and final singles championship at the U.S. Open, tennis great Martina Navratilova dropped to one knee on Saturday, Sept. 6, at Arthur Ashe Stadium to propose to her girlfriend, Julia Lemigivo.

The proposal, which came during a break in play while Navratilova was providing color commentary on the U.S. Open men’s competition, was shown on the stadium’s Jumbotron, and fortunately for Navratilova, Lemigova said yes.

Navratilova, 57, and the 42-year-old Miss USSR have been a couple since 2006. Read more here.

In other celebrity wedding news, Neil Patrick Harris married his longtime partner, David Burtka. The couple married in Italy, with a featured performance from Elton John. Harris and Burtka have been engaged since 2011, and are fathers to twins.

For more info (like how Elton John played at the reception) and to see a gorgeous photo, go here.

But here is the REALLY big wedding news of the past few days: Vivian Boyack, 91, and Alice “Nonie” Dubes, 90, both of Iowa, also got married over the weekend after 72 years together. They exchanged vows on Saturday in a small ceremony in Davenport, Iowa, surrounded by family and friends.

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—  Tammye Nash

Tony Awards are, once again, very gay

NPH performingPlano native Brian J. Smith was the unfortunate runner-up to three-time winner Mark Rylance at the Tony Awards last night, but our disappointment is lessened slightly by some noteworthy victories.

Six plays and six musicals split the 15 awards handed out Sunday night, which failed to see a clear favorite: Two shows won four awards apiece, and two won three.

Rylance took the first award of the evening, for best featured actor in a play, for Twelfth Night, defeating Smith in The Glass MenagerieMenagerie won only one award, for lighting of a play; Twelfth Night also won for best costume design of a play. Robert Schenkkan’s All the Way, a one-man show with Bryan Cranston playing Texan LBJ, won best play and best actor in a play.

Audra McDonald made history, winning her sixth acting Tony (she now has one in every female acting category, this time for lead actress in a play) playing Billie Holliday in Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.

The big winner for plays, though, was A Raisin in the Sun, which won revival of a play, director of a play (Kenny Leon) and featured actress in a play (Sophie Okonedo).

Gay fave Neil Patrick Harris, pictured, was a popular favorite when he won for best actor in a musical for his turn in the cross-dressing rock opera Hedwig and the Angry InchHedwig won three other awards: best featured actress for Lena Hall, best lighting of a musical and best revival of a musical.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, the standout hit of the season, took the prizes for best musical, book of a musical, director of a musical and costumes for a musical. Beautiful, the musical based on the life of songwriter Carole King, won best actress in a musical (Jessie Mueller), best sound and set design for a musical. The score award went to The Bridges of Madison County, which also won for best orchestrations.

The show clocked in at just more than three hours, with Hugh Jackman as host. Many of the technical awards were presented off-camera and only announced during the broadcast, and there was no “in memoriam” for those theater folks who have died. There was, however, time for a performance of a musical about Peter Pan, Finding Neverland, which has not opened and has not even booked an opening date yet.

Additional winners:

Featured actor in a musical: James Monroe Iglehart, Aladdin

Choreography: After Midnight

Set design of a play: Act One.

Sound design of a play: Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: Neil Patrick Harris brings the gay (but not all of it) to ‘Smurfs 2′

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I was the wrong age to appreciate The Smurfs in their heyday — too old to be entertained, too young to appreciate them ironically — but the one thing I did know was this: A lot of little blue men living together with a single female whom none of them ever touch? Seemed kinda gay.

Well, it seems even more gay since they started making movies about them — with Neil Patrick Harris nonetheless! And his wife is played by Glee‘s Jayma Mays!

The Smurfs 2, a followup to the surprise hit of two years ago, does aim for a weird gay appeal, Broadway song-and-dance-man Harris notwithstanding. The antics can border on camp, with a sense of humor (the parts aimed at the adults, at least) skewed toward the flirtatious and sardonic (especially when John Oliver, as the Smurf known as Vanity, primps in from of him mirror). And the puzzling way in which the word “smurf” can be used as almost all parts of speech — noun, verb (“Smurfing fantastic!”), exclamation (“Smurf that!”), adjective (“She’s very smurfy”) — often recalls Jimmy Kimmel’s “unnecessary censorship” bit, making the imagined replacement word far worse than whatever the creatures could actually say in a PG film.

In fact, I’m not quite sure who the target audience is for Smurfs 2. The young kids in the preview screening I attended seemed delighted as long as goofy blue dwarves were flitting across the screen; when the smurfs slowed down to have sentimental conversations with live-action adults, they became as restless as boy wearing a hoodie in George Zimmerman’s neighborhood. But the wittier jokes — like Passive Aggressive Smurf, or the birthday party scene with snooty helicopter parents — are sandwiched between tons of nonsense. The 3D effect also adds nothing to the film, which is already loud, frantic and garish.

And yet, The Smurfs 2 isn’t bad, even when it isn’t good. It boasts Jonathan Winters’ avuncular voice as Papa Smurf (his final acting before he died), and Brendan Gleeson heartily hamming it up as Harris’ stepdad. It breezes along, wit Katy Perry singing the closing number (she’s Smurfette). And same-sex couples with kids could do a lot worse than having a gay role model who appears in family entertainment. The plot makes no sense, but did you expect it to? It’s the Smurfs, for crissakes. Count yourself lucky if the kiddos don’t beg for the DVD set of ’80s cartoons. Sitting through those? Now that would be a steaming pile of smurf.

Now playing in wide release.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Emmy nominations are pretty damn gay

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The Tony Awards are always gay, the Oscars less so (at least they are more closeted), but the Emmys? They’ve almost kept up with the Tonys in recent years. Consider: This year’s ceremony on Sept. 22 will be hosted by regular Tony Awards host Neil Patrick Harris — who plays straight on his TV show but is a camptastic song-and-dance man at heart.

Harris and Breaking Bad actor Aaron Paul announced the nominees for the Emmys this morning, and it proved to be a very gay affair indeed. Here are some queer highlights:

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

You can still catch ‘The Out List’

OutList

Talk about good timing: After a few preview screenings in theaters (including in Dallas), HBO’s documentary The Out List debuted last Thursday, just as the whole country was talking about the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions. The film makes a nice coda to those lawsuits, as well as Pride month, and it resonates especially in Dallas because one of the subjects is Dallas sheriff Lupe Valdez.

Valdez is the fourth of the celebrities interviewed, and the second (immediately following screenwriter Dustin Lance Black) from San Antonio. Valdez is also the first of the interviewees to openly discuss her faith and how it affected her coming out, as well as how her ethnicity set her apart as “other.” It’s an interesting and diverse lineup, and if you missed it, you can see it this week again. It airs on HBO Wednesday, July 3, at 3:30 p.m. (and again three hours later on HBO West, as well as on HBO Latino), then on Friday, July 5 at 1:30 p.m.

My only real criticism is: Why is it that on the poster, interviewee Larry Kramer, above left, looks like Emperor Palpatine?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Lupe Valdez makes HBO’s ‘Out List’

outlist01Just in time for National Pride Month, HBO will soon be airing a new documentary called The Out List, and among the gay movers and shakers profiled is Dallas’ own lesbian sheriff, Lupe Valdez. (Others profiled include Suze Orman, Neil Patrick Harris and The Lady Bunny.)

The documentary will received a world premiere screening on Thursday (prior to its debut on HBO on June 27) with a Black Tie Dinner Captains event at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station. Valdez will be in attendance, along with the film’s director and producers, who will participate in a post-screening discussion.

The event begins with a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the screening at 7.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay night in America: The Tony Awards

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Billy Porter in Kinky Boots

Sunday was the gayest night of the year — no, not the Ryan Seacrest-Tom Cruise-John Travolta pool party, but the Tony Awards. Doubt me? Here’s the proof:

• Out actor Neil Patrick Harris was the host (for the fourth time). He performed, as we have come to expect, several musical numbers, including one about stage actors moving to TV with fellow gay sitcom star Andrew Rannells (as well as Smash‘s Meg Hilty and Laura Benanti).

• The list of presenters and performers seemed to be culled from a mix of Grindr profiles and diva wish lists. It started with Zachary Quinto, and also included onstage appearances by Rannells, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, David Hyde Pierce, Alan Cumming, Jane Lynch, Sigourney Weaver, Cyndi Lauper, Patti LuPone and Bernadette Peters. (My favorite subtext event? That LuPone presented the second-to-last award for revival of a musical and her longtime rival Peters presented the last award, best musical).

• The winners were just as gay. The major nominees all have some gay content on cross-dressing, from the man-dressed-as-a-woman villain in Matilda to the big winners of the evening, the musical Kinky Boots (about drag queens, including wins for out actor Billy Porter, pictured, choreographer Jerry Mitchell and producer Hal Luftig, which won a leading six awards) and the play The Nance (about a gay burlesque performer, with three). Best play author Christopher Durang, winning his first Tony, thanked his partner of 25 years. Featured actor in a musical winner Gabriel Ebert thanked “Scott,” which sounds pretty gay to me, though who knows? And controversial AIDS Larry Kramer won the Isabella Stevenson Humanitarian Award. (More on the winners after the jump.)

• The musical performances and acceptance speeches? Queer, queer, queer. We got to see numbers from Kinky Boots, Bring It On! (which has a trans character), Cinderella (written by gay scribe Douglas Carter Beane with campy attitude), Pippin (with lots of hot men in tights), Matilda‘s Bertie Carvel and Jane Lynch as Miss Hannigan in Annie. The “in memoriam” tribute was set to Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors,” which of course is the name of her gay outreach program. Even the straight folks thanks lots of gay folks: Featured actor in a play winner Courtney B. Vance gave a shout-out to his director, George C. Wolfe, and featured actress in a play repeat winner Judith Light and actor in play winner Tracy Letts both named their shows’ gay playwrights. (Nearly all of the play winners, in fact, were written by gay men. Go figure.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

The Tonys, as always, are super-gay

The Tony Awards are hands-down the gayest of the major awards shows, from host Neil Patrick Harris (who called it “50 Shades of Gay”) to presenters and performers like Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ricky Martin and Raul Esparza … hell, even the nominees (Cynthia Nixon, writer Joe DiPietro) and winners (Newsies lyricist Jack Feldman, Death of a Salesman producer Scott Rudin) are gay, or gay-adjacent (Patti LuPone, Bernadette Peters, Judith Light). And with Hugh Jackman presented a special award by his wife (in terrible shoes) and the Judas from Jesus Christ Superstar clad in crotch-hugging iridescent pants and Dallas’ own Cedric Neal clearly featured in best revival of a musical winner Porgy & Bess … well, it was a queerly delicious evening.

It was even better from the seats in the Winspear Opera House, where ATTPAC hosted a free Tony-watching party, marred only by co-host Sandie Newton’s ghastly banter (she cooed over how pretty Bernadette Peters looked, then sniped at John Larroquette as looking old while taking the cop-out “it’s a four-way tie!” approach to the costume contestants, when the team from Evita clearly won).

The big winner was the musical Once, with eight awards, and the play Peter and the Starcatcher with five. Only one of the four musical nominees was not based on movie; sigh.

Here are the winners:

MUSICALS

Musical — Once

Revival — Porgy and Bess

Director — John Tiffany, Once

Actor — Steve Kazee, Once

Actress — Audra McDonald, Porgy and Bess

Featured Actor — Michael McGrath, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Featured Actress — Judy Kaye, Nice Work If You Can Get It

Lighting Design — Once

Set Design — Once

Costume Design — Follies

Sound Design — Once

Score — Newsies

Book — Once

Orchestrations — Once

PLAYS

Play — Clybourne Park

Revival — Death of a Salesman

Director — Death of a Salesman

Actor — James Carden, One Man, Two Guvnors

Actress — Nina Arianda, Venus in Fur

Featured Actor — Christian Borle, Peter and the Starcatcher

Featured Actress — Judith Light, Other Desert Cities

Lighting Design — Peter and the Starcatcher

Set Design — Peter and the Starcatcher

Costume Design — Peter and the Starcatcher

Sound Design — Peter and the Starcatcher

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Razzle Dazzle gets into full swing this weekend, with Taylor Dayne performing at the MetroBall at Station 4 tonight. And on Saturday, the Cedar Springs sidewalk sale, LifeWalk WaterPalooza and more events take place along the strip.

The Tonys are the gayest of all awards shows, and this year is no exception, with Neil Patrick Harris hosting again.  The AT&T Performing Arts Center is hosting a Tony-watching party at the Winspear Opera House on Sunday; doors open at 6:30 p.m. You can RSVP here.

Also down at the Arts District this weekend, gay pianist Michael Feinstein teams with Marvin Hamlisch and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a performance honoring Cole Porter. The two-night engagement runs Friday and Saturday at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

The long-awaited prequel to Alien, Prometheus, opens today, and it’s definitely worth seeing if you enjoy being scared. And the return of Dallas isn’t here until Wednesday, but the superduper gay fantasy soap True Blood returns on Sunday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A Tale of Two Gingers: How Jesse Tyler Ferguson stole my spotlight (but later melted my heart)

Just in time for Thanksgiving, here’s a remembrance by one of our contributors about his connection to recent Black Tie Dinner honoree Jesse Tyler Ferguson. Enjoy!

By Jef Tingley

Two looks for BTD: JTF, above, and JT, right.

Long before he was charming his way into living rooms nationwide as gay dad Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family or originating the role of Leaf Coneybear in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Jesse Tyler Ferguson was cast as something else: My unwitting nemesis. See, Ferguson and I both grew up in Albuquerque, N.M. We were just your typical, fair skinned, sassy, red-headed boys pining away our post-pubescent years singing along to show tunes and dreaming of life on the Broadway stage.

Although we were the same age, we went to different schools so our paths didn’t officially cross until a fateful early 1990s production of the musical Peter Pan at the Albuquerque Civic Light Opera. (Fun fact: the ‘88 production of the show included our fellow gay New Mexican, Neil Patrick Harris, as John.) While Ferguson was cast as a pirate and other miscellaneous roles, I had a much more important, yet far less stripy-sock-wearing, job: Assistant stage manager. Truth be told, my heart ached that it was my Doppelganger who got to bask in the warmth of the spotlight on the very obscure, Day-Glo Neverland set complete with a neon-green pirate ship and fluorescent-orange Jolly Roger flag (it was the ‘90s, after all).

The show itself was haunted and filled with mishaps. The woman playing Peter Pan was stricken with laryngitis. After emergency rehearsals (arranged by a certain trusty assistant stage manager), Tiger Lily stepped into the lead role only to have the power go out in the middle of her very first performance, leaving the audience full of children in pitch black, screaming in horror. But the true tragedy of the show came during a cast and crew “lottery” where a few lucky Thespians were selected via name-draw to experience the thrill of being hoisted into the air and flying on stage just like Peter Pan. My name was chosen, but when it came time to suit up I was too big for the lithe flight harness. To my horror, Jesse’s name was called next and within minutes his slender frame was soaring in the air — a real-life Tinker Bell.

Peter Pan eventually ended, and so did my one-sided rivalry with JTF. Sure, I would see him perform musical medleys with jazz hands and sparkly vests as one of the entertainers at the local (albeit creepily named) amusement park, Uncle Cliff’s, but I figured that was his crowning glory on the road to fame. Meanwhile, I dabbled in acting and even worked seasonally renting Halloween costumes for the Civic Light Opera. But little by little, theater eventually became just a hobby and not a career.

A few years later, I was attending college in New York. While thumbing through Time Out magazine one day, I saw a site that’s still etched on my retinas. It was none other than carrot topped Jesse clad in a sailor suit and “shuffling off to Buffalo” next to lesbian chanteuse Lea DeLaria in a revival of On The Town. It was official: He was on Broadway, and I was twenty-something undetermined major. I had lost the battle and the war.

As time went on, I continued to Google-stalked Jesse. While one part of me cheered on his continued successes on stage and screen, another less admirable part of me wanted to pull a Jennifer Jason Leigh a la Single White Female and just steal his life. Jerrett, my partner of 13 years and also an Albuquerque native, can almost repeat verbatim my diatribe whenever someone would mention “that red-headed guy from Modern Family” and “Albuquerque” in the same sentence.

You can imagine my reaction when I found out the Ferguson would be coming to Dallas for Black Tie Dinner to receive an award. Clearly it was just his way of reminding me who really wore the Tinker Bell harness. To add insult to conspiracy, I had also opted to wear a freshly tailored vintage brocade-silk jacket to the event that had sat in my closet for years after being procured from either my high school drama department or my stint renting Halloween costumes. What are the odds? Even my clothing was teen angst!

When Ferguson took the stage, I was prepared for him to be pompous and arrogant. I expected a narcissist who would bore us for hours with stories of self-grandeur and unnecessary name-dropping as he described being Albuquerque’s first-and-only, ginger celeb. Instead, he was charming, funny, cute and humble telling stories about being embarrassed when the staff of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour in N.M. would sing to you on your birthday (another childhood memory we both shared).

In a moment of catharsis, I realized something very important: I was no longer green with envy about JTF, I was orange with pride. Sure, maybe it wasn’t me standing on that stage but I was sitting in the room surrounded by people I love as a crowd of 3,000 cheered on a ginger from the Land of Enchantment for breaking down barriers and making same-sex couples part of the social norm. I’m not even sure if Jesse remembers me, or my one-sided jealousy, but as it turns out it doesn’t matter. In our own special way, we’ve each been given our own chance to fly.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones