It’s not too late to book a trip to SoDec!

Ace-Hotel-New-Orleans_ Alto_Fran-Parente_2Southern Decadence — also known as Gay Mardi Gras — is New Orleans’ most flamboyant event … and that says a ton. Taking place in the Crescent City over the Labor Day weekend, it’s a sea of twinks and bears, drag queens and leathermen, dykes on bikes and hell on wheels.  Still, it truly has grown beyond its “weekend” status, and now begins this Wednesday. And it’s not too late to book a last-minute trip to revel in all the frolic. (I found airfare for about $200 round trip.)

This year’s event — its 45th — has the theme Decadence Takes the World, and the “colors” are ruby red, pearl white, blue sapphire and amethyst purple.

There are tons of things to do, but readers of Dallas Voice can get some special discounts if they book at the Ace Hotel, a 1928 art deco building located the crossroads of Carondelet and Lafayette streets in the Warehouse District. If you book here and use the code BLANCHE, you can get a discounted room rate, VIP access for two to shows at its Three Keys venue (which include a Queer Bounce and Hip Hop Night a drag double-header, a Black Decadence seance and more), plus two free drinks on the property.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Family Dollar Store anti-gay cashier refuses service to lesbian

Melissa Langford

Melissa Langford

A New Orleans woman named Melissa Langford is making international headlines after she got video on Friday, April 22, of a cashier in a New Orleans Family Dollar Store refusing to serve her because she is gay.

In a Facebook post, Langford says she was standing in line, waiting to buy some items to donate to special needs children, listening as the cashier spouted off loudly about gay people are sick and have something wrong with them, and that she has the right to refuse service to them. Finally, Langford said, she spoke up and told the cashier she is gay and was extremely offended by what the woman was saying.

The situation escalated to the point that a man in front of Langford in line spoke up to defend gays, calling the cashier an ignorant bitch. The cashier then walked away, leaving someone else to take over her duties at the register, rather than wait on the lesbian or the man who was defending gay people.

Langford said she has called Family Dollar Store headquarters but had not heard back from them.

Watch the video below.

—  Tammye Nash

Jindal’s end run around fairness and equality


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

Just hours after a so-called “religious freedom” bill died in the Louisiana Legislature on Tuesday, May 19, Gov. Bobby Jindal had issued an executive order allowing businesses to discriminate based on owners’/operators’ religious beliefs on marriage.

“We are disappointed by the committee’s action to return the Louisiana Marriage and Conscience Act to the calendar,” Jindal said in a statement Tuesday afternoon, according to a New Orleans Times-Picayune report. “We will be issuing an Executive Order shortly that will … prevent the state from discriminating against persons or entities with deeply held religious beliefs that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

The Times-Picayune notes Jindal told reporters the order was issued Tuesday afternoon and went into effect immediately. The order will remain in effect until 60 days after the end of the next legislative session. The next governor, however, can repeal it upon entering office in January, if he or she chooses.

The New Orleans newspaper also quoted state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, who criticized the timing of the order, as well as Jindal’s decision to buck the will of the Legislature.

“It’s a sinful attempt to deflect from the failures of what should be the top legislative priority, what we’re dealing with every day, which is a bogus state budget,” she said from the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon.

The Washington Post today (Wednesday, May 20), noted that Jindal’s executive order nearly mirrors the content and intent of the failed “Marriage and Conscience Act,” which itself closely resembles Religious Freedom Restoration Acts like the one that was vetoed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson after an outcry from businesses, led by Wal-Mart, and the one recently enacted in Indiana, throwing that whole state into an uproar and hitting the Hoosier pocketbook hard and fast.

A similar measure died last week in the Texas Legislature.

The Post notes that one of the main reasons the Marriage and Conscience Act died in the Louisiana Legislature is because lawmakers feared it would impact the state’s economy, and would be especially harmful to tourism in a state that thrives on its visitors:

New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Chief Executive Stephen Perry called the bill “a radioactive, poisonous message,” saying it could cost the state $65 million per year.

But Jindal, in New York Times op-ed last month, said money doesn’t matter: “As the fight for religious liberty moves to Louisiana, I have a clear message for any corporation that contemplates bullying our state: Save your breath,” he wrote.

Louisiana Democratic Party Executive Director Stephen Handwerk predicted that the executive order will substantially harm the tourism industry in the state. “Gov. Jindal’s stunt today once again underlines his disregard for Louisiana families, his disdain for the state legislature and his apparent contempt for the state’s tourism industry — the only segment of our economy his failed policies haven’t crippled,” Handwerk said.

The Post also pointed out that Jindal’s decision to stage an end run around the Legislature seems especially hypocritical, considering his attacks on President Barack Obama’s use of executive orders in connection with immigration reform.

—  Tammye Nash

‘Upstairs Inferno’ sets premiere date, Rice will narrate

DSC_6794Dallas filmmaker Robert L. Camina, who caused a sensation with his documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge three years ago, announced that out novelist and New Orleans native Christopher Rice — son of vampire chronicler Anne Rice — will narrate his newest documentary, Upstairs Inferno. The doc, which details the largest mass-death of gays in the U.S. — a fire at a New Orleans gay bar on June 24, 1973 — will have its world premiere in NOLA on the 42nd anniversary of the deadly blaze.

The gala screening, which will take place at the Prytania Theater on June 24, will include a Q&A with Camina and some yet-to-be-released guests. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas drag queen turns herself in to police, charged with negligent injuring


Armani Nicole Davenport

Armani Nicole Davenport turned herself in to authorities in New Orleans Wednesday in a negligent injury case.

Davenport, 32, is a local drag queen who lives in Dallas but is from Louisiana. Police announced last week that they were searching for her in order to question her about a case involving negligent injuring of a person and accusations of practicing medicine without a license.

Davenport travels around Texas, Louisiana and Georgia, performing in pageants She recently participated in the Miss Gay Texas 2014 and the Miss Gay Dallas Metroplex contest in 2013.

Police believe she injected silicone into the hips and buttocks of two women late last month and also believe she may have injected people in other cities.

The two women were allegedly injected on Oct. 24. One of the women returned a few hours later and found the friend in “respiratory distress,” according to a police report. The police believe the woman’s body rejected the injections.

Davenport was booked on a count of negligent injuring with bail set at $50,000. A negligent injury conviction can carry a maximum fine of $5,000 and a six-month prison sentence.

—  Dallasvoice

New Orleans police looking for Dallas drag queen Armani Nicole Davenport


Armani Nicole Davenport

New Orleans police are trying to reach Armani Nicole Davenport as a person of interest in a case involving negligent injuring of a person and accusations of practicing medicine without a license.

Davenport, who is from Louisiana but lives in Dallas, according to Facebook, is “said to administer ‘silicone’ injections to clients as travel is undertaken throughout the southern United States,” police said in a statement.

She’s participated in the Miss Gay Texas 2014 and the Miss Gay Dallas Metroplex contest in 2013.

Anyone with information on Davenport’s location should call New Orleans police Detective Ed Johnson at 504-658-6060.

—  Dallasvoice

Twelfth Night celebration is in the pink

In the liturgical calendar of the Christian church twelfth night is the last day of the Christmas season. (Remember the 12 days of Christmas? They start on December 24 and end December 5) Twelfth night also kicks off the carnival season that culminates in the celebration of Mardi Gras. The Krewe of Olympus, Houston’s own predominately gay Mardi Gras Krewe, welcomes the season in style with “Pretty in Pink:” a twelfth night fundraiser benefiting the Montrose Counseling Center. The festivities are Saturday night, January 7 (’cause who wants to party on a Thursday?) starting at 7 pm at the Counseling Center (401 Branard) and include traditional king cake as well as an open bar, hors d’oevres and a Mardi Gras mask auction. In keeping with the theme guests are invited to wear their best outfits in shades of pink (be it blush or bashful).

The Krewe of Olympus started in New Orleans in 1970 before moving to Houston. According to their website:

We are one of the largest predominately gay Krewes in the United States, although our membership is open to all. Our principal aims are to present theatrical and educational events that perpetuate and continue Mardi Gras traditions and to raise money for community charities. Since moving to Texas, we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Houston and Dallas Charitable Organizations. We are a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.

Tickets for the event are $35 and are available at the door.

—  admin

Nondiscrimination amendment goes to secret ballot at National Association of Realtors meeting

Realtor Bob McCranie

At the national meeting of the National Association of Realtors in New Orleans, 25,000 attendees voted on a code of ethics amendment that would prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians by members of the organization.

A voice vote was held earlier today and the chair believed that the measure had passed by a two-thirds vote, according to gay Carrollton Realtor Bob McCranie, who’s attending the conference. McCranie said the Collin County association voted in favor of the nondiscrimination measure.

The chair moved to the next item on the agenda, but the next speaker called to reopen the nondiscrimination measure and asked for a secret ballot. That vote is now taking place and results will be available later this afternoon, McCranie said.

If the measure passes, it would be part of the code of ethics that must be followed nationwide by the 2 million members of the association.

UPDATE: Nondiscrimination passed by 93 percent of the vote in a secret ballot.

“This is a monumental moment for fair housing,” said Todd Shipman, the president of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.

His organization has been working on the issue with the National Association of Realtors for about 3 years, he told Dallas Voice by phone from the convention in New Orleans. He said that there is a patchwork of laws across the country but that his organization will continue to advocate for a national fair housing law that includes LGBT people.

McCranie said that the new regulation applies to all real estate professionals who have the Realtor designation. He said that now all Realtors must work with all clients equally.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Dan Hampton apologizes for Katrina, ‘Brokeback’ comments on ‘Pro Football Weekly’

On Monday we called NFL hall-of-famer Dan Hampton an idiot for saying that the Dallas Cowboys were more “Brokeback” than “Eastwood,” and that the Vikings needed to hit New Orleans “like Katrina.” In the above clip from this week’s “Pro Football Weekly,” Hampton agrees. “I’m an idiot, and I’m truly sorry,” he says.

—  John Wright

Gay getaway: Some updates for SoDec

In this week’s print edition, I wrote about New Orleans as a great gay destination, especially for Southern Decadence, which starts early next month over the Labor Day weekend. Well, there are some updates to sweeten the deal even more.

The Marriott Hotel has introduced the Rainbow NOLA Getaway for SoDec. Starting at $134 per night (two-night minimum), it comes with a complimentary bottle of champagne, a $50 food and beverage credit and complimentary Internet access. And even if you don’t get to town over Decadence, the rate is valid until July 31, 2011. Ask for rate code VIQ at its website or reservation line (800-228-9290).

I can also give a shout out to another GLBT publication, the travel magazine Passport, which again is teaming with the W Hotel New Orleans, pictured above, for a party over SoDec. For a $10 donation at the door benefitting Project Lazarus, you can get Szambelan vodka drinks and a chance to win prizes. It takes place at the W on Friday, Sept. 3.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones