‘In the Life’ premieres episode about homophobia in sports featuring Pride parade VIP Ben Cohen

Today, In the Life announced its newest episode, “Changing the Game,” taking a look at the gay element in sports. Looking at high-profile incidences of homophobia with slurs by basketball player Kobe Bryant or Atlanta Braves coach Roger McDowell, the show examines the effects of trickle-down homophobia on student athletes and the queer community in general.

The episode features appearances by Tiki Barber, Bam Bam Muelens and rugby athlete, as well as Dallas Pride parade VIP, Ben Cohen.

In the Life appears on public television but I didn’t seem to find the listing on the website. No matter. You can watch the episode below.

—  Rich Lopez

Cedar Springs construction postponed

Cedar Springs Road

Earlier this week, merchants on Cedar Springs were told that traffic would be disrupted for two weeks because of installation of new gas pipes. That construction has been postponed until after Pride.

“Great news!” wrote Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall. “The street closure planned by Atmos Energy has been postponed to Sept. 26.”

The construction was to have closed two lanes of traffic and eliminated all street parking while work progressed. Instead, Whittall reported that the work will be done in sections so that parking will not be blocked for two weeks.

Calls to Councilwomen Angela Hunt and Pauline Medrano made the difference, Whittall said. In addition to the loss of business during construction, merchants were worried that work would drag on longer than the announced two weeks and interfere with the Pride Parade on Sept. 18.

Whittall said that the delay gives merchants time to post signs warning of the closure and direct customers to alternate places to park. The closure should not affect evening or weekend business. Whittall said that weekday customers are used to parking in front of the businesses. He expects merchants along the street to offer “construction discounts” during the utility repairs.

—  David Taffet

Tarrant Pride fundraising kicks into high gear

PRIDE 2010 | The Rev. Carol West was one of the grand marshalls for the 2010 Tarrant Pride Parade.

TCGPWA still about $15,000 short of goal to pay for picnic, 30th annual parade set for downtown

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — With less than two months to go until the 30th annual Tarrant County Pride Week steps off through downtown Fort Worth on Oct. 1, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association still needs to raise more money to pay for a bigger, better parade and the Pride Picnic planned for the following Day in Trinity Park.

Since the Rainbow Lounge raid in June 2009, Fort Worth’s LGBT community has been re-energized and more active and organized. The 2010 parade, which followed the traditional route down Jennings Avenue on the city’s south side, was the largest, by far, in recent memory, and included a new feature, a street party on Jennings before and after the parade.

But this year, as the community’s presence and influence has grown, and to mark the event’s 30th anniversary, TCGPWA organizers decided the parade should be even more high profile, moving the event to downtown Cowtown.

“We’re taking it to Main Street America” this year, said Duane Littlefield, president of TCGPWA.

This year’s parade has also been moved to a Saturday morning instead of a Sunday afternoon.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, and will move down Main Street in the heart of the downtown district. The street festival will follow, beginning at noon at General Worth Square, and lasting til 6 p.m.

The Pride Picnic, previously held on the Saturday following parade Sunday, this year will be held the next day, from noon to 6 p.m.

But this bigger, better Pride celebration costs money. The budget for the parade and picnic weekend is $25,000, a significant increase from the previous budget of $6,600 according to Tony Coronado, TWGPWA corporate partner and sponsorships committee chair.

And unlike the Dallas Pride parade each September that is staged by a professional organization, the Dallas Tavern Guild, the Fort Worth events are mounted completely by a volunteer community organization.

Coronado said the committee has so far raised about $10,000 of the total needed. But is confident that upcoming fundraising events can make up the difference — as long as the community turns out to support them.

On Aug. 20, TCGPWA is holding a benefit garage sale, and on Aug. 21, “The Diva Show” starring local drag legend Tasha Kohl begins at 8 p.m. at Best Friends Club. Three additional shows are planned at Best Friends through September, including a pageant, that will all help bulk up the Pride celebration coffers.

In addition, Coronado said that most groups that will participate in the parade have not registered yet. Parade entries cost $50 for an eco-friendly or walking group, $75 for a non-profit and $125 for a standard entry which may be a car, float or a truck.

Groups have until Sept. 15 to register.

Coronado said the association has lined up some sponsors, the majority of whom are “providing in-kind services,” Coronado said. That list includes Coors, which will supply the main stage for the festival.

But, Littlefield added, “We could always use more sponsors.”

She said that another way to contribute is to purchase the weekend package available on the TCGPWA website. The Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa is the host hotel and the weekend includes lunch at Billy Bob’s in the Stockyards, a film screening at the Water Gardens and excursions to the museums in the city’s Cultural District.

“Buy into that package,” Littlefield urged. “It will help tremendously.”

She said the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau has been “gung ho supportive” in helping the association plan and promote Pride weekend.

The downtown route is about four times the length of the old parade route, and Littlefield said that requires more announcing stations and more police. And for the first time, the Fort Worth parade will use barricades to keep spectators on the sidewalks, adding another expense.

More volunteers are also needed this year for set-up, clean up and logistics, which also adds to the price.

Newly elected Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will be one of the grand marshals for this year’s parade, and Billy Moon — grand marshal of the first Pride parade in Fort Worth 30 years ago — will be one of the honorary grand marshals. Tasha Kohl has also been named honorary grand marshal.

Coronado said the Pride Week association named Kohl as an honorary grand marshal in part as a shout-out to the city’s female impersonators who are the ones who started the Pride picnic and who have always been an integral part of the fundraising efforts for the parade and other activities.

Because this year’s parade is taking place downtown, the parade will be more accessible to Dallasites making the trip across the Trinity for the parade by train.

On Saturday, the TRE leaves Union Station in downtown Dallas at 8:49 a.m. and arrives at the Fort Worth Intermodal Center (the next to last stop) at 9:44 a.m. That station is three blocks from the parade route.

The parade begins at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Weatherford Street at 10 a.m. proceeding down Main Street to 7th Street. The festival that begins at noon will be on Main Street from 8th to 9th streets near the Water Gardens. The Intermodal Center is on Jones Street at 9th Street.

Volunteers can sign up on line. Forms for parade entries are also available at TCGPWA.org

—  John Wright

Small-town gay life

GAY MICROCOSM | With fewer than 50,000 residents, San Luis de la Paz doesn’t even have a gay bar, but that hasn’t stopped queer Dallasites from calling it home. (Photos by Jesus Chairez)

JESUS CHAIREZ  | Special Contributor
chairezstudio@gmail.com

SAN LUIS DE LA PAZ, Guanajuato, México — No rainbow flags, no gay bars, no Pride parade, but for ex-Dallasites Ron Austin and Lamar Strickland, this small Mexican town has plenty of gay life in it.

Austin and Strickland sold most everything and packed up what they could, moving to San Luis de La Paz four years ago. Austin says that he first discovered San Luis years ago when accompanied his best friend Manolo Arrendondo, also from Dallas, back home to visit his family for Christmas one year. When Arrendondo moved back to México to care for his ailing mother, Austin and Strickland soon followed.

Austin used to work for AIDS Arms for many years before retiring from the Baylor Geriatric Center. Strickland still works but telecommutes to his job in the U.S.

Though most people think that it is not safe — and even dangerous — for LGBT people to vacation much less live in México, Austin says that he and his partner feel safe.

“In general I have not found much homophobia here and for most people it seems like a non-issue. But yes, there are homophobic people in San Luis and Mexico. We get called names now and then, but then we sometimes got called names in Dallas, too.”

RURAL DRAG | Clockwise from above: Karla aka Carlos and ‘La?Mosca’ aka Adry staged a successful drag pageant this month in the new hometown of Dallas transplants Lamar Strickland and Ron Austin.

Things have changed in San Luis, says the couple, who have spoken to their trans friends Carlos, now known as Karla and Adry Pardo Garcia, known by his nickname, la Mosca (“the Fly”) about the changes: Harassment is basically verbal today and not physical like in the past.

Though there are no gay bars in San Luis, a town of about 49,000, gay people do go out and dance. It is sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation where gays blend into the crowd; two men dancing together is something gay men just don’t do.

Though Austin and Strickland say they don’t feel much homophobia in San Luis, “Only the drag queens get by with gay behavior, like dancing together or displays of affection,” says Austin.

Though there are no official gay events in San Luis, five years ago Karla and Adry Pardo Garcia, leaders in the trans and drag queen community, and several of their friends got together to have a Ms. San Luis de la Paz annual pageant called Nuestra Belleza Gay (Our Gay Beauty). Carlos and Garcia say their pageant does give pride to San Luis’ growing LGBT community.

In the U.S., drag queens and transsexuals are often at the forefront of the LGBT movement; it is no different here in México, especially in San Luis. For example, earlier this month the girls got into a Blazer and put loud speakers on the roof of the automobile that blared out announcements for their Ms. San Luis Gay 2011 event held at Bar One, a club almost in the center of town.

As the Blazer drove down San Luis’ narrow streets, the girls — in full makeup and outfits — handed out flyers as they approached anyone on the street. Everyone seemed to be fine with all the glitter and glamour. The Nuestra Belleza Gay marketing worked; it was a sold-out crowd at Bar One. Austin was a judge for this year’s event, as he was last year.

Even before the pageant started there was enthusiasm: As the sun was setting all Nuestra Belleza Gay participants, along with their supporters, gathered at the main bus station where the contestants sat on the hood of a car and everyone caravanned through town with a police escort — basically a very small Pride parade. Small clusters of people did wait along the route that went through the center of town to wave and enjoy the beauty.

Though there may not be gay bars or a gayborhood to speak of, Austin and Strickland, along with their two dogs, Osa and Hoppy and a cat named Miche, are enjoying their new life in  México.

Jesús Chairez is an activist and freelance writer; former producer and host of U.S.’s first LGBT Latino show Sin Fronteras (Without Borders) on KNON 89.3 FM. He resides between Dallas and México City.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

FW Councilman Joel Burns, rugby star Ben Cohen will be among dignitaries at Dallas Pride

Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade dignitaries for 2011 include, from left, male co-grand marshals Gary Miller and Alan Pierce, female grand marshal Chris Bengston and honorary grand marshal Joel Burns.  British rugby star Ben Cohen, pictured below, is special VIP guest for the Pride festivities this year.

Round-Up Saloon owners— and life partners — Alan Pierce and Gary Miller will share male grand marshal honors for the 2011 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sept. 18, and longtime Caven Enterprises employee and community volunteer Chris Bengston will be female grand marshal, according to information released by the Dallas Tavern Guild, the organization of local LGBT nightclubs that puts on the parade each year.

Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns, who made national headlines last year with his emotional speech during a council meeting to tell LGBT teens considering suicide that life does get better, will be honorary grand marshal. The theme for this year’s parade is “It Only Gets Better.”

The Tavern Guild is dedicating its annual Pride Guide — the magazine published at the first of September each year to detail Dallas Pride activities — to the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. And British rugby star Ben Cohen, who has campaigned against homophobia and bullying, will be the Tavern Guild’s special VIP guest at the parade this year.

Ben Cohen

—  admin

Dealing with the ‘A’-word

We appreciate allies, but we also want to preserve LGBT-only space

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

As most of my friends and readers know, I am an active member of the leather community. What you might not know is that there is currently a brouhaha raging in that community about who really belongs or doesn’t belong.

It reminds me of the debates about how many letters to append to LGBT. Right now it’s up to eight with a tongue-twisting “LGBTQQAI” as the latest permutation (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Allies, Intersex).

The letter that has caused so much discussion among leather folk is the “A,” which stands for “allies” in the alphabet soup that is political correctness.

I have a great affinity for allies, and most of them would fall into the category of “straight.”

Straight people, or the “heterosexuals” as some call them, are not a bad group for the most part. Some of my best friends are straight, and to their credit they often march with us in the local Pride parade.

The problem in the leather world with straight people is that not all of them are allies. Many of them fall into the category of what I could call “sexual tourists,” free-thinking (or at least thrill-seeking) heterosexuals who poke about in the world of leather to spice up their love lives.

Now, I am not opposed to people having rich and exciting sex lives. I think that is one of the great gifts our creator endowed us with.

Sex can be fun, if you do it right, and so I have no problem sharing advice and venues with my straight fellows.

Where I do have a problem is when they take over space that was previously the venue of queer leatherfolk or, more often, state their resentment at queer leatherfolk wanting their own spaces.

In the vanilla world this is happening as well. Just look at the gentrification of gayborhoods across the country.

When the San Francisco Eagle Tavern, a landmark of leather history in that city, closed to be remodeled as a straight bar the issue became even clearer.

Right here in Dallas, the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs gayborhood is in flux as well. New businesses and developments are springing up everywhere.

That in itself is not a bad thing, but when folks move into what is essentially an “entertainment district” they have to expect the kind of lifestyle that goes with the territory.

I have heard complaints about parking on the street — not surprising since parking is at a premium. But for those who are miffed about it, try finding a parking space in Greenwich Village in New York.

Recently, new metrosexual residents of San Francisco’s Castro District have been bemoaning the open display of affection between same-sex couples on the street. Well, when you move into the most famous gay neighborhood in the world, you are going to see that!

Same thing here in Dallas; it comes with the territory.

As in the leather community, there are spaces that have been staked out through years of struggle as “leather-space,” and though we have made our straight friends welcome, they cannot expect us to surrender the space completely.

In our LGBT community as well, we can welcome our allies, but not surrender our identity or our “queer space’ to them.

It is not a matter of hospitality, it is a matter of preserving hard-earned turf.

I understand that many LGBT folks want to fully assimilate into society, and I believe that is not a bad thing when it comes to rights and duties of citizenship in our country.

But I also do not want to blend in so completely that I disappear.

Like many ethnic minorities, I still value the culture I grew up with as a gay man, and I don’t want to see all of it surrendered to make straight allies feel welcome. They are welcome as long as they understand the importance of our space.

It is true in the LGBT community and the leather community, and it is something our allies would be better off understanding.

As a child I used to complain to my mother about Mother’s Day. “When is kids day?” I’d ask her.

And she would smile and answer: “Every day is kids day.”

Now I understand her logic.

In our society, everywhere is “straight space,” so neither we nor our allies should find it unusual at all that we want our own “queer space.”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

Cheer we go!

IMG_0236
DANCING IN THE STREETS | Dallas Pride Cheer marches in last year’s Texas Freedom Parade, but will debut a new act at Razzle Dazzle, before moving to a national showcase in San Francisco next month. (Gregory Hayes/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Pride Cheer gets its razzle dazzling — for Dallas and San Francisco

JEF TINGLEY  | Contributing Writer
jeftingley@sbcglobal.net

As anyone who’s ever played a team sport can tell you, even the bleakest of losing streaks has been brightened by the erratic pom-poms and endless effervescence of a cheerleading squad. But the perkiest of cheerleaders still needs their own support system from time to time.

That’s the case with Dallas Pride Cheer, a local, mostly gay group who use their powers of pep not for sports but by performing at parades and other events to raise money for charitable causes, including Make-A-Wish, Bryan’s House and AIDS Arms.

On June 25 and 26, the all-volunteer squad will boost not a team, but our city by taking their talents to San Francisco for Pride Parade weekend. There, they will join other teams from around the world for a series of performances benefiting the Cheer for Life Foundation, a
nonprofit that supports agencies around the globe that provide services to people living with HIV/AIDS, cancer and other ailments.

“We currently have 14 people from our 24-person squad going to represent Dallas,” says team captain Bobby Bridgwater, a former UNT cheerleader who parlayed his love of the sport into the nonprofit organization. “Everyone’s been working very hard to create the perfect routine and to raise money to travel to California.”

To help fund travel expenses, Dallas Pride Cheer is hosting a car wash on Saturday in the Caven parking lot, behind Zini’s Pizza Throckmorton.

In preparation for San Francisco and the many other local events they participate in, the group practices every Sunday at Pride All-Star Gym in Carrollton. Members range in age from 20 to 51, with a variety of backgrounds as current and former cheerleaders, athletes and coaches. And they are always looking for more.

“We are always looking for new talent to add to our group,” says Bridgwater. “Depending on the person’s experience we can plug [someone] into a routine. It’s best if we find someone with knowledge of technique, tumbling and stunting. As a group, we are always pushing new stunts, new basket tosses and so on. It’s a whole year of learning as a group.”

The routine Dallas Cheer Pride performs in San Francisco will be repeated in Dallas in September during the Alan Ross Freedom Parade. But those interested in seeing the squad sooner can check them out during this year’s Razzle Dazzle Dallas, which kicks off June 1.

“Razzle Dazzle is what we have been putting together for the past year,” says Bridgwater. “In addition to our cheer portion is a new, fun dance routine. You won’t see it anywhere else. It’s just something for us to shake it and have fun.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Donald Trump comes out against same-sex marriage in possible step toward presidential bid

Nene Leakes

Is the first step in entering a national race on the Republican side to show how homophobic you are?

Donald Trump announced this week that he is against same-sex marriage and isn’t sure partners should receive even receive “medical or civil benefits.” Trump has not announced whether he’s running for president but did indicate an interest in the office when he appeared at a conservative conference last week.

Trump said he’ll make an announcement about his intentions in June. One serious matter stands between him and the presidency — the fourth season of Celebrity Apprentice. The NBC show begins on March 6.

The network has a rule against stars of its shows running for public office. So Trump said he would wait until the end of the season in June to make his decision.

At least he has his priorities straight. Homophobia first. TV show second. Country third.

Last week, before announcing his run for U.S. Senate, former Mayor Tom Leppert sent out a homophobic tweet. Leppert hasn’t explained the message, but it was probably sent to distance himself from his Pride parade and Black Tie Dinner appearances, as well as his openly gay former chief of staff.

Oh, and Nene Leakes, who was one of the stars of Real Housewives of Atlanta, is one of Trump’s new season of celebrity apprentices. No word on her position on same-sex marriage, but it probably matters about as much as Trump’s.

—  David Taffet

‘Lambda Weekly’ moves to drive time

After more than 27 years on the 89.3 KNON-FM schedule as a Sunday show, Lambda Weekly moves to drive time this week. The oldest LGBT radio show in the nation will broadcast Wednesdays at 7 a.m.

From left: David Taffet, Lerone Landis, Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Patti Fink

Patti Fink and Lerone Landis host the show with me (David Taffet). Alex Hanselka is the show’s intern and tech guru. John Wright, online editor for Dallas Voice, will be our first drive-time guest this week.

The station features a variety of talk shows during morning drive time including The Jesse Garcia Show on Thursdays at 7 a.m. At 8 a.m., the nationally syndicated Democracy Now with Amy Goodman runs Monday through Thursday and NPR’s Tavis Smiley airs Fridays.

Fink, who is president of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, is excited about the move because of the potential for a much larger audience. Landis has a work conflict but will be in the studio to open the show before running downtown to work and will continue to contribute the entertainment report.

The show is one the the station’s original programs and began broadcasting in August 1983.

Guests on the show include authors, politicians and other people of interest to the LGBT community. Mayor Annise Parker of Houston was a guest last year when she appeared in Dallas for the Pride parade. Counselor Candy Marcum appears regularly to give relationship and other advice. Her next scheduled appearance is in May and coincides with her 25th anniversary. Instead of giving the relationship advice, she’ll be getting some from the crew.

Other guests have included Chaz Bono first on-air appearance as an out lesbian, Charo, Elizabeth Birch, E. Lynn Harris as well as LGBT community leaders from throughout North Texas.

The show features a segment called “Those Darn Heterosexuals,” highlighting stupid things straight people do and heterosexual parent of the week awards for examples of really bad parenting.

This week’s first drive time show with Wright will be a news round-up. They’ll discuss current events including the Obama administration’s decision to stop defending Defense of Marriage, the progress of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal and what was Dave Chaos, station manager of KNON, really thinking when he put us in drive time.

The final Sunday guest was also from Dallas Voice. Life+Styles editor Arnold Wayne Jones appeared this past Sunday for the annual Oscar predictions show. That show can be heard here.

Lambda Weekly, Wednesdays at 7 a.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM

—  David Taffet

TCGPWA announces big plans for 2011

FAITH-BASED PRIDE | The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, waves to the crowd as part of the church’s entry in the 2010 Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Parade moving downtown, will include Street Fest; parade and picnic condensed into 1 weekend

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth’s LGBT community, re-energized by the June, 2009, raid on the Rainbow Lounge, has over the last 18-plus months become a much more organized, visible and active presence in the city.

Last October’s annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Week provided strong evidence of the community’s vitality.

The Pride parade was the largest in many years and included a first-time feature: a block party on South Jennings Street with vendors, entertainment and the Coors Main Stage. The following weekend, the popular Pride Week picnic pulled in a huge and diverse crowd to Trinity River Park.

This year, as TCGPW Association plans for its 30th annual Pride celebration, Fort Worth’s LGBT community can look forward to an even bigger and better event, parade chairman Tony Coronado said this week.

The biggest change, Coronado said, will be in the timing of the main Pride week events. Previously, the parade has been held on a Sunday afternoon to kick off the week, and the picnic has wound up the festivities the following Saturday. But this year, the parade and picnic are being held the same weekend — and the parade is moving downtown for the first time in its 30-year history.

The Ride the Rainbow Pride Parade and Street Festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. on Main Street. The Street Festival, Coronado said, begins after the parade and continues until 6 p.m.

ROYALTY ON PARADE | The 2010 TCGPWA titleholders were among the entries in Fort Worth’s Pride parade last October. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

The following day — Sunday, Oct. 2 — the picnic will be held from noon to 6 p.m. in Trinity Park, with the area and layout expanded to accommodate the expected increase in attendance, Coronado said.

But while the two main events will take place in one weekend, Coronado said Pride week runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9, with a variety of local events set throughout the week and the International Gay Rodeo Association’s World Gay Rodeo Finals taking place Oct. 7-9 in Fort Worth.

One reason for condensing the parade and picnic into one weekend, Coronado said, is to broaden the celebration’s appeal to out-of-towners, especially since this will be the 30th annual parade.

“We’ve been working with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau a lot. They are helping promote our celebration, and having it all in one weekend will make it easier for people to come in from out of town to attend,” Coronado said. “This way, they don’t have to decide between coming for the parade or coming for the picnic. They can come for one weekend and attend both.”

Coronado stressed that being able to coordinate these events on a larger scale than in the past and make sure they are successful requires careful planning — which is why TCGPWA laid out a two-year plan to prepare for the anniversary year, and why the organization has made a concerted effort to reach out to as many organizations and communities as possible.

“We are using social networking a lot, and we are reaching out to the LGBT individuals and organizations throughout Tarrant County, especially in the rural areas, trying to get them involved and excited,” he said.

“Whether they are officially involved or not, all the GLBT organizations in Tarrant County are a part of the pride celebration. It’s up to them as to how much they participate, but we want to make sure they know they are all invited to be a part of this.”

TCGPWA is also in the process of creating a scholarship fund through its new education committee, Coronado said. An awards panel has been established to research and develop criteria, target needs, set parameters and establish a required apprenticeship to award a scholarship to someone in the LGBT community.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright