TCU GSA raising money for LGBT prom

gaypromFor some LGBT people, the memory of their high school prom wasn’t everything they dreamed it’d be, or in some cases, not even close.

But the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas Christian University is partnering with the university’s social work class of 2015 to ensure that LGBT students and its allies have a second chance at a memorable prom.

“This event will allow college students and above to participate in the high school tradition of going to prom that they may have missed out on due to discrimination,” TCU GSA President Shelbie Rosenblum wrote on the GoFundMe website. “Both organizations feel that the LGBTQ community and their allies should be able to experience this special moment with the person of their choice. … We support the LGBTQ community of DFW and believe that this will be a treasured moment for those who attend.”

The fund aims to raise $4,000 for an enchanting evening with food, a photo both, DJ and elegant decorations, all without charging admission for the event. So far, $440 has been donated.

The prom, while hosted at TCU, will be open to other universities and students in the DFW area on Saturday, April 12.

—  Dallasvoice

Announcement banning same-sex couples from Port Arthur prom not ‘meant to be a joke’

Memorial High School

Confusion about an announcement made last week at a Port Arthur high school that stated gay students would not be welcome at the dance has been resolved, according to school district officials.

Deputy Superintendent Mark Porterie previously emailed Dallas Voice a statement that stated the school would “handle the situation with staff to ensure that no student is inappropriately prevented from participation in prom.”

In a phone interview Thursday, Porterie said the announcement heard over Memorial High School’s intercom “was just a conversation-type mix-up,” adding that he is uncertain of the specific situation that prompted the announcement.

“I’m not clear to this day how it happened. It shouldn’t have happened,” he said. “It’s not something we promote.”

The intention of the announcement, however, was anything but funny to the student body, administration and the announcer.

“It was not a joke,” he said. “ It wasn’t meant to be a joke.”

Porterie declined to clarify if the person who made the announcement was a student or faculty member, only saying that the school is abuzz with preparations for the May prom and mentions of the event are common during the months leading up to it.

While the situation was “handled the same day,” Porterie would not elaborate on the method or whether the announcer was told that the remark was inappropriate.

Various students at the schools throughout the Port Arthur ISD make announcements daily, Porterie said, and different methods of approval are used and occasional announcements not approved slip through the approval processes.

“Sometimes announcements come through that aren’t supposed to,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t catch them.”

—  Dallasvoice

Good Christian belle

Gay ally Kristin Chenoweth talks about her new country music CD (she adores Dolly!), queers … and the right way to be a Christian

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO KRISTIN | The performer has conquered stage, recording, TV … and uniting gay rights with her faith.

Kristin Chenoweth doesn’t get miffed very easily. But when she does, watch out. Last year, after Newsweek published a commentary on the inability of gay actors to play straight roles, she wrote an extensive letter to the magazine, calling the article “horrendously homophobic.”

But Chenoweth’s allegiance to the gay community goes back to growing up in Oklahoma — a place she returned to for her latest album, Some Lessons Learned, the first of four where the opera-trainer singer fully embraces her country roots.

We had lots to talk about when we caught up with Chenoweth, on a dinner break from shooting her upcoming series, Good Christian Belles. She discussed her history of dating gay men, her opinion on Michele Bachmann’s support of gay conversion clinics … and being a little bit wicked.

— Chris Azzopardi

………………………..

Dallas Voice: Your character’s name on Good Christian Belles is Cockburn — Carlene Cockburn. Chenoweth: I can’t wait for my family to hear that one. Are you kidding? I was like, “Wait a minute…!” But I just think the most important thing for me as an actress, because of the lines that come out of my mouth, is to just have to speak them and keep going, because they’re so funny and her name is so funny and the whole thing is just so great. I love it.

Does your character have anything in common with April Rhodes, who you play on Glee? Probably not on paper, but they’re both pretty outlandish people. Carlene, though, is the antithesis of April.

You grew up in Oklahoma, so country music is your roots. How is your new album a reflection of that? It’s so funny, because I get asked, “Why a country album now?” But that’s how it all began for me. Of course, why would anyone know that? It’s not something I’ve been talking about a lot, but it’s the music I grew up listening to. One of my biggest influences is Dolly Parton, and when you look at the history of songs in musical theater and in country, they’re both usually great storytellers.

I know just how lucky I am to do this kind of music. Getting to go to Nashville and sing this music that feels like home to me was a real gift, and one that I don’t take lightly.

The song “What Would Dolly Do?” reminds me a lot of Dolly herself. I co-wrote that. [Producer] Bob Ezrin asked, “Who’s had the biggest influence on you country music-wise?” I said, “Dolly, without question.” And he said, “How would she approach it? Let’s think: What would Dolly do?” I said, “Bob, why aren’t we writing that song?”

There’s something about her that I feel very attuned to. There’s only one Dolly. I’m not comparing myself, but I’m just saying her spirit and the way she looks at life is pretty similar to me. And the cover I did of hers [“Change”] is actually a very emotional thing and it reminded me — of course, how could I ever forget? — what an amazing songwriter she is. You know, I didn’t do a lot of covers. I did two covers, one of Carrie [Underwood] and one of Dolly’s, and I just love both of them. I love their music, I love their spirit — everything they stand for.

It makes total sense, because, to me, both you and Dolly epitomize happiness. Oh my god, thank you. That’s the biggest compliment you could give me.

So, being so happy… what pisses you off? Oh, gosh! I don’t really get mad that often. But I’m not going to lie: When I do, there’s a quiet that comes over me that is a little like whoa, and that happens when I don’t feel other people are prepared or doing their job or pulling their weight. I come from a family where my dad came from nothing and worked hard to get where he is, and he said, “Work hard, play hard, Kris,” and I guess that’s kind of been my motto in life. So when I see people squandering opportunities or having a sense of entitlement, that really makes me crazy. Because I don’t understand it. It’s not a world I get.

One thing that does make you upset is homophobic people. I don’t like that, you’re right.

Your letter in response to that Newsweek column said it all. Why was it important to address your feelings on that issue? To be honest, I wasn’t prepared for what was going to happen. I was on Broadway doing Promises, Promises, and I read the article and I actually thought it was pretty irresponsible. I’m not even talking about whether a person agrees with being gay or not, I’m talking about artistry and gay

actors trying to play straight. It just made me mad, because I thought, “Well, I’ve played a prostitute, does that mean I am one? No.” I just thought it was a little bit of a bullying thing, and I honestly prayed about it — no kidding, I prayed about it.

And by the way, I’m a big fan of the magazine, which is why I was so bummed. But I think that they felt bad and hopefully there’s been some discussion about it and some learning, because that’s what we’re here to do on this Earth, to learn our purpose. Well, one of my purposes in this life — since I’m a believer and a Christian — is to help people realize that not every Christian thinks that being gay is a sin.

To reinforce your point, you made out with your Promises, Promises co-star Sean Hayes at the Tonys last year. It might’ve been a little jibe. It might’ve been a little one! Ha!

What was it like to make out with a gay man? Was that your first time? Well, let’s face it, my high school boyfriend is gay, so I don’t think it’s my first time making out with gay men! I bet a lot of women don’t even know they’ve done it! And Sean Hayes is just a darn good kisser, what can I say?

Wait, so you dated a gay man in high school? Yeah, and I’m like, “Well, that’s why we were such a great couple!” He didn’t pleasure me in any way but he helped me pick out my prom dress!

Was he one of the first gay people you knew in Oklahoma? Yeah. I want to tell you something I know about myself: When I was in the second or third grade, I first heard the word “dyke,” and it was in reference to a girl in our school who was very, very tomboyish. I didn’t really understand what the word was, but I knew I didn’t like the way it was said. And for some reason I’ve always been drawn to the person that was alone, and I don’t mean to make me sound like I’m Mother Teresa, because I’m not. But I’ve always been drawn to people who felt left out or different, and maybe it’s because, I too, felt different and unique. People would not think this of me, because there’s this perception of me that, “Oh, life’s been perfect and things have come so easily.”

But let’s face it: My speaking voice is very interesting. Yes, I was a cheerleader but I also wanted to do all the plays, I was in renaissance choir, and, I too, felt a little bit like an outsider. I was always drawn to people who felt that way, too. And sure, some of them were gay and I never did understand — I guess the word is fear.

God made us all equal. He made me short, he made someone gay, he made someone tall — whatever it is, it’s not a sin; it’s how we’re made. And that’s the way I feel about it. It flies in the face of a lot of what Christians believe, but as I’m finding out there’s a lot of Christian people who think the same as me. So that’s my deal, and I think we should not be careful of the unknown but rather accepting and loving of it.

As someone who’s Christian and supports the gay community, how do you feel about the pray-away-the-gay program that Michele Bachmann supports? [Long pause] You know what, you can have your opinion. One of the great things about being in this country is we get to freely say what we believe. I just don’t happen to agree with that. Though I like the “pray” part!

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

ACLU threatens to sue Corpus Christi school district for refusing to allow Gay Straight Alliance

The ACLU is demanding that Flour Bluff ISD officials allow a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance at Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi or face legal action.

The principal of Flour Bluff High School has refused to allow the GSA proposed by student Nikki Peet, and the district superintendent has threatened to eliminate all non-curricular clubs to avoid allowing the GSA.

The ACLU, which is representing Peet, says the district is in violation of the federal Equal Access Act because it has allowed other non-curricular clubs — including the chess club; the Key Club; the Family, Careers, Community Leaders of America; and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — to meet on campus.

“Because Flour Bluff High has opened the door to non-curricular clubs on campus, it is required by law to permit the GSA club,” the ACLU writes in its letter dated today.

The ACLU also maintains that it’s illegal for the district to eliminate all non-curricular clubs to avoid allowing the GSA.

“Recently, a federal court in Mississippi held that when the school district canceled the prom in response to a student’s request to bring a same-sex date, the district violated the student’s First Amendment rights,” the ACLU said. “The proposed action by the District here is no different than the cancellation of the prom that the court held in McMillen to be unconstitutional.”

The ACLU gives the district until March 9 to respond.

“If you refuse to comply with your obligations under the EAA and the First Amendment, we will take whatever steps necessary to protect the rights of our client, Ms. Peet,” the letter states.

Read the ACLU’s letter here.

As we reported earlier, a protest is planned outside Flour Bluff High School on Friday.

—  John Wright

Constance is going to the prom

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

Constance McMillen is finally going to the prom.

Each year the National Center for Lesbian Rights holds what they call “the lesbian prom” in San Francisco. McMillen has been invited to the May 1 event and NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said the group will pay for her travel.

Can you imagine being a high school senior and experiencing the ups and downs she’s gone through. First the uproar in her town that resulted in the cancellation of her school prom, just because she wanted to wear a tux and take her girlfriend.

Then she became an instant celebrity, highlighted by an appearance on the Ellen Degeneres show where she was awarded a college scholarship.

Back home, to show just how nasty and spiteful they could be, a secret prom is scheduled and she’s invited to a fake prom. Rather than just plan a private party, her classmates decided that a nice bit of humiliation was necessary.

But now she gets to attend a prom in San Francisco. Hmmm … rural Mississippi or San Francisco. No matter what her classmates (and school officials) have planned for her next, this comeback kid is going to one up them with the entire LGBT community backing her.

—  David Taffet

What a line!

I don’t think there is any need here to rehash the whole Constance McMillen prom drama here in this post. You all know the story.

But I have to mention it because it the basis for this column on Salon.com titled “The night I ditched my gay prom date,” and I am encouraging everyone to go read it. It looks at the whole prom drama from a slightly different angle and makes for an interesting read.

And besides, it has one of the best lines I have ever heard, right at the very end: “What the truly cool kids know is that it’s always better to dance alone than to sway in time with a roomful of bigots.”

—  admin

Prom drama continues for McMillen

Okay, so a federal judge ruled that officials at Itawamba Agricultural High School in Mississippi violated senior Constance McMillen’s civil rights when they refused to let her wear a tuxedo and bring her sophomore girlfriend as her date to the senior prom.

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

When Constance, represented by the ACLU, took the case to court, the school cancelled the prom. But the judge didn’t order the school to reinstate the prom, because the school said some parents would be holding a private prom instead, and they insisted that Constance and her girlfriend would be invited and that Constance could wear a tux.

The prom was supposed to be last Friday. But early last week, the parents sponsoring it said it had been cancelled. Then the school officials said, no, the prom WOULD be held on Friday night at the Fulton Country Club.

So Constance and her girlfriend showed up. But there were only seven other students there. Seems the REAL prom was being held somewhere else, in secret, so that all the straight students could have fun without having to worry about the lesbians messing things up.

And according to Ya’ll Politics, where I found this info, school officials were in on the secret and helped the parents plan the “real” prom somewhere else. The Ya’ll Politics page says they got the story from “NMC,” but I can’t get the page they linked to to load.

—  admin

Different prom, different reaction

Georgia
Bleckley County, Georgia

Constance McMillan had the support of her family when her school refused to allow her to attend the school prom.

Derrick Martin of Cochran, Ga., has the support of his school to attend his prom with his boyfriend, but not the support of his parents.

His parents have thrown him out of the house and he is staying with a friend.

Bleckley County High School’s only rule is no dates over the age of 21.

According to the Macon Telegraph, one mother with a gay son sent the school flowers to thank them. Martin has had offers to buy the couple dinner, boutineers, a limo and tuxes.

He said he decided to go to the prom with his boyfriend after hearing about McMillan.

The superintendent said it was a first for their school district.

—  David Taffet

Constance wins her lawsuit, but still loses her prom

Constance McMillen wins, but still loses
Constance McMillen wins, but still loses

U.S. District Court Judge Glen H. Davidson on Tuersday, March 23 ruled that the Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Mississippi violated Constance McMillen’s cosntitutional right to free speech by refusing to allow her to attend the senior prom with her girlfriend and to wear a tuxedo to the prom.

But Constance still doesn’t get to go to the prom, because school officials canceled the event rather than let her attend in a tux with her girlfriend. Judge Davidson did not order the school to reinstate the event.

A private prom has been scheduled. But Constance isn’t invited.

Judge Davidson, in his ruling, wrote that being able to attend with a girlfriend and wear a tuxedo to prom is “the type of speech that falls squarely within the purview of the First Amendment.”

But Tim Wildmon, president of the American Family Association, disagrees. Tim, who recently took over the AFA when his father Donald retired for health reasons, delcared in a statement released today: “This is not about speech at all, but about the homosexual agenda. It’s about the schoolyard bullies at the ACLU using an activist federal judge to force schools to normalize sexually aberrant behavior.”

Tim continued: “It’s absurd to accuse the school of violating her free speech rights. She’s been talking to anybody and everybody who will listen and the school has made no effort to stop her.”

(Interesting to note that these are the same folks who complain that hate crimes laws that include LGBT people violate their free speech rights to incite violence against gays and lesbians and trans people.)

And Bryan Fischer, the AFA’s director of issue analysis, breaks out the same old tired “same right to be straight” argument used against marriage equality efforts. He said: “The school had one policy that applied to every student equally. If Ms. McMillen wanted to bring a date to the prom, she had the same right every other student had, to bring a date of the opposite sex. She already had equal rights, but that wasn’t enough for the thugs at the ACLU. They want special rights for homosexuals, not equal rights.”

Wildmon urged other schools in similar situations as Itawamba to fight back against those ACLU thugs and promised that AFA “stands ready to help schools stand their ground,” and warned that the ACLU “is out to demolish the Judeo-Christian value system on which this nation was built, and they’ll get away with it unless we rise up to stop them

—  admin

UPDATE: No prom for McMillen

Constance McMillen
Constance McMillen

A substitute private prom has been scheduled for Itawamba Agricultural High School. Constance McMillen, the 18-year old senior who is a lesbian and wanted to attend with her girlfriend, is not invited.

A hotel owner in New Orleans offered to hold an inclusive prom at his property and pay for the bus to transport the students, including McMillen.

Instead, the private prom will be held in a furniture store in Tupelo, Miss. Now how much more fun than a prom in New Orleans will this event in Tupelo be?

McMillen, represented by the ACLU, had sued the county school board to allow her to attend dressed in a tuxedo. As a result of the suit, the school board canceled the prom and asked that a private, discriminatory party be scheduled.

—  David Taffet