QL's Wilkinson, Vanderslice get in Mark Reed's face during last night's rally on Cedar Springs

I’ll have more on last night’s rally on Cedar Springs in tomorrow’s Voice, but for now I wanted to share this video of Queer LiberAction’s Blake Wilkinson and Rick Vanderslice confronting National Equality March organizer Mark Reed and his partner, Dante Walkup, during the rally. Wilkinson is apparently still smarting about Reed’s decision to cancel a plane ticket he’d given Wilkinson to attend the march over comments criticizing the event that were posted on QL’s Web site. During the confrontation, Wilkinson and Vanderslice get in Reed’s face and call him  a “piece of shit”  and a “slimy motherfucker.” Reed responds by calling Wilkinson “a fuckin’ liar.” I was paying attention to the rally and missed the whole thing, but Laura McFerrin captured it all on video and passed it along this morning. It’s definitely worth three minutes of your time.

—  John Wright

QL's kiss-in at the Stockyards

We didn’t make it to Queer LiberAction’s kiss-in at the Fort Worth Stockyards yesterday. But according to news reports I’ve seen, the kiss-in became more of a shouting match than anything after a group of counterdemonstrators showed up. Above is video from The 33.  See coverage from WFAA by going here and the Star-Telegram by going here.

—  John Wright

Is FW rodeo manager advocating violence against gays who kiss in public?

Queer LiberAction, the Dallas-based direct action group, plans another one of its Queer Kiss-In’s on Saturday — this time in the Fort Worth Stockyards, which QL called “a very socially conservative area of the city” in a press release sent out yesterday. NBC 5, which posted a story about the event on its Web site this morning, interviewed Hub Baker, the longtime manager of the Cowtown Coliseum rodeo in the Stockyards, who “doesn’t exactly welcome the demonstration,” according to the TV station.

“My first thought is, in the Fort Worth Stockyards, we like to welcome anyone and everyone, and we don’t discriminate,” he said.

But he added that he has a problem with anyone kissing in public — gay or straight.

“Manners are manners,” he said. “If they don’t act right among cowboys, maybe they need to get a good whipping.”

I’m sure Baker will claim this remark was taken out of context, but I’m also pretty sure he will live to regret it. Stay tuned.

—  John Wright

Do we need a new game plan for full equality?

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In response to comments on the post below about Mark Reed canceling Blake Wilkinson’s plane ticket, “Andrew” is proposing a summit of local LGBT activists — “a conversation for possibility” — to explore ideas for achieving full equality. In an e-mail sent to myself and Senior Editor Tammye Nash, Andrew argues that the LGBT communiity lacks any comprehensive, finite plan for achieving our ultimate goal. In the same comments thread, Queer LiberAction’s Rick Vanderslice previously proposed a rendezvous on Tuesday night at his pad, but Andrew has made a counterproposal: Thursday from 7-9 p.m. at La Madeleine on Lemmon Avenue, where he says he’s booked a private room. Alas, I’ll be on a flight to D.C. for the National Equality March at that time, so please fill me in on the game plan later. Personally, I think we should consider the wildcat formation. But seriously, you can read Andrew’s full e-mail after the jump.

—  John Wright

NEM organizer Mark Reed cancels plane ticket he'd given to QL founder Blake Wilkinson

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National Equality March executive committee member Mark Reed (shown above), a successful Dallas business owner, says he’s given away about 12 airline vouchers so that others from the local LGBT community can attend the event Oct. 10 and 11 in Washington, D.C. One of those airline vouchers had gone to Blake Wilkinson, founder of Queer LiberAction. But according to e-mails I received today from both Reed and Wilkinson, Reed has canceled Wilkinson’s voucher over comments critical of the march that were posted on QL’s Web site. QL, along with the Gay Liberation Network in Chicago, has been trying to organize a protest outside the White House during the first day of the march. According to a “Call for a pro-LGBT picket of the White House” on the front page of the QL site:

“The organizers of the Sunday, October 11th March on Washington have placed almost their entire focus on Congress (which will be out of town) and almost none on the President. Indeed, rather than making demands of the President, the official march Web site goes out of its way to praise ‘Obama’s Mobile Messaging Team (for) Donating Services To The National Equality March!’

“By targeting congressional districts and lobbying Congress in an effort to win legal equality, the organizers’ strategy looks suspiciously like a drive to elect and re-elect Democrats in the 2010 bi-elections, rather than make uncompromising demands on this President and his Congress.”

Here are portions of an e-mail Reed sent to Wilkinson yesterday in response to the above comments:

“I am canceling your free ticket to Washington and informing you in time so you can still make affordable plans.

“Although I was tempted to wait [until] one day before the march, that is not my style … and [would be] fostered out of anger that unlike you, I have learned how to control.”

In response to the first paragraph from the QL Web site above, Reed wrote, “LIE. We didn’t praise Obama with this message. We were pointing the credibility of the group that has volunteered for this effort.” In response to the second paragraph, Reed wrote, “LIE. You obviously haven’t read anything about our strategy and I do not have time to explain it to you.” Reed then goes on to say:

“As someone that has been working extremely hard to help promote the march, I am very disappointed that you have not done jack shit to help. Instead, you are posting lies on your Web site and Facebook page about the organizers of this event.

“Dante & I have tried to be a support to you and your efforts. No more. We are now starting to believe what many of your enemies have written about you. So sad.”

And here’s Wilkinson’s response to Reed:

“I find it interesting that you’re canceling my ticket because of a difference of political opinion. What it boils down to is it my way or the highway, literally. I’m so disappointed with you and Dante. I would have thought that you would have tried to understand where we are coming from with QL. I have tried over the months, but I guess I have failed.

“As I said on the phone, and have said a million times over, if there is misinformation or differences of opinion I’m always happy to meet. I offered to meet your co-organizer to go over this stuff but she preferred to send me an email with corrected information. Yours is the only e-mail I have received.

“If you don’t like dialog or criticism then get out of politics. Just because you have gotten inspired to do something, which is great, it’s disappointing that because we disagree you’re using the only thing you have to try to squelch the fire, money. I, we, can’t be bought.

“So, as always, the phone is always on and I’m happy to meet. I’ll be eagerly waiting for your call and you and Dante’s generous support once again.”

—  John Wright

Welcome to the big leagues!

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What has to be one of the most common complaints editors hear from readers is, “It’s not newsworthy.” For example, when someone’s brother gets arrested for performing sex acts on the family cat and it shows up in the paper, they get mad and call the editor. “It’s not newsworthy,” they say.

This same type of criticism is rearing its ugly head over in the comments thread to this story about Queer Liberaction. But my question is, how much of this criticism is based on the fact that the commenters really don’t think it’s newsworthy, and how much of it is based on the fact that they just don’t want it in the newspaper?

One of the first things QL founder Blake Wilkinson said when I called him this week was, “Why is it that you guys will never cover Queer Liberaction’s events, but then when there is internal squabbling, you want to write about it?”

I told Wilkinson to go back through our issues and review our coverage since the group formed last November. How many times have QL events been featured in a photo on our front page? I just now counted, and the answer is seven. That’s right, seven times out of about 40 issues QL demonstrations have been the main photo on the front page of Dallas Voice. Wilkinson also alleged we haven’t covered anything they’ve done in the last month. My response was that DVtv’s Israel Luna produced an excellent video segment for us about QL’s Kiss-In just a few weeks ago, and that this had been my idea. Wilkinson didn’t have any response to that, and he finally agreed to discuss with me what’s going on with QL.

So while some would undoubtedly prefer that we didn’t cover QL at all, others want coverage, but only when it’s in a positive light and only when they feel it’s “newsworthy.” The problem with this is, we would never grant such treatment to any LGBT group or individual, and for obvious reasons.

Consider this hypothetical: If Stonewall Democrats President Erin Moore were to kick Jay Narey and Mike Lo Vuolo off the group’s board because they wanted to start another group with a competing mission, we would absolutely report on it. I’m not saying the same coverage would be given to every internal squabble at any LGBT organization, but Daniel Cates and Latisha McDaniel were high-profile board members for Queer Liberaction, which as I noted above has been a high-profile group.

Cates and McDaniel were the co-chairs of this year’s Million Gay March, which was organized by a coalition of local LGBT leaders and which drew more than 1,000 people. And they say they were kicked off the QL board because they insisted on starting another group that they hope will get along better with the rest of the community.

Now if that’s not newsworthy, I don’t know what is.

P.S. — After reading the story comments thread and this post, Publisher Robert Moore suggested that I also address the criticism that we don’t cover Fort Worth. There’s probably no better way to address this than by pointing to the centerpiece story on today’s front page about the AIDS Outreach Center, and the lead story in our Life+Style section about the aftermath of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

—  John Wright

Reactions to Freedom of Speech Night debate?

There was a huge crowd at Buzzbrews Kitchen on Lemmon Avenue tonight for a debate between Blake Wilkinson and Rick Vanderslice of Queer Liberaction, and Jay Narey and Mike Lo Vuolo, who are board members for Stonewall Democrats but weren’t representing the organization in an official capacity. Because I served as one of the moderators and was to some extent a participant, I’d be interested to hear audience members’ thoughts about how it went. As always, if you choose to comment, please keep it civil.

—  John Wright