Latin flair

comedy
MUY FUNNY | Dan Guerrero works for laughs while being gay and Latino in his one-man show.

Before he could write ‘¡Gaytino!,’ Dan Guerrero first had to find his roots

rich lopez  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Growing up gay and Latino can be a tough hand to play. In a culture that revels in religion and machismo — hell, the word “machismo” is Latino — coming out poses pitfalls.

But Dan Guerrero lucked out. With some artsy upbringing by a musician dad and a not-so-practicing Catholic background, Guerrero’s closet was easy to open. In fact, it was harder for him just to be Hispanic.

“Los Angeles never made me feel like I was good enough,” he says. “I fell in love with musicals in junior high. I wanted to hear Julie Andrews in Camelot! Who gives a rat’s ass about mariachi?”

His dad might have given one. He was famed musician Lala Guerrero, the father of Chicano music who popularized the Pachuco sound in the 1940s (the beats most associated with Zoot suits and swing dancing). While Guerrero appreciated his father’s legacy, he established his own identity by moving to New York to become an actor. That didn’t work out so much, but becoming an agent did.

“It was kind of by accident, but I ended up being an agent for 15 years,” he says. “I got into producing and I loved it.”

Although he stepped away from performing, Guerrero finds himself back onstage Friday and Saturday at the Latino Cultural Center with ¡Gaytino! The autobiographical one-man show is part comedy, part cabaret, with Guerrero recounting in lyrics and punch lines his experiences growing up gay and Latino, life with father … and having to rediscover his roots after moving back to L.A.

“The main reason I did the show is, I wanted to know more about my dad and my best friend. I was already fabulous,” he laughs. “So I don’t think of this as my story. I wanted to embrace his legacy and celebrate him and our lives, but also tell of being a born-again Hispanic.”

In L.A., Guerrero rediscovered his heritage. While still working in entertainment, he noticed a lack of Latinos behind the scenes. He started a column in Dramalogue to change that, interviewing actors like Jimmy Smits and Salma Hayek and producing shows that spoke to Latin audiences.

And then came ¡Gaytino!

“Well, the word itself hit me first so I trademarked it. Then it was madness as I set about writing it,” he says.

When the show debuted in 2005, Guerrero hadn’t performed in 35 years. He was a different man, no longer a young buck with nothing to lose and untarnished optimism. He was a behind-the-scenes producer and casting agent. He was — gasp! — older.

“I remember thinking, ‘What am I gonna do? What if I forget my lines?’ I’m an old codger,” he says. “But I got onstage and it was like I had did it the day before. Performing is just part of who I am.”

With his successful day job (he once repped a young Sarah Jessica Parker), a healthy relationship (32 years this November) and irons in many other fires, why bother with the daunting task of writing a show and carrying it alone?

“It still feels like I’m breaking into show business. At least when you’ve been around as long as I have, you can get the main cheese by phone,” he answers. “But really, I had something I wanted to say and I love doing it. I’ve been lucky to stay in the game this long but it’s not by accident; it’s all been by design.”

What he loves isn’t just doing his show, but how it pushes positive gay Latino images. He’s dedicated this chapter in his life to that. Guerrero now feels parental toward the younger generation — maybe because he has no children of his own.

“I do feel a responsibility and not just to younger people, but to all,” he says. “For ¡Gaytino!, I first want them entertained, but I hope audiences will leave more educated about some Chicano culture and history and Gaytino history.”

……………………………………

QUEER CLIP: ‘BEGINNERS’

screen

 

Beginners is such a dreadfully forgettable and generic title for what is the year’s most engaging and heartfelt comedy, you feel like boycotting a review until the distributor gives it a title it deserves.

Certainly the movie itself — a quirky, humane and fantastical reverie about the nature of love and family, with Ewan McGregor as a doleful graphic artist who, six months after his mother dies, learns his 75-year-old dad (Christopher Plummer) is gay and wants to date — charts its own course (defiantly, respectfully, beautifully), navigating the minefield of relationships from lovers to parent/child with simple emotions. It’s not a movie that would presume to answer the Big Questions (when do you know you’ve met the right one? And if they aren’t, how much does that matter anyway?); it’s comfortable observing that we’re all in the same boat, and doing our best is good enough.

McGregor’s placid befuddlement over how he should react to things around him — both his father’s coming out and a flighty but delightful French actress (Melanie Laurent) who tries to pull him out of his shell — is one of the most understated and soulful performances of his career. (His relationship with Arthur, his father’s quasi-psychic Jack Russell, is winsome and winning without veering into Turner & Hooch idiocy.) But Plummer owns the film.

Plummer, best known for his blustery, villainous characters (even the heroic ones, like Capt. Von Trapp and Mike Wallace), exudes an aura of wonder and discovery as the septuagenarian with the hot younger boyfriend (Goran Visnjic, both exasperating as cuddly). As he learns about house music at a time when his contemporaries crave Lawrence Welk, you’re wowed by how the performance seethes with the lifeforce of someone coming out and into his own. His energy is almost shaming.

Writer/director Mike Mills’ semi-autobiographical film suffers only being underlit and over too quickly. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to spend more time with these folks.

—Arnold Wayne Jones

Rating: Four and half stars
Now playing at Landmark’s Magnolia Theatre.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 10, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

More entries for your Foote fetish

We review two of the entries in the Foote Festival in the Voice this week — Uptown Players’ The Young Man from Atlanta and WaterTower Theatre’s The Traveling Lady, as well as a review several weeks back of Dallas Theater Center’s Dividing the Estate — but the fest continues with a number of productions coming soon. Some today!

WingSpan Theatre Co. and One Thirty Productions are doing four performances of their staged reading of The Carpetbagger’s Children today and Saturday, with two shows each: 1:30 p.m. matinees and 8 p.m. evening perfofoamnces. Performances take place at the Bath House Cultural Center.

Contemporary Theatre of Dallas opens The Trip to Bountiful, directed by Rene Moreno, tonight at the Greenville Center for the Arts off Lower Greenville Avenue.

Theatre 3 is in previews of its production of The Roads Home, a collection of one-acts. Official opening night is Monday.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Guest post by Rev. Patrick Cheng – The Truth Will Make Us Free: A Queer Year in Review

Give a hearty coffeehouse welcome to Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Historical and Systematic Theology at

Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The author of
Radical Love: An Introduction to Queer Theology, he shares a year-end piece for discussion. –Pam


The Truth Will Make Us Free: A Queer Year in Review

By Rev. Patrick S. Cheng, Ph.D.

Follow on Twitter @patrickscheng

Anti-gay Christians love to quote John 8:32, which says that “the truth will make you free.” According to them, if only lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people would simply accept the truths of the Christian faith, we would discover the error of our ways, repent of our sins and miraculously change our misdirected sexual orientations and/or gender identities.

As an openly-gay theologian, ordained Christian minister and seminary professor at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I agree that the truth will make us free. However, the anti-gay Christians have it backwards. As the groundbreaking events of 2010 have demonstrated, it is actually the truth of the fundamental goodness of LGBT people and our lives that will make us free. Ironically, this truth also will free anti-gay Christians of their own heterosexist prejudices and theological blind spots.

What were some of the truths about the goodness of LGBT people and our lives that were demonstrated in 2010? In August, the first fully-litigated U.S. federal court trial about same-sex marriage concluded that there was no rational basis for prohibiting LGBT people from entering into civil marriage. The trial court struck down California Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative that stripped LGBT people in California of the right to marry. Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s ruling demonstrated the truth that LGBT civil marriages are grounded in the same ethical values of love, mutual caring and commitment as non-LGBT civil marriages.

In September, after a rash of horrific suicides by young gay men across the United States, the openly-gay author and syndicated columnist Dan Savage and his husband Terry Miller started the “It Gets Better Project.” This project has resulted in more than 5,000 Internet videos of LGBT people and our allies, speaking directly — and giving hope — to suffering LGBT young people around the world. Each video tells the truth about how even though many of us suffered at the hands of bullies and bigots while growing up, our lives ultimately have become better in the process of coming out and speaking the truth about our lives to the world.

More below the fold.

In December, the U.S. Congress authorized — and President Obama signed into law — the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell statute that had prohibited openly lesbian and gay soldiers from serving in the U.S. military for the past 17 years. The repeal was based upon overwhelming evidence that allowing lesbians and gays to serve openly in the military would have no adverse consequences to national security. In fact, the evidence showed that encouraging truth telling by lesbian and gay soldiers would actually enhance the effectiveness of our armed forces. As most of us learned from an early age, telling the truth is a virtue and not a vice.

There were a number of other encouraging examples in 2010 of speaking the truth about LGBT people. For example, in September a Florida state court struck down an anti-gay statute that expressly prohibited LGBT people from adopting children in that state. Shortly thereafter, the Florida Department of Children and Families declined to appeal the decision, thus conceding the truth of that ruling.

In December, the United Nations spoke the truth by voting to protect LGBT people around the world from extrajudicial killings and arbitrary executions, notwithstanding the strenuous objections of a number of member countries. Even Pope Benedict XVI, in a recent book-length interview with a German journalist, took a first step toward speaking the truth about LGBT people by saying that the intentional use of condoms by a male prostitute to prevent HIV/AIDS infection could be the “first step in the direction of moralization.”

Interestingly, anti-gay Christians love to cite over and over again the half-dozen or so verses in the Bible that purportedly condemn same-sex acts as sinful. However, they ignore the nearly 200 verses in the Bible that emphasize the importance of truth-telling from a theological and ethical perspective, not to mention the explicit prohibition of bearing false witness against one’s neighbors in the Ten Commandments.

These anti-gay Christians would do better to heed the stern biblical warnings against bearing false witness. Recently, the venerable Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) officially designated 13 anti-gay Christian groups — including the American Family Association, the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition — as “hate groups” for spreading “known falsehoods” against LGBT people. Another five groups — including the Concerned Women for America, Liberty Counsel and the National Organization for Marriage — were cited for their use of “demonizing propaganda” against sexual minorities on the SPLC’s website.

Anti-gay Christians, including those who are affiliated with the above groups mentioned by the SPLC, would do well to read more closely the first chapter of letter of St. Paul to the Romans. In particular, they should read Romans 1 as applying to themselves. Often that chapter is used solely as “proof” of the sinfulness of LGBT people. What anti-gay Christians seem to forget, however, is the traditional doctrine of original sin, as articulated in Romans and interpreted by theologians such as Augustine of Hippo onwards, applies to all people — including themselves!

What if the warning of Romans 1:18-21 against the “ungodliness” and “wickedness” of those who “suppress the truth” — and those whose “senseless minds” are “darkened” — actually referred to those anti-gay Christians who fail to acknowledge the truth and empirical evidence about the fundamental goodness and loving nature of LGBT people and our relationships?

What if the “lusts,” “impurity” and “degrading” actions (including “exchanging the truth about God for a lie”) as described in Romans 1:24-25 actually referred to the lust for political power, wealth and idolatrous self-worship as exhibited by many anti-gay Christians, some of whom scapegoat LGBT people as a convenient way of diverting attention from their own sexual sins?

What if the condemnation of the “shameless acts” committed with “one another” and the “debased mind” described by St. Paul in Romans 1:27-28 actually referred to the brutal gang rape (metaphorically speaking) of LGBT people by anti-gay Christian hate speech – hate speech that has resulted in numerous queer bashings and suicides by LGBT people, including innocent young people whose lives were tragically cut off before reaching their prime?

Although admirable progress was made during 2010 with respect to basic human rights for LGBT people, much more needs to be done. In particular, the rise of state-sanctioned anti-LGBT violence in other parts of the world, including the Middle East, Asia and Africa, is frightening. For example, the upcoming vote by the Uganda legislature on its “kill-the-gays” legislation is one example of this state-sanctioned violence that must be condemned by people of faith everywhere.

As LGBT people, we must remain ever vigilant and hopeful that the truth of the fundamental goodness, and holiness, of our lives and relationships will free us from the sinful bondage of homophobic and heterosexist oppression. However, LGBT people are not the only ones who will benefit from this truth. The truth will also free anti-gay Christians from their own heterosexist prejudices and theological blind spots — shortcomings that would otherwise prevent them from entering fully into the reign of God.

Other year-ender items to click over to:

* Truth Wins Out – Year in Review — LGBT Top 10

* Michigan Messenger – Year in Review: LGBT issues figure prominently in 2010

* Ranker – Top 10 People Out of the Closet in 2010
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Scissor Sisters Year In Review With Chris Colfer, Katy Perry, & Adam Lambert

Joe. My. God.

—  admin