Dallas Pop & Comic Expo comes to Richardson this weekend

DallasCPE Banner 8The Dallas Comic and Pop Expo comes to the Richardson Civic Center this weekend and has plenty of LGBT content, according to organizer Zach McGinnis.

Among the celebrities attending is David Yost, the Blue Power Ranger.

Yost came out publicly in 2010 and said he left the original series after its third season because he was called “faggot” on the set and endured harassment from writers, directors, producers and crew. At the time he said he was still struggling with his sexual orientation.

After leaving the show, Yost went through two years of conversion therapy, but in 2012, he began appearing again at fan conventions.

Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard) and Mari Deese Hampton (Harold & Kumar) and Black Power Ranger Walter Jones also be on hand.

Nicholas Brendon, who played Xander on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, leads karaoke 8 p.m.–midnight on Friday.

LGBT SciFi Speed Dating takes place on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Creator Ryan Glitch said this is the perfect way for people to meet who aren’t necessarily good at starting a conversation with strangers.

“What’s your favorite movie,” he suggested as a great opening line.

He said each speed date lasts three minutes and at the end of the hour, everyone is matched with a phone number of someone they showed interest in.

Glitch said his straight speed dating has resulted in 10 marriages and 19 engagements. He’s hoping LGBT speed dating will be equally successful.

McGinnis said he’s excited about an art auction Sautrday night that benefits the Wounded Warrior Project. Artists inlcude Phil Hester, Jamal Igle, Ande Parks, Shane Davis and local artist Robert Luedke. Several attending artists will be doing live work that will be auctioned at the end of the evening.

Feb. 28: Doubletree Hilton Dallas/Richardson, 1981 North Central Expwy. Registration at 5 p.m. Karaoke 8 p.m.–midnight.
March 1: Richardson Civic Center, 411 West Arapaho Road, Richardson. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Doubletree Hilton Dallas/Richardson art auction 7 p.m.–midnight.
March 2: Richardson Civic Center, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
DallasComicAndPopExpo.com

—  David Taffet

Gay Republican member of State Board of Education to run for Texas House in Richardson

State Board of Education member George Clayton speaks at the kickoff meeting for the new Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans in January.

George Clayton, an openly gay Republican member of Texas’ State Board of Education, announced Tuesday that he isn’t seeking re-election this year and will instead run for the Texas House District 112 seat, which covers Richardson and parts of Garland.

Clayton, who works for the Dallas Independent School District and was first elected to the SBOE in 2010, came out as gay last year in the midst of a whisper campaign about his sexual orientation among Republicans in his Collin County district.

Clayton couldn’t immediately be reached for comment today.

“After many hours of careful consideration and consultation, I have decided not to seek reelection to the Texas State Board of Education,” he said in an email announcing his decision on Tuesday, according to the Dallas Morning News. “Most of the work I seek to do for education in Texas is outside of the board’s assigned duties and responsibilities. Therefore, I have decided to seek election to the Texas House of Representatives in what is now district 112, which covers Richardson and portions of Garland. A formal announcement will be made in the next few days. Of course, I will complete my term on the State Board of Education. I look forward to serving the people of Texas in the legislature. Restoring strength to Texas education will be the primary focus of my legislative campaign.”

After new redistricting maps were announced Tuesday by a federal court in San Antonio, Clayton is one of two known openly LGBT candidates in North Texas who plan to run for Texas House. The other is Fort Worth school board member Carlos Vasquez, who plans to challenge incumbent Lon Burnam in the Democratic Primary.

Texas is one of only 18 states that currently lack an openly LGBT legislator.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: From Rags To Richardson

MORNING GOODS — Who says you can't wear white after Labor Day? Derek Richardson, a 28-year-old New York model, proves you wrong.

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Queerty

—  John Wright

Terry Richardson Is Jared Leto And Vice Versa

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Earlier this year, Jared Leto stopped by Terry Richardson's studio and let the photographer shave his locks off. The two recently reunited (sans shirts), posing as one another in these new pics. Good thing there isn't a razor in sight because not only has Leto let his hair grow back, but he's gone to all that trouble of having it frosted.

A couple of pics of Leto solo, AFTER THE JUMP.

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Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

Transgender former officer says DART board member Ray Noah liked to call her a 'him'

NOAH2004
Ray Noah

We received a note this morning from Diana J. Powe, a former police officer for the city of Richardson who happens to be transgender. Powe wrote us about Ray Noah, the DART board member from Richardson who proposed the amendment Tuesday night that gutted the agency’s proposed transgender protections. As we reported earlier, Noah has said he believes DART should have the right to discriminate against trans people when necessary. Powe, who transitioned in 2000 and retired in 2007, recounted her experiences working with Noah, who is the presiding judge for Richardson Municipal Court:

Ray Noah is not only the current (just renewed on April 26th by the Richardson City Council) DART representative for Richardson but he is also the presiding judge for the Richardson municipal court. In that capacity, he had numerous instances to interact with a transgendered employee of the city. I was a police officer in November 2000 when I transitioned from male to female with the complete support of then-police chief Ken Yarbrough, then-mayor Gary Slagel, and current city manager Bill Keffler. I continued in that capacity until I retired on May 31, 2007 after 26 years-plus with RPD. Having spent all but a little more than two years of my career in patrol, I had innumerable instances of testifying in court with Judge Noah on the bench both before and after I transitioned. While he was unfailingly polite in his demeanor and speech toward me, he also routinely accidentally referred to me when I was on the witness stand with the male pronoun post-transition. This caused some defendants and jurors obvious confusion considering the fact that I had extensive facial surgery to ensure my feminine appearance. This effect was often heightened when he would apologize in court for his mistake.

As I didn’t work for Judge Noah and knowing that he had a long history in the city (he was mayor from 1968-1983) I chose to rise above something which didn’t seem enough of a problem to create any controversy over, most especially since I had no way of knowing if his error was just that or something else. However, having read your story about this proposed change in the DART policy, I have to wonder about Judge Noah’s actual personal views on gender-variant people and whether they might be part of his motivation. I thought this piece of background might be useful as you pursue this story.

Sincerely,

Diana J. Powe

—  John Wright

Tell us something we DIDN'T know!

Today, a group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington — or CREW —  released a report they say “provides in-depth analyses of 11 elected officials who have pushed their states’ best interests aside in favor of their supporters, families, political parties and bank accounts.” (Read it here.)

Guess who made the list. No really, go on, guess.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

Yep, that’s right. Texas’ own Gov. Rick Perry has been deemed one of the 11 worst governors in the country. Imagine that.

So what are the transgressions that landed Perry on the list? Here are the highlights: he allegedly disregarded campaign finance laws and aided a business that was especially generous to his campaign; he refused to operate transparently, and has blocked access to information related to a death penalty case; he rejected federal stimulus funds in a manner that appeared to put partisan politics ahead of the interests of the citizens of Texas; he has perpetuated the revolving door between government and special interests; he accepted travel and campaign donations from a business that received benefits from his official actions; he used campaign funds for a personal trip with questionable relevance to his campaign for office.

You can download a PDF at the CREW website that gives more detailed info on each charge.

Of the 11 governors on CREW’s “worst of” list, nine are Republicans. The other two are Democrats. The list includes Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi, Republican Gov. Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island, Republican Jim Gibbons of  Nevada, Republican Boby Jindal of Louisiana, Democrat David Paterson of New York, Republican Sonny Perdue of Georgia, Democrat Bill Richardson of New Mexico, Republican Mike Rounds of South Dakota, Republican Mark Sanford of South Carolina and Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger of California.

Now, aren’t we as Texans proud to know that our governor managed to make a list alongside the likes of Mark Sanford, who “subordinated his responsibilities to his pursuit of an extra-marital affair,” and David Paterson who “shielded a top aide from assault charges”? Just brings a tear to your eye, doesn’t it?

—  admin

Partner denied sick leave by AT&T

Bryan Dickenson, left, and Bill Sugg hold hands in Sugg’s room at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson on Wednesday, Jan. 27. (Source:John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Despite 100% rating from HRC, company won’t allow gay man time off to care for ailing spouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  News Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Bryan Dickenson and Bill Sugg have been together for 30 years.

For the last 12 of those years, Dickenson has worked as a communications technician for Dallas-based AT&T.

After Sugg suffered a debilitating stroke in September, Dickinson requested time off under the federal Family Medical Leave Act to care for his partner.

But AT&T is refusing to grant Dickenson the 12 weeks of leave that would be afforded to a heterosexual spouse under the act.

As a result, Dickenson is using vacation time so he can spend one afternoon a week at Sugg’s bedside at a rehabilitation facility in Richardson. But Dickenson fears that when his vacation runs out, he’ll end up being fired for requesting additional time off to care for Sugg. Dickenson’s attorney, Rob Wiley of Dallas, said he initially thought AT&T’s refusal to grant his client leave under FMLA was just a mistake on the part of the company. Wiley said he expected AT&T to quickly rectify the situation after he sent the company a friendly letter.

After all, AT&T maintains the highest score of 100 percent on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index, which ranks companies according to their treatment of LGBT employees. And just this week, HRC listed AT&T as one of its “Best Places to Work.”

But AT&T has stood its ground, confirming in a statement to Dallas Voice this week that the company isn’t granting Dickenson leave under FMLA because neither federal nor state law recognizes Sugg as his domestic partner.

“I really couldn’t be more disappointed with AT&T’s response,” Wiley said. “When you scratch the surface, they clearly don’t value diversity. I just think it’s an outright lie for AT&T to claim they’re a good place for gays and lesbians to work.”

Wiley added that he’s disappointed in HRC for giving AT&T its highest score. Eric Bloem, deputy director of HRC’s workplace project, said Thursday, Jan. 28 that he was looking into the matter. Bloem said a survey for the Corporate Equality Index asks companies whether they grant FMLA leave to same-sex couples, and AT&T replied affirmatively.

“I’m not exactly sure what’s going on, so I don’t really want to make an official comment on it,” Bloem said.

Walt Sharp, a spokesman for AT&T, said the company has “a long history of inclusiveness in the workplace.”

“There are circumstances under which our administration of our benefits plans must conform with state law, and this is one of those circumstances,” Sharp said in a written statement. “In this case, neither federal nor state law recognizes Mr. Dickenson’s domestic partner with legal status as a qualifying family member for a federal benefit program. There is no basis for this lawsuit or the allegations contained in it and we will seek its dismissal.”

Sharp didn’t respond to a request for further comment.

Wiley said Sharp’s statement doesn’t make sense. No law prohibits the company from granting Dickenson an unpaid leave of absence, which is what he’s requesting. Wiley also noted that no lawsuit has been filed, because there isn’t grounds for one.

The federal FMLA applies only to heterosexual married couples, Wiley said. Some states have enacted their own versions of the FMLA, requiring companies to grant leave to gay and lesbian couples, but Texas isn’t one of them.

Wiley said the couple’s only hope is to somehow convince the company to do the right thing, which is why he contacted the media.

“At some point in time this just becomes really hateful that they wouldn’t have any compassion,” Wiley said of the company. “I think the recourse is to tell their story and let people know how AT&T really treats their employees.”

Through thick and thin

This isn’t the first time Dickenson and Sugg have endured a medical crisis.

Sugg, who’s 69 and suffers from congenital heart problems, nearly died from cardiac arrest shortly after the couple met in 1980.

At the time, Dickenson was a full-time student and didn’t have car. So he rode his bicycle from Garland to Parkland Hospital in Dallas every day to visit Sugg in the intensive care unit.

In an interview this week at the rehab facility, Sugg’s eyes welled up with tears as he recalled what a Parkland nurse said at the time – “If that isn’t love, then I don’t know what the hell love is.”

“And sure enough, it was,” Sugg said over the whirr of his oxygen machine, turning to Dickenson. “As long as I have you, I can get through anything.”

Dickenson said in addition to visiting Sugg each Wednesday afternoon, he wakes up at 7:30 on Saturday and Sunday mornings so he can spend the day with Sugg at the rehab facility.

This past Christmas, Dickenson spent the night on the floor of Sugg’s room.
“That would have been our first Christmas separated, and I just couldn’t bear that, him being alone on Christmas,” Dickenson said.

The worst part of the whole ordeal was when he had to return to work after taking 13 days off following Sugg’s stroke, Dickenson said. Sugg didn’t understand and thought his partner had abandoned him for good.

“He called me over and over every night, begging me to please come see him,” Dickenson said. “And I said, ’Honey, you don’t understand, I had to go back to work to save my job.’

“That’s what really hurts about what they’ve put me through, not my pain and anguish, but his,” Dickenson said.

Dickenson said it was 3 a.m. on Sept. 22 when he rushed Sugg to the hospital. Doctors initially said it was “the worst sinus infection they’d ever seen,” but within 48 hours Sugg had suffered a stroke affecting his cerebellum.

Sugg lost the ability to swallow and his sense of balance. He’s still unable to walk and suffers from double vision.

Because he wasn’t out as gay at work, Dickenson initially told supervisors that his father was sick.

When he returned to work after 13 days at the hospital, Dickenson explained that his domestic partner was ill and he needed more time off. His supervisor managed to get him an additional 30 days of unpaid leave.

In the meantime, Dickenson phoned the company’s human resources department and asked whether he’d be eligible for leave under FMLA, which allows 12 weeks (or about 90 days) per year. Dickenson said he was told that since he lives in Texas, he wouldn’t be eligible.

Dickenson filled out the FMLA forms anyway and sent them to the company, but he never got any response.

When Dickenson returned to work, he asked to be reclassified as part-time employee, so he could spend more time with Sugg. His supervisor refused and told him his best bet was FMLA leave, even though he’d already been denied.

That’s when Dickenson contacted Wiley.

Sugg is scheduled return to the couple’s Garland home from rehab in about a week, but he’s still on a feeding tube and will require nursing care. With any luck, he’ll someday be able to walk again.

Sugg bragged that he was able to drink his first cup of coffee last week, and he’s looking forward to getting back to his hobby of raising African violets.

Dickenson said he knows of at least seven medical appointments he’ll have to arrange for Sugg once he returns home. He said his vacation time likely will run out by April, and he fears that if he loses his job, the medical expenses will eventually cause him to go broke.

But Dickenson, who’s 51, said he’s committed to taking care of Sugg, even if it means living on the street someday.

“When it runs out, I’ll be fired, and it really hurts to be in a situation like that, because I’ve worked very hard for AT&T,” Dickenson said. “We suffer now, but maybe other people in our shoes in the future, if they work for AT&T, they won’t suffer like we do.”

—  John Wright