A senior GLBT reflects on a life cross-dressed

From our friend Rick Vanderslice, who continues to host his daily radio program via Skype while living in Buenos Aires, comes this article in an English-language newspaper in Argentina, profiling “90-year-old transvestite Malva,” who has recently published a memoir. The terminology seems less enlightened than our own, but the information is still interesting.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Texas: A not-so-great state

As Perry eyes the presidency and Dewhurst makes a bid for the Senate, let’s look at the story the numbers really tell

Phyllis Guest | Taking NoteGuest.Phyllis.2

It seems that while David Dewhurst is running for the U.S. Senate, Rick Perry — otherwise known as Gov. Goodhair — is planning to run for president. I wonder what numbers they will use to show how well they have run Texas.

Could they cite $16 million? That’s the sum Perry distributed from our state’s Emerging Technology Fund to his campaign contributors.

Or maybe it is $4.1 billion. That’s the best estimate of the fees and taxes our state collects for dedicated purposes — but diverts to other uses.

Then again, it could be $28 billion. That’s the last published number for the state’s budget deficit, although Perry denied any deficit during his last campaign.

But let’s not get bogged down with dollar amounts. Let’s consider some of the state’s other numbers.

There’s the fact that Texas ranks worst in at least three key measures:

We are the most illiterate, with more than 10 percent of our state’s population unable to read a word. LIFT — Literacy Instruction for Texas — recently reported that half of Dallas residents cannot read a newspaper.

We also have the lowest percentage of persons covered by health insurance and the highest number of teenage repeat pregnancies.

Not to mention that 12,000 children have spent at least three years in the state welfare system, waiting for a foster parent. That’s the number reported in the Texas-loving Dallas Morning News.

Meanwhile, the Legislature has agreed to put several amendments to the Texas Constitution before the voters. HJR 63, HJR 109 plus SJR 4, SJR 16, and SJR 50 all appear to either authorize the shifting of discretionary funds or the issuance of bonds to cover expenses.

Duh. As if we did not know that bonds represent debt, and that we will be paying interest on those bonds long after Dewhurst and Perry leave office.

Further, this spring, the Lege decided that all voters — except, I believe, the elderly — must show proof of citizenship to obtain a state ID or to get or renew a driver’s license. As they did not provide any funds for the issuance of those ID cards or for updating computer systems to accommodate the new requirement, it seems those IDs will be far from free.

Also far from free is Perry’s travel. The Lege decided that the governor does not have to report what he and his entourage spend on travel, which is convenient for him because we taxpayers foot the bill for his security — even when he is making obviously political trips. Or taking along his wife and his golf clubs.

And surely neither Rick Perry nor David Dewhurst will mention the fact that a big portion of our state’s money comes from the federal government. One report I saw stated that our state received $17 billion in stimulus money, although the gov and his lieutenant berated the Democratic president for providing the stimulus.

And the gov turned down $6 billion in education funds, then accepted the funds but did not use them to educate Texans.

The whole thing — Dewhurst’s campaign and Perry’s possible campaign, the 2012-2013 budget, the recent biannual session of the Texas Legislature — seems like something Mark Twain might have written at his tongue-in-cheek best.

We have huge problems in public school education, higher education, health care, air pollution and water resources, to mention just a few of our more notable failures.

Yet our elected officials are defunding public education and thus punishing children, parents, and teachers. They are limiting women’s health care so drastically that our own Parkland Hospital will be unable to provide appropriate care to 30,000 women.

They are seeking a Medicaid “pilot program” that will pave the way for privatized medical services, which will erode health care for all but the wealthiest among us. They are fighting tooth and nail to keep the EPA from dealing with our polluted environment. They are doing absolutely nothing to ensure that Texas continues to have plenty of safe drinking water.

They are most certainly not creating good jobs.

So David Dewhurst and his wife Tricia prayed together and apparently learned that he should run for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat. Now Rick Perry is planning a huge prayer rally Saturday, Aug. 6, at Houston’s Reliant Stadium.

God help us.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Hear Lovers tonight at Andy’s in Denton

Lovers’ finds zero limits as an out musicians

Lovers has five albums under its belt, and through rotating members, the touchstone has always been Berk. But this current incarnation of the band seems to find Lovers at its best self. Berk, Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan have produced a confident album with Dark Light, and after a decade of doing this, Berk feels this is the band at its strongest.

“When we came together, it felt very egalitarian and feminist and comfortable,” she says. “I hadn’t experienced that level of confidence and there are a lot of benefits to having our kind of connection. I felt like this was a really great place to be creatively.”

This confidence has taken Berk to new levels, as an artist and a person. All three members identify as queer, and for Berk, that offers a comfort in writing her music. Although she starts the song on her acoustic guitar, the others chime in for a group dynamic.

At 32, her personal growth over these 10 years has manifested differently in Dark Light than it has on any of the previous releases. She’s out of the closet, but this album shows Berk coming out of her shell.

“I feel like I sort of went from being an artist who was working mostly to exorcise personal demons to someone who, with time, is able to looking more outward,” she says. “This is the most extroverted album Lovers has ever had.”

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: With Sextape and One Red Martian. Andy’s Bar, 122 N. Locust Road, Denton. May 13. 9 p.m. $6–$8. LoversAreLovers.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Letting it REGISTER • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Gift registries can be intimidating. Dean Driver makes them easy

FASHION. PLATE. | Dean Driver knows how to make a tabletop pop — and how to make it easy on you to choose your gifts. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BY RICH LOPEZ

Perhaps the one wedding tradition same-sex couples might waffle on is signing up for that beg-a-thon, the gift registry. Forget whether to do so (you should); the real question is, where can you find that particular china pattern you once saw in a magazine?

The answer to that question is probably Dean Driver. With his new company, Consilium Lifestyle Collections, Driver makes what could be a daunting (even intimidating) task for same-sex couples possibly the easiest  job out of all the wedding planning.

“I don’t know if the average gay couple feels comfortable going into stores,” Driver says. “They may, but many retailers just aren’t reaching out to gay couples.”

Teaming up with Consilium Creative Marketing, Driver created what may be the first by-appointment source of its kind in Dallas to provide a wedding gift registry for same-sex couples. While the services are for everyone, Driver believes that this personal touch can bring comfort to any gay newlyweds hesitant about how to sign up for gifts. It also gives them a home field advantage when looking for fine tabletop products and more.

“The way we do business is changing, and this has afforded me the ability to do in-home consultations and also wedding registries,” Driver says. “I come to the client with samples to get an idea of their lifestyle and suggest products and can see what will work with what’s already in the home.”

The affable Driver knows his stuff. After working with tabletop industries for years in large markets like New York, he has access to many luxury brands and even unique home products. The usual china and crystal items are no problem, but items like linens and household accessories are more easily available through him.

Driver’s first piece of advice on getting started with a registry: Don’t be intimidated.

“I demystify all that for you,” he says. “That’s what I’m here for. I’ll make it easier for you. And people shouldn’t think that everything offered in a registry costs so much. We do have some unique options that are moderately priced.”

Consilium has only been around for a few months, but it has burst out of the gate with a selection of up to 50 brands, some exclusive to them. And with Driver’s knowledge and background, he can pretty much get anybody anything they want.

“I’m a sort of an expert in tabletops, and I have my finger on the pulse of the industry,” he says. “I go to Paris, to Milan and see all the new patterns. And if you saw a plate in a magazine and brought it to me,  I could pinpoint what it is. When I say anything, I mean anything — and you may be only person in the country to have it.”

Something his company can guarantee is the death of that most dreaded wedding tradition: The return. Once items are selected for the registry, gift givers don’t have to worry about buying an item that’s already been purchased. Instead, the company does gift cards only, which are beautifully packaged for the giver to present.

“This prevents exchanges or duplicates,” he says. “Plus, clients may change their minds and gift cards give them an opportunity to get something else. And it’s a little more green without all that wrapping paper and shipping to worry about.”

Driver and company seems to have gotten rid of all the excuses couples can make to partake in registering for gifts. Being that a wedding is a life-changing event, Driver mostly wonders why not go all out?

“Couples shouldn’t shy away from getting nice things,” he says. “This is the one time to get the nice stuff, so why not? Anything you want, I can get.”

The only caveat — Driver encourages people to use the nice stuff everyday.

“Yeah, don’t pack it away in a cabinet like our parents did,” he says.

Of course, if there’s one thing gays know how to do it’s merchandise.

For more information, visit ConsiliumLifestyleCollections.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

QUEER CLIPS: USAFF Short Film Showcase

Hello Caller: A suicidal woman calls a help line only to find the man on the opposite end (gay filmmaker Tom Lenk, pictured, who produced and wrote the script) seems not to understand the situation. A gem of a comedy with very dark undertones and a great twist.

Clara’s Carma: A psychiatrist (Dallas native Stephen Tobolowsky of Glee) deals with a flaky patient and unexpected expenses on his new car.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

Short Film Showcase plays April 29 at 9:15 p.m. with short film awards presented May 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center Mockingbird Station.

—  John Wright

Snap shots: ‘Bill Cunningham New York’ turns the camera on fashion’s most influential paparazzo

LENS ME A SHOE | The Times photographer documents foot fashion in ‘Bill Cunningham New York.’

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

Maybe Project Runway’s to blame, maybe The Devil Wears Prada, but for the past few years there has been a surplus of documentaries about the fashion industry, with profiles of designers like Valentino (Valentino: The Last Emperor), Yves Saint-Laurent (several in fact), even young designers (Seamless) and Vogue magazine’s editor (The September Issue). (By contrast, I can only recall one fashion doc from the 1990s: Unzipped, about a young designer named Isaac Mizrahi.) Is there really that much to say about dressmaking?

Maybe not, but while Bill Cunningham New York fits broadly within the category of fashion documentaries, its subject is unusual because he eschews the trappings of haute couture even as he’s inextricably a part of it — a huge part, really.

If you don’t read the New York Times, you might not recognize Cunningham’s name, and even if you do read it, it may not have registered with you. For about, well, maybe 1,000 years, Cunningham has chronicled New York society with his candid photos of the glitterati on the Evening Hours page. At the same time, however, he has documented real fashion — how New Yorkers dress in their daily lives — with his page On the Street, where he teases out trends (from hats to men in skirts to hip-hoppers allowing their jeans to dangle around their knees). Anna Wintour may tell us what we should wear; Cunningham shows us what we do.

“We all get dressed for Bill,” Wintour observes.

What makes Cunningham such an interesting character is how impervious he seems to the responsibility he effortlessly wields. He loves fashion, yes, but he’s not a slave to it himself. He scurries around Manhattan (even in his 80s) on his bicycle (he’s had dozens; they are frequently stolen), sometimes in a nondescript tux but mostly in jeans, a ratty blue smock and duck shoes, looking more like a homeless shoeshiner than the arbiter of great fashion. He flits through the city like a pixie with his 35mm camera (film-loaded, not digital), a vacant, toothy smile peaking out behind the lens, snapping the denizens of Babylon whether they want it or not.

One of the funniest moments is when strangers shoo him away as some lunatic paparazzo, unaware how all the well-heeled doyens on the Upper East would trade a nut to have Cunningham photograph them for inclusion in the Times. Patrick McDonald, the weirdly superficial modern dandy (he competed as a wannabe designer on the flop reality series Launch My Line a few seasons back), seems to exist with the hope that Cunningham will shoot him. And shoot him he does.

Many artists are idiosyncratic, even eccentric, but Cunningham is supremely odd by any standards. He lives in a tiny studio near Carnegie Hall filled with filing cabinets cluttered with decades of film negatives on the same floor as a crazy old woman, a kind of urban variation on Grey Gardens. He knows tons of people but most of them seem to know very little about him. By the time near the end when the filmmaker, director Richard Press, finally comes out and ask him outright whether he’s gay, Cunningham arches in that prickly New England way, never really answering outright, though he says he’s never — never — had a romantic relationship. Things like that were simply not discussed by men of his generation.

In some ways, we never really know any more about Cunningham at the end than any of his friends do, and perhaps even him. Cunningham comes across as defiantly non-self-reflective. He lets his work do all the talking for him. And that work has a lot to say on its own.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

If Westboro seems like a joke, here’s the kicker(s)

How the rest of us kick off the Christmas season:

How two members of Westboro Baptist Church’s aggressively anti-gay Phelps family do it:

Hmm..the form’s not terrible, especially in the case of Jael (on the left). But I don’t know — the costumes and setting leave me kind of cold, and not in that good, nippy, holiday way. The wrapped package that the other one (Sarah, I believe) is holding isn’t wrapped in anything resembling tinsel. Plus call me a sucker for nostalgia if you must, but there’s just something about the Radio City stage that seems far more festive as a dance floor than does our nation’s treasured flag.

So yea: Santa’s little helpers for the win! Better luck next year, those rehearsing for Satan’s choreographed arrival!




Good As You

—  admin

To Me, The LGBT Movement Seems To Be Moving Towards Irrelevancy

Remember the Women’s Movement of the 1970′s? — A movement with it’s myriad of issues? When many think of the women’s movement these days though, it’s thought of as a one issue movement — and that one issue is abortion. If you’re currently not part of the women’s movement, can you quickly name one other current issue of the women’s movement issue?

And if you can name a second issue, I would still argue that you’re in the minority; that many others would be hard pressed to name a current women’s movement issue beyond abortion that doesn’t deal with reproductive rights.

In this way, I believe the women’s movement has become functionally irrelevant to the politics of the United States. We do have the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act from a couple of years ago, but I’d be hard-pressed to name any other legislative initiatives from women’s movement of recent years.

Let me work off of that hypotheses that a movement becoming a one or two issue movement is working itself to irrelevance. In my mind, this is what’s happening to the LGBT movement — we are functionally becoming irrelevant because our federal focus is so narrow.

Right now, we have two major national issues — marriage equality, and repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT). It appears to me that passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has fallen off the LGBT community’s national discourse.

Want an example? Well, what was the subject matter, at the recent media conference between the President and five bloggers, of the LGBT community related questions? You can look it up: the two LGBT specific questions were about marriage equality and DADT.

This is not to knock the LGBT bloggers who met with President Obama — the questiona they asked were on the two issues that our community appears to care the most about.

But in asking those questions on those two issues, did we learn anything from the President on marriage equality or DADT that we didn’t already know? Was any national news made from the media conference that made it into the mainstream media (MSM)?

If we become a movement only interested in those two issues, I believe we in the LGBT community will work ourselves into national irrelevance; I believe we in the LGBT community will basically become a clanging bell of a sounding alarm that legislators will just ignore as an irritating noise.

I can think of some questions that I would have liked to have asked of the president at that media conference. For example, some questions I would have like to have asked if I were invited to that meeting:

• The Family Acceptance Project put out a press release this week, entitled “Critical Study Finds Direct Link Between School Victimization Of Gender-Nonconforming LGBT Youth With Depression And Quality Of Life In Adulthood.” In the release, they reported that LGBT young adults who did not socially conform to gender roles as adolescents reported higher levels of anti-LGBT victimization, with significantly higher levels of depression and decreased life satisfaction in young adulthood. This research shows that the negative impact of anti-LGBT school victimization affects both quality of life and the LGBT young adult’s capacity to enjoy life. Most crucially, the findings show that anti-LGBT bullying in school largely accounts for this psychological harm.

The issues related to school bullying go far beyond LGBT youth dying by suicide after severe bullying related to perceived membership in the LGBT community. Is there going to be any initiatives coming from your administration regarding quality of life for LGBT youth? Remember, we are talking about how bullying impacts the “jobs, jobs, jobs” of LGBT young adults — the gainful employability of bullied LGBT youth.

~~

• We hear a lot about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, regarding lesbian, gay, and bisexual servicemembers being able to serve openly in the military services. But, what about the Department of Defense civilian employees? Even though the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) released a memorandum in June of 2009 that addressed antidiscrimination policies regarding lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees in the federal government, I’m told that the climate in DOD isn’t good for the LGBT employees.

When Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in unequivocally repealed via congress or the courts there obviously should be a major training component included as part of the change of policy. Yet when we look at the DOD’s civilian employee side of the house, there hasn’t been a major training component for LGBT antidiscrimination in the Department of Defense — especially in how gender identity, which was added to the OPM’s antidiscrimination policies last year. So there are two questions here: 1) How is the DOD going address the poor employment climate for LGBT civilian employees, as well as the lack of a training component in the implementation of LGBT antidiscrimination policies, and 2) does the lack of a training component for LGBT antidiscrimination policies for DOD’s civilian employees in any way signal how the DOD is going to deal with LGB antidiscrimination for military servicemembers when they’re finally allowed to serve openly?

~~

• While anyone can become infected with HIV, some Americans are at greater risk than others — And this includes gay and bisexual men of all races and ethnicities, transgender women of all races and ethnicities, Black men and women, Latinos and Latinas, people struggling with addiction, including injection drug users, and people in geographic hot spots, including the United States South and Northeast, as well as Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Many states — such as California — have cut services to HIV infected citizens because their budgets in this economic downturn have become exceptionally tight. Your administration does have a National HIV/AIDS Strategy, and it calls for increasing access to care and improving health outcomes for people living with HIV. With states cutting back on what resources they’re putting towards people living with HIV, and the United States being under its own budgetary pressures, where do you think the resources are that can be brought to bear that will increase access to care and improvement to health outcomes for people living with HIV?

I could go on, but I believe y’all get my point.

In all this, we can say a lot about how our national LGBT organizations have had few legislative victories over the years, but the HRC, The Task Force, NCLR, GLAAD, GLAD, Lambda Legal, NCTE and many other organizations are focusing on a broader range of issues than just marriage equality and DADT. It seems to me that the focus on marriage equality and DADT is partially coming from the focus of LGBT media — both legacy and new media — and that emphasis has also been picked-up by mainstream media. And too, it also seems to me that the focus on marriage and DADT is coming from the collective LGBT community “us” — the issues that we in the LGBT community talk about with our peers, friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances regarding community’s issues.

As the LGBT community seems to more and more narrowly focus on marriage equality and DADT, to the exclusion of other community issues, I believe that the LGBT community is moving closer to legislative irrelevance.

Tell me how and why I’m wrong — I want to be wrong. But even though I want to be wrong, at this point I don’t think I am.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Reliably volatile messaging’s on the wall, but NOM doesn’t seem to care. Seems to like it, even.

They’ve been featuring it on their Twitter page for months. But now the National Organization For Marriage has solidified their bond to Louis “gays want pedophilia, polygamy, and prostitution” Marinelli‘s incendiary “Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman” Facebook page, embedding that very F’book wall into their TwoMillionForMarriage site:

201008261335-1

TwoMillionForMarriage

So why is this a thing of note? Well, because this is a Facebook page where conversations like this one are playing out on a daily basis:

201008261335

This is the same F’book wall where a commenter recently suggested that California should be “glassed with nuclear warheads,” and one where gays have been called “victims of mental illness.” Where not only the commenters bend towards the fringe, but where even the moderator posts Paul Cameron-quipping pages that claim gays are “propelling our society toward a premature demise”:

Screen Shot 2010-08-26 At 1.50.00 Pm

And it’s all now an official part of Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown’s National Organization For Marriage.




Good As You

—  John Wright