Seven Arrested in Bronx Bashing Spree

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMMembers of the Bronx-based Latin King Goonies street gang went on a brutal gay-bashing spree that led them to sodomize a 17-year-old boy with the wooden handle of a toilet plunger, police said Friday.
Advocate.com: Daily News

—  John Wright

Movies: Eat, Pray, Love Your Seven Ex-Boyfriends




Julia_james_eat
James Prays. Julia Eats and Loves.

GuestbloggerNATHANIEL ROGERS
…prefers air conditioned movie theaters to hot beaches in the summertime. He blogs daily at the Film Experience.

**Editor's note: Our apologies — though we'll blame an attempt at summer hours — that this didn't get posted Friday. Enjoy.

Your Feature Presentations
For this weekend's moviegoing adventure, may I suggest a film about a whiny protagonist who dives too quick into romances, breaking innocent hearts? The movie is actually pretty good even though you'll want to slap some sense into the lead on occasion. If only our hero could find a little personal redemption and a way around the personal baggage that comes with multiple exes. What movie were we talking about again? Oh yes, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World ! Or was it Eat Pray Love?

Eat Pray Love is based on the best-selling memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert. "Liz" (Julia Roberts) is a beautiful writer in New York City. She's still hurting from a painful divorce from Stephen (Billy Crudup). She jumps into a new relationship with David (James Franco) who is too young for her. She's ambivalent and unhappy. She remembers an old prophecy from a healer in Bali and decides that returning there is the fresh start she needs. In order to find balance and inner peace, she'll have to forgive herself for that trail of exes and learn to trust in love again.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is based on a series of very funny comic books. "Scott Pilgrim" (Michael Cera) is a 22 year old bassist hipster in Toronto. He's still hurting from a painful breakup from Envy (Brie Larson). He jumps into a new relationship with Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) who is too young for him. He's ambivalent and unhappy. When he sees his dream girl (literally) Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), he wants to make a fresh start. In order to be with her, he'll have to forgive her that trail of seven evil exes and defeat them in battle

Scottpilgrim_vs_superman

MORE after the jump.

Julia_pizza (Left: Julia Roberts as Liz Gilbert "I'm having a relationship with my pizza")

There's a sense while watching Eat Pray Love that it hasn't quite worked out how to be a movie. The excessive narration suggests that it's an audio book with slide show and this crutch is unnecessary. Prolific gay creative force Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck) is more sure-handed behind the camera than he was on his first feature (Running With Scissors) and the beauty of the images (courtesy of renowned cinematographer Robert Richardson) combined with the emotional accessibility of Julia Roberts are better Baedekers while traveling. Though it's repetitive and maybe a little pandering to its mature female demographic (Food porn? Check. Several hot men? You got it. Reassuring messages about fulfillment later in life? Si.) it definitely has its moments. It's essentially told in four acts: New York, Rome, India, Bali. India gets a little draggy but "Pray" isn't the best cinematic verb. Rome ("Eat") is the most enjoyable. Julia seems to truly relish emptying her plate and there's a great bit where she teaches hunky Italian actor Luca Argentero that the American word for wine is "therapist". Ha ha.


Scottpilgrim_sword
(Left: Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim. He's finally got [The Sword of] Self Respect.)

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World clings to its original source medium just as tightly as the Julia Roberts movie but the effect is smoother. After all, comic books are cinematic by their very nature, being a series of narrative images. Scott Pilgrim is also steeped in video game culture but for once that works in a movie since it's not an uncomfortable graft that's only there to please intended demographics. Not that Scott Pilgrim isn't preaching hard to its young male choir (Beautiful dream girls? Check. Nerdy guys winning them? duh! Reassuring messages about nerds being bad-asses when push comes to shove? Guess.) Scott's adventure to win Ramona is told in a series of seven setpieces (though it's not quite as simple as one battle per ex), the best of which are with two cocky lookers Brandon Routh (Superman Returns) as a vegan bassist and Chris Evans poking fun (at himself?) at the conceited action star type. The entire cast is really game for the stylized comedy including Anna Kendrick as Scott's bossy sister and Keiran Culkin as his gay roommate, who have quite a funny relationship. Michael Cera knows just how far to push both Scott's geek factor and his own star charisma and wins big laughs from things as simple as his drink choices (Coke Zero) and his line delivery whenever the word "lesbian" pops up. Which is often.

Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are pitched
to entirely different audiences and their constituencies might well think that the other movie has nothing to say to them, but they'd be wrong. The message is the same, they're just speaking different languages. Scott Pilgrim is younger and more playful but has less heft (it's hard to raise the emotional stakes in a video game context) whereas Eat Pray Love is more literal-minded but has that 'last chance' true story pull. The takeaway is the same: To be your best self, you're going to have to be honest and forgiving; if you want true love, you're going to have to make peace with the past… or defeat it in battle. You vs. Your Personal Baggage. It's as if Hollywood is playing therapist and they've decided this is the message we all need to hear at summer's end.

Wine or Coke Zero? Your choice.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright

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