FEEDBACK: Cancel DMN subscriptions, Saving Easter in the Park, Tell TCA what you think

Cancel DMN subscriptions

The policy of the Dallas Morning News, which excludes same-sex marriage announcements while printing “traditional” marriage announcements, is discrimination, pure and simple. I just cancelled my subscription to the News, as I do not want my money supporting such discrimination. I urge other News subscribers to do the same, telling the News the reason for your cancellation.

Joe Ball, via e-mail


Saving Easter in the Park

Over 20 years ago, Oak Lawn was different. Known for our gays residents, artists and bohemians, Oak Lawn was a destination and a diamond in the conservative rough that was Dallas, Texas. People traveled miles for the safety, solace and solidarity provided just entering Oak Lawn’s boundaries. Events dotted the year. Obviously they were heavy on the gay side but they also were heavy with people that loved and didn’t judge us.

Easter in the Park was one of those events, and it was the most diverse of them all. Even the Dallas Symphony showed us the love by spending a cherished religious holiday with the scourge of the Christian community — we, the lowly homosexuals, and our proud brethren.

Fast forward to 2011. Those people we sought refuge from, that always showed us fear and contempt, infiltrated Easter in the Park and took our tradition away from us. The event was to be moved and made more “family friendly.”

I guess no one told them we were family already and our traditions bind us.

Gentrification is the same dance in any country and in any city. Bohemians, artists and gay people move to architecturally rich but neglected parts of town and make lemons into lemonade. Transformative magic happens, property values go up, tourism increases and good press abounds.

Then waves of yuppies come, each being a little less tolerant than their predecessor. They do not share the live-and-let-live mentality that allowed the first batch to come in the first place. They demand chain establishments and upscale amenties and folks with the income to afford them.

Long ago created to protect Oak Lawn’s character and history, the Oak Lawn Committee abandoned that mission ages ago. The last bit of history they let be destroyed were all the apartments that fell between Wycliff, Douglas, Rawlins and Hall. What were once charming duplexes and apartments are now what John Waters might call a “communist day care center.”

The committee is chock full of developers, and their last decade seems to have been dedicated to the three-story rectangle and the wonders it bestows on mankind. If you are unable to reside in one of these for $300,000, $400,000 or $500,000, then pity you, please leave. Be careful Oak Cliff. You’re next.

It isn’t just developers’ fault. The block on Cedar Springs where JR.’s resides used to be a historic collection of quaint storefronts that mirrored across the street. Now a collection of cavernous cinderblock buildings house our bars. They are so large and impersonal, they require a few hundred people to achieve the intimacy 50 used to provide. If we lose Easter in the Park, then we lose a piece of ourselves and where we came from. Those that fought for where we are today would be mortified. I hear them turning in their graves.

I intend to show up in Lee Park on Easter and have a contest with myself to see how gay I can look for the family-friendly crowd. When it comes to respect, I give what I get.

Michael Amonett, via e-mail


Tell TCA what you think

Please call the Turtle Creek Association and Cathy Golden at 214-526-2800 and voice your opposition to the hijacking of the Easter in the Park event, done apparently to exclude gays this year, which was thwarted only by heavy arm-twisting. Read the press; join the Facebook fan page and, most importantly, show up! Ms. Golden can have her own “family-friendly” Creek Craze on April 17 if she wants. I was born into a family and have a family of choice and consider myself friendly. Doesn’t that make me “family-friendly”? Perhaps not in Ms. Golden’s “hetero-Republican-marriage-and-two-kids” world, but the world has changed a lot. I remember when Lee Park was a cruise spot with a popular tee room; it was all some people had. I personally think it’s fantastic that youth today have no clue what a cruise park or a tee room is. There are real role models to aspire to today and real, healthy community events —including Easter in the Park.

This is really quite typical of how things tend to operate. We move in to an area, organization or event and make it fabulous — and then get run off. I will oppose any change that Ms. Golden wishes to bring that would take us all back to the “golden days” when gays were marginalized on a grand scale, forced into the bushes, darkened cruise spots and closets. Change is coming folks; change is here. We’re here; we’re queer; get over it! Oh and one more thing: Thank God for drag queens and trannies. If it were not for them, we as the gay community would not exist. Look back on Stonewall and remember; we must never forget to honor the bravest amongst ourselves. I stand in awe of people who are just who they are and live life day after day against threats of violence, hatred, homophobia, misogyny (which is where I personally believe that homophobia has it’s real origin), and just live out loud!

Daniel Shipman, via Instant Tea

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Godly & gay

Bishop Bean writes spiritual memoir

3 out of 5 stars
I WAS BORN THIS WAY,
by Archbishop Carl Bean (with David Ritz). Simon & Schuster (2010). $24. 264 pp.

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Carl Bean never really knew his father, and he barely knew his birth mother. Born and raised in a poor area of Baltimore, Bean was basically raised by a village of “warm and wonderful women,” who nurtured him even though he admits was a girly little boy, soft and feminine. Attracted to other boys at an early age, he knew he couldn’t hide his feelings from those around him, though nothing was ever said. Bean was loved, and that’s what he knew.

In his book I Was Born This Way, Bean recounted that embracing childhood, as well as his career and finding God’s love and acceptance.

The shining point of his life was his godmother’s mother, the woman Bean called Nana. She cared for him, took him to church, and made him happy, but when he was just 3 years old, Nana died and life changed drastically. He was taken in by his godparents, who loved him but didn’t seem to like him. Shortly after that, Bean was sexually assaulted by an uncle.

Though various abuses continued well into his teens, and though Bean had fully acknowledged his gayness, he maintains that he was cherished and accepted — especially by the unaware wives of his abusers.

Fortunately, he found solace in God and in song. Bean sang in good times and bad, for audiences of none or many. Because he knew that God is love, most of his favorites were gospel songs that Bean sang in the church choir. He was encouraged and tutored, and when he was old enough, he moved to New York City to pursue a gospel music career, quickly making a name for himself on the gospel circuit. He followed that with a disco career and a top-selling record.

But at different points in his life, Bean was homeless, which showed him what God truly wanted him to do. After his musical career ended, he started a church and opened his arms to the LGBTQ community. He began an AIDS outreach program through his ministry — he became unconditional love.

Though it sometimes drags, particularly in the middle section, I Was Born This Way is a wonderful biography about a religious man comfortable with his orientation, and it’s curiously soothing to read.

Bean is brutally honest in telling his story, which is both sweetly idyllic and frighteningly horrifying. Still, despite the nastiness he endured, he manages to convey a sense of calm and comfort, and a peaceful demeanor. That makes this, oddly, more like a hug than a book.

Readers looking for heavenly succor will find it in Bean’s reassuring teachings, while others will be merely treated to a unique memoir. If you’re up for something good, I Was Born This Way is worth laying eyes on.

— Terri Schilechenmeyer

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Disco ballsy

Party Animals by Robert Hofler. DaCapo Press (2010); $15.95. 308 pp.

White suits with shiny polyester shirts — remember those? The thumpa-thumpa of the beat and the hazy feeling of strobe light on mirror ball?

If you’re of a certain age, those are either good memories or echoes of “disco sucks.” Either way, Party Animals will tell you about one man who never wanted to stop the music: Allan Carr, who produced Grease and the Village People movie.

Carr, who was gay when it was taboo to talk about such things, became manager to the stars, a job that fully utilized his skills. (anyone who angered Carr himself received a blistering tirade). He could charm anybody, often sweet-talking sponsors into funding his lavish parties so he didn’t have to pay for food or drinks for his guests.

But Carr wanted to be a movie producer, so when he fell in love with the Broadway musical Grease, he knew he could reinvent it for the big screen. He got the rights, tweaked the show and his career took off…for awhile.

Carr’s sense of timing was ultimately poor and his visions bloated. Following the mega-success of Grease, projects flopped or never went anywhere; when Carr finally got his Oscar chance, the entire world witnessed the mess.

Filled with big names and little scandals Party Animals is exhaustively researched, over-the-top snarky, sarcastically funny, and teetering on the very edge of boring. If you’re a Baby Boomer or behind-the-scenes Hollywood die-hard, you’ll get much more out of this book than not. For the rest of us, these Party Animals fail to roar.

— T.S.

Two stars

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Shawn of the deadly

Homo and horror collide as out filmmaker Shawn Ewert slices his way into the movies

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

SCARED (NOT) STRAIGHT | Shawn Ewert has wrapped up his second short film with his first feature in sight. (Arnold Wayne Jones | Dallas Voice)
SCARED (NOT) STRAIGHT | Shawn Ewert has wrapped up his second short film with his first feature in sight. (Arnold Wayne Jones | Dallas Voice)

For some people, every day is Halloween.

The monsters and nightmares stick around all year long and they are just fine with that.

Definitely Shawn Ewert is. Actually, if it wasn’t for those nightmares, he might be out of his profession as a horror film director.

“If I’m working around the house, I’ll throw in any scary movie for the background,” he says. “It’s just another day.”

When a “cool aunt” showed him A Nightmare on Elm Street, it scared him like it should any 5-year-old. Now 32, he admits he can’t get enough of it. So he decided to turn his photography work into filmmaking.

“I love film in general but because of that, horror has special place for me,” he says. “I watched a lot of Hitchcock growing up. He wasn’t going for gore — he was all about story. That’s what it is for me. If I don’t care about story, I don’t care about the film.”

In junior high, his writing began to manifest as his outlet for his “freakiness:” No one read his stuff for fear they would freak out. In the back of his mind, though, he wondered what his stories would actually look like.

“I knew those stories would be so much cooler if I could watch,” he says. “All I thought was how could I make this on the screen. I’d love to show to somebody someday the way I see all this in my head.”

Ewert rolls his eyes at the thought of reminiscing over high school. Like many gay youth, they weren’t the best of times for him. He came out to a select few, but was publicly outed by the girl he dated. Still, Ewert came out relatively unscathed — even in a Mesquite high school.

But his second family was in the horror film fan community, and it’s there he found solace and even acceptance. Unlike comedy or musicals, there isn’t an actual community of fans, but those who like scary movies — who really like them — come together and Ewert found a home. When he began his coming out process on his own terms, he found acceptance among his brethren.

“For me, the horror community is pretty accepting,” he says. “Horror fans can connect to so many other people that it’s almost a family atmosphere. In that group, you’re less of a freak and that made it easier to come out to those people.”

Fast-forward to June 2010. Ewert’s production company, Right Left Turn Productions, screened his short Jack’s Bad Day at the first Fears for Queers film festival in Addison. The one-day event featured all gay filmmakers in the horror genre.  His 20-minute film is about a serial killer who comes up short in his murderous proclivity. Ewert calls it a horror-comedy.

“The stuff we’ve made so far has been tongue-in-cheek,” he says. “There’s a certain comedy to Jack’s Bad Day. All his victims die right before he kills them. What it would it mean for a serial killer to have that kind of day?”

He’s wrapping up his second short The Sleepover, a 10-minute-long film that leaves the comedy out in favor of sheer fear. “Oh gosh, it’s a horrifying story about a serial killer of little girls,” he says.

So where’s the gay stuff? Ewert doesn’t see things that way. Although he’s gay and a filmmaker, his films aren’t going to “be gay” just because he is. Got it?

“The problem I have with most LGBT films is the filmmakers make them as gay as possible without much of a story,” he says. “They make films that are so narrow just to fit one community. I want to see the gay community in my films. I also want to have appeal to everyone. And I don’t write gay-centric necessarily, but I do have a script I couldn’t stop writing.”

That would be his latest short, Out Come the Wolves, and it’s both scary and topical. Ewert’s first gay horror piece is about one kid’s revenge on bullies. But Wolves is also personal to him because his own run-ins were far scarier than any movie.

“I used a lot of language in the film that if someone were to say to me and I would be pretty upset,” he says. “When a truckload of guys once chased and threatened me, it was my first dose of reality that they could literally take someone’s life. That made its way into this film. This is revenge for me.”

He’s taking baby steps with his short films, but his first full-length feature is in sight. Ewert has scripts and ideas ready to put on camera. If he runs out of ideas, well,  all he has to do is go to sleep.

“Almost everything I’ve done has come out of a dream, or as close to a dream as I can remember,” Ewert says.
Or maybe he means nightmare.

For more on Ewert’s films, visit RightLeftTurnProductions.com.

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Scary gay

Horror filmmaker Shawn Ewert knows his scary movies. He also knows what’s so gay about many of them. He breaks down some of his favorites for us here.

The Hunger - “David Bowie is in the film. Oh, and the really hot romance between Susan Sarandon and Catherine Deneuve.”

The Lost Boys – “They only wanted Michael as part of the crew. The girl — secondary.”

A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 – “I keep this in a special place with the coming out story and so much homoeroticism.”

Fright Night – “Evil Ed’s ostracism from the rest of the kids, finds a “home”/acceptance with a sexy older man/vampire.”

Interview With the Vampire – “OK, really? Do I have to spell this one out?”

Psycho – “Overbearing mother, issues with women, liked to stuff things. Gay.”

Dracula - “ Oh, Vlad totally had it bad for Jonathan Harker”.

Night of the Creeps – “Yeah, at the end he gets the girl, but only after his “roommate” is killed by one of the phallic aliens that gets you by going through your mouth.”

— R.L

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas