Meet our Spring 2011 intern, Jefferson Johnson

Hello, and allow me to introduce myself: My name is Jefferson W. Johnson and I’m the new Spring 2011 intern for the Dallas Voice.

For starters, I’m a Southern Methodist University junior. My major is journalism with an emphasis in broadcast. However, as I begin to finish the curriculum I find my focus torn among many new journalism avenues, such as photojournalism and multimedia journalism — with my favorite quickly becoming blogging.

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook and check out my YouTube channel, and find out what it takes to be an intern and a full-time university student while maintaining a grade-point average above 3.0!

It is a great honor to be a part of the Dallas Voice team. I hope to earn the respect and readership of the community and reach new people.

Last, three things about me:

One, I am a military veteran and yes, I had a gay ol’ time.

Two, I actually have a sense of humor — LOL.

And three, the “W” stands for Whitney, as in Whitney Houston.

Keep your eyes peeled. You never know where I’ll turn up.

—  admin

Spinning his wheels?

Gay racer Evan Darling needs major sponsors to keep his motor running

mikey rox  | mikey@paperroxscissors.com

EvanDarling1
REVVED UP | As NASCAR’s only out racer, Evan Darling stands out — but still can’t nab a sponsor.

Professional racecar driver Evan Darling is at a crossroads in his career: His engine is revved, but he’s running out of gas.

“The LGBT community has been very supportive and happy to see me doing what I am for the community — just not financially,” says the 42-year-old openly gay NASCAR athlete.

A lack of sponsorship may force the adrenaline junkie to trade in his fire suit for a grease monkey’s jumpsuit sooner than later.

“Things are not looking good for next season and I may have to go back to being a mechanic,” admits Darling, who competes in NASCAR’s Grand Am series. “I have had many say I would not get support, and I would hate to prove them right. I will always put effort into trying to get sponsors and race on a pro level — and

I have put all of my resources into it over the last few years. But the well is dry.”

Darling had his first pro race in April 2007, finishing 7th out of 37 starters, and raced Daytona in 2008. He was also on the Out 100 list in 2007.

But since 2009 he’s been almost raceless on the circuit. He’s secured local sponsors in Florida races, but none big enough to foot the $450,000 price tag needed to fund a full season. If he doesn’t snag the money before Jan. 5, he’ll miss the first race of the season and probably have to go back to being a full-time mechanic.

“I’m at the end of my financial ability to survive and will need to start over,” he says.

It’s not been for lack of effort. Darling approached LGBT political supporters with the promise of using their money to place a Trevor Project logo on his car to bring awareness of the initiative, but such supporters are not typically interested in sporting events… odd, considering that Gay Inc. makes a big stink about wanting pro athletes to live and play out-and-proud.

“I told my publicist I would be way more popular if I wore a pink sequin blouse under my racing suit,” Darling quips. “But that’s not me — I’m a regular guy that happens to be gay.”

Much to the chagrin of his teammates. Professional sports are notoriously homophobic, perhaps none more so than NASCAR, which is perceived to cater to rednecks, rappers and religious organizations — groups not particularly fond of the LGBT community.

“Many people have made derogatory remarks about my sexuality. I was fully expecting that going in [to racing],” he says. “I am a mechanic by trade and have had to put up with this mentality my whole life, so it’s not new to me.”

In fact, Darling’s dealt with bigots since childhood. His father, an attorney, represented the Irish-American war veterans in preventing Boston’s LGBT community from participating in its annual Veterans Day parade. His brother Brian is director for U.S. Senate Relations for the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, which famously feuded with Rosie O’Donnell on Larry King Live. Even his mother is still in denial about her son’s sexuality. But at least he can shrug that last one off.

“Things are a bit better now between us,” he says. “I visit them at Christmas and sometimes if I am in the area I stop in. I also call them every week as they’re getting up there in age.”

Darling’s tepid relationship with his family is indicative of how he’s approaching this new chapter in his life — one that may see him fixing cars instead of racing them. Much like his parents, he suggests, NASCAR just isn’t ready for a gay driver — and, as he’s realized, changing the minds of the unwilling is an uphill challenge.

“I think it would be great for the sport and the LGBT community,” he says, contemplating what would happen if someone like Sprint Cup superstar Jeff Gordon came out of the closet. “[But] there would be huge fallout from the NASCAR community. It would be very difficult for anyone that came out with that kind of career. I’m sure it would be interesting to see how his sponsors would react.”

The reality is, some of his current sponsors would certainly abandon him. But with the media frenzy an announcement of that caliber would create, new sponsors would surely step up to the pit, checkbooks in hand — probably none faster than Gay Inc. Because as Darling knows all too well: “It’s all about the bottom line” …. even if that should be, “supporting the community that supports you.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

GLAAD: Tyler station to pull anti-gay segment; Joel Burns will appear on newscasts Friday

KETK, the NBC affiliate in Tyler, has agreed to remove from its website a segment that aired Wednesday morning in which the station asked viewers whether acceptance of homosexuality will be the downfall of America, according to GLAAD. KETK has also agreed to have openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns appear on its newscasts on Friday, GLAAD said. However, the KTBB 92.1 FM radio host who was apparently behind the segment, Garth Meier, has yet to take responsibility for it.

From GLAAD:

In response to GLAAD’s outreach and community outcry, here’s what KETK plans to do:

–For starters, at GLAAD’s request, KETK has removed from their Web site the eight-minute piece that ran yesterday – the re-airing of the KTBB segment and accompanying video.

–GLAAD pitched Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns to do an interview with the station.  Burns, who has garnered significant media attention and praise for his advocacy against anti-LGBT bullying, will appear on KETK newscasts tomorrow to discuss why potentially harmful questions like Maier’s should not be asked – and certainly not broadcast over public airwaves – in the first place.  (Please note that this blog will be updated as more time-specific information becomes available about when you can see Joel on KETK.)

–In addition to Joel appearing on KETK, General Manager Dave Tillery has also responded to our request that he appear on-camera to speak on behalf of the station.  Dave realizes how important it is that the station acknowledge in front of their viewers what they’ve acknowledged to GLAAD over the phone – that a segment like Wednesday’s has no place on the airwaves of a reputable news organization.  Furthermore, Dave plans to acknowledge the potential harm that could be caused by Wednesday’s report and will commit, on behalf of the station, to being more careful in the future.

–Lastly, KETK is rethinking how they will repackage KTBB Talkback content for future newscasts.  KETK General Manager Dave Tillery shared with GLAAD that he will be meeting tomorrow with Paul Gleiser, KTBB’s owner/general manager.

GLAAD appreciates KETK’s response to our outreach.  We applaud their willingness to learn from their mistakes.  We look forward to watching tomorrow’s follow-up and to recognizing the station’s improvement in days to come.

UPDATE: The president of KTBB 92.1 FM has issued an apology of sorts:

The Talkback question that aired on KTBB Radio and was simulcast on KETK NBC 56 television in Tyler on Wednesday, October 27 was unfortunate in its wording and unfortunate in the perception that it created among a large number of thoughtful individuals. The question, “Will the acceptance of homosexuality lead to the fall of America?” is poorly worded at best and inappropriate altogether at worst. For that, we apologize.

There are many issues surrounding homosexuality that are fair game for discussion in the media and in opinion journalism. The proper role, if any, for openly gay individuals in the military, the legitimacy of same-sex marriages and the public behavior by some individuals at gay and lesbian events held outdoors in public view are among topics about which reasonable people may disagree. These and other topics surrounding homosexuality are topics that talk radio hosts and opinion journalists may legitimately pose to their respective audiences.

With that said, the way our Talkback question was posed might be seen as asking, “Do homosexuals, by their very existence, threaten to bring down America?” We believe that such a question, posed in such a manner, is likely to generate more heat than light.

I understand how those who either heard, or heard about, KTBB’s Talkback question on Wednesday might have been offended. For the offense that was taken, we sincerely apologize.

Paul L. Gleiser, President
KTBB Radio


—  John Wright

What Exactly Gets Better? Well, for starters… ; Towleroad Tips

If you just came out from under a rock this week, this is part of the It Gets Better Project on YouTube, launched by Dan Savage in response to incresased coverage of suicides by young gay people, and likely an increase in actual attempts. This one by half of Logo's Jefferey and Cole team and TV writer Guy Branum speaks to the important role of friends in the end. A good reminder for any age.

 

Towleroad notes…

Though his talents differ from those of the friends portrayed in the video, thanks to my friend Rob for sending it on.

You too can always tip us on news or anything you think we should consider for Towleroad by sending us email at tips @ towleroad.com or through our contact page. Steve Pep's will be posting through the weekend, following a great effort in a  big news by by Andrew Belonsky. He continues Monday. And Andy Towle really will be back in another week.

And, Direct message to Andy T.: Yes you're missed. No, it isn't the same. Put down he iPad.

Bonus Tip: On an Iphone? Hit the bookmark button when on the site to get a direct iink to the site among your apps.

Bonus Tip 2: Can't remember how to spell "towleroad"? Just start typing t-o-w-l in Google's real-time search and you're here. Or use the shortcut url of tlrd.com (like our twitter name) which forwards to the site automatically. 

Have a good weekend.


Towleroad News #gay

—  John Wright