The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

President Obama issues memorandum on protecting LGBTs abroad

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Four days in advance of  Human Rights Day on Saturday, Dec. 10,  President Barack Obama today issued a presidential memorandum “to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons,” according to a statement just released by the White House press office.

The statement sent out by the White House includes these comments by the president:

“The struggle to end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons is a global challenge, and one that is central to the United States commitment to promoting human rights.  I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world — whether it is passing laws that criminalize LGBT status, beating citizens simply for joining peaceful LGBT pride celebrations, or killing men, women, and children for their perceived sexual orientation.  That is why I declared before heads of state gathered at the United Nations, “no country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere.”  Under my Administration, agencies engaged abroad have already begun taking action to promote the fundamental human rights of LGBT persons everywhere.  Our deep commitment to advancing the human rights of all people is strengthened when we as the United States bring our tools to bear to vigorously advance this goal.”

The memorandum from Obama directs agencies to combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad; protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers; leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination; ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad; engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination, and report on progress.

I give the president credit for issuing the memorandum at the same time he’s gearing up for what will likely be a tough re-election campaign during which opponents will no doubt use his stance and actions on LGBT issues against him. But I still have to point out that we as LGBT people still face discrimination and inequality right here in the good old U.S.-of-A:

• Our marriages are legally recognized at the federal level and they aren’t recognized in the VAST majority of state and local jurisdictions. We want the Defense of Marriage Act repealed and local and state ordinances and constitutional amendments prohibiting recognition of our relationships need to be overturned.

• There is still no federal protection against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and/gender expression and gender identity. Congress needs to pass — the president needs to sign — the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

• Even though there is now a federal hate crimes law that includes LGBT people, as well as similar laws at many state and local levels, those laws are not well enforced.

Anti-LGBT bullying remains a deadly problem in our schools and our workplaces and on the Internet. We’ve made progress in combating such bullying, but not nearly enough. Dedicate the resources necessary to address the issue effectively.

So let’s applaud our president for the steps he has — and is — taking. There’s no doubt Obama has been more open than any other president about addressing LGBT issues and we have seen great strides forward toward equality during his administration. But there’s a long way to go yet, and we need to make sure that the president — and all our elected officials — know they can’t just rest on their laurels.

—  admin

Mr. Dallas Eagle competition begins tonight

Leather for your life

Cows beware as leather needs go up for Mr. Dallas Eagle. Dallas has made big strides in state and national competitions, so the new titile holder will have some big shoes — er — boots to fill. The meet and greet starts Friday with the contest running through Saturday. In the end, 2010 winner Scott Moore, pictured, will pass on the title.

DEETS: Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. 8 p.m. Through Saturday. DallasEagle.com.

—  Rich Lopez

A look at the past can help us appreciate the progress we’ve made in the struggle for equality

Every day, the fight for LGBT equality continues. We have made some huge strides forward — DADT repealed, the hate crimes law passed, legal marriage in some jurisdictions — but we have also had some huge setbacks. Sometimes, it’s really easy to get frustrated at our snail-like progress. And sometimes, it’s really difficult not to get depressed and disheartened when you see the hate and outright ignorance from some people. (Read some of the comments from some folks here on Instant Tea if you want to see what I mean.)

So sometimes, we need a little perspective.

A friend of mine e-mailed me the link to the video below, and I found it so touching that I decided to share it here with our Instant Tea readers. As you watch, remember to never give up the fight. Remember how far we still have to go. But also remember how far we have already come.

—  admin

Mad, sad and a little tired

Lawyer/activist has a message for those who continue to deny LGBT their equal rights: There is no factual or legal basis for your bigotry, and the time is past due to start treating each other with respect

Jon Nelson  Special Contributor

I’m mad, sad and a little tired. Over the years, I have been involved in issues with a finite end: See a problem, organize a coalition, have open discussions and solve the problem.

Not so with equal rights for gays. We have made strides and yet, with the new Congress, there surely will be setbacks.

I just got through watching And The Band Played On, a movie about the beginnings of AIDS in the 1980s, the resistance to its recognition, the struggle for funding for research and the compelling humanity of those who were infected. And I guess it’s their stories that have caused me to think about where we are, why there is so much resistance and why, even though I am tired, I cannot stop now.

Repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and enactment of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act are all legislative goals to right the wrongs levied against a segment of our society.

But much of society doesn’t see it that way. They speak in terms of a “gay agenda,” “gay rights” or “pushing a lifestyle on us” that would lead to the “destruction of our family values.”

The problem for me is that most of these people aren’t evil or stupid or even mean-spirited. Many are my friends. Yet they believe in their hearts something that has a definite, negative impact on the lives of millions.

Surely that can’t be right, but why can’t they see that?

I read a story in which one Presbyterian minister eloquently denounced the homophobia which exists in many a religious doctrine, and then I read a quasi-rebuttal from another minister of the same faith. He had kindness in his heart, but his message was clear: We should love one another but not condone homosexuality.

This makes me mad, sad and tired because of the message it sends to those who so desperately need support and help: Our youth.

Somewhere in Fort Worth today, a young girl sits in a pew, next to her parents, and hears the minister proclaim that God has judged her feelings to be an abomination, and either she must change or be damned to hell — but that she is loved nevertheless. And she is so hurt and confused.

Somewhere in Fort Worth today, a young boy, egged on by his peers, with shrill voice and hyena smile, yells the word “faggot” at another boy who is confused and full of self-doubt. And the boy who uttered those words has heard his minister make similar proclamations as the girl’s minister. And that boy has heard his parents make jokes about gays and worse. And he has seen politicians and others of prominence disparage the “gay movement” as a threat to “our” society.

No wonder he acts the way he does.

As a lawyer, I am used to logic and clear argument. Take the case in California dealing with the constitutionality of the marriage ban. Let’s start with something we all can agree on and something which is the law: Before our rights can be infringed upon, the state must show some compelling interest that must be protected.

That’s the law. It’s part of our Constitution and so the state must put on evidence in court to prove that some state interest needs protecting, thus justifying the infringement of your rights or mine.

Evidence, not emotion. Facts, not fabrication.

In the California case, as in every other case which has been tried, there was none.

THERE IS NONE!

How loud do I have to say it? How many times do I have to say it?

THERE IS NONE!

How would you like to go to court and be convicted or lose a civil case even though the other side presented no credible evidence against you? There is no factual — and therefore no legal — basis to deny us the same rights as you have.

If I were a minister and, standing in the pulpit, said that God had proclaimed slavery to be the natural way of life, or that it was un-Christian for women to have the right to vote, you would throw me out — or worse. Yet that is exactly what happened in our country and in mainline church pulpits. Bible verses were used to justify inequality.

Today you think, “How could they have done that?” Or “Why would anyone believe that?” And yet, I hear the same today.

So I want to talk to you as a gay man who is watching what is happening. To the minister, the politician, the parent, to you: Your words have effects on others.

Just stop and think for a moment. Is the message you are sending hurtful to others, even though you mean well?

Fact: Every reputable medical organization in the world has long proclaimed homosexuality to be normal. Why are you ignoring that? Fact: There is absolutely no evidence that granting equal rights to gays will have any adverse effect on marriages between a man and a woman. Why are you ignoring that?

It is time for you to stop saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” It’s condescending and demeaning to me. You are judging me and shouldn’t.

Do you hear the anger in my words? It’s because I’m human and have feelings. Listen, I picked up a rifle and went to war for you, and you tell me that I am not equal to you? I can still see those dead eyes staring into space, and you tell me I can’t marry the man I love?
You’re damn right I’m mad, and you would be, too, if you were in my shoes.

So think. Think about me and you. Think about the children and the messages you are sending.  As human beings, we are all connected and in this together. Let’s treat each other that way. In the meantime, I won’t give up on you.

Jon Nelson is an attorney in Fort Worth and one of the co-founders of Fairness Fort Worth.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Just to reiterate Today’s Best Bet — you should really stop by Lakewood Bar & Grill tonight

Twist Dallas is offering a different kind of night out. Stepping away from the gayborhood, Twist hosts a lineup of (mostly) local LGBT musicians playing a mini-fest at the Lakewood Bar & Grill tonight — and it’s ambitious. Things start rolling at 7 p.m. (early!) with a lineup of seven acts lasting till past midnight. We’ve featured a couple here in the pages of the Voice such as Immigrant Punk and Infidelix who both hail from Denton. They join SuZanne Kimbrell, a regular at Jack’s Backyard, Da’rell Cloudy from Longview and Gringo Soul from Chicago on the stage tonight for this month’s Twist session. Chasing the Muse, Jay Bean and artist Erica Felicella round out the roster.

Twist Dallas has the intention of doing something like this every month. The site states “Each month we will bring you something new from the GLBT community, whether it be music, art, comedy, theater or fire breathers.” Live music in the community is making some strides with Woody’s back patio series and TMC’s Patio space, but I appreciate Twist’s attention given to these musicians with original work. Twist Dallas has picked a fine selection that ranges from folk to rock to hip-hop. And kudos to LBG for opening its doors to the community.

I’m looking forward to more from these guys. And honestly, I would dare to say I’m begging you to go to this. It’s the perfect opp to support LGBT-created music that’s not getting enough notice. Seven bucks to get in and a free drink? Totally worthwhile. Plus, it’s gonna be a long night, so come up and say hi.

—  Rich Lopez

American Idol contestant Nikki McKibbin at suicide prevention benefit at Best Friends

Nikki McKibbin, the North Texan who finished third in the debut season of American Idol, will be the featured guest at “Strides for Shauna,” a show and date auction set for Saturday, Oct. 16, at 8:30 p.m. at Best Friends, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave., in Fort Worth.

This second annual show, held in memory of Shauna Greaham who died Oct. 13, 2008 of suicide, will benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

In addition to the show and the date auctions, the event will include a 50/50 raffle.

Anybody interested in being auctioned off as a date can e-mail Casey Cohea at pinkertc15@yahoo.com or Kinita Albertson at kinita.albertson@gmail.com.

Wacth the Oct. 15 issue of Dallas Voice for more information about the show and about Shauna.

If you can’t attend but would still like to donate to the cause, go to OutOfTheDarkness.org, team name Strides for Shauna.

—  admin

Local ASOs respond to disability proposals

New guidelines are more specific but would require qualifying for benefits every three years

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Bret Camp
Bret Camp

The Institute of Medicine has published recommendations that would change guidelines for people living with HIV to apply for Social Security disability.

Bret Camp, Resource Center Dallas’ associate executive director for health and medical services, said the recommendations are a starting point for discussions about changing those qualifications.

To qualify, the institute recommended that a person’s T-cell count would have to be less than 50. Currently, a count of 200 or lower is generally needed to qualify.

The other major change is that persons qualifying after new rules take effect would have to requalify every three years. Currently, disability payments are for life.

Certain AIDS-related illnesses would qualify someone for disability payments no matter what the CD4-cell count is. Wasting syndrome, for example, would impair a person’s ability to function, the Institute of Medicine report said. Dementia, AIDS-related cancers, heart disease or hepatitis are other conditions they list that would qualify a person for disability payments.

“These seem fairly reasonable to me,” said AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles. “Perhaps I would consider a CD4 of 100 rather than 50 — 50 does seem very low and indicates rather extreme health vulnerability.”

She said that by the time someone has a CD4 cell count of 50, chances are they have already experienced an opportunistic infection.

“However, current treatment, if ongoing and proactive and of high quality, does do miraculous things these days even for people with CD4s who drop well below 50,” she said.

“The Social Security Administration is beginning to revise the listing criteria for every condition starting with HIV,” Camp said. “Reevaluation has always been a goal for SSA.”

He said that because of strides in treatment of HIV over the last 15 years, this was a good place to start.

Current guidelines are not as specific, he said. Camp said he likes the specific enumeration of certain AIDS-related cancers and other infections.

He said he has worked with people who have been denied benefits with a CD4 cell count of 200 and seen people with a higher count receive them.

Nobles worried about compromising access to treatment because disability status impacts Medicare eligibility.

“That would be disastrous,” she said. “Sure, HIV treatment has come a long way — for those who have ongoing access to that treatment administered by specialists in the field. And therein lies the problem.”

Nobles is also worried about unforeseen problems with the changes.

“Often governmental entities seem to forget that a change in one area ripples throughout the entire system of care and support and has ramifications they should have thought about, but didn’t until it’s too late and significant issues/problems emerge,” she said.

Steve Dutton, executive director of Samaritan House in Fort Worth, said the proposed changes don’t surprise him.

“It’s going to be tough,” he said.

Dutton said he likes the addition of certain specific categories that qualify people for disability but worries about those who don’t quite fit into those categories.

“I hope there are still some gray areas,” he said.

Dutton also wondered about the motive.

“They’ll look for every opportunity to minimize the number of people covered,” he said.

He agreed that those who manage their disease well can go back to work without further need for disability payments.

But he worries about those who became ill and are too sick toward the end of the three-year period to go through the bureaucratic paperwork to qualify again.

For more on the report go online to iom.edu/Reports/2010/HIV-and-Disability-Updating-the-Social-Security-Listings.aspx

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 08, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas