GIVEAWAY: Movie passes to see “Pariah”

Who doesn’t like a free movie? We can help with that. We have 10 passes to see Pariah, which screens Wednesday at the Angelika. Spike Lee executive produced the film which is an expansion on writer/director Dee Rees’ 2007 short film of the same name. The full-length premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival. From Focus Features.

Alike is quietly but firmly embracing her identity as a lesbian. With the sometimes boisterous support of her best friend, out lesbian Laura (Pernell Walker), Alike is especially eager to find a girlfriend. At home, her parents’ marriage is strained and there is further tension in the household whenever Alike’s development becomes a topic of discussion. Pressed by her mother into making the acquaintance of a colleague’s daughter, Bina (Aasha Davis), Alike finds Bina to be unexpectedly refreshing to socialize with.

Wondering how much she can confide in her family, Alike strives to get through adolescence with grace, humor, and tenacity – sometimes succeeding, sometimes not, but always moving forward.

Passes admit two, but seating is first come, so get there early as the pass can not guarantee admission. Wanna ticket? OK, come on up to our offices before Wednesday (that’s Dec. 28) by noon before we start wrapping up the week’s issue and close up for the holidays. You know where we are, right?

Pariah is rated R.

—  Rich Lopez

Queer the slopes

Winter resorts welcome gay skiers all season long, but many plan specific gay ski weeks that appeal to every taste

SNOW BEAR?  |  Elevation, the gay ski week in Mammoth, Calif., celebrates its 10th annual event — which, if anything like last year’s (above), will be cold and hot.

SNOW BEAR? | Elevation, the gay ski week in Mammoth, Calif., celebrates its 10th annual event — which, if anything like last year’s (above), will be cold and hot.

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES
Life+Style Editor

jones@dallasvoice.com

There are some notable anniversaries among the gay ski weeks this season — Aspen turns 35, and Mammoth celebrates a decade — but queer skiers have plenty of choices, starting right after New Year’s and extending into April. The Shoot the Butte extravaganza from last year won’t be back (too bad! Read about Crested Butte in Dallas Voice soon), but from Canada to Colorado, Utah to Vermont and over to California, skiing to snowboarding, choose your favorite.

• Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Park City, Utah. Jan. 4–8. The season kicks off, as always, in the home of the Sundance Film Festival. Gayskiing.org.

• Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Aspen, Colo. Jan. 15–22. The forerunner of gay ski weeks brands itself “Through the Years” this year, with the retro look of ’70s porn in its marketing materials (the ski week began in the 1970s; this is its 35th annual event). It truly is a weeklong event, starting with an opening party, continuing with the Downhill Costume Contest and wrapping up with a pool party, with parties like Demented Divas, Boutique Night and Late Night at Hunter Bar thrown in. GaySkiWeek.com.

• Winter Rendezvous XXVIII, Stowe, Vt. Jan. 18–23. Competing directly with Aspen — albeit on the opposite side of the country — is Winter Rendezvous in Stowe, Vt. The 28th outing includes performances by DJ Harrison, the team of Amy and Freddy and drag diva Varla Jean Merman. Winterrendezvous.com.

• WinterPride, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Feb. 5–12. Whistler’s big annual ski week bounced back to a week later than last year for its 20th party where Queernadians are joined by their neighbors to the south (that’s us). Comedian Jason Stuart hosts a comedy night, DJ Ted Eiel will be there for the Furrocious party, for bear lovers and Manny Lehman spins the closing night Snowball Dance. GayWhistler.com.

• Telluride Gay Ski Week, Telluride, Colo. Feb. 25–March 3. Named the U.S.A.’s top gay ski week by Gay.com, the Mountain Village event is back with T-12. Events include the Wig Run, the Telluride AIDS Benefit fashion show (and several preview parties). American Airlines, the official airline for Telluride Gay Ski Week, offers directs from DFW to Montrose, plus a discount code (9121BB) when booking at AA.com/rainbow. TellurideGaySkiWeek.com.

• Elevation Mammoth X: Gay Ski Week, Mammoth Lakes, Calif. March 14–18. For the milestone 10th party, Elevation welcomes a string of DJs, including Brynn Taylor, Beau Dasher, Drew G, Josh Peace and DJ Pornstar at some of the nine scheduled parties. The big closing party Avalanche features headliner Roland Belmares. MammothGaySki.com.

• OutBoard Gay and Lesbian Snowboard Week, Steamboat Springs, Colo. March 27–April 1. OutBoard is unique among gay skiing events: It changes out its location every year or so. Not a bad idea — it caters to snowboarders, who are always looking for new challenges. Events planned for the 17th annual winter wonderland include an opening night cocktail party and western-style hoedown. Yee-haw! OutBoard.org.

• Vail Gay Ski Week, Vail, Colo. Dates not yet announced. Vail is excitedly touting its next ski week in 2012, but as of press time, the dates hadn’t been released (last year it was March 30–April 3, though the previous year, it was in late January). Keep an eye on VailGaySkiWeek.com for updates (and we’ll follow up on the website as soon as we learn anything concrete).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Queering up the slopes

A new gay ski event joins winter wonderlands already catering to gay sportsmen (and chill partiers)

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

SHOOT THE BUTTE | Crested Butte, Colo., is home to two gay winter events next year: OutBoard and the inaugural Matthew Shepard Gay Ski Week.

The landscape of gay ski weeks is changing faster than the view from a waxed Telemark swooshing down a double black diamond.

The African-American-centric Winter Explosion enjoyed its last slalom earlier this year, but there’s a new gay ski week founded in conjunction with the Matthew Shepard Foundation — and it’s closer by! And some of the big ones changed their dates in a big way.

Of course, there are many more reachable resorts that don’t have gay ski weeks per se (read about some next week in the Voice), but here are the ones that plan entire weeks around getting queer skiers (and just people who like to cuddle up in the lodge with a furry fellow) to hit their slopes.

Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Park City, Utah. Jan. 5–9. The season kicks off, as always, in the home of the Sundance Film Festival. Gayskiing.org.

Aspen Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Aspen, Colo. Jan. 16–23. The 34th annual granddaddy of gay ski weeks brands itself the Wild Wild West this year, and all we have to say is, yee-haw! Dallas-based comedian Paul J. Williams returns to host the Drag Downhill comedy night and performs with Emmy winner Leslie Jordan. GaySkiWeek.com.

Winter Rendezvous XXV, Stowe, Vt. Jan. 19–23. For those who prefer the powder of the Northeast,  Winter Rendezvous returns to the home of U.S.-based gay marriage — Vermont — for its 27th outing. Comedienne Shawn Pelofsky, who recently stopped by the Rose Room, headlines. Winterrendezvous.com.

WinterPride, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. Jan. 30–Feb. 6. Earlier this year, WinterPride got bumped later in the season because of the Winter Olympics (a fair trade — one town can only handle so much gay at one time), but it’s back to early in the season for the 19th annual party where Queernadians are joined by their Anglo-Gringo supports across the border for this skier and snowboarder party. DJs like hot bear Ted Eiel keep the fun going. GayWhistler.com.

Telluride Gay Ski Week, Telluride, Colo. Feb. 26–March 6. Named the U.S.A.’s top gay ski week by Gay.com, the Mountain Village event is back with T-11. Returning to the party are The A-List’s Reichen Lehmkuhl, who will hosting the pool party Wet, and dragcomedy legends the Kinsey Sicks. (Big  news for the Dallas-based traveler: A new nonstop direct flight on American from DFW to Montrose/Telluride Airport.) TellurideGaySkiWeek.com.

Lake Tahoe WinterFest Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, Lake Tahoe, Nev. March 6–12. Organizers insist WinterFest XVI is on the calendar for the first weekend in March, though no details have been released yet. LakeTahoeWinterfest.com.

Mammoth Gay Ski Week, Mammoth Lakes, Calif. March 16–20. Not that boarders aren’t welcome everywhere, but for the biggest gay ski event in California, you just know they are gonna turn out in droves. The 9th annual event kicks off with DJ Josh Peace (who also hosts The Party @ 10,000 Feet) and yummy DJ Escape spinning at the Avalanche party. MammothGaySki.com.

Shoot the Butte (Matthew Shepard Gay Ski Week), Crested Butte, Colo. March 19–26. The newcomer to this year’s ski family is both an ambitious party and a benefit for the murdered teen’s foundation. Reichen pulls double duty (here and in Telluride) with an appearance, and there will be daily skier “hook ups” (meet-and-mixers), a pub crawl and several late dance parties. Be the first to check out this one.  MatthewShepardGaySkiWeek.com.

OutBoard Gay and Lesbian Snowboard Week, Crested Butte, Colo. March 29–April 3. If you like Shoot the Butte, why not just hang around a few days — OutBoard begins just three days later. (In the last three years, it has moved from Crested Butte to Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge and back again to CB this year). You don’t need to snowboard, either — there are ice-skating and wall climbing adventures to be had as well. OutBoard.org.

Vail Gay Ski Week, Vail, Colo. March 30–April 3. Vail, which this year had its event in late January, bumped it two months into the late winter, capping off the gay ski season. This version brings back the Vail Splash Club hot tub and pool party as well as the beer bust and daily après ski socials. VailGaySkiWeek.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

‘I Love You, Phillip Morris’ gets release date

The Jim Carrey movie, “I Love You, Phillip Morris,” finally has a release date of Dec. 3. Release of the film has been delayed a number of times.

The story of the Texas con man who falls in love with his prison cell mate and escapes from Huntsville several times to be with him is based on a true story.

Delays in release are usually not a good sign and the book wasn’t that good. The film first screened at Sundance Film Festival in January 2009.

But it’s a gay love story and takes place in Texas, so it’ll have local appeal.

The real buzz is about Jim Carrey’s sex scene with co-star Ewan McGregor.

—  David Taffet

Indecent ‘Proposition’

For documentarian Reed Cowan, a gay man raised Mormon, taking on the LDS church became a different kind of mission

STEVEN LINDSEY | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com




CHANGING FOCUS | Cowan saw a bigger story when his film about Mormon gay youth kicked out of their homes opened up to a world of prejudice by the LDS church detailed in ‘8: The Mormon Proposition.’




Proposition 8: Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

Getting a movie into the Sundance Film Festival is an honor in itself, but unexpected consequences always follow. For some, it’s fame and fortune.

For Reed Cowan, director of 8: The Mormon Proposition, it was death threats — a result that was especially surprising since the movie he ended up making was not the one he set out to film.

“I was raised in Utah in the Mormon church and to know that other young Mormon kids were being kicked out of their homes after coming out really pained me,” says Cowan on a recent trip to Dallas. “Ninety percent of the kids on the street in Salt Lake City in the dead of winter are gay kids. I thought, I have a camera and I can shine the light on that. So we started out to do a film about that.
“Then Proposition 8 began to bubble.”

Cowan planned his movie to touch on the initiative though he never anticipated Prop 8 would pass. Then the vote happened.

“So many of us woke up the next morning just feeling like, are you kidding? If we can’t win California, we can’t win anywhere. So many of us — gay or lesbian or people sympathetic to LGBT causes — were sickened by it,” he says. “In a figurative sense, if we were in a battle, I felt like I was sucker-punched and I looked around at my feet to see what stones I had to throw.”

As a response to the vote, Broadway singer-actor Sam Harris recorded a video blog that caught Cowan’s attention.

“He was so incensed because he’d just gotten married and was working to adopt a child and he did this vlog that was so eloquent and so beautiful,” says Cowan. “My God, here’s an artist who’s taking his resources, his music, his talent, his voice and he’s doing something about it the very next morning! What do I have at my arm’s length? I have a camera. I have friends who can edit. So that’s what I began to do.
It’s been an incredible journey.”

The film began sending shockwaves through the church before it was even completed. But perhaps the most amazing development for Cowan was the amount of information that was dropped in his lap — literally, as the box of documents that is one of the movie’s smokingest guns.

“A young man who worked in the LDS church archives came out of the woodwork and approached me directly. [His] father is very high up in the Mormon church and he was allowed access to things that most people aren’t.”

Cowan’s informant learned that high-ranking Mormons put together an internal study about gay and lesbian issues.

“It was 1,500 pages he copied and took off with. I have every one of them,” Cowan says. Those documents have since been submitted as evidence in the trial challenging Prop 8, which began closing arguments this week.

Cowan’s own life has faced destruction on multiple occasions, many directly attributable to his Mormon upbringing. When Cowan was doing his missionary work (which brought him to North Texas), he genuinely believed what he was preaching and he believes even now that many people within the church aren’t motivated by hate.

“Prop 8 wasn’t done with malice. Bigotry isn’t often done with malice. As one of the people who was in my film said to me, ‘But we do it with a smile,’” he laughs. “We do it with a smile! You don’t have to have malice and desire to go slash somebody’s throat to actually do things to destroy their lives.”

After getting married and having a son, Cowan’s wife left him and he finally came out. Today, he has adopted two children with a partner, Greg Abplanalp, whom he’s known since elementary school.

“In high school we had a relationship and one night in our small Utah town I was beaten almost to death, almost Matthew Shepard-style, where they stood over me in disgust, where they had taken me to finish me off. I lived, but my dad was so afraid that he sent me on a mission and told me I was never to talk to that boy again,” Cowan says. “And I didn’t for 13 years.”

Cowan even was counseled by a church leader to write a letter to Abplanalp condemning him, which he reluctantly did.

After reparative therapy, aversion therapy, visualization therapy and other approaches to “cure” him failed, Cowan approached another leader for guidance. That’s when he was told to marry a woman; it didn’t last long.
“I had been divorced a year, had my first relationship, got my heart broken,” he says. “I believe in karma and the person who’d broken my heart kind of just dumped and ran. I thought I was obviously experiencing the pain I caused somebody else.”

He learned that Abplanalp lived two blocks from him while he was married. Cowan wrote him an apology and they decided to meet. The two reunited and began raising Wesley, the boy born from Cowan’s marriage. Two years later, Wesley died in an accident.

“Greg saved my life after the death of my son. He’s the reason we built 25 schools in Africa for AIDS orphans in my son’s name. That’s why I fight,” he says of his decision to make the movie.

“Life taught us we’re braver and stronger and smarter than we ever thought we were,” he says. “But our little boys deserve to know that we’re a family and that the U.S. government sees us as a family and that if they’re going to define families by marriage, which I have my issues with, and give benefits to families that are married, then by damn, my kids deserve that. My kids deserve the same thing.”
It’s a fight he’s willing to pursue even though some want to stop him. Which is where the death threats come in.

“You wouldn’t believe the letters I’ve gotten from religious people,” Cowan says. “Three days ago, a guy calling himself ‘Christian4life’ wrote, ‘God took your son away from you because you’re a faggot. And your son would’ve had a horrible life and that’s why he died.’”

So many people bring his son’s death into their hate-filled letters that he’s made the agonizing decision to move his son’s body to a private grave.
But the film has generated positive feedback, too.

“I’ve had letters from gay people in their 70s that say, ‘Finally you lanced the wound, thank you.’” he recalls. “I’ve had gay kids as young as 12 and 13 contact me. I’ve had religious people say, ‘Thank you, you helped me see things differently.’”

His goal for the film is simple: A complete and total separation of church and state in our country.

“This movie is ultimately for the voter. Look at what happened with your sacred vote. Look at how the blurring of lines between church and state resulted in your sacred vote being used to achieve the objectives of a religion. And look at the danger of becoming a theocracy in history. Do we want a democracy or theocracy?” Cowan asks.

Ultimately, though, he hopes his film brings about change.

“Gay people are tough. We’re resilient. We learned to be from the time we’re in school. Most of us survive, God rest the ones who don’t,” he says. “We lay our own lives down and give our days in the service of kids who are growing up gay to make it better for them.”

………………………………………..

Infuriating brilliance

Reed Cowan’s emotionally charged and ultimately enraging documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition opens today at the Angelika Film Center, almost two years to the day after the first legal gay marriages occurred in California. It’s a fitting release date for a film that so candidly and energetically explores the LDS church’s role in reversing the decision to recognize same-sex marriages.

His 80-minute film delves into the bowels of the church to uncover a history of bigotry and exclusion. Cowan, who was raised Mormon and persecuted for being gay, frequently sought for the Mormon church to tell its side of the story, though he was mostly refused.

Cowan’s connections gained him access to hundreds of pages of private documents as revolting as they are incriminating. 8 is powerfully inspirational and should prompt every LGBT viewer to action, no matter where they previously fell on the subject of gay marriage. Even when it’s at its hardest to watch during scenes of overt condemnation and reenactments of the covert torture of homosexuals within the Mormon church, the revelation of such raw hatred and destruction is impossible to shake.
— S.L.

4 stars
Opens today at Angelika Mockingbird Station.

This article appeared in the National Pride edition in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice