Rangers spokesman says team won’t consider making ‘It Gets Better’ video until after playoffs

On Thursday I came across this excellent piece by Karen Ocamb, news editor at the LGBT magazine Frontiers, about what the Los Angeles Dodgers’ “It Gets Better” video means to her. Ocamb recalls how she once met the gay son of iconic former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who later refused to acknowledge that his son was gay and had died from AIDS. Ocamb said she’s harbored ill feelings toward the Dodgers ever since — and almost didn’t post the teams’ “It Gets Better” video on her blog, LGBT POV.

“Then I watched it,” Ocamb writes. “Since I don’t watch Dodgers baseball, I don’t know who these guys are. The HuffPo identifies them as coach Don Mattingly, James Loney, Matt Guerrier, Jamey Carroll, A.J. Ellis, Rod Barajas and Hiroki Kuroda saying, ‘you are worthy,’ and ‘you’re not alone, we’re on your side’ in English, Spanish and Japanese.

“I suspect they know about the legendary Tommy Lasorda and may know that Tommy Lasorda Jr. was gay and died of AIDS,” Ocamb writes of the Dodgers who appear in the video. “But whether they do or not doesn’t matter. I was moved by their sincerity – and dare I say – it got better for me seeing how the Dodgers had changed.”

Ocamb’s moving piece prompted me to again reach out to John Blake, executive vice president of communications for the Texas Rangers, to find out whether the team has made a decision about filming an “It Gets Better” video. If you’ll recall, when asked about an “It Gets Better” video last month, Blake told Instant Tea the team was “considering our options and the timing of any initiatives.”

The Rangers begin the playoffs this afternoon against the Tampa Bay Rays in Arlington.

“I really have nothing new to report,” Blake said in an email Thursday evening. “We plan to look at what the best approach may be once the playoffs conclude.”

Watch the Dodgers’ “It Gets Better” video below.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Someone from Arlington has filmed an ‘It Gets Better’ video, but it ain’t your Rangers

Former UTA standout Hunter Pence

The Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays have become the latest Major League teams to release “It Gets Better” videos, prompting us to again contact the Texas Rangers to find out if or when the organization plans to follow suit.

“To my knowledge, there are no updates. Thank you,” said John Blake, the Rangers executive vice president for communications, in a response to our email on Monday.

Which, presumably, means the Rangers are still “seriously looking at [their] options.” (In case you’re wondering, the Change.org petition calling for the Rangers to make an “It Gets Better” video has now expired, but not before amassing 2,780 signatures.)

Anyhow, while we’re awaiting the Rangers decision, we figured we’d go ahead and point out that North Texas native Hunter Pence, who played at UTA and Arlington High, appears in the Phillies “It Gets Better” video, which you can watch below. And just to underscore the fact that it really does get better, we’ve even thrown in a few more pics of Pence’s recent strip tease at a charity fashion show.

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Rangers may film ‘It Gets Better’ video

We just received an email from John Blake, executive vice president of communications for the Texas Rangers, responding to our inquiry Wednesday about the possibility of the team recording an “It Gets Better” video. FYI, the petition at Change.org calling for the Rangers to do so is now up to 2,394 signatures.

“The Rangers have received the correspondence and we are currently considering our options and the timing on any initiatives,” Blake said in his email.

We called Blake to try to get more out of him.

“It’s late in the season and everything, and it’s just a matter of timing and that kind of thing,” Blake said, adding that the team is in the midst of a pennant race. “We’ve received the correspondence [emailed petitions] and we’re just considering the best way to add the whole bullying initiative. We’ve discussed it internally and that’s where we’re at. I think it’s fair to say we’re seriously looking at our options.”

Asked whether the organization has set any kind of a timeframe for a decision, Blake said: “I think it will be sooner rather than later.”

In other words, keep those signatures coming!

—  John Wright

Rangers ‘It Gets Better’ petition gains steam

A while back we mentioned that online petitions had been launched at Change.org calling for both the Texas Rangers and Dallas Cowboys to record “It Gets Better” videos.

At the time, the Rangers petition had only 124 signatures, but thanks in part to Equality Texas, which shared the link on Facebook earlier today, it’s now up to more than 1,700. (For those who are keeping track, that’s about 1,000 fewer than a recently-gone-viral petition at Change.org calling for Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie to wed. )

The Cowboys petition isn’t faring so well, languishing at only 57 signatures. Still, that’s better than the three people who’ve signed a petition — launched since our previous report — calling for the NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to record an “It Gets Better” video. (It would help if the folks starting these petitions would at least include the team logo.) We were unable to find any petition related to the Dallas Stars.

Anyhow, we’ve put a message in to John Blake, the Rangers’ executive vice president of communications, to find out whether the Rangers are aware of the petition or plan to record an “It Gets Better” video.

Meanwhile, the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Tampa Bay Rays will become the ninth Major League Baseball team to film an “It Gets Better” video later this month. (And, by the way, those teams include the one with the very best record in the league, my Philadelphia Phillies.)

—  John Wright

Final bets at the finale of Team DV’s P-P-P-Poker Tourney

Ante up to the table

Team Dallas Voice and Pocket Rockets Dallas are raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. After three weeks, the event has come to the grand prize final.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to enter the raffle. Among the prizes available or that have been won are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

DEETS: Check out the Facebook event page here for details.

—  Rich Lopez

Petitions call for Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers to film ‘It Gets Better’ videos

Sam Maden, 12, is petitioning the Boston Red Sox to film an “It Gets Better” video.

The San Francisco Giants have become the first professional sports team to release an “It Gets Better” video. Watch it below. The Giants’ “It Gets Better” video was filmed partly in response to a petition from activist Sean Chapin that gathered more than 6,000 signatures.

Not surprisingly, Chapin’s petition is inspiring others, including 12-year-old Sam Maden, who’s petitioning the Boston Red Sox to make an “It Gets Better” video.

A quick search of Change.org today reveals that Maden’s “It Gets Better” petition is one of dozens launched in recent days and directed at pro sports teams, including both the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.

“You guys are real heros to many people here in Texas and have a voice,” Sam Medal of Plano writes in a petition letter to the Rangers CEO, which would be Nolan Ryan. “Please use that voice to let lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth kids know that suicide is not an option, that over time ‘It Gets Better.’”

Thus far, only 124 people have signed Medal’s Rangers petition, but that’s much more than the 14 who’ve signed a petition directed to Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and launched by Gabriel Gorre of Smithtown, N.Y.

We couldn’t find any petitions for the Stars or Mavericks, which is a little surprising given that the Mavs are currently in the NBA Finals and, based on owner Mark Cuban’s views, might be the local sports franchise that’s most likely to actually film an “It Gets Better” video.

If the Mavs go down 2-0 to the Heat on Thursday, they should probably film one as soon as they get back to Dallas just to remind themselves that “It Gets Better.”

Seriously, though, could someone please start a Mavs petition?

—  John Wright

Put on your p-p-p-poker face for Lone Star Ride

OK, we know Lady Gaga’s new CD comes out today (we’ll have a review in Friday’s paper), but the poker face we’re thinking about this week is yours. Starting tomorrow, and continuing for four consecutive Wednesdays, Team Dallas Voice is raising money for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS by holding a P-P-P-Poker Tournament at clubs across town. It kicks off May 25 at 8 p.m. at Sue Ellen’s with the first qualifying round, then moves to the Round-Up Saloon on June 1 at 8:30 p..m, the Brick on June 8 at 7:30 p.m., before the grand prize final at the Brick on June 15 at 7:30 p.m.

Because this is Dallas, not Vegas, the game play is free, so if you want to contribute to the LSR cause, bring cash to bid on auction items or enter the 50/50 raffle. Among the prizes available (pictured, with Team DV organizer Greg Hoover) are tickets to see Dolly Parton (we’ll resist the urge to call this one a “booby prize”), Ke$ha and Chelsea Handler,  tickets to the Texas Rangers and Lone Star Park horse races, Starbucks coffee, passes to the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, a set of poker chips, books, grooming supplies and much more … and the final grand prize: Two tickets on American Airlines anywhere in the contiguous U.S.

Poker, gay bars, prizes — sounds like an ideal way to spend a Wednesday. Or any day of the week, at that.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Ex-principal of TX youth prison denies he gave inmates blow jobs, promised them birthday cake

John Paul Hernandez

The former principal of a West Texas juvenile prison testified Thursday that five male inmates who accuse him of sexual abuse made up the allegations in a possible attempt to get released from the facility.

John Paul Hernandez, 45, is on trial for 11 counts of abusing the inmates, including sexual assault. Hernandez’s former assistant at the West Texas State School in Pyote, Ray Brookins, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on similar charges last year. The abuse scandal led to an overhaul of the Texas Youth Commission.

Hernandez and Brookins allegedly gave the young male inmates candy and promised them birthday cake in exchange for abusing them. In some cases, the inmates were threatened with retaliation if they didn’t go along. Hernandez and Brookins would summon the inmates from their dorms late at night and take them to ball fields and darkened classrooms to carry out the abuse, according to a 2005 report by the Texas Rangers.

When authorities searched Brookins’ state-owned house at the school, they found a 16-year-old living there along with hundreds of pornographic videos, magazines and various sex toys.

All five of the inmates testified against Hernandez this week during his trial. Prosecutors are continuing their cross-examination of Hernandez today.

—  John Wright

Joel Burns nominated for Texan of the Year

Joel Burns

Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns has been nominated for The Dallas Morning News’ Texan of the Year based on his inspiring “It Gets Better” speech, according to DMN editorial writer Rodger Jones.

Burns has already been interviewed by national media and by Ellen DeGeneres on her talk show in the wake of his 12-minute speech at a council meeting last month in which he talked about being bullied as a teenager and the time he considered taking his own life. Video of the speech quickly went viral and Burns became one of the most visible faces of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Some of the other nominees are Southwest Airlines President Gary Kelly, philanthropist Elizabeth Shatto Massey, Texas Rangers President Nolan Ryan and, a separate nominee, the “entire Texas Rangers baseball team.”

Well, win or lose, I love me some Texas Rangers. But when it comes to Texan of the Year, Joel gets my vote.

—  admin

Best bets • 10.29.10

Saturday 10.30

Masking your feelings is just fine
We’ve been trying to figure what this year’s number one costume will be. Lady Gaga has provided much inspiration throughout the year, so expect a few meat dresses in the crowd. The Chilean miners were a hot topic and easy to pull off. And lest we forget a good ole Texas Rangers costume. You’ll likely see all three and a whole heckuva lot more at this year’s Oak Lawn Halloween street party.

DEETS:
3900 block of Cedar Springs. 7 p.m. Free.

………………………….

Saturday 10.30

Rugby tourney will drag you to hell
The Dallas Diablos are making a mark on the rugby tournament scene this weekend. The team holds their second Hellfest event, but this year it’s big time. Word of mouth grew on this and the Diablos are expecting to host 160 players repping eight teams from around the country. And that’s all in one day.

DEETS: Lake Highlands Park, 9500 E. Lake Highlands Drive. 9 a.m. Free. DallasDiablos.org.

………………………….

Wednesday 11.03

Don’t lose your head, lady
We all know what happened to Anne Boleyn and it wasn’t pretty. But we bet getting there should be lush and gorgeous in the Dallas Opera’s production of Anna Bolena. Gaetano Donizetti details the queen’s last days who went from beloved wife to second best thanks to that mistress Jane Seymour. Bitch.

DEETS: Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. 7:30 p.m. Through Nov. 14. $25–$215. ATTPAC.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas