Bleeding purple

Ex-TCU football star Vincent Pryor to accept award for courageously coming out to teammates in 1994

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GAME-CHANGER | Former TCU football player Vincent Pryor, left, said he had become suicidal by his junior year until his future partner Alan Detlaff, stood before their social work class one day and announced that he was gay and was beginning a group for LGBT students called TCU Triangle. They would later meet again at JR.’s in Dallas, and have been together ever since.

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

Vincent Pryor will be in Austin on Wednesday, Feb. 29, to accept the Atticus Circle Award for his courage to come out to his football team his senior year at Texas Christian University in 1994.

Atticus Circle, a group that educates and rallies straight people to advocate for LGBT equality, selected Pryor for the award because “he showed an extraordinary amount of courage to come out as a gay athlete,” Executive Director Ruth Gardner-Loew said.

Pryor said the recognition for inspiring other youth athletes was an honor, but his journey to the confident, gay football player standing before a group of teammates and strangers and owning his sexuality was long and painful.

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FINDING HIS GROOVE | Pryor set the school’s single-game sack record against Texas Tech only a few weeks after coming out.

Knowing he was gay since about the third grade, Pryor said growing up Southern Baptist in San Antonio made him begin to constantly worry that school kids would eventually find out and pick on him.

Instead of being the inevitable target, he became the bully, picking on effeminate boys because he was “trying to destroy that thing that was inside of me.” But his façade was shattered one day in seventh grade when one of his victims confronted him in the bathroom about why he tormented people like himself.

“Then he kissed me on the lips,” Pryor recalls about the life-changing day. “And then I knew.”

Although the two of them became friends and Pryor ended his ridiculing days, the fear of people knowing he was gay stayed with him.

Then came days at TCU as a linebacker, where he would go on to set the record of 41⁄2 sacks in a single game against Texas Tech in 1994, only a few weeks after revealing his sexuality. His record still stands today and helped TCU earn a conference title and bowl game invitation at the time.

While the Texas school appealed to him for the access to family back in San Antonio, as well as the family atmosphere of the campus, Pryor worried that his closeted life would be revealed.

“The whole time what I was trying to do was basically hide in plain sight because I always knew

I was gay,” he said. “I just didn’t want anybody to know about it.”

His confidence in his closeted persona was shattered at the start of his sophomore year when a new defensive coach began a meeting by asking if anyone on the team was gay. Pryor said he remembers the coach asking the question repeatedly, and while questions of his sexuality had arisen with little interest in girlfriends, he worried the coach was singling him out.

“Each time that he said it his voice got angrier and his face turned red,” he said. “I was petrified.”

Depression consumed Pryor as the coach’s anger over possible gay players continued to seep into his thoughts throughout the season, leading him to eventually decide that he wouldn’t return to TCU the next year.

“When that coach did that, made that proclamation to the meeting room, it was pretty frustrating and I remember getting really, really depressed,” he said. “I don’t talk too much about it because it was such a dark time, but I actually thought about killing myself.”

Admitting that he actually had a plan to commit suicide by junior year, he said he found courage in the welcoming atmosphere at TCU to

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ROSY REUNION | Pryor, shown at the Rose Bowl with Super Frog in 2011, now hopes to tackle the stigma of being gay in sports. ROSY REUNION | Pryor, shown at the Rose Bowl with Super Frog in 2011, now hopes to tackle the stigma of being gay in sports.

push through to the fall of junior year, with the most inspirational event happening shortly after the semester began.

It was Pryor’s current partner Alan Detlaff that stood before their social work class one day and announced that he was gay and was beginning a group for LGBT students called TCU Triangle.

After class, Pryor expressed interest in Detlaff’s group, saying that he supported the LGBT community, and they discussed his sexuality on the phone that night.

Several years after the two graduated, they ran into each other at JR.’s in Dallas and began dating. They live together in Chicago now.
“We saw each other at the bar, and the rest is history,” Pryor said. “We started talking, and here we are 13 years later.”

Pryor’s time in the support group gave him strength, while the rumors of his sexuality started in the locker rooms and hallways, until he eventually agreed to be a speaker at a conference on campus about homosexuality. Many of his teammates were present, but Pryor said his worries about the ridicule he would face afterward never came true.

“I was concerned that I would not be accepted as one of the guys and that people would treat me differently, and none of that happened,” he said.

Even the same coach who once tried to call him out supported him after asking if the declaration was true, and later hugged him on the field after a game and told him he was proud of him, something that will always stay with Pryor.

“That was vindication enough for me, and I really felt like I could be 100 percent. I felt like I could be who I needed to be,” he said. “I’ll never forget that.”

The stigma of being openly gay in sports is false, Pryor said, adding that in his circumstances in 1994 of a gay football player at a Christian university coming out and still being successful on the field is an example that being truthful about sexuality will not hinder someone’s passion or achievements.

“What I can do is live my life out, loud and proud and serve as that beacon and I think the stereotypes will change,” he said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 24, 2012.

—  Anna Waugh

Flying solo

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STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Hilarious actress-playwright Lauren Weedman brings her one-woman show to Out of the Loop

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OUT OF THE LOOP

NO…YOU SHUT UP
at Addison Theatre Centre, 15650 Addison Circle.
Friday–Saturday at 8 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m.
WaterTowerTheatre.org

……………………

Get this straight: Lauren Weedman is not a standup comedian; she’s an actress who just happens to be insanely funny. There’s a big difference. Even as a straight woman and new mother, the Los Angelena often portrays lesbians in plays she writes. It’s all in a day’s work for a woman making a career channeling multiple characters in a single show with a precision and nuance that’s a joy to behold. This weekend, local audiences have an opportunity to witness her in action in her newest play, No… You Shut Up, part of the Out of the Loop Fringe Festival.

Weedman officially got her big break as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a regular contributor on an NPR radio show, but her career began long before that.
“I started doing on-camera professional stuff when I was living in Seattle around 1995 when I was on a local TV show called Almost Live,” she says. ”But if you call Indianapolis community theater ‘the entertainment industry’ — and I don’t know if you should — it’s since third grade. I’m show-folk. Or circus-folk. Or a dirty artist-hippy — whatever you want to call it.”

The Daily Show, she admits, was an incredible coup, “even though nobody ever remembers me. And I wasn’t on that much during the year I worked there. And I was fired. Otherwise, wow! What a job.”

Weedman spent five years in Amsterdam studying, writing and performing. Before that trip, she thought she was the shocking one among her friends; but once there, she turned into a Puritan, “mostly about the overall passion for nudity all the Dutch people seemed to have,” she says. “I mean, if I was a seven-foot-tall skinny Dutch lady with uncomplicated nipples, I’d be naked all the time, too. But you just could not keep clothes on those people.”

Her varied life experiences show up in some form or fashion in many of her shows. No… You Shut Up comes to Addison via, of all places, Boise, Idaho, where a theater commissioned a play focusing on motherhood — even two-mommie households.

“Well, it’s a play. That starts to get annoying to hear, at least that’s what my friends always say because I’m always saying it whenever someone refers to it as ‘my act.’ As in ‘Lauren, you should meet my sister. You’d love her and you’d want to put her in your act,’” Weedman says. “I’ve done standup, but it’s not what solo theater is to me. The last two shows I’ve been focused on trying to make a narrative — plot-driven, character-driven, semi-autobiographical, fast-paced dark comedies.”

The rapid-fire switching of characters takes a lot of skill. And Red Bull.

“It’s like a dance, so I don’t have to think about it, or grab a hat and spend 14 minutes changing costumes to become another character. I get bored easily — I like to keep it moving.”

As a strong, funny woman, she naturally attracts her share of gay admirers.

“I think that my solo shows have continued to evolve and get better and better instead of sliding into delusion. All thanks to my very bossy, judgy gay friends, who come and see all my shows and let me know everything that they think. I’m a guest on a Sirius Radio show on Out Q with Frank DeCaro and Doria Biddle and they always make me feel like I’m this gigantic star who is just so underappreciated. So I love those gays. I always say the gays keep me on top because they yell at me and they monitor my weight. So they are like family. They are my family.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

A velvety smooth Suede

Out jazz singer Suede combines standards, trumpet and comedy for Fort Worth show

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

SUEDE IN SILVER  |  The queer singer’s tour, which comes to Fort Worth Nov. 6, celebrates 25 years as well as her new CD, ‘Dangerous Mood.’
SUEDE IN SILVER | The queer singer’s tour, which comes to Fort Worth Nov. 6, celebrates 25 years as well as her new CD, ‘Dangerous Mood.’

SUEDE
With Julie Bonk.
Youth Orchestra Hall,  4401 Trail Lake Drive, Fort Worth.
Nov. 6. 8 p.m. $20–$40.
OpenDoorProductionsTx.com.

……………………………………….

When jazz singer Suede hits the stage in Fort Worth next weekend, the audience will be in for a show where just about anything can happen. After all, what other lesbian do you know that can quickly shift from singing a beautiful ballad, to crooning a sassy jazz number to breaking out with a raucous trumpet solo? (Yes, trumpet.) Throw in some comedy and you get a pretty good idea of what this singular sensation is all about.

Simply put, Suede delivers a show as unique as her name.

“Suede is actually my middle name. It found me when I was in third grade. My last name is one of those that starts with a small ‘de’ and the rest of it is one of those where you want to cry out, ‘May I buy a vowel please?’” she laughs. “I haven’t used my last name in forever. My given first name is Suzanne, which got shortened to Sue. It got too close to the small ‘de’ at the beginning of my last name on a reading paper in third grade and my teacher started calling me Suede and I’ve been going by that ever since.”

She even had the foresight to copyright it, which came in handy in the early ’90s when Sony tried to bring a band over from England called Suede.

“We asked them nicely to stop using my trademarked name, but they sort of looked at me like, ‘What is she really going to do? We’re Sony Corporation,’” she says deepening her voice into a threatening tone. “We ended up suing them and won the case, but it took two years. So yes, there’s a great deal of integrity and importance with this little name of mine.”

After nearly 30 years in show business, she has had the good fortune to make music a full-time career — “No waiting tables, no giving guitar lessons. Just touring and performing,” she says. “It’s such a cliché but I absolutely owe it to my fans. They keep showing up and bringing new people and I’m just astounded by their loyalty.”

Suede started her own record label 26 years ago and released her latest of four solo albums, Dangerous Mood, to celebrate her 25th anniversary of performing professionally.

“Since I was a little kid, I had a dream of performing with a big band and I just went for it. It was an insane project. I recorded it in Tony Bennett’s studio and it was just amazing,” she says.

Many of those songs will be in her show. And just because she’s gay, don’t expect it to be a totally queer affair.

“I have a mainstream jazz following, but I’ve also been an out lesbian performer since the beginning of my career. That was a choice of mine long before it became a good boost for a career like those coming out late in the game today. Having done this for so long, it absolutely was not safe, let alone a good career move, when I made that choice. It was kind of interesting because that certainly had an impact with me trying to get mainstream gigs.”

Ironically, it was the gay community that stereotyped her.

“They’d say, ‘Oh she’s a lesbian folk singer and we know what that means.’ And that’s just not true. I’m a popular jazz singer — always have been. So I really didn’t fit any place, but my fans kept showing up and none of them cared about categorization.”

The formula of jazz meets pop meets big, bawdy trumpet solos, however strange it may sound, has worked and she’s so confident people will love it, she’s got a money-back guarantee.

“I’ll even go so far as to say, take the chance. No questions asked, if you want your money back at the end of it, I’ll personally give it back. I really think you’ll love it because it’s just a whole lot of fun,” she says with a laugh.

And I tend to think she’s telling the truth.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Scouts decommission the ‘popcorn colonel’

Gay dad fights back after Boy Scouts tell him he’s not ‘morally straight’ enough to be a leader

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

PROUD PAPA  |  Jon Langbert and his son, Carter, smile for the camera during a Cub Scout ceremony when Carter was in second grade. Langbert said he will let Carter decide whether they will continue participating in the Scouts after District 10 leaders said Langbert can’t be a leader in the troop because he is gay.
PROUD PAPA | Jon Langbert and his son, Carter, smile for the camera during a Cub Scout ceremony when Carter was in second grade. Langbert said he will let Carter decide whether they will continue participating in the Scouts after District 10 leaders said Langbert can’t be a leader in the troop because he is gay.

Jon Langbert knows that, thanks to a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court back in June of 2000, the Boy Scouts of America have the right to discriminate against gays.

The real question, though, is should the Scouts discriminate, even though they have the right, Langbert said this week.

Langbert is the gay father of 9-year-old triplets, two girls and one boy. And when his children were in second grade, his son Carter brought home a flyer for the Cub Scout troop at their University Park elementary school.

“Carter asked me about it. He said he wanted to be in Cub Scouts,” Langbert said. “I was concerned about it, because I know the Scouts aren’t pro-gay, to say the least. But I took him to the meeting, and that first night I went up to the Scout leader and told him, ‘Hey, I am a gay dad, My son is in second grade, and he wants to join Cub Scouts. Will that be a problem.?’”

The man who was troop leader at the time, Langbert recalled, “told me, ‘Absolutely not. Sign him up.’ So I did. And we really had a good time. We went to all the den meetings and camp outs and pack meetings. We were a very active family in the Scouts.”

The next year, when Carter was in third grade, the pack leaders approached Langbert and asked him to be the “popcorn colonel,” the volunteer in charge of the pack’s annual popcorn sale to raise the funds to pay for the scouts’ activities. When he agreed, the pack gave him a scout leader shirt — tan, with all the usual patches — to denote his position as popcorn colonel for the pack.

So Langbert — an entrepreneur who recently sold the finance company he had founded — put all his business skills to use. That year, the pack’s popcorn sale brought in $13,000 — more than triple the previous year’s total of about $4,000.

Robert McTaggert, the troop’s new leader, knew a good when he saw it, and when Carter entered fourth grade and started a new year with the Cub Scouts, he asked Langbert to once again lead the annual fundraising effort. And Langbert readily agreed.

“He told me we had done such a great job with the fundraiser the year before, that if I would do it again, Carter wouldn’t even have to pay any dues this year,” Langbert said.

Then on Wednesday, Oct. 13, Langbert got an e-mail from McTaggert, telling him plans had been changed: Carter’s gay dad could no longer be the Cub Scout pack’s popcorn colonel.

McTaggert explained that the father of one of the other scouts in Carter’s pack had gathered up a couple more fathers and the group had complained to McTaggert and another troop leader, saying they didn’t want a gay man associated with the pack, and especially not in any kind of leadership position.

McTaggert, Langbert said, “stood up for me. He asked the guy [who initiated the complaint] if he was willing to head up the popcorn sale. The guy wouldn’t do it, of course, and [McTaggert] told him that I was still heading up the sale and to get over it.”

But the angry father wasn’t done; he took his complaint over McTaggert’s head to Roger Derrick, head of the Scouts’ local District 10 council. And Derrick sided with the unhappy father.

“He [Derrick] called Robert [McTaggert] and said I had to go, and that I couldn’t wear the popcorn colonel shirt anymore,” Langbert said. “I was very, very unhappy with that. Being told you are a second-class citizen, that you are not morally straight and not a good role model, that’s something nobody wants to hear. I may not be straight but I am morally straight, no matter what they say.”

Langbert’s neighbor, Merritt Patterson, found out about the situation and wrote about it in her column in the Park Cities People newspaper.

“It was very brave of her to do that, to risk making some people upset. I mean, this sure isn’t an issue without some heat surrounding it,” Langbert said, adding that Patterson’s column “got the ball rolling.” Before he knew it, he was getting requests for interviews for media from around Dallas — and even beyond.

By Friday, Oct. 16, Scout officials were backtracking, at least a little.

“They came back on Friday and said I could keep selling popcorn, and I could be a volunteer, ‘Just don’t stand up in front of the boys and represent yourself as a leader, as a role model.’ And it made me mad again,” Langbert said. “They are still sending the same message of exclusion. They are still robbing Carter and me of the full experience of Scouting and they are sending a message to other dads and sons that there is something wrong with me.

“Scouting is an institution, and that message they are sending will mean something to people who don’t know better,” Langbert continued. “The Scouts have a lot of wonderful things about them. But this policy is out of touch and it sends the wrong message, to my son and to a lot of other boys. It’s 2010 already. We have a black president. A lesbian is the mayor of Houston. Even the policy against gays in the military is ending. So why can’t gay people be leaders in Scouting.

“The policy has to end, and if it doesn’t they need to take Scouting to the churches and get it out of my tax-dollar-supported schools!”

Langbert said despite the insult, he will finish the popcorn sale this year because “I gave my word, and I am a man of my word.” But as to whether he and Carter will continue in Scouting beyond that — “Well, I am going to let Carter make that decision.”

“I guess maybe it seems like I am wimping out, to leave it up to Carter to decide. But he has known me as his gay father for nine years. He is comfortable with me. Still, those boys in the Scouts are his friends, his classmates,” Langbert said. “Scouting has some positive aspects and he will get value from the activities. And if I have to suck it up and go without wearing the shirt or being a ‘leader,’ then I will do that for my son.”

That doesn’t mean Langbert is letting the matter drop, though: “I will make sure they know that I am here, and that I am not going anywhere as long as Carter wants to be in the Scouts,” he declared. “I am talking out about this, and I will continue to talk out. I am not a trained speaker, but I believe strongly enough in this issue to take the chance.

“Maybe it will be enough to get the Boy Scouts to actually join us in the year 2010,” he said. “Change has got to start somewhere.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 22, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas