Q Live! goes up with full production of Reza’s ‘Art’

Recently, we wrote about Q Cinema’s new live-theater program, QLive! Well, the project’s first fully-staged production, Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winning play Art, opens Thursday, and runs five nights: Nov. 17-19, 25 and 26, all at the Firehouse Gallery, 4147 Meadowbrook Drive, Fort Worth. Curtain is at 8 p.m. all nights.

“Our staging embraces Reza’s vicious wit but celebrates a new dimension . . . the folly and frequent luxury of youth,”  says Todd Camp, the group’s founder. Set in Paris, the play is about how three friends react to a strange painting: One that appears to be only a white canvas.

There will also be a showing of new works by local artists in conjunction with the play. All of the pieces will be auctioned off to raise funds for QLive!’s 2012 season. Tickets are $15 ($10 for students). There will also be a full bar with donations accepted.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Gay party-goers cry foul after Joule hotel bar turns them away at the door

Joule general manager admits that doormen were enforcing a gender ratio, but says practice isn’t anti-gay

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

Cordey Lash
Cordey Lash

Gay patrons of the Joule Hotel’s PM Nightlife Lounge allege that they were discriminated against by door staff who denied them entry to the upscale downtown bar last weekend.

However, the general manager of the Joule Hotel said the gay patrons were turned away due to capacity issues and blamed the incident on a “breakdown in communication.”

The gay patrons said doormen at the PM Nightlife Lounge were enforcing a “gender ratio” on Friday night, Aug. 13 — allowing straight couples in while refusing entrance to gay men who weren’t accompanied by women.

The gay patrons said they were registered guests of a joint birthday party for three friends. One of the three hosts, all of whom are gay, said the party was booked in advance for more than 200 people.

Despite being on the guest list, gay patrons said they were made to stand outside in the searing heat as straight couples passed them by, and some eventually left without going in.

“There are very few times in life where I’ve felt like I was discriminated against. That was clearly one,” said Cordey Lash, who left after being denied entrance.

Chris Heinbaugh, the openly gay chief of staff for Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert, said he was eventually allowed in to the PM Lounge — but only after confronting the general manager, who walked by as he was waiting in line.

Heinbaugh said he spoke with the general manager, Brendan Carlin, again by phone this week.

“I’m satisfied after talking with them that they get it,” Heinbaugh said Wednesday. “They understand why this was so frustrating. At least at that upper level, they don’t want to see that happen.

“My hope is that they communicate that to the folks they have on the ground, because the actions they’re taking, whether intentional or not intentional, they have the effect of discriminating.”

In an interview with Dallas Voice on Thursday, Carlin called it “a very unfortunate incident.”

Carlin acknowledged that the door person was enforcing a gender ratio to create “an even distribution in the room” — a common practice at straight bars.

But Carlin insisted that PM Lounge staff had notified the three hosts of the party in advance that the facility could accommodate only 50 of their guests.

Carlin said the three hosts didn’t pay for the party and would have needed to buy out the nightclub, at a cost of $25,000, if they wanted to have 200 guests.

Carlin said in addition to those who were invited to the birthday party, the PM Lounge had to try to accommodate hotel guests as well as people who are on a VIP list.

“There certainly are legitimate capacity issues,” Carlin said. “It’s one of the hottest nightclubs in Dallas. It fills up every weekend. They [the gay patrons] didn’t think we were at capacity … but I was told we were at our capacity, which is 210.

“Really this was a breakdown in communication more than anything else,” Carlin added. “Certainly we had more invitations sent out than we could accommodate. We certainly don’t have the capability to accommodate what at this point in time was 282 people coming to this event.”

Asked whether there could have been anti-gay discrimination involved, Carlin said, “Absolutely not.”

“I guarantee you we have this situation every weekend with straight people who can’t get in there,” he said.

Daylon Pereira, one of the hosts of the joint birthday party, said when he arrived at about 9:30 p.m. the club was mostly empty. Soon Pereira began hearing that people were being turned away at the door.

“After well over 100 of our guests were turned away, all of whom were on the guest list given to the door men, the club was still empty and many of our friends were made to feel like second-class citizens,” Pereira said. “Had it been an issue of crowd control, I could understand, but the fact that PM was close to empty, I am having a tough time looking at this as anything but ‘gay’ control. All of my straight friends who arrived with their girlfriends were granted access with no issues. … This was such an embarrassing situation which has caused me to spend this entire week writing apologies to my friends for the rudeness they were treated with.”

Chris Heinbaugh
Chris Heinbaugh

LGBT legal experts say gender-based policies at bars and nightclubs are widespread but represent a gray area of the law.

Rob Wiley, a gay Dallas attorney who specializes in discrimination cases, said some courts in the U.S. have held that policies favoring one gender — such as cover charges for men but not women on “ladies night” — are a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Wiley said he once successfully challenged a gay nightclub in New Orleans that had imposed a cover charge for women but not men. But he acknowledged that while such policies may technically be illegal, the law is rarely enforced.

“It’s not really as much about sexual orientation rights as it is gender rights, but you have this problem all over,” Wiley said. “If you are a place of public accommodation, you are not supposed to exclude people in protected classes. Unfortunately, that law which was passed in 1964, 40 some odd years later, still is not always complied with.

“Folks who are doormen at clubs ought to be trained about not discriminating against people on the basis of gender or the basis of sexual orientation, and they ought to keep their eyes open for this,” Wiley added.

Heinbaugh and Lash agreed that more training is needed. And on Thursday afternoon, Carlin reported that Lash had agreed to conduct diversity training for door staff at the PM Nightlife Lounge.

Lash also said he believes the incident serves as a reminder about the importance of — and continued need for — the gayborhood. He said he hopes someone will “step up” and open an upscale lounge that caters to the LGBT community.

“Instead of it being anti-Joule, now that I’ve had time to stop and think about this, we as a community have lost sight of why our gayborhood is there,” Lash said.

Lash, who’s worked in the hospitality industry for more than a decade and currently serves on the board of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association, stopped short of calling for a boycott of the PM Lounge.

“It’s difficult for me to get on board with promoting something negative. However, I do 100 percent promote the Joule receiving inclusion training, and bigger than that, I promote our community looking at where we spend our money.

“I want to not boycott the Joule, but uplift those that support my community,” he said.

Lash, who currently works for the Hilton Anatole, also noted that this marked the second recent incident of alleged discrimination at a property in Dallas that’s affiliated with Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide.

In July two gay patrons accused an off-duty police officer working security at the W-Dallas Victory hotel of anti-gay discrimination. An internal affairs complaint against the officer is pending.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts maintains a perfect score of 100 for gay-friendliness from the Human Rights Campaign.

Carlin said Starwood does not own or manage the Joule Hotel, but has a marketing agreement for the property.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Iran’s deadly ‘Bizarro World’

The use of the Bible to defend laws in the United States could be as dangerous as the use of the Qur’an in the Iranian theocracy

EXECUTION
EXECUTION | Iranians Mahmoud Asqari and Ayad Marhouni were hanged in Justice Square in Mashhad, Iran, in 2005, after being convicted of sodomy. (Iranian Students News Agency)

In the Bizarro World, everything is well, bizarre! The planet is a cube; everything ugly is beautiful; everything is sort of the opposite of Earth.

Welcome to Iran!

In the real world, when a person is accused of a crime, evidence is presented to support the charge. Some sort of due process is used to deal out justice.

In the Bizarro World of Iran, not so much.

Take the case of Ebrahim Hamidi. He was arrested two years ago in Iran and charged with “lavat” (sodomy), a crime that is punishable by death.

Hamidi and three friends were involved in a fight with members of another family. Part of the charges leveled against them were that they had assaulted a man and attempted to abuse him sexually.

After three days of alleged torture, Hamidi confessed, and his three friends were released in exchange for their testimony against him.

It might sound like a pretty ordinary assault and attempted rape case — but for the fact that the alleged victim admitted he fabricated the charges under pressure from his family.

In the real world, that would most likely result in the charges being dropped and Hamidi being set free.

But remember, we are in the Bizarro World of Iran.

Hamidi sits awaiting execution for homosexual acts, even though he is heterosexual and from the testimony of the victim, innocent.

Why? Well, it seems there is a bizarre legal loophole that allows something called a “judge’s knowledge” to bear weight in a case where there is no supporting evidence, and the judge says, “Hang him.”

Here in the real world his defense lawyer would be throwing out every legal motion in the book to stop this miscarriage of justice. In Bizarro World the defendant has no lawyer, at least not any more.

His attorney, human rights lawyer Mohammad Mostafaei, is no longer in Iran. He was forced to flee the country to live in permanent exile in Norway because of his human rights advocacy.

His wife was arrested and held in solitary confinement just to drive home the message. She has since been released now that Mostafaei is out of the country.

You see, in Bizarro World, lawyers like Mostafaei, credited with saving at least 50 people from execution during his career, are not welcome. He defends children and women against harsh punishments that include the medieval practices of stoning and public whipping.

Sounds strange and outlandish, but it’s true.

Iran is a country that is, in effect, a theocracy. The laws are adaptations of Shari’ah, the Islamic legal tradition that includes the Qesas law, or “eye for an eye.”

These traditions were augmented with loopholes like the one allowing judges to use circumstantial evidence and just plain intuition in deciding life or death matters.

It is not a happy place for many people — and LGBT citizens in particular. There is a lesson in this sad and strange tale, and that is the explicit warning against theocratic justice.

If you don’t see any reason to fear this kind of problem back here in the United States, you must be familiar with neither the Bible nor the make up of our highest courts. The legacy of the Bush years still haunts us and will for many years.
And that “eye for an eye” thing is a direct quote from both the Qur’an and the Bible.

Our founding fathers were some pretty sharp cookies, and when they consciously shied away from any kind of state religion, they did so because of the immense potential for abuse that they saw in theocracy.

That wisdom is under constant attack by the right wing revisionists who would have us believe we are a Christian nation. Those same voices warn against the evils of Islam and the draconian Shari’ah Law, yet if given a chance they would impose the same kind of restrictions. They would just give them a different name.

The story of Ebrahim Hamidi is a cautionary tale, and it is one we should take note of, leastwise we might slip into the “underverse” and end up in a Bizarro World of our own.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 13, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas