TCGPWA announces big plans for 2011

FAITH-BASED PRIDE | The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, waves to the crowd as part of the church’s entry in the 2010 Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Parade moving downtown, will include Street Fest; parade and picnic condensed into 1 weekend

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth’s LGBT community, re-energized by the June, 2009, raid on the Rainbow Lounge, has over the last 18-plus months become a much more organized, visible and active presence in the city.

Last October’s annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Week provided strong evidence of the community’s vitality.

The Pride parade was the largest in many years and included a first-time feature: a block party on South Jennings Street with vendors, entertainment and the Coors Main Stage. The following weekend, the popular Pride Week picnic pulled in a huge and diverse crowd to Trinity River Park.

This year, as TCGPW Association plans for its 30th annual Pride celebration, Fort Worth’s LGBT community can look forward to an even bigger and better event, parade chairman Tony Coronado said this week.

The biggest change, Coronado said, will be in the timing of the main Pride week events. Previously, the parade has been held on a Sunday afternoon to kick off the week, and the picnic has wound up the festivities the following Saturday. But this year, the parade and picnic are being held the same weekend — and the parade is moving downtown for the first time in its 30-year history.

The Ride the Rainbow Pride Parade and Street Festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. on Main Street. The Street Festival, Coronado said, begins after the parade and continues until 6 p.m.

ROYALTY ON PARADE | The 2010 TCGPWA titleholders were among the entries in Fort Worth’s Pride parade last October. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

The following day — Sunday, Oct. 2 — the picnic will be held from noon to 6 p.m. in Trinity Park, with the area and layout expanded to accommodate the expected increase in attendance, Coronado said.

But while the two main events will take place in one weekend, Coronado said Pride week runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9, with a variety of local events set throughout the week and the International Gay Rodeo Association’s World Gay Rodeo Finals taking place Oct. 7-9 in Fort Worth.

One reason for condensing the parade and picnic into one weekend, Coronado said, is to broaden the celebration’s appeal to out-of-towners, especially since this will be the 30th annual parade.

“We’ve been working with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau a lot. They are helping promote our celebration, and having it all in one weekend will make it easier for people to come in from out of town to attend,” Coronado said. “This way, they don’t have to decide between coming for the parade or coming for the picnic. They can come for one weekend and attend both.”

Coronado stressed that being able to coordinate these events on a larger scale than in the past and make sure they are successful requires careful planning — which is why TCGPWA laid out a two-year plan to prepare for the anniversary year, and why the organization has made a concerted effort to reach out to as many organizations and communities as possible.

“We are using social networking a lot, and we are reaching out to the LGBT individuals and organizations throughout Tarrant County, especially in the rural areas, trying to get them involved and excited,” he said.

“Whether they are officially involved or not, all the GLBT organizations in Tarrant County are a part of the pride celebration. It’s up to them as to how much they participate, but we want to make sure they know they are all invited to be a part of this.”

TCGPWA is also in the process of creating a scholarship fund through its new education committee, Coronado said. An awards panel has been established to research and develop criteria, target needs, set parameters and establish a required apprenticeship to award a scholarship to someone in the LGBT community.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

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

—  John Wright

DART fails us when we need it most

DART — running in good weather

Even people who don’t usually ride DART should be able to use it as a fallback during inclement weather. During the current winter weather, DART has been a complete failure.

On Tuesday, the train lines did not begin running until 2:30 p.m. DART was completely unprepared as switching signals froze and ice formed on overhead cables.

Subways in Chicago and New York run with power supplied by a third rail. Ice is not a problem. But in cold-weather cities like Denver, light rail runs despite snow and sleet and cold. The trolleys in Boston run with an overhead power supply despite ice and wind.

In those cities, the transportation systems run the trains through the night to keep the power lines defrosted — and keep the trains running during normal operating hours.

DART failed to keep their riders informed. This morning at Hampton Station, a number of riders arrived by 7:30 a.m. They checked DART’s web page and Facebook page on their mobile devices. DART said trains were running at 20-minute intervals and a Green Line train was stuck downtown because of a switching problem.

Station monitors had no information for riders. The only help offered was calling DART four times to tell them ticket machines weren’t working and conductors shouldn’t fine riders who claimed they boarded at Hampton Station.

Those same riders who arrived at 7:30 a.m. finally boarded a train at 8:45.

—  David Taffet

Hunt considering run for mayor

Angela Hunt

LGBT political leaders praise her advocacy for the community, say they want to see who else enters race

RELATED STORY: Openly gay candidate considers run for Hunt’s District 14 seat

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Dallas City Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who represents one of the gayest districts in the city, announced Wednesday, Jan. 12 that she is considering a run for mayor in municipal elections set for mid-May.

“It’s still something I am considering,” Hunt told Dallas Voice on Thursday. “I have been really honored that some folks I respect have encouraged me to consider running. So now I am talking with folks whose opinions I respect and value, discussing what I can bring to the table and how I might be able to lead our city into the future.”

Hunt said she will make her decision on whether to run for mayor based on where she believes she can do the most good for Dallas.

“To me, it’s not about my title, but about what I can accomplish,” she said. “If I can accomplish the most as a council member, then that’s terrific. But there are things I would like to see us do as a city, things the citizens are asking for, and if I can best accomplish those things as mayor, I will run.”

Hunt said she would like to see the city’s elected officials change their priorities, because she believes that is what the city’s residents want.

“When I talk with folks, they are frustrated with the idea that we are focusing on creating a city for tourists rather than residents,” she said.

She said that high-dollar projects like the Trinity River Park toll road, the new bridge over the Trinity River and the Convention Center hotel “take focus off the acute, more immediate needs of residents, while the residents want to see their parks taken care of and their streets taken care of and the city’s infrastructure taken care of.”

“The citizens want us to focus on making our city a great place to live rather than a great place to visit,” Hunt said.

Hunt added that she expects LGBT issues and HIV/AIDS issues to continue to come before the council from time to time, and that she will continue to be an advocate for the community when that happens.

“I think when we are looking at funding issues that may affect the LGBT community — things like funding for HIV/AIDS programs — that’s when having voices on the council that are strong advocates becomes absolutely critical,” she said. “I don’t think anyone on the council now is anti-LGBT. But there is a difference between folks who are not opposed to certain issues affecting the LGBT community, and those who are staunch advocates who will pick up on those issues and move forward with them.”

Hunt said she has appointed several openly LGBT people to city boards and commissions, and that she hopes “I have shown my door has always been open.” And she said she has many supporters in the LGBT community who have encouraged her to run for mayor.

“I have been very honored by the response I have received, very appreciative of that,” Hunt said.

LGBT political leaders praised Hunt’s advocacy for the community, but said there are still too many variables up in the air to start making endorsements yet.

“It’s not a surprise” that Hunt is considering running for mayor, said Erin Moore, former president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and current vice president of Texas Stonewall Democrats. “There have been rumors since the Pride parade [in September] that she was going to run.

“She has been fairly progressive on our [LGBT] issues anytime something has come up. There have been some mixed reviews on her; she has her supporters and her detractors in our community,” Moore said. “But I would say her heart is definitely in the right place, which is a good thing, for sure.”

Still, Moore added: “Right now we’re not sure who is actually running. It’s a very competitive game.”

Current Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Omar Narvaez also praised Hunt’s record on LGBT issues.

“She has a pretty positive record, especially from two years ago when the council was deciding whether to cut the HIV/AIDS funding out of the city budget,” Narvaez said. “She stepped up and worked with us to try and keep that from happening, and when it became obvious the cuts would happen anyway, she worked with us to try and save as much of the funding as she could.”

Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Moore’s spouse, said she believes Hunt would be “a very viable candidate in a citywide race,” having raised her visibility with strong stances on high-profile issues, including plans to build a toll road through part of the Trinity River Park and building a city-owned hotel near the Convention Center downtown.

Hunt opposed both proposals, although both eventually passed.

“She has certainly been a strong advocate for our community in the time she has been on the council,” Fink continued. “There haven’t been that many LGBT issues that have hit the horseshoe since she was elected. She wasn’t there when the city passed the non-discrimination ordinance [protecting LGBTs]. But she has been a leader in stepping up on issues when we have asked her to.

“I think she is an advocate for the community, rather than just a supporter who follows others,” Fink said.

Both Fink and Narvaez stopped short of saying they would endorse Hunt for mayor, noting that their respective organizations would be screening candidates and making endorsements in municipal elections soon.

“We will be starting our PAC meetings in a week or two, then we will start sending out endorsement packets and setting up screenings with candidates,” Fink said. “We anticipate a wide range of candidates coming our way, asking for endorsements.”

Fink also noted that DGLA’s PAC has in the past endorsed a number of past and current City Council members that might run for mayor this year. That means the DGLA endorsement will not be automatic for any one candidate.

Narvaez said Stonewall Democrats will also be making endorsements in city elections this year for only the second time.

Originally, because Stonewall is a partisan organization that will endorse only Democrats and city races are non-partisan, the organization did not endorse city candidates.

Screenings for city candidates seeking Stonewall’s endorsement will be held March 19.

“I personally hope that she [Hunt] will decide to run and that she will ask for our endorsement,” Narvaez said. “We will have to wait and see what happens. Also, it will be interesting to see who might try to win her [District 14] seat if she runs for mayor. There very well might be some LGBT people running for that seat.”

Fink agreed. “I think we have some incredibly qualified people in our community, and I would love to see some of those people step up and run for that seat,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 14, 2011.

—  John Wright

Holy ‘Trinity!’

DTC world premiere trilogy captures Oak Cliff experience

The Trinity River Plays
SET PIECES | The glorious set design of ‘The Trinity River Plays’ is just one of its artistic successes. (Photo by Brandon Thibodeaux)

THE TRINITY RIVER PLAYS
Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St.
Through Dec. 5. $15–$85.
DallasTheaterCenter.org.

………………………….

The Trinity River Plays take place in and around the kitchen of my first house in Oak Cliff. The yellow appliances and yellow vinyl chairs and table. The metal plant stand. The screen door that snaps closed with a long, thin spring. The tree too close to the house — every house I’ve had in Oak Cliff has had a tree too close to the house.

Longtime Dallas residents will probably pick up on different details —the Yahtzee game on a dresser in a back room in the first play changed out for a more modern one in the second. Designer Tony Rosenthal deserves kudos for that perfect set. It’s enough alone to recommend the play.

But it is not the only reason to recommend it. Just as good are the magnificent performances in this sweeping drama.

In “Part I: Jarfly,” Iris (Karen Aldridge) is a 17-year-old graduate of South Oak Cliff High School, Class of ’78, bound for an SMU education — and, she’s sure, greatness. By “Part III: Ghost(story),” she has evolved from aspiring writer and high school nerd to successful New York author and editor. But when she returns to Oak Cliff for a birthday visit with her mother Rose (24’s Penny Johnson Jerald), her success is not good enough. After all, no one liked her sixth book, Rose points out.

So complete is Aldridge’s transformation it takes a moment to recognize her from play to play. She’s never better than when she’s tossing lines with Jacqueline Williams as Aunt Daisy. Without understanding the irony, Daisy argues how important marriage is — which is why she’s been married three times. (Williams is also great with a garden hose. Don’t fear sitting in the first couple of rows — her aim is perfect.)

Playwright Regina Taylor, best known on Dallas stages for her play Crowns, staged by Dallas Theater Center in 2005, writes sharp and witty dialogue for this family of strong characters. When the play moves to the Goodman Theater in Chicago in January, some of the references will be lost: Born at Parkland, the Hampton Road Y, the long-gone Bishop College, going for lunch at H.L. Green’s add to that Dallas sense of place. But for locals, it simply adds to the richness. (A reference to the Trinity River Project “getting underway any day now” in a scene set in 1996 gets a big laugh from the audience.)

By opening the play in Dallas, the cast (none from here) absorbed their Oak Cliff surroundings, doing a wonderful job of conveying the place before traveling with the show. Even the thunderstorm felt like authentic North Texas weather — just more predictable.

— David Taffet

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

—  Michael Stephens

‘Trinity River Plays’ tonight at the Wyly

Dallas is the backdrop for actress-playwright Regina Taylor’s new trilogy

For Dallas native Regina Taylor, it was important to set The Trinity River Plays in her hometown. It’s something she intimately knows, which allows her characters to be grounded in a reality that’s close to home physically and spiritually.

“It’s not autobiographical, but it is set at home,” she says. “And that is as palpable as the womb in terms of identity.”

Dramatic storytelling is nothing new for Taylor, whose previous work as a playwright include Crowns and Drowning Crow. She’s also an accomplished actress with an amazing résumé spanning theater, television and feature films. She was the first black woman to play Juliet in Broadway’s Romeo and Juliet, but is probably best known for her role as Lilly Harper in the television series I’ll Fly Away, for which she won a Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations. More recently, she starred in CBS’ The Unit alongside Dennis Haysbert.

Yet even with her acting success, writing has always been one of Taylor’s truest loves.

“I started as a writer from as far back as I can remember,” she recalls. “I was writing my own children’s stories when I was little and it was with the encouragement of my mother who wanted me to live a creative life and empower me with the possibilities in terms of creating my own worlds. That changes your perspective on how you face the world and move through the world. It’s something I truly cherish.”

DEETS: The Trinity River Plays, Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St. Nov. 5–Dec. 5 (in previews through Nov. 11). $15–$85. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

—  Rich Lopez

A ‘River’ runs through it

Dallas is the backdrop for actress-playwright Regina Taylor’s new trilogy

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

Actress and Dallas native Regina Taylo
HOME AGAIN | Actress and Dallas native Regina Taylor comes home for inspiration for her new plays.

THE TRINITY RIVER PLAYS
Wyly Theatre, 2400 Flora St.
Nov. 5–Dec. 5 (in previews through Nov. 11). $15–$85.
DallasTheaterCenter.org.

……………………………………..

For Dallas native Regina Taylor, it was important to set The Trinity River Plays in her hometown. It’s something she intimately knows, which allows her characters to be grounded in a reality that’s close to home physically and spiritually.

“It’s not autobiographical, but it is set at home,” she says. “And that is as palpable as the womb in terms of identity.”

Dramatic storytelling is nothing new for Taylor, whose previous work as a playwright include Crowns and Drowning Crow. She’s also an accomplished actress with an amazing résumé spanning theater, television and feature films. She was the first black woman to play Juliet in Broadway’s Romeo and Juliet, but is probably best known for her role as Lilly Harper in the television series I’ll Fly Away, for which she won a Golden Globe and two Emmy nominations. More recently, she starred in CBS’ The Unit alongside Dennis Haysbert.

Yet even with her acting success, writing has always been one of Taylor’s truest loves.

“I started as a writer from as far back as I can remember,” she recalls. “I was writing my own children’s stories when I was little and it was with the encouragement of my mother who wanted me to live a creative life and empower me with the possibilities in terms of creating my own worlds. That changes your perspective on how you face the world and move through the world. It’s something I truly cherish.”

The trilogy consists of three plays, Jar Fly, Rain and Ghost(story), which unfold sequentially at each performance in the Dallas Theater Center production, co-produced with Chicago’s Goodman Theatre.

They follow the life of Iris Sparks, who is a writer, as she moves through these defining transforming moments in her life.

In Jar Fly, we see her when she turns 17 — the same age when jar flies (cicadas) go from little grubby worms living underground to insects climbing up a tree in the dark until the light of day hits it and it can shed its skin and spread its wings.

“It has this incredible voice that’s jarring,” Taylor says, “so you have this young woman trying to find her voice as a writer and a human being. It is the occurrences of this day that take her on this journey that will absolutely transform her life. And it’s what we do with these obstacles, this hard rain that inevitably comes in every life, many times and many seasons, and how we move through that.”

The second play, set 17 years later, focuses on that same hard rain.

“Iris is ready to face another storm as she’s 34 years old. It’s after the disintegration of her marriage and the diagnosis of her mother with cancer. You see this mother and daughter taking this journey together. And with that, there’s a transformation. Do we run away from the hard rain, try to outrun it, or do we stand our ground and take the nourishment from it to grow? We’re tested by life. How we meet those tests on a daily basis defines who we are. It’s an exploration of the human spirit and the tenacity of the human spirit.”

The trilogy closes with Ghost(story), which takes place the day before Iris’ mother’s funeral, then offers a glimpse at what her life is like — again, 17 years later.

“She’s trying to figure out where she’s going to go to move forward. And in that she wrestles with and embraces her ghosts. And that’s what we do. Our past is our shadows. Moving forward, we’re always circling back to deal with and wrestle with our ghosts,” explains Taylor.

Taylor wants audiences to embrace the humor and warmth of her Trinity River Plays, but most importantly, she wants to transport them to another place — even if the stories are set just a few miles from the Wyly.

“You have this arc, this journey, this development of the human spirit,” she says. “I think there’s poetry to the pieces.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

UPDATE: Wet/dry issue more clearly unclear

Carolyn Beck
Carolyn Beck

In the July 30 Dallas Voice, I wrote about the confusion over whether the law allows a citywide election to override previous elections. Carolyn Beck of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission sent over state regulations indicating that if a Justice of the Peace district holds a wet/dry election, that election supersedes any city election. Only another JP district election can override the previous election.

In the article, I mentioned two previous wet/dry elections affecting Oak Cliff, but upon further research I found two others.

In the 1890s, the city of Oak Cliff went dry. In 1960, JP District 7, which includes Oak Cliff, voted to remain dry. But two other elections occurred in the interim.

In 1944, 11 years after the repeal of Prohibition, Dallas County held a countywide election to make the entire county wet. In 1956, another election turned Oak Cliff — and all areas south of the Trinity River — dry. That’s more than JP District 7.

But the 1960 election was a JP district election and to overturn that election, a new JP district election would have to be held. The law clearly states that only a JP district election can overturn a JP district election on wet/dry issues.

—  David Taffet

Wet or dry? November vote could impact LGBT neighborhoods

Liquor sales proposals could loosen restrictions, but mishmash of  laws, districts still leave some doubt

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Carolyn Beck
Carolyn Beck

Dallasites may vote to allow the sale of beer and wine throughout the city, including one of the largest LGBT neighborhoods, Oak Cliff, but even if they vote yes, questions could remain on the legality of liquor sales in some areas.

Two separate proposals will be on the November ballot in Dallas. Either would loosen but not eliminate the dry laws in parts of East Dallas, North Dallas including all areas of the city in Denton and Collin counties, West Dallas and everything south of the Trinity River including all of Oak Cliff.

One proposal will allow grocery stores throughout the city to sell beer and wine. The other will let restaurants that have liquor licenses sell drinks without issuing memberships.

Package stores and bars will still be illegal in those areas.

From Oak Cliff’s gay neighborhoods, the closest available stores currently allowed to sell liquor, beer and wine are those that line Industrial Boulevard within blocks of each bridge that crosses the river.

However, Carolyn Beck, Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission’s liaison to the LGBT community, said she has heard from several sources questioning the validity of the citywide election.

“I’ve gotten questions about whether or not the election would apply to Oak Cliff,” she said.

She is referring to section 251.72 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code.

That regulation states, “An authorized voting unit retains the status adopted until status is changed by a subsequent election in same authorized voting unit.”

Section 251.73 says that results from a Justice of the Peace district election prevail against a city election if the JP precinct is wholly contained by the city.

In 1960, JP 7 held an election that failed to make alcohol sales legal. The vote was 22,439 against to 13,768 for. That JP district included Oak Cliff.

A previous election in the 1890s banned alcohol sales in the city of Oak Cliff. In 1903, Oak Cliff was annexed by the city of Dallas. Prohibition intervened, but once repealed, all previously dry areas remained dry.

The current election is a citywide election, but according to the Alcoholic Beverage Code, the only jurisdiction that can change the wet/dry status of an area is the same one that voted previously.

Since 1960, JP precincts have changed. However, Brazoria County had an election in 2008 using JP boundaries from 1958. Montgomery County is holding one using 1937 boundaries.

Complicating things are Oak Cliff’s multiple dry elections. If an election held in JP District 7 using 1960 boundaries voted to go wet, there would still be a question about the 1890s city of Oak Cliff ban.

Beck said that annexation and de-annexation do not change the status of wet/dry areas.

She said that should the proposals pass, the city could certify grocery stores and supermarkets to sell beer and wine. Restaurants could apply for a license to sell drinks directly and membership organizations would relinquish their licenses.

TABC normally would issue liquor licenses to qualified applicants once certified by the city.

Someone opposed to sale of alcohol in Oak Cliff, however, could stop the process by suing the city for certifying a liquor license application, suing the location for selling alcohol in a dry area or suing TABC for issuing a license in a dry area.

Courts would have to decide whether Oak Cliff actually was still dry.

With millions of dollars at stake, Oak Cliff’s status could be up in the air for years.

Restaurants, including the gay-owned eateries in Bishop Arts District, will benefit if the proposal passes. They would no longer be required to keep records on memberships or hold regular meetings to approve those memberships.

Kathy Jack, left, and her partner Susie Buck of Jack’s Backyard.
Kathy Jack, left, and her partner Susie Buck of Jack’s Backyard.

“I don’t think Oak Cliff will boom while we have this private club thing,” said Nathan Castaneda, owner of Vera Cruz in the Bishop Arts District.

He explained the club membership process, noting that after swiping a driver’s license through a reader similar to a credit card machine, a receipt that’s printed has to be kept on file. He said he’s out of storage room in the restaurant for all the boxes of membership slips.

Casteneda said his neighbors are the private club owners who have to meet every three days to approve and drop members. Under his license, membership numbers need to be kept at about 250 people.

The restaurant cannot profit from liquor sales, which he said keeps salaries down.

“Many good employees move on to Duncanville, Cedar Hill or north of the river,” he said.

To thank his neighbors for being his membership committee, Castaneda said they all eat free.

Kathy Jack, owner of Jack’s Backyard, said that passing the proposals would bring a lot more people to the area.

“It will put us on an equal playing field,” she said.

She said that now she pays about $28,000 in higher license fees and taxes. She said beer costs her more and she also spends money to pick up alcohol herself or pays to send someone to get it since distributors do not deliver to dry areas.

Private clubs in dry areas buy much of their liquor from retail stores. For that reason and because free-standing package stores will still not be allowed to open in currently dry areas, liquor retailers oppose the proposals.

Competition is not something bar owners in other parts of the city are worried about.

“Caven Enterprises is not opposed to the ordinance and we hope the results will benefit the residents of our city,” said Rick Espaillat of Caven.

Gary Huddleston is the southwest division spokesperson for Kroger and chaired the PAC that gathered the signatures for the election.

“Many people are leaving the city to buy beer and wine,” he said.

He said the city’s study showed that Dallas could collect $11 million in additional sales tax revenue. Other studies that include the impact of hiring additional people and sales of additional products along with alcohol purchases showed a $31 million increase in tax collection.

Kroger currently has six stores in the city of Dallas. The two in wet areas — on Cedar Springs Road and on Mockingbird Lane — far exceed the others in sales.

He said the PAC chose to hold a citywide election because it seemed cleaner. JP districts have changed. Numerous areas of the city are dry. He believes a win on each proposal would apply throughout Dallas. He doesn’t foresee the election results being challenged.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas