Turtle Creek Chorale performs at Dallas City Council swearing-in ceremony

Chorale

Outgoing council members sat in front of the incoming Dallas City Council as members of the Turtle Creek Chorale in the Choral Terrace sang the national anthem.

The predominantly gay Turtle Creek Chorale opened the swearing-in ceremony for the Dallas City Council this morning at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center. About 50 members of the Chorale participated.

A number of out officials and former officials, including Sheriff Lupe Valdez and former District 2 Councilman John Loza, attended. Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance were well represented. Among family members attending was Cowboys hall-of-famer Roger Staubach, whose daughter Jennifer Staubach Gates was sworn in as District 13 councilwoman.

Mayor Mike Rawlings paid tribute to five members leaving the council. The outgoing council had more women than any other council in the city’s history. All five members leaving are women.

Among those leaving, Rawlings cited Delia Jasso for her work on the LGBT Task Force and growth of business in her district, especially in Bishop Arts. He mentioned her recognition by the National Diversity Council in April as the most powerful and influential woman in Texas. He credited her with educating him on domestic violence issues. Rawlings made no mention of Jasso’s stunning recent betrayal of the LGBT community when she withdrew her support for an equality resolution, which effectively killed the measure.

The mayor called Angela Hunt a good friend. As the youngest person ever elected to Dallas City Council, he said she brought a new vitality to the horseshoe.

—  David Taffet

Turtle Creek Chorale defends concert with tea-bagging singer Sandi Patty

Sandy Patti

Sandi Patty

We received a message last night from a member of the Turtle Creek Chorale calling our attention to the appearance of gospel singer Sandi Patty’s name on a list of speakers and VIPs at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s ongoing Road to Majority Conference in Washington, D.C.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition is headed by former moral majority leader Ralph Reed, and the conference is being headlined by the likes of Sarah Palin, Sen. Ted Cruz and Brian Brown of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

According to ThinkProgress, the three-day conference will include “a massive lobbying effort including hundreds of Tea Party evangelicals knocking on the doors of their U.S. senators and congressmen today, demanding a replacement law for what most expects to be a Supreme Court ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional.”

Patty, a five-time Grammy Award winner, is scheduled to join the chorale next Thursday for “Inspiration & Hope,” a one-night-only concert at the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas — which brings us back to the message from the TCC member, who asked to remain anonymous.

“The TCC is set to sing next Thursday with Sandi Patty, even as her name appears on the list in this article,” he wrote. “There is quite a conversation going on today among the members.”

—  John Wright

David Fisher steps down as executive director of Turtle Creek Chorale

David Fisher

David Fisher, who became executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale two years ago, just as a shake-up within the organization led to the sudden departure of its artistic director, is stepping down from his post.

Fisher, who previously worked for the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, will return there, once again serving as its assistant director.

“After nearly 20 years working in the arts in Dallas, I’m grateful for my time with the chorale, and I’m thrilled to be returning to the Office of Cultural Affairs where I will be able to continue the work of fostering the growth and success of all of the arts and arts organizations in Dallas,” Fisher said. No reason was given for the move.

Hank Henley, a singing member of the chorale since 2009, will step in as interim executive director.

“Having been vice president and president of the Turtle Creek Chorale, I’m thrilled to be serving this wonderful organization in yet another way,” Henley said in a statement. The board, as well as Henley and current artistic director Trey Jacobs, will immediately begin a search for Fisher’s permanent successor.

“Hank’s experience and passion will serve us well in this role, and we look forward to working with him,” said Zan Moore, Turtle Creek Chorale’s board president.

While at the TCC, Fisher led the search to replace former AD Jonathan Palant. Jacobs was named interim AD in the summer of 2011, and in the spring of last year became its permanent artistic director.

The final concert of TCC’s current season takes place next Thursday at the Meyerson Symphony Center.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

IMG_6695The Turtle Creek Chorale tips its hat to Broadway this weekend with its Kander & Ebb concert, a show featuring two dozen of the songwriting teams’ most memorable hits. It’s at the City Performance Hall through Sunday. Right next door, you can check out Val Kilmer in his one-man show, Citizen Twain, playing at the Wyly. And across the street, the Dallas Opera’s season winds up with alternating performances of Turandot and The Aspern Papers at the Winspear.

On Saturday, you can get the energy to go get all your other chores done by popping by Deep Ellum for the inaugural North Texas Taco Festival, sponsored by our good friend Jose Ralat-Maldonado of the Taco Trail blog. That evening, hop over to the Hilton Anatole for the annual Bloomin’ Ball fundraiser for AIN.

On Saturday and Sunday, there are plenty of activities (in Fair Park and in Oak Cliff) leading up to Earth Day, which is officially on Monday. Then later in the week, two film festival get going: The USA Film Festival kicks off Wednesday, and runs through the following Sunday. And over in Fort Worth, QCinema returns with its spring series with the one-night-only screening of Lesbian Shorts: The Best of the Fest.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

Tomlin-BPatterson03Now that January is behind us, and it seems we don’t have to expect icy weather any time soon (though in Texas, ya never know), a lot of events are springing up for your entertainment calendar.

This is a busy weekend for limited-run events, many with gay appeal. Tonight and twice on Saturday, the Turtle Creek Chorale and Uptown Players co-present a concert version of the Terrence McNally-penned musical Ragtime at the City Performance Hall. I saw it last night, and, while long, it has some terrific singing — and acting — especially from Markus Lloyd and Tyce Green.

On Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. and again a 2 p.m., Susan Nicely performs a free mini-opera, portraying Julia Child in Bon Appetit! at the Demonstration Kitchen inside the Farmers Market. To RSVP, go to DallasOpera.org. That evening, the Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performs … and that’s a company that’s truly inventive. (We have a preview of it here.)

You can go to the ballet and still get out in time to see dance diva Kristine W headline the Carnivale celebration at Station 4 — she goes on at midnight.

On Sunday, Lily Tomlin, pictured, brings her one-woman show to the Winspear, performing her classic characters. She’s one of the legends of American comedy — you don’t want to miss it.

In addition, Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, Valentine’s Day is on Thursday, and next week welcomes to major touring productions — Catch Me If You Can at Fair Park (remember: DSM’s shows now begin a half-hour earlier than before — that’s 7:30 p.m. at nighttime performances!) and Anything Goes at the Winspear.

Don’t say you’re bored — there’s too frickin’ much to do!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

The most important thing you need to know this weekend is that there are only a few chances left to see On the Eve, and all shows are currently sold out. So if you can’t get on the waiting list, look for a reprise of this show next year. In other theater news, there are still numerous holiday-themed plays to choose from (A Christmas Carol, It’s a Wonderful Life, Mother Goose, Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker, Cirque Dreams: Holidaze opening Tuesday at the Winspear), as well as a real Nutcracker over in Fort Worth.

The Turtle Creek Chorale continues its concert season, with another performance of Comfort & Joy in McKinney and the new show, Naughty & Nice, opening Thursday at the new City Performance Hall. You can also check out the CPH earlier, with the Women’s Chorus of Dallas doing their holiday show, Believe, there on Saturday.

On Wednesday, the Cathedral of Hope gets a jump-start on Christmas as well with their “Travelers’ Silent Night,” a worship service for congregants who won’t be in town on Dec. 24.

And of course there’s sad news, as well: Monica Greene is no longer owner of her eponymous restaurant at the ilume, which seems to be shuttered for the time being.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

It’s a little of the calm before the storm.

Few big movies are opening this weekend. That’s because starting next week through Christmas, there will be roughly 2 billion new films vying for your attention (give or take) — many with gay content or appeal: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Hyde Park on Hudson, Any Day Now, The Guilt Trip, This Is 40, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Jack Reacher and Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Apart. Try catching up on gooduns like SkyfallHitchock and The Sessions before the onslaught. (In the Dec. 21 edition of Dallas Voice, we’ll have a complete rundown of holiday movies as part of our Hollywood Issue.)

‘Til then, catch up on theater: Jekyll & Hyde has been rejiggered to appeal to a demographic that is more about The Voice and The X Factor that Patti and Babs, but Deborah Cox and Constantine Maroulis, pictured, sure know how to sing. So does Janis Ian, who takes over the smaller Hamon Hall venue at the Winspear on Saturday.

For Christmas themed shows, you have a choice between two local Nutty Award nominees — Texas Ballet Theater’s The Nutcracker and MBS’s Bur-Less-Q Nutcracker — as well as DTC’s annual Christmas Carol — which, once again, delivers. And the Turtle Creek Chorale offers six more opportunities to see them perform — their Comfort & Joy show at the Meyerson (and again in McKinney) this week, then the campy Naughty & Nice show the following week, leading right up to Christmas Eve.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Turtle Creek Chorale members attacked, called gay slurs in apparent hate crime

Two members of the Turtle Creek Chorale gay men’s chorus were assaulted last weekend in an attack Dallas police have classified as a hate crime.

Ryan Short and Tri Truong went to a friend’s house Saturday, Oct. 27, for a game night. The two drove back to Short’s residence on Rawlins Street between 1:30 and 2 a.m. when suddenly two Hispanic men came up from behind them as they walked form the car to the apartment.

“They just kind of came up and started hitting us,” Short said.

Truong said he saw the men attack Short first and jumped in.

“It happened so fast because we were literally walking like 20 feet,” Truong said. “It started so quick we really had no chance to kind of process what’s going on.”

Truong said one of the guys hit him and pushed him against the wall of Short’s apartment. He said he remembers them both laughing during the assault. He said they fought the attackers off after a few minutes and they fled.

No words were exchanged before the attack, but both of them remember the men calling them “fags” and laughing. They said they think the men came from the Halloween Street Party because they were walking on Throckmorton Street toward Lemmon Avenue and may have been intoxicated. Neither of the men was in costume.

Short said both of them were hit in the head and his hip was sore from falling. He also had a scraped hand. Truong also had a bruises on his head, a swollen jaw and a small black eye.

Short said he called 911 after the suspects left and told the dispatcher he and Truong didn’t need medical attention. They said they told the dispatcher that the two Hispanic men were in their mid-20s or 30s with medium builds and around 5 feet, 10 inches tall. They didn’t take pictures of their injuries and said they were not serious enough to go to the hospital.

Short filed a police report Thursday, Nov. 1, which lists the assault as a hate crime and describes the attack as the men being punched multiple times while being called gay slurs.

While both men are glad their injuries aren’t more serious, they still wonder why the assault happened because the men never demanded money from them, only attacking them and running off.

“They were not trying to rob us. They didn’t ask us for a phone or wallet or keys, nothing,” Truong said. “That’s what’s so mind-boggling. It was just laughing, gay slurs and after a minute they just bailed out.”

—  Anna Waugh

Razzle Dazzle Dallas distributes proceeds

Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund board, from left, D’wayne Teague, Tony Rox, David Hearn, Greg Wallace and John Cooper Lara

John Cooper Lara, chair of the Razzle Dazzle Dallas board, presented checks to beneficiaries of the June events at Sue Ellen’s on Monday evening.

The Metro Ball, which took place at S4 on June 8 and featured Taylor Dayne, raised $31,500 for the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund. GDMAF provides financial assistance for critical needs through local organizations when other sources are exhausted.

Funds from the Saturday night street party were split among nine beneficiaries. Those organizations were Resource Center Dallas, AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, Turtle Creek Chorale, Cedar Springs Beautification Fund, Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage, GLBT Leap, Uptown Players and Legal Hospice of Texas. That party raised $25,000.

Razzle Dazzle Dallas board, from left, Jimmy Bartlett, Johnny Humphrey, Chris Bengston, Thom Dance, John Cooper Lara, Kris Martin, Ron Adams and Howard Okon

—  David Taffet

Dallas wraps up June Pride series

The panel, from left: Roger Poindexter, Lorie Burch, Scott Whittall, the Rev. Dawson Taylor, Harold Steward, Cece Cox, Pastor Jon Haack and David Fisher. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The city of Dallas wrapped up its LGBT Pride Month celebration Wednesday with a discussion of how the LGBT community has enriched the city.

A seven-member panel moderated by Fahari Arts Institute founder Harold Steward discussed the contributions their LGBT organizations have made to Dallas over the years and where they envision Dallas in the future. They then took questions from the handful of people in attendance.

The event in the City Hall Flag Room was the last event in the city’s Pride series “Honor, Educate and Celebrate.”

Panelists included Resource Center Dallas CEO and Executive Director Cece Cox, Cedar Springs Merchants Association Executive Director Scott Whittall, Turtle Creek Chorale Executive Director David Fisher, GBLT Chamber of Commerce board member Lorie Burch, Lambda Legal South Central Region Executive Director Roger Poindexter, Cathedral of Hope Executive Minister the Rev. Dawson Taylor and Promise Metropolitan Community Church senior Pastor Jon Haack.

City Council was in executive session so members could not attend, but Councilwoman Delia Jasso stepped out to speak briefly about her pride in the LGBT Task Force for planning great events over the last four weeks. Councilman Scott Griggs also stopped by the Flag Room and spoke briefly. The series began with a kickoff followed by conversations about city services and out officials. Jasso expressed a desire to have another celebration next June and promised it would be “bigger and better.”

While many of the organizations began as a way of welcoming the LGBT community with safe havens to worship, gain access to HIV/AIDS care and enjoy a safe evening out or unbiased legal council, the panel focused on how far Dallas has grown over the decades and how spread out the LGBT community has become. The days have passed where members of the LGBT community only live near Cedar Springs and the only bar patrons along the entertainment strip are gay.

Instead, the LGBT community and its businesses have integrated into Dallas while still maintaining a focus on their original customers, Whittall said. Even religious organizations have grown in attendance with allies who no longer find a barrier between spirituality and sexuality, but Taylor added that the next step is working from being a community that is tolerated to one that is accepted and celebrated.

Task Force member Pam Gerber closed the event by expressing how proud she was to have a June Pride celebration and welcomed input for next year’s events. She said that while the community is working toward acceptance, she “just wants to be.”

“I want to be nothing extraordinary, nothing out of the ordinary,” she said. “I just want to be.”

Suggestions for next year’s Pride can be made to Councilwoman Delia Jasso at 214-670-4052.

—  Anna Waugh