The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

JMG Wins Village Voice 2010 Web Award For “Best Political Blog”

Last night I attended the Village Voice 2010 Web Awards where JMG was awarded Best Political Blog! I was asked not to blog about it until after the event and I don’t even know who my competitors were, but whatevs! The downtown Manhattan awards show was a hipster mosh-pit and didn’t feel very gay at all, but lots of folks approached me with congrats and outed themselves as JMG readers. Very interestingly, most of them were young female hotties. Who knew?

Among the other winners were the famed Gregory Brothers (of Auto-Tuned News fame) who won Best Viral Video for their stone 2010 classic Bed Intruder, which at this writing has 46 million views on YouTube. The Gregory boys (and sister) were very fun and my loyal companion Dr. Jeff totally plotzed to pose for photos with them. I also finally met famed and openly gay Voice political columnist Steven Thrasher and Buzzfeed homo pop culture king Matt Stopera, who provides us with the detritus of gay weirdness like yesterday’s John Waters/Justin Bieber photo.

Comedian Todd Barry hosted the evening with irreverence and disregard for the winners’ pleasure at receiving a Village Voice plaque, a giant green foam “thumbs up,” and a surprisingly heavy bag of healthy crap from event sponsor Whole Foods that I immediately re-gifted to Dr. Jeff. (The highlight of the winners’ gift bag, for most, seemed to be a ginormous can of Four Loko from what was said to be the final case in all of New York City. Dr. Jeff took that too.) I’ll add a slideshow to this post a bit later, right now I’m a little hammered from the open bar.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Bad Lieutenant, Dan Choi – a great profile by the Village Voice’s Steven Thrasher

It’s great to see such a nice long feature on the enigma that is Dan Choi. He has many personas based on your political perspective, but what most people can agree on is that he generates strong reactions all around. Depending on your view he’s a hero, an attention-seeker, a patriot, a man of color, a “newly minted” out gay man (who has had his Grindr profile repeatedly deleted because the staff thinks he’s impersonating “the real” Dan Choi by using his actual name for his profile), an activist, a couch-surfer, you name it.

Village Voice staff writer Steven Thrasher, a friend of the Blend who has spent time in the coffeehouse as both a diarist and a liveblog guest (re: his infamous “White America Has Lost Its Mind” piece), has painted an interesting portrait, “Bad Lieutenant, Dan Choi,” that may surprise some, but if you’re a critic of MSM reporting, you’ll understand why this kind of profile hasn’t emerged in traditional media.

He has angered the left by not being lockstep antiwar enough at times, and by warmly welcoming Ken Mehlman, Bush’s campaign manager, to the gayborhood when he came out.

In a movement awash with political correctness, Choi decidedly isn’t. He is now speaking out without being asked, sometimes even angering people in his own camp. Rare among gay-rights activists in the national spotlight, Choi mixes an irrepressible sense of humor into his growing militancy.

Choi “has a public role and a private life,” one friend tells the Voice. “In his private life, he sometimes exhibits behaviors that, I fear, if caught on YouTube by somebody who was a conservative spy, would reflect very poorly on him and, by extension, on the movement. On the other hand, I’m just kind of jealous. There’s a lot of me wishing I could be out there and be as open as he is.”

Choi is unapologetic. He says he resents it when anyone, especially those in the gay-rights movement, discourages him from exploring-well, sexually-his newly revealed homosexuality.

“I think our movement hits on so many nerves,” he says, “not just for reasons of anti-discrimination and all the platitudes of the civil rights movement. I believe that it’s also because it has elements of sexual liberation. And it shows people that through what we’re trying to do, they can be fully respectful of themselves, without accepting the shame society wants to throw upon them.”

At Netroots Nation ’10.

And that’s the Dan Choi I’ve become familiar with — he’s the real deal off camera, no BS, all (too much) candor for the Beltway orgs. Think “loose cannon.” I mean that as a compliment, since by and large, many bloggers are seen in the same way, though I’d argue we play it a helluva lot safer than Dan does; he extends himself to represent those who wish they could speak out, as the unnamed friend noted. He could be seen as the Howard Beale of activists, unafraid to speak his mind in dramatic fashion, though perhaps that’s not quite right; he cleans up nicely for those on-air appearances, and he smoothly takes a jackhammer to BS – ask Valerie Jarrett how she felt after the fact-based smackdown she received on CNN last week. The White House is still trying to figure out how to recover from it.

***

At Netroots Nation ’10, Dan gave Harry Reid his West Point ring; the Senate Majority Leader said he would return it when DADT was repealed. Guess he’ll have that ring for a long while…

I was seated at the table with Dan at Netroots Nation when he prepared to go onstage and give Harry Reid his West Point ring. It was a dramatic moment that everyone knew would effectively lock the Senator into some kind of action, but Dan was nonplussed.

But to Choi’s mind, Reid’s gamble of attaching gay rights to a defense bill gave the Republicans a legitimate reason to feel shut out of the debate. So what happened in Vegas didn’t stay in Vegas.

“Harry Reid is a pussy,” Choi angrily said after the failed vote in the Senate last month, vowing to speak out about the Democratic leader, “and he’ll be bleeding once a month.”

That won’t get him a job as a Beltway mouthpiece, lol. Steven’s profile captures the Dan I have engaged with, a complicated, quite entertaining and in fact lovable (would he like me saying that?) young man who believes in social justice and is willing to pay the price to achieve it in ways most people don’t feel comfortable doing.

Choi says he lives out of a couple of bags and, being used to “falling asleep wherever you have to” in the military, he doesn’t seem to mind the nomadic life. “I’m in a relationship with the movement,” he says. “And in any relationship, sometimes you have to sleep on the couch. And sometimes, even with the movement, the couch is literally a couch.”

I was around him at Netroots not long after he heard about his discharge papers being issued; it was so uncomfortable, even painful to know that he was experiencing a rush of emotions long-suppressed about the prospect of this finality.

“I just wanted to be alone, and I was in the belly of the beast, surrounded by every liberal blogger in America!” he says. With all eyes on him, he thought, “I have nothing else to give.”

Yet he continued to give, even doing TV and radio interviews in the wake of learning about his discharge papers while still in Vegas. Off-camera when I saw him milling about the hotel, he was very much a drained solitary figure in many ways. Those who accuse him of grandstanding or being a publicity hound could not be more off-base. He’s an articulate representative that you know will make the best case for equality when he goes on the air; and we need more Dan Chois to be visible and speaking truth to power — and using the mainstream media is how it’s done. We see too many of the same tired, talking heads who don’t have the experience, poise, and perspective Dan has. It’s not whether Dan should be on less, it’s that we need more diverse voices to counter not only the anti-equality mouthpieces, but the equally dreadful well-paid “conventional wisdomitis” sufferers who engage in embarrassing banter based on conversations in the bubble of the Beltway. You don’t have to always agree with Dan Choi’s rules of engagement, but he’s stepping up to take action with passion where others are content to attend cocktail parties and play it safe.

Anyway, Steven scores a win with this piece IMHO. It’s lengthy, so surf over and tell fellow members of the coffeehouse what you think of the profile.

 
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin

Get Married at the Village

The L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center is offering couples free wedding ceremonies with all the trappings on Thursday.
Daily News

—  John Wright