This is why marriage equality matters

Here’s a video from the Liberty Education Forum. Nothing else needs to be said.

—  Tammye Nash

Really? People are surprised Barry Manilow is gay?

ManilowWhy the stupid headlines?

People: Surprise! Barry Manilow Has Married His Manager Garry Kief

National Enquirer: WORLD EXCLUSIVE: BARRY MANILOW SECRET GAY WEDDING

And this from the story in the U.K.’s Daily Mail: Apparently, the star who has millions of female fans around the world, was worried that if they made their union official, word would leak out about his sexuality and that his fans wouldn’t approve of him being gay.

Yes, because a gay male star can’t have millions of female fans. Right Ricky Martin? Liberace? Elton John? Adam Lambert? Clay Aiken?

And those headlines — really?!

Surprise?!

No, Barry Manilow, 71, never came out officially with a big public pronouncement. No one did that in the late ’60s, early ’70s. He never did the big Advocate coming out cover story interview.

He didn’t have to. He was gay. There was never any secret since his 1971 hit, “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonalds.” Really. “I am stuck on Band-Aid brand cause Band-Aid’s stuck on me” is his, too.

But if anyone needed clues that the man who made the whole world sing was gay, he dropped a few along the way.

He wrote the Broadway musical Copacabana. Gee, I hate to stereotype, but name a straight Broadway composer — later than Oscar Hammerstein — off the top of your head.

Here’s another:

He got his start as Bette Midler’s piano player. At the Continental Baths. With gay men dressed only in towels watching him perform. Night after night. Especially every Saturday night. With the Divine Miss M. At the baths. The really sleazy Continental Baths.

Anyone who didn’t catch on with that clue wouldn’t have gotten the hint had he said, “Yep, I’m gay” on the cover of Time. With some people, it just doesn’t sink in.

And “secret gay wedding” as the Daily Mail claimed? They got married at their home with about 30 friends there. Just because they didn’t make a big announcement to the press doesn’t make it a secret wedding.

Maybe it just bothers some straight people that “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time” was by a gay man.

—  David Taffet

Congrats to Amy and Kelly — and all the other Florida newlyweds

Screen shot 2015-01-08 at 4.52.15 PM

Florida newlyweds Amy and Kelly

My friends Amy and Kelly were among the 30 Florida couples tapped to receive their marriage license immediately after midnight Jan. 5 — so, on Jan. 6 — when the stay expired on Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling declaring the Florida marriage equality ban unconstitutional. Because of legal wrangling over to whom Hinkle’s order applied, the Orlando county clerk guaranteed only 30 marriage licenses at first.

As it turned out, the stay on a second pro-marriage-equality ruling was lifted on Jan. 5, and Hinkle issued an order making it clear that his ruling applied to everyone in every Florida county. So Amy and Kelly and the other 29 couples were not the first to get their licenses and exchange vows. But that didn’t make their ceremony any less touching and wonderful.

The CENTER — LGBT Community Center of Central Florida hosted a wedding for the 30 couples getting their licenses Jan. 6 in Orlando, and as Amy said on Facebook, she and Kelly never expected to be able to get married in such style. She has given me permission to share this photo of them, above, and this video, below, of the mass wedding. In the video, Amy and Kelly are the first couple in the procession, and they are both wearing white.

So congrats, Amy and Kelly, and all the other happy couples in Florida. I can’t wait til Texas gets on the bandwagon and my spouse and I get to make it legal.

—  Tammye Nash

AFFA auctioning off big gay wedding in Charleston

Same-sex marriage may not be legal in South Carolina, but Charleston‘s leading LGBT advocacy organization is still auctioning off a complete destination-wedding package for one lucky same-sex couple.rings

The Alliance for Full Acceptance has pulled together the city’s “top wedding professionals” to create a prize package that includes a wedding for 50 guests to be held Jan. 24,with wedding and event planning, hotel discounts, limo service, live entertainment, the cake and more. The prize package is valued at over $45,000.

Bidding continues through Aug. 8 at Bidding for Good. All proceeds will benefit AFFA’s LGBT advocacy efforts in South Carolina.

Said AFFA Executive Director Warren Redman-Gress: “Tourism is the No. 1 driver of the local economy, and we are constantly ranked as one of the friendliest, with the most mannerly residents. So we think it’s time for Charleston to show what we’re really made of: Acceptance for all.”

—  Tammye Nash

Rev. Amy Delong, tried by Methodists for being a lesbian, to preach at Bering Memorial Methodist Church

Rev. Amy DeLong

Paperwork can be the bane of any job. For Rev. Amy Delong a simple annual report catapulted her into the maelstrom of the United Methodist Church’s debate on accepting LGBT people. DeLong visits Houston’s Bering Memorial United Methodist Church (1440 Harold) on Sunday, Feb. 12 to preach at both the 8:30 and 10:50 service.

In 2009 DeLong was approached by two women who wanted to get married. After conducting premarital counseling with the couple Delong agreed to perform the ceremony. As a clergy person, DeLong was required to report on her activities at the end of the year, including any weddings she had performed. She knew that the Methodist Church did not allow same-sex marriage but thought “I don’t know if anybody even reads these.” Boy, was she wrong!

With-in three days she was hauled into the her boss’s (the bishop) office. DeLong’s relationship with her partner Val was well known to her colleagues. “I’ve never had a bishop or a leader in the church or a pastor who didn’t know that I was gay,” says DeLong. “Everyone knows Val.” But the church was determined now to make an example of her, and DeLon’s relationship would now be an issue.

In 2011 DeLong was tried in the church’s court with violating the Methodist “Book of Discipline” by being in a same-sex relationship and by performing a same-sex wedding. During the trial she refused to answer pointed questions about her and her partner’s sex life. “No heterosexual couples are ever asked if they
still engage in genital contact in their marriages,” says DeLong. That refusal left the court with no evidence against her on the first charge.

She was convicted of performing the wedding and suspended from ministry for 20 days. The court also required DeLong to work with a group of ministers to prepare a statement on how to “help resolve issues that harm the clergy covenant, create an advesarial spirit or lead to future trails.” “This sentence is complicated,” says DeLong. “It doesn’t lend itself well to media soundbites. So a lot of folks have been saying to me ‘I can’t tell, is this penalty good?’” DeLong responds with a resounding “Yes!” Saying that she welcomes the opportunity to write, teach and study on a topic dear to her heart.

DeLong recalls that during that initial meeting in the bishop’s office one of the bishop’s assistants referred to her as a “self-avowed practicing homosexual.” To which she responded “Val and I aren’t practicing any more… we are pretty good at it by now.” The assistant laughed. More than anything that is the impression one gets of DeLong: someone with a lot of humor and aplomb who is unwilling to back down from a fight for justice.

After the jump watch a clip of DeLong talking about her experience.

—  admin

Drawing Dallas • 11.25.11

As ‘Twilight’ returns, Skylar Brooks shows blood sucking can be a service

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Skylar Brooks, 24

Occupation: Testing coordinator, Resource Center Dallas, and shift manager, Starbucks

Spotted at: Exxon on the Run at Maple and Oak Lawn

A twinkle in her unbelievably pale blue eyes and an effervescent smile are the first things you notice about this fine Virgo. Born in Monroe, La., and raised in Euless and Bedford, the perpetually positive Skylar considers herself a clown and a jokester — smiles and laughter come to her quite freely. She came out at 16.

She loves the nightlife. Skylar loves to dance, and her freestyle moves on the floor have garnered her three “dance off” wins at Station 4. She also loves to sing, especially R&B (Brian McKnight is a favorite). She auditioned for American Idol last year, and while she didn’t get through, says she’s determined to try again. Her love of music and dance is hereditary: Her mother was on the drill team and danced ballet, and her father plays drums and the trumpet and loves to belt out a song.

In addition to indoor activities, she plays midfield and forward in a local soccer league, and basketball for fun. Skylar loves to travel, she has a special affinity for the Caribbean (Dominican Republic, Bahamas).

Enter love  “Three months in, I knew she was the one,” says Skylar of her fiancé, Shereen, whom she met through mutual friends 18 months ago; they have a wedding set in Vermont next June. Both of their families are excited for them.

Skylar’s goal is to become a surgical technician. Her motto: “I help people one blood draw at a time.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Baker to lesbian couple: Let them eat cake, just not mine

A baker in Des Moines, Iowa has come under fire from LGBT activists — and is being applauded by the anti-gay folks — after refusing to bake a cake for a couple when she discovered they were lesbians shopping for a cake for their wedding.

Victoria Childress, owner of Victoria’s Cake Cottage told Fox News commentator Todd Starnes that she had already baked several cake samples for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers when she asked one of the women if the other was her sister. When the woman said they were partners, not sisters, Childress said she cited her Christian faith in explaining why she would not be baking a wedding cake for them.

According to TheNewAmerican.com — which is obviously a right-wing kind of news site, considering how they put the word “wedding” in quotes in their headline — Vodraska and Sievers then went on the offensive, “alerting their homosexual activist network,” according to TheNewAmerican.com, adding that the activist network “quickly organized a boycott of Childress’ bsuiness.

TheNewAmerican.com also says Childress has been receiving all kinds of hateful letters and emails since news of her refusal went public.

According to a statement publicized by Des Moines TV station KCCI 8 — which TheNewAmerican.com said gave Vodraska and Sievers “a platform to voice their anger at being snubbed by Childress” — the couple said they went public with the dispute to raise awareness about the need for equality. The statement says, “It is not about cake or someone’s right to refuse service to a customer. We are grateful for the outpouring of support we have received and hope that by stepping forward we have prevented someone else from experiencing the same type of bigotry.”

But TheNewAmerican.com also reports that Vodraska and Sievers are said to be considering legal action against Childress.

For her part, Childress insists her refusal to bake a wedding cake for the two women is not about discrimination. She told Fox News, “It doesn’t have anything to do with them. It was about my convictions. They can get their cake anywhere.”

Childress also said she believes she is being targeted “because of my beliefs — my convictions to their lifestyle.”

OK, so here’s what I think about the whole thing:

Yes, Ms. Childress, your refusal to make a wedding cake for Trina Vodraska and Janelle Sievers had everything to do with them, because your “convictions” tell you that they are evil sinners who do not deserve the right to be married, and therefore do not deserve to have you bake them a wedding cake. Be honest enough to stand up and admit that rather than trying to pretend otherwise.

And to Ms. Vodraska and Ms. Sievers, first of all, congratulations on your pending nuptials. I hope you have a wonderful day. And while I have no problem with you spreading the word to other LGBT people that they need not bother going to Victoria’s Cake Cottage for their wedding cakes, let it go at that. Find some other bakery to make your cake; I bet there are tons of them out there who would love to do that for you.

There’s no need for any kind of lawsuit over this. Really. This is supposed to be a free country, and Ms. Childress really should be free to refuse service to you because of her religious beliefs about same-sex marriage. It’s like that popular cliche: “Don’t approve of gay marriage? Then don’t have one.”

Seriously, if we don’t want right-wing Christians forcing their religious beliefs on us, then we shouldn’t be trying to force our beliefs on them or try to make them abandon their convictions. I mean, would you really want her to bake a cake for you, knowing how she feels about your relationship?

—  admin

Applause: Stage pink

Queer highlights from the upcoming theater season

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

Anticipation should be strong for the upcoming theater season in general. Ambitious shows like Giant, The Tempest, West Side Story and Hairspray all dot the stage horizon.
But we also like to see some of our own up there. As we look over the upcoming offerings from local theater companies, we always ask, “Where’s the gay?”  In addition to Uptown Players’ first  Dallas Pride Performing Arts Festival, here are some of the others.

……………………….

Fall

Although the Dallas Opera canceled the opera she was set to star in, lesbian soprano Patricia Racette will still perform at a TDO gala. (Photo Devon Cass)

Singer-songwriter Duncan Sheik gave an indie music flair to the musical adaptation of the 1891 play Spring Awakening. Set in 19th century Germany, Awakening follows a group of youths as they discover more about themselves and their rapidly developing sexuality.

The original Frank Wedekind play was controversial in its day, depicting abortion, homosexuality, rape and suicide. Now the show just has an added rock ‘n’ roll score. Along with Sheik’s musical perspective, Steven Slater wrote the book and lyrics in this updated version which debuted in 2006 on Broadway and won the Tony for Best Musical. Terry Martin directs.

WaterTower Theater, 15650 Addison Road., Addison. Sept. 30–Oct. 23. WaterTowerTheatre.org.

It’s almost un-Texan if you’re gay and not familiar with Del Shores’ tales of Southern discomfort.  Southern Baptist Sissies and Sordid Lives are pretty much part of the queer vernacular in these parts, but Shores got his start way back in 1987.

How will those northern folks take to Shores work (And by north, we mean past Central Expressway past LBJ)? Jeni Helms directs Daddy’s Dyin’: Who’s Got the Will for McKinney Repertory Theatre this fall. As the family patriarch suffers a stroke, the Turnover family gathers as they wait for his death. This family may just put the fun in dysfunctional.

McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St., McKinney. Sept. 30–Oct. 7. McKinneyRep.org.

WingSpan Theatre Co. will produce one of the greater comedies of theater-dom this fall: Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, with Nancy Sherrard sparring over the gay wit’s price bon mots as Lady Bracknell.

Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Oct. 6–22. WingSpanTheatre.com.

Although A Catered Affair might sound a bit like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, it has the added flair of Harvey Fierstein’s wit. That’s because he wrote the book for the show alongside John Bucchino’s music and lyrics. The play is based on the Gore Vidal-penned 1956 film The Catered Affair starring Bette Davis.

When Jane and Ralph decide to get married, Jane’s mom Agnes wants to put on an elaborate spectacle of a wedding. The truth is, she can’t afford it and Jane isn’t all too thrilled about a huge affair. As in most cases, the wedding planning is more about the mom than the daughter and Agnes soon realizes the fact. Jane’s Uncle Winston — the proverbial gay uncle — is left off the guest list and is rightfully pissed. But as most gay characters, he rallies to be the voice of reason and support.

Theatre Three, 2800 Routh Street, Ste.168. Oct. 13–Nov. 12. Theatre3Dallas.com.

Lesbian soprano Patricia Racette was going to be featured in the production of Katya Kabanová but unfortunately the show was canceled by the Dallas Opera. But fear not. Dallas will still get to bask in the greatness that is her voice as Racette will perform An Evening with Patricia Racette, a cabaret show with classics from the Great American Songbook for a patron recital.

Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Nov. 9. DallasOpera.org

………………………….

Spring

Nancy Sherrard will star as Lady Bracknell in WIngSpan Theater Co.’s fall production of Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest,’ perhaps the greatest comedy ever written by theaterdom’s gayest wit.

Kevin Moriarty directs Next Fall for the Dallas Theater Center next spring. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts, the play centers on Luke and Adam, a couple with some unusual issues. What’s new about that in gay couplehood? Not much, but when Adam’s an absolute atheist and Luke’s a devout Christian, the two have been doing their best to make it work.
The comedy played on Broadway in 2010, garnering Tony and Drama Desk nominations. And now Dallas gets to see how, as DTC puts it, “relationships can be a beautiful mess.”
Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. April 13–May 6. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

Perhaps the most surprising queer offering this next season is Theatre Arlington’s production of The Laramie Project. The show usually creates quite a stir — at least it did in Tyler, thanks to Trinity Wheeler — so how will this suburban audience handle it? Doesn’t matter. Props to T.A. for taking Moises Kaufman’s play about the tragic bashing and death of Matthew Shepard to its community.

Theatre Arlington, 305 W. Main St., Arlington. May 18–June 3. TheatreArlington.org.

Usually the question with MBS Productions is “what’s not gay?” Founder Mark-Brian Sonna has consistently delivered tales of gay woe and love that are sometimes silly and sometimes sweet, but always a laugh.

This season is no different. Playwright Alejandro de la Costa brings back drag queen Lovely Uranus in The Importance of Being Lovely. The last time we saw Uranus, Sonna wore the stilettos and pink wig in last season’s Outrageous, Sexy, (nekkid) Romp.  This time around, Uranus graduates to leading lady status as the show is all about her as audiences follow her through the changes she makes in her make-up, wigs and men.

Stone Cottage Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison. July 16–Aug. 11, 2012. MBSProductions.net.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens