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

Letting it REGISTER • Pride Weddings & Celebrations 2011

Gift registries can be intimidating. Dean Driver makes them easy

FASHION. PLATE. | Dean Driver knows how to make a tabletop pop — and how to make it easy on you to choose your gifts. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

BY RICH LOPEZ

Perhaps the one wedding tradition same-sex couples might waffle on is signing up for that beg-a-thon, the gift registry. Forget whether to do so (you should); the real question is, where can you find that particular china pattern you once saw in a magazine?

The answer to that question is probably Dean Driver. With his new company, Consilium Lifestyle Collections, Driver makes what could be a daunting (even intimidating) task for same-sex couples possibly the easiest  job out of all the wedding planning.

“I don’t know if the average gay couple feels comfortable going into stores,” Driver says. “They may, but many retailers just aren’t reaching out to gay couples.”

Teaming up with Consilium Creative Marketing, Driver created what may be the first by-appointment source of its kind in Dallas to provide a wedding gift registry for same-sex couples. While the services are for everyone, Driver believes that this personal touch can bring comfort to any gay newlyweds hesitant about how to sign up for gifts. It also gives them a home field advantage when looking for fine tabletop products and more.

“The way we do business is changing, and this has afforded me the ability to do in-home consultations and also wedding registries,” Driver says. “I come to the client with samples to get an idea of their lifestyle and suggest products and can see what will work with what’s already in the home.”

The affable Driver knows his stuff. After working with tabletop industries for years in large markets like New York, he has access to many luxury brands and even unique home products. The usual china and crystal items are no problem, but items like linens and household accessories are more easily available through him.

Driver’s first piece of advice on getting started with a registry: Don’t be intimidated.

“I demystify all that for you,” he says. “That’s what I’m here for. I’ll make it easier for you. And people shouldn’t think that everything offered in a registry costs so much. We do have some unique options that are moderately priced.”

Consilium has only been around for a few months, but it has burst out of the gate with a selection of up to 50 brands, some exclusive to them. And with Driver’s knowledge and background, he can pretty much get anybody anything they want.

“I’m a sort of an expert in tabletops, and I have my finger on the pulse of the industry,” he says. “I go to Paris, to Milan and see all the new patterns. And if you saw a plate in a magazine and brought it to me,  I could pinpoint what it is. When I say anything, I mean anything — and you may be only person in the country to have it.”

Something his company can guarantee is the death of that most dreaded wedding tradition: The return. Once items are selected for the registry, gift givers don’t have to worry about buying an item that’s already been purchased. Instead, the company does gift cards only, which are beautifully packaged for the giver to present.

“This prevents exchanges or duplicates,” he says. “Plus, clients may change their minds and gift cards give them an opportunity to get something else. And it’s a little more green without all that wrapping paper and shipping to worry about.”

Driver and company seems to have gotten rid of all the excuses couples can make to partake in registering for gifts. Being that a wedding is a life-changing event, Driver mostly wonders why not go all out?

“Couples shouldn’t shy away from getting nice things,” he says. “This is the one time to get the nice stuff, so why not? Anything you want, I can get.”

The only caveat — Driver encourages people to use the nice stuff everyday.

“Yeah, don’t pack it away in a cabinet like our parents did,” he says.

Of course, if there’s one thing gays know how to do it’s merchandise.

For more information, visit ConsiliumLifestyleCollections.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Focus talks to millenials about marriage. Those millennials not currently attending a gay wedding, that is

Oh this is cute. Rising Voice, Focus on the Family’s effort convince young people that the outplayed values of Falwell are the #nexthottrend, has chosen “marriage” as the topic of focus for this month:

Did you know that:

1) most Americans desire to marry?

2) marriage is good for people—women, men and children?

We celebrate Valentine’s day in February, so it seems like the right time to take a look at marriage and the many ways it helps people.

Marriage really is beneficial—especially for children. It is the. major. poverty buster for kids. A child living with her married mom and dad is unlikely to live even one year of childhood in poverty. Married parents also positively influence a child’s physical and emotional health, and educational achievement.

It’s not just kids who benefit from marriage. Married men and women have better emotional and physical health than their unmarried peers, and married men even make more money than single men.

Still not convinced? Need some stats? We’re happy to provide those details.

We know that the people ditching marriage may be getting all the headlines, but this month we’re singing the praises of the unsung heroes and heroines who go the distance for a lifetime.

Marriage [Rising Voice]

Hmm. You know what/who else has garnered more than a few headlines, FoTF? Those Americans who crave marriage equality with every fiber in their beings, only to see their desired marriages forcibly ditched by the costly campaigns of self-appointed “pro-family” organizations! That’s the marriage issue of this generation. An issue that is only at issue because of the meddling of “culture warriors.”

The truth, FoTF: You all will gleefully sing marriage’s praises, just as long as the tune is all Rachel/Finn and zero Kurt/Blaine. That’s not a “rising voice”: It’s an outgoing tide.

***

*Oh, and also: Aren’t these folks always telling us gay adults that we’re selfish for seeking marriage, since it’s really all about children? So then why are they specifically citing the emotional, physical, and financial benefits that marriage brings to adults? They can’t have it both ways.




Good As You

—  David Taffet

No, FRC: We said the wedding is semi-formal, not chain mail and rapier!

As a legally married gay man, I really do have to wonder sometimes what, exactly, groups like the Family Research Family Council hope to do to my family:

Screen Shot 2011-01-26 At 6.14.05 Pm

[SOURCE for FRC's ridiculous graphic]

Because come on: A sword-wielding knight? For the cause of rolling back a fellow American’s benign civil peace? It may not make me feel threatened, per se. But it certainly doesn’t make me question whether my husband and I were supposed to have exchanged shields rather than rings.




Good As You

—  admin