Or at least that’s what we thought until just recently
The newspaper has read like a soap opera the last few weeks a real crying rag.
First came the humiliating defeat of gay City Council-man Ed Oakley by Tom “Landslide” Leppert in the mid-June mayoral runoff and the equally disappointing failure of gay candidate Joesph Hernandez to succeed him the District 3 City Council seat. The next day we realized that for the first time in a decade, the LGBT community had no representation at the horseshoe.
And as if that wasn’t depressing enough, the alarming controversy surrounding gay Constable Mike Dupree finally came to a head last week. The results of an independent personnel investigation revealed a myriad of sensational allegations against him. He promptly resigned to avoid criminal prosecution, leading just about everyone to decide he was guilty as sin all along.
To top it all off, we learned the same week that on the eve of the mayoral election Shannon Bailey, a prominent gay Democratic Party activist, was caught in White Rock Lake Park by vice squad officers allegedly performing oral sex on a stranger just before midnight. The police report of the incident read like something out of a cheap porn novel.
Then someone started writing on a local blog that it wasn’t Bailey’s first such encounter with the law. A check of publicdata.com revealed a similar incident allegedly occurred in 1993.
Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Jesse Garcia acted quickly to separate the organization from Bailey, asking him to step down from the group’s board of directors. This week, the Texas Democratic Party’s chairman Boyd Richie announced Bailey would be ousted from the party’s executive committee if the public lewdness charge stuck.
So now in addition to losing influence at the horseshoe and an elected official at the county level, one of our strongest advocates who coincidentally was one of Oakley’s strongest supporters has been rendered ineffective.
As sad as all of that is for the LGBT community, it must come as a godsend to our enemies. You know the ones I’m talking about the people who profess to love us but hate our sin. I bet the ladies and gentlemen of the Eagle Forum are literally dancing with each other over the whole thing right now but in mixed couples, of course.
I suspect The Dallas Morning News’ over-the-top editorial about Dupree this week was written in part to placate North Dallas conservatives who have repeatedly condemned the newspaper for being way too gay-friendly in its coverage during recent years. The editorial tried and convicted Dupree before he had even gone to court to plead guilty to the one misdemeanor charge. The editorial railed about the injustice of Dupree not spending any time at all in jail.
The reason that seemed a little strange to me is that The Dallas Morning News had paid almost no attention to the allegations against Dupree until recently. In fact, it seemed to ignore it forever while the Dallas Observer and the Dallas Voice pursued the story on a near weekly basis.
The editorial reminded me of a pretentious woman who arrives at a garden party just before it is scheduled to end and makes as much commotion as possible just to be sure everyone knew she had been there. It seemed to be doing much the same in the last couple of weeks before the runoff election in regard to Oakley’s sexual orientation. It had practically ignored discussion of LGBT candidates and voters in political coverage before it hit the front page.
I regret discussing Oakley’s loss in the mayoral election in connection with Dupree and Bailey because the only thing he might be guilty of is overreaching. He, like many other people, apparently misjudged Dallas voters. They weren’t ready to elect an openly gay mayor. I have that awful feeling that if Oakley had been straight or if he had been securely in the closet, he probably would be mayor today.
As far as Dupree and Bailey are concerned, I’m not going to judge them. If they are guilty of what has been alleged, they have enough demons in their own minds chastising them without me adding to the dialogue.
What we need to focus on now is what LGBT leaders had already decided to do in the aftermath of the election reach out to the new power brokers and build alliances.
We’re going to have to rebuild our influence as well as our image. In the process, maybe we can give this soap opera a happy ending.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 6, 2007.