We couldn’t help recall, after reading David Webb’s article "More than just a nightclub" (page 37), the 2006 documentary, "Small Town Gay Bar," which offers insight to a fellowship that we in the big city might take for granted. Filmmaker Malcolm Ingram shows tiny town bars in the Mississippi Bible Belt where lingering homophobia still resides. (And so does Fred Phelps!)

Rick Gladish, owner of Rumors, wants his place to be for everyone: Gay, straight, man woman, he doesn’t care as long as everyone knows "this is a place you come and hang out and have fun with gay people." The bar itself, a nondescript gray construct with a gravel driveway and not much else, hardly looks like a den of iniquity.

But inside on a weekend evening, the place is happening like Station 4, with men, women and couples dancing to the beats of the DJ. As we meet the patrons, we can see the haven that these bars have become for them. Rumors is a sanctuary as well as hot spot, but during the course of the film, Gladish considers selling it.

A couple we only know as Lori and Ruby have taken ownership of the old gay bar, Crossroads Estates, that was in complete disrepair. Nothing more than a shack really — but the lesbian couple plans on giving the place an overhaul. Their goal is to start a new gay bar in the town of Savoy, Miss. As word gets out in the community, excitement builds for their newest haven.

The film balances itself by giving camera time to the likes of Phelps and the American Family Association, but the story unfolds less with homophobia and more with people like Gladish and Lori and Ruby as heroes to the LGBT community in their towns.

Ingram captures the essence of gay life in a small town while revealing a real sense of pride in their communities.

— Rich Lopez

Here’s something you can enjoy with your dad on Father’s Day — but maybe for very different reasons.

The boxed set "Muscle Madness" is a collection of five cheesefests of sword and sandal DVDs of the Steve Reeves variety: Spaghetti Westerns set in the ancient world with bad dubbing and corny acting.

Doesn’t sound like your thing? Well maybe you’ll remember, as I do, Sunday afternoons with Dad watching this crap: he distracted by the meaningless action sequences, me thrilled by the toga-clad muscle men getting sweaty with each other in the gladiator’s arena. Oh, Dad, how could you not see it coming?

None of the movies individually has much cache (titles include "Giant of Marathon, "War of the Trojans" — yeah, I know — "Hercules Against the Moon Women," "Goliath and the Sins of Babylon" and "Colossus and the Amazon Queen"). But the wiseass packaging — "Unrated/Color/No Naked Girls" proclaims one case, which also contains a booklet of calisthenics on "How to be a Hercules" — shows an understanding of the camp value of these justly-forgotten classics. Who wants something good to share with D­­ad, anyway?

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 19, 2009.
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