HOUSTON VOICE • JANUARY 28, 2000
Insult to gays, theater defended as 'political satire'
by MATTHEW A. HENNIE
A jab leveled in a Houston magazine
column at gay men and lesbians and a
gay-friendly movie theater has drawn
criticism from some gay activists, who
call it "insulting."
The column suggests young gay men and
lesbians have "sensual relationships" with
small vegetables and asks whether a local
theater should change its advertising campaign to tout a permanent gay film festival
because it shows gay-themed movies.
Freelance writer Roger Gray's "In Your
Face" column in the January issue of Inside
Houston includes the mention in an item
titled, "The Love That Won't Shut Up."
In the nine-line paragraph, Gray takes
Greenway Theater to task for showing gay
and lesbian films, and suggests the theater
adopt an all-purpose advertising slogan:
"The story of a young (man's/woman's)
exploration of (his/her) sensual other self,
expressed in a tender relationship with
another (man/woman/small vegetable)..."
Greenway, operated by Landmark
Theatre Corp., takes part in the city's
annual gay film festival and schedules a
gay-themed or gay-friendly film at least
every month, or for about 30 percent of
its offerings in a year, said Sarah Gish,
Landmark's city manager.
Gray also wrote that he hopes Log Cabin
Republicans, a gay group, wasn't planning a
fund-raiser at the theater, because Texas Gov
George W. Bush wouldn't attend. Bush said
recently that he wouldn't meet with
Log Cabin, in part to avoid a Cf^&
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ued, "the punchline to this story
would write itself."
Gish and the leader of Houston Gay
& Lesbian Political Caucus said Gray's
column was out of line.
"The whole thing is a poorly written
joke," said Sean Carter, president of the caucus. "The small vegetable part was kind of
insulting. It is, unfortunately, at our expense."
Gish said Houston's gay and lesbian community is very supportiye of the theaters she
manages—Greenway and Landmark River
Oaks Theatre—and that both venues offer
movies that larger theaters ignore.
Landmark's River Oaks was the only theater in Houston to show "Boys Don't Cry," a
critically-acclaimed movie about the murder
of transgendered teenager Brandon Teena.
Hilary Swank, who portrayed Teena in the
film, won the Golden Globe for Best Actress
on Sunday for her performance.
"We work hard to showcase gay and lesbian films. It's if that's a problem, and it isn't
to me," Gish said. "We have found the community here to be very supportive of whatever we play. I am just a big believer in not
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putting out negative information about
groups or communities. I just didn't think
[the article] was necessary."
Laurette Veres, president and editorial
director of Inside Houston, dismissed the criticism of Gray's column as misplaced. "In
Your Face" is political satire, she said, and
should be read that way.
Besides, Veres said, the column pokes fun
at Bush, not gay men and lesbians.
"This whole column by Roger Gray is definitely a political column. We, in our political
columns, openly poke fun at everybody and
don't pick at any one group of people
Nothing is targeted," Veres said.
Asked if the magazine would treat
African-Americans, Jews or Muslims in the
same manner in its columns, Veres said it
would, if it was in the "context of what a
political figure had done."
"It is political satire and that is the context
people should judge it in," she said.
But Carter said the satire goes too far.
"This is another good way for people in
our community who want to pick up a
phone or write a letter and tell them that
even the smallest of jokes, you don't stand
and let them go by," Carter said. "You have
to be the one that stops and says that you
don't appreciate it."
Grav could not be reached for comment.
5959 Richmond, suite 410
Houston, Texas 77057
Radio jocks pull no punches in festival debate
> Continued from Page 1
But Parker also called on Ihe city's gay and lesbian community to flood the station with letters and e-mails to protest the comments.
"I've tried to deal with it in a business-like
manner, but I've had a hard time in getting the
station at all. At this point, people who heard
the comments should call and let them know
their opinions," Parker said. "They need to
apologize to me and say it won't happen again.
Anything less than that is unacceptable."
The station should also allow a member of
the gay community on the show to respond
to the anti-gay comments, said Sean Carter,
president of the Houston Gay & Lesbian
"Let us have a voice and at least come back
at the comments," Carter said. "We do need
to let them know that they can't go on making stuff like this happen."
The alleged anti-gay comments and discussion of the Westheimer Street Festival
came just days after a city hearing officer
refused to issue a permit for the 26-year-old
festival, scheduled for May 6-7.
In media reports this week, Parker said the
festival is "tix> big for a residential area," and
recommended to festival organizers that the
event be reduced in scope or moved to another location to address public safety concerns.
City officials cited widespread illegal parking,
traffic gridlock, littering, noise and disorderli-
ness in refusing to grant the festival a permit.
The event, which draws an estimated
300,000 people to a 10-block strip of
Westheimer near Montrose, pits some neigh
borhood associations and local businesses
against supporters of the event.
During three days of testimony during a
recent permit hearing, 14 people—including
police officers—spoke against the festival,
while one person spoke in favor, according to
the Houston Chronicle.
Festival organizer John Florez told the newspaper that the hearing process had been biased.
"We're not going to sue the city, but we are
going to appeal to cooler heads if we can,'
Florez told the Chronicle. "There were no
fights or urinating or defecation. These are
just normal people hanging out having a
Parker said she is attempting to broker a
compromise between Florez and opponents
of the festival to avoid a confrontation
before City Council.
Florez had 10 days to appeal the permit
denial. He can take the decision to City Council,
or make changes to the event to address the
public safety concerns of city officials
The permit denial, by Assistant Director of
Public Works George Bravenec, was the first
under a revised city ordinance governing
parades, festivals and other public events.
The new ordinance requires that a public
hearing be held on "major" events before permitting, according to the Chronicle.
Parker said her sense of City Council colleagues is that it won-'t support the festival
until changes are made by its organizers.
"We are working with the festival organizer and the neighborhood associations to work
out a compromise. I don't know if that is pos
sible," Parker said.
But regardless of the outcome of the festival, Parker, who won a second term on City
Council last November, said the alleged anti-
gay slurs on KKRW took a public issue and
personalized it to her in a negative way.
While she has encountered gay baiting in
her political campaigns, Parker said she's
never faced anti-gay slurs.
"Calling me a lesbian in a political sense
is gay baiting, but it is not derogatory.
Using slurs is a completely different situation. It has not happened to me before. It is
really surprising," Parker said.
3050 Post Oak Blvd., 12th floor
Houston, Texas 77056
"The Dean and Rog Show"
The Pride Committee of Houston
unveiled its logo for Houston Gay &
Lesbian Pride 2000 during a community-wide party Thursday. The logo,
an interpretation of the theme of
this year's event—"Take Pride, Take
Joy, Take Action"—was designed by
local graphic artist Diane Jolley. The
logo will be used on Pride 2000
' merchandise and publications related
to the event. The Pride parade is set
for June 24.