Dallas Voice Editor John Wright Says He Was Fired for Reporting on Public-Erection Ban at Gay Pride Parade

Categories: Media, News
JohnWright.jpg
The controversy surrounding the dress code at this year's Dallas Pride parade was never really about nudity. It was about whether the LGBT community should voluntarily adhere to the norms of a mass culture that remains unrelentingly heteronormative, or whether it's better to flout those standards as a form of protest and means of coalescing around a separate identity.

Nevertheless, it was the naked part that made national headlines. Stories detailing bans on public erections have a tendency to do that.

The co-owners of the Dallas Voice, the local LGBT weekly newspaper, weren't happy with the paper's coverage.

"In this case it wasn't necessarily overt," says John Wright, who, as the paper's editor, oversaw that coverage. "I got the distinct sense that the [Dallas] Tavern Guild was not happy."

The Tavern Guild, a trade group comprising the owners of a couple of dozen gay bars, runs Dallas Pride. Its executive director is the one who announced the decision to enforce the dress code.

It's also one of Voice's biggest advertisers, especially during Pride Week. Each year, it pays for the publication of the glossy magazine the paper puts out on the eve of the celebration.

On Monday, Wright was fired. Dallas Voice co-owners Terry Thompson and Leo Cusimano have not yet responded to an interview request. Wright says the reason he was given was insubordination, which he calls "just so fucking false it's not even funny. It's ludicrous."

(Update: Voice publisher Leo Cusimano tells the Morning News that he's heard nothing from the Tavern Guild, attributing Wright's termination to a "combination of things."

"John has his opinion, and we have ours, and they are not the same," he said. "We stand by the actions we took.")

Wright, who was promoted to editor in January 2012 after five years with the paper, contends that it had more to do with the Tavern Guild's displeasure with his Dallas Pride coverage.

"They want an editor who will write puff pieces about their advertisers instead of reporting the facts," Wright wrote in a Facebook post last night, "and I refused to be that editor."

Wright says he has been struggling with management over the direction of the paper for six months, ever since Voice founder and longtime publisher Robert Moore sold the paper to Thompson and Culsimano. Moore, a prominent figure in the local gay scene for more than three decades, was interested in producing quality journalism above all else, Wright said. The new owners, on the other hand, are more focused on protecting advertisers.

Thompson and Culsimano will no doubt take issue with that. We'll update the post accordingly when we hear from them.

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74 comments
txtopnotch
txtopnotch

BFD.  John Wright can do better and he knows it.  Take the high road and leave the DV with egg on their faces.


joanee
joanee

Wright seems a little crazed.

harleykarmadad
harleykarmadad

I love how he is white and trying to use the race/diversity card and at the very same time  demeaning everyone for being "SHITTING OLD MEN".  The fact is no matter how much lip stick he puts on those lying lips he is still spewing shit.  And if he is so holier than thou with his concern about racial equality, why did he wait to be fired?  He should have stood his ground way before they kicked his ass to the curb.  Not one bit of his rants make any since just like his attempts at writing. 

BillyBear
BillyBear

Nice language he uses.

You really needed to quote that?

damonzfriendz
damonzfriendz

Ive been in touch with Daniel Cates for a while now. He is very good at telling politicians and those who invest their way into misrepresenting the LGBT race that they have a booger on their nose. In this case the fart came from the DTG throwing the baby out with the bathwater. He smelled it, pinched his nose and fanned it out on facebook for everyone to smell the stench

. Activist means active, he and those like him sacrifice a lot for equality. Meaning, he nor i give a rats a... if your opinions are different, because you have that right also.

Log off and go to a rally supporting your own beliefs, plan one for God's sake, take a few trips to the state and national capital each year, AND pay your own rent? Then you might become an activist instead of a pacifist.

dbridgman
dbridgman

SO I guess that no matter whether you are a published gay and lesbian newspaper or someone on the street there needs to be double standards?  GO FIGURE!   Whether you agree with the "story" or not you cannot include one if you don't include all!  That's what journalism is all about!  I don't agree with what the Tavern Guild did NOR am I am activist HOWEVER I am not gonna sit on the sidelines and say this particular group is better.  The Tavern Guild needs new blood at the top!!  Don't blame it on Daniel Cates .. blame it on Michael Doughman - the Executive Director of the Tavern Guild who did an about face and said that they never said what they were quoted as saying to MANY media outlets.  Daniel simply used Facebook as a tool and did it well .. KUDOS Daniel!  SHAME on the Voice and the Tavern Guild!

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

I think John Wright's biggest mistake was giving someone named Daniel Cates a platform to exaggerate the dress code as a ban on exposed underwear. If you read the story, he called Mr. Cates an activist (as if he speaks for the entire GLBT community), then proceeded to quote a very dramatic rant that he had posted on Facebook. 

http://www.dallasvoice.com/lgbt-activists-outraged-dress-code-dallas-pride-10156651.html

Not saying that John should've been fired for this, but it was questionable journalism.

tdwiley
tdwiley

I am very disappointed to hear of John Wright's dismissal from The Dallas Voice.  John covered our story on our missing friend, Lisa Stone, in 2010 and has followed up on it over the past few years.  He always handled our story with dignity and grace and showed us the utmost respect.  John's coverage early on in this case helped us get the attention of The Dallas Observer...then, of CBS news & 48 Hrs.  I owe a huge debt of gratitude to both John Wright and to Andrea Grimes, who was writing for the Observer at the time of Lisa's disappearance.  Without both of these reporters, we would have continued to struggle to get Lisa's story the attention needed to help find answers in her disappearance.  I hope that the Voice reconsiders this decision.


aaronstew2003
aaronstew2003

I have to say, while I am not happy that someone has lost his job, I saw a change in Mr Wright's writing for the paper after his promotion to editor.  In particular with the Adam Medrano and Mayor Rawlings stories, journalism was tossed aside so he could opine and dictate how all of us should feel about these people.  Disagreeing with his opinion wasnt in any way welcomed, while all he was reporting were his opinions- mere assertions at conspriacies, no facts.  As such, he left himself open to criticism due to the appearance of promoting his own agenda especially based on his attack of anyone who disagreed with him.  In the end, its sad, but hopefully he will be better for it and find something which is a great fit for his talents.

dfwbill71
dfwbill71

Kudos to Eric Nicholson for using the phrase "puff pieces" in a story about public erections rather than the typical "fluff pieces" saying.  

John1073
John1073

Follow the money. That is what it all comes down to. And the moneyed gays really need to get over themselves.

MikeyLikesIt
MikeyLikesIt

Why on Earth the Tavern Guild thought they needed to police our own people was offensive in itself.  For Wright to point out that they were trying and then get fired for it was so wrong.  Yes btw, he pointed out that Adam Medrano was not out and had been arrested for avoiding a lewdness arrest and he pointed out that the Mayor was two faced where the gay community was concerned but that was the truth and it should have been a concern to the community and they should be informed... particularly before an election.  What you will get with the Voice now, is an even larger advertisement than you had with zero content that informs... especially with regards to anything that might upset the larger cultural machine so many gays like to think they are a part of now.  Oh haven't we arrived that we now squash subversive or upsetting speech.... we who wrote the book on being subversive.  How sad.    

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

So... the point is to say that the homosexual community is abnormal?  That's all I can assume from the term "heteronormative".

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

' "They want an editor who will write puff pieces about their advertisers instead of reporting the facts,"... '


Hmmm, Sort of like that other local glossy periodical ...

roo_ster
roo_ster

If you need to be explicit about "public erection bans" you might want to reconsider the whole event.


whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

I'm not really into seeing anyone's erection at a parade or in public at all...Straight or gay. It could be the gay pride parade, the furry parade, the walk for cancer, zombie parade or the naked bike ride where you see plenty of penis....I don't really care...Im just not one that is looking forward to looking at a erect penis at a parade. Except maybe the Penis parade in Japan - but all the erect Penis are foam/plastic

big_oj
big_oj

The Dallas Voice already has a personal agenda. Oh I can tell you that it's nothing but a bias paper. They all seem to hate Mayor Rawlings and Adam Medrano. The Mayor, because they all want some dumb pledge to be signed. Adam Medrano, because they were all forcing him to come out of the closet which was to me not a big deal and I don't care, just wanted someone right for the job, while you can tell  they were supporting the other guy. You can tell with their stories what they felt in the city council race. They never cover anything as well with stories that were going on south of 30, mmmmm, is because they seem to hate the Grove? Much less, anything DISD Related is only if ethier they pass soming Gay or a hate crime is what they will pay attention to. Why is it that Al Dia, Dallas Weekly, or any of those papers will cover things that not only affect their repected target audience, much less trying to get Gay people to give a flick on DISD, Mike Miles, or a City Issue. Trust me, we have a chance right now with District 8 in the DISD BOT Election to get them to care. I wish I was able to get the Star-Telegram. They never covered the South Dallas Rape, so if that is something, that is beyond me.

Peacock214
Peacock214

So Mr. Wright wanted to use his employer's newspaper to push his own personal agenda and is upset that he got fired for doing so? Is that what I'm reading?

Guesty
Guesty

"It was about whether the LGBT community should voluntarily adhere to the norms of a mass culture that remains unrelentingly heteronormative, or whether it's better to flout those standards as a form of protest and means of coalescing around a separate identity."

I know quite a few people who are LGBT that don't see any need to coalesce around "a separate identity," which in this context I understand to be something different than generally supporting each other and fighting for civil rights.  I think most would get offended at the notion that they are supposed to act a certain way (e.g. boner parades) because they are LGBT.    

dlstxmale
dlstxmale

gays must understand that you must act as straights expect!  like on that 'modern family' show. making cute proposal of marriage videos. going antiquing together, etc. etc.  drag queens are OK only if they pose so straights can post pictures with them on their instagram accounts as a joke. Also, let's keep the transgendered totally out of any bathrooms. Leather? Forget about it. Recognizing sexuality and the fact that gays aren't smooth 'down there' like Barbie and Ken can only hurt the political gains made ...

DanMitchell
DanMitchell

@BillyBear Yes. What has the world come to when alternative newsweeklies start using swears?

mikeweavertx
mikeweavertx

@dbridgman "The Tavern Guild needs new blood at the top!!  Don't blame it on Daniel Cates .. blame it on Michael Doughman"

So true.  Need to start fresh and go from there.   ( mix of New and older ) .

I wonder how much money they make each year?   They have a  Statement of profits etc, like what comes in what goes out etc.


shandango
shandango

@everlastingphelps "Heteronormative" refers to the norms among straight people dictating traditional gender roles and relationship configurations.  Obviously, not all straight people even conform to these.  The issue is that there are warring factions in queer politics, some who focus on gay marriage, adoption and generally assimilation into straight culture ("we're just like you!") and then there is a side arguing that queer culture IS different than straight culture and feel it should embrace this difference (more sex positivity and acceptance of kinks and non-monagamy) and a sexually liberated pride parade is part of that viewpoint.   

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @big_oj It all stems from the idea that homosexuality is not just a sexual orientation, but in fact some sort of political identity -- and political before sexual.

mattcomer
mattcomer

@Peacock214 I followed John's reporting. It was fair and equitable. Writing news is not the same as editorializing and the only agenda I saw from John was his quest to report facts.

shandango
shandango

@Guesty Well, that's the crux of the issues, isn't it?  Some people want to assimilate into wider straight culture- marry, have kids, not wear underwear in public. Some people feel like this libertine sexual display is part and parcel with a queer identity and that the heteronormative culture is uptight and too repressed, want not part of it. And there's no right answer, it's just a difference of opinion that will have to sort itself out (in this case, it seems like 2 parades is the solution, one more conservative and family/sponsor friendly and then another more sexually expressive one.)

Guesty
Guesty

@dlstxmale But must they act as other gays expect?  Does coming out also mean "coalescing around a separate identity?"  And does that "separate identity" necessarily involve support of boner parades?  Because, if it does, then that might hurt political gains and it certainly would play into the religious rights' bigoted views on equal rights (e.g. adoption, marriage, etc.).  

And I really don't have a problem with the parade, but I do think the organizers get to decide what type of parade they want to have.  If they want something family friendly, that is not inconsistent with Pride.  If they want something that presses the boundaries of the City's indecency laws, then they should go for it and tell people this isn't a family affair.  

Daniel
Daniel

@dlstxmale Most modern urban people could give a shit. Feeling persecuted is just part of who you are -- you, specifically, that is. I know many gay people who are nothing like you. They're adults.

And for the record, I think the gay community should be allowed to have a naughty parade, scolds be damned.

As a post-script, I think I read somewhere that a lot of straight people are into leather, too. Can't remember where. Maybe it was Reader's Digest.  

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

@wright7 @lakewoodhobo John, I know which site I'm commenting on (but thanks for reminding me). So your defense is that someone else did it too? That's no excuse; in fact it was your duty as the GLBT media to set the record straight and not just repeat some emotional person's Facebook rant.

dfwbill71
dfwbill71

I have indeed, hence why I made the comment I did. By Nicholson using "puff", rather than "fluff", he allowed the reader's mind to wander creatively. :-)

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @big_oj 

It's not an "idea", it is a reality. It's a shame that our society corners people into that sort of quasi political-sexual identity by virtue of their sexual orientation, but that's just how we roll as a species.

Don't you suppose that historically, if everyone were free to express their fundamental sexuality without fear of public reprisal that things would be different today with regard to the political aspects and components of the LGBT movement?

Why, they would just be - people - rather than "gay people".

Peacock214
Peacock214

@mattcomer @Peacock214 The "reporting" on this particular issue was intended to rile a crown. Enforcement of existing is not, nor should it be, a newsworthy event.

Daniel
Daniel

@Guesty @dlstxmale "Because, if it does, then that might hurt political gains and it certainly would play into the religious rights' bigoted views on equal rights (e.g. adoption, marriage, etc.). "

This.

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

Take your Xanax and calm the fuck down Mary!

dbridgman
dbridgman

@lakewoodhobo your actual words you typed is "What officials didn't want was Tin Room dancers showing off their erections under see-thru underwear" .. YOUR WORDS!  So you are making an assumption?  Please when "reporting" don't put words in ones mouth .. doesn't look good on you!  Found that rock yet?

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

@dbridgman The Tin Room reference was an example and I didn't claim to quote anyone. 

So by your own admission, people do not go nude at the Pride parade so there was no reason to make a big deal about a ban on something that people didn't do in the first place.

Again, a complete exaggeration by a bunch of overly sensitive people.

dbridgman
dbridgman

@lakewoodhobo Actually they never mentioned any particular bar in their quotes .. now you "claim" it was a participant on the Tin Room's float ?  Actually they did say that underwear was not acceptable and you must wear swim suits .. they said that any kind of nudity was not acceptable when in fact I have NEVER seen anyone "nude" at any of the Dallas Pride Parades on any participating float.

lakewoodhobo - your rock is awaiting .. go climb back under it  :)  

lakewoodhobo
lakewoodhobo

@wright7 @lakewoodhobo Why did everyone pick it up? Because it was overly exaggerated!! 

Nobody said there was a ban on wearing tennis shoes and underwear. What officials didn't want was Tin Room dancers showing off their erections under see-thru underwear. That's a significant difference.

bobb
bobb

@lakewoodhobo John took the facebook rantings of a nobody and made a national story out of it, when the central premise was just false.  One can tell by his ranting and raving that John has a difficult time remaining calm and rational.  His firing was a long, long time coming.  He has been contentious for years, and it finally caught up with him

wright7
wright7

@lakewoodhobo So you're saying it wasn't newsworthy? Why did every LGBT outlet from coast to coast and even overseas pick it up?

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul @TheCredibleHulk @everlastingphelps @big_oj 

*chuckle*

Remember, we're all on your side.

mattcomer
mattcomer

@Peacock214 @mattcomer The reporting just wasn't on the policy, it was on the reaction from community activists. As a journalist myself, I found their reaction was newsworthy. 

Peacock214
Peacock214

@mattcomer *crowd

*existing law


Geez...I need more coffee.

aaronstew2003
aaronstew2003

I have to agree with you, lots of times his writing was more to advance his own agenda.  he would even outright argue, and twitter stalk people who disagreed with his controversial writings.  not good journalism in  my opinion.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul  

The pie fight scene in the War Room was cut.  In it when President Muffley is hit with a pie and falls down, Gen. Turgidson stands up on the table and shouts: "There lies our young President, cut down in his prime."  Needless to say, the scene was cut for several reasons.

Also the premier was delayed from Nov 27 to January of the following year.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul A piece of trivia -- the line was originally "in Dallas", but Kennedy got shot in the head during editing of the film, and they altered the line to Vegas.

If you watch, you can read Pickins' lips as he says "Dallas".

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@everlastingphelps @Daniel @dlstxmale  

Two of mine:

"Shoot a fella could have a helluva time in Vegas with all this stuff."  -- Major Kong

"You can't fight in here.  This is the War Room!" -- President Muffley

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