(Editor's note: Congratulations to Kurt Niece for winning an award at the San Diego Press Club's annual competition for his commentary in SDGLN titled "Why the Tucson tragedy is very personal to me.")
Texas is one of the most evocative states in the union. Iconic images of longhorn cattle, cowboys, big hair and oil derricks depict the Lone Star State.
It’s hard to imagine another place so obsessed with its shape and its image. Television producers seem equally infatuated and there’s yet another offering.
Welcome to “The A-List: Dallas,” which airs Mondays on Logo.
“Most Eligible Dallas,” “Real Housewives Of Dallas” and now “The A-List: Dallas.” We’re told Texas glamor is no oxymoron and the men of “The A-List: Dallas” will be the first to agree that Dallas is the center of the known universe.
“It always has been,” laughs Levi, one of the cast members who has flirted with a romance with cast mate Taylor and canoodled with Chase. “People are just finding out about it though.”
Levi, an extremely affable young man, moved from southern Oklahoma to Dallas when he was 18. “I moved for a boy,” he confided.
It was a big move in more ways than one.
“In high school my parent’s closest neighbor, front door to front door, was 6½ miles away. It was that remote. We just watched the first trailer for ‘A-List Dallas’ in Manhattan and sitting there with a couple friends, I realized how many people were in that same 6½ mile radius. Millions! In high school if I was the only person at home, there was just one.”
And Levi is truly one of the lucky ones. Unlike many rural LGBT teens, he had few obstacles coming out.
“Honestly, I came out when I was 16. Totally out of the closet, 100%. I was sort of backed into it. I say I came out when I was 16 but 14,13,12 … I knew I really wasn’t interested in having a girlfriend like my friends were. I knew there was something different. But living gay or having a boyfriend: I didn’t know that was an option for me.”
Levi explained further.
“I feel very fortunate though because that door was opened to me by Internet chat rooms. I could be anonymous, jump online, talk to people my own age and get an idea of how other people were dealing with it,” he said.
“I accumulated a couple friends but mainly, a lesbian girl in high school. We’d sneak off to the big city, Durant, Oklahoma,” Levi laughed. “Me, the cowboy and she, the Goth girl … We were a funny duo but we enjoyed each other’s company and she introduced me to more people.”
“Long story short, my friend’s girlfriend, Bethany was Catholic and she had a lot of trouble with the whole coming-out process. Her parents were hard on her and she made a terrible decision to commit suicide. It put me in a spiral, struck a serious cord and I had to tell my parents. I couldn’t wait any longer. It just came out and it was the best decision I ever made. My family is so loving and accepting. I didn’t have any idea it could be this easy.”
Taylor is the conservative Christian in the cast
Fellow cast mate Taylor was in Los Angeles. After a meeting with Ann Coulter, he shared his own coming-out story.
“I had to come out three times: once as gay, once as Christian and once as a Republican. I decided to do ‘A-List: Dallas’ because I wanted to show the audience that you didn’t have to be a certain way to be gay. You don’t have to be a Democrat and you don’t have to be an atheist. You can be a Republican and you can be a Christian and still be gay.”
“I worked at the Texas capital for Republicans for six years and I was the youngest chief of staff ever. I worked for American Solutions, Newt Gingrich and Michael Reagan,” he said.
Conservative politics, the LGBT community and building bridges between those often fractious interests is a challenge, but Taylor has no problem speaking his mind.
“It took four Republicans to pass gay marriage in New York. It’s not just about Democrats.”
“A lot of Republican officials don’t put a face on the name: gay. There are so many closeted gay Republicans out there, I can’t even tell you. In fact, one of them is running for President right now is a closet case. I’m not going to name any names but he has great hair, I can say that.”
“The A-List: Dallas” will have lob a few more bombshells into the comfort zone of an overused reality format to compete with “The A-List: New York,” and while the troubled romance between Levi and Taylor may prove to be entertaining, will it be enough?
New episodes of “The A-List: Dallas” air at 7 pm Mondays PT/10 pm ET on Logo, and are repeated often.
Kurt Niece is a freelance journalist from Tucson, Ariz., and author of "The Breath of Rapture." He writes about television for Echo Magazine in Phoenix and SDGLN. He is also an artist who sells his work on his website.