By Johnny Trlica

Houston was privileged to have two of the biggest gay icons perform in the city with the space of a week’s time. Barbra Streisand put on a classy show at Toyota Center on November 27 and eight days later Dolly Parton dazzled a sold-out crowd at AstroArena. Needless to say, more than a few gay men and drag queens showed up at both performances and, judging by the reviews, no one left either venue disappointed. Here’s what we’ve been reading at Houston Rainbow Herald.com.

Bye, Felicia…err, Governor

Bigotry and hate may have paid off for a certain presidential candidate, but it cost a governor his job. North Carolina’s incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory finally waved the white flag and conceded defeat to Democrat Roy Cooper, reports GayStarNews.com.
Governor-Elect Cooper is calling on the state’s legislature to repeal House Bill 2, the state’s sweeping anti-LGBTI measure.
“With this election, North Carolina is on its way to repairing its reputation. Let’s finish the job and repeal HB2,” Cooper said at a victory rally on the campus of North Carolina State University.
McCrory’s support and defense of HB2, a so-called bathroom bill aimed at transgender people, cost the state millions of dollars in lost revenue due to cancelled sporting events, concerts and numerous other affairs.

Texas’s own Bathroom Bill proceeds
The way North Carolina’s LGBT friends and allies banded together to bring down an anti-gay governor may next have to occur in Texas. Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has made a similar bill one of his top priorities for 2017, and has garnered support for it from Senator Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, reports Texas Observer.com.
“We have got a great state, provides hope for many, that’s why they’re coming here all the time, and we’ve got a business climate that everybody comes to,” Campbell said. “But we do have to draw the line to maintain those values that not only keep Texas, but keep the United States, that beacon of hope.”
Campbell said she believes businesses, churches and nonprofits should set their own rules for restroom access, adding that they should be “unencumbered” by local nondiscrimination ordinances. She called that principle “local liberty” and said businesses that allow trans people to use restrooms based on their gender identity should “put the signage out there so it’s clear to the public.

Walmart settles discrimination suit over benefits for same-sex spouses
The checkout lines at Walmart may be getting longer if it has to reduce staff to pay off a lost lawsuit. Walmart announced that it had settled a lawsuit that accused the company of discriminating against gay and lesbian employees when it denied health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses, reports NewYorkTimes.com.
Walmart will set aside $7.5 million, mostly to compensate employees affected by the denial of spousal benefits during the three years before January 1, 2014, when the company changed its policy. More than 1,000 people may be eligible.

Fighting AIDS in Houston
The fight rages on. With Houston having the highest number of new HIV/AIDS cases in Texas, Mayor Sylvester Turner and Legacy Community Health are rolling out a new plan, “Roadmap to Ending the HIV Epidemic in Houston,” reports KPRC.com. Specifics were released at a press conference where Mayor Turner professed this as the official day to “End HIV in Houston.” The plan is to target ZIP codes, ethnicities, specific areas where they can place clinics, increase testing and decrease the stigma of HIV.
The plan’s goal is to cut new cases of HIV by half over a five-year period, reducing diagnoses down from about 1,200 to 600.

‘Never Gonna Give You Up’
Start the New Year by taking a journey back to the 1980s. Rick Astley is coming to Houston for a show at Warehouse Live on January 31, reports Joey Guerra atHoustonChronicle.com.
Astley reached Number 1 on the U.S. charts with “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever” in the late ’80s.

Macklemore’s protest anthem, ‘Wednesday Morning’
With Hillary Clinton winning over 2.8 million more votes than Donald Trump, many Americans are still dealing with the effects of a Trump presidency. “Same Love” rapper Macklemore turned his profound disappointment into a call to action for justice and equality and Ellen DeGeneres persuaded him to perform it on her show, reports LGBTQNation.com.
Accompanied only by auto tune effects and against the backdrop of a black and white video montage featuring images of patriotism and protest, Macklemore performed “Wednesday Morning.” In the song, he wonders how the future will impact his young daughter and commits himself to fighting for all, including “queer folk” and marriage equality:

“And we fight for the people that haven’t had a voice,
Fight for the first amendment, fight for freedom of choice,
Fight for women’s rights, if she does or doesn’t care,
We ride for all the queer folk and fight for all to get married.
I’m not moving to Canada, not fleeing the nation,
No time for apathy, no more tears and no complainin’.
Gotta fight harder for the next four and what we’re faced with,
Got my daughter in my arms and he is not gonna raise her.

Johnny Trlica is the editor of the Houston Rainbow Herald.com, the Bayou City’s only daily LGBT internet newspaper. Contact him at jtrlica@houstonrainbowherald.com.