AIDS Walk South Dallas exceeds goals

The rain sent walkers and exhibitors inside, but AIDS Walk South Dallas stepped off as planned at 10 a.m. today (Saturday, March 21).

Organizer Auntjuan Wiley said 300 walkers were registered, exceeding last year’s total. and before the walk began, he announced they had passed this year’s goal of raising $30,000 for AIDS Interfaith Network and Black Transmen.

Wiley credited new and returning sponsors for the event’s success as well as partnerships with new community organizations including Abounding Prosperity, Dallas Southern Pride and Planned Parenthood.

Before the walk, Dallas County Health Director Zach Thompson told participants they weren’t walking in memory of those who died but to remember the suffering that some people with AIDS still endure.

“People can find a place to live because of the stigma,” Thompson said. “People can’t get a job because of the stigma.”

He also noted that AIDS remained a top health priority in Dallas County, which again had the highest rate of HIV-infection in the state. He reminded people that although Ebola was in the headlines, “We unfortunately lost one individual to Ebola. We’ve lost thousands of people to AIDS.”

Thompson presented the walk with a Resolution from Dallas County Commissioners Court that was written by Commissioner John Wiley Price.

—  David Taffet

Pentecostal Unitarian

Evangelical bishop who preaches ‘people are loved by God regardless’ speaks at Cathedral of Hope

Bishop-Pierson

Bishop-Pierson

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Bishop Carlton Pearson was mentored by Oral Roberts, was pastor of

Tulsa’s largest mega-church, is a fourth generation Pentecostal preacher — and believes gays and lesbians are loved by God.
Oops.

That last one has gotten him into a little trouble.

The author of the best-selling book The Gospel of Inclusion and millions of CDs and videos said this week he changed his philosophy to full inclusion around 2002-03.

Pearson said his TV hero is Ellen Degeneres, because “She ends each show telling people to go out and be kind to each other” He called that the message of Christianity.

Pearson will be at Cathedral of Hope at both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services on Sunday, on March 22, preaching the gospel of inclusion.

Among the radical ideas that have gotten Pearson in some hot water with other evangelicals is the idea that everyone can go to heaven — Jews, Hindus, agnostics, gays, lesbians, trans people, Christians — everyone. He refers to himself as a sacred humanist.

Pearson was raised in San Diego where he saw the collegiate singers from Oral Roberts University perform. That inspired him to apply to ORU where he was accepted. He said the ORU campus reminded him of The Jetsons with its space-age architecture.

“We were used to simplistic,” he said. “Education was frowned upon.”

Pearson said his own pastor in San Diego was a janitor. For the first time, ORU added class and sass and elegance to Pentecostalism.

While Pearson attended the school, he said, its founder, Oral Roberts, took him under his wing.

“He said I had ‘it,’” Pearson recalled, describing Roberts as someone who loved Martin Luther King, who loved lower and working class people and wanted to protect them from liberal Christianity. Pearson said Roberts’ God was a good God, not mean or angry.

But Pearson said his split with Roberts came when Pearson started “hanging out with Republicans.”

That might seem backwards, but Roberts identified with the Democratic Party that got working people out of the Depression. Pearson, on the other hand, identified with the Republican Party that had voted for civil rights legislation, such as the Voting Rights Act, in numbers larger than the Democratic Party.

Pearson said he visited the Governor’s Mansion in Austin when George W. Bush was running for his first term as president, and Roberts remained a Democrat throughout his life, voting for Barack Obama.

Pearson ran for mayor of Tulsa in 2002 as a Republican and came in third out of 13 candidates. The split between the two grew deeper, though, when Pearson stopped demonizing people with different beliefs.

“I started preaching the gospel of inclusion in my church,” Pearson said. “I thought I could make Tulsa radically inclusive. Not only Christians could go to heaven. People are loved by God — regardless.”

At first Roberts wasn’t so much against what Pearson was saying. But he did think it would destroy Pearson’s ministry.

Randy Potts, Oral Roberts’ grandson, attended Pearson’s church as he grew up in Tulsa. He said this week that he remembers Pearson as what was good about his religious upbringing.

Potts, who now lives in Dallas, said his family stopped attending Pearson’s church after a falling out with the pastor. After he moved to Dallas and came out, Potts sought out Pearson again.

“I think he’s a very brave, sincere man,” Potts said of Pearson. “It took courage to say the things he said.”

When Potts attended Pearson’s mega-church in Tulsa, he said the service was pure Pentecostal and the congregation was evenly split between black and white. He described the preacher now as a Pentecostal Unitarian.

“He’s this unique, weird bridge,” Potts said. “He has the spirit of a Pentecostal but none of the theology.”

He said he thinks Pearson understands gays and lesbians so well, because he had to come out himself as not believing that everyone who didn’t share his theology was going to hell.

When Potts married his husband, Pearson performed the ceremony.

“I’ve evolved over the years,” Pearson said of his changing beliefs, using a word that is heretical to many evangelicals. But his message to the LGBT community is clear: “All humanity is divine.”

When Pearson began exploring liberal Christianity, he said he was surprised with what he found. Among the churches he visited was Metropolitan Community Church.

“I was astounded by how intense the worship was among people who have been taught to hate themselves,” he said.

Pearson said the attitude about LGBT people is changing even among evangelicals. Many of them area realizing, he said, that they have LGBT children or grandchildren, and that they don’t have to “like” that fact to keep on loving their children and grandchildren.

Pearson said his New Dimensions ministry is a church without walls. His title of bishop comes from the Churches of God in Christ, although in 2004 he was declared a heretic. In 2006, he was accepted as a minister by United Church of Christ, the denomination with which Cathedral of

Hope is affiliated.

Today, Pearson said, he speaks at UCC, Unitarian and other liberal churches. He’s a frequent speaker at synagogues and at atheist and agnostic groups.

Pearson said he has been featured on NPR’s This American Life, NBC’s Dateline, CNN and ABC’s Nightline. But what  he doesn’t do anymore is Christian radio.

“It’s too stupid,” he explained.

Pearson still hasn’t appeared on his TV hero’s talk show, Ellen. Maybe after this week’s Cathedral of Hope appearance he’ll get there.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 20, 2015.

 

—  David Taffet

Injured pedestrian finally gets his day in court

crosswalk-lights

Signs and flashing lights were installed on Cedar Springs Road after two pedestrians were killed and two more were injured in a series of accidents in 2011. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Lynn Bainbridge’s civil lawsuit against the pizza delivery driver who ran over him on Cedar Springs Road in December 2011 has been set for trial in July. So far, Bainbridge has received no compensation.

The driver was delivering pizza and admitted he was on the phone with the Pizza Hut restaurant for which he worked at the time he hit Bainbridge, according to what the victim told Dallas Voice at the time of the accident. Bainbridge also said the driver said he did not see anyone in the crosswalk.

John Loza, Bainbridge’s attorney, said part of the delay in bringing the case to trial lay in figuring out who the pizza delivery driver was working for when the accident happened.

“The driver was hard to track down,” Loza said. “His insurance company stonewalled us. We filed the case, and civil cases tend to take some time to work to a court date.”

Bainbridge was crossing Cedar Springs Road in a crosswalk four years ago when he was injured. Cars had stopped in both directions to yield to the pedestrian. But the pizza delivery driver went around a stopped car and accelerated before striking Bainbridge.

Bainbridge hit the car’s windshield before being thrown to the ground. Bainbridge, who was 72 at the time, was taken to Parkland Hospital where he spent four days being treated for his injuries, which included a broken collarbone.

While he was in the hospital, doctors discovered that Bainbridge also had heart defibrillation problems that may have been a result of the accident.

He had not been diagnosed previously with heart problems. Bainbridge said this week that as an American Airlines pilot, he had to undergo regular annual examinations, including being examined for any indication of heart problems, in order to retain his pilot’s license. After reaching the airline’s mandatory retirement period, Bainbridge maintained his pilot’s license and continued to fly private planes.

“I never had an irregular heartbeat before,” Bainbridge said.

Bainbridge is suing both the restaurant and the city of Dallas.

While accidents can happen anywhere, Bainbridge believes Dallas is liable for the accident in which he was injured because it was one in a spate of accidents that happened along the strip on Cedar Springs within a short period. Pedestrians were killed in two of those accidents.

At the time, the crosswalks on The Strip were poorly marked. One crosswalk — at Reagan Street — had lights embedded in the pavement that flashed when a pedestrian was crossing, but the city had difficulty maintaining that crosswalk because of utility crews repeatedly breaking up the street.

After the two pedestrians died, but before Bainbridge was hit, then-Councilwoman Angela Hunt asked city staff to look into ways to make the area safer.

By January 2012, the city began to install flashing lights at crosswalks. One of the fatal accidents happened near Reagan Street. The turn from Reagan Street onto Cedar Springs became right turn only.

The crosswalk where Bainbridge was hit and another half a block away at the library where a 10-year-old girl was hit after getting off a school bus were outfitted with flashing lights activated by a push button that warns approaching traffic to look for pedestrians.

Other plans under consideration for Cedar Springs Road include the possibility of narrowing the street to one lane in each direction and adding landscaping that would tend to slow traffic are under consideration. The cost for those improvements comes from funds dedicated from a bond package.

Each council member was given an equal amount of money for district improvements. Because

Cedar Springs Road divides council districts, money was dedicated from both District 2 and 14 for the project.

Studies are underway by city planners to determine how to improve Cedar Springs Road, taking both ambiance and safety into consideration. Several ideas were presented to merchants and area residents last fall and suggestions last fall. The city will present a plan to area residents and merchants this summer and plan construction to begin later in the year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 20, 2015.

 

—  David Taffet

The real odd couple

Most people know Oscar Madison as a character in ‘The Odd Couple,’ but one Dallas woman knew him as Dad

Odd-Couples.edited

Real life odd couple, from left, Roy Gerber and Danny Simon with playwright Neil Simon and TV odd couple Jack Klugman and Tony Randall (Photo courtesy Pam Gerber)

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Several years ago, Pam Gerber was sitting in the Wyly Theatre when it suddenly occurred to her: “I feel like I’m sitting in my dad’s living room.”

That’s because Dallas Theater Center was, at the time, staging a production of Neil Simon’s stage play, The Odd Couple. And Gerber’s father, Roy, was the inspiration for Oscar Madison, one of the two main characters in Simon’s play.

Although The Odd Couple began its life as a play in 1965, it was turned into a movie with a later sequel. That was followed by several TV shows, the most recent a current CBS Thursday night entry starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon.

Pam and her partner, Suzanne Slonim, moved to Dallas from California in 2000. Suzanne had been offered several positions around the country, but the couple chose Dallas because they were immediately drawn to the city’s active LGBT community.

Gerber’s parents were from New York where Roy became a talent agent after World War II. In the 1950s, the family moved to Las Vegas where he booked talent, including Frank Sinatra, for the casinos.

Pam’s parents separated in the early ’60s, and her father moved to California where he joined General Artists Corp., which managed The Beatles, The Mamas and The Papas and a variety of other musicians.

About the same time, Neil Simon’s brother, Danny, had broken up with his wife, so Danny moved into Roy’s West Hollywood home off the Sunset Strip.

Pam-Gerber

Pam-Gerber

“He went from one dysfunctional marriage to another,” Pam said of her father’s new living arrangement.

She said the two men moved in together partly out of economic necessity, but also because neither man liked being alone.

Despite the five-year run of the 1970-75 version of the TV show, which starred Jack Klugman and Tony Randall, Pam said her father and Simon only lived together about two years.

Of all the actors who’ve portrayed Roy, Pam said Walter Matthau was the one most like him. Once, when asked how he created his character, Matthau said, “I just did Roy, and it worked out great.”

Pam said Klugman, who not only starred in the original TV show but also replaced Matthau in the original Broadway run of the show, did a good job as well.

Along the way, other actors — including Craig Ferguson, Eugene Levy, Nathan Lane and even Rita Moreno, who starred in a female version — portrayed Pam’s father.

But the worst portrayal she’s seen, she said, comes from Matthew Perry, the current CBS Oscar Madison. “He’s too angry,” Pam said, recalling her father as always being the life of the party, always doing “shtick.”

Beginning with the first TV version starring Randall as Felix, the character based on Danny Simon, Felix started to become prissy. But Pam said Simon wasn’t prissy, just anal retentive.

She said when the two golfed, Danny would take out a tape measure to see which ball was inches closer to the hole to determine who putted first.
For two men with such high handicaps, Pam said, that hardly made a difference.

Danny was a good homemaker, with skills in chores such as cooking. Pam said the spaghetti scene in the play where Felix throws the pasta against the wall actually happened.

In her father’s obituary, Pam’s brother Bill told a story about how, soon after moving in together, the two men invited friends over for dinner. Danny made a pot roast.

“My dad was late, and it got dry and Danny never forgave him,” Bill Gerber said.

The next day, Roy asked Danny what he was making for dinner that night. Simon replied, “What do you mean, cook you dinner? You never take me out to dinner. You never bring me flowers.”

But despite the way the character of Felix is being played as probably gay in the current CBS reboot of the show and even the way Randall portrayed him, Pam described both men as womanizers.

She said her father was somewhat messy, but it was more a matter of collecting things. She called it “clean clutter.”

“He had snow globes — from every city,” she said. “Hats — dozens of them. Canes.”

Pam said there was paper everywhere, but not half eaten sandwiches; he wasn’t dirty. “He knew where everything was,” she said.

Danny, who was a TV writer, began writing a play about himself and his roommate Roy. But he never got past 14 pages and instead turned the idea over to his brother, who had already had a few hits on Broadway. Neil Simon won his first Tony Award for The Odd Couple, and it was that play that established his career.

Pam said her father and Danny were quite different, but not the complete opposites Neil Simon made them out to be in the play. “He made the couple polar opposite for laughs,” she said.

Neil also changed other details. The story was moved to New York from California to appeal to a Broadway audience. He changed Oscar’s career from talent manager to sports writer, because it was easier to imagine someone in that career as being the messy one. Felix became a photographer, a more exacting career than comedy writer.

Pam said her father loved the play. “It immortalized him,” she explained.

Roy eventually remarried. In 1970, he formed a management and production company that represented talent like Bette Midler, Al Pacino and others. From 1978 to 2002, he ran Roy Gerber and Associates and managed Diahann Carroll, Arsenio Hall, Sid Caeser, Shirley Jones and others.

In 1998, Neil Simon wrote the film The Odd Couple II, which again starred Matthau and Lemmon. He gave Roy a copy of the book that included scripts from the original play and its movie sequel.

“What inevitably happens to these roommates is that the fights and squabbles that they left behind after their marital breakups suddenly resurfaced in their new relationship,” Neil Simon wrote in the copy of book that Pam now cherishes.

For the rest of his life, Roy remained friendly with both Simons. Danny died in 2005 and Roy died in 2007.

Pam and Suzanne still live in Oak Lawn and on Thursday nights, they watch the new version of The Odd Couple.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 20, 2015.

—  David Taffet

Dallas police looking for 2 women practicing medicine without license

ross-clarke01

Denise Ross, left, and Alicia Clark

The Dallas Police Homicide Unit issued two arrest warrants for practicing medicine without a license and may have been operating in the LGBT community.

The Dallas Morning News reported the two were giving buttock injections to clients.

WFAA Channel 8 is reporting body was found at the location where the two were operating, but police spokeswoman Melinda Gutierrez said the two are wanted only for practicing medicine without a license.

The arrest affidavit is for “Denise Rochelle Ross, a black female, born March 13, 1972″ and “Jimmy Joe Clark, a white male born March 21, 1983.”

Jimmy Joe Clark is known as Alicia Clark.

Dallas police are looking for anyone who has been a victim to contact Detective B. Tabor #7687 at 214-671-3632.

—  David Taffet

Stonewall endorses slate of candidates for Dallas city elections

Narey.Jay

Stonewall Democrats President Jay Narey

The general membership of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas unanimously endorsed the slate of candidates recommended by the screening committee at the group’s membership meeting Tuesday night. The screening committee met on March 8 and heard from more than 20 of the 49 candidates who will be on the May 9 Dallas municipal ballot.

No candidates from District 4, currently held by Dwaine Caraway, sought endorsement. That district includes the heavily LGBT Oak Park Estates neighborhood.

Sandy Greyson and Jennifer Gates, who represent Districts 12 and 13, are running unopposed and did not seek endorsement. Gates’ district includes parts of Oak Lawn near Love Field.

Lee Kleinman did seek the endorsement but would not sign the required pledge to the Democratic Party.

“I do want to acknowledge [Councilman Lee Kleinman's] support and assistance on the council,” Stonewall President Jay Narey said, calling Kleinman a “strong ally.”

Other candidates for Dallas City Council endorsed by Stonewall Democrats are:
District 1: Scott Griggs
District 2: Adam Medrano
District 3: Joe Tave
District 5: Sherry Cordova
District 6: Monica Alonzo
District 7: Hasani Burton
District 8: No Endorsement
District 9: Mark Clayton
District 10: James White
District 14: Philip Kingston
Mayor: Marcos Ronquillo

Incumbents Omar Narvaez and Larry Duncan were endorsed for Dallas County School board.

—  David Taffet

Equality California becomes first LGBT group to endorse Hillary

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Equality California has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016, even though she has yet to declare her candidacy.

“We want Hillary Clinton to run and are ready to mobilize our 800,000 members to help her win,” said Equality California’s Executive Director Rick Zbur.

Citing her experience as secretary of state and as senator from New York, the organization said Clinton would be the best candidate to advance LGBT equality. In its press release, Equality California quoted Clinton when she said, “gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.”

With 800,000 members, Equality California says it is the second largest LGBT membership organization in the U.S. Human Rights Campaign would be the only organization with more members.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: Camp Mabry again refuses service to same-sex spouses

AMPAUPDATE:

AMPA reports this afternoon that Texas Military Forces refusal to serve same-sex couples was a mistake.

From AMPA:

After intervention today by representatives of AMPA, the Texas Military Forces clarified that three same-sex couples should not have been denied assistance at the federal military identification card enrollment center at Camp Mabry, the headquarters of the Texas Military Forces, in Austin.

All three couples had been turned away on March 13 after being told that they would not be provided service because their marriages were not recognized by the state of Texas. One of the couples was contacted today and given a priority appointment to enroll for their benefits and ID card.

ORIGINAL POST:

Three same-sex military couples were denied assistance by the federal military identification card enrollment center on March 13 at Camp Mabry, the headquarters of the Texas Military Forces, in Austin. All three couples were told by the center’s employee that they would not be provided service because their marriages were not recognized by the state of Texas, regardless of the fact they were seeking federal military benefits.

The American Military Partner Association (AMPA), the nation’s largest organization of LGBT military families, strongly condemned the blatant discrimination in a letter to the Adjutant General of the Texas Military Forces, Major General Berry, outlining the situation that occurred and calling for an immediate investigation and clarification.

In 2013, Camp Mabry was the sight of a similar uproar when Texas Military Forces sent a military spouse with a 3-month-old baby to Fort Hood to register rather than forwarding information to the federal government as they do for opposite-sex spouses. After Texas refused to register spouses, other states followed suit.

That controversy was settled when the federal government threatened to withhold funds and equipment from states that didn’t accept registration information. No state was compelled to offer state benefits.

—  David Taffet

Star-Telegram runs first same-sex wedding announcement

Star Telegram wedding ad

Photo from first Star-Telegram same-sex wedding announcement

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran its first same-sex wedding announcement on March 15.

Joshua Adam Rogers and David Apolonio Hernandez were married in New York on July 14, 2014 after having a ceremony in Fort Worth on July 12. The announcement didn’t run until the newspaper changed its policy this month.

According to the announcement, the Fort Worth ceremony was “on the 10-year anniversary of their personal commitment to one another.”

The paper listed a best man and best woman and the picture shows the couple holding hands.

We found it interesting that the Star-Telegram said the couple married in Fort Worth on July 12 and were legally married on July 14 in New York. With marriage equality spreading across the country and Texas still on hold, most Texas couples call their Texas ceremony their religious ceremony or their ceremony at home in front of friends and family. Most announcements we’ve seen recently call the out-of-state legal ceremony the marriage.

That’s nothing more than something we found interesting, certainly not a criticism.

As of this writing, there were seven comments in the online version — all of them words of congratulations.

Let us add our congratulations to the couple on their now 10-years-plus together and on their wedding and its announcement. And congratulations to the Star-Telegram that decided equality is good business. Engagement and wedding announcements come under paid advertising.

—  David Taffet

Oklahoma freedom to discriminate bill pulled from consideration

Virgin.Emily

Oklahoma state Rep. Emily Virgin

Oklahoma state Rep. Emily Virgin drew the blueprint for how to defeat bills legalizing discrimination popping up in legislatures across the country.

The so-called Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act would have allowed businesses to refuse service to individuals that business owner perceived as being gay, lesbian or transgender. The bill was meant to target same-sex weddings.

According to her Facebook page, the bill has been pulled from consideration for this session, but she warned bigots in the Oklahoma House of Representatives she’d be keeping an eye on their attempts to legalize discrimination.

Virgin amended the bill agreeing that is was fine to discriminate as long as you gave notice. All she was doing was saving everyone from embarrassment. Post a notice in your business, put it on your website and place it in your advertising. Hell, she even included race as a class you don’t have to serve in your business as long as you post it.

After all, you’re a bigot. Own it. Be proud of who you are and what your religion teaches you. Impose your values on everyone else. That’s what business does, right?

That way, business owners would avoid the embarrassment of having to throw out the gays. In fact, they wouldn’t even have to worry about the gays walking into their businesses. And the gays would avoid the embarrassment of being thrown out. And as we pointed out, not only would the LGBT community avoid being refused service by these businesses, but our friends, families, coworkers and allies could also avoid them.

Understanding that the bill could bankrupt many well meaning, church-going business owners, the bill was pulled.

—  David Taffet