UIL takes no action on trans proposals

Posted on 13 Jun 2017 at 2:57pm
James M. Russell
Special to Dallas Voice



Rafael McDonnell, Resource Center communications and advocacy manager

The statewide body overseeing high school sports and other extracurricular activities made no decision on three proposals impacting transgender student athletes at their meeting in Round Rock today (Tuesday, June 13).

The committees comprising the University Interscholastic League were slated to consider three proposals with consequences for transgender student athletes. But all three failed to get enough support to pass out of committee.

Another would have been a step forward for the body by aligning its performance enhancing drug policy with the International Olympic Committee’s. The IOC’s standards, which allow transgender athletes to compete, passed in early 2016.

According to the rule, female-to-male athletes will be able to participate in men’s competitions with no restriction. Male-to-female athletes, however, will need to prove their testosterone levels have been below a certain level for the past year to be allowed to compete.

That proposal clarifying trans student athlete participation was initially heard in the athletics committee before being transferred to policy.

“The athletics committee head seemed understanding,” said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at Resource Center. “He said he understood this was an issue of equity.”

Two of the proposals, however, would have made it even more difficult for transgender student athletes to participate.

A proposal similar to a bill that was considered by the legislature would have banned any athlete “performance-enhancing drugs,” which would rule out any transgender athlete taking any dosage of hormone replacement therapy. Despite scientific evidence concluding a student who is transition is taking fewer hormones than one who is doping, the proposal has consistently appeared before UIL and elsewhere.

A similar bill by Sen. Bob Hall, R-Edgewood, would have done the same thing.

Another would allow any parent to complain to the legislative council about the eligibility of another student. The issue could have an unintended consequence for transgender athletes.

None of the proposals passed. But McDonnell noted a new rule went stating a student athlete’s gender is determined on a student’s birth certificate, not gender identity went into effect this year. So while other discriminatory rules may have been dodged, is that a victory?

“There’s no political will to change these policies. But there may be a political will to keep them as is,” McDonnell said.


One Pulse, one love

Posted on 13 Jun 2017 at 1:07pm

Orlando marks the anniversary of the Pulse massacre

Mike Schneider and Terrance Harris
Associated Press

Artist Yuriy Karabash hugs a family member of a victim at the Pulse nightclub, Monday, June 12, in front of his mural commemorating the one-year anniversary of the June 12, 2016, massacre that killed 49 at Pulse. (Joe Burbank /Orlando Sentinel via AP)

ORLANDO, Fla. — At 2:02 a.m. Monday, June 12, the names of 49 people killed in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history were read out loud outside the Pulse nightclub, marking the exact time a year ago when a gunman started firing during “Latin Night” at the gay club.

“I realize that gathering here in this place, at this hour, is beyond difficult,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer told survivors, victims’ families, club employees and local officials during the private service. “But I also know that the strength you’ve shown over the past year will carry you through today and in the future.”

The service began what would be almost 24 hours of observations to remember the victims and the dozens of Pulse patrons who were wounded when Omar Mateen opened fire and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. He was eventually killed by police after a three-hour standoff on June 12, 2016.

Later Monday morning, hundreds of people dropped off flowers, drawings and cards at a memorial near Pulse. Another midday service was held, followed by an evening gathering in the heart of downtown Orlando and a final, music-filled late-night service at the nightclub.

“It still hurts, it’s still very raw,” said Erin Anderson, a friend and former co-worker of Pulse victim Xavier Serrano Rosado.

Jeannine Williams used to live within walking distance of Pulse and was a frequent visitor. She had made plans to be there the night of the shooting but decided to go another nightclub instead.

“A year later I think the thing that is most important is this community and why I live here and why I’m so happy to live here,” Williams said through tears. “The support we not only have from our city government — it’s not fleeting support, it’s not support on certain days. It’s the way the community is. This is Orlando. This is why I just love living here.”

At noon, church bells throughout the Orlando area rang 49 times. Gov. Rick Scott ordered U.S. flags around Florida to be flown at half-staff and a giant rainbow flag would be unveiled at the Orange County government building.

At a midday service at the nightclub, Pulse owner Barbara Poma said when people ask her what has changed in her life since the tragedy, she tells them “everything.” But she said she is grateful for the outpouring of support. She plans to build a memorial at the site of the nightclub, which has been closed since the tragedy.

“I miss Pulse,” she said. “We are one Pulse. We are one love.”

Local leaders said Mateen’s act of hate caused an outpouring of love from Orlando and the wider world.

“What a terrorist tries to do is divide us,” said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. “Isn’t it interesting it had the opposite effect? It brought us together in unity and love.”

Monday’s services culminated several days of events aimed at turning the grim anniversary into something positive. A foot race was held over the weekend, and eight gay and lesbian students were awarded $4,900 toward their college studies by a local businessman. Local officials have declared the one-year mark as a day of “love and kindness,” and they are encouraging residents to volunteer or perform acts of compassion.

An exhibit of artwork collected from memorial sites set up around Orlando after the massacre will be shown at the Orange County History Center.

In one sour note for the day,an anti-gay protestor, Daniel Maguire, was arrested Monday near the nightclub and is facing misdemeanor charges of breach of peace and resisting an officer without violence.

According to an Orlando police officer, Maguire, 36, of Ruskin, Fla., ignored the officer’s request to move away from the club for his own safety. Maguire and another protester were wearing shirts with anti-gay slogans.

Local TV news footage shows Maguire asking an officer, “What law am I breaking?” An officer holds out his hand to stop Maguire. The two push one another briefly, and Maguire falls.

Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, is facing charges of aiding and abetting and obstruction in federal court. She has pleaded not guilty to helping her husband.


Dallas Wings Pride Night promo

Posted on 13 Jun 2017 at 11:02am

Dallas Wings celebrate LGBT Pride Month with Pride Night on Friday, June 16, when they host the New York Liberty in a 7 p.m. game at College Park Center, 600 S. Center St. in Arlington.

And since the Wings want their LGBT fans to turn out in force for the festivities, the team is offering a special promotion to Dallas Voice readers: Buy your ticket online and use the special promo code to get a discount on your ticket price:

Promo Code: VOICE17
Price range $10-$20

Get your tickets now and be there to cheer with Pride for our hometown team.


Cazares-Thomas reads names of Pulse victims

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 3:05pm

The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope read the names of the victims of the Pulse massacre that happened in Orlando a year ago today, June 12. The bell on the John Thomas bell wall rang in between each name he read.


UPDATE: 2 people injured in drunk driver incident at Marty’s

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 1:03pm


Dallas Police wrote to Dallas Voice:

“Sunday, June 11, 2017 at 11:42 p.m., Dallas police officers received a call regarding a major accident in the 4200 block of Maple Avenue.  The reporting person and a witness asked the suspect to leave the location.  Soon thereafter, the witness observed a vehicle collide into the rear patio fence of the business, injuring two people. The witness approached the vehicle and observed that the driver was the suspect they had previously asked to leave the establishment.

“The suspect then fled in the vehicle, southbound through the alley behind the business, then westbound on Knight Street.  One victim was transported Parkland Memorial Hospital by DFR 11.  The other victim initially refused medical transport, but later stated she would go to Parkland via private vehicle.

“… this incident is under investigation.”


A drunk driver drove through the back gate at Marty’s last night (June 11) injuring two people. Farrah Moan was performing at the club on Maple Avenue and cut her show short when her mother was one of the injured. She and Alexis G. Pantoja went by ambulance to the hospital.

On her Facebook page, Moan said her mother had driven in from Oklahoma to see her show.

Pantoja wrote, “Ok so tonight while me and Farrah moans mother were outside the patio at Marty’s when some drunk idiot ran his car through the back gate sending us flying through to the ground.”

The driver got away in a “red dodge neon 90s model” according to one eyewitness.

We have message in to Dallas Police for more information and will update this afternoon.


Dallas Voice staffers win 4 first-place awards from Houston Press Club

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 9:46am

Bette Midler and the Dallas Theater Center aren’t the only award-winners of the weekend. Dallas Voice staffers and contributors fared very well at the Houston Press Club’s annual Lone Star Awards this weekend, taking four First Place trophies, as well as three other awards.

Senior Staff Writer David Taffet and Executive Editor Arnold Wayne Jones each walked off with two First Place awards. Taffet won for Print News or Feature Story for “Rehabilitated?,” about an anti-gay hate crime and the perpetrator’s quest for reconciliation. That piece also helped Taffet win Print Journalist of the Year. Judges singled out his work as “lively and engrossing… it doesn’t hurt that he finds surprising subjects with great stories to tell.” Dallas Voice Managing Editor Tammye Nash took Second Place in the same category.

Jones won the top award for Print Photography for his photo of a hot-air balloon mid-flight. “The stunning, color image of the hot-air balloon highlighted by the stream of fire is an exciting photo catching a brief moment of time,” opined the judges Jones also won First Place for his op/ed piece “David Bowie Allowed You to Be Gay.” The judges said, “What a tribute to an incredible icon! Strong writing, interesting subject and thought-provoking presentation.” Jones also took Third Place for Internet Opinion for “Winter is Coming,” in which he analyzed the dangers of a Trump presidency in the hours after his election.

Finally, columnist Cassie Nova (aka James Love) won Third Place for General Commentary for her piece “Cassie Gets Serious About Orlando.”

You can see all winners here. Congrats!


Equality March Dallas honors Pride, remembers those lost to violence

Posted on 12 Jun 2017 at 9:45am

Dallas’ LGBT community joined LGBT people and our allies nationwide on Sunday in marching for equality and unity and Pride. After gathering for a rally at Resource Center, 5750 Cedar Springs Road, participants marched down Cedar Springs Road to the Legacy of Love Monument, at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn Avenue, where a ceremony was held remembering and honoring the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre on June 12, 2016, and the trans men and women who have been murdered this year.

A national Equality March was held Sunday in Washington, D.C., and — following the model of the Women’s March in January — events were held around the country on the same day, including Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin, Abilene and Texarkana.

Chuck Marcelo with Marcelo Media captured the Dallas rally and march in photos for Dallas Voice.


Congresswoman Johnson on Comey testimony

Posted on 09 Jun 2017 at 12:09pm

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson — the Dallas Democrat who has long been one of the LGBT community’s strongest allies, both when she was in the Texas Legislature and now in Congress — has released a statement regarding testimony delivered yesterday on Capitol Hill by former FBI Director James Comey.

Here’s what EBJ had to say:

“Hearing the live testimony by former FBI Director James Comey leaves us with more questions than answers. However, one point is clear — we can no longer excuse the president’s behavior and complete disregard for maintaining a sense of propriety and lawfulness in his actions as a public official. The fact that Mr. Comey had to take deliberate steps to protect himself due to the lack of trust and apparent conflicts of interest among cabinet officials in the White House is deeply disturbing. It is quite unfortunate that President Trump has chosen to undermine the credibility of the federal government in this way and detract from the more meaningful discussions we should be having about issues facing our nation.

“Mr. Comey’s need to testify before Congress [Thursday] highlights the dire consequences of delaying a fully independent commission from investigating the Trump-Russia connection and the possibility of collusion during the 2016 campaign between President Trump, his associates, and Russian operatives. After [Thursday’s] hearing, it appears that Mr. Comey was fired for his unwillingness to yield to President Trump’s demands to subvert such an investigation. That is wrong.

“When the president of the United States chooses to influence an ongoing investigation being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, it can create the appearance of a conflict of interest. This can undermine the American people’s trust in our government, our rule of law and the elected officials who serve them. If a sitting president chooses to fire the law enforcement officials investigating allegations of wrongdoing committed by the administration, it sets a dangerous precedent if no repercussions follow such actions. This is where Congress must play a bigger role.

“Mr. Comey recalled in his testimony that President Trump demanded and expected loyalty. The American people demand the same of our president, and they expect loyalty to our country — not to foreign adversaries.”


PHOTOS: Pulse memorial in Orlando

Posted on 09 Jun 2017 at 7:00am

Earlier this year, I visited Pulse. The building is fenced off and a memorial to the victims has grown in the parking lot on two sides of the nightclub. The sign remains dimly lit in memory of the 49 people murdered at the LGBT club last year on June 11. Here are photos I took during the visit.


Dallas County Commissioners recognize Pride Month, ASD

Posted on 08 Jun 2017 at 3:24pm

Dallas County Commissioners Court on Tuesday, June 6, recognized June as National LGBT Pride Month. The commissioners also recognized AIDS Services of Dallas on its 30th anniversary. (Photo courtesy Erin Moore)