Scenes from World AIDS Day Dallas at Main Street Garden

Posted on 03 Dec 2012 at 12:59pm

Seven panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt formed the centerpiece of the World AIDS Day commemoration on Saturday in Dallas’ Main Street Garden.

Members of the Knitting Circle, a group of HIV-positive women from Legacy Counseling Center’s Grace Project, wore red scarves they knitted for the first time. The project is designed to increase knowledge and decrease loneliness for those in communities where HIV remains a taboo subject.

Among the quilts displayed was one with a panel for Tom Davis, founder of the Round-Up Saloon; David Barton, founder of Hunky’s; and Alan Ross, the Pride parade organizer. On another quilt was a panel for Steve Burrus, a Dallas man who co-founded DIFFA.

Another is the most requested panel in the entire 50,000-panel quilt. It reads: “My name is Duane Kearns Puryear. I was born on December 20, 1964. I was diagnosed with AIDS on September 7, 1987 at 4:45 pm. I was 22 years old. Sometimes it makes me very sad. I made this panel myself. If you are reading it, I am dead.”

Puryear made that panel at a quilt-making workshop at Resource Center Dallas, where it hung until he took it to Washington, D.C. in 1989 for a quilt display on the National Mall. On his flight home, he left it in the overhead bin and the original was never seen again. When he died in 1990, his mother made this replica from a picture and it is her replica that is part of the quilt.

Among the speakers were Otis Harris who was featured on Saturday in an MTV special, I’m Positive, and Zach Thompson, director of Dallas County Health and Human Services.

More photos below.


Police have yet to identify gay man found brutally murdered in Carrollton

Posted on 03 Dec 2012 at 12:47pm

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Police are not releasing the identity of a 22-year-old gay man found murdered in his home in Carrollton on Friday.

Officer Jon Stovall confirmed the death is under investigation as murder. Stovall said Monday morning he didn’t know whether the victim had been positively identified or, if so, whether the family had been notified.

The victim’s body was discovered by his housemate, Tony Adams, at the residence they shared in the 2100 block of Placid Drive. Adams is active in Dallas theater and did sound and lighting for the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas, a predominantly gay congregation. Adams discovered the body when he came home from work.

Part of the confusion about the victim’s identity may be related to the fact that he acted under a stage name that he sometimes went by off stage as well.

Both Adams and the victim attended MCC of Greater Dallas. The Rev. Colleen Darraugh, pastor of MCC of Greater Dallas, said there was blood everywhere in the house.

“Evidently it was a brutal beating,” Darraugh said, adding that she thinks knives may have been involved.

In an email to her congregation Darraugh identified the victim only as “Shawn” and requested help “to assist Tony [Adams] with the expenses associated with the crime scene clean-up and replacement of clothing and home furnishings that were damaged or destroyed.”

Read the full email below.


Gay man’s fatal overdose is latest controversy for Dallas’ 911 call center

Posted on 30 Nov 2012 at 8:44pm

Matthew Sanchez, left, and his brother Samuel Sanchez.

A gay Dallas man died from a Xanax overdose earlier this month after emergency crews failed to respond to a 911 call from his apartment because of a miscommunication, the Dallas Morning News (subscription required) reported Friday. Matthew Sanchez, 20, the younger brother of gay activist Samuel Sanchez, died Nov. 16 at the apartment the two shared in Far North Dallas. Like Samuel Sanchez, Matthew Sanchez was gay.

The Morning News reports that Matthew Sanchez had been popping Xanax pills for hours when he collapsed on the floor of the apartment in the early morning hours of Nov. 16. Matthew Sanchez’s friend, Samuel Kim, called 911 from Sanchez’s phone before leaving the scene. Samuel Sanchez was not home at the time.

Dallas Fire-Rescue crews had responded to another, reportedly similar 911 call from the same apartment complex 11 minutes earlier. So the 911 dispatcher contacted paramedics in the ambulance that was transporting the first patient, to find out whether the second phone number also belonged to him. The patient erroneously said that it did, so the dispatcher told police officers to stop responding to the second call, from Sanchez. who was found dead several hours later by his mother.

Sanchez’s death is one of three high-profile incidents this year involving apparent mistakes by Dallas’ 911 call center, and Samuel Sanchez told The DMN that his family wants justice.

“My baby brother’s dead because of their mistake,” he said. “How many dead bodies does a city need before it will change?”

A Dallas Fire-Rescue official claims the department followed proper procedure by confirming that the second phone number also belonged to the first patient, even though it didn’t. But it’s hard to believe that proper procedure is asking someone who’s in an ambulance — possibly because they just overdosed on drugs themselves — whether a phone number belongs to them.

Our hearts go out to Samuel Sanchez, who’s been active in the Human Rights Campaign’s DFW Federal Club, and his family. The Sanchezes are from Harlingen, and Samuel said his brother, a member of the bear community, had found the ability to be himself since moving to Dallas to live with him a few years ago after they lost another brother in a car wreck in South Texas.


Petition calls for Pflugerville ISD board to reinstate domestic partner benefits

Posted on 30 Nov 2012 at 3:23pm

Pflugerville ISD recently became the first Texas school district to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees, both gay and straight.

But after vocal support and opposition was brought before the PSID Board of Trustees, the matter was placed on the agenda for reconsideration in December.

The board’s decision to reconsider DP benefits has prompted the Pflugerville Educators Association to launch a petition to encourage the board to keep the benefits.

The petition entitled, “Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees: Keep insurance benefits for all PISD employees and their families” mentions that the decision to reconsider the benefits is targeting gay employees unfairly when the recommendation to add DP benefits came from “a group of dedicated district employees who were tasked with evaluating benefits in the best interest of the entire PISD family.”

“Now, a small but vocal group of Pflugerville residents is attempting to turn this decision into something it is not,” the petition reads in part. “They claim PISD is ‘pushing an agenda,’ and they are attempting to equate the benefits change to taking a stand on gay marriage. These political allegations are not true.”

The change was a result from a recommendation from the district employees’ insurance commission to add insurance coverage for opposite- and same-sex couples. PISD’s superintendent later voiced support for the decision.

Supporters and opponents of the decision showed up in force at the October PISD board meeting. Earlier this month, board members said they were unaware of the changes they agreed to in the coverage change because they had always followed previous recommendations. They agreed to reconsider the benefits at the Dec. 13 meeting.

“I want to have our board revisit the insurance issue,” PISD trustee Jimmy Don Havins told Community Impact Newspaper. “I want the board to have an up or down vote. The motion I will make is to revert to the coverage we previously had.”


WATCH: Dallas’ Otis Harris Jr. talks about living with HIV on MTV

Posted on 30 Nov 2012 at 2:54pm

Otis_GTADallas_138For World AIDS Day, MTV is airing I’m Positive, which featuring Otis Harris Jr., a local 25-year-old who tested positive for HIV and is part of the Greater Than AIDS campaign. Dallas Voice featured Harris in a story several weeks ago.

Harris shares his story of contracting HIV and explains the importance of spreading awareness.

For a year, Harris was afraid to tell his father that he tested positive. But his father’s reaction was that he loves his son and now is participating in the Greater Than AIDS with his son. And his reaction to seeing himself on a billboard with his son?

“Now my fat face is up there,” Harris Sr. said.

On World AIDS Day, Harris will be at the Dallas event Saturday at Main Street Garden, from 3–6 p.m. Watch a video preview of Harris’ appearance on I’m Positive after the jump.


First of 5 teens sentenced to probation in anti-gay graffiti case in Arlington

Posted on 29 Nov 2012 at 4:59pm

Kim Lovering’s vehicle was spray-painted with ‘faggot’ and ‘queers.’

The first of the five teens charged with a state jail felony for an Arlington graffiti spree in June that included anti-gay slurs on a lesbian couples’ SUV was sentenced Wednesday.

The 16-year-old was the first teen to turn herself in and cooperated with Arlington police when surveillance video of the culprits was released by a neighbor. She was sentenced to a year of probation in juvenile court, along with 50 hours of community service that must be completed at either Samaritan House or AIDS Outreach Center in Fort Worth.

David Mack Henderson, Fairness Fort Worth treasurer, attended the trial and sentencing. He said the judge was stern with the teen, reminding her that her actions affected a whole neighborhood and not just the 16 victims whose property was damaged.

The juvenile is also responsible for one-fifth of the cost of the restitution, which currently totals $6,441 but can be amended by the DA later.

Fairness Fort Worth President Jon Nelson called the sentence fair and reasonable, considering the teen will have to complete community service. He said he thinks all of the teens should have to complete community service at an LGBT or HIV/AIDS organization.

“I think that these people need to understand our community and the only way for them to do that is working within that community,” Nelson said.

Kim Lovering, one of the victims of the anti-gay graffiti, said she was pleased with the sentencing because the teen didn’t have any previous convictions.

“I thought it was fair,” she said.


Gay binational Texas couples must choose between partner and country

Posted on 29 Nov 2012 at 3:36pm

Tammy and Sally

For the holidays, GetEQUAL and Out4Immigration have been telling stories of same-sex couples forced to choose between country and partner.

Several of those stories involve Texas couples.

Art, a U.S. citizen from San Antonio, and Stuart, a citizen of the U.K.. are an example of a couple struggling to stay together despite U.S. marriage and immigration laws.

GetEQUAL’s Heather Cronk wrote in a press release that for more than 36,000 binational same-sex couples, holidays are times of sadness and loneliness, as LGBT Americans are prohibited under the Defense of Marriage Act from sponsoring their same-sex partner for immigration purposes.

Despite the White House’s refusal to defend the law in court, Congressional Republicans have spent $1.5 million defending the law in 14 pending cases and hit the spending limit set forth with the approval of the Committee on House Administration.

After the jump, read the stories of Texas couples Art and Stuart and Sally and Tammy.


WATCH: Channel 33’s ‘Gay Agenda’ features hot twink action — and me

Posted on 28 Nov 2012 at 11:30pm

Gay KDAF-TV reporter Doug Magditch has launched, as of tonight, a new weekly segment called “The Gay Agenda” — which seems to fit right in with CW33’s flashy new 9 p.m. news format called “Nightcap.”

This week Magditch runs down the CDC’s alarming new statistics on young people and HIV (a segment that includes kissing, above, which seems fairly risque for network TV), as well as the LGBT boycott of the anti-gay Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign and the recent arrest of an A-List: Dallas cast member.

Magditch also stopped by Dallas Voice offices to interview yours truly, and he says I’ll be a regular guest on “The Gay Agenda” — despite my Michele Bachmann-esque eyes in the last clip.

Watch tonight’s premiere below.


SMU student indicted for sexual assault; male UNT student reports rape

Posted on 28 Nov 2012 at 11:00am

John David Mahaffey

Southern Methodist University student John David Mahaffey, 19, was indicted Friday on sexual assault charges.

A male SMU student told police in September that he was forced to perform oral sex on Mahaffey in a parking garage at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity where Mahaffey was a member.

Mahaffey was then arrested and has been banned from campus and suspended from the fraternity.

In another case of male rape, a University of North Texas student contacted campus police last week after he was sexually assaulted while trying to give directions to a group.

He told police he was walking Tuesday when a car pulled up and the passengers asked him for directions. He got in the car to help, but one of them pulled a knife on him.

His eyes were covered while he was attacked and he was then freed somewhere else on campus.

Jana Barker, executive director at Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center, previously told Dallas Voice that there aren’t statistics of male rape on college campuses. But she said it’s estimated that only 7 percent of victims of male rape report it.

While it is unknown if the victims of the sexual assaults at SMU and UNT are gay, Barker said gay men are often targets of sexual assault.


American Airlines responds to LGBT groups’ concerns about union vote

Posted on 28 Nov 2012 at 10:49am

Reservationists, gate agents and customer relations employees at American Airlines have been trying to unionize for about a year. With its bankruptcy, the airline has delayed a vote on whether the employees can unionize. Pilots, flight attendants and mechanics already belong to unions.

A vote on the service agents’ union is now scheduled for Dec. 4. Although American tried to block the vote, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia cleared the way today for about 10,000 American employees to decide whether to unionize.

While mostly a labor issue, the national LGBT group Pride At Work is concerned whether LGBT employees’ benefits would be among the first cut if service agents are not allowed to unionize. In states like Texas where employees have no protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity, a union contract can include those protections.

American Airlines has received a perfect 100 percent rating on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for the last 11 years.