Food pantry clients need your help

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 9:45am
Screen shot 2014-11-21 at 9.14.07 AM

The cupboard is bare

Once again, the cupboards are bare.

In this season of thankfulness and sharing, the Resource Center’s food pantry is in critical need of canned vegetables, canned meats, and condiments. The bulk of the food is purchased from the North Texas Food Bank at a significantly reduced price, but their inventory has been excruciatingly low.

After serving all the HIV-positive clients on Monday, the food pantry had only a shelf of canned carrots left. Typically, the center’s food pantry sees its highest demand for products in November and December. Please help the clients and make a donation of food and/or cash before the Thanksgiving holiday.

Pantry Wish List:

Canned meats: tuna, chicken, chili, Spam
Canned soups and ramen noodles
Canned vegetables and fruits
Boxed cereal
Dry staples: rice, beans, pasta
Juice: juice boxes and canned juices
Condiments: ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, sugar
Pop-top cans and commercially wrapped single-serve items work best for our clients

Food drop-off locations:

Food Pantry, 5450 Denton Drive Cut Off, Dallas, 75235
Monday: 9 a.m.–7 p.m.
Tuesday-Thursday: 9 a.m.–2 p.m.
Friday-Sunday: Closed

John Thomas LGBT Community Center, 2701 Reagan St., Dallas, 75219
Monday-Friday: 9 a.m.–9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Sunday: Closed

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Counting your blessings

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 7:25am

Leslie McMurray

Living life as a trans woman isn’t easy. In fact, it can be hard as hell. It hurts; it’s expensive, and at times can seem an insurmountable challenge. There are still many obstacles stacked before us that all seem to conspire to derail transition, or worse.

We need look no further than our annual observation of Transgender Day of Remembrance each Nov. 20 to illustrate the challenges and obstacles. Getting caught up in those challenges can be tempting. Poor me syndrome can creep in.

So I thought I’d share a tool I came across many years ago to help in facing the challenges. It works for me, and I hope it can help others, too.

I used to live in the mountains of Northern California, not far from Lake Tahoe. It was truly beautiful there. Lots of tall trees, free-running creeks and rivers and, of course, snow capped mountains.

But trying to plant a garden was a real chore. There were hungry deer eager to eat almost anything we planted. The ground was hard and had lots of rocks, from small baseball-sized ones to those too big to lift.

After digging and digging and extracting these rocks and tossing them into a pile, we decided to make a rock garden of sorts. (We planted flowers, too, eventually.)

This rock garden took shape as a kind of border around the front lawn. It was a couple of feet wide and ran maybe 30 feet long at first, then grew from there.

I don’t recall where I first heard the idea but I loved it right away: Place every stone with a purpose and assign a blessing in your life to it. This was a wonderful exercise in living in gratitude because there were a LOT of rocks.

The blessings were easy at first: One for each of my two daughters, my wife at the time, a roof over my head, our two beloved dogs, a good job, enough food to eat, good health — and so it went.

After a while though became more of a challenge. But the funny thing was, it sort of forced me to really set my mind on just how fortunate I was.

Most of us are really blessed far beyond what we are aware of on a daily basis.

Comfortable bed? Many people in the world lack even that. Music? Yep. Good friends? How about a rock for each one. Treasured memories? Sunny days? Sure! Rainy nights in front of a fire? Absolutely.

You get the idea. No matter how many rocks we found around the property and in the ground, we always found blessings to assign them.

You can do it with rocks, or collectable spoons or stuffed animals or whatever you want. It’s even fun to go back and remember which rock was which blessing.

Is life a challenge sometimes? Yes. Is that going to change? Not anytime soon, no. Matter of fact, it can sometimes be a real beat-down.

But focusing on the good things we have in our lives can be a real attitude adjustment. Living life from a place of gratitude can really help your outlook.

For each one of you that read this and get something out of it, I’ve got a rock with your name on it. Please accept my deepest thanks.                     •

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 21, 2014

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Going homo for the holidays

Posted on 21 Nov 2014 at 7:20am

Emerson CollinsWhen you are out and proud, with a loving and supportive Rockwellian family, the holidays are a face-stuffing good time filled with presents, merriment and drinking for good times.

If you are not out, or if you come from a judgmental and conservative family more akin to something out of Tennessee Williams, it can mean eating alone, receiving gifts with strings attached or depression and drinking just to get through it all.

When it is not all carols and good cheer, there are ways to make it better.

For many LGBT people, the holidays become a time filled with the self-pressure of “just do it already” to come out. There is often something equal parts appealing and terrifying about the idea of all of the family being together and just ripping off the rainbow Band-Aid.

There is no wrong way to come out — as gay, bisexual or transgender — because there is nothing wrong with being LGBT. Anyone who tells you otherwise is suggesting there is something potentially negative about the information you are revealing, and they are wrong. Completely wrong.

There is not a right time to announce “I like pizza,” or “I’m a real estate agent,” or “Taylor Swift might be the anti-Christ.” (OK, that last one could start a fight.) You are just revealing a previously unknown piece of the puzzle that is you to the people who love you.

That said, considering the potential responses can make it easier for you and those to whom you are coming out. If there is any potential physical danger in the response to your news, your personal safety should be the only factor in your decision. There is no benefit to your journey from putting yourself in harm’s way.

Outside of physical danger, if you are likely to receive an extremely negative reaction based on the prejudices of your friends or family, have a pre-determined exit strategy. If it’s important to you to come out and you know it will not go well, have someone with you and somewhere to go after the conversation to protect yourself from being stuck if it becomes an emotionally harmful situation.

Beyond the worst-case scenarios, giving some consideration to those you are telling will make it the best for everyone. You may receive the “Oh, honey, we’ve always known” response, or the “Umm, we had no idea!” surprised reaction. The first can be relief for you and amusement for all and then “pass the stuffing…” followed by joking innuendos.

The shocked response could cause that lapse around the table where you can hear everyone chewing as they revise their internal understanding of you while thinking of something to say. Being understanding of any initial surprise or shock, rather than resenting it immediately, can allow a conversation of love and understanding to continue over entirely too many kinds of pie.

Most of those in the closet have had a great deal of time to come to terms with their own identities before sharing them; allow others a moment to gather themselves and sitting down to not watch the sportsball game afterward will be easier for everyone.

It can also be all in the timing. It’s just possible that if your family is hosting a holiday dinner or party with a large group of guests, asking for a huge helping of meat and coming out by saying, “Because that’s what I like in the bedroom” might go over like vegan stuffing in the South — not because you should not be proud, but because asking for respect means giving it as well.

Of course, if your family is going to be absolutely fine, and you know that, bringing sushi to the potluck and announcing “Because I’m a lesbian” can be fun for the whole family!
Coming out is about you. The holidays as a time of love and gift-giving can be a wonderful time to do so. The time and manner should be what makes you feel most comfortable first. Remembering to be considerate of the feelings of the friends and family will help you choose the best moment for all of you.

Of course, the holidays can be challenging for those who are already out if family relationships are complicated. It can be a ballet of compromise for those who want to see and be involved with family members in spite of negative attitudes surrounding sexual orientation or gender identity.

In these situations, it is still important to remember that how, and how much, you are involved in the family holidays is up to you.

If your family loves you “in spite of” something about your orientation, there are many approaches to participating with them, and one that will fit you best. Some LGBT people choose not to be with their blood family at all and to focus on the new family they have built who embrace all of who they are.

For others, in spite of ongoing disapproval, cutting ties or issuing ultimatums would be too painful and a tenuous middle ground is reached. There is the “We talk about everything but that” approach. Or the “You are welcome here, but your partner is not” offer. And the ever-popular “We’re praying for you and just want you in church with us” guilt trip that is unfortunately popular in the Bible Belt.

And on and on and on.

However you deal with a less-than-completely-accepting family, do it on your terms. If you feel like you may lose out on time with them, remember they will also be losing out on time with you. Make compromises if you are truly comfortable with them, but do not agree to anything that makes you feel “less than;” don’t let them have their perfect holiday by sacrificing yours.

If holiday compromises involve your significant other, ensure that you are considering their feelings as well. They love you unconditionally and should be treated with more respect than those who do not.

If you make sacrifices, be open and vocal about what they are so your family is aware of them. Do not let them off the hook. That love they have for you, and their desire to have you for the holidays, should ensure they compromise at least as much as you do.

However, if you agree to a compromise, do not begrudge them the terms you agreed upon. If you do not like how it ends up, you can always leave. Or make it different next year.

For many in the LGBT community, the holidays are equal parts wonderful and challenging. The line between loving an imperfect family without sacrificing personal pride is a tight line to walk. There is no correct way to navigate it all beyond ensuring that you are not making any choices that you cannot live with.

Do not let anyone make you feel less than you are for their perfect meal, perfect holiday or perfect photo opportunity. Whether coming out or coming home, make sure those you give them to are worthy of your gifts during the holidays, and always remember there are no greater gifts than your time, your presence and your love.

Emerson Collins is one of the hosts of The People’s Couch on Bravo.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 21, 2014

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Welcome to the family Ty

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 4:08pm

In honor of Ty Herndon having come out, let me share this video of one of my favorites of his songs. We should all be living in the moment.

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Chorale headlines tree lighting at Main Street Garden … and lots more

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 3:25pm
Baugh.Sean

Acting director Sean Baugh

UPDATE: Because of expected rain, City Lights has moved to Sunday and the Chorale is scheduled to perform at 7:45 p.m.

Original Post:

The Turtle Creek Chorale headlines the City Lights lighting of the Main Street Garden Christmas tree on Saturday, Nov. 22.

The tree lighting is at 7 p.m. and the Chorale sings at 8 p.m. Main Street Garden is located at 1902 Main St.

The Chorale has seven other outreach concerts in addition to two performances of Jangled in McKinney on Dec. 13 and five performances on Dec. 18-21 at City Performance Hall in the Arts District. Buy tickets here.

The Chorale has a number of other performances around town throughout December.

Nov. 29:
Support Small Business Saturday on the Saturday after Thanksgiving by heading up to the historic McKinney Town Square. Poke your head into the shops and enjoy the sweet sounds of members of TCC as they carol about the square from 2–3 p.m.

Dec. 5:
Tune into WRR Classical 101.1 FM from noon–1 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 5 and enjoy a free one hour Chorale concert. Able to slip away from your desk? Head over to Dallas City Performance Hall and watch the broadcast live.

Dec 5:
Poinsettias and rosemary Christmas trees and Christmas cacti, oh my! Stroll through North Haven Gardens on Friday, Dec. 5 from 5–7 p.m. Local artists will be sharing their new works, artisans will be selling their wares, and the Chorale will be singing.

Dec. 6:
Everyone knows there are a few holiday classics not to be missed. Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol is a Dallas tradition. Attend the Saturday matinee on Dec. 6 and enjoy caroling from TCC’s small ensemble, Camerata, as you sip your egg nog before the show!

Theater not your thing? Head over to Klyde Warren Park on Dec. 6 and check out TCC on the mainstage from 2:30–3 p.m. Dance on the green. Grab a holiday cupcake from Trailercakes or listen from the Savor patio.

Dec. 7:
Sean Baugh is the Chorale’s acting artistic director. He’ll be the guest on Lambda Weekly on Dec. 7 from 1–2 p.m. Have something to ask — naughty or nice — leave your question here in the comments.

Dec. 8:
Nothing quite describes the Chorale like SPARKLE! OK, we were referring to glitter, but the Hilton Anatole’s Sparkle! event is fun for the whole family.  With indoor skating, face painting, light shows and more, you won’t want to be the only Dallas-ite not there! We recommend going on Monday, Dec. 8 since the Chorale will be singing from 6–6:40 p.m.

Dec. 11:
FINALLY … whew … they made it to they’re last outreach event, and it’s certainly a favorite. TCC will be performing at NorthPark Mall on Thursday, Dec. 11 from 5–5:45 p.m. Shopping and the Chorale? Yes please! Grab your favorite holiday latte and stroll over to the NorthCourt area in front of AMC Theaters for classic holiday carols.

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Country singer Ty Herndon comes out as gay

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 3:24pm

Country singer Ty Herndon came out as gay in an exclusive interview with Entertainment Tonight.

Watch a segment of the video below.

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4 DFW corporations earn perfect scores on Equality Index

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 1:57pm

GayTexasFlagTwo local companies participated for the first time in the latest Corporate Equality Index, the annual assessment of corporate LGBT policies and practices released Wednesday, Nov. 19, by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

Celanese Corporation of Irving and RadioShack of Fort Worth joined 42 other Texas-based companies on this year’s CEI, which evaluates Fortune 1000 companies and law firms on a 1-100 scale across five categories: non-discrimination policies, employment benefits, competency and accountability around LGBT diversity and inclusion, public commitment to LGBT equality and corporate responsibility.

Four Dallas/Fort Worth companies achieved the rare perfect 100 score, among them AT&T and Comerica of Dallas, American Airlines of Fort Worth and GameStop of Grapevine.

American Airlines is among just nine companies nationwide that have received perfect scores each year since the CEI began in 2002.

“The Corporate Equality Index shows just how much progress American businesses have made in promoting fairness, spurred on by leadership from Texas-based employers,” said Deena Fidas, who heads the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Project and is co-author of the CEI. “Texas companies can tell you: equality works — not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is simply good business to give everyone a fair shot at success in the workplace.”

Celanese was lauded for dramatically improved its score from 15 to 80 points by taking action that included adding gender identity protections to its non-discrimination policy, as well as instituting domestic partner medical benefits, same-sex partner benefits and an LGBT employee resource group with executive support.

RadioShack’s active participation earned the corporation 15 points over last year’s score. ExxonMobil of Irving, notoriously hostile to LGBT equality, has been given a score of -25 for shareholders’ actions in repeatedly voting against a policy protecting LGBT employees.

Rafael McDonnell, advocacy and communications director for Resource Center, said, “Celanese is one of the oil and gas and engineering companies who see the benefits of inclusion.” He noted that oil and gas giants like Celanese, as well as manufacturing, biotechnology and other companies in business sectors that have been under-represented are a focal point for LGBT workplace advocates like Resource Center and HRC.

AT&T celebrated its leadership on LGBT issues, as seen in the video below.

“When you have a culture where everyone can bring their full selves to work each day, it’s amazing what happens,” said Debbie Storey, AT&T senior vice president of talent development and chief diversity officer. “At AT&T we’ve long known that inclusion drives innovation – and that a truly inclusive culture is defined by its action, policies, and accountability practices. HRC understands that too, which is why this recognition is so meaningful to us.”

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Kansas is not recognizing its own marriages

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 12:25pm

Marriage_Equality_Map11-21In an attempt to prove it can be the most contemptuous state, marriages performed in Kansas are not being recognized by the state of Kansas.

Some county clerks in Kansas are complying with a court order to allow same-sex couples to marry. But nothing in the order said the state had to recognize those marriages.

According to the Wichita Eagle, state offices are not changing their policies while the state continues its appeal. So married couples are not being allowed to change their names on their drivers licenses as heterosexual couples may. Married couples won’t be allowed to file joint tax returns the Kansas Department of Revenue said on Nov. 18.

Marriage license forms, however, have been revised to accommodate same-sex couples.

In the last session of the Kansas legislature, the House passed a bill that would have allowed public employees to refuse to serve same-sex couples on religious grounds. The bill did not pass the Senate, but the state is acting as if it had been signed into law. Should a law like this pass, the 10th Circuit has already ruled that a law based on animus is unconstitutional.

Only 19 of 105 Kansas counties are issuing marriage licenses.

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Dallas County offers free flu shots

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 11:48am

vaccineDallas County Health and Human Services offers free flu vaccines in an all-in-one shot that protects from multiple strains including H1N1 from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. at the County Health Department’s building at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway.

No appointments are necessary. For more info 214-819-2162.

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Marriage begins in Montana and South Carolina today

Posted on 20 Nov 2014 at 10:35am

Marriage_Equality_Map11-21The Billings Gazette reports that couples were lined up at county courthouses across Montana today (Thursday, Nov. 20) as marriage equality came to the final state in the 9th Circuit. In South Carolina, the U.S. Supreme Court turned down an appeal from the state’s attorney general and marriage begins at noon today in that state.

Including Kansas, where some counties are still holding out because they think Supreme Court rulings don’t necessarily apply to them, there are 35 marriage equality states.

The next state could be Mississippi where a positive ruling is expected soon. That case was heard in U.S. District Court on Nov. 17.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to hear a case, because the 6th Circuit upheld discrimination for Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. The 5th Circuit will hear Texas and Louisiana cases in January. If that court upholds bigotry, the Supreme Court could take one of those cases.

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