Thank you for being a candle in the wilderness,” Dallas attorney Rebecca Covell said in a video tribute to longtime activists Vivienne
Armstrong and Louise Young played during the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s annual Celebration of Excellence awards dinner held Friday night, April 28, at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel.
The chamber presented the newly-renamed Jack Evans and George Harris Lifetime Achievement Award to Armstrong and Young, who have been partners — in life and in activism — since they met in college more than 40 years ago.
Harris joined Realtor and activist Steve Atkinson on stage for the announcement that the award had been renamed in honor of him and his husband, the late Jack Evans. The two men have for years been known as the fathers of Dallas’ LGBT community and many of its organizations and had been together more than 55 years when Evans died last year.
Covell joined Atkinson and activist Dick Peeples in the tribute video, praising Armstrong and Young for their political activism, their activism for equality in the workplace and their example as a devoted and loving couple. She called the two women “visionaries” who “lived the change” they fought for.
“Thank you for all your hard work,” Covell said. “When it was so easy to sit down, you stood up for all of us. And you stayed up.”
Atkinson, noting that Armstrong and Young had “made it a foundation of their life’s work to affect change,” added that the LGBT community — in North Texas and across the country — “owe(s) them a huge debt of gratitutde.” To the couple, he said, “You could not deserve this more. I am proud to call you friends.”
Young told the crowd that this was “an amazing experience” to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award now named in honor of Evans and Harris. She also credited the strength of her relationship with her wife for giving her the strength for years of activism.
“You know, having been together for so many years — and it’s 46 now — you do learn some things about appreciating [your partner]. I can truly say that everything we have accomplished, we accomplished together.”
Armstrong said she is “extremely grateful to be part of this community” and that she “thank(s) my lucky stars for being in Dallas in a community that is whole.”
Young said that she and Armstrong had just recently returned from a trip to New York City to celebrate their anniversary, Armstrong’s recent 70th birthday and her own upcoming 70th birthday. While they were there, she said, they visited The Stonewall Inn, the famous bar that was the site of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 and that has recently been named a national historical site, and they had a chance to meet an 80-year-old bartender who was at the Stonewall the night of the riots.
“It was quite a thrill” to meet him, Young said. “It gave us quite a bit of perspective on how far we’ve come. So even though we may sense these dark times ahead because of the elections of November, don’t forget that we always, always keep moving forward.”
Also at the dinner, the chamber honored other outstanding leaders in the business and civic community:
Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager with Resource Center, received the Extra Mile Community Service Award, sponsored by American Airlines. Joshua Cogan with Outlast Youth received the Emerging Leader Award sponsored by Visit Dallas.
J. Waylon and Associations received the Member Service Award sponsored by Raytheon. Fastsigns Irving/Las Colinas received the Business of the Year Award sponsored by TNT Promotions. American Airlines received the Corporate Ally Award, sponsored by Cigna.
And Douglas Roark, Staff Perm, received the Supplier Diversity Champion Award, sponsored by Toyota.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 5, 2017.