Letters

Posted on 14 Dec 2006 at 7:51pm

Voelkle was the problem
After reading the Article “Silver Hope Project reaches dead-end” (Dallas Voice, Dec. 8 issue), I was shocked by Robert Voelkle’s remarks and the inaccuracy of his comments. Let me correct Robert Voelkle.

Lory Masters resigned from working with The Silver Hope Project in 2003 for one reason: Robert Voelkle. As a business partner (stockholder) of Master Realtors, Inc., I know the general public would be shocked at the billable hours we paid our staff to work on this project, not to mention the expense of airfare, hotels and the countless hours of meetings and planning. Never once has Lory or the firm asked for reimbursement of those expenses. Lory Masters truly looked at herself, the community and her values and decided to resign as advisor. The “dead horse” in this project is Robert Voelkle. Before any blame should be placed on Lory Masters, Robert should take a close look at himself.

I commend Robert Voelkle for his dream. I know he has spent many hours working on this project, but it is time to hand the dream over and step out of the picture because the truth is no one wants to work with him. Instead of bashing people who truly have made a difference in this community how about saying thanks?

Thank God this community has people like Dr. Frank Rees and Lory Masters and countless others who give so much back to Dallas. I can assure you that if Lory Masters can help raise millions of dollars as co-chair, with John Thomas, of the capital campaign for the Cathedral of Hope; which built a new counseling center, a new children’s wing and new offices, she could have helped raise for the Silver Hope Project. I also dream of a wonderful place for the LGBT family, but Voelkle is not the man to do it.

Todd Elkins
Partner of Master Realtors, Inc.

Insulting and irresponsible
After reading the article “Silver Hope Project Reaches dead-end.” I was shocked by Robert Voelkle’s remarks and the inaccuracy of his comments. I do not know the details of this project and I do not know Robert Voelkle personally. But I do know Lory Masters I’m her daughter.

My mother has dedicated the better part of her life to helping and serving the gay and lesbian community, locally and nationally. While growing up, I witnessed first hand the countless hours she spent at board meetings, fundraisers and community functions. She has made many personal sacrifices over the past four decades to help build and support this community, not to mention the hundreds of people she’s helped individually and the millions of dollars she has raised to benefit many of the organizations serving the community today.

I think this article was insulting and irresponsible. It is the opinion of one man and by no means reflects a “true picture” in regard to the time, effort and dedication put forth by Lory on behalf of this community. I personally feel a public apology or retraction is in order by Dallas Voice. Instead of bashing people who have truly made a difference in this community how about saying thank you?

Cindy Huitt Smith
Partner of Master Realtors, Inc.

Masters a true hero
It is disappointing that Silver Hope has reached a dead-end. Perhaps it is just a temporary detour in a worthy effort.

In reading the article, I was all the more disappointed by Robert Voelkle’s remarks about Lory Masters. I have known Robert for many years and appreciate his efforts to get a retirement center off the ground here in Dallas.
Lory Masters was one of the first people I met when I arrived in Dallas in 1987. Robert’s characterization of her could not be more wrong. Lory is one of this community’s greatest heroes. She has given more of her time, energy, passion and love to this community than almost anyone I know. She has personally sacrificed more than Robert and I combined. It is unfortunate that the story left this great woman’s reputation besmirched by a single individual’s remark. This cannot go unanswered, because, regardless of what Mr. Voelkle’s experience was or opinion is, there are thousands of us who would gladly rise up to bear witness that Lory Masters has delivered more to, and for, this community than almost anyone in history. We have too few leaders to fail to appreciate heroic ones like Lory.

The Rev. Michael Piazza
Dean of the Cathedral, Cathedral of Hope

Terribly disappointing
I read the interview with Jennifer Hudson you recently did (“‘Dreamgirls’ actress says Gay is sin,” Dallas Voice, Dec. 8) what a terribly misleading headline.

As a community, we should celebrate someone as talented and wonderful as Jennifer Hudson as a supporter. She’s going to be a superstar after this movie is released. To have another star like her be so positive toward the gay community is a wonderful thing. But instead of celebrating Jennifer with a great and positive headline, your headline makes her sound like a homophobic bigot.

She posted on her blog today (Dec. 7), and it obviously is upsetting to her. She’s been nothing but a gracious, humble and sweet person all along and instead of having the time of her life at the moment, this kind of thing happens. It is terribly disappointing.

Patrick Finley
Seattle, Wash.

Sensational and misleading
I just wanted to say that I thought the headline of your article on Jennifer Hudson was a bit too sensational, and a bit misleading, based on the article’s content and what she said. That’s too bad.

Dan Barron
Atlanta, Ga.

Creating unnecessary melodrama
What are you doing? “Dreamgirls” is a movie we have all been waiting for, for a long time, and what do you go and do? Create melodrama where there does not need to be any.

I grew up Houston. My entire family is Baptist. We long ago reconciled our religion with the Bible and came up with an answer of mutual respect and love while agreeing to disagree on some Bible matters.

You are a jerk for trying to bring “social issues” into what should be a proud, fun, escapist musical we have all craved for so many years. To try and sabotage a young woman makes all us gays look pitiful, trite and melodramatic. Shame on you as a journalist. Maybe some more journalism classes are in store for you.

Philip Dumas
West Hollywood, Calif.

Casting a negative light on Hudson
In reading the article titled “”‘Dreamgirl’ says, Gay is a sin,” written by Daniel Kusner, I must say that I was very disappointed in the way you manipulatively cast a negative light on Jennifer Hudson’s opinion of the gay community. Not only was the article demeaning towards Ms. Hudson, but it was very contradictive throughout many sections.

One would think that the gay community would desperately welcome celebrities such as Jennifer Hudson who have supported gay functions and openly welcomed gays as both fans and friends.

But instead, you chose to use Jennifer’s responses in a fashion that made it appear that she was condemning gays. Anyone who knows Jennifer personally or who has been a fan of hers could see straight through your transparent article and know that it was full of crap.

Also, why would you degrade Jennifer’s religious remarks as “fundamentalist clich?s” when all she was doing was answering your questions honestly? Are you not able to handle honest answers?

Before you ask for Jennifer’s forgiveness, I urge you to first get on your knees and ask God for his.

Certain parts of the article seem show her infatuation with gay people and the fact that she is comfortable around them. If you are aware of this, then there is obviously no need to twist Jennifer’s words in a way that makes it sound anything but. It appears to me that you are intentionally attempting to create a controversy.

In spite of what the Bible states, she stills seems to be able to connect with her gay fan base, unlike “American Idol” finalist Mandisa, who outright rejected an invitation to a gay function and openly made the statement that she was “not a gay advocate.” It’s people like that whom you should be attacking, not sincere people such as Jennifer Hudson.

I believe an apology is owed to Jennifer Hudson because of course, as we both know, articles such as these can easily ruin a person’s career. Also, it should be made clear that Jennifer adores gay fans just as she does any other fan, if not more.

Kenneth Martin
Austin

Inaccuracies in letter about Chorale
On behalf of the members of the Turtle Creek Chorale, I must respond to the blatant inaccuracies in Mark Burton’s letter. Mr. Burton equated Dr. Tim Seelig’s retirement from the Chorale to that of Dr. Criswell from First Baptist Dallas. However, when Dr. Criswell retired from the pulpit, he remained an employee of the church, sitting on the platform each week during services and active in the daily operations of the church. Upon his retirement from the TCC, Dr. Seelig will be available as a consultant to the new artistic director. He will not be on staff; he will not have an office. He will be paid at an hourly rate when or if the new artistic director wants to tap into Tim’s 20-year history with the Chorale.

Mr. Burton asserted that the new board chair and the ratio of singing members on the board are against the TCC bylaws. This is simply not true. As Dallas Voice reported on Dec. 1, Peter Anderson, the new board chair, is set to resign as a singing member in order to assume the responsibilities of his new role. The TCC bylaws require that at least half of the board members be non-singing members and we have not made an exception to this.

Mr. Burton stated, “There’s a reason that artists at the Dallas Symphony, DTC and the Dallas Opera don’t control their boards.” While his comparison speaks volumes about the artistic achievements of the Chorale, the artists in those organizations are all paid professionals. In contrast, the members of the TCC are all volunteers. We pay dues, buy our own tuxes, pay for our own travel and contribute hundreds of hours to rehearsals, concerts and benefits performances.

The TCC is working hard to achieve a new level of transparency, moving away from some of the secrecy of the past. Even with recent setbacks, the TCC turned the corner and ended the 2005-06 season in the black a remarkable accomplishment in difficult times for arts organizations. As Mr. Burton says, a non-profit is indeed a public trust. And the Chorale has served its community well.

The TCC is unquestionably the most honored gay chorus in America. We’ve performed for national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association. We’re working on our 37th recording, the sixth with Reference Recordings, one of the foremost classical labels in the country. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of sheet music have been sold in the “Turtle Creek Chorale Series” by Shawnee Press, a leader in music publishing for public schools. We commissioned “Sing for the Cure” in conjunction with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, raising money and awareness around the world. Each year, TCC donates more than 10 percent of its concert tickets to arts groups, youth groups, senior citizens and persons living with AIDS. We sing for thousands during holiday concerts at the Meyerson, but we also travel to nursing homes and hospitals to spread Christmas cheer. Within the last year we welcomed scores of Dallas Independent School District students to a concert on the history of American music, and we were featured in a second award-winning documentary that aired nationally on PBS. I urge Dallas Voice readers to review the guestbook at www.turtlecreek.org to get a glimpse of the impact that the Chorale has made.

Mr. Burton is right to say that the Chorale is not a “special fraternity.” But it is a special place. And while he may not appreciate the analogy, for many of us it is a family of choice.

Doug Mitchell,
Turtle Creek Chorale president,
co-chair of the Artistic Director Search Committee

Chorale should repair “‘broken bridges’
I agree with Mark Burton’s well-crafted letter to Dallas Voice (“What is TCC Thinking?” Dec. 8). As another former board member, I want to add the following:

Since Tim Seelig and the Turtle Creek Chorale have unfortunately alienated so many ex-board members, staff, singers, associates, patrons and private and corporate donors and sponsors over the past few years, the organization needs to act promptly and decisively to determine its path forward. And I believe it also needs to repair its many “broken bridges” within the community right away. Fortunately for the Chorale, some of its season subscribers and patrons enjoy the incredible music without being tied into community channels to hear about the historical unrest within the organization. Unfortunately, other season subscribers and patrons, along with many sponsors and donors in the community, are beginning to fully understand the TCC’s continued internal instability and recognize that the Chorale’s community reputation and future as a world-class arts organization are now truly at stake.

The community is waiting anxiously to see if the organization swiftly makes suitable and responsible changes, most especially tied to the highly publicized and anticipated departure of Tim Seelig in a few months. The organization’s long-term financial and operational survival fully depends on this and on focused, seasoned board leadership, which should accept this responsibility seriously and act swiftly to restore the Chorale’s relationship with the many volunteers, patrons, donors and staff that have left the organization over the years.

It would be sad to see the Turtle Creek Chorale begin to fade away due to financial, operational, and continued internal leadership difficulties.
John Westfield,

Former board member, Turtle Creek Chorale

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, December 15, 2006.

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