Blake Baker, Wayne Davis, Donna Dumae: Helping folks have fun for charity
All of Dallas loves a party, and gay Dallas all but lives for them. Swimsuit season? Pool parties aplenty. Christmas and New Year’s? We know how to don our gay apparel like nobody’s business. Even the fall and spring have Black Tie Dinner and DIFFA and countless more opportunities.
But parties don’t happen by themselves, and a core of people not only do their best to entertain us, they do it for a cause. And for free.
All-volunteer nonprofits are perhaps the most remarkable of organizations. Toiling away for long hours without remuneration just to raise money to benefit others? It’s a sacrifice. No wonder they need a party to make it worth it.
We kid. The parties are the selling point sometimes, but the charity is the beneficiary.
Countless folks give of their time and money and effort and creativity year in and out to make North Texas’ gay community a better place. But the three we’re highlighting here have done extraordinary work for a long time. And elevated us all with festivities and fundraising. That is part of what makes these folks some of the memorable members of our community in 2014.
Don Jenkins, aka Donna Dumae
Back in the day, “the court system” was a center of gay culture, drag culture and gay activism. In Dallas, the United Court of the Lone Star Empire celebrated its 40th anniversary of fundraising this year, and during that time, Don Jenkins — under the drag persona Donna Dumae — has led the way.
Unlike other charity groups, the UCLSE keeps all the money local, and a lot of that money over the last three decades has passed through the bra strap of Dumae.
It’s not just the court that Jenkins/Dumae has raised money for, however; she’s tirelessly dedicated much of her career of volunteerism to raising money for AIDS Services of Dallas (two shows a year since the 1980s), as well as the Texas Gay Rodeo Association. But on this milestone anniversary year for the UCLSE, it seemed fitting to single out Dumae for doing well more than her part over the years at fighting for funding — as well as fighting for rights — for LGBT Texans.
It’s easy to think that the Dallas bear community comes out of hibernation just once a year, for the March madness that is the Texas Bear Round Up — a party weekend of international appeal that brings the hirsute and hefty to North Texas. But the Dallas Bears — the group that puts on TBRU, led by Davis — does much more than that throughout the course of the year. (This weekend is even a Christmas potluck dinner and gift exchange, just in time for the holidays.)
TBRU has grown exponentially under Davis’ aegis, as has its fundraising might; every year, the group donates tens of thousands of dollars to local gay nonprofits (last June, more than $65,000 went to six charities). It seems that bears are not only generously proportioned, they are generous, period.
Also a member of Dallas’ leather community, Davis currently serves on the board of directors of the International LeatherSIR/boy and Community Bootblack weekend, a major leatherman gathering that now calls Dallas home every August. Clearly, Davis is a man who has a lot of skin in the game.
Lots of cities have parties named after colors: The White Party (Miami, Palm Springs). The Black Party (New York). But Dallas, always more colorful, moves down the spectrum with the Purple Party, which spread its wings in the spring.
But the Purple Party is more than a one-shot mixer with a good DJ and shirtless dancing men. The organizing entity is actually called the Purple Foundation, and more than just a single event, or a single weekend (made up usually of a half-dozen events), the foundation partners with other groups nationwide and sponsors parties throughout the year; as president, Baker leads the all-volunteer staff in not only booking talent, securing venues and planning events, but donating the proceeds — more than half a million dollars donated the AIDS Services of Dallas, Legacy Counseling Center, the Resource Center and others since 2001.
Other notables: Scott Barretto, who plans the monthly Dick’s Happy Hour, also organizes events that benefit community groups. Charlie McDonald’s HoneyPot parties (the next of which takes place later this month) also donates proceeds to charity. And the rotating lineup of co-chairs for the annual Black Tie Dinner generate more than a million dollars annually.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 12, 2014