Feet don’t fail

Recently all but dead, Lin Wang helped Frontrunners catch its second wind

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

When Lin Wang came to Dallas and thought about joining the DFW Frontrunners, he encountered a fizzled-out band of running enthusiasts with an expired website.

“I found an email to an old contact, but no one answered,” Wang says. “Then I learned from someone that it died out a few years ago.”

But Wang’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his spirit has helped bring the group back to life.

Frontrunners isn’t just a Dallas thing — it’s an international affiliation of LGBT running and walking clubs that first began 28 years ago in San Francisco. Wang had been an active member of both the Pittsburgh and New York City chapters, so when he moved to Dallas in the summer of 2010, he was surprised to find that in a city of its size, the group basically didn’t exist.

“I don’t know why it went away,” he says. “With all the other sports groups, there is such a demand for athletics in this large LGBT community.”

So he started the rebuilding.

DFW Frontrunners had been so out-of-date that the international association told him to just register the group as “new.” With the help of Julio Chong, the group changed its meeting place from White Rock Lake on Saturday mornings to a more central spot in Lee Park. For the group to succeed, Wang felt it needed to be closer in the ‘hood.

“Julio and I did this together,” Wang says. “We started small, but the biggest group we’ve had is about 15 members and we now have close to 20 active members.”

Wang recalls the decisions to have the first group meeting last June.

“It was a horrible time to begin because of the summer,” he laughs, recalling the sweltering heat of 2011’s record-breaking season.“ But we had to prove this was not a dead organization. We welcome anyone who wants to join us.”

With a diverse group including some straight members, Frontrunners meets at the Robert E. Lee statue and then proceeds to the Katy Trail. Groups can then walk or run in their preferred direction, eventually meeting back at the statue. Then it’s off to breakfast.

Like any gay sports organization, Frontrunners also pushes the socializing aspect of a club. Fellowship is a booster among those working on their fitness levels. Local activist Latisha McDaniel has met some of her personal goals as a member along with broadening her circle of friends.

“[Frontrunners has] been a great experience and has really increased my love of running,” she says. “It has given me a new jump start and a good way to meet new people.”

McDaniel even improved her fitness level. She started with the walking group, but has graduated to running and even surprised herself with her abilities.

“I’ve participated in two races since joining and about to run in another one,” she says. “I did a few races in college but haven’t really done anything since moving to Dallas.”

“We’re not gonna scare people away who like walking,” Wang adds. “We always make sure one person walks so others feel fine to join in.”

Wang intends for Frontrunners to be much more than the weekly meetup. He’s used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on the group and to entice online members to join them in person. He has had the group participate as volunteers for the White Rock Marathon as a water station team and expect to repeat that this year. He also wants to push the group into hosting Dallas’ first Pride race.

We’re focusing hard on doing the first-ever event,” he says. “St. Louis has one and we think that it could be an integral part of our Pride festival. It would be a different way to have and witness a different Pride involvement. And we’d like to tie it in to an organization and the race can be a viable fundraiser.”

Although Wang would like to accomplish all this in 2012, it’s more realistic to expect everything in place by Dallas Pride 2013. In the meantime, the group hopes to expand membership and enjoy the health and fellowship that accompanies it. And for now, you can join without paying membership dues.

“We’re in the process of becoming a nonprofit and so we may have to charge in the future,” he admits. “but we expect it would be very minimal. We don’t want to push anyone away.” The only running away he wants to see is on the trail.

For more information, visit Frontrunners Dallas.org or meet up with them Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. under the statue at Lee Park.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Minehart announces departure from Lone Star Ride

Dave Minehart

Dave Minehart announced he will leave the Lone Star Ride. He has participated in the ride for all 10 years of its existence, the first seven as a volunteer and the last three as event manager.

He has accepted a new position as development director for a nonprofit organization in his hometown, Iowa City, Iowa. He has been in Texas for the past 28 years but over the past seven, his goal has been to move closer to family.

“I’m leaving you in very, very capable hands,” Minehart said.

Laura Kerr is the incoming board chair. Co-chairs of the ride are John Tripp and Danny Simpson. Tripp co-chaired the ride this year and Simpson has been responsible for fundraising events outside the ride and participated in it for a number of years.

Minehart said he hopes to be at Lone Star Ride next year, depending on his schedule with his new job.

“Lone Star Ride is on a role and it’s going to keep going,” he said. “I hold extreme affection for the event, the people involved and the beneficiaries.”

His last day at Lone Star Ride is Dec. 27 and he begins his new job on Jan. 5.

—  David Taffet

Drawing Dallas

Richard Guy might look like a modern-day Viking, but he’s really just a homebody

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator mark@markdrawsfunny.com

What a Guy!

Name and age: Richard Guy, 47

Spotted at: Lee Park

Was a man, was a big man: A third generation Texan from Austrian stock, Richard stands an impressive 6 feet 4 inches of furry, pierced muscle. Originally from Amarillo, he has resided in Dallas for 28 years.

An animal loving Capricorn, Richard shares his life with a newly-adopted border collie, Romo, and a tortoise-shell cat named Maggie. A natural homebody, this engineering-minded man spends his time at home remodeling (he’s building an amazing addition on his house), and is equipped with electrical and plumbing skills. Richard’s hobbies include working out (really? We’d never have guessed), attending sports events (he’s a huge Cowboys, Stars and Rangers fan), and downloading all genres of music.

His favorite quote comes from his grandmother: “It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Anne Rice quits Christianity, but not Christ

Anne Rice

I have been a fan of author Anne Rice for years. I read her books — the vampire books, the Witching Hour series — over and over. And one of the personal highlights of my 28 years as a journalist was getting the opportunity to interview some years ago.

Then I found out that her son, Christopher Rice — a successful author in his own right — was gay, and that she supported him completely. And I loved her even more.

Then a few years ago, I heard that Anne Rice, who had been an atheist, had found God and become a Christian convert. I couldn’t help but wonder: How would her conversion  affect her relationship with her son? Would she continue to support and love him as always? Would she take the “love the sinner, hate the sin” approach? Would she insist he be “cured” of homosexuality? Would she turn her back on him completely.

I also wondered how her conversion would affect her stance on LGBT rights overall and if we were losing an ally.

Well, as it turned out, Anne Rice didn’t think converting to Christianity meant becoming anti-gay. Unfortunately, “Christianity” didn’t agree.

So this week, on Wednesday, July 28, Anne Rice posted a notice on her Facebook page declaring she has “quit Christianity.”

Here’s what she said: “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.”

And there was more. She also said, “In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

So, I knew there was a reason I am an Anne Rice fan! I don’t think I have ever heard anyone give a better explanation of the difference between following Christ and being “a Christian.”

Read Karen Ocamb’s blog about Ann Rice’s announcement here. It includes a statement from Christoper Rice as well. Here’s what he had to say:

“For ten years I watched my mother bravely attempt to engage the hostile fundamentalist forces that dominate the leadership of almost every popular Christian denomination. She was met, in most instances with an iron wall of derision and scorn. Her departure from organized religion is a testament to the moral rot that exists at the politcized core of most church leadership. Throughout it all, her love and support of me as a gay man has never wavered and I love her just as much today as I did when she considered herself a member of the Catholic church.”

Oh, and here is the link to Christopher Rice’s Facebook page, just for good measure.

—  admin