13th annual Miss LifeWalk Pageant breaks records

2016 Miss LifeWalk Contestants
Tiaras, glamorous gowns and house-rocking performances raised $53,412 — 33 percent more than in 2015 — at the 13th annual Miss LifeWalk pageant Sunday, July 24, at the Rose Room in S4. The 2016 Pageant was produced by the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk Team and hosted by Heather Thomas and Mark Manley.

“Guys and Dolls is delighted that the Miss LifeWalk Pageant continues to grow and gets bigger and better every year,” pageant organizer Landon Starnes said. “It is exciting to watch the contestants competitively raise money and bring in record numbers each and every year, not to mention the passion and generosity of those that give, and this year was spectacular! We are truly grateful to be a part of this journey and work with such lovely people!”

The 2016 contestants were Miss Rita Fine representing Guys & Dolls, Linze Serell representing the Green Team, and Vanity Storm representing Team Metro (GDMAF). Serell raised more than $23,000, a new record for an individual contestant. Special guest performances included former Miss LifeWalk winners Sabrina Starr (2005), Anita Nother (2010), Lotta Pink (2011), Veda Chardonnay (2013), Heidi Liquere (2014) and Charlotte Bardeaux (2015) who crowned the 2016 winner — Vanity Storm.

Miss LW 2016 Vanity StormThe 2016 Miss LifeWalk winning categories are as follows:

Miss Congeniality – Rita Fine

Miss Spirit of LifeWalk – Linze Serell

Miss Money Bags – Linze Serell

Evening Wear Winner – Vanity Storm

Talent Winner – Vanity Storm

2nd Runner Up – Rita Fine

1st Runner Up – Linze Serell

Over the 13 years the pageant has raised more than $189,283 for LifeWalk.

LifeWalk 2016 takes place Sunday, Oct. 9, beginning and ending in Lee Park. This year’s walk will benefit AIDS Arms, Inc. and other AIDS services partner agencies: Abounding Prosperity, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Cathedral of Hope, Dogs Matter, Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, Tucker’s Gift, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and UT Southwestern Community Prevention and Intervention Unit.

Register for LifeWalk here.

 

—  David Taffet

Defining moments

Leo-CusimanoIt was 1992 and I had just moved to Dallas from a small college town in Florida. HIV/AIDS was a growing issue in my experience, but it had already taken many people in Dallas, including leaders in our LGBT community. I was too young to understand the power of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, so my personal experience with HIV/AIDS was my first defining moment to get involved in the community.

The mind-set in our community was different then. We had lost so many, and ACT-UP was in the streets and angry. Our community was under attack.

I remember making signs for protests and joining the board of DGLA. Lesbians fought to help save the lives of their gay brothers and in the process galvanized our community. Drag queens and transgender people were at the heart of many community actions. The sense of LGBT community was very strong.

Today, HIV/AIDS is still a devastating diagnosis for anyone, but is viewed by some in our younger community to be a manageable illness. These millennials have not experienced the struggles and death at the same scale. Our sense of community has waned over the years.

But then ….

It’s 2 in the morning in Los Angeles, where I have traveled for work, and the phone rings. Fifty people lay dead in a Florida gay bar, and more than 50 others are injured.

This is the start of another heart-wrenching, defining moment that unfortunately will make history and play out as Pride celebrations prepare to march.

The morning stretches on and I find myself sitting in a hotel room in West Hollywood preparing for LA Pride. I feel sick as the stress rises in my body, watching the reports from Florida, then the vibration of my cell phone makes me jump. A text message about an arrest near L.A. that has foiled another attempted attack on our community illuminates the room. My heart drops.

What is next?

We have come so far as a community, and each positive or negative defining moment presents an opportunity for us to come together in a way that makes our community stronger.

My husband Tony and I had been living in Dallas for several years when the Supreme Court invalidated sodomy laws with the Lawrence vs. Texas ruling in 2003. This was a positive defining moment for us that provided hope for our community and empowered our movement.

We experienced a setback in 2008 when California passed Prop 8, but our commitment to stand up and fight just made us stronger. Last year, the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling legalized our marriages, and as a community we have seen growing acceptance as Love Wins.

But now, once again our community is under attack. We are devastated by this senseless act of violence. As we mourn the victims in Florida, we also march on in solidarity and in honor of those we lost.

This is another defining moment for me. I feel like our community has a renewed fight. Once again, arm-in-arm we march. We stick together and support each other. My hope is that we find renewed strength in this tragedy and we once again become galvanized and strengthened as the LGBT community.

Our life experiences and defining moments influence our choices and how we choose to show up in the world. What is your defining moment? How will you make a difference?

Leo Cusimano is co-owner and publisher of Dallas Voice and Voice Publishing Co

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 17, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

DVtv: Tiffany, Debbie Gibson light up 11th annual MetroBall

Debbie

Brad Pritchett and Israel Luna took DVtv to S4 on Friday night to talk to 80s pop princesses Debbie Gibson and Tiffany who performed at the 11th annual MetroBall, benefitting the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

—  Tammye Nash

CNN series ‘The Eighties’ takes on the AIDS epidemic

Larry Kramer

LGBT and AIDS activist Larry Kramer was one of the loudest voices in the fight against AIDS and its stigma in the 1980s.

How old were you when the AIDS epidemic first hit?

How old were you when the New York Times printed that first story about gay men dying of some mysterious cancer? When they called it GRID — Gay-Related Immune Deficiency? When they realized it wasn’t just gay men getting sick and started calling it AIDS — Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome? When they finally discovered the human immunodeficiency virus — HIV — that causes AIDS?

How old were you when the men of our community were dying every day?

Truth is, a lot of people reading this weren’t even born yet back then. A lot more were just wee tots with no idea what was happening. For some, the 1980s are ancient history, not personal history, with no relevance to their day-to-day lives.

That lack of historical perspective may be why HIV infection rates are so high among young people.

Now CNN offers a chance to maybe fill in some of the historical gaps for the younger generation with a new episode of the cable channel’s original series The Eighties, “The Fight Against AIDS,” airing tomorrow (Thursday, June 2, 8 p.m. CST). The program “focuses on the pandemic that created a movement and defined a decade.”

According to a press release, this “mysterious and lethal illness developed into a pandemic with enormous political and cultural consequences. What started as a medical detective story grew into a societal nightmare as first dozens and eventually thousands of people all over the world contracted the lethal virus that came to be known as AIDS. It’s a story of ignorance and heartbreak, but also one of compassion, courage and dedication.”

Award-winning producers Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman, in association with HBO producer Mark Herzog, present the series, The Eighties, which “explores the individuals and events that shaped a decade of exceptionalism and excess.” The program combines rarely-seen archival footage and interviews with journalists, historians, musicians and television artists to tell the story of the decade. Future episides will focus on the age of Reagan, the end of the Cold War, Wall Street corruption, the tech boom and the expansion of television and the evolving music scene.

—  Tammye Nash

AIDS Arms needs participants for PrEP focus group

PowerPoint PresentationAIDS Arms is looking for gay or bisexual black or Latino men and cisgender and transgender women to participate in a PrEP focus group to gauge awareness within the community.

The group will meet from 7-9 p.m. next Wednesday evening, May 18.

The group will meet in Oak Lawn at a location that can be reached on DART by bus or train. To register and receive the address the focus group will meet, call or email to respond. Call 214-521-5191 or email info@aidsarms.org,

Free food and gift card for participants.

—  David Taffet

New food pantry open

Food pantryThe new Resource Center Food Pantry is open at 2701 Reagan St. Volunteers stocked shelves on Sunday (May 1) to get the pantry ready to open today.

“Perishable goods should be available next week once refrigeration system is complete,” Resource Center posted on its Facebook page. So perishable items that need to be refrigerated such as eggs, meat or milk are not available yet.

The former food pantry location closed a month ago because the retail center on Denton Drive Cutoff that also included Elliott’s Hardware will be torn down to make way for a so-called “West Village-type” mixed-use development. Resource Center had hoped to keep the former location open until renovations at its new location were complete.

—  David Taffet

Food pantry to remain closed another week

Resource-Center

Color rooms being rebuilt into food pantry

The Resource Center Food Pantry will remain closed at least another week.

Spokesperson Rafael McDonnell said in what center officials had hoped would be a final inspection on Wednesday, April 20, there were a few minor issues remaining. He said those have already been corrected, but the soonest an inspector can schedule another visit is Wednesday, April 27.

“We understand what a burden this has been on our clients,” McDonnell said. “We’re working as quickly as we can and we’ll have an update next week.”

He said the issues were minor, but without the green light from the city, the pantry can’t open.

The food pantry on Denton Drive closed sooner than Resource Center expected. That property is being torn down for redevelopment. The new food pantry is located in the old “color rooms” at the main location at 2701 Reagan St. Resource Center’s headquarters is moving in May to a new building being completed on Cedar Springs at Inwood Road.

If the food pantry gets its permit on April 27, it should be open on May 2.

 

—  David Taffet

Food pantry awaiting inspection to reopen

Resource-Center

Food pantry space under construction last month

The Resource Center Food Pantry is awaiting one final inspection before it can reopen.

The pantryhas  moved from its Denton Drive location to the main Resource Center building at 2701 Reagan St. but hasn’t opened yet as it waits for its final city permit to operate.

“Once we get our permit, we can get the freezer hooked up,” Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said.

That involved adding  220-current outlets, and that means extra inspections.

McDonnell said dry goods are out and ready for distribution.

If the space does pass inspection tomorrow (Wednesday, April 20), the pantry should reopen for business on Monday, April 25.

The hot meals program, which takes place in the building next door to the main space, has continued serving meals uninterrupted. The center lost its space on Denton Drive sooner than it expected.

—  David Taffet

No Tie packs em in at Frontiers of Flight Museum

About 1,500 people attended No Tie Dinner at the Frontiers of Flight Museum on Saturday (April 9). The event benefits AIDS Services Dallas that provides housing for underprivileged people living with AIDS.

Angel and Marie Reyes served as honorary chairs. Marie is one of the new Real Housewives of Dallas that premieres on Bravo tonight (April 11) at 9 p.m. (Central Time).

—  David Taffet

No Tie Dinner needs volunteers

NTD cupcakes

No Tie Dinner cupcakes

No Tie Dinner needs volunteers this Saturday, April 9 at 7 p.m. at Frontiers of Flight Museum, 6911 Lemmon Avenue, according to Development Associate Alex Sanchez. The dessert party and silent auction benefits AIDS Services Dallas.

To volunteer to work the floor of the silent auction and for other positions during the event, contact Henrietta Martin at 214-941-0523.

—  David Taffet