Out WNBA stars Brittney Griner and Glory Johnson engaged

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Griner wrote “Last Night was a Night to Remember I became the happiest person on this earth! (almost pass out but when that one word came out I came back to life) Me and my baby @missvol25 are in it for Life!”

Baylor University alumna and Phoenix Mercury Brittney Griner proposed to her girlfriend Glory Johnson, of the Tulsa Shock, this weekend.

The couple posted photos of their engagement on their Instagram accounts.

Griner, who is from Houston and played basketball at Baylor, came out in an interview with SI.com, Sports Illustrated’s website, in 2013. She published In My Skin: My Life on and off the Basketball Court, a memoir, earlier this year, detailing her struggles growing up and remaining in the closet as a lesbian.

According to the Washington Post, “Griner was not to come out publicly because university officials, including [coach Kim] Mulkey, worried it would hurt recruiting. She lived in what many call a “glass closet;” she would bring her college girlfriend to events, but elsewhere, both online and offline, Griner was expected to live under a cloak of ambiguity.”

The couple have been together since June.

—  James Russell

Princeton Review’s 20 most gay-friendly and gay-unfriendly colleges in the U.S.

UDallas

The Princeton Review is out with its gay-friendly and gay-unfriendly schools. SMU remained off the gay-unfriendly list for a second year, but the University of Dallas, Texas A&M and Baylor made the list at No. 10, 11 and 12, respectively. No Texas schools are on the gay-friendly list. View the full lists below.

—  David Taffet

Former Baylor star and top WNBA pick Brittney Griner comes out

Brittney.Griner

Ex-Baylor basketball player Brittney Griner came out yesterday during an interview with Sports Illustrated.

Griner, who was among the top picks in Monday’s WNBA Draft, discussed sexuality with the paper with fellow top picks Elena Delle Donne and Skylar Diggins.

When asked about why more women come out in sports than men do, Griner said she didn’t know why and added that being out is about being who you are.

“I really couldn’t give an answer on why. It’s just so different,” Griner said. “Being one that’s out, it’s just being who you are. Again, like I said, just be who you are. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say because they’re always going to say something. But if you’re just true to yourself, let that shine through. Don’t hide who you really are.”

Griner said it wasn’t too difficult for her to be honest about her sexuality, even with her celebrity status.

“It really wasn’t too difficult. I wouldn’t say I was hiding or anything like that,” Griner said. “I’ve always been open about who I am and my sexuality, so it wasn’t hard at all. If I can show that I’m out and I’m fine and everything’s OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way.”

Griner attended Nimitz High School in Houston before receiving a full scholarship to Baylor University. She is the first NCAA basketball player ever to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots. Had she come out during her career at Baylor, the anti-gay school may have taken away her scholarship or kicked her out.

She’ll start her WNBA career with the Phoenix Mercury in May.

Watch the interview below.

—  Anna Waugh

Tyler YMCA accused of discriminating against LGBT families

Why is it that health clubs in Texas seem to be more afraid of LGBT families than any other type of business? In Dallas, Baylor eliminated family memberships rather than give a family membership to one gay couple.

Now, in Tyler, a lesbian couple wants to join the YMCA, but the organization won’t allow them to.

Well, the YMCA did allow them to join as a family when their 10-year-old son was on the swim team. But now that the organization doesn’t get anything out of deal, the YMCA reportedly says no.

We reached the office of YMCA of Tyler CEO Stuart Gilpin to get their comment, but he did not return a call.

Suzy Sheridan, one of the lesbian moms, created a Change.org petition that she wants others to sign to encourage the YMCA to be more family-friendly to all families. The petition already has more than 4,000 signatures.

Sheridan could not immediately be reached for further comment. Here’s her story from Change.org:

The Tyler YMCA has discriminated against my family and denied letting us join under the family plan because we are not a traditional family. My life partner and I have been together for over twenty years and have a 20 year old son. We also assist another young man who has lived with us nearly two years. I was told I would have to produce a marriage certificate before they would let us join under the family plan. I told them that was not possible since I live in Texas and our long time relationship was not recognized in this state. I told them that I felt they were being discriminatory. What’s ironic is that they didn’t have a problem letting us join under the family plan when our son swam on their swim team 10 years ago. I feel they should have a policy across the board for all their facilities allowing all types of families to join their organization.

—  David Taffet

City releases file from complaint against Baylor for anti-gay discrimination

Baylor

Alan Rodriguez, right, filed a complaint with the city in February 2011 after the Tom Landry Fitness Center refused to issue him and his partner a family membership. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The Dallas city attorney’s office has released most of its records related to a complaint against Baylor’s Tom Landry Fitness Center filed under the city’s sexual orientation nondiscrimination ordinance.

After few answers from the city attorney’s office about why we weren’t permitted to view the file a few weeks ago, we were told earlier this week we could view the file, except for some communications that were considered protected by attorney-client privilege. The city has asked the Texas attorney general’s office to review that information and render an opinion about whether it should be released.

In October, the city attorney’s office said the case was closed after officials with Baylor Health Care System agreed to end all family memberships. Alan Rodriguez and his longtime partner were denied a family membership discount in February 2011 because they are a same-sex couple, and they filed a complaint under the ordinance, which prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in public accommodations.

The city attorney’s office closed the case in exchange for Baylor’s commitment to end all family memberships. But a timeline of when discussions about ending the memberships took place wasn’t provided, nor was it contained in the file we reviewed today.

According to the file, Baylor’s representatives continued to request that the case be dismissed on the grounds that Tom Landry is a private club and a religious organization — and that Baylor recognizes married couples as outlined by Texas law. The case was sent to the city attorney in mid-June 2011, and the last date on on a request for information from the city attorney’s office is Oct. 19, 2011.

The final investigative report was completed Nov. 3, 2011, and mentioned that Baylor would have to prove a specific membership to be considered a religious organization, and that the ordinance doesn’t protect private clubs, only religious and government entities.

—  Anna Waugh

BREAKING: SMU off Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic schools

For the first time in recent memory, Southern Methodist University is not on the Princeton Review’s “LGBT-unfriendly” list (registration required). Last year, the school was ranked 12th-most homophobic.

Karen Click, director of the SMU Women’s Center for Gender and Pride Initiatives, was delighted with the news.

“I’ve only worked seven years to get there,” she said.

She said that just because SMU is off the list, it doesn’t mean the work is over. Baylor, for example, had been on the list, dropped off last year but is back in the No. 10 spot this year. Other Texas schools on the homophobic list are Texas A&M at No. 7 and University of Dallas at No. 15.

The most LGBT-unfriendly school this year is Grove City College in Pennsylvania. The most LGBT-friendly school is Emerson College in Boston.

Princeton Review only releases the top and bottom 20 in each category. Here are the other categories in which SMU was ranked this year:

• Best career services: No. 7

• College town gets high marks: No. 16

• Happiest students: No. 15

• Lots of Greek life: No. 12

• Most accessible professors: No. 2

• Most conservative students: No. 17

• Best athletic facilities: No. 10

—  David Taffet

25 ways to fight AIDS

Today, December 1, is World AIDS Day.

Wait! Before you click the ‘next’ button or scroll down your news feed hear me out: The LGBT community has been living with AIDS for three decades now. For people of my generation the message to get tested and use condoms has been stated and restated so many times that it has faded into the background with the result that, all too often, people do not take the steps they need to to protect themselves. Harris County is responsible for 30% of the new HIV/AIDS diagnosis in Texas and men who have sex with men account for 64% of newly diagnosed men statewide. The threat is not over, the fight is not over, AIDS still endanger the LGBT community.

But I don’t want to just talk about just condoms and testing (as important as they are). Fighting HIV/AIDS is easier than you might think. I present to you 25 ways, in no particular order, to fight AIDS in Houston.

25. If you’re over a certain age talk to a young LGBT person about how your life has been affected by HIV/AIDS. You might be surprised how eager we are to hear your stories.

24. If you’re under a certain age listen to an older LGBT person tell you how HIV/AIDS has affected their lives. I know you aren’t eager to hear their stories, but listen anyway. You may find that learning the history of your community is more empowering than you’d expect.

23. If you are a sexually active gay man or transgender woman participate in the Baylor College of Medicine’s HIV Vaccine Study.

22. Ask your local public or school library to put books about HIV/AIDS on the shelf, not just in the back room where they have to be requested. Access to accurate information is crucial in fighting the spread of the disease.

21. Post HIV/AIDS stories to facebook.

20. Ask your clergy person what your community of faith is doing to fight the pandemic.

19. Sign up for action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition at texashiv.org

18. Actually follow through when the action alerts from the Texas HIV/AIDS Coalition arrive in your in-box.

17. Volunteer for organizations that deal with communities at high risk for infection: high school dropouts, victims of sexual assault, the poor, the homeless and sex workers. Fighting AIDS means fighting the injustice in our society that all too often contributes to new infections.

16. Say AIDS out loud.

15. Ask political candidates what they will do to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

14. Once they’re elected, ask those candidates why they aren’t doing more to continue funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

13. Remind yourself that it’s OK to be tired of hearing about HIV/AIDS.

12. Thank a person who volunteers their time to the fight.

11. Take a moment to remember the people we’ve lost.

10. Take a moment to think of the people we may loose if this pandemic isn’t stopped.

9. Take a HIV/AIDS healthcare worker to dinner.

8. Wear a red ribbon.

7. Recognize that wearing a red ribbon isn’t enough.

6. Work with communities other than your own. HIV/AIDS effects us all.

5. Get angry.

4. Get over your anger.

3. Donate to an HIV/AIDS Charity.

2. When you pass a mobile HIV testing center, thank the workers.

1. Don’t pretend the fight is over, and don’t let other people pretend it’s over either.

—  admin

TCU LGBT alumni group forms

Organizer says school has been helpful, supportive in forming group for gay graduates

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

There are some schools that are — or have been — affiliated with religious institutions that  not only wouldn’t welcome an LGBT alumni group, they would block such a group outright.

But when Doug Thompson, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), approached his alma mater’s alumni association about forming an LGBT affiliate, he said, the response was, “Absolutely. No problem.”

TCU’s new LGBT alumni group will hold its first large meeting on Saturday, Oct. 22, after the TCU homecoming game. Thompson acknowledged that sports isn’t the main concern of many LGBT alumni, but homecoming is still a time when many alumni return to visit the campus.

Thompson said when he asked the alumni association whether the LGBT group would need approval by the school’s administration, he was told the administration would back it. The group was approved in April.

Unlike Baylor University, which sued to keep its LGBT alumni from using the school name to organize a group, Thompson said there has been no objection from the TCU campus.

“We just want to get people involved however they want to be involved,” Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor alumni of relations, said. “We just reach out, whether it’s a class or the business school or a special interest group.”

She said that black alumni were not participating until the Black Alumni Alliance formed about 11 years ago. Now, she said, they’re active leaders in class reunions, homecoming and department alumni events, adding that she hopes to see the same thing happen with the LGBT network.

Finding LGBT alumni hasn’t been easy, Thompson said, as students aren’t asked about their sexual orientation before they graduate.

But Thompson said about 120 alumni have already responded, mostly to calls on social media sites. And now that the school has a Gay Straight Alliance, he said, finding future alumni will be easier.

“Our goal will be to support gay and lesbian students and start a scholarship,” Thompson said. “And we’ll form activities around things gay alumni have an interest in.”

He mentioned support for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival on campus as a direction for the group.

Thompson said that having an LGBT alumni group will help the school provide a better environment for its LGBT students.

Two years ago, TCU proposed setting aside dorm space for LGBT students. A week after the announcement, when only eight students had signed up for the housing, the school scrapped those plans.

“That got totally blown out of proportion,” Hoban said.

She said the intention was never segregated housing but really just an LGBT campus group.
Thompson said the school would have avoided the bad publicity if it had the alumni group to guide them.

The LGBT alumni group will get together after the homecoming game against New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 22. They will meet at Tommy’s Hamburgers’ Camp Bowie Boulevard location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

…………………

OUT, PROUD ATHLETE

Pryor.Victor

Victor Pryor

Perhaps one of the best known Texas Christian University grads that will be attending the new LGBT alumni group’s meeting this weekend is Vincent Pryor, a TCU Horned Frogs football star from 1994.

That year, before the final game of the season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Pryor came out to his teammates. Rather than shunning him, Pryor’s coach told him he was proud of his honesty

“My teammates and my coaches overwhelmingly supported and accepted me,” Pryor writes on his website, VincentPryor.com. “All of the fears and concerns I had about being kicked off the team, or losing my scholarship, or embarrassing my school — none of that happened.  And the best part of it was that I became a better athlete after I came out.”

That day, Pryor had the biggest game of his college career, tallying a record 4.5 sacks — a record that still stands today. His performance helped TCU win the conference title and a berth in a post-season bowl game.

Today, Pryor works in sales and lives in Chicago with his partner of 12 years, who was a classmate at TCU. To watch his just-
released an “It Gets Better” video, below.

—  Kevin Thomas

SMU named LGBT-unfriendly; Baylor off the list

SMU has been named the 12th most-LGBT-unfriendly campus in the country by the Princeton Review. In the previous two years it ranked 16th and 14th.

Baylor had been on the list for the past several years but does appear this year.

The ranking is determined by students’ answers to survey questions about their impression of how fairly LGBT students are treated. The Princeton Review includes 376 colleges from across the country in its annual survey.

NYU and Stanford are listed as most LGBT-friendly this year. No Texas schools made that list. Eight of the top 20 are in Massachusetts.

Of those making the homophobic campus list, SMU is the only school regularly ranked that has inclusive non-discrimination policies and actively works to not be included.

Both Baylor and SMU made the list of most conservative student bodies. Baylor was listed as having the 10th most religious students.

Baylor was ranked 12th for “College Town Not So Great.” Dallas fared much better with SMU’s No. 8 ranking for “Great College Town.”

In next week’s paper, we’ll talk to Baylor alums and LGBT SMU staff about why the school shouldn’t be on the LGBT-unfriendly list.

—  David Taffet

Small-town gay life

GAY MICROCOSM | With fewer than 50,000 residents, San Luis de la Paz doesn’t even have a gay bar, but that hasn’t stopped queer Dallasites from calling it home. (Photos by Jesus Chairez)

JESUS CHAIREZ  | Special Contributor
chairezstudio@gmail.com

SAN LUIS DE LA PAZ, Guanajuato, México — No rainbow flags, no gay bars, no Pride parade, but for ex-Dallasites Ron Austin and Lamar Strickland, this small Mexican town has plenty of gay life in it.

Austin and Strickland sold most everything and packed up what they could, moving to San Luis de La Paz four years ago. Austin says that he first discovered San Luis years ago when accompanied his best friend Manolo Arrendondo, also from Dallas, back home to visit his family for Christmas one year. When Arrendondo moved back to México to care for his ailing mother, Austin and Strickland soon followed.

Austin used to work for AIDS Arms for many years before retiring from the Baylor Geriatric Center. Strickland still works but telecommutes to his job in the U.S.

Though most people think that it is not safe — and even dangerous — for LGBT people to vacation much less live in México, Austin says that he and his partner feel safe.

“In general I have not found much homophobia here and for most people it seems like a non-issue. But yes, there are homophobic people in San Luis and Mexico. We get called names now and then, but then we sometimes got called names in Dallas, too.”

RURAL DRAG | Clockwise from above: Karla aka Carlos and ‘La?Mosca’ aka Adry staged a successful drag pageant this month in the new hometown of Dallas transplants Lamar Strickland and Ron Austin.

Things have changed in San Luis, says the couple, who have spoken to their trans friends Carlos, now known as Karla and Adry Pardo Garcia, known by his nickname, la Mosca (“the Fly”) about the changes: Harassment is basically verbal today and not physical like in the past.

Though there are no gay bars in San Luis, a town of about 49,000, gay people do go out and dance. It is sort of a don’t ask, don’t tell situation where gays blend into the crowd; two men dancing together is something gay men just don’t do.

Though Austin and Strickland say they don’t feel much homophobia in San Luis, “Only the drag queens get by with gay behavior, like dancing together or displays of affection,” says Austin.

Though there are no official gay events in San Luis, five years ago Karla and Adry Pardo Garcia, leaders in the trans and drag queen community, and several of their friends got together to have a Ms. San Luis de la Paz annual pageant called Nuestra Belleza Gay (Our Gay Beauty). Carlos and Garcia say their pageant does give pride to San Luis’ growing LGBT community.

In the U.S., drag queens and transsexuals are often at the forefront of the LGBT movement; it is no different here in México, especially in San Luis. For example, earlier this month the girls got into a Blazer and put loud speakers on the roof of the automobile that blared out announcements for their Ms. San Luis Gay 2011 event held at Bar One, a club almost in the center of town.

As the Blazer drove down San Luis’ narrow streets, the girls — in full makeup and outfits — handed out flyers as they approached anyone on the street. Everyone seemed to be fine with all the glitter and glamour. The Nuestra Belleza Gay marketing worked; it was a sold-out crowd at Bar One. Austin was a judge for this year’s event, as he was last year.

Even before the pageant started there was enthusiasm: As the sun was setting all Nuestra Belleza Gay participants, along with their supporters, gathered at the main bus station where the contestants sat on the hood of a car and everyone caravanned through town with a police escort — basically a very small Pride parade. Small clusters of people did wait along the route that went through the center of town to wave and enjoy the beauty.

Though there may not be gay bars or a gayborhood to speak of, Austin and Strickland, along with their two dogs, Osa and Hoppy and a cat named Miche, are enjoying their new life in  México.

Jesús Chairez is an activist and freelance writer; former producer and host of U.S.’s first LGBT Latino show Sin Fronteras (Without Borders) on KNON 89.3 FM. He resides between Dallas and México City.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens