William Waybourn joins push to name Oak Lawn post office for Bill Nelson

William Waybourn

One-time Dallas activist William Waybourn, who now lives in Virginia, added his name to the drive to name the Oak Lawn Post Office after Bill Nelson.

In his letter to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Waybourn reminds the congressswoman that she was one of the original advisory board members of the AIDS Resource Center in the mid-80s, lending her expertise as a nurse as well as her political clout. She said she showed “courage and rejected fear” by putting her name out for such an unpopular cause as AIDS.

Waybourn and his partner, Craig Spaulding, started Crossroads Market with Nelson and his partner, Terry Tebedo, in the early 1980s. Waybourn also later served as president of the Dallas Gay Alliance.

Bruce Monroe and The Dallas Way: The GLBT History Project have been spearheading the petitioning project. They collected signatures at an event at Sue Ellen’s on Sept. 13, at Lee Park after the parade and at a Stonewall Democrats event at the Round-Up Saloon.

As Lone Star Ride co-chair Dan Babb signed the petition at the event at the Round-Up, he said Nelson was a teacher of his.

Read Waybourn’s full letter to Johnson below.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center honors volunteers

Leon Catlett receives top honor posthumously at annual dinner

LEGACY OF SERVICE | Carol Fisher accepts Resource Center Dallas’ 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award on Sunday, Jan. 29, on behalf of her son, Leon Catlett, who died last year. RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox, left, and services manager Kee Holt presented Fisher with Catlett’s award during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Starlight Room in Dallas.

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

More than 1,090 people gave more than 49,100 hours of their time and talents valued at more than $1.05 million to Resource Center Dallas in 2011, allowing the center to make life better for thousands of North Texans.

The volunteers were honored at the center’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Starlight Room in the Dallas West End.

Longtime volunteer Leon Catlett, who died last November, posthumously received the 2011 Martha Dealey Volunteer of the Year award.

“Leon’s vibrant presence volunteering for the center, from the front desk and nutrition center to events such as Toast To Life, was a comforting and consistent presence for our staff and clients,” said Cece Cox, RCD’s executive director and CEO. “We miss him terribly, but are comforted by and thankful for his legacy of service to the center.”

Resource Center Dallas also recognized the following:

• Michael Chau received the Randolph Terrell Community Service Award, given to a group or individual for exceptional service to the LGBT community and/or people living with HIV/AIDS;

• Miles Vinton was given the Suzanne Wilson Award, presented to the year’s most significant volunteer in Client Services;

• Jack Hancock received the John Thomas Award, in recognition as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center’s exceptional volunteer of the year;

• Dr. Jaime Vasquez was awarded the Bill Nelson Award honoring the Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center’s outstanding volunteer of the year; and,

• David Granger received the Bruce Long Award for outstanding development department volunteer.

The center also recognized 117 volunteers who contributed more than 100 hours during 2011. Miles Vinton, with 906 hours, was recognized for donating the most amount of time last year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

In Dallas, Scott Pelley ‘pressed the establishment on issues affecting gay men and AIDS’

Scott Pelley

The announcement that former Dallasite Scott Pelley will replace Katie Couric as anchor of the CBS Evening News is a good thing for the LGBT community, according to pioneering gay activist William Waybourn.

Pelley, a San Antonio native and Texas Tech graduate, spent 11 years in Dallas at KXAS-TV and WFAA-TV from 1978-1989, according to Wikipedia.

Waybourn, the former president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance who now lives in Virginia, had this to say about Pelley in an email to Instant Tea this afternoon:

“Scott Pelley was one of those reporters in Dallas who pressed the establishment on issues affecting lesbians and gay men and AIDS,” Waybourn said. “He interviewed me, Bill [Nelson] or John [Thomas] on a regular basis, always pushing questions that brought attention to our issues of the day.”

—  John Wright

Resource Center Dallas Honors Volunteers

It was an evening of glitz and glam as hundreds from the LGBT community packed the Starlight Lounge to honor volunteers for Resource Center Dallas on Sunday.

More than 1,000 people contributed more than 47,000 hours — valued at about $985,000 — to RCD in 2010.

On Sunday night, RCD honored them — Retro Hollywood style.

The moment volunteers and guest stepped out of their vehicles, they were met by valet and shown to the red carpet. Upon entry, they were invited to the posh open bar as well as catered hors d’oeuvres and dinner.

“This event is excellent for the community,” said James Weber, a supporter of the event. “It encourages support, involvement and gives a sense of appreciation to a whole lot of people.”

With more than 100 volunteers to recognize, RCD utilized a dual host technique and a team of (what else?) volunteers to hand out awards.

The true star of the night was longtime volunteer Barbara Foster. For her significant contributions to RCD and various other community groups over the years, Foster received the 2010 Martha Dealey Volunteer of the Year award.

“Come see what a difference — it’ll change in your life — see what you’ll get out of [volunteering],” said Foster. “Because I’ll tell you, I get more out of [volunteering] than I give.”

She added that being recognized by others she works with at RCD felt wonderful.

Cece Cox, executive director of RCD, said the power of volunteers to help an agency succeed in serving the community is what it’s all about — having fun networking but contributing back to the community.

—  admin

Honoring our saints on All Hallows Eve

People like Bill Nelson, John Thomas, Bill Hunt and others are no longer with us now, and although we have a long way to go to gain full equality, it was their courage and daring that won the freedoms we already have today

Activists such as, from left, John Thomas, Bill Nelson and Bill Hunt may be gone now, but they should never be forgotten.
Activists such as, from left, John Thomas, Bill Nelson and Bill Hunt may be gone now, but they should never be forgotten.

Like many of our holidays, Halloween bears scant resemblance to the holy day from which it evolved. Oct. 31 is the eve of the day the church historically has celebrated as All Saints Day. Like many church holidays, this one was deliberately set to co-opt the pagan celebration of harvest called Samhain.

Neither of those days have much relevance to how our community now observes Oct. 31, though. Still, perhaps this is a good time for us to remember some of our “saints” of the past who at times terrorized the general population with their outrageous demands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.

Our movement was begun officially with the Stonewall “Riots.” That story often gets told without noting that those who first resisted police oppression and brutality were mostly poor, people of color, drag queens and transsexuals.

They were our heroes. I’ll call them saints, since most of them are now dead.

The summer of 1969 was a long time ago, and it was on the far side of an epidemic that made saints out of too many of our heroes.

When I first came to Dallas in 1987, we often took to the streets. It seemed that every time I turned around William Waybourn, then president of the Dallas Gay Alliance, would call me and say, “Get your collar [clergy shirt] on and meet us at ______. We need you to speak about ______.”

I usually would follow Bill Nelson or John Thomas or Bill Hunt or some of the other heroes who spoke up for us. They are all saints now, and, somehow, I think each of them would appreciate being remembered on Halloween/All Hallows (saints) Eve.

Dallas is a very different city today. We have had openly gay city council members, school board trustees, county commissioners and an out, lesbian Latina sheriff.

Although it was 10 years ago, it seems like only yesterday that some heroes and saints were at City Hall until 2 in the morning fighting the Dallas Policy Academy’s dismissal of Mica England because she was a lesbian.

Many of those faces from that night are gone, but so is the city’s policy of discrimination.

Some of them were the same faces who went to the courthouse to protest against Judge Jack Hampton who gave a lighter sentence to Richard Lee Bednarski because the men he murdered were gay. On more than one occasion, we went to Parkland hospital because people who were dying of AIDS were forced to wait as long as 18 hours to receive care.

Folks like Howie Daire and Daryl Moore and so many others knew that they weren’t fighting for themselves, but for those who would survive them.

Recently, one of my best friends turned 50. He is one of the longest-term survivors of HIV/AIDS in the country. I give thanks for him and his health every day, and I also try to give thanks for those who now survive in our hearts and memories.

If we fail to appreciate those who went before us and made such great sacrifices for us all, then we are arrogant and cynical souls.

When the AIDS crisis was at its worst and it seemed we were holding funerals every other day, I began to think I was losing my mind.

I’d drive through the crossroads and raise my hand to wave at a friend, only to recall that it couldn’t be them because they had died.
I wonder though … .

Maybe I am crazy, but when I walk those streets today, I’d swear that some of those folks are still there. Maybe I’m the only one they haunt, but I hope not. I hope we all hold their memories so dear that it is almost like they are still with us.
So, dress up and join the parade this Halloween. It will be audacious and fun to take to the streets and party like free women and men.
Just remember that your freedom was won by heroes, many of whom are now saints. And don’t forget to wonder for whom you should be a hero and, eventually, a saint.

The Rev. Michael Piazza is president of Hope for Peace & Justice, a nonprofit organization that is equipping progressive people of faith to be champions for peace and justice. He also serves as co-executive director of the Center for Progressive Renewal, which is renewing progressive Christianity by training new entrepreneurial leaders, supporting the birth of new liberal/progressive congregations, and by renewing and strengthening existing progressive churches. He served the Cathedral of Hope for 22 years, first as senior pastor and later as dean.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 29, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

New gay Dallas artifacts: A letter from Log Cabin to Karl Rove, QL’s kissing booth and these pics

Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell informs us that RCD has made some notable acquisitions of late for its Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Library. For example, McDonnell said activists Blake Wilkinson and Rick Vanderslice recently dropped off some Queer LiberAction memorabilia, including a megaphone and the group’s patented kissing booth. Also, some recovering ex-Log Cabin Republicans provided a copy of a letter they wrote in the 1990s to Karl Rove, then an advisor to Gov. George W. Bush (we’re dying to read this). And finally, McDonnell sent over the below photos he took of photos that came in from William Waybourn, a pioneering Dallas gay-rights activist who now lives outside of Washington, D.C. Unfortunately, many of these items will have to be placed in storage for the time being due to space concerns. But McDonnell says Waybourn’s pics are slated for display at the Center. After the jump, we’ve posted a few a more of them along with Waybourn’s descriptions.

This is a photograph I took of John Thomas in the mid-1990s. He loved it, saying it captured the essence of who he was. Later, when AIDS began to take its toll on him, John wanted it used as his “official” photo because he was concerned that people wouldn’t remember how he looked before AIDS, and not as someone ravaged by the disease. On a side note, I asked John, Bill Nelson, Mike Richards or others appearing in the media on behalf of lesbian and gay issues to look presentable, e.g. wear coats and ties, etc. John and Charlotte Taft, then Dallas’ most “out” lesbian, were always media outstanding role models, skewing people’s impression of what they thought “activists” looked and sounded like.

—  John Wright

Saturday is Harvey Milk Day

Saturday is the first official Harvey Milk Day. Harvey Milk Day legislation passed the California legislature in August 2008.

May 22 would have been Milk’s 80th birthday. He was assassinated in his office in San Francisco City Hall on Nov. 27, 1978. He was 48.

I take special pride in Harvey Milk for a number of reasons.

First, he graduated from my school, University at Albany, class of 1951. Our most famous alumni was honored last year at the school at a luncheon, and Harvey’s gay nephew Stuart Milk spoke (see video above). Soon after the opening of our Alumni House in 1977, his fraternity made a donation in his name, and the library of the new building was named for him.

Next is Milk’s Dallas connection. John Wright recently unearthed evidence that Milk lived in Dallas in the 1960s at 21 Turtle Creek, just a few blocks from the Dallas Voice office.

—  David Taffet