Project to document Dallas LGBT history begins

Jack Evans, left, and George Harris

A donation of $1,000 was received to help kick off PROJECT: Dallas GLBT History, and about 20 people attended the first meeting last week.

The idea of documenting the history of the LGBT community in Dallas came from Jack Evans and George Harris earlier this year around the time they celebrated their 50th anniversary.

The focus will be on organizations and events as viewed through the experiences of individuals who were involved. The group hasn’t decided how the project will be distributed.

“It was an enthusiastic group,” said Evans. “The focus will be on the history of the community as told through the eyes of those who experienced it.”

At the next meeting the group will decide the form of the project, which will probably be some combination of video and written format. To start, they will choose about three organizations and three individuals to begin remembering and documenting.

Evans said he hopes the project will be housed at the Phil Johnson Library at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. But the video portions may also be available online.

He said that the people who attended were an incredible source of information about a variety of pieces of the Dallas LGBT community. He said Paul Williams will be invaluable in documenting the history of the Turtle Creek Chorale and several people who have been part of the Black Tie Dinner committee for years, including Mary Mallory and Robert Emery, are participating.

The next meeting will be Sept. 15 at ilume. Anyone interested in participating can contact Jack Evans and George Harris.

—  David Taffet

Black Tie names ‘Modern Family’ star as 2011 Media Award winner

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays gay father Mitchell Pritchett, got 2nd Emmy nomination this year

FROM STAFF REPORTS
editor@dallasvoice.com

Officials with the Black Tie Dinner this week announced that Emmy Award-nominated actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson will be the recipient of the 2011 Media Award at this year’s 30th annual dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel.

The Media Award is given to those who have promoted positive, increased awareness of LGBT issues in the media.

The 2010 Media Award was presented to newly out country music star Chely Wright.

Ferguson — who starred on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee in 2005, where he originated the role Leaf Coneybear — stars as in the ABC comedy Modern Family as Mitchell Pritchett, who with his same-sex partner Cameron Tucker traveled to Vietnam to adopt their daughter.

Modern Family weaves together the interconnected stories of Mitch and Cameron’s family, Mitch’s sister, Claire Dunphy and her family, and their father, Jay Pritchett and his new wife and stepson, Gloria Delgado-Pritchett and Manny.

This is the second year in a row that Ferguson has been nominated for an Emmy as best supporting actor in a comedy for his role in Modern Family. He has also been nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award for outstanding performance by an ensemble in a comedy series.

Earlier this year, Ferguson, acting on behalf of the Modern Familyd cast, accepted the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comedy series when his show tied for the award with Glee.

Ferguson’s small-screen credits also include roles in The Class, Do Not Disturb and Ugly Betty. Among his film credits are roles in Untraceable, Griffin and Phoenix and Wonderful World.

Black Tie Co-Chair Nan Arnold, in a prepared statement announcing Ferguson as the Media Award winner, said the dinner is “thrilled” to present him with the award.

“As one of the few openly gay, working actors, he has established a wonderful and positive image on network television. The story of Mitchell and Cameron’s relationship is told with so much heart and love. Their storylines do not revolve around these characters being gay, but are instead about two new parents who are in a loving relationship and are trying to work their way through fatherhood together.”

Black Tie officials announced earlier this year that comedienne and Sordid Lives: The Series star Caroline Rhea will be master of ceremonies for the 2011 dinner, and that Chet Flake and his partner of 45 years, the late Bud Knight, will receive this year’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

Table Captain table sales are currently under way online at BlackTie.org/TableCaptains.

—  John Wright

‘Behind every good man, there’s a good man’

Bud Knight, left, and Chet Flake

BTD to honor gay Dallas couple Chet Flake and Bud Knight

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Chet Flake and Bud Knight are the 2012 Black Tie Dinner Kuchling Humanitarian Award recipients. For the first time, one of the awards will be given posthumously.

The award is presented annually by the Black Tie Dinner to acknowledge the contributions of individuals who have given their time and leadership talents on behalf of the LGBT community.

Knight died earlier this year after a battle with leukemia. He and Flake were together 45 years and were married in Vancouver on their 40th anniversary.

Nan Faith Arnold, co-chair of this year’s board of directors and Black Tie Dinner, called their award a slam-dunk.

“They gave years and years and years of service with no hint of ever wanting any recognition,” she said.

Flake and Knight have been Resource Center Dallas volunteers for about 20 years. Knight helped found Toast to Life, one of the center’s annual fundraising events. Flake mostly volunteered time at the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic where he did phone counseling.

Knight served on the board of Bryan’s House during the 1990s. He also initiated the Turtle Creek Chorale’s A-Z Auction.

Flake credited Knight with the couple’s work on behalf of the community.

“Behind every good man, there’s a good man,” he joked after talking about his husband’s many achievements but taking little credit for his own.

Flake served on the board of the Chorale for 13 years and was its chair for three years.

He was a lay chaplain for the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas at St. Paul Hospital for 11 years. During the early days of the AIDS epidemic, he principally visited people at St. Paul and Parkland from out of town whose pastors were not available to visit.

He said that those visits ended with changes to the HIPPA law that prevented hospitals from releasing any information about its patients.

At their church, St. Thomas the Apostle, the couple headed a ministry for people who were HIV positive.

“People came who said, ‘I know I’m dying but my church won’t bury me,’” Flake said.

Their ministry expanded into a program to find churches to help care for those with HIV, which was the beginning of AIDS Interfaith Network.

The couple met in 1965 when Flake, who was from Los Angeles, was in Dallas working on a doctorate taking summer classes at SMU. Knight was a buyer for Neiman Marcus. They met through a mutual friend and played bridge together on their first date.

“Bud said he never played bridge so well,” Flake said.

He said it was a beautiful summer romance. But then, during a buying trip, Knight was offered a job at I. Magnin in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. He took the job in L.A.

Flake said Knight dressed many celebrities but his favorite story was about Bette Davis. She looked at Knight in the dressing room and said, “Do you smoke?” Knight said he did so Davis said, “Then sit down and smoke.”

In 1967, the couple traveled 16,000 miles across Canada and the U.S. for six months in a trailer.

When they got back to L.A., Knight was going to open a store on Melrose Place but the lease did not come through.

“Mr. Stanley [Marcus] heard about it and came out and insisted Bud come back,” Flake said. And Marcus made an appointment to help Flake get a job in Dallas as well. He became a consultant in math and science for the State Board of Education.

After two years, Knight was offered the position of president of Lester Melnick, a chain of women’s stores in Dallas, where he worked until he retired.

Flake later worked for Xerox, traveling around the world, training teachers to use the company’s products, including the Weekly Reader.

The Kuchling Award was founded as The Humanitarian Award at the second Black Tie Dinner in 1983. John Thomas, the first executive director of Resource Center Dallas, was the first recipient. The award was renamed for Ray Kuchling, a founder of the Black Tie Dinner, an early Dallas LGBT community activist and the third recipient.

Many of the recipients, including Carol West who was named last year, may have been better known throughout the community.

But when Knight and Flake were named, Arnold said, many members of the board were in tears.

Nominations are made by the board of directors, the advisory board and by the beneficiary organizations. The advisory board reviews the nominations and makes recommendations to the board of directors that votes.

Black Tie Dinner Co-chair Chris Kouvelis said that the vote for Flake and Knight was overwhelming.

Arnold said that selecting the Kuchling recipient is one of the most important things the board does during the year. She said that the chairs mostly preside over meetings but this is one of the few times they participate in the voting.

For his speech at the Black Tie Dinner on Nov. 12, Arnold and Kouvelis advised Flake that the best ones come straight form the heart.

“I’ll rely on Bud for my inspiration,” Flake said.

—  John Wright

Caroline Rhea tapped as Black Tie M.C.

Comedienne and actress Caroline Rhea will be master of ceremonies for the 2011 Black Tie Dinner, set for Nov. 12 at the Sheraton Dallas, BTD officials announced this week. Organizers called the addition of Rhea “the latest in a fresh approach” for the dinner.

Caroline Rhea

Although Rhea started out as a stand-up comedian working in New York, she ended up moving to Hollywood to pursue an acting gig. Her small-screen debut came in the NBC series Pride and Joy, with Jeremy Piven, but her breakout role was as “Aunt Hilda” in WB’s Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. When Rosie O’Donnell left her syndicated talk show in 2002, she chose Rhea as her replacement, and the show was renamed, obviously enough, The Caroline Rhea Show. And she was the host of The Biggest Loser in its first three seasons.

Those of us who have kids and therefore watch The Disney Channel Cartoons (along with those of us who like watching Disney Channel cartoons just because they’re fun), may recognize Rhea also as the voice of Linda Flynn, the clueless mom on Phineas and Ferb.

But Rhea’s biggest “gay cred” came from her role as Noleta Nethercott in Del Shores’ Sordid Lives: The Series. (She stepped into the role when Delta Burke, who played Noleta in the Sordid Lives movies, wasn’t able to re-create the part on the small screen.)

BTD Co-Chair Nan Arnold, in a statement released today, praised Rhea’s “fresh, smart and spontaneous approach to comedy,” adding that Rhea’s “innate curiosity and formidable talents give her the natural abilities we’re looking for in a master of ceremonies.”

In other Black Tie Dinner news this week, online table captain table sales started today. For more information, go here. And BTD officials also said this week that they expect to announce the 2011 Kuchling Humanitarian Award winner very soon. So stay tuned.

—  admin

Black Tie online table sales start Wednesday

Online table captain table sales for the 2011 Black Tie Dinner begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday. The dinner, with a theme of “Shine!”, is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Sheraton Dallas hotel. Go here to get your table and find out more details.

The site allows table captains to organize their tables (each sits 10 people), communicate with table guests and plan payments. Table captain tables are available on a limited, first-come, first-serve basis, and table captains can choose their placement in the ballroom based on when their payments are completed.

Sponsor level tables — which come with premium placement in the ballroom and other benefits — are also available here.

—  admin

‘A roomful of silent witnesses’

NO LONGER SILENT | The Rev. Steve Sprinkle, assistant professor at Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, donated his stole to the Shower of Stoles project in 2001. He added the line of bells along the bottom so that he would never again be silent about his sexual orientation.

Collection of stoles from LGBT clergy on display at Northaven UMC, including stole from local minister Stephen Sprinkle

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

The Shower of Stoles — a portion of which is now on display at Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas — is a collection of liturgical stoles from LGBT religious leaders representing about 30 Jewish and Christian denominations from six countries on three continents.

Stoles are the religious garb worn by clergy around the neck, usually over a clerical robe. This collection, started by a lesbian minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) whose ordination was threatened when she came out, is designed to “connect with people emotionally,” creating an impact similar to that of the NAMES Project AIDS Memoral Quilt, said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Voelkel said the collection is an important artifact of the ongoing battle for ordination equality in mainstream churches.

In 1993, Voelkel explained, the Presbyterian Church called for a three-year period of open dialogue on human sexuality. The Rev. Martha Juillerat, a Presbyterian minister from rural Missouri, participated by traveling around her district participating in dozens of conferences and opening dialogues in churches throughout the area.

Despite the invitation to come out, there was no guarantee that Juillerat wouldn’t face repercussions.

And in fact, she did.

Voelkel said that when the Presbyterian Church threatened to revoke Juillerat’s ordination in 1995, she put word out for other LGBT clergy to send her their stoles and stories. Within a week she had 75.

When Presbytery officials gathered to discuss her case, “she lined the room with stoles,” Voelkel said.

Within a few weeks the collection had grown to more than 200.

After Juillerat retired, she donated the collection to the NGLTF’s Institute for Welcoming Resources, which now maintains it. The collection has grown to about 1,200 pieces.

Today, parts of the collection are exhibited in about 100 places each year. Voelkel said that some churches use the display as part of the welcoming process, but others bring in the collection before they are even ready to talk about it.

She called it “a roomful of silent witnesses.”

Those witnesses can have an impact. Just last week, 18 years later Juillerat’s fight, the Presbyterian Church voted to allow ordination of LGBT clergy.

A display of 50 stoles will be on exhibit at Northaven United Methodist Church through June 5, said the Rev. Eric Folkerth. The church is a welcoming congregation with a large LGBT membership. Northaven is also a beneficiary of the Black Tie Dinner.

Folkerth said his church has hosted the exhibit before: “It was very moving and an inspiring thing to see.”

While other churches use the collection to begin a dialogue, Folkerth said, “This is a reminder that we are so blessed.”

Folkerth said that in terms of creating change, it would be better for the stoles to be somewhere else. But, “It’s important to remind ourselves what’s going on in the rest of the church.”

Among the stoles in the collection is one from the Rev. Steven Sprinkle, an associate professor at Texas Christian University. In his accompanying story, Sprinkle said that he served several congregations as a single person. Congregants suspected he was gay and he was targeted with graffiti on his house and had his car ties slashed.

“In an attempt to drive me away, my pet Basset hound, Beau, and my English bulldog, Buck, were butchered and hung up in the back yard of my parsonage,” Sprinkle said. “There was a lot of fear in my life.”

But Sprinkle said he didn’t run. Instead he came out after a close friend told him, “If there are no secrets, Steve, there can be no ambushes.”

Shower of Stoles exhibit, Northaven United Methodist Church, 11211 Preston Road. Mon.–Fri., 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. 9:30 a.m.–2 p.m. through June 5. 214-363-2479. Northaven.org.

—  John Wright

Chely Wright continues her gay offensive, signs on with Olivia Travel’s Caribbean Sun Cruise

In May, it was big news that country singer Chely Wright had come out of the closet as gay, with the release of a memoir and a new album. She followed up that announcement with word a few weeks ago that she would receive the media award at Dallas’ Black Tie Dinner in November.

But before she comes to Dallas, she’ll be hitting the high seas — and not the ones on the upper reaches of the treble scale.

Wright will be performing on Olivia Travel’s 20th anniversary Caribbean Sun Cruise, which weights anchor Oct. 30 through Nov. 6 … the latter date which is, by the way, the same day as the Black Tie Dinner.

That’s cutting it pretty close (though maybe she’ll helicopter out early). In any event, expect a newly bronzed singer at the often chilly gala.

For more info on the cruise, visit Olivia.com.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Stage star Gavin Creel to perform at Black Tie

2-time Tony nominee will join with TCC to headline 2010 fundraiser

From Staff Reports editor@dallasvoice.com

From Broadway, to London’s West End to Dallas, two-time Tony Award nominee Gavin Creel is coming to Texas in November to appear as the headlining entertainer for the 2010 Black Tie Dinner.

Creel will join Dallas’ own Turtle Creek Chorale in performing a special arrangement in honor of BTD beneficiaries to open the dinner, BTD officials said.

BTD Co-Chair Ron Guillard said organizers are “thrilled these two talents will unite on one stage.”

“Gavin brings an incomparable and raw sense of emotion to every performance. Combine that with the powerful voices of the Turtle Creek Chorale and we know our audience will experience a real treat,” Guillard said.

Creel first won Broadway acclaim for his leading role opposite Sutton Foster in the 2002 production of “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” which earned him a Tony Award nomination as best actor. The show won the Tony for best musical.

Last year, Creel was in the revival of “Hair,” playing the hippie Claude. He earned his second Tony nomination with that effort.
He’s currently performing in London’s West End.

Off stage, Creel is one of the founders of Broadway Impact, an organization fighting for equality and LGBT civil liberties. He is a regular performer on R Family Cruises with Rosie O’Donnell and is planning the release of his second studio album. BTD Co-Chair Nan Arnold noted that the announcement of Creel’s performance with TCC at the dinner comes less than a week before table captain table sales begin for this year’s event.

Arnold said, “All of these organizations have been standing strong, providing valuable services and programs to our community — some of them for decades — and we look forward to celebrating them in this exciting manner this year.”

Black Tie officials announced earlier this year that the Rev. Carol West will receive the Kuchling Humanitarian Award at the 2010 dinner, and that this year’s Elizabeth Birch Equality Award will be presented to American Airlines. Officials said other announcements about the 2010 dinner are coming soon.

Dinner organizers have not yet announced the keynote speaker for the event in November, or this year’s Media Award winner.
Online table captain table sales begin at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 30 at BlackTie.org/tablecaptains. Sponsor level placements, which include premium table placement and other benefits, are already available at BlackTie.org/sponsors.

For more information about table captain sales, contact Mitzi Lemons by e-mail at mlemons@blacktie.org or by phone at 972-733-9200, ext. 7. For sponsor information, contact Maggie McQuown by e-mail at mmcquown@blacktie.org or by phone at 972-733-9200, ext. 8.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice

Rooting for Beckham …

and no, I don’t mean the soccer player or his wife.

Laurie Foley, the 2008-2009 co-chair for Black Tie Dinner, has a black cocker spaniel named Beckham who won the Black Cocker Variety division today at the Westminster Dog Show. That means Beckham now advances to Sporting division competition tonight.

So take a break from watching the Olympics, flip over to the dog show and root for Beckham.

—  admin