Bill Eure has died

Bill Eure

Bill Eure, husband of the Rev. Michael Piazza, died overnight in his sleep, at his home in Atlanta, following a fierce battle with cancer.

Eure is survived by his family: husband Michael Piazza, his daughters Jerica Coughlin and Jordan Coughlin, his brother John Eure, David Plunkett and Sheila Coughlin.

Eure and Piazza met in Dallas in 1980, before Piazza became pastor of Cathedral of Hope. The family moved to Atlanta from Dallas in 2011 where Piazza became the senior pastor at Virginia-Highland Church.

Eure is originally from Goldsboro, N.C. and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He worked for Hewlett-Packard. Eure had many interests, and was a certified sommelier.

On his Facebook page, Piazza wrote the following tribute:

Last night my beloved Bill died in his sleep. He left far too soon, but I had the privilege of loving and being loved by him for thirty-five and a half years. I told him yesterday that he was always my proof that God really does love me. So next time you raise a glass of champagne or good wine remember that smile and toast a life well lived. XOXO

The Rev. Neil Cazarez-Thomas isuued the following statement on behalf of Cathedral of Hope:

Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ, Dallas TX is saddened by the news of the passing of Bill Eure, husband of Reverend Michael Piazza, former Senior Pastor and influential leader of progressive Christianity.

Bill was an integral part of Reverend Piazza’s 24-year ministry at Cathedral of Hope and he served in numerous roles, sharing his talents and gifts in abundance.

Our hearts and prayers go out to Reverend Michael and their two daughters Jerica and Jordan.  We join with members of Virginia-Highland Church in Atlanta, where Reverend Michael currently serves, as we share in their loss.

As people of faith we understand that death is not the end, but rather a gateway to eternity.  We share and mourn our loss, even as we celebrate a life well-lived.

RIP, good and faithful servant.

The Reverend Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas
 Senior Pastor

—  Tammye Nash

Labor Day, Walmart and me

cote.lores

Jackie Cote, right, and her wife, Dee

By Jackie Cote

Special Contributor

Labor Day is the traditional end of summer.  For me it’s been a special summer with my wife Dee.

Dee has ovarian cancer, and is now receiving hospice care at our home in New Bedford, Mass. This spring we decided to start ticking items off her bucket list.

We just spent some time in Myrtle Beach, S.C., with Dee’s son and daughter-in-law. There, Dee got to dip her feet in the sand and the water, collect a few shells, and spend time with family. It was fantastic.

Dee’s bucket list is pretty simple: Next we’ll go to New Hampshire, where we’ll take the scenic train route around Lake Winnipesaukee.

It’s been incredibly meaningful to both of us to spend this time together. In our 24 years together, we’ve been through thick and thin, and have always been each other’s rock. Now, when Dee is well enough, we venture out. And when she’s not, we are just making sure to appreciate every minute we have together.

Labor Day is also the day we celebrate ordinary working people. That’s very much me and Dee. For the past 16 years, I’ve served as an associate at Walmart, and for many years Dee was also a Walmart associate.

Unfortunately, on this Labor Day, I’m forced to think about how much employers respect — or disrespect — the people whose labor make their businesses successful. That’s because when I most needed my employer to come through for my family, I was shocked and disappointed that Walmart would not step up, and refused to treat my family with the respect it deserves.

I had always been concerned about Dee’s health, since she had a history of cancer. When we got married — as soon as it was legal in Massachusetts — Dee had been cancer-free for some time. And though we got married primarily for the same reason everyone does — because we love each other — it also meant we would be able to take care of each other financially and legally in the dozens of ways that straight married couples already could.

Starting in 2008 and continuing through 2012, I tried to add Dee to Walmart’s health insurance plan during Walmart’s open enrollment period, in an effort to receive a benefit that was made available to all other married Walmart employees. But when I entered Dee’s gender as “female,” the online system stopped me from going any further.

So I picked up the phone and called Walmart’s headquarters — and I was told that Walmart did not offer health insurance to the same-sex spouses of Walmart employees.

Soon, my inability to insure Dee became more than an insult, when Dee’s cancer re-emerged in August 2012. Over a short period of time, we racked up medical bills in excess of $150,000 that we were unable to pay. In addition to the nightmare of cancer, we endured the stress of being hounded by bill collectors. And Dee particularly felt guilty, being unable to pay the wonderful health workers who were providing her with such good care.

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, Walmart changed its policy to extend spousal health insurance benefits to same-sex spouses of Walmart employees. That’s a good step, but it’s not enough. It’s not enough because Walmart didn’t address the fact that hundreds or possibly thousands of people like me and Dee were greatly harmed when Walmart engaged in discrimination.

The harms we suffered continue this day. It doesn’t address the fact that Walmart changed its policy voluntarily, that Walmart claims it is lawful to discriminate against gay and lesbian workers, and that Walmart could change its policy to again discriminate at any time.

Dee and I want to be able to pay back the medical professionals we owe money to, and we want to be able to focus on Dee’s health without worrying about collection calls. We also want to be able to help other people who are in our situation — former or current Walmart employees married to someone of the same sex, who were unable to get their spouses covered by Walmart’s health insurance plan before Jan. 1, 2014.

That’s why we are working with lawyers at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and the Washington Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs to sue Walmart on behalf of all the working families who were harmed by Walmart’s unlawful discrimination. We are hopeful that we can make things right for ourselves and for others.

That would make a meaningful Labor Day.

Jackie Cote is the named plaintiff in the class action lawsuit Cote v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.now pending in the federal court in Boston, Mass. Inquiries about the case, including from similarly situated employees, can be directed to gladanswers@glad.org.

—  Tammye Nash

This is why marriage equality matters

Here’s a video from the Liberty Education Forum. Nothing else needs to be said.

—  Tammye Nash

Longtime Parkland CEO Ron Anderson dies of cancer

RJAnderson

Ron J. Anderson, M.D.

Ron J. Anderson, M.D., president and CEO of Parkland Health and Hospital System for 29 years, died Thursday, Sept. 11 of cancer. He was 68 years old. As of Friday morning, services were pending.

Anderson took over as head of Parkland in 1982, when he was 35 years old and when the AIDS epidemic was in its early days. Anderson was head of the county hospital when, in the late 80s, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance  (then called Dallas Gay Alliance) and Ron Woodruff of Dallas Buyers Club fame, filed — and won — the lawsuit that forced Parkland to treat people with HIV.

Anderson was named president and CEO after serving two years as medical director of the hospital’s emergency room and outpatient clinic and head of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center’s Division of Internal Medicine. He retired from Parkland in 2011, after spending his last years with the hospital leading the bond campaign that brought in public financing for the new $1.3 billion facility due to open next year.

In the mid-1980s, Anderson grabbed national attention when he spoke out against the practice — called patient dumping — of transferring medically unstable patients from private hospitals to public hospitals based on the patient’s ability or inability to pay, leading to passage of state laws regarding indigent care in Texas and later federal legislation banning patient dumping.

According to a press release from Parkland announcing his death, Anderson was known as an advocate of universal health care and for leading development of Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care health centers. He came to national attention again in the mid-1990s as a spokesperson in the movement for better confidentiality regarding the patient/physician relationship.

Anderson once said, in a speech to a UT Southwestern graduating class, “It is not enough just to try ‘to do good’ and try ‘to avoid evil,’ although these are the ethical keystones of the physician/patient relationship. We cannot be paternalistic toward patients and must accept their cultural, religious, ethnic and social differences. We must respect our patients’ autonomy and desire for wholeness, which should stimulate us to address the social justice issues affecting our patients’ lives.”

—  Tammye Nash

Fashion roundup

2photoLast Thursday was Dallas’ most fashionable day of the week — perhaps the year. On the heels of DIFFA the previous Saturday, three fashion events spread throughout the day captured our imaginations — and monopolized our time. (You can link to photos from all of the events here.)

It  started in the morning with the cancer fundraiser Dress 4 Yellow, a luncheon and runway show at the Adolphus Hotel. With most (but not all) fashions splashing shades yellow, it was a canary-like kick off to spring.

The only men’s fashions to walk the catwalk were from Nike Golf, but one of the highlights was the appearance of a cancer survivor among the male models. Two women, although cancer survivors, both showed off the fashions of the day, and all were stunning. But this event was less about fashion itself than about hope — a message spread especially poignantly during the luncheon by former NFL player Dhani Jones, dapperly decked in one of his own bowties, designed for the LiveStrong Foundation. Jones’ personal story of being touched by cancer added a serious and sobering moment to all the glam.

The afternoon benefited from beautiful weather and low winds for the outdoor “What to Wear” fashion show at Mockingbird Station. Hosted by DFWStyleDaily.com editor Lisa Petty, who led a panel commenting on the horseshoe runway of fashions available from retailers at the upscale development, it took on the theme of Las Vegas glitz, with the panel commenting on trends like layered necklaces and how to pack for a weekend in Vegas to maximize looks in a minimum of space. Plus appearances by members of FC Dallas soccer team added some beefcake. (Arnold Wayne Jones)

In the evening, fashions took wing at the Frontiers of Flight Museum, a creative and diverse range of designs turned up the heat on the runway for the annual Fashion Cited show, benefiting Legal Hospice of Texas.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tig Notaro has cancer, jokes about it

We’ve written about queermedian Tig Notaro on several occasions (including here) so we were distressed to learn that she has been diagnosed with cancer in both breasts. But in a story we read on New York magazine’s Culture Vulture page, it sounds like it is less distressing for Tig — or rather, she’s found a way to deal with it that is both healing and hilarious.

Over the weekend, she did a set in New York where she tackled the news, and the accounts are that she was brilliant. Louis C.K. even claimed via Twitter that in 27 years as a standup, he’d seen few sets to rival hers.

It’s the tritest of cliches to call “laughter the best medicine,” but it sounds as though, if that’s true, Tig is in good hands.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Fundraiser honoring Libby Serber tonight

About a month ago, I wrote a story about Libby Serber, the daughter of local actress Cara Serber and her husband Jeff. Libby has been struggling with cancer and her story has inspired many in the theater community and beyond.

Apparently, well beyond. The 2nd annual Peace, Hope and Butterflies kick-off party — a fundraiser sponsored by the Miracle Players Foundation to bring music to children in the hospital — is tonight at Mason Bar in Uptown, and little Libby is being honored. The event, from 5:30 to 7:30, will feature live music and complimentary drinks and apps. And you can of course make a donation, and maybe make a difference in the lives of Libby and kids like her.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

You think you know meme? Meet Libby Serber

The word “meme” has recently itself become a meme. The word is more than a century old, but took root in the 1990s, but with the spread of Facebook and other social networking, it has become part of the culture itself.

It’s also been bastardized. Now, any YouTube video linked more than twice seems to call itself “viral;” short-term idiocy like “planking” gets the meme label, though it disappears as quickly as it arises.

You want to know a real meme, you want to know about Libby Serber.

If you are part of the North Texas theater community, or friends with anyone who is, chances are you have seen at least some reference to Libby. Her mother, Cara, is an actress in town, well-respected and even more well-liked.

About two weeks ago, Libby was just like and other 6-year-old kid. Now, she’s a cancer survivor and veteran of open-heart surgery. It all happened very quickly for Libby. Her parents Jeff and especially Cara were upfront about what was going on, and surprisingly frank and timely in their updates of Libby’s condition, which seemed, at time, to change hourly: Diagnosis, surgery, home, back to the hospital, more surgery, goofing with the other kids in the cancer ward. It was almost surreal what this beautiful little ginger-haired tyke was enduring. In not one picture, though, was she anything other than smiling.

It didn’t take long for the entire theater community to begin offering prayers and support. Soon, her photo (like the one above) was the profile picture of countless people — male, female, old and young, those who knew her and those who had only heard of her (Cara famously acted in a play, the camp musical Debbie Does Dallas, just a few weeks after Libby was born).

The word spread. Within the past few days, Libby has been profiled on NBC-5 and the Dallas Morning News. Everyone within six degrees of the Serbers know her as “our little rock star.” “Mom, I think I might be famous,” reported Cara on her Facebook page. If you want to experience the power of love, you just need to read the comments posted there.

Libby, of course, is not unique. Many kids — too many — endure such travails. But the sincerity with which the theater community (and now, the broader Metroplex, even nation) has rallied behind her is inspiring. Forget meme — Libby is part of the Zeitgeist, a child whose bravery has touched the better angels in many adults who perhaps don’t engage in the exchange of humanity as much as they should.

I’m rooting for you, Libby — everyone is.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Community rallies to support GLBT Community Center President

Tim Brookover

Last fall Tim Brookover, a long-time Houston LGBT activist and current president of the Houston GLBT Community Center, made public that he was undergoing treatment for cancer. Throughout his treatment Brookover has remained the vibrant advocate for LGBT people that Houston has always known him to be (he even started a cancer support group at the center). Brookover recently ended his employment in the office of Houston City Council member Sue Lovell and applied for disability.

While his application is pending the people of his long-time church home have decided to help. Bethel United Church of Christ (1107 Shepherd) will host a spaghetti dinner to raise funds for Brookover’s expenses this Sunday, Feb. 12, at noon. Ticket’s are $10 and include beverages and speghetti. RSVP via facebook.

—  admin

Celebration of Love Gala raises funds for Lesbian Health Initiative

The scooter's way cuter in pink, sorry Liz

The Lesbian Health Initiative of Houston is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little early with their Celebration of Love Gala Saturday, Feb. 11. at the Double Tree Hotel downtown (400 Dallas Street). The 10th annual gala is the 20-year-old organization’s major fundraiser of the year.

This year the gala features comedienne Susanne Westenhoefer, who claims to be the “first openly-gay comedian to appear on television” (yep, she was out before Ellen).  Dorothy Weston, co-founder and CEO of The Rose (a breast cancer prevention and treatment organization) will be honored  for her years of service. In addition the evening includes dinner, dancing, a silent auction and the raffling of a pink Vitacci 50cc Retro Scooter. LHI executive director Liz James is particularly excited about the raffle even if she didn’t quite get her way on the prize. “I wanted it to be a black scooter, as I’m a bit on the butch side,” said James, adding that more “femme” forces in the organization prevailed and a pink scooter was selected instead.

Regardless of the color of the scooter, the Celebration of Love Gala promises to be a fun filled night, not just for sapphic romantics, but for anyone looking for a valentine’s date night that supports a good cause. Tickets for the black tie affair start at $100 and can be purchased at lhihouston.org. Doors open at 6 pm.

—  admin