Resource Center meets, exceeds capital campaign goal

Resource Center held the grand opening celebration for its new community center on Cedar Springs Road in May 2016.

Officials with Resource Center announced today that the agency has exceeded its capital campaign goal of $8.7 million dollars.

According to a statement released this morning (Tuesday, Feb. 7), “Since 2008, a broad base of generous donors contributed [more than] $9,029,000 in funds to the campaign, enabling the Center to expand services and build a new community center on Cedar Springs Road. The light-filled, triangular-shaped, 20,000-square-foot community center is home for LBGTQ youth, seniors, family, advocacy and behavioral health programs.”

Resource Center Chief Executive Officer Cece Cox said, “The generous spirit of our community prevailed and we are thankful for everyone who has helped us reach this milestone. Thanks to the generosity of donors and community partners of the capital campaign, we are able to ensure the well-being of Dallas’ LGBTQ youth and seniors and the mental health needs of our community.”

The statement expressed thanks for “the guidance and experience of the Center’s board of directors, building committee, architect and legal counsel.”

And Capital Campaign Steering Committee Chair Terry Loftis said, “We appreciate friends of the Center for donating and discounting goods and services to create a welcoming, iconic building and the dedicated campaign committee and volunteers who helped us fundraise. From the start, this campaign was rooted in service, commitment and love for our clients and the community.”

The capital campaign funded the renovation of the health campus at Reagan and Brown streets allowing consolidation of HIV services for nutrition services, the food pantry, insurance assistance and case management. Accessible and convenient STD and HIV testing is maintained at the Center’s Nelson-Tebedo Clinic on Cedar Springs Road, also the home for the dental clinic.

Chief Development Officer Cameron Hernholm noted, “Resource Center’s capital campaign was the largest such effort by an LGBT agency in the state of Texas and one of the largest LGBT capital campaigns in the country. [All donors], whether they have given $1 or $1 million will be recognized on the ‘donor walls’ at the new community center and newly remodeled health campus. It’s taken community gifts to make this happen, and everyone who contributed deserves to be recognized.”

To schedule a tour of the new community center, email

For more information or to support the Center contact Cameron Hernholm, Chief Development Officer, at 214-540-4421 or


—  Tammye Nash

Community leaders meet with Police Chief Brown


Resource Center CEO Cece Cox talks to reporters Tuesday after meeting with Police Chief David Brown, as Cannon Brown of Stonewall Democrats looks on. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox and a team of six other LGBT community leaders attended a meeting with Dallas Police Chief David Brown this afternoon (Tuesday, May 31) in which the chief “acknowledged that standing up with [anti-LGBT First Baptist Church pastor Robert] Jeffress has harmed the LGBT community,” Cox said.

In mid-April, at a press conference attended by Brown and former Mayor Tom Leppert, Jeffress announced that his church was offering counseling services to Dallas police officers, as well as offering summer camp scholarships — presumably to the First Baptist Chuch camp — to the children of police officers and holding weekly Sunday School classes specifically for officers. The church also honored Brown at an April 17 morning service.

Jeffress is widely known  for his anti-gay sermons and his condemnations of every religion other than his own. The same weekend that Resource Center opened it’s new building, Jeffress made statements declaring transgender-friendly businesses to be a bigger threat than ISIS.

Resource Center officials had asked for a meeting with Brown last week after issuing a statement condemning Jeffress’ anti-trans comments, according to the center’s communications and advocacy manager, Rafael McDonnell. McDonnell said they had received word Saturday that the chief wanted to meet with them, but did not know until about 10 a.m. today that Brown wanted to meet with them this afternoon.

Others attending the meeting were McDonnell, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Vedda, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Association President Patti Fink, Stonewall Democrats President Jay Narey, and Stonewall Democrats board member — and Young Stonewall and Take Back Oak Lawn member — Cannon Brown. City Councilman Adam Medrano was also there.

Cox said about 14 members of Brown’s staff were also present.

Cox said that while “We don’t agree on every single thing that got said today,” she and the other community leaders “felt heard.”

Cox said that while Brown did not agree to “step away” from any association with Jeffress and First Baptist, he did agree to issue a statement acknowledging that he understands how that association could be harmful to the LGBT community.

Cox said Brown told the community leaders that he and the police department as a whole have a responsibility to the entire community, and that it is their job to “ensure everyone has free speech.” He also said that he doesn’t turn down invitations from any segment of the city’s population.

Cox said she and the other community leaders addressed the “18-plus unsolved attacks” that have happened in the Oak Lawn area since last September, and that the chief is committed to solving those crimes, as is the community. The chief and community leaders are also “all committed to continuing the dialog.”

“Oak Lawn has become dangerous in a way it has not been in decades,” Cox said, noting that many community members — for a variety of reasons — are reluctant to report crimes and if they report them, follow through by cooperating with police in the investigation. She said she believes Brown understands that and is committed to addressing those problems.

Cox said Brown acknowledged that the city’s crime rate has been rising, due largely to spikes in crime in Oak Lawn, in domestic violence and in drug-related incidents. He said the police force — which is shrinking in size and is one of the lowest-paid departments in the area — faces a number of barriers in addressing those increases.

“Dallas needs to get with the program and solve some big issues, micro and macro,” Cox said.

Cox said that she and other community leaders are working to find ways to offer resources other than those available through First Baptist, and that Tuesday’s meeting is just the beginning of what needs to be an ongoing dialog.


Cannon Brown of Stonewall Democrats, Patti Fink of DGLA and Jay Narey of Stonewall Democrats


North Texas GLBT Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda speaks to reporters

—  Tammye Nash

DVtv: Resource Center shows off its new building

Part 1

Dallas Voice and DVtv were there Saturday, May 21, when Resource Center opened its gorgeous new facility to the public. You can David Taffet’s photos of the open house here. And watch Part 1 of DVtv’s coverage — that’s right, there was so much goodness it took two videos to cover it all — below.

Then watch Part 2 here.

—  Tammye Nash

Moving on up

Resource Center moves to its new landmark building this weekend


Cece Cox takes care of last minute details with a phone call before the big opening of the new Resource Center Saturday.

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

Cece Cox said this week she wishes Bill Nelson and John Thomas and Bill Hunt and others lost to HIV were here to see the new LGBT Community Center, that will welcome the public for an open house from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 21.

“The people who can’t be here …” she started, her words cut off by the tears she unsuccessfully tried to keep at bay. “John Thomas was in this office,” she said, referring to her tiny space in Resource Center’s old building on Reagan Street with a mixture of sadness and joy. “I worked so hard to get here and now I’m leaving it.”

Cox managed to keep from crying as she walked through the new building, pointing out some of its features:

There’s light, windows everywhere. The old building has few windows and little light.

And the art! But none of the $8.7 million from Resource Center’s capital campaign went into art. All of it was donated or is on long-term loan. Nancy Whitenack, owner of Conduit Gallery, and local artist Ted Kincaid saw to that.

Where the old community center had no place for people to just sit and visit, the new space offers comfortable seating around small tables. The new building also has boardrooms available for groups to meet. The triangular space above the entryway is a new open auditorium that can be configured a number of ways to accommodate large group functions or smaller group meetings.

The new community center’s prominent location on Cedar Springs Road is on property purchased from Cathedral of Hope, completing a circle that began in 1989, when Metropolitan Community Church Dallas outgrew the facilities on Reagan Street, selling them to Foundation for Human Understanding to build the new cathedral.

Cox said people could drive by Resource Center’s nondescript former home on Reagan Street every day and not have any idea what the place was. But this new building is an LGBT landmark. Anyone driving up Cedar Springs Road to Love Field will see it and know what it is.

And just to make sure that no one will miss it at night, Mark and Dante Reed-Walkup, whose WieDaMark lighting company on Harry Hines Boulevard may be best known for Reunion Tower’s nightly light show, made sure the new community center is properly lit.

“We’ll be seen by anyone flying into Love Field,” Mark Reed-Walkup said.

The Reed-Walkups installed lighting on the roof that will bathe the new center in rainbow colors for Pride. But it will also show the LGBT community’s patriotism with red-white-and-blue lighting on July 4, its Christmas spirit with red and green in December and the importance of Halloween with a flood of orange in October.

Reed-Walkup described the lighting as an LED flex neon product that’s weather protected that should be a “trouble-free installation.”

Now that community center activities are about to move into a new location, Cox exp

ected to be able to take a break. But that’s not going to happen; there’s too much is going on.

The capital campaign continues through the end of the year, Cox noted. Of the $8.7 million cost for building the Cedar Springs property and renovating the Reagan Street buildings, they have $344,000 left to raise. That’s just a small portion of the original total, but Cox pointed out it’s more than they paid for the Reagan Street property, which cost $260,000 in 1989 and is now valued at $2.1 million.

Cox said she is looking forward to welcoming the 40 community groups that meet at the community center into the new building, and she hopes to welcome and incubate new groups.

Gray Pride will finally have meeting space, she said. Youth First begins meeting in the new building next week. And the new food pantry, Resource Center’s most accessed service, have already opened in the Reagan Street building.

Both Youth First and the Food Pantry have been occupying other facilities. Now, not having to pay those leaves will save the organization about $100,000 a year, Cox said.

Having the food pantry at the same location as the hot meals program is more than just convenient, Cox said. It may also bring in more clients to access both programs. “Clients won’t have to travel to two places,” she said. “We’re planning for an uptick.”

Resource Center’s counseling program, operated in conjunction with Southern Methodist University’s School of Education, moves to the new building and gets more space.

On July 1, the center will launch its own behavioral health program to treat drug and alcohol abuse. Cox said the new program will work on a different model than the SMU program, requiring insurance or cash payment, and much of the work will be done in group sessions.
The Reagan street facilities will continue to be renovated. What is currently office space will be reconfigured for HIV client service programs, and the cafeteria, which hasn’t been renovated since it was used for fellowship by MCC, will get a refresh.

And, Cox said, she is itching to get back into more advocacy work, especially on ­­­the transgender issues that are popping up and as Texas lawmakers gear up for what promises to be a nasty legislative session next year.

How it began

Resource Center began as a program of Dallas Gay Alliance (now Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance) in 1983. While AIDS had already hit hard in other parts of the country, Dallas had only seen a few cases at that poin


The new community center is filled with art thanks to Conduit Gallery owner Nancy Whitenack and artist Ted Kincaid. Included is this installation by Gabriel Dawe. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

t. But Houston already had a number of deaths, and Dallas gay community leaders knew the epidemic was headed here.

They formed a new organization, known as the AIDS Resource Center but incorporated as the Foundation for Human Understanding. They chose the more innocuous name because organizers like Bill Nelson and John Thomas knew that the people with money in Dallas wouldn’t write the word “AIDS” on a check.

FHU shared rented space with DGA on Cedar Springs Road where TapeLenders now stands. The food pantry, which started as a shelf in Crossroads Market on the corner of Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street, moved to a vacant warehouse space behind the stores facing the parking lot. In 1988, FHU opened the Nels

on-Tebedo Community Clinic for AIDS Research in a Cedar Springs building that had been empty for at least a decade. The clinic remains in that space today.

In February 1989, a man named Dale Wesley Biddy set fire to the Resource Center offices, starting a blaze that also destroyed Union Jack and the Round-Up Saloon. The food pantry, unaffected by the fire thanks to double brick walls separating it from the retail stores on the street, continued to operate uninterrupted.

“Before the fire, we never considered a move out of the Crossroads,” Bruce Monroe, a former DGA president and FHU board member said. “Afterwards, we weren’t given a choice.”

After the fire, The Round-Up and Union Jack expanded and DGA wasn’t given the

option of returning to Cedar Springs Road. The Resource Center leased space where Thairrific is now, facing Throckmorton Street.

“We were on top of each other — even time sharing desks,” Monroe said. “So, George McDaniel and I began looking at available properties.”

They were offered free houses in East Dallas, but the organization wanted to stay in Oak Lawn.

“There were few properties available,” Monroe said. “We even looked at the old Braniff training center near the tollway. Then we were approached by Jack [Evans] and George [Harris],” who ran one of the large

st real estate agencies in Oak Lawn at the time.

They represented MCC, and “MCC wanted to sell and heard we had been looking,” Monroe said.

MCC had seen exponential growth through the 1980s and outgrew its home on Reagan at Brown streets. The church began building Cathedral of Hope. While construction progressed, it moved from its home o

n Reagan Street to an office building on Maple and Hudnall avenues, a building that was torn down earlier this year.

The purchase of the Reagan Street property came to the FHU board for a vote.

“George McDaniel was on both boards and voted against buying the building on the FHU board — after working so hard with me to find it,” Monroe said. When he asked why, he said, McDaniel “replied he was the only member with deep pockets and didn’t want to pay up should we default on the loan.”

Still, the board approved the sale and FHU bought the property for $265,000, taking out a loan with a large balloon payment at the end.
Joe Desmond, who served as secretary of both DGA from it’s inception and FHU, kept assuring the boards of both organizations not to worry, that the mortgage would be covered, Monroe said. Every time a board member fretted, Desmond reassured them.

Desmond died in 1994 and left his life insurance to FHU. The money paid off the mortgage with cash left over, a luxury the organization never had before.

In 1998, Foundation for Human Understanding was sued over its name by an organization called Foundation of Human Understanding, a Christian organization in Oregon. By this time, anti-HIV drugs w

ere keeping people alive and there was less stigma about using the term AIDS. Rather than countersuing, FHU changed its name to Resource Center Dallas and in 2013 simply Resource Center.

Today, Resource Center has about 50 people on staff, making it one of the largest centers of its kind in the U.S. About 1,200 people volunteer for Resource Center every year ,and 60,000 people a year use its services, programs and community center space.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 20, 2016.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center fast tracks pantry renovation

Services continue without disruption, despite unexpected lease cancellation


Workers strip what was the Red, Blue and Yellow rooms to the bare walls to build the new food pantry. (James Russell/Dallas Voice)

JAMES RUSSELL  |  Staff Writer

The food pantry is one of Resource Center’s most popular programs. Currently located on the Denton Drive Cutoff, just off Maple Avenue near Inwood Road, the pantry serves more than 800 people a week. So when center officials learned that the landlord at that space was unexpectedly cancelling the pantry’s lease, they knew that halting the popular service, even temporarily, was out of the question.

But it wasn’t just center staffers worried the pantry’s clientele would be inconvenienced. It also meant making significant changes to the center’s ongoing capital campaign timeline.

Resource Center is in the midst of an $8.7 million capital campaign intended to help the center meet the needs of an ever-growing community. Originally, the idea was to first move staff and social services into the new 20,000-square-foot facility under construction on Cedar Springs Road at Inwood when that facility was finished. That move would free space at the current Reagan-and-Brown location to move into phase two: consolidating HIV services, nutrition services and the food pantry.

Now, both the construction and renovation are happening at the same time. On the revised timeline, the pantry should be ready by mid-February, the new facility in March, and the Reagan-and-Brown renovations by the summer.

“This timeline was not ideal, but we are committed to clients,” Resource Center CEO Cece Cox noted. “We will not miss one day of service at the pantry. Staff is working to accommodate clients to ensure that their needs are being met during this transitional phase.”

In order to continue to meet the high demand for service, it will take $600,000 to renovate the Reagan-and-Brown building, including the construction and relocation of the food pantry.

The food pantry began in 1985 out of a cardboard box at Crossroads Market, then located at the intersection of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton. As need grew, so did the pantry. It moved to a larger space in the 3900 block of Cedar Springs, and eventually to its current location at Denton Drive Cutoff.

Now, through a partnership with the North Texas Food Bank, the center is able to readily restock its pantry with fresh produce, dairy, meats and frozen meals for the 1,900 clients who use it every month.

Cox said the total square footage of the Reagan-and-Brown facility will be about 12,000 square feet. The pantry space will be smaller than the current one. But the new one will be “more efficient in terms of client use,” said Cox.

It will also benefit clients who use public transit.

“When you use public transportation, you’re subject to longer wait times,” Cox said. Clients may be using already limited resources just to access the pantry and services, she added.

Doris Carrillo, Resource Center’s client services manager, said, “The new food pantry means a friendlier and more centralized location for clients.” She called the Denton Cut Off location “isolated.”

“The new food pantry location offers a one-stop shop for all of our clients’ nutritional and supportive needs.

With the move of the pantry to Reagan-and-Brown, clients won’t have to sacrifice stocking up on groceries over a daily hot meal. Now they can have both, due to convenient access to all programs,” Carrillo added.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 5, 2016.

—  James Russell

Resource Center’s Cox calls Huffines on anti-trans statements, invites him to visit center


Cece Cox

Cece Cox, chief executive officer of Resource Center, today sent an open letter to Texas Sen. Don Huffines, taking the Republican to task for Tweets he sent out Tuesday, Nov. 10, condemning Dallas City Council’s vote to clarify language in the city’s equal rights ordinance regarding protections based on gender identity and gender expression.

The ordinance, first approved by the council in 2002, originally included gender identity and gender expression under the protected class of “sexual orientation,” although sexual orientation is not generally considered to include gender identity and expression. Tuesday’s vote was intended to clear up any confusion.

Huffines, however, pointed to a Nov. 3 referendum in which Houston voters defeated that city’s equal rights ordinance following a vitriolic campaign in which opponents mislabeled the ordinance as a “bathroom bill” and focused on scare tactics claiming it would allow sexually predatory men to dress in women’s clothing to harass and attack women and girls in public restrooms. He called the Dallas council’s vote a “sneak attack” taken without giving the public a chance to comment on the change, although the amendment has been in discussion and open to public comment for a year or more.

Huffines called for the ordinance to be repealed, telling Dallas Voice in a written statement that “Civic participation and public scrutiny have been lacking in this process.”

Huffines represents Senate District 16, which includes parts of Oak Lawn, Cox points out. Although Huffines’ district includes parts of Dallas, the senator himself actually lives in Highland Park, according to records Dallas Voice reporter James Russell found online.


Sen. Don Huffines

Here is Cox’s letter in its entirety:

Dear Senator Huffines:

I am Cece Cox, the chief executive officer of Resource Center. For over 32 years, the Center has served the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, as well as all people affected by HIV/AIDS. Parts of the Senator’s district include the Oak Lawn neighborhood, the historic home of Dallas’ LGBT community.

I am writing your office regarding your recent comments about the revision of the city of Dallas’ nondiscrimination ordinance, which was slightly modified this week by the Dallas City Council. The Center is a member of Mayor Rawlings’ LGBT Task Force, and several Center employees serve on that body.

Many of your comments lack a factual basis, which is disturbing given that you are making them in public to a large audience.

Here are some statistics about the transgender community you may not be aware of, according to the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Study, conducted by the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality:

1. 90% of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.

2. 47% said they had experienced an adverse job outcome, such as being fired, not hired or denied a promotion because of being transgender or gender non-conforming.

3. 26% reported that they had lost a job due to being transgender or gender non-conforming; and,

4. A staggering 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.

With that in mind, I would like to invite you to come to the Center and visit with me, as well as members of the transgender community. Words have meaning, and I think it is important that you have a chance to speak with community members affected by discrimination, and positively impacted by Tuesday’s City Council vote. I look forward to your reply.

Best regards
Cece Cox, JD
Chief Executive Officer, Resource Center

—  Tammye Nash

VIDEO: Resource Center breaks ground

In case you missed the Resource Center groundbreaking ceremony, Lambda Weekly video guru William “Doc” Dockery caught it on video. The new building will be at 5714 Cedar Springs Road, adjacent to Cathedral of Hope.

—  David Taffet

LGBT advocates gather following SCOTUS marriage hearing

Local LGBT advocates and allies held a press conference outside of the Dallas County Records Building this afternoon (Tuesday, April 28, to show their support for marriage equality following a historic Supreme Court hearing held earlier today that could result in the legalization of marriage equality nationwide.

The combined cases, Obergefell v. Hodges and DeBoer et al v. Snyder, were heard over two-and-a-half hours.

Among the speakers outside the Records Building in Dallas were a broad coalition of faith and policy leaders and advocates, including Resource Center’s CEO Cece Cox, Omar Narvaez, community educator for Lambda Legal’s South Central Regional Office and Dallas County Schools board member, the Rev. Colleen Darraugh of MCC Greater Dallas and the Rev. Eric Folkerth, Northaven United Methodist Church. Two couples — Northaven congregants Jack Evans and George Harris of Dallas and Isabel Marquez and Victoria Estrada of Lewisville — also participated.

Each laid out the legal and theological justifications for marriage equality and shared personal experiences.

Darraugh said a ruling for marriage equality would “mean liberty and justice for all.” She added she married her partner in Canada and has recently wed couples in Oklahoma, where same-sex marriage is legal.

Narvaez said the fight for LGBT equality does not end with marriage.

“Same-sex marriage doesn’t end discrimination,” he said. “There is a lot of work to do.”

Resource Center’s Rafael McDonnell, who introduced the speakers, said the location of the conference was symbolic because the district clerk’s office, which is on the second floor of the building, is responsible for issuing marriage licenses.

“When the Supreme Court ruling comes in favor of marriage equality, LGBT couples will come to this office,” he said.

—  James Russell

Join the discussion, join the battle to end discrimination

Marriage equality efforts are getting the lion’s share of the headlines these days: Texans wait on the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to rule on marriage equality in The Lone Star State (and Louisiana and Mississippi), and the nation waits for the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the question once and for all.

But as the LGBT community makes great strides toward marriage equality, hundreds of thousands of LGBT people in the U.S. daily face the very real threat of discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations and more.

Today (Monday, Jan. 26), LGBT equality groups nationwide began holding public awareness events, including launching an online discussion using #discriminationexists, to shine a light on the fact that so many hardworking people still do not have basic legal protections from discrimination.

(You can follow the discussion at

Screen shot 2015-01-26 at 4.55.51 PM

Here in North Texas, and across the state, community leaders took the chance today to speak out against discrimination, issuing a call to action to LGBTs and their supporters in all areas and in all walks of life to join the fight for real equality,

Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas: “The Texas I believe in is a land of opportunity and freedom, where people who work hard and meet their responsibilities have a chance to get ahead. Clear protections from discrimination would help ensure that all Texans, including those who are gay or transgender, have a fair opportunity to earn a living, meet their obligations, provide for themselves and their families and build a better life. Changing the law won’t end all unfair treatment overnight. But it provides one more tool to ensure that all Texans are treated fairly and equally.”

Cece Cox, chief executive officer at Resource Center: “Discrimination exists against LGBTQ people at many levels. We have no statewide protections in areas like employment and public accommodations, and even in those few cities where protections exist, some state lawmakers want to see those protections removed. Texans overwhelmingly support fairness and equal opportunity for all people.”

Lou Weaver, trans outreach specialist for Texas Wins: “We have been talking about same-sex marriage for a long time in the U.S. We need to also think about basic rights for everyone: ‘Can I get a job? Can I find a place to live?’ Transgender people are still facing discrimination at high rates, and we need to take an honest look at our policies. We need access to basic fairness and equality in order to survive. That is what this is about, living our lives and having access to the same opportunities as everyone else.”

The Rev. Steve Sprinkle, professor of practical theology at Brite Divinity School: “Faith leaders of every background believe that everyone is created with God-given dignity. Our faith calls upon us to speak out for everyone’s dignity and security in the work they do, and for full access to housing. No one in our country should live in fear of losing their job or being denied fair housing just because of who they are.”

Todd Whitley, board chair for Hope for Peace & Justice: “It is hard to imagine any person being able to enjoy a sense of peace on their job or entering a public accommodation if that person has no assurance they won’t legally be discriminated against because of who they are. Sadly, this is exactly the reality for gay and transgender people in our state, -a grave injustice that must be resolved so that we can all enjoy the same opportunities without fear of legalized discrimination.”

A recent poll found that 9 of out 10 voters think that a federal law is already in place protecting LGBT people from workplace discrimination. Unfortunate, that is not true. There is no federal nondiscrimination law, and here in Texas, there is no state law either. We remain vulnerable in so many areas.

But Equality Texas officials say their organization is working to change that, partnering with business leaders, faith leaders and community members to put the necessary protections in place.

Toward that end, Equality Texas is holding three advocacy days, beginning Feb. 17 with Faith Advocacy Day in Austin. More than 225 faith leaders and members of clergy and 65 first responders in Texas have signed on to publicly demonstrate their support for nondiscrimination already.

Visit to find out what you can do to help.

—  Tammye Nash

AHF to open Out of the Closet on Cedar Springs

The thrift store will also have a full-service pharmacy and an HIV testing center


PREP WORK | Contractors are finishing up at Out of the Closet, a thrift store that AHF is opening in the former Union Jack store on Cedar Springs. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)


STEVE RAMOS  |  Senior Writer

The Out of the Closet Thrift Store that will be operated by the largest AIDS research and treatment nonprofit in the U.S. is set to open April 19 on Cedar Springs Road.

AIDS Healthcare Foundation took the recently closed Union Jack store and has been converting it into a building that will house not only a thrift store but a pharmacy and an HIV testing center as well. It’s a business model AHF uses in Florida, California and Ohio, but it’s the first in Texas.

“We have been operating thrift stores for 20-plus years,” said AHF Regional Director Bret Camp. “They’re very successful, and they have become icons and hubs in those cities’ gay neighborhoods.”

While the community has convenient access to other thrift stores, pharmacies and HIV testing centers, Out of the Closet is the first to offer what some might call an unusual amalgam of all those services.

“I’ve never gone to a thrift store that has a pharmacy and HIV testing,” Warren Wells said. “I kind of like it because I know there are people who don’t want to go to other places to get tested. They’re afraid someone will see them going in there.”

Camp said the model is unique and is designed to build community and unity and to expand access to HIV testing.


TOUCH UPS | A contractor paints a door at Out of the Closet, which is set to open April 16. (Steve Ramos/ Dallas Voice)

“Someone saying they don’t want to go into a clinic to be tested for HIV speaks to the amount of stigma that is still associated with HIV,” Camp said. “AHF is providing multiple options, which include clinical, mobile or the thrift stores. We need all those options to eliminate the gaps in the service delivery system.”

The thrift store will be open Monday-Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sundays from noon to 6 p.m. Camp said six employees have been hired, and they have a truck that will be used to pick up larger donations. The store will sell clothing, furniture and household goods. Camp said 96 cents of every dollar earned goes back into AHF services. The pharmacy, set to open at a later date, will be a full-service one.

“Opening the store where Union Jack used to be is part of the rebirth of Cedar Springs,” Camp said. “There’s new movement coming in there and new energy. We as a community are re-establishing our epicenter.”

A few doors down from Out of the Closet, renovation continues on other stores. A juice bar and a florist are expected to open soon.

“Any kind of movement is positive,” said Tony Vedda, president and CEO of North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. “The fact that Out of the Closet got in there so soon after Union Jack closed is pretty amazing.”

Vedda also supports the idea of an HIV testing center inside the retail store.

“People who have a phobia might not want to go in a clinic,” he said. “The fact that they have this thrift store model to fund and support their organization is good and smart. It’ll add some new life to the street.”

One block away, the Nelson Tebedo Community Clinic, operated by Resource Center, also offers HIV testing. Is it competition?

“We are anticipating that the people who are accessing testing in Out of the Closet are not the same population that is accessing testing at other locations,” Camp said. “We [agencies] all have different populations that want to get tested. We’re trying to make testing more mainstream. By putting it on The Strip, we can eliminate the stigma.”

Resource Center Cece Cox agrees that people should have choices about where to be tested for HIV.

“Given our 30-year track record and our highly qualified staff, people will still have a positive experience with Resource Center,” Cox said. “There are a lot of people who need to be tested. I know Resource Center does it in a very efficient, productive and compassionate way and has been doing that for many years.”

Cox added that having another place to get tested, such as Out of the Closet, might appeal to some people.

“It’s always a good thing when more people get tested,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 11, 2014.

—  Steve Ramos