Stone stepping into a quieter life

Founder of PFLAG-Dallas, Late Bloomers leaving group to focus on painting, involvement with church

Tammye Nash  |  nash@dallasvoice.com

Stone.Pat
Pat Stone

The Tuesday night, Dec. 14, meeting of Late Bloomers was a bittersweet event for Pat Stone. It marked her last meeting as leader and an active member of the organization she founded 13 years ago. But it also marked her first full steps into the next stage of her life.

Stone, who started Late Bloomers for women life herself who came out as lesbian later in life, was also one of the founding members of the Dallas chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of

Lesbians and Gays in 1992. Stone and her former husband helped start the PFLAG chapter in support of their lesbian daughter and were the driving force behind the Dallas organization in its early years.

She was president of the Dallas chapter for five years and was also on the national PFLAG board.

Then in 1997, after coming out as a lesbian herself, Stone started Late Bloomers to give other women coming out later in life a place other than nightclubs to go where they could meet other women like themselves and to learn about the LGBT community.

Stone said this week that her decision to leave Late Bloomers was, in truth, a decision to retire from her nearly 20-plus years as an activist on LGBT issues. Now, she said, she will concentrate on her life with her partner as part of a vibrant LGBT community in the Cedar Creek Lake area, her involvement with Celebration on the Lake Church, and on her painting.

“It’s been 13 years since I started Late Bloomers, and I just think the time is right to move on,” said Stone, adding that the monthly trip into Dallas for the group’s meetings from her home on Cedar Creek Lake was becoming increasingly arduous.

“I think it’s time [for Late Bloomers] to find someone local to lead the group,” she said. “I am stepping away from it for so many different reasons.”

One of those reasons, she said, is that she didn’t want to get “burned out, and I could feel that starting to happen.”

That is in due, in part, she said, to the fact that “the last couple of years were pretty rough” as she dealt with the break-up of a long-term relationship, the death of her mother and, later, the beginning of a new relationship.

“Linda [Sands] and I are living at the lake, and I think it is just time for us to concentrate on a quieter life out here with my friends. And I want to get back to my oil painting, too,” Stone said.

“I have begun doing more paintings that are geared to the elderly, researching on the types of things that older eyes can more readily pick up on, like plainer backgrounds and things like that,” she explained. “I have been in contact with the Mabank Nursing Home, where my mother lived at the end of her life, and I want to do paintings to donate there, paintings that the residents there can see better and that might make them think of all their good memories.”

Stone continued, “I will be 68 this month. That’s not ancient, but I just think it’s time to concentrate on my community here at the lake and my involvement with the church and the things I want to do now.”

Stone said the enormity of the change she is making by leaving Late Bloomers hasn’t really hit her full force yet, although she began to really see it during last Tuesday’s meeting. “There was a full house there. It was sad for me. I shed a few tears. But I was able to get through it,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

She said many of those who attended Tuesday talked about how much Late Bloomers has meant to them through the years. Some recalled how scared they were to attend their first meeting, but how the members of the group have, over the years, become like family to them, and how the group has helped give a specific voice within the community to women who come out later in life.

Stone said she had been worried that the group might not continue after she left, but that her fears were allayed at this week’s meeting.

“I know things are different now than they were 13 years ago. But I sure wouldn’t say that this group isn’t needed any more,” she said. “There are still women out there who are going through this [coming out process as older women], and they need specific kinds of help. Women who come out later in life still face some very specific issues that other people don’t face.”

Stone said she was glad to hear on Tuesday that Late Bloomers members want to keep their group going, and that new leaders are already stepping up.

“They said this group meant to much to them to let it die,” she said. “So a new committee was formed to transition the group. They even met that night. They are dividing up the duties and are determined to continue. I was so proud of them and the fact that so many stepped up to the plate to save the organization.”

Among the new leaders for Late Bloomers is Linda Harwell. Anyone with questions or who wants to be involved with the group can contact her at 410-868-8244.
While there is certainly a degree of sadness that comes with the decision to turn her life in a new direction, there is also a sense of satisfaction and excitement at the adventures to come, Stone said.

“It’s been almost 20 years that I have been involved in activism, and it is hard to step away from that,” she said. “But I am happy and content that I have helped many parents of gay and lesbian kids, as well as women who have come out later in life.

“Dallas has a great gay and lesbian community, and I am just so proud to have been a part of it for all these years.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

In support of meaningless gay sex as it’s existed since Biblical times

Marriage equality got a big boost last week from Judge Vaughn Walker who threw out California’s Proposition 8 based on all evidence showing it was discriminatory and no evidence or witnesses offering any reason to prevent gays and lesbians from marrying — other than because they said so.

The next day, the Mexican Supreme Court handed down a decision upholding marriage equality in Mexico City by a decision of 8-2 Reports have come out today saying that the Supreme Court there has ruled that not only is Mexico City’s same-sex marriage law constitutional, but same-sex couples legally married in Mexico City have to be recognized as legally married throughout Mexico, even by those states that don’t allow gays to marry, according to CNN Mexico.

An unscientific Fox News poll shows (what Fox News poll really IS scientific?) showed more than 70 percent agree with the Judge Walker’s ruling.

So we have marriage in all three North American capitals, across Canada and in five U.S. states. Marriage in Argentina. Marriage being debated in Uruguay and civil unions proposed in Chile, Paraguay and Costa Rica. And you can hardly find a European country anymore that doesn’t treat gays, lesbians and straights equally.

The world is getting more and more difficult for those of us who believe in hot, sweaty, meaningless gay sex as it’s existed since Biblical times.

While I understand the right people have to get married, little has been said lately for those of us who don’t want to marry. Ever.

First there’s the wedding. I hate weddings — gay or straight. I always have. I avoid them like the plague.

Pretending to be happy for the couple. Shopping for the gifts — especially if they’ve registered someplace I’m boycotting. Dressing up in something other than my trademark sneakers. Weddings, to me, are torture.

Next there are those 1,000-plus benefits married couples get. There are also a few I’ve benefited from over the years that unmarried people enjoy.

A former partner and I bought a house in Dallas and a house on Cedar Creek Lake. He homesteaded the Dallas house. I homesteaded the Henderson County house. A married couple can only homestead one property but Texas didn’t recognize our relationship so this was completely legal. They can’t have it both ways.

As a homesteaded Henderson County resident, albeit only two days a week, I registered my car at the county courthouse in Athens for less than it would have cost in Dallas and as a bonus got lower insurance rates as well. (This was long before gay-friendly Progressive Insurance came along. That company happily calls my current domestic partner and me a couple — cheap ploy to get ALL of our business.)

For older Americans, social security benefits are often lower for couples than for singles. My father and his wife never got a civil marriage because their monthly pension check would have been lower as a couple than they received as singles.

But one of the biggest benefits is not taking on the debt of, or dividing the wealth with, your dead-beat ex-husband. A married couple, especially in a community property state, divides all wealth and all debts equally between spouses.

So in divorce number 13, I would have had to give up some of my stuff and gotten nothing from him. And in divorce number 17, I would have acquired half of his massive Neiman Marcus bill.

Marriage? No thank you. I’ll stick to uncommitted, meaningless relationships as they’ve existed since Biblical times. Maybe even longer. (And yes, therapy’s been recommended — by friends, co-workers and Candy Marcum.)

—  David Taffet

‘Splash’-down at Cedar Creek Lake

Are you looking for some fun in the sun this weekend? Then you might want to check out the 2010 Cedar Creek Lake Splash.

According to the e-mail I got, Splash will be a three-location progressive lake party, starting at location 1 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at location 2 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. (with lunch served); and at location 3 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

There’s not a lot more info in the e-mail I got, but if you want more info, e-mail BMTdallas@zebra.net.

And if you are interested in more Cedar Creek Lake news, you  might want to check out OutOnCedarCreek.com, a new site that apparently launched last month. Doesn’t seem to be a lot of info there yet, but I am sure as the site gets more and more visitors, they’ll get more and more info online about what’s happening at the lake.

—  admin

Hate rears its head on the lake

Anti-gay vandalism is a reminder that hate can hide in even the most accepting communities

David Webb The Rare Reporter

It’s taken a while for the ugly specter of anti-gay hate crime to rise over Cedar Creek Lake, but it was probably inevitable.

With two gay bars and large numbers of gay and lesbian couples living together in full-time residences and weekend homes, the community has become highly visible over the past couple of decades. For the most part the straight community has always seemed tolerant, but it is a conservative religious area.

To the best of everyone’s recollection, no one on the lake had ever reported being harassed, threatened or beat up or having their property vandalized because they were gay —until June 20.

That’s when a gay male couple living in Payne Springs woke up to find extensive damage to their truck.

They found the windshield busted, all four tires slashed, parts ripped off the truck and anti-gay graffiti — including the words “Die Fag” — scrawled all over the truck. The damage was so bad that the vehicle will be unusable for several weeks, and the couple cannot really afford to rent a car in the meantime.

Initially, the couple posted a message on their Facebook page with pictures of the damage. But they later took it down and asked for privacy. They said they just wanted to move on and did not want to become a cause for the community to rally around.

It is likely the men are suffering from psychological trauma. Hate crime researchers point out that victims are often left terrified, fearing retribution and feeling vulnerable to more attacks if there is widespread attention drawn to them.

The possibility exists that there may have been other anti-gay hate crimes committed on the lake, and they were never reported because of those same fears.

According to the FBI’s most recent “Hate Crime Statistics” report, almost 18 percent of all hate crimes occurring in the U.S. are attributed to sexual orientation bias. The crimes occur all across the country in cities and towns of all sizes and demographics.

In addition to the impact on the victims, hate crimes reportedly also have an intimidating effect on the entire community to which the victims belong.

That’s why it is important for the community to rally behind such victims and to band together in speaking out against hate crimes. Usually, there are supportive straight people who want to join the cause, and that is already happening on the lake.

Immediately after hearing about the crime, a straight couple sent an e-mail volunteering to be a part of any activities that might be undertaken to promote tolerance and discourage hate crimes.

That’s what is happening now, too, in Savannah, Ga., where two Marines from a South Carolina military base were arrested recently on charges they allegedly assaulted a gay man because they thought he winked at them. The LGBT community held a rally this week in the square where the gay man was found unconscious.

It’s also a good idea to take steps to combat hate crimes with community events because they rarely are isolated incidents. The perpetrators of hate crimes often begin with lower-level types of crime such as harassment and vandalism and go on to more violent activity when they don’t suffer any repercussions from the earlier crimes.

Just about everyone realizes now that June is celebrated across the country as Gay Pride Month, and that draws more attention to the LGBT community. The national debate about gay rights, such as the proposal to abolish “don’t ask, don’t tell” has the same effect.

If nothing else, everyone needs to be aware of the danger of hate crime activity in an area and to be careful. It can happen to anyone at anytime, almost anywhere.

David Webb is a former staff writer for the Dallas Voice who lives on Cedar Creek Lake now. He is the author of the blog TheRareReporter.blogspot.com. He can be reached at davidwaynewebb@embarqmail.com.

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

—  Dallasvoice