Local Briefs

CCGLA surveys candidates, sets meet-and-greet events

As municipal elections approach, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance has sent an online survey to city council, school board and mayoral candidates in Allen, Frisco, Plano and McKinney, and “meet-and-greet” sessions for candidates are planned in Frisco, Plano and McKinney in April.

The organization will also create and distribute a voters’ guide.

The Plano “meet-and-greet” will be held on Friday, April 8, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at a private residence. For more information, go online to CCGLA.org.

Results of CCGLA’s candidate surveys will be posted on the CCGLA website prior to each event. The events are informal, non-partisan, and all candidates are invited.

Oak Cliff Earth Day to feature vendors, info booths and more

Oak Cliff Earth Day, which has become the largest all-volunteer-run Earth Day since it started five years ago, will be held on Sunday, April 17, from noon to 5 p.m. at Lake Cliff Park, located at the intersection of Colorado Street and Zang Boulevard in Oak Cliff.

There is no charge to attend the event, which will include art, food, plants and other environmentally-friendly products available for purchase.

There will also be educational booths on topics such as how to save energy and clean up the environment, along with locally-grown honey, animals to adopt and native plants for gardens.

Parking at the park is limited, however, free parking is available at Methodist Hospital, in Lot 10 only, located at 1400 S. Beckley Ave. across from the hospital entrance on Beckley Ave. Methodist Hospital is providing a shuttle bus from the parking lot to the event.

Participants are also encouraged to take DART to the event or walk or ride a bicycle. There are a number of bike racks, funded by Oak Cliff Earth Day, at the park.

Mayoral candidates to speak Sunday on animal issues in Dallas

Dallas’ mayoral candidates will participate in a forum on animal issues in the city of Dallas on Sunday, April 10, at 2 p.m. at the Central Dallas Library, 1515 Young St., in downtown Dallas. The Metroplex Animal Coalition is sponsoring the forum, with is free and open to the public. Journalist Larry Powell with Urban Animal magazine will moderate.

The mayoral candidates are former Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle, Councilman Ron Natinsky, real estate consultant Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings, former Pizza Hut CEO and Dallas homeless czar.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2011.

—  John Wright

Carrollton Project hosts candidate forum tonight

Bob McCranie

Bob McCranie sends along word that the Carrollton Project, a local LGBT group, will host a candidate forum tonight for Carrollton City Council and the Carrollton/Farmers Branch Independent School District.

The forum begins at 7 p.m. at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas, 1840 Hutton Drive, #100, Carrollton.

McCranie formed the Carrollton Project in 2006 with the help of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

“I’m really proud of the community we’ve built in five years,” McCranie said. “This meeting isn’t about the past or about our previous interactions with any one candidate. Everyone is walking in with a clean slate to learn about our concerns and to earn our votes. Most city elections are won or lost by 400 votes. Using the 10 percent rule, there would be 12,000 LGBT votes available in Carrollton. I’m happy that the MCC of Greater Dallas and The Carrollton Project can provide this opportunity for both groups to learn from each other.”

 

—  John Wright

Gay teens get their own Valentine’s Day dance; now they just need a photographer and a florist

LGBTQ youth in North Texas are getting their very own Valentine’s Day dance this year.

Chapters of the Gay Straight Alliance from five high schools in Dallas and Collin counties are coming together for the first-ever “Love Conquers All Ball,” hosted by LULAC #4871 and Youth First Texas.

The event will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 at Youth First Texas, and a $2 requested donation at the door will benefit the Trevor Project.

Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC #4871, said all teens ages 14-18 are invited regardless of whether they’re members of GSAs — and regardless of whether they have dates.

Garcia also said organizers are looking for a photographer to take digital images of the couples, as well as a florist who can donate 50 to 60 flowers. Those interested in providing photography or flowers should e-mail jessegarciadallas@gmail.com.

A full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright

CCGLA launches partnership with Health Services of North Texas, donates 160 pounds of food

CCGLA members Kathy Scalise, from left, Jeanne Rubin, Jane Schmidt and Morris Garcia volunteer at HSNT.

By Jeanne S. Rubin

PLANO — Each year at the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance Annual Holiday Party, CCGLA members collect for various charities. This year the board decided to focus on one longtime partner, Health Services of North Texas and develop a more meaningful relationship between the two organizations. After consulting Plano nutrition center employee Diana DeLashaw, members were encouraged to donate macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper, popular items that are hard to keep on the food pantry shelves.

Volunteers delivered more than 160 pounds of food to HSNT and worked with DeLashaw to weigh, check dates, take inventory and stock shelves. I took the opportunity to meet with DeLashaw about further volunteer opportunities for CCGLA members and plans for a second food drive. In addition, HSNT Director of Development Leslie Runic-Boysen and CCGLA President Morris Garcia spoke about common goals and a desire to work together in the future.

“I only had a short window to help out because I had to pick up my granddaughter,” explained CCGLA member Kathy Scalise, “but I am really glad I made the time. This experience made the donation more more meaningful. I encourage other members to give a few hours of their time. You will definitely get more than you give.”

The mission of HSNT is improving the quality of life of underserved North Texans through medical care, support services and advocacy. For more info, go to www.healthntx.org. The mission of CCGLA is advocating equality, dignity and respect through education, political awareness and social interaction. For more info, go to www.ccgla.org.

Jeanne S. Rubin serves on the board of the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance.

—  admin

Nondiscrimination amendment goes to secret ballot at National Association of Realtors meeting

Realtor Bob McCranie

At the national meeting of the National Association of Realtors in New Orleans, 25,000 attendees voted on a code of ethics amendment that would prohibit discrimination against gays and lesbians by members of the organization.

A voice vote was held earlier today and the chair believed that the measure had passed by a two-thirds vote, according to gay Carrollton Realtor Bob McCranie, who’s attending the conference. McCranie said the Collin County association voted in favor of the nondiscrimination measure.

The chair moved to the next item on the agenda, but the next speaker called to reopen the nondiscrimination measure and asked for a secret ballot. That vote is now taking place and results will be available later this afternoon, McCranie said.

If the measure passes, it would be part of the code of ethics that must be followed nationwide by the 2 million members of the association.

UPDATE: Nondiscrimination passed by 93 percent of the vote in a secret ballot.

“This is a monumental moment for fair housing,” said Todd Shipman, the president of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals.

His organization has been working on the issue with the National Association of Realtors for about 3 years, he told Dallas Voice by phone from the convention in New Orleans. He said that there is a patchwork of laws across the country but that his organization will continue to advocate for a national fair housing law that includes LGBT people.

McCranie said that the new regulation applies to all real estate professionals who have the Realtor designation. He said that now all Realtors must work with all clients equally.

—  David Taffet

YFT-Collin County still looking for a home

Back in July we reported that Collin County’s organization for LGBT youth was looking for a new home, after being forced to move from its meeting space of 18 months in Plano.

Two months later, the organization still hasn’t found anything permanent or even semi-permanent, according to volunteer Jeanne Rubin.

Rubin tells Instant Tea the the group is still meeting on a temporary basis in the offices of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Frisco, where one of its board members works.

“Attendance has been sparse which is probably due to vacations, etc., but also because it isn’t our space,” Rubin says. “This seems to be a common problem for non-profits, all of which are suffering right now. I have gotten a few leads and followed up but so far nothing has worked out.”

Anyone who knows of space available in Collin County can contact Rubin at CollinCounty@YouthFirstTexas.org.

Collin County YFT will hold its regularly weekly meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, before taking a week off for Dallas Pride. The group’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26. The group has discontinued its Wednesday meetings until further noticed and instead will plan an activity once or twice a month. For more information, visit the website or the Facebook page.

—  John Wright

YFT plans fundraiser to kick off Pride celebrations

Event intended to help make up shortfall in youth group’s budget caused by economic downturn

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Sam Wilkes
Sam Wilkes

Youth First Texas kicks off Pride with a fundraising party at the home of Jo Bess Jackson and Joanne Martin on Sept. 11.

“It’s a great way for those in our community who want to celebrate Pride and support a great organization,” said Youth First Texas Director of Development and Administration Sam Wilkes.

Advisory board member Renee Baker put out a call to members of the Women’s Business Network to help raise money for the center after it moved to its new location. Jackson and Martin responded.

While no admission to the party will be charged, Wilkes said they will showcase the services the organization offers and hope the community will be generous with its financial support.

“We’ll probably have a short presentation. A youth or two will make an appeal,” said board member Chris Hendrix.

He said the group was looking for monthly donors who will make a multi-year commitment and challenge appeals.

Wilkes said that their Collin County group recently lost its space and is currently meeting at an office owned by Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The group is looking for a space of its own.

“We need a smaller, more secure spot,” he said. “YFT Collin County is a more intimate group. We have a couple of things in the works and are looking for what will be the best fit.”

The main Dallas center moved earlier this year to a new location on Harry Hines Boulevard.

Baker said the old space on Maple Avenue leaked, had air conditioning problems, was located near a meth clinic and had homeless people hanging out on the property. The new, more modern facility is safer and has attracted more youth.

“As of last month, we served 1,300 individuals so far this year,” Baker said.

That’s about a 25 percent increase in the number accessing services, and with the safer location some attend more often.

YFT is gearing up for another increase later this year when DART’s Green Line opens in December.

Market Center Station is across the street from their new building, making the facility even more accessible.

Jackson said she and her partner were delighted to open their house to help the organization continue to offer a variety of services.

“I’m a cheerleader for them,” Jackson said. “What they do is not duplicated by anyone else.”

She was referring to the way YFT integrates social activities with group and individual counseling.

“We offer community dinners to develop peer groups not based on drugs and alcohol,” Wilkes said.

Baker said she’s participated in movie nights, arts and crafts activities and cooking classes.

Twice a month, a gender identity group helps transgender youth gain self-acceptance. Lawyers work with the group pro bono to explain the steps needed to change legal papers, and counselors help them with a variety of questions and help them deal with pent up anxiety.

A six-week coming out series helps youth cope with family, friends and school.

YFT provides additional, unlimited free individual counseling as well. They partner with AIDS Arms and Resource Center Dallas to provide free HIV testing.

Wilkes said the agency works with a number of youth who are living on their own and struggling.

“Our food pantry is cleaned out and restocked each week,” he said.

Jackson and Martin have opened their North Dallas home to other groups many times, Jackson said. She is an estate-planning attorney who works with a number of transitioning people and with same-sex couples and single gays and lesbians.

“We have to protect ourselves even when the law doesn’t,” Jackson said. “We have to be creative.”

She said that’s exactly what YFT does that for LGBT youth and hoped the community would offer its support.

Sept. 11. 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at a private residence in North Dallas. To RSVP and attend the Youth First Texas party, e-mail Sam Wilkes at samw@youthfirsttexas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas