Friendships of a lifetime from LifeWalk

Editor’s note: This is the second on a series of four columns by past co-chairs of the AIDS Arms LifeWalk that will be published in Dallas Voice leading up to the 20th anniversary of the event on Oct. 10.

Deiadra Burns | Special contributor

Deiadra Burns, left, her partner, Sandra Howell, and their dog, Tesuque.
Deiadra Burns, left, her partner, Sandra Howell, and their dog, Tesuque.

I moved to Dallas in 1995 and at the time was living in the closet as a young, single lesbian Republican.

A neighbor and dear friend, Kathy Hewitt, asked if I would volunteer for LifeWalk. I believe it was simply because I had a big truck and she thought I was a fit to help out with operations and the route.

It’s all history from there.

I served on the committee for six years, co-chairing the event the last two of those years.

It was a humbling experience to help those in need and to volunteer for a wonderful agency. My eyes were opened to the LGBT community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and all that it can do for an individual.

It gave me strength, empowerment and friendships of a lifetime.

LifeWalk holds a special place in my and my partner Sandra Howell’s hearts.

Sandra has spent most of her career fighting infectious disease as a pharmacist in the community, and I simply like to give back to the community by volunteering and raising money. LifeWalk brought us together, and it is an event that we have shared in our relationship and throughout our family.

All of the many friends we volunteered with while we both served on the committee are true friends and “family” now.

While there are so many special memories over the years, one of our most memorable LifeWalks was the first year LifeWalk teamed up with Luke’s Locker and a race was added. We had several friends win in their perspective categories (including Sandra) and it was also the first year we were able to take our pup, Tesuque, to the walk. He was the first dog to cross the finish line!!

I hope you will all join us all in the LifeWalk spirit for the 20th anniversary. AIDS Arms is a great agency, and LifeWalk is a great event and a great fundraiser that provides for our community — both straight and gay.

The 20th anniversary AIDS Arms LifeWalk takes place Sunday, Oct. 10, beginning at 1 p.m. at Lee Park. To register, go online to LifeWalk.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

VOP winners shine in Manchester

Arizpe, Carrizales wow crowd with performance on final day of 10-day Pride celebration in England

Ed Walsh  |  Special Contributor edwalsh94105@yahoo.com

Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales
TALENT ABROAD | Mel Arizpe, right, winner of the 2010 Voice of Pride competition, sings a duet with her partner — and VOP first runner-up — Laura Carrizales during their appearance at the Manchester Pride celebration on Monday, Aug. 30. (Photo courtesy MRNY.com)

MANCHESTER,  England — A couple from Dallas brought a bit of Texas to England this week and stole the show on the final day of Manchester Pride 2010, the city’s 10-day Pride celebration.
Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales were the winners of Dallas’s Voice of Pride, an annual contest sponsored by the Dallas Tavern Guild. Arizpe came in first place, winning a trip for two to Manchester and $3,000.

As luck would have it, Arizipe’s girlfriend, Laura Carrizales, won second place in the contest.

So naturally, Arizipe took Carrizales for the trip to the UK.

The couple, performing as “La Diva Loca,” also won the Voice of Pride’s duo category.

All those talents were put to good use at Manchester Pride 2010 on Monday, Aug. 30. The couple took to the stage at 2:40 p.m. and performed for a short 10 minutes — but they enthralled the crowd for each second.

Arizpe took to the stage first. “All the way from Dallas, we’ve come to sing to you all,” she told the British crowd in a Texas twang before launching into the  Whitney Houston hit “I’m Every Woman.”
The Brits roared their approval.

Carrizales joined Arizpe next on stage for their duet medley of four different songs: The Fugees “Ready or Not,” followed by En Vogue’s single “Never Gonna Get it,” and two different versions of Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” — first the fast dance version, then the slower “Glee” version.

The Dallas couple made sure that their abbreviated version of “Poker Face” included the line, “I wanna hold ’em like they do in TEXAS please,” with a strong emphasis on “Texas.”

And the crowd was thrilled with the Gaga tribute, many dancing and singing along.

The medley, put together by their friend Danny Anchondo, was the same duet performance that helped them win the Voice of Pride group category.

Said Arizpe after the show, “I was happy they were responding. I think they really enjoyed the duet.”

Carrizales said they were concerned about the sound system, but in the end, she noted, it sounded great.

Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales
AFTERMATH | Laura Carrizales, left, and Mel Arizpe relax after performing onstage at Manchester Pride. (Ed Walsh/Special to Dallas Voice)

Arizpe and Carrizales appeared confident and relaxed on stage. They said that it helped that they were performing for strangers who they would never have to face again if they gave a bad performance. “It was a comfort that we didn’t know anybody,” said Carrizales.

The couple also said they were impressed by the scope of Manchester Pride: “It’s 10 times the size of Dallas,” said Carrizales. “They block off a whole section of the city [in Manchester].”

Added Arizpe, “We get a good turnout in Dallas but nothing like this.”

The idea to award Dallas’s Voice of Pride winner with a trip to Manchester was hatched by Andrew Stokes, who is both the chairman of Manchester Pride and the chief executive of the city’s official tourism office.

Stokes came up with the idea after visiting Dallas and visiting with his friend George Carrancho, who is part of American Airlines LGBT-dedicated “rainbow” sales team. Stokes watched part of the Voice of Pride competition while he was in town.

“I thought what a great thing it would be to bring the winner to Manchester,” Stokes said.

He worked out the trip with Carrancho and American Airlines, who helped sponsor the trip. Stokes and Carrancho introduced Arizpe and Carrizales before the couple’s performance.

So what’s it like for a couple of Texans in England?

Carrizales and Arizipe said they were welcomed warmly by the English and were given the VIP treatment during the four days they were in town. They were surprised that they were asked to march at the start of the parade, right behind the grand marshal, actor Sir Ian McKellan. That was an impressive honor considering that there were 101 contingents in the parade.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

What price diversity?

Arizona law highlights the level of fear, anger surrounding immigration. But can we survive without the diversity immigrants bring?

Diane Holbert Special Contributor

The immigration debate is a sign of how difficult it is for us to live in diversity. The Arizona government recently ruled that city police forces must ask for proper documentation of citizenship if they have reason to believe that those they are stopping or arresting have no papers for being in that state legally.

The federal government and several Arizona city police forces have sued the state over the law.

So what is Arizona afraid of?

Some say a limited amount of space, others say a limited amount of resources/jobs, and others claim that continuing to keep the status quo will bring in more crime.

Yet many people think this Arizona rule is racist. I believe it may be all four reasons, but today I am most concerned about profiling, discrimination, racism — essentially, the fear of diversity.

The U.S. is currently attempting the greatest experiment in diversity in the history of the world. We’re asking an enormous amount of ourselves to live in such diversity.

Our country is growing rich, not poor, in diversity: Hindus and Muslims, gays and straights, Protestants and Catholics, Russians and Vietnamese.

The list shows our wealth as a nation.

I have a friend who hired an undocumented worker several years ago. For “Pedro,” being hired by my friend meant he could send money to his family back in Mexico on a regular basis. He also knew that the longer he stayed to work with my friend, the higher was his risk of being caught.

It has now been four years since he has seen his family. He knows that if he returns home, he will probably never be able to come back to the place where he is making a steady wage.

Pedro is a reliable man who works diligently.

My heart says to welcome the stranger, like Pedro, and to be unafraid of what he brings to us. I welcome diversity and its wealth.
But my head says that it’s important to be a nation of order. So, what to do? How do we live in profound diversity?

There needs to be a clear pathway to citizenship for all people who are willing to contribute to our society. We need to be able to tax all workers to broaden the base of our infrastructure. Increased attempts to police the border will be no more successful than “The War on Drugs.”

We must honor and respect all persons among us and offer channels to become partners with us.

The way we deal with the question of immigration will say a great deal about our commitment to diversity or our rejection of it.

Diana Holbert is senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 23, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Girljam 17 at Sue Ellens

These photos were shot by DV contributor Chuck Dube during Girljam 17 on May 30 at Sue Ellens. To see more of Dube’s work, visit his website.

Sue Ellens Group 2-10Sue Ellens Group 3Sue Ellens Group 3-22Sue Ellens Group 3-21Sue Ellens Group 3-20Sue Ellens Group 3-19Sue Ellens Group 3-11Sue Ellens Group 3-8Sue Ellens Group 2-33Sue Ellens Group 2-28Sue Ellens Group 3-9Sue Ellens Group 2-14Sue Ellens Group 2-13Sue Ellens Group 3-14Sue Ellens Group 3-5

—  Dallasvoice