GLAAD to be in Dallas

NEW CHAPTER | GLAAD president Jarrett T. Barrios, third from left, and GLAAD Senior Director of Community Engagement Juan Barajas, second from left, were in Dallas on Wednesday, April 27, for a reception for the new Dallas chapter at Fin at ilume. The local chapter will do fundraising and monitor local media. Pictured is the Dallas leadership council, from left: Sean Franklin, Barajas, Barrios, Kerry Buell, Deke Mooney, Chet Whisenant and Eric Tschetter. Buell co-chairs with Lindsay Romig who was not in town for the event. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

—  John Wright

Back to the Drawing Board

 

NOT IN THE EYE! | The Dallas Collection will include some denim jackets and hot models, below, but co-creative director Jan Strimple and event director Steve Kemble, above, promise even more eye candy from a variety of disciplines.

DIFFA Dallas starts over with a new attitude and a new concept — but some experienced talent behind the scenes

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor | jones@dallasvoice.com
MARK STOKES  | Illustrator | mark@markdrawsfunny.com

2010 was a strange year for the Dallas chapter of DIFFA, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS.

On the heels of its 25 anniversary blowout, the group decided to bifurcate the main event last year: A collection of soft goods and accessories (pillows, hats, even doghouses) at a bash at Union Station, followed about a month later by the famed Collection, a runway show of denim jackets at a pricey gala to take place at the new Winspear Opera House, hosted by Queen Latifah.

Only Queen Latifah canceled. “We’ll reschedule,” DIFFA said.

Nothing.

No collection event took place that year, which may have been a good thing. With 2011 here, DIFFA is regrouping.

This is a rebuilding year, for sure, but also one with lots of promise. With co-creative director Jan Strimple back in charge, and Dallas doyen of style Steve Kemble serving as event director of DIFFA 2011 — branded Dramatically Different — there’s some starpower behind the scenes. And that promises to make for a spectacular, if unusual, show.

For one thing, the I in DIFFA represents a plural word: Industries. It’s not just about clothes. Yes, the event will take place at the Anatole; yes, there will be a cocktail reception where attendees can inspect the collection. But there will not be a runway show; instead, a sit-down dinner with live auction. The event used to end there; now it will transition into a lounge where people can enjoy one another and the various other fashion specialties making a contribution, from art to architecture to music.

It’s a great challenge for Strimple, one of the founders of DIFFA who returns to a management role.

“While [the] Dallas Collection is an astounding amount of work and takes a massive coordinated team effort, it’s also creatively rewarding because the non-commercial format allows my imagination to go wild,” says Strimple. “I have a lot of fun with what I call a ‘take no prisoners attitude’ towards designing the fashion components: kill them with glamour, seduce them with beauty, rock it out with the unexpected and leave ‘em begging for more!”

“I could not be more thrilled to be producing this year’s event,” adds Kemble. “DIFFA is such an important part of the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I know this fabulous event will bring even more attention and support to a worthy cause.”

Strimple sees the change in keeping with the development of AIDS research and treatment over the years, which this summer marks 30 years since its designation as a disease.

“DIFFA was on the forefront of funding services to the earliest victims as well as funding prevention education once the disease was fully understood. As AIDS reaches newer audiences, they are being caught unprepared. DIFFA’s stance on prevention education, combined with continued service funding, make it a key combatant in the new war on AIDS,” she says.

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

—  John Wright

Full text of Rob Schlein’s letter to Tom Leppert

Log Cabin Dallas President Rob Schlein

Earlier we told you that Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, read aloud a letter he’d written to former Mayor Tom Leppert during the group’s monthly meeting on Monday night. Schlein was kind enough to send over the full text of his letter this afternoon, and we’ve posted it after the jump.

—  John Wright

Does it matter who sent Leppert’s anti-gay tweet when his website says he opposes civil unions?

Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, from left, his mother Shirley Schlein, Laura Leppert, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and LCR Treasurer David Keeton are shown during the group’s Christmas Party at Schlein’s home in 2009.

An anti-gay message sent last week from the Twitter account of former Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert wasn’t written by Leppert himself but by “an overzealous campaign worker,” according to Rob Schlein, president of  the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.

Speaking at Log Cabin’s regularly monthly meeting on Monday night, Schlein said Leppert called him just before the meeting to apologize for “the tone of the tweet.” According to Schlein, Leppert said he wasn’t the author of the tweet and agreed to meet privately with Schlein later this week to discuss the issue further.

The tweet, sent on the same day that Leppert announced his resignation as mayor to run for U.S. Senate, criticized President Barack Obama for his decision to no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court. The tweet said, “We need leaders in Washington to stand for the principle of marriage between one man and one woman.”

Many in the LGBT community have said they feel betrayed by Lepppert because he was supportive of the LGBT community as mayor, including hiring an openly gay chief of staff and appearing in two gay Pride parades.

Leppert’s Senate campaign spokesman has failed to return multiple phone calls from Instant Tea seeking comment.

Schlein spent several minutes at the start of Monday’s meeting reading a sternly worded, heartfelt letter he wrote to Leppert about the tweet. However, the guest speaker at the meeting, Leppert political consultant Carol Reed, declined to comment on the issue. Reed said she’s advising Leppert on his Senate campaign but is neither his chief consultant nor his spokesperson.

“I’ll let him speak for himself,” Reed told Log Cabin members. “I have nothing to add.”

In his letter, Schlein slammed Leppert for being the only candidate in the race for Kay Bailey Hutchison’s Senate seat who’s tried to use gay rights as a wedge issue. He also said Leppert is the only candidate who’s posted social issues on his campaign website. In the Issues section of his website, Leppert states that he opposes both same-sex marriage and “government-sanctioned” civil unions.

Schlein said he’s supported Leppert on many key issues — including the convention center hotel and the Trinity River toll road. And he said Leppert attended numerous Log Cabin events as mayor, including the group’s annual dinner and holiday parties at the home of Schlein and his partner.

“With all due respect, nobody likes a flip-flopper or a political panderer,” Schlein said as he read his letter to Leppert aloud. “You’ve left many friends in your wake. This is truly a sad day.”

Below are screen grabs from the Issues section of Tom Leppert’s Senate campaign website:

 

—  John Wright

What will Carol Reed say about Tom Leppert’s gays-under-bus-throwing tweet at Log Cabin?

Then-Mayor Tom Leppert at gay Pride in 2009.

Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republcians, sends along word that political consultant Carol Reed, who’s currently working on Tom Leppert’s Senate campaign, will speak at the group’s regular monthly meeting tonight.

“Many of us have questions about Mayor Leppert’s tactic to lurch rightward in his efforts to run for Senate,” Schlein wrote atop an invite sent out over the weekend. “This has upset many Log Cabin’ers as well as others in the general LGBT community. Carol will answer your questions about his decision, and many others. This should be an interesting meeting!”

Undoubtedly Schlein is referring to the anti-gay message sent from Leppert’s twitter account last week, in which he threw the LGBT community under his Senate campaign bus. Leppert’s campaign hasn’t responded to our messages seeking comment about the tweet, so perhaps Reed will try to make it all better tonight.

The Log Cabin meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Mattito’s, 3011 Routh St.

—  John Wright

Lesbian activist protests bank profits

Local activist Dawn Meifert said her group, Dallas Uncut, will protest outside Bank of America at 6300 Mockingbird Lane on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 8:30 a.m.

U.S. Uncut, begun in Jackson, Miss., protests businesses that have paid no income taxes but have reaped large financial gains for executives and stockholders. Their slogan is, “You Caused This Crisis. Now YOU Pay.”

Meifert said she formed the Dallas chapter this week and will be participating in protests against the bank along with groups in more than 30 cities across the country, from Boston and New York to Los Angeles and Honolulu.

Meifert said she expects to be out at the protest location for about two hours, handing out information about how the bank received $45 billion in bailout money while funneling money through accounts in 115 offshore tax havens and offering below rate loans to politicians while refusing to use the bailout money for loans.

For more information, visit USUncut.org.

—  John Wright

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

Texas senators go quiet on DADT repeal

Dallas Log Cabin Republicans President Rob Schlein, left, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison

Dave Guy-Gainer, a local board member for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, reported Monday night:

“Well I tried again to meet with Senator Hutchison or her staff. The Dallas number rang busy all day Friday. So, I tried their fax and it went thru. I proposed an establish communications’ meeting with myself and four other, major Dallas leaders. It’s Monday nite and I didn’t hear squat back. Guess she isn’t interested in representing us at all.”

Dallas Voice also contacted the offices of both Hutchison and Sen. John Cornyn on Monday to find out where they stand on the standalone measure to repeal DADT. But as of this morning, we had received no response — not even from Cornyn spokesman Kevin McLaughlin, who normally at least acknowledges our existence. After all, dealing with the media is part of McLaughlin’s taxpayer-funded job.

We also never heard back from McLaughlin about why Cornyn missed last week’s failed cloture vote on the Defense Authorization Act, to which DADT repeal was attached. (Hutchison voted against closure, joining the Republican filibuster that blocked the bill.)

This morning we contacted Rob Schlein, president of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin Republicans, to find out whether he’d had any contact with the two senators’ offices about DADT repeal.

Schlein said he has not but is pretty sure they will vote against it.

“I am going to say that I wouldn’t suspect that they would support it, just because that’s been their history,” Schlein said. “I really don’t know, but it won’t surprise me if they both vote against it. You’ve got to remember that part of the senators’ job is to vote their constituency. I know the polls show the majority of the nation supports repeal, but I’m sure that in Texas, the numbers are a little bit different.”

Schlein added that their votes aren’t really that important, because there’s enough Republican support to pass DADT repeal in the Senate. He again blamed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, for failing to pass DADT repeal sooner.

“The more interesting question is, will Reid put the bill on the floor without sabotaging it?” Schlein said. “If the process is right, if Reid doesn’t play any more games and he doesn’t attach any unrelated amendments like the DREAM Act, I think it will pass.”

If you’d like to try to contact the senators yourself, Hutchison is at 202-224-5922 and Cornyn is at 202-224-2934.

—  John Wright

Log Cabin to hold 2011 convention in Dallas

Rudy Oeftering, from left, Rob Schlein and R. Clarke Cooper show off Schlein’s Texas State Flag this morning outside DV offices.

We were lucky enough to receive a visit this morning from R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans National, who was accompanied to Dallas Voice offices by local gay GOP’ers Rob Schlein and Rudy Oeftering.

Cooper was in town for the Grand Ol’ Party, the Dallas chapter’s annual fundraising dinner, over the weekend. (You can watch part of conservative author S.E. Cupp’s keynote speech below.) Also during the dinner, Schlein was presented with a Texas State Flag that was flown over the Capitol in Austin in his honor. Oeftering said he presented the flag to Schlein on behalf of State Rep. Dan Branch, R-Highland Park.

Anyhow, among other topics that were discussed in this morning’s visit, Cooper announced that Log Cabin plans to hold its national convention in Dallas next year. He said the convention will be at the Hilton Anatole in April and should draw at least several hundred poeple from across the country.

Log Cabin picked Dallas for the convention for several reasons, Cooper said. For one, Texas is “ripe for growth” for Log Cabin, and the state’s Republican delegation to Congress has room for improvement on LGBT issues. Also, two members of that delegation, Congressman Pete Sessions and Sen. John Cornyn, happen to occupy key leadership positions, heading up the Republican campaign committees for their respective chambers. Finally, several of Log Cabin’s top individual donors, as wells as its first corporate sponsor American Airlines, are based in Texas.

“The stars kind of aligned for us to be here in 2011,” Cooper said.

—  John Wright

UPDATED: Log Cabin responds to Congressman Pete Sessions’ decision not to attend dinner

Pete Sessions: Silver fox or just sly like one?

Roll Call is reporting that Dallas Republican Congressman Pete Sessions has backed out of a scheduled appearance Wednesday night at a fundraiser for Log Cabin Republicans, saying he needs to attend a House GOP caucus meeting instead.

Well isn’t that a convenient excuse? We’re sure Sessions’ no-show has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he and Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, also slated to appear at the Log Cabin dinner, are being villified on right-wing websites for accepting the invitation. As we reported, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins sent Cornyn a letter last week demanding that he skip the dinner. And FRC said on its blog Tuesday that Cornyn shouldn’t have accepted the invitation in part because Log Cabin derives its name from the idea that President Abraham Lincoln was gay, a theory FRC seems hell-bent on dismissing. Meanwhile, American Family Association President Tom Wildmon told CSN News that by attending the fundraiser Cornyn is actively promoting “men having sex with men.”

We called Sessions’ D.C. office to get further explanation about his decision to back out — such as whether the Republican caucus meeting was scheduled before or after the Log Cabin dinner, whether they are in fact at the same time, and if they are, whether he can’t afford to miss a few minutes of the caucus meeting to make a cameo at the LCR dinner. But not surprisingly, Sessions spokeswoman Emily Davis mysteriously became unavailable after we identified ourselves as being from the gay paper, and she hasn’t gotten back to us.

We’re sure some gay Republicans will defend Sessions’ decision, pointing to his appearance at the annual dinner of the Dallas chapter of Log Cabin two years ago. But we’d like to point out that the 2008 dinner came immediately AFTER the November elections, not six weeks before them. Let’s face it, folks, Republicans like Sessions are scared shitless of the Tea Party right now. And while tea-baggers like to say they’re concerned primarily with fiscal issues, many of us recognize them as the same right-wing nutjobs who were peddling social issues five years ago.

In case you’re wondering, Sessions faces Democrat Grier Raggio in November.

UPDATE: Melissa Kennedy, a spokeswoman for National Log Cabin Republicans, contacted Instant Tea to say that our previous headline, which suggested the Sessions had gotten cold feet about the dinner due to pressure from social conservatives, was inaccurate. Kennedy said we should have contacted Log Cabin before posting it. She said Republican House leaders have called a mandatory meeting for tonight and so Sessions’ reason for not attending the dinner is legitimate. She said if Sessions was worried about how the Log Cabin appearance would look, he wouldn’t have accepted their invitation in the first place.

Sessions is sending a senior staff member to pick up his award from Log Cabin, and he’s videotaped a message that will be played during the dinner, Kennedy said.

“We don’t feel like someone left us at the altar,” she said.

Asked whether Log Cabin has any qualms about hosting Cornyn after he supported Tuesday’s filibuster of the bill containing language to repeal “don’t ask don’t tell,” Kennedy said absolutely not. Kennedy said Log Cabin supported Senate Republicans’ decision to filibuster the bill based on Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to allow them to propose amendments.

“We’re not saying they’ve been our best buds and we’re going to have sleepovers, but we’re working on it and we appreciate the fact that they said yes,” Kennedy said of Cornyn and Sessions and their decision to accept the group’s invitation to the dinner.

—  John Wright