LGBT Latino history to be published this summer

Jesus Chairez
Jesus Chairez

Dallas’ “gay Latino godfather” Jesus Chairez is participating in a project to produce a national history of gay Latino activism.

Chairez, who was appointed president of LGBT radio station KNON’s board of directors in October, said he recently resigned from that position to focus on the history project and to allow more time for travel in Mexico.

Serving on the KNON board was rewarding, but the volunteer work was time-consuming, said Chairez, who returned to Dallas last year after retiring in Mexico City. He lived there for three years and plans to return there for a long visit this summer.

“It was a full-time job,” said Chairez of his KNON work. “I was not following my dream. Since being on the board I had not blogged, not written a column, nor even started my own book.”

Chairez and several other gay Latino writers are cooperating in the writing of the planned book “Latina/o GLBT Activism in the U.S. and Puerto Rico: A Social History.” The writers will present first-person narratives about events they witnessed from the 1970s through the 1990s. The release of the book is planned for this summer.

“This project is a response to both the invisibility within mainstream Latina/o organizations, and a gringo GLBT movement,” Chairez said in a statement. “This book aims to preserve our GLBT Latino history as Latinas/os and activists as we experienced it, and in that sense my contribution is essential.”

—  admin

Local Briefs

KNON bringing Hightower to Dallas

KNON 89.3 FM, Dallas’ Community radio station presents national radio commentator, writer, public speaker and author Jim Hightower in a speaking engagement and dinner on Saturday, March 26, at Historic Sons of Hermann Hall, 3414 Elm St. Dinner will be catered by Cajun Alligator Café.

Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Hightower’s speech, followed by a question-and-answer session, begins at 8 p.m. For dinner and the speech, admission is $25. Admission for the speech and Q&A session only is $10. Tickets are available at Forever Young Records in Grand Prairie, Bill’s Records in Dallas and on KNON’s website, KNON.org, via PayPal.

For more information call 214-828-9500, ext. 222 or go online to KNON.org.

Ramirez named to national board

Ruben Ramirez, community health programs manager for Resource Center Dallas, has been named to the national board of cultural experts for the Mpowerment Project.

It is a program developed by the University of California-San Francisco’s Center for AIDS Prevention Studies.

Ramirez is attending his first meeting of the board this week in California.

In his job at the center, Ramirez works with program staff to create, develop and enhance innovative primary and secondary HIV prevention programs, syphilis elimination initiatives, and other efforts relating to sexually transmitted diseases. The programs target gay/bisexual men, other men who have sex with men, African-American, Latino and other at-risk populations.

The Mpowerment Project is an evidence-based, community-level HIV prevention intervention for young gay/bisexual men ages 18 to 29. CAPS developed Mpowerment, and it collaborates with organizations around the country to understand how it is being implemented in diverse communities.

Ramirez has been involved in HIV/AIDS prevention efforts since the 1990s, first in the Austin area and later with the Center. He earned an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force, and both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas-Austin.

GAIN presents real estate program

Resource Center Dallas’ GAIN program will hold a program titled “Keeping it ‘Real’ in Today’s ‘Senior’ Real Estate Market — finding out the truth about your real estate options” on Thursday, March 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the resource center, 2701 Reagan.

Realtor Ed Abenante with Keller Williams Realty, Ron Watterson with Prime Lending and Alan Hopper with RE/MAX Associates will attend to discuss issues including how and when to sell, downsizing and reverse mortgages.

The event is free and open to the public.

Women’s History Month program set

Resource Center Dallas’ Phil Johnson Historic Archives & Research Library and JEWEL women’s group will honor Women’s History Month by hosting a talk  titled “Honoring and Preserving Women’s History: The Centrality of Labor and Feminist Activism,” presented by Clark A. Pomerleau, history professor at the University of North Texas. The lecture will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 26 at the center, 2701 Reagan Street in Dallas.

Pomerleau is an assistant professor for U.S. women’s and gender history at University of North Texas. He specializes in sexuality studies, 20th century social movements and alternative education.

The event is free and open to the public.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

District 7 challenger aims to become Dallas’ 1st out lesbian councilmember

Casie Pierce

Casie Pierce believes that the Great Trinity Forest could be the gateway to lifting up South Dallas community

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

If Casie Pierce wins her District 7 race, she would be the first open lesbian to serve on the Dallas City Council. She is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis.

District 7 runs from the Mesquite border north of I-30 then dips south of the highway through Pleasant Grove, across parts of South Dallas including Fair Park and stopping just before North Oak Cliff.

There have been no openly-LGBT council members since Ed Oakley resigned to run for mayor in 2007. James Nowlin, another openly gay candidate, is challenging incumbent Angela Hunt in the District 14 race.

For a number of years, Pierce has been active in her Parkdale community, a section of Pleasant Grove with a large LGBT population. She worked on neighborhood cleanup and park projects with at-risk youth.

In 2005, Pierce founded Groundwork Dallas Inc., a nonprofit organization that has improved access to the Great Trinity Forest and cleaned up gateway neighborhoods. The group has built nature trails that connect with the Trinity River Audubon Center and the planned neighboring equestrian center. The group has also done landscaping around churches and on roadway medians, and, using grant money, it has employed at-risk neighborhood teens.

Pierce sees the possibility of bringing business to South Dallas by developing local eco-tourism in the forest surrounding the Trinity River.

“Lots of people go outside of Dallas to go mountain biking,” Pierce said, adding that most people don’t even know these trails are here.

Pierce said that much more could be done to develop the Great Trinity Forest into a recreational area. The 6,200 acres of forestland lies just four miles south of downtown encompassing an area four times the size of Manhattan.

While Pierce calls District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis supportive of the work she’s done to clean up neighborhoods and attract more people to the district, “I’d be more aggressive” as the District 7 council representative, she said.

Pierce said that businesses should be given a reason to move into the district. With the opening of DART’s Green Line, she would work to bring development to the area as a council member, especially around the new Lawnview Station.

Pierce said that while she wasn’t expecting anything on the scale of the development that surrounds Mockingbird or Park Lane stations to come to her South Dallas district, she would like to see some new apartments and stores.

Pierce works as a grant writer. She cites that talent as a source for funding new projects that will stimulate and attract business to the district. Groundwork Dallas got started with an initial $100,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

As a City Council member, Pierce said she would be more aggressive in attracting grant money to her district for development.

And she believes the area is primed for business development. Pierce points to all of the vacant stores, offices and manufacturing facilities in the area. She said that while much of the opposition to beer and wine sales in last November’s election came from her district, she’d like to see a few carefully zoned stores inside the Dallas border that cater to the still-dry Mesquite market.

“Right now they’re shopping in Garland,” she said.

Pierce calls herself a fiscal conservative and said the city should stop giving away PIDs — public improvement districts that offer large tax advantages to locate businesses in certain areas. She mentioned the new Hunt Oil building downtown that she said was going to be in the exact same location whether they received a tax abatement or not.

“That’s $30 million,” Pierce said. “We shouldn’t bribe people to be here.”

Pierce said her strategy is to build a coalition of voters who want to see positive growth in the area. She said she hoped her fiscally conservative views would attract voters in the more conservative District 7 areas north of I-30. In her neighborhood clean-up campaigns, she has worked with a number of South Dallas pastors who she hoped would support her candidacy.

In addition to her grant writing career, Pierce has worked for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and still volunteers as a trolley operator when they need extra help for special events.

Her Parkdale neighborhood lies east of Fair Park and south of Military Parkway. She lives with her partner who manages a high-end restaurant.

District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis was contacted for comment for this article, but had not responded by press deadline.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

What to do after bringing Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian back to life on World AIDS Day

If you decide to join Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities by giving up Facebook and Twitter on World AIDS Day — and if you aren’t too busy trying to bring them back to life — there will be plenty of other activities to keep you busy Wednesday in North Texas.

In Friday’s Voice we published what we thought was a complete schedule of World AIDS Day doings — from quilt panels to free testing to candlelight vigils — but below is one more that came across this morning. If you know of other events, please feel free to shoot us an e-mail or post them in the comments.

Parkland patients, staff hold educational event about HIV/AIDS

DALLAS – On World AIDS Day, Parkland Health & Hospital System staff and patients who participate in the HIV Consumer Advisory Board will educate the Dallas community about resources available to HIV patients from 6 to 8:45 p.m., Dec. 1 at the Dallas Marriot City Center, 650 North Pearl St. in Dallas.

This free event is the first of its kind, focused on HIV positive members of the community and open to the public. The theme is “Universal Access and Human Rights.”

The event will also offer education and a fair featuring local organizations that specialize in HIV-related services. HIV health care providers from across the community will provide education and materials from local organizations. Light snacks and refreshments will be served.

Keynote speaker Kevin Murphy, MD, will answer questions from guests. Murphy is responsible for formulating the curriculum in AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases at the Dallas County Health Department and organized the early surveillance of AIDS in Dallas.

“One in 376 Texans is HIV-positive. We hope this event can provide support and education to those in our community who are impacted from this complex chronic disease,” said Sylvia Moreno, RN, director of Nursing-HIV at Parkland. “As the premier health care facility in this area for HIV infection, Parkland is able to provide excellent care from the beginning to advanced stages of disease. We want to share that expertise with others by arming them with information and education.”

For more information, please call 214.590.7055 or visit www.parklandhospital.com.

—  John Wright

Gettin’ schooled

Tim’m West says hip-hop is gayer than you think —and he plans to prove it

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

MAN OF ALL TRADES | Activist, author and rapper Tim’m West brings his knowledge to UTD.
MAN OF ALL TRADES | Activist, author and rapper Tim’m West brings his knowledge to UTD.

KEEPING IT REAL
UT Dallas, 800 W. Campbell Road, Richardson. Oct 21–22. Visit website for schedule. Open to the public. Free.  RedDirt.biz.

…………………………..

The gay community and hip-hop music often clash over homophobic lyrics, but in the last few weeks, those paths crossed in two different but significant ways. Amid the rash of gay teen suicides, rapper 50 Cent tweeted about how men over 25 who don’t have oral sex with women should kill themselves (he awkwardly tried to backpedal after an outraged response). That was soon followed by Anderson Cooper’s interview with Eminem, who responded to questions about his attitude toward the gay community with, “I don’t have any problem with nobody.”

But gay activist and rapper Tim’m West isn’t buying any of it.

“It’s all part of the necessitated spewing of homophobia in hip-hop,” he says.

“It’s like this right of passage for artists to do that.”

The thing is, West says hip-hop — the music and the culture — is gayer than it wants to be. He’ll set out to prove it with Keeping it Real: Hip-Hop Has Gone Gay, a master class discussing the queer side of hip-hop. The Fahari Arts Institute teamed up with UT Dallas to host this two-night session, starting Oct. 21.

The event is spearheaded by UTD faculty member Venus Opal Reese, who says now is the time for this kind exposure.

“I think the Dallas community needs this class to have a different experience of blackness, queerness and gender, even,” she says. “If all we ever see is black men killing, gay bashing or dying from HIV, there is no hope. Tim’m is hope.”

West says that hip-hop needs to be exposed and his class works to show people that LGBT culture was a part of the genre in its infancy.

“I argue that the music has always had those elements but the industry has this inability to see how LGBT culture influenced hip-hop,” he says. “In the early days, there was more acknowledgement of gays in rap. Grandmaster Flash referred to ‘gays’ and ‘fag hags’ in his music but with no derogatory notion. He rapped about that as part of the life and the city.”

West, who hails from Houston, boasts the kind of multi-labeling applied more to a medicine bottle: He’s an activist, author, rapper, poet, scholar and professor. Working as a project coordinator for the St. Hope Foundation, he’s now taking his work on the road to make the LGBT/black/hip-hop conversation a national one. He calls Dallas his first stop in this new venture.

“The plan is to advocate on a national scale,” he says. “I’m touring and traveling to speak about diversity, inclusion, bullying. I’m also a suicide survivor, which has risen as an issue recently. I feel the experience I have can lend itself to a bigger conversation.”

Despite the homophobia in hip-hop, West points out prejudices stem from gays themselves. Gay racism and stereotypes have also held back what he considers should be a progressive community. He cites that block as part of what keeps big gay events sanitized with the usual types of performers year after year.

“Parades or Pride events always may have gay artists and definitely have their drag queens, but propose a hip-hop entertainer and nothing,” he says. “I want to talk about how we can mobilize hip-hop as a tool rather than running from scary black men and gunfights. Gay musicians are choosing it as a medium and gay kids listen to it. “

Gay or straight, black or not, Reese says this class is open to as broad an audience as it can get. For her, the message here goes beyond labels, demographics and stereotypes and instead works to shatter those abstract restrictions.

“This class absolutely is for everyone,” she asserts. “If you are a writer, activist, a person interested in gender studies, it would be totally appropriate. You know, race, gender, sexuality, class are all different pieces that make the whole. When we realize that we don’t have one essential self but embody different intersections of those part, you can be moved to tears by who you really are.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Real(ity) estate • Defining Homes

A Dallas couple’s adventure in house selling becomes an episode of HGTV’s ‘My First Sale’

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Keith Yonick, left, turned Dallas couple Troy and Cindy Hughes on to the idea of being on TV. But their youngest child, opposite, might steal every scene.

Although they live cosmopolitan lives — she’s a lawyer; he works for FM 105.3 with Chris Jagger — and count many gay neighbors in their gate East Dallas community among their friends, Cindy and Troy Hughes both grew up in small towns and craved the pace and benefits of the suburbs: lower taxes, good schools, safe streets. With a 4-year-old and a new baby, they figured next year would be a good time to look for a new home.

But the house-hunting started earlier than they expected. And more dramatically.

The Hugheses got a call from their real estate agent, Keith Yonick, with a proposition: Would they be interested in trying to sell their house now and have their experience filmed for the HGTV series My First Sale?

“When Keith called us and told us about the show, we went for it,” Cindy says.

“I think it’s great they chose Dallas for the show,” Yonick says. “I asked them why and they said because the houses are so different — they could film a townhouse in the city and a farmhouse in Forney or a suburban house.”

Yonick submitted four applications, and the network jumped at following the Hugheses. Still, it wasn’t the couple’s first foray into a reality series.

When Troy worked with Kidd Kraddick, he was recruited to be the “bachelor” in a radio rip-off of The Bachelor TV series. He was just supposed to chronicle his dates with several dozen women and invite one to a gala event. The one he selected was Cindy; they married three years later.

Still, a radio date is one thing; having yourself photographed 24/7 during a stressful process — the first sale of your home — was more pressure. Cindy even knows that on one day of filming, she came across as bitchy. (She’s hoping they edit that out, but Troy has forgiven her in any event.)
“We never treated it like a reality show but as a way to document this part of our lives,” Cindy says. “It was like making a home video.”

Knowing that “most houses take a year or more to sell” — Yonick says 370 days on the market is not unusual — they expected the process to stretch on for months, just in time for the next school year. So they were astonished that their house sold so quickly. In less than two months, they had a buyer.

Even so, the sale caught them so by surprise that they hadn’t even decided for certain where they would move.

“Our friends have all moved on to their next chapters — they were moving to Frisco and Rockwall.  They were always saying to us, ‘You have to move to Frisco!’ But we started looking in Wylie.”

It isn’t as far as it may seem. Troy leaves for work at 3 a.m. for his radio show (“I share the road with cops, construction workers and drunks,” he says) and Cindy’s job in Arlington meant she had a hike anywhere east of I-35.

“We thought we would move to Rockwall, but Wylie reminds me of what McKinney looked like when I came here in 1999,” Troy says. “We get more for our money out there, and there’s still a mall within four miles.”

Rather than buying an old house or going with a foreclosed property, they decided to build. Since the house won’t actually be ready until after they close on their sale, they’ll have to rent back their current house for a month. But as far as hardships go in real estate, that’s one they can live with.
“We got really lucky,” Troy says.

The Hugheses close on their sale on Oct. 29; their episode of My First Sale will air in the spring.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens