Stonewall Democrats endure taunts from motorists at Election Day rally

Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez, left, leads the group’s traditional Election Day get out the vote rally at the Legacy of Love Monument on Tuesday.

Members of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, including a few elected officials, rallied this morning at the monument at Oak Lawn Avenue and Cedar Springs Road to get out the vote in an Election Day morning tradition. They stood on the chilly street corner for two hours during rush hour.

Many people driving down Cedar Springs Road honked and waved. Some driving on Oak Lawn Avenue also waved but others coming from the direction of Highland Park shouted epithets. One stopped, rolled down his window and yelled, “Get a fucking job.”

The Stonewall member standing nearest that car said he was self-employed and thought he was entitled to get to work a little late. He said he thought voting and getting people to the polls was important.

But other Stonewall members said it was a sad indication of how polarized the country’s become. Stonewall President Omar Narvaez said because they support Democrats, Republicans think their next stop is a government office looking for handouts.

Among the rally participants was Judge Tina Yoo. Because of her position, she cannot support a candidate, so her sign carried a simple “get out the vote” message. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson’s campaign manager stopped by with donuts for the rally crew.

Stonewall and other groups will host an Election Night watch party beginning at 7 p.m. at the Round-Up Saloon. The first statewide returns from the East Coast, including swing state Virginia, should be announced at 6 p.m. Texas early voting totals will be announced shortly after polls close at 7 p.m.

—  David Taffet

Oak Lawn is now officially lit up

Jared Pearce

Back in July we told you that the Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats had finally convinced the city to install 45 new streetlights in the Oak Lawn area, in response to the group’s Light Up Oak Lawn safety campaign.

This morning, DSYD President Jared Pearce informs Instant Tea that he’s received word from the city that all of the new streetlights have now been installed.

“We are excited that, after much time was spent evaluating the need, conducting resarch, auditing the neighborhood and working with our elected leaders and city officials, we are able to finally see the results of what DSYD started a year and a half ago and, most importantly, a safer community in which we can all live and play,” Pearce said.

—  John Wright

DSYD succeeds in effort to ‘Light Up Oak Lawn’

Councilwoman Angela Hunt, left, and DSYD President Jared Pearce

Group notified this week that 45 new lights will be erected in the area within 60 days

DRACONIS VON TRAPP | Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

After a year of pushing the city for more streetlights in Oak Lawn, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats saw their efforts pay off this week when city officials announced plans to install 45 new lights in the area.

“We’re excited and think it’s a great thing for the community,” DSYD President Jared Pearce said. “We decided to take on the challenge of improving the street light situation in Oak Lawn because many of us have friends who have been victims of crime in this area. The fact that city officials have listened to us and are taking action to resolve this problem gives us even more drive to make changes that can benefit the entire community.”

The Oak Lawn neighborhood has been afflicted with a disproportionately high crime rate and lack of appropriate street lighting. After a series of muggings in the neighborhood, DSYD got together as a board and the topic of street lighting came up. They then created what is now known as the “Light Up Oak Lawn” campaign.

DSYD then held another meeting at JR’s with members of the community and local businesses to rally support, deciding to take the issue to the City Council, namely District 14 representative Angela Hunt and District 2 representative Pauline Medrano.

Volunteers went on foot around the Oak Lawn area one night and did their own preliminary audit, recording the number of broken streetlights and places that were cloaked in darkness, also taking note of foot traffic and the proximity of residential and business housing.

Along with their audit, DSYD vols also did research on the correlation between street lighting and crime in other cities around the U.S. and the U.K., trying to make as convincing a case as possible. They then took all their blood, sweat and tears and got in contact with Hunt and Medrano.

Nearly seven months later, nothing had been done. DYSD reached out to remind city officials of nearly every mugging that happened in that area — but still no cigar.

“We didn’t want to count on the city for funding,” DYSD Communications Director Michael Maldonado said. “So we went to the city officials to determine what we would need to do and how much it would cost.”

City officials told the group they needed a more thorough audit of the area in which they wanted streetlights erected. So, DSYD volunteers went out and did it all again, making sure to leave no streetlight unchecked and no dark corner unrecorded.

They contacted the city officials again with their new information and finally started to see some progress.

Maldonado said that he doesn’t think the crime in the Oak Lawn area is necessarily LGBT-related, but that there’s “genuinely a lot of traffic in that area,” making it an ideal site for criminals to strike.

In April, the city’s Street Services Department received the DYSD audit and promised look it over and give recommendations.

After an article published in Dallas Voice about yet another mugging, DSYD members finally got the approval to have streetlights posted at every location noted in the audit.

Oncor, the corporation responsible for the lighting in Dallas, was given a work order to put up 45 streetlights within 60 days. The lights will improve visibility and hopefully decrease the night time crime rate in the area bounded by Oak Lawn Avenue, Lemmon Avenue, Wycliff Avenue and Maple Avenue, Maldonado said.

Hunt said she believes the new lights will increase safety not only for the LGBT community of Dallas, but also the residential and business communities that make their home in the Oak Lawn area.

“This is a terrific example of the community and City Hall working together to improve a vital area,” Hunt said.

—  John Wright

WATCH: Gay intern credited with saving Giffords’ life speaks at Stonewall fundraiser in Dallas

Daniel Hernandez Jr. at the Brick on Tuesday night.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is doing “remarkably well” for someone who was shot in the head only six months ago, according to Daniel Hernandez Jr., the openly gay intern credited with saving her life on Jan. 8.

Hernandez appeared Tuesday night — on the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion — during a fundraiser for Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats, first at a private residence in Oak Lawn and later at gay bar the Brick.

In his prepared remarks, Hernandez didn’t talk much about Giffords, instead focusing on the importance of 2012 elections for Democrats. But in response to a question from an audience member, Hernandez noted that Giffords is still in Houston but has been released from the hospital and is undergoing outpatient rehabilitation.

“I don’t know if any of you saw the pictures, but she’s looking great,” Hernandez said. “The only real difference is she has a little bit shorter hair and she’s wearing glasses. So it’s great to see the same smile, and she’s doing remarkably well, considering the fact that she was shot six months ago, and I think the progress that she’s made has been truly inspiring not just for those of us in Tucson and in Arizona but really around the country.”

—  John Wright

Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez Jr. to speak at Stonewall Democrats fundraiser in Dallas

Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords prior to the shooting. (via Facebook)

We’re working to get in touch with Daniel Hernandez Jr., the gay Latino intern credited with saving the life of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, but for now we thought we’d go ahead and mention that Hernandez will be in town next Tuesday for a Stonewall Democrats fundraiser marking the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Hernandez is a University of Arizona student who’d been an intern for Giffords for only five days at the time of the January shooting in Tuscon. Hernandez applied pressure to Giffords’ head wound and held her upright so she wouldn’t choke on her blood while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Then he rode with her in the back of an ambulance, squeezing her hand as she squeezed back.

The following day, Instant Tea was the first to identify Hernandez as gay. And a few days after that, he would be honored at the Tucson memorial attended by President Barack Obama, where he insisted he wasn’t a hero.

Hernandez will attend a private fundraiser at the home of Stonewall Democrats members on Tuesday, before making a public appearance at the Brick. Sponsorships for the private fundraiser range from $50 to $1,000 and can be purchased here. The fundraiser runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2916 Throckmorton St.

The public event runs from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Brick, and Hernandez will speak at 9. A $10 donation is suggested.

Watch Hernandez’s interview with CNN after the shooting, as well as his speech at the memorial service, after the jump.

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Stonewall Dems still relevant

Stonewall Dems still relevant

Stonewall Democrats continues to be an important and relevant voice in the civic life of GLBT Dallas. In fact, most candidates seek out the opportunity to interview and screen with Stonewall in election years.

If Stonewall were irrelevant, as some seem to imply from recent comments via Instant Tea and elsewhere, these candidates would not take the time to seek out the endorsement.

Whenever there is a hotly contested election, invariably one side gets upset and calls the organization “irrelevant.” That is a natural response.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas has a fair, and open endorsement process, and any member in good standing is welcome to participate in that process.

With that said, however, I think I need to say that we don’t automatically endorse a candidate just because he or she happens to be gay. We consider each candidate in his or her entirety.

We certainly consider whether a candidate is a member of the GLBT community, but that isn’t the only thing we consider when making endorsements.

As a longtime member and former officer of Stonewall, I have seen and participated in many endorsement and candidate screenings over the years. This time it is fair and accurate to say that our Membership and Endorsement Committee was split right down the middle with regard to Angela Hunt and James Nowlin in the race for Dallas City Council District 14.

I couldn’t help but notice what seemed to be a generational divide in this particular race. What I noticed was that younger Stonewall members — under 40 — tended to back Nowlin. Those who are more mature (ok, call us old if you must) Stonewall members — over 40 — tended to back Hunt.

There were exceptions of course. But I think this is, overall, a fair and accurate statement.

While the vote on the Endorsement Committee was razor-thin, at the end of the day Nowlin received the most votes and, hence, he received the Stonewall endorsement. I personally supported Angela Hunt because I think she has done a superb job as a member of the City Council. She does her homework and knows the issues facing this city inside and out.

Another reason I personally chose to back Angela Hunt is because she’s not afraid to buck the establishment when necessary. I think it’s important to have people on the Dallas City Council who are fighters, and won’t just be a rubber stamp.

At the end of the day, Hunt won almost every single precinct in District 14, so the voters not only in the M Streets and Lakewood area, but also in Turtle Creek/Uptown, Oak Lawn, all the way up to Greenway Parks and Bluffview clearly feel like Ms. Hunt is doing a good job representing them.

I applaud Mr. Nowlin’s enthusiasm. He’s a bright and articulate young man, and I think he learned an important lesson by running, namely that it’s difficult to beat a very popular incumbent.

Jay Narey
Dallas

—  John Wright

‘Brand new’ Stonewall Young Democrats chapter to meet tonight at Woody’s — and ‘the cocktails will be flowing’

Only in its second year, Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats already has its third president.

Founding President Travis Gasper moved back to Colorado, then his successor Matt Burckhalter moved to Fort Worth. But the group is pressing on and promises something new and completely different for tonight’s inaugural meeting under President Pennington Ingley.

DSYD Treasurer Justin Williams, whose Uptown Title offices share a building with the Instant Tea Brewery, forwarded this message from Vice President Brian Stout:

“We’ve been working hard the past few weeks to turn the organization around and build momentum, and all the change will culminate in our next meeting which happens this evening at Woody’s,” Stout said. “We also have a brand new vibe and meeting format, which includes ditching the old formal agenda in favor of organized discussion (a new topic every month), and breaking out into small groups to plan upcoming events.”

DSYD previously met at Ojeda’s — the same location as its parent chapter. But who really needs to eat? And we’re all for ditching agendas! Stout referred us to the Facebook event page, which clarifies that the meeting will be at 8 p.m. on the back patio and confirms that the “cocktails will be flowing”:

“It’s a brand new DSYD! We have new leadership, a new format, and a whole different vibe.

“We’ll start off with a passionate political discussion on Obama and the national progression toward LGBT Equality, including ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and how we plan to help.

“Next we’ll discuss opportunities to get involved with exciting upcoming political, social and community service events, such as our July retreat in Austin with our peer organizations in Austin, Houston and San Antonio.

“Finally, we’ll end with breakout planning sessions, when we’ll divide up into small groups to actually make change and plan events like our upcoming Red Party.

“And in typical Dallas style, the cocktails will be flowing.

“So even if you’ve given us a chance before, here’s your big chance to be a part of our new group as we embark on a whole new era.”

—  John Wright

If you haven't had a chance to check out ilume, and you like free drinks …

RedPartyPosterFINAL

It looks like ilume, the newly opened mixed-use project on Cedar Springs Road, will host its first red-carpet gay fundraiser tonight, when Dallas Stonewall Young Democrats and LifeWalk Team Legacy put on a benefit for AIDS Arms Inc. According to a press release I received from DSYD President Travis Gasper this morning, the Red Party will feature an open bar (yes, that means free alcoholic beverages), hor d’oeuvres, valet parking and music by DJ Garrett Weiss. There will also be performances by Miss LifeWalk 2009 Skyla Miles, Aspen Tyler, Jenna Skyy, Sassy and 2nd Degree Fire Performers. A $10 donation is suggested at the door, and the event runs from 8 p.m. at 11 p.m. As of a few minutes ago, the Red Party had 187 confirmed guests on Facebook, so you may not want to miss it. For more info, e-mail dallasstonewallyd@gmail.com.

—  John Wright