Jerett on the BLOCK: Being single doesn’t calm DIVA member about his first bachelor auction

DATE A DIVA | Walters started playing volleyball two years ago. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Jerett Walters is about to go on the auction block, and one thing is racing through his mind: “What did I get myself into?”

This is only his second season with DIVA, the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, and they already have him selling himself.

Walters, 25, will join about 10 of his teammates for the annual DIVA Bachelor Auction Sunday. The event is a fundraiser for the team — a good cause. That’s why Walters agreed to do it. But he has his misgivings.

First off, Walters, a graduate student in journalism at UTD, has never even attended a bachelor auction, let alone been the subject of one. In addition, though he’s single and dating (no one in particular at the moment), he’s not sure what being “won” will mean.

“Standing on that block, waiting for people to judge me, taking my control away … I’m not a fan,” he says. “I have friends positioned in the audience to bid on me,” guaranteeing a certain minimum bid to soothe his ego. But they are under strict instructions: “If [I’m being bid on] by a cute boy, let him bid — I don’t care if I go for a dollar.”

Walters isn’t exactly sure what the full package he’s being bid on will entail, but he specified that he wanted a group date, and knows it’ll take place this Wednesday, March 2 — just a few days after the auction.

So what is he looking for on a fun date?

“Something random,” he says. “Be yourself and be fun without the pressure of a first date. And not a classic-dinner-and-a-movie date. Let’s go bowling or talk about golf.”

Or, maybe, volleyball.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Charges dismissed in raid of gay bathhouse

JOHN WRIGHT  |  Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Charges have been dismissed against most of the 11 men arrested for engaging in sex acts during a Dallas Police Department raid of The Club Dallas in October.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office confirmed this week that it dismissed charges against at least six of the men earlier this month. Defense attorneys for the men said they expected charges to be dismissed against the others soon.

DA  Craig Watkins didn’t elaborate on why his office chose not to prosecute the cases, citing the fact that charges against at least one of the men had not yet been dismissed.

“Due to the fact that these cases are so closely related, commenting on the dismissed cases would affect the prosecution of the pending case,” Watkins said in a statement.

David Hill, a defense attorney who represents nine of the 11 men, said charges were dismissed over questions about whether The Club Dallas is defined as a public place under Texas law. Seven of the men were charged with public lewdness, three were charged with indecent exposure, and one was charged with interfering with police.

“The issue relates to whether it’s a public versus private location, so you can imagine that the decisions and the conversations I had with them [prosecutors] hinged on that element,” Hill said Wednesday, Jan. 19. “After reviewing the cases, the District Attorney’s Office made a determination that it was in the best interest of justice to dismiss the cases.”

Hill commended the District Attorney’s Office for its decision. “They were willing to take the time to look at these cases with an open mind and make a determination after having done that,” he said.

Asked whether it’s safe for people to go to the gay bathhouses, Hill said he was reluctant to offer broad legal advice. “I think everyone has to make their own decision about their own personal conduct, but I would think that the decision regarding these cases would give people some comfort about that,” Hill said. “I don’t begin to assume what DPD is going to do in the future, but I would think the fact that the cases were filed, and the result that’s come about in this case, I’m sure they have other things they’d rather spend their resources on than purusing cases that may or may not get prosecuted.”

Neither DPD Chief David Brown nor LGBT liaison officer Laura Martin responded to requests for comment.

DPD’s vice unit has said it conducted the raid in response to a citizen complaint.

A co-owner of The Club Dallas declined to comment on the dismissal of the charges.

—  John Wright

Gay blogs reveal Clay Aiken has a new beau right here in Dallas

Celebgalz.com

What is it with pop stars and Dallas men? George Michael started the trend with his tolerant beau Ken Goss, Then we find out that Lance Bass is dating someone originally from Dallas. Over the past few days, the gay gossip blogs have been buzzing about local actor Jeff Walters and his celeb boyfriend Clay Aiken. After we found that out, his appearance in the audience at Theatre 3′s Drowsy Chaperone all started to make sense.

Perez Hilton posted this clip about the two’s appearances in town, which included stops at Pinkberry, Gaylord Texan and Borders. Aiken also took in Ohlook’s production of The Rocky Horror Show where Walters played the title character. And then it came out that Walter is an underwear model. Hot. Then it came out Walters had sexy pics on Grindr. Extra hot.

Colleague Chance sent me this TwitPic of Aiken at Theatre 3. Initially we thought “that’s random.” Come to find out, Aiken was doing so much more here.

Oh, and Aiken’s tour stops in Grand Prairie at Verizon Theatre on March 8. In case you were more interested in his music than his love life.

—  Rich Lopez

Bullying from a different source?

Student at arts magnet school says she was bullied by a teacher; advocates say policy dealing with faculty behavior needs changes

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Delaney Hillan

Delaney Hillan kissed her girlfriend in the hall at school, and that’s when the trouble started.

Hillan, who came out during her junior year in high school, is now a senior at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She said she didn’t expect to have problems being gay at the magnet school, but, she added, at least one teacher had problems with it.

“A teacher yelled at us [when I kissed my girlfriend] and said she didn’t want to see any of this again,” Hillan said, adding that the teacher threatened to report the incident.

Hillan said she understood that official school policy was no public displays of affection in school. But she said the kiss was more a “bye, see you later” kiss than making out in the hall. It was much less than what goes on regularly between heterosexual couples in school, she said.
And she wasn’t the only student to ever kiss her girlfriend in the school.

“It’s Booker T!” she said, the school many LGBT students choose to attend because it’s considered a safe place to go to school.
But the teacher persisted.

A few days later, Hillan said she was walking down the hall and the same teacher was standing outside her classroom. She stopped Hillan as she was passing to again admonish her.

Hillan said the teacher told her, “I want you to know I’m very disappointed in your behavior this year. I don’t appreciate your being so flagrant about it. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

Hillan’s mother picked her up from school that day, and when she got in the car, she said, she began to cry.

“I never felt so dehumanized,” Hillan said.

With her mother’s support, Hillan spoke to the principal who said she would talk to the teacher.

“Ever since then, she’s been nice to me,” Hillan said.

She spoke sympathetically of the teacher and said she understood the source of the bullying was the teacher’s religious background. But she doesn’t want another student to feel dehumanized in school again.

“Booker T. Washington’s a place where you are accepted,” she said. “The rules and policies at the school are accepting of all.”

Hillan said school is a place of trust and not somewhere a student should ever feel attacked.

This year, Hillan is president of her school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. She has demonstrated with QueerLiberaction and she wanted to speak up for other students, especially those in less-safe environments.

“Students are pushed, yelled at and spit on,” she said. “Even if they’re not openly gay, but others think they are, they’re isolated. It’s hard to make friends when you have that label put on you.”

Kristine Vowels has worked on LGBT issues from within Dallas Independent School District for several years. She told Hillan that the DISD board was holding an open hearing about a new, inclusive anti-bullying policy and that she could tell her story to the public.

Hillan said speaking to the board in front of the packed room at the DISD meeting didn’t bother her.

“Maybe because I’m a theater major,” she said, “but I wanted to get across what was important.”

“Why would you go to a place you were scared of?” Hillan said.

Andy Moreno

Resource Center Dallas spokesman Rafael McDonnell said that the recently approved anti-bullying policy goes a long way to protect students throughout the school district.

But, he noted, the policy adopted addresses students, not faculty and staff. He said that the employee manual needs to reflect new policies in the student handbook.

McDonnell also said that training must be implemented to make sure faculty and staff understand what constitutes bullying against LGBT students and what they must do to stop it.

The anti-bullying policy includes gender identity and expression. The harassment policy already included sexual orientation and now must be updated similarly, McDonnell said.

That policy was written in the mid-1990s with the assistance of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. However, protected groups should be consistent across different areas of conduct, McDonnell said.

He said that there must be a safe way for students to report bullying. “It’s harder to report your teacher,” McDonnell said.

Hillan had a receptive principal who didn’t hesitate to take action. But in the case of transgender student Andy Moreno at North Dallas High School, the bullying allegedly came from her principal.

Moreno wanted to run for homecoming queen but was stopped by the school’s new principal. But rather than just stopping her bid, Moreno thought the principal’s words crossed over into bullying.

The principal allegedly called Moreno an “it, or whatever you are” and threatened to close the school’s GSA in retaliation for Moreno speaking to Dallas Voice.

DISD trustee Lew Blackburn has said that the district needs a district-wide policy on homecoming elections.

Moreno believed that if a teacher were speaking to her inappropriately, she could have turned to the principal, but in her case there was nowhere to turn other than the press.

Hillan thinks the solution is simpler than that. Any bullying by faculty and staff needs to stop.

“Students shouldn’t be afraid to go to school,” Hillan said. “And I shouldn’t be afraid of my teachers.”

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

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: N. Dallas High School bars transgender girl from running for homecoming queen

A male-to-female transgender student at North Dallas High School says the school’s principal is discriminating against her by barring her from running for homecoming queen, according to a report that aired Wednesday night on Fox 4.

Andy Moreno, an 18-year-old senior, told the station that some friends nominated her for homecoming queen. However, a few days ago, a counselor warned Moreno that some school administrators were opposed to the idea. Moreno says she went to talk to the principal, who told her to run for homecoming king instead.

The Dallas Independent School District says it has no formal policy on the issue, but DISD issued a statement saying: “The district fully supports the decision of the principal at North Dallas High School. It should be noted that the Dallas Independent School District is proud to have one of the most aggressive anti-harassment policies among school districts in the state of Texas.”

Moreno says she doesn’t feel comfortable running for homecoming king because she identifies as a female, and her friends support her.

“I do feel like I’m being harassed and I feel like I’m being discriminated against,” Moreno told Fox 4. “I feel like the principal is embarrassed to have a transgender queen.”

Stay tuned to Instant Tea and Dallas Voice for more on the story.

—  John Wright

Yet another gay teen suicide?

Alec Henriksen

Another teen who may have been gay has taken his own life — and this time he was from Utah, where a Mormon apostle just a few days ago called same-sex attraction “unnatural” and “impure” and said it can be changed.

We’ve long been saying on this blog that those in positions of power who spew homophobia have the blood of gay teen suicide victims on their hands — and we can only hope the reality of this will finally take hold in the mainstream.

PrideInUtah.com reports that 18-year-old Alec Henriksen, a Utah native who was a student at Earlham College in Indiana, was found dead on Sept. 30:

Alec Henriksen was a brilliant young computer programmer. And while suicide is always a terrible idea, I want to use his death as a call-to-action for anyone who cares for these young people. Please, help them. Love them for who they are. Put them in touch with the Trevor Project if possible.

PrideInUtah.com adds that the website from which it obtained the information about Henriksen’s suicide — and presumably about his sexual orientation — has since been taken down.

However, Instant Tea found this statement on the Earlham College website confirming Henriksen’s death. The statement says his body was found on property belonging to Earlham Cemetery, and that no foul play is suspected. We also found Henriksen’s obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune.

If it turns out that Henriksen was not gay, our point remains. And if he was gay but someone is trying to cover it up, it would be typical of how Mormon culture deals with gay teen suicide — which is a big problem in Utah.

If Henriksen was gay, his death would bring to at least six the number of gay teen suicides that have been reported nationwide in recent weeks. Of course, it’s safe to say the real number is considerably higher.

—  John Wright

Gamer suspended over name of W.Va. town: Fort Gay

VICKI SMITH | Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Microsoft Corp. and Xbox Live are apologizing to a West Virginia town and a 26-year-old gamer accused of violating the online gaming service’s code of conduct by declaring he’s from Fort Gay.

The town in western West Virginia is real. But Seattle-based Microsoft and the Xbox Live enforcement team wouldn’t take Josh Moore’s word for it.

They suspended his gaming privileges for a few days last week until he could convince them his Wayne County hometown is real.

Xbox Live chief enforcement officer Stephen Toulouse acknowledges the agent reviewing a fellow gamer’s complaint against Moore made a mistake. He says keeping up with slang and policing Xbox Live for offensive language is challenging, but mistakes in judgment are rare.

Toulouse says training has since been updated.

—  John Wright

‘Episcopal’ school in Bedford, Texas, denies enrollment to girl with 2 lesbian moms

A so-called “Episcopal” school in Bedford has denied admission to the daughter of two lesbian parents, NBCDFW.com reports.

St. Vincent’s Episcopal School turned down the daughter of Jill and Tracy Harrison, just a few days before school starts.

The Harrisons, who were married in Canada in 2006, crossed out the word “father” on the school’s application in June and replaced it with mother, listing both of their names. They attended a parents night at the school this past Tuesday before being notified of the decision, and they’ve been refunded the $100 application fee.

“I am horribly disappointed,” Jill Harrison said. “In fact, we are in the 21st century and we are still dealing with this issue. We should just move on. Denying my daughter education based on who I end up sleeping with at the end of the day makes me furious.”

The school’s nondiscrimination policy doesn’t include sexual orientation. From Kenneth Monk, the head of the school:

“We are a church affiliated with the Anglican Church in North America, and it is their policy that we don’t provide services to individuals or families that do not behave properly. We’re going off our canons that say, ‘The Anglican Church in North America affirms our Lord’s teaching that the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong of one man and one woman.’”

It’s not uncommon for private religious schools to deny enrollment to the children of same-sex parents. But usually it’s a Catholic school.

In this case, the Anglican Church in North America is one of the groups that’s split off from the U.S. Episcopal Church over the demoniation’s decision to consecrate openly gay bishops. The Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, which includes Bedford, is one of several that have broken away since Bishop V. Gene Robinson was consecrated in 2004. Which is why we’ve put “Episcopal” in quotations when referring to St. Vincent’s. The school’s website lists it as “A preschool through eighth grade school in the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”

UPDATE: A note we just received from Jason C.N. Smith, a Fort Worth attorney and straight LGBT ally who says he went to elementary school at St. Vincent’s:

“This action definitely not how I was taught to treat others at St. Vincent’s,” Smith wrote. “I was taught love God and thy neighbor as thy self, which includes this little girl and her parents.”

—  John Wright

I ride because ‘You’re only as old as you feel’

Tammye Nash – Team Dallas Voice

Tammye Nash
Tammye Nash

Last year in October, I turned 49. It wasn’t any big deal, really, and at first, I didn’t think much about it. It was another birthday; considering the alternative, I was glad to be turning 49.

And then a few days later, it hit me: Reaching my 49th birthday meant that I would be 50 in a year. A year! That’s not very long at all in this my-how-time-flies world we live in.

And I was surprised to realize that the idea bothered me. I have never been distressed by any of those so-called milestone birthdays that can send others into a tizzy of depression. But the idea of turning 50 — it was really getting under my skin.

Oh, not because of the number, the Big 5-0. That, after all, is just a number. One more than 49; one less than 51. So what? It wasn’t being “50,” that bothered me; it was the idea of being “old.”

I have always believed that old cliché about age just being a state of mind (“If you don’t mind, it don’t matter”). The problem was, I was afraid that I was going to “feel old” when I turned 50. And I don’t want to feel old. Ever.

But what to do to avoid that? I pondered for a bit and then it hit me: Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

See, last year in September, I volunteered as an event photographer for the ninth annual Lone Star Ride. Other folks were out there pedaling across North Texas, but my co-worker and co-volunteer photographer, Terry, and I had the hard job. We had to spend two days driving around North Texas in a convertible sports car, taking photos of the cyclists.

And I loved it — every minute of it. Even though I had covered Lone Star Rides in the past for Dallas Voice, last year was the first time I had participated. And I was amazed and awed by the spirit of the people, those who worked to organize the ride and those who rode and those who volunteered as crew.

All those people, strung out across the Metroplex on bicycles and in support vehicles, were all working together for a common goal — the goal of helping someone else. It was such a soul-shaking feeling to know that I was part of that, that I was in my own small way helping to make life better for people with HIV.

I knew without a doubt that I wanted to be a part of Lone Star Ride again in 2010, and Terry and I had already talked about volunteering again as photographers.

But a month later, as I contemplated reaching that half-century mark, I changed my mind. I decided I wasn’t going to volunteer. Instead, I was going to register as a rider.

That way, when mid-October rolled around and I turned 50, I could look back and say with confidence, “Hell no! I am not old! Look what I just did; I just rode my bike for, lo, these many miles to raise money and help someone else. Could an old person have done that?!”

There were other reasons, too, of course. I wanted to participate this year for the same reasons I volunteered last year. I want to help people living with HIV/AIDS today in memory of and in honor of the many friends I have already lost to the epidemic.

I am participating in Lone Star Ride for Dennis Vercher, who I worked with for more than 15 years, and for all the other Dallas Voice staffers we have lost through the years; I do it for people like Bill Hunt and John Thomas, who showed me by example what true activism looks like; I do it for Jessie Waggoner, my “little brother” who made me laugh with his crazy-legged “Fred Flintstone” dance. I do it for all the others, the list of names far too long to fit here in this space.

Yes, I know I could have honored my friends this year the same way I did last year, by volunteering for the crew. I know that without the crew, there would be no Lone Star Ride. And it’s possible that next year, I will set aside the bike and once again be a crew volunteer.

But this year is different. This year, I’m riding. I’m riding to prove — mainly to myself — that I can do it. I’m riding to prove I am not old, no matter what that calendar says. I’m riding to remember. I’m riding because others can’t.

Come join me if you can. And I won’t even ask how old you are.

Tammye Nash is a member of Team Dallas Voice. Donate to her or to another Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS participant at LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens