GLBT Community Center offers Christmas Dinner

GLBT Community CenterFor many, Christmas is a time for family, but as we all know, not everyone in the LGBT community is on the best terms with their family, and for others financial concerns keep them from traveling during the holidays. For those of us spending the holidays alone (or those of us who just enjoy a good potluck) the Houston GLBT Community Center, in cooperation with the AIDS Housing Coalition Houston, is hosting a Christmas potluck at the Center’s offices at  the Historic Dow School (1901 Kane). There is no charge for the Potluck and Turkey and Ham will be provided. Those attending may bring a side dish to share but should not feel obligated to bring anything if they are not able.

“The Center family is thrilled to partner with Matt Locklin and AIDS Housing Coalition Houston on this Christmas luncheon,” said Tim Brookover, president of the center. “We hope people will join us who don’t have plans for the holiday — or maybe need a break from the plans they have! Christmas and your GLBT family. Now that’s festive!”

If you would like to volunteer or make a contribution to offset expenses, contact AHCH executive director Matt Locklin at

—  admin

Defining Homes • Ask the EXPERTS

With the economy still in a wicked mess, reports are that the latest trend in homebuying is not buying. Renters are on the rise. But are they? Real estate source Inman reported in January that it is cheaper to buy in the majority of the country’s larger cities. Keith Jurow reported last year on World Property Channel that a Harris Interactive survey found renting a better option. So which is it? We asked locals in the industry how the trends are swaying the Dallas housing market and the frustrations behind them.


Michael Litzinger

Michael Litzinger
William Davis Realty Uptown

The trend has affected my business significantly. The firm I recently moved to seems to be more in tune with today’s market. Their streamlined, online process requires less paperwork which makes it better for the client, a much quicker turn around for me and better for the environment.

Leasing does move property these days, and I am just glad the industry moves in some fashion whether it’s leasing or selling.

I do think the trend has affected us locally somewhat, but not nearly as severely as in most other areas. I still feel good about the Dallas market.  I know Realtors in other areas that can’t say the same.

Buyers are decreasing to some degree. Even with low interest rates, I’ve had a lot of buyers come to me and then disappear.



Derrick Dawson

Derrick Dawson
Texas Pride Realty

As an active and producing Realtor also working in property management, I’d say the rental trend has picked up significantly, but that doesn’t mean it’s been ideal for property renters/owners or for the multi-family industry. The rental market has been stable but faces some challenges based on broken leases due to financial hardship or unemployment. Many are playing it safe by downsizing or combining rental homes based on economic conditions, being fearful of keeping their jobs and saving for the future.
Today is a buyer’s market and an ideal time to get out of the rent race. The downfall to the buyer’s market that I have seen personally is buyers and investors taking advantage of desperate people in today’s markets, possibly causing detriment to individuals or families in their time of need but also bringing down values in those areas making it harder for others to sell.



Dan Flynn


Dan Flynn
Dave Perry-Miller InTown

The trend of leasing over buying has changed the way I preview properties in my area. Leasing is so hot now, I’ve looked at rentals and try to know the different apartment communities close by. Now I am much faster to respond to leasing needs.

I process far more leases to build my future list of clients. I try to educate and prepare them for the buying process down the road. Using a Realtor to find the perfect place to lease makes a lot of sense for those wanting to buy in the future but also for those who don’t really want to do the legwork.

I recently represented a seller who could not sell his property for the amount he was hoping for. Finding qualified buyers in his market and price range wasn’t easy. Another Realtor’s client was interested in leasing the property so

I had to have that conversation with my seller. The seller decided to go with the lease. While sales are still going strong, leasing has increased. While this really is the time to buy, I think all the media attention scares buyers. Potential buyers need to know that the market is stable here and we are one of the cities leading the nation in sales right now.  Go buy a house now or pay more for it later both in price and interest rates.


Keith M. Thomas

Keith M. Thomas
1111 Apartment Locators

Although the economy has definitely affected us here, it is worse in other areas of the country. Dallas continues to grow and so I feel the trend’s impact on Dallas has been positive.

My company is a fully licensed real estate brokerage company and we handle all residential and commercial real estate transactions yet, our primary business is apartment locating. We want to maintain focus on renters, but we’ve created strategic partnerships with other real estate companies and have a referral program with them. We work closely with our clients to help with all of their real estate needs.

For homes that have reasonable mortgages there is good news. In Dallas, the rental market has significantly gone up, especially from 2010 to present to a  94-97 percent occupancy rate.

Buyers become renters for two reasons: First, they are able to get a nicer home for a lower monthly payment. And second, it doesn’t make sense to buy unless you’re planning to stay. However, buyers are increasing, oddly enough. MetroTex Association of Realtors reported that last August 2010 there were 1,223 properties sold and this August 2011 there were 1,485.

It’s a landlords’ market. Rents are at a premium and good ones go fast. When I show my clients rentals, they want to think about it, I encourage them to act quickly, because the unit is gone within a day or two. Why should homeowners take a loss on waiting for a qualified buyer, when they can rent quickly and hold out for the market to improve?

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride 2011 • Tavern Guild names 5 parade beneficiaries

Organizations provide a variety of services for those in the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities

Draconis von Trapp  |  Intern


In recent years, increasing costs have forced the Dallas Tavern Guild to cut back on the number of organizations chosen as beneficiaries of the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, choosing only one each year.

This year, however, the Tavern Guild has been able to expand its list of beneficiaries once again. In addition to Youth First Texas, the sole beneficiary for the last several years, beneficiaries this year also include AIDS Arms Inc., AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas and Legacy Counseling Center.
Each of the agencies is profiled below:



Raeline Nobles

AIDS Arms Inc.
AIDS Arms is the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS organization in North Texas, serving more than 7,000 individuals every year. The agency’s executive director is Raeline Nobles, and John Loza is chairman of the board of directors.

The AIDS Arms offices are located at 351 West Jefferson Blvd., Suite 300. The phone number is 214-521-5191, and the website is

AIDS Arms’s case management programs offer numerous services to assist individuals in learning to live longer and healthier lives with HIV by providing access to medical care and support services specific to them. The agency’s goals are to create and maintain long-term access and adherence to medical care and stabilization so clients can successfully manage the side effects of HIV and AIDS.

Professional case managers are trained to respond to clients’ unique needs by providing a comprehensive assessment of needs and barriers to accessing medical care and support, as well as assessing clients for eligibility for programs such as HIV medication and health insurance assistance, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other benefit programs that may help with the financial issues of HIV treatment. Case managers also develop a long-term care plan with the client.

The Case Management Resource Directory helps clients locate services such as food, housing, counseling, support groups, job training and more.

AIDS Arms offers multiple minority-specific programs for women, youth, substance abusers and those with mental health needs. The agency offers linguistic services with case managers versed in more than 10 foreign languages and dialects, and with a variety of diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and experiences.

The intake program helps newly diagnosed clients navigate the services available to them in Dallas.

AIDS Arms’ Peabody Health Center is an outpatient medical clinic that offers comprehensive medical care in coordination with other services needed to increase access to care and maintain adherence to treatment. The clinic employs physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and others professionals who are experts in the medical field and specify in HIV treatment.

AIDS Arms is currently in the process of opening a second clinic.

One specific support group, WILLOW (Women Involved in Life Learning from Other Women), is a program that brings together HIV-positive women to learn from each other and develop new skills. Activities and group discussion lend to the positive environment where women learn how to live healthier lives and form good relationships.


Steven Pace

AIDS Interfaith Network
AIDS Interfaith Network was founded in 1986. Steven Pace is executive director. The agency’s offices are located on 501 N. Stemmons, Suite 200,
and the phone number is 214-941-7696. The AIN website is

Among its programs, AIN offers Outreach, a program to guide individuals and gives them access to prevention and care services, make referrals and ensure that those affected by HIV/AIDS have access to proper care. The program specifically targets African-Americans (African American Health Coalition) and Latinos (Manos Unidas).

AIN offers a variety of programs, including linguistic services with interpretation and translation of written materials for Spanish-speaking clients, caregivers and other service providers.

Educational services, including prevention education and risk reduction sessions, are available for at-risk individuals, groups and communities, as well as collaborative HIV testing and prevention programs.

Another program offers HIV education for minority women at high risk of infections. The program specifically targets African-American and Hispanic women, but it is open to all.

AIN’s client advocacy program receives referred clients and enrolls them into the appropriate programs. It also provides direct assistance by making referrals, providing follow up and collaborating with case management. This program collects client data, creates and updates files and provides documentation.

Transportation services are offered to clients living in both metropolitan and rural areas through van rides, bus passes for the DART and train system and taxi rides to ensure access to treatment facilities and support services throughout the prevention system.

AIN also operates the Daire Center, an adult daycare center that provides stabilization services and respite care to relieve caregivers. The center also includes monitoring, individualized support, activities, socialization and nutrition assistance. The meals program provides prepared breakfast and lunch daily in the Daire Center for clients who need assistance to meet or enhance their nutritional needs.

For those interested in taking part in helping affected clients, AIN’s volunteer program recruits, trains and manages volunteers, offering different curricula of buddy and companion services for those affected. The program also provides on-site assignments at AIN to give program, administrative and project support and to participate in fundraising events.

For clients requiring spiritual support, AIN offers pastoral services for care, counseling, education and support. The program refers clients and accepts referrals, collaborates with Outreach, offers prevention education and recruits volunteers.


Don Maison

AIDS Services of Dallas

AIDS Services of Dallas was founded in 1985. Don Maison is president and CEO. ASD offices and apartment buildings are located in North Oak Cliff, near Methodist Medical Center. The phone number is 214-941-0523 and the website is

ASD’s housing program provides furnished, service-enriched housing and assisted living in private apartments for people with HIV/AIDS. ASD never turns away clients due to an inability to pay rent and it is the largest licensed provider of medically supportive housing for infected individuals in Texas, with four facilities: Ewing Center, Revlon Apartments, Hillcrest House and Spencer Gardens.

Ewing Center consists of 22 units — five one-bedroom apartments, 15 efficiencies and two special need beds/rooms. Revlon Apartments are designed to accommodate individuals and families, with 20 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments.
Hillcrest House, which provides service to individuals who are formerly homeless and living with HIV/AIDS, has 64 single-unit efficiencies. And Spencer Gardens, named in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, provides housing for 12 low-income families.

ASD provides morning and lunchtime meals five days a week and coordinates dinner meals through the Supper Club volunteer program. For immobile clients, the program also provides carryout meal services.

For transportation services, ASD provides a 15-person van to provide regularly scheduled trips to a local food pantry, supermarket and second-hand clothing stores. It also carries residents to and from medical appointments and social service appointments and is used to transport residents to recreational activities planned and implemented by the Resident Councils.

ASD’s case management program provides professional social work staff to determine the psychosocial services needed for each individual resident and assist them in accessing community-based service providers. In addition, the social workers provide on-site case management, substance abuse counseling, individual and group counseling and grief support as needed.

The Social Work Department provides recreational activities for the children of ASD and helps their adjustment to the community and public schooling. With funding from the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program, ASD has hired a children’s activity coordinator to provide recreation during the summer months for the children residing at ASD.

ASD provides 24-hour care and support for its residents. Nurses provide both care and support to residents as well as implement the health maintenance programs. Personal care aides monitor every individual’s needs and habits and provide full-time assistance with routine tasks of daily living for HIV-positive residents.


Melissa Grove

Legacy Counseling Center and Legacy Founders Cottage
Established more than 20 years ago, Legacy Counseling Center provides mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment and housing services for individuals affected by HIV and AIDS. Melissa Grove is executive director. Legacy’s offices are located at 4054 McKinney Ave., Suite 102. The phone number is 214-520-6308 and the website is

Legacy Counseling Center provides both individual and group therapy. In individual therapy, individuals receive one-on-one private therapy sessions with licensed professional counselors specially trained in mental health issues of persons affected by HIV and AIDS.

They assist with coping, anxiety, depression and survivor guilt as well as medication compliance.

Group therapy is offered both during the day and the evening and helps HIV-infected individuals contend with many unique issues, and include female-only groups, Spanish-speaking groups and other targeted groups.

Legacy’s Substance Abuse Program provides intensive outpatient substance abuse treatments along with ongoing relapse prevention services for HIV-positive individuals. The program also educates clients about drug abuse and how it ties in with HIV and AIDS in both group and individual therapy. The outpatient therapy schedule can be tailored to the individual’s needs.

To take part in these programs, the individual must be HIV-positive with a letter of diagnosis, at least 18 years old and must remain alcohol and drug-free during the program.

Legacy also operates the Legacy Founders Cottage, a licensed, seven-room special-care facility for people living with AIDS in critical stages of their illness who require 24-hour supervised care.


Youth First Texas

Sam Wilkes

Youth First Texas is staffed by Director of Development and Administration Sam Wilkes. The YFT offices are located at 3918 Harry Hines Blvd. The phone number is 214-879-0400 or, toll-free, 866-547-5972. The center is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

YFT offers free counseling to LGBTQ youth ages 22 and younger through volunteer counselors. All counselors are licensed professionals or student interns working under the supervision of a licensed counselor. All legal and ethical guidelines are followed including confidentiality and keeping files. Youth under the age of 18 must have written consent from a parent or guardian before receiving individual counseling services.

Counselors address issues such as coming out, family and school issues, bullying, self-mutilation, depression, isolation, relationships and dating, gender identity and expression, and drug and alcohol abuse.

YFT offers three main groups, but these may be supplemented with other support groups as the need arises. The three support groups are Survivors, Gender Identity and Coming Out.

Survivors’ Group is a peer support group for youth who have suffered isolation, abuse or other trauma, offering them the opportunity to discuss things that are troubling them and receive feedback from peers in a safe space. This group is held on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Gender Identity Group is specific to youth dealing with issues related to gender identity and expression. The group is also open to youth who are curious about their gender-variant peers and gender issues in general. It is held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Coming Out Group deals with thoughts and feelings about sexuality. YFT periodically offers a four-week support group, providing an opportunity to share with a small group of peers about sexuality and coming out.

YFT also offers multiple educational programs throughout the year. Among these are book club, café cinema, GED tutoring, “Our Roots Are Showing,” Youth Defenders and GSA Network. The center also offers many recreational activities, such as Dallas PUMP!, Friday Night Kula Feast, Movie Camp, Open Mic Night, and the YFT Dance Group.

Throughout the year YFT participates in softball through the Pegasus SlowPitch Softball Association, volleyball through Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, concerts by the

Turtle Creek Chorale, theater performances by Uptown Players and other functions. YFT participants are also kept privy to queer-related opportunities such as performing at their annual fashion show Give E’m Heel and the Gayla Prom by Resource Center Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.


—  Kevin Thomas

Movie Monday: ‘Warrior’ in wide release

Here’s the beef

There are worse ways to spend two hours in a movie theater than watching hulking, half-naked man-meat wail on each other — in fact, it’s hard to imagine a better way. That’s at least part of the appeal of Warrior.

Set in the world of mixed martial arts, it’s a fiction film (it’s from Gavin O’Connor, the director of Miracle, about the real-life 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team) about two estranged brothers who face off for the ultimate glory: One (Joel Edgerton), a family man in financial straights, the other (Tom Hardy), a troubled Gulf War veteran with something to prove. If that sounds cliched, just try watching it.

No really, do — because, as predictable and manipulative as Warrior is, it’s also damned entertaining, in the way only the hokiest of sports movies can be. I grew up in a sports household, so have long held a soft spot for movies like Million Dollar Baby, Rocky III and The Fighter, all of which this resembles more than passingly.

Read the entire review here.

DEETS: Starring Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton. 139 minutes. PG-13. Three stars.

—  Rich Lopez

Starvoice • 05.27.11

By Jack Fertig


Heidi Klum turns 38 on Wednesday. The model turned TV host and producer changed the way we look at the fashion world with her very popular Project Runway. Because of the show, some gay designers have gone to be stars of their own like Austin Scarlett, Santino Rice and season four winner Christian Siriano. A Runway all-stars is apparently in the works.



Mercury squaring Neptune in Pisces while entering Gemini inflates wonderfully imaginative notions. Jupiter entering Taurus could ground them and find profitable applications. Jupiter in Taurus for the next year should_ be good for the economy. It will be good for bankers at least.


GEMINI May 21-Jun 20
Get creative. You have big challenges in the next year. Your intuition is now unusually sharp to see how you can turn those into opportunities. Spiritual guidance can be especially helpful now.

CANCER Jun 21-Jul 22
Dreams lure you too easily into never-never-lands of fantasy and escape. Sharing some of those phantasmagorical reveries with friends can help you find some practical outlet for them.

LEO Jul 23-Aug 22
Remember the difference between dreams and goals. Friends encouraging you to chase after your dreams offer helpful inspiration, but don’t let them distract you from practical aims.

VIRGO Aug 23-Sep 22
Your brain is buzzing with schemes for success. Your partner encourages all your wildest ideas. Not. You need a leveler head with a bit of critical distance to give you pragmatic advice.

LIBRA Sep 23-Oct 22
Expansive, fortunate Jupiter is starting a year in your house of sex. The deeper you go the greater the rewards. Don’t be shy. Neither is without risks, but Jupiter is good to have on your side.

SCORPIO Oct 23-Nov 21
You and your sweetie are due for some frolic. That could open up some questions and confusion. Keeping communications clear is a small challenge. The rewards are well worth it.

Job opportunities open up for you. Have faith in yourself. If familial encouragement is unrealistic, don’t worry about letting them down for what’s in the real world. If you’re happy, they are too.

CAPRICORN Dec 21-Jan 19
You’re way too open to distractions and thus, accidents. Mediation, poetry, music or art will get you back in balance. Take classes in any of those . You need new ways of seeing the world.

AQUARIUS Jan 20-Feb 18
Struggle between your deepest desires and economic necessity feels brutal. A light, playful conversation with your partner  can help you find a way to afford your dreams, or find reconciliation.

PISCES Feb 19-Mar 19
Whatever you have to offer, make it heard and known. Your family will back you up in your endeavors, but you really need to be very clear on who you are and what it is you’ve got.
ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Your recent lucky spree will focus more on financial fortune. Mad dreams and inspirations offer some clues. Talk out your crazy notions with friends and find a way to bring them to the bank.

TAURUS Apr 20-May 20
Recent hard times turn around. Cash in on your good fortune. Turn your friends’ suggestions into practical ideas. Inspirations now point the way to future fulfillment of your dreams.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 27, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Between Floating and Leeching: The Financial Struggle of the LGBT Activist

NOTE FROM PAM: I have comments about this topic below the fold.

Crossposted on ZackFord blogs

This is a post about making sausage. If you are in any way involved in queer activism, I hope you'll at least give it some thought.

Let's say you want to dedicate a certain portion of your life to supporting LGBT equality. You have a number of options. The most common option, I expect, would be that individuals volunteer. They sing in a gay men's chorus, they spend some time volunteering in their LGBT community center, they help organize Pride festivals or other events, etc. These are individuals who are sustaining themselves financially through jobs not related to LGBT work who find extra time to help the movement.

For others, the priority might be higher. Some might be eager and ready to dedicate their whole lives to LGBT work. They look for jobs in LGBT campus centers (like I am), or go work for organizations in the movement like HRC or NGLTF, or find other ways locally to devote themselves. Some might even be full-time activists who are financially supported for the work they do blogging, speaking, or organizing direct action. (I doubt there are many examples of people who can support themselves as full-time bloggers; certainly only the most-trafficked would be capable of doing so.)

So that raises the question: Should people get paid for LGBT work? A student by the name of Nonnie Ouch at Texas Tech doesn't think so, and wrote a letter lambasting Lt. Dan Choi for charging too much for his speaking engagements:


However, I’ve lost all respect for you as a gay- and human-rights activist. In the course of my two short years as an activist in the communities I have lived in, I have met amazing people such as Irene Andrews, C.d. Kirven and Michael Robinson, who travel from city to city, state to state with their own money and ask NOTHING from those who request their speaking services. These people, like myself, live, breath and eat queer activism. They live to inspire others. They live to show the compassion of love to others. They have not lost sight of what is truly important here: equality for all.

You, sir, have lost sight in one of those many ,000 checks written to you, of why you came out and became an activist in the first place. Remember, Lt. Choi? LOVE IS WORTH IT. LOVE is worth cutting a deal to poor college kids in an extremely conservative city who’s only desire is to make headway in their community. LOVE is worth sacrificing money to give my friends and others who are currently serving in silence the hope to remember they are worth it. Love isn’t made by money. Love isn’t made by your agent, Alec Melman. Love isn’t tangible when you’re suffocated by greed as you are. Love is constantly flowing through the heart and brain. Love is giving. Love isn’t defined by financial status, color, gender, creed, age or sexual orientation.

Now, I cannot speak to Nonnie's experience trying to book Dan nor the treatment received from Dan's agent. Nonetheless, I'm going to say here that I think Nonnie's comments are out of line and ignore the reality of our movement.

Where there is money in our movement, it is concentrated. Joe Solmonese can wear his fancy suits and host his posh cocktail parties while others are doing their best with grassroots activism and direct action that is essentially unfunded. Joe can afford to take time from his work duties to travel while other activists are taking time off for their activism. I think a lot of folks fall somewhere in the middle.

Gays aren't rich. We don't all have posh lofts in NYC >a la Will Truman. A lot of us are scraping by. There is a limit to how much we can do before we need to get paid if we're going to do anymore. Certainly, there are "professional volunteers" doing as much as—if not more than—many who are gay for pay. They can afford to.

Nonnie mentions people who travel "with their own money." Where does that money come from? It seems to me there is an incredible assumption of socioeconomic privilege in that statement. There's just this expectation that people should have money (from where?) and all the activism should be on them.

Well, that's not realistic. Some people make their living on the speaker circuit. Some work for the movement and depend upon it for their livelihood. And like it or not, the stereotype that the gay community is well off permeates within the community as well. In many ways, the vision we have of a worthwhile activist is someone who can afford to take the time and can still look good doing the work.

Now, there is a lot we don't know about this story. We don't know if Dan has any other source of income. We don't know how Dan plans to use the money. We don't know what constraints the agent has put on the booking. I think it is safe to say that Dan's goal is not to focus on speaking. Maybe he doesn't want to speak much and the agent thinks because of his "celebrity" status that ,000 is what schools ought to pay to bring in Dan. We're not privy to those details, but I think the ambiguity about it all speaks to the rashness of Nonnie's letter.

Dan is just a person, like the rest of us. He sacrificed his career to further our movement, and surely he brought a lot of positive attention to the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell in a way no one ever really has. I would go so far as to say we owe him, particularly considering he has continued to work on our behalf. He's not getting a military paycheck anymore; we know that much.

I'm willing to give Dan the benefit of the doubt. Is his cost to speak high? Yes. But it is what it is. It's not like Dan is living the high and glamorous life of the HRC execs. As far as I know, he's just trying to get by. Is every school going to be able to afford to bring him? Maybe not. But plenty have, and I was lucky enough to see one of those engagements. They build coalitions on campus, work with neighboring campuses, and they make it work.

I'm sorry it didn't work out at Texas Tech, but is Dan to blame? I don't think so. I'm sure Nonnie feels disappointed that the efforts to bring Dan were in vain, and maybe there was disrespect on the agent's part. It's not inconceivable. But Dan is a big celebrity right now. There are a ton of great people who are local or less A-list that could have easily been just as powerful and inspiring to the campus community. It's not Dan's fault that Dan is doing what Dan needs to do for Dan. Even if Dan's cost or his agent's dealings are out of line, Dan is human and can learn and grow. It is out of line to suggest that something this inane compromises all of his previous and continued activism.

If anything, Nonnie's comments perhaps speak to a sense of entitlement, suggesting Dan hasn't done enough and he now needs to give even more for the Texas Tech community. This just does not seem fair to what Dan has already done for us.

We have to get to a point where we appreciate the need for balance. There are those in the movement who depend on the movement's support just to keep afloat while others leech more than they need. Ultimately, I think it's more important that we measure activists by what they accomplish and what they give. If they're taking more than they've earned, that's one thing. But it's not Lt. Dan Choi.

Thoughts from Pam: I’d like to thank Zack for this diary. It’s a measured approach to a thorny topic in the community, with Dan just being the stand-in for “Activist Person X” at this moment and time. I wanted to add my two cents to the post on the topic.

Zack gets to core of the the problem with our community (and the larger progressive community) with this statement:

Nonnie mentions people who travel “with their own money.” Where does that money come from? It seems to me there is an incredible assumption of socioeconomic privilege in that statement. There’s just this expectation that people should have money (from where?) and all the activism should be on them.

Why are activists expected to take vows of poverty in this equality movement? Actually, that’s not a correct statement — there are a significant number of people who do earn a nice living in what can be described as a spectrum of activism — and many others who are already wealthy who participate through donations and/or sitting on boards. And many luminaries in our movement work for a pittance; retirement is not an option.

But as I’ve described many times here on the Blend (and on panel discussions about monetization of blogs), these assumptions by people like Nonnie are quite common.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked to speak or serve on a panel and I’m expected to do it on my own time and dime. Think about it, clearly someone or some entity thinks my presence is valuable in some way or I wouldn’t be invited at all.

At this point in time in the success of PHB, it’s not uncommon that I’m featured as the “name” panelist or serving as a proxy for “the new media person” or “the LGBT person” or sadly, still “the black blogger person.” They hit multiple demographics with one shot; I’m not stupid.

I think the expectation of a “free ride” on the financial backs of activists in our community is sometimes just a matter of not thinking much about it. But back to the sorry “travel with their own money” issue.

Based on my personal experience only, these are assumptions I’ve seen.

1. I blog full-time as my job. Well, PHB is a full-time blog, but I have a full-time day job unrelated to LGBT activism (at Duke University Press; I am not getting rich in academic publishing).

2. I am readily available. That is, to appear somewhere to speak, liveblog, consult, blog breaking news, whatever. Um, no. See number 1. If I’m at work 5 days a week, with roughly 3 weeks off a year, that means I’m not available most of the time. I have to use paid time off most of the time to do blog-related things.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t have any more paid time off because I used almost all of it on blog travel; in order to go to Netroots Nation, take that long-needed Maine vacation, and now to go this week to BlogHer, I am going in the hole, docked for taking 3 weeks off.

3. I am making tons of money on ads. Some orgs and people get that I have to work a day job to subsidize my work on PHB, but assume that the ad revenue is just rolling in. Well, PHB does well enough to fund travel and lodging for engagements that I (or a barista) really want to attend. And btw, that’s without any honorarium even when travel is covered (more on that later). PHB doesn’t run beefcake or porn ads (which would boost revenue tremendously), so that’s a choice that has reduced potential revenue streams.

Also, PHB is sending three people to Southern Comfort this year. That was a decision made early on because it is an event rarely given sufficient coverage by the LGBT media. It’s an expensive conference, from registration to travel and lodging and a big chunk out of the revenue for the year. Autumn is moderating a panel, so one registration fee was waived. Otherwise, it’s all coming out of the Blend’s ad revenue. I’m ok with this, but it does mean we’re selective about which conferences. All of the baristas here spend money out of their own pockets as well.

In the end, even if we were rolling in ad revenue or supported otherwise, it won’t create more TIME for activism as long as one needs a full-time primary job.

4. That “someone should fund” PHB. If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this statement. That’s at least an acknowledgment that the work here at PHB is valuable in some way. Yes, that would be nice, but no entity has offered to do so, lol. There are a few major problems with this.

* Editorial control. I’m not willing to give that up.

* Grant-based/time limited funding. I’m not willing to give up a stable day job with great health insurance for that level of risk (particularly with my pre-existing conditions).

* Relocating. Part of the reason PHB has flourished is because I’m not based in DC, NY, LA, etc. I’m living in a place where the reality of legal inequality bites hard, and I’ve encountered many an activist from Blue states with significantly more rights who has forgotten what it’s like to live where legal oppression at all levels is a reality. I don’t want to be assimilated into Beltway culture, for example. It’s toxic, cutthroat and professionally incestuous. Besides, I know if Kate and I sold our 3BR/2BA house and had to move to NY or DC, we’d end up in a cramped studio with our two dogs. The cost of living is that different.

So the problems are partially self-imposed; the question is, are those terms I’ve set reasonable or not? Am I being “selfish” for not risking any more of myself for the movement? It is an interesting conversation to have, and I’m up for it.

5. Honoraria. This seems to be the real sticking point in discussions about the “value” of LGBT activism as a full-time endeavor. What is an activist’s time worth, and what value does the community hold in this person’s contribution to the movement? It’s all relative. Do a Google search for speakers bureaus, and you’ll see a wide range of prices for folks on those rosters.

I was pretty floored a month or two ago to be asked to speak at a university and was offered an honorarium for the first time. Yes, that’s right, after six years writing at PHB my first paid engagement (the event hasn’t occurred yet; I don’t have an agent, btw). And it wasn’t anywhere near Dan Choi’s fee, which is appropriate given his level of celebrity and personal sacrifice compared to mine.

So is it evil to take the honorarium? It sounds like for some in our movement, it is a problematic situation – as if the funds are affording a high life or doesn’t get rolled back into more activism. I’m not sure why this generates more public criticism than someone joining a consulting firm or think tank that frees them to be able to speak, write or continue their chosen form of activism. Well, I could be wrong about that one — that would probably cause a piety eruption as well.

Perhaps the problem is a class issue as well – what is perceived as “getting rich” by one person is “just getting by” by another.

It’s all a matter of perspective, but I think the discussion itself is healthy, and commenter ebohlman’s points from Kos’s Crashing the Gates are salient about lowball LGBT activism:

[I]f progressive organizations don’t offer career-level jobs, then all the work is going to be done by:

1) Idealistic young people. The problem here is that by the time they gain enough experience to be really useful, they’re reaching a point in their lives where a “roommates and ramen” lifestyle is no longer tolerable, so they quit.

2) Trust-fund kids. They can be fickle, often bring distorted perspectives, and want to work on pet issues that may not really align with the organization’s priorities.

3) Eccentrics who have difficulty working with other people. Again, there’s the problem of pet issues as well as the inability to engage with the public.

Successful progressive organizations are always going to have some people in those categories, but it’s hard to be successful when nearly all your people are in them.

So what we need is a frank conversation about whether our movement is best served with the above model or not, and whether there is an ethical problem with burning out and cycling through people “for the cause.” Is there a middle ground we can all agree on, or is the class bridge so raggedy that no one wants to stand on it to discuss the issues and able to feel safe?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright

Dallas could elect 1st gay judge

Judicial candidates John Loza, Tonya Parker among 4 LGBTs running in local races in 2010

By John Wright | News Editor
IN THE RUNNING | Dallas County District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons, clockwise from top left, County Judge Jim Foster, attorney Tonya Parker and former Councilman John Loza are LGBT candidates who plan to run in Dallas County elections in 2010. The filing period ends Jan. 4.

Dallas County has had its share of openly gay elected officials, from Sheriff Lupe Valdez to District Clerk Gary Fitzsimmons to County Judge Jim Foster.
But while Foster, who chairs the Commissioners Court, is called a “judge,” he’s not a member of the judiciary, to which the county’s voters have never elected an out LGBT person.

Two Democrats running in 2010 — John Loza and Tonya Parker — are hoping to change that.

“This is the first election cycle that I can remember where we’ve had openly gay candidates for the judiciary,” said Loza, a former Dallas City Councilman who’s been involved in local LGBT politics for decades. “It’s probably long overdue, to be honest with you.”

Dallas County’s Jerry Birdwell became the first openly gay judge in Texas when he was appointed by Gov. Ann Richards in 1992. But after coming under attack for his sexual orientation by the local Republican Party, Birdwell, a Democrat, lost his bid for re-election later that year.

Also in the November 1992 election, Democrat Barbara Rosenberg defeated anti-gay Republican Judge Jack Hampton.

But Rosenberg, who’s a lesbian, wasn’t out at the time and didn’t run as an openly LGBT candidate.

Loza, who’s been practicing criminal law in Dallas for the last 20 years, is running for the County Criminal Court No. 5 seat. Incumbent Tom Fuller is retiring. Loza said he expects to face three other Democrats in the March primary, meaning a runoff is likely. In addition to groups like Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, he said he’ll seek an endorsement from the Washington, D.C.-based Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, which provides financial backing to LGBT candidates nationwide.

Parker, who’s running for the 116th Civil District Court seat, declined to be interviewed for this story. Incumbent Bruce Priddy isn’t expected to seek re-election, and Parker appears to be the favorite for the Democratic nomination.

If she wins in November, Parker would become the first LGBT African-American elected official in Dallas County.

Loza and Parker are among four known local LGBT candidates in 2010.
They join fellow Democrats Fitzsimmons and Foster, who are each seeking a second four-year term.

While Foster is vulnerable and faces two strong challengers in the primary, Fitzsimmons is extremely popular and said he’s confident he’ll be re-elected.

“I think pretty much everybody knows that the District Clerk’s Office is probably the best-run office in Dallas County government,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think this county is a Democratic County, and I think I’ve proved myself to be an outstanding county administrator, and I think the people will see that.”

Randall Terrell, political director for Equality Texas, said this week he wasn’t aware of any openly LGBT candidates who’ve filed to run in state races in 2010.

Although Texas made headlines recently for electing the nation’s first gay big-city mayor, the state remains one of 20 that lack an out legislator.

Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Victory Fund, said he’s hoping Annise Parker’s victory in Houston last week will inspire more qualified LGBT people to run for office.

“It gives other people permission really to think of themselves as leaders,” Dison said.

The filing period for March primaries ends Jan. 4.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 18, 2009.
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—  admin