Gay FWISD Trustee Carlos Vasquez responds to DV story, attacks Burns

PIONEERING PAIR  |  Carlos Vasquez became only the second openly gay elected official in Tarrant County history when he joined the Fort Worth school board in 2008. Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns was the first.  (Andrea Grimes/Dallas Voice)

Carlos Vasquez

In today’s print edition we reported that openly gay Fort Worth school board member Carlos Vasquez faces opposition within the LGBT community in his bid for re-election to the District 1 seat. It’s not the first time Vasquez, who challenged staunch LGBT ally and Stonewall Democrats founder Lon Burnam for his state House seat last year, has butted heads with the gay establishment in Cowtown.

Openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns has not formally endorsed Vasquez’s opponent, political newcomer Jacinto Ramos Jr. However, in our story, Burns called Ramos an “up and coming star and Hispanic leader in our community.” Ramos, meanwhile, said of Vasquez: “I just don’t feel we have the quality of leadership in my district that advocates for all backgrounds.”

We’ve tried repeatedly to contact Vasquez — whom we profiled in a cover story in July 2011 — for comment over the last two weeks, but he didn’t return our calls. Now, though, he has posted a comment below the story suggesting that we didn’t really try to contact him — and attacking Burns. Vasquez says Burns’ husband (a word he strangely puts in quotes), J.D. Angle, is running Ramos’ campaign and accuses the couple of recruiting Ramos to run against him. He concludes by saying, “So Joel don’t worry I am not trying to take your ‘FW Queen’ status! I am just a ‘Bear!’”

You can read Vasquez’s full comment by going here, but we’ve also reposted it below.

—  John Wright

Marriage equality rallies planned across TX before high court takes up issue

Rallypic

Several marriage equality rallies will take place in Texas next week before the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the Proposition 8 and Defense of Marriage Act.

The court will hear arguments March 26 and 27, and events across the country have been planned for the beginning of the week in what’s being called the “United For Marriage: Light the way to Justice” campaign.

Cowtowns’s LGBT community will gather bright and early at the Rainbow Lounge — on March 25 beginning at 6 a.m. — for a rally to celebrate the arguments and Fort Worth state Rep. Lon Burnam’s HB 1300, which calls for marriage equality after the state’s marriage amendment is repealed. The rally is scheduled to last until noon.

Dallas’ GetEQUAL TX rally is at the Legacy of Love monument that night, starting at 7 p.m. And in Denton, a 6 p.m. rally will be at the Denton Courthouse Square, 110 W. Hickory St. in Denton, on Monday.

In Waco on Monday night, a marriage equality forum will take place instead of a rally. Planned by the social action team at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Waco, it begins at 6:30 p.m. and will feature speakers and same-sex couples sharing disparities they face because they are same-sex couples.

Rallies have been planned for Tuesday in Houston at City Hall at 7 p.m. and in Austin at the state Capitol at 7 p.m. And San Antonio LGBT advocates will meet at Milam Park at 7:30 p.m. that night to demonstrate a need for marriage equality.

To view events nationwide, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

FW Councilman Joel Burns, hubby J.D. Angle celebrate 20th anniversary

JoelandJD

Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns sends along word that he and his husband, J.D. Angle, are celebrating their 20th anniversary today. Burns, who is running unopposed for a fourth term in May, posted the above photo from the couple’s wedding day on March 20, 1993.

“Twenty years ago, on the first day of Spring 1993, on a West Texas hilltop, under a gorgeous pink and purple and orange sunset, and among a dozen head of black Angus cattle who thought we were feed, I asked J.D. Angle to spend the rest of his life with me,” Burns wrote. “Fortunately for me, he said ‘yes.’ It’s been an amazing 20 years, J.D. I look forward to the next 20 with you, and then some …”

Congratulations, Joel and J.D, and thank you both for being living proof that it just keeps getting better.

—  John Wright

Despite passing, Cliburn piano competition goes on

Van Cliburn - pianist  1960Van Cliburn the man may be gone, but the competition named in his honor continues, as evidenced this morning by the release of the 30 competitors slated to appear at the 14th annual piano competition. Ranging in age from 19 to 30, they represent countries from China to Poland.

The event will take place over two weeks from May 24 to June 9 at Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth. For more information, visit Cliburn.org.

Read the full list after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Anti-gay preacher arrested at Tarrant Pride awaits trial date, can’t leave area

A protester from Joey Faust’s Kingdom Baptist Church holds a sign near the Tarrant County Courthouse during gay Pride.

Christian News Network is reporting that Joey Faust, a preacher from the town of Venus south of Fort Worth who was arrested at the Tarrant County Pride Parade, is still awaiting a trial date. As a condition for his bail, Faust must report to his bondsman once a week to let him know he hasn’t skipped town.

Faust was arrested with a member of his church when he tried to enter the street during the parade. Police were watching for him because in 2011 he entered the street during the parade and reached into Mayor Betsy Price’s car. Price was grand marshal that year.

Faust, pastor of Kingdom Baptist Church, was charged with interfering with police duties and told Christian News he was held for 20 hours and released on $1,500 bail. He faces up to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine.

“They did everything they could to make it as miserable and as difficult as possible,” Faust told Christian News Network. He said everyone else was being released faster than they were.

Faust’s defense seems to be that others were allowed to cross the street, while he and his small band of protesters were forced to stay on the sidewalk.

Faust told Christian News he asked police why only those opposed to homosexuality were restricted.

Police told him they were separating them for safety reasons.

—  David Taffet

WATCH: Fort Worth teen suspended for anti-gay comments films NOM video

Dakota Ary

Dakota Ary, the Fort Worth teen who was suspended last year after he made anti-gay comments in class, is featured in a new video from the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage.

Ary was suspended after gay teacher Kris Franks sent him to the principal’s office for making anti-gay comments, which Franks said were part of ongoing anti-gay bullying from Ary.

Ary’s mom later hired Liberty Counsel lawyer Matt Krause — now the Republican nominee for Texas House District 93 — and the suspension was lifted. Franks was suspended for unrelated behavior, but the charges were later dropped.

Ary speaks about the incident in a NOM Marriage Anti-Defamation Alliance video, where he talks about how his freedom of speech was violated and he encourages other people to speak up for what they believe in.

Ary’s mom is also in the video and talks about how parents should empower their children to stand up for their beliefs. She said Ary was targeted and called hateful names after his story made national headlines.

“Dakota is not a bigot. He is not someone who hates gay people,” she says in the video. “He’s not a hater in any way. And of all these organizations and companies that promote gay marriage and so on and so forth, for them to come back at him as a child is just ridiculous. I’m extremely proud of the fact that he did stand up for himself.”

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Bartender suffers fractured eye socket in attack outside Rainbow Lounge

Adam Granados

A bartender at the Rainbow Lounge said he was attacked in the parking lot of the Fort Worth gay bar early Monday.

Adam Granados said he’d just gotten off work and was in the parking lot at about 1:15 a.m. when he was attacked from behind.

“Someone hit me in the back of the head and knocked me down,” Granados said. “When I got up, he hit me in the face.”

Granados, who suffered severe cuts and a hairline fracture to his eye socket, said he doesn’t know if the incident was a hate crime, a simple assault or an attempted robbery. He doesn’t remember the assailant saying anything. Since the attack occurred at the end of Fort Worth’s gay Pride weekend, and he was wearing a Pride T-shirt outside a gay bar, he said he may have been targeted for his sexual orientation.

Fort Worth police spokeswoman Sharon Neal said the incident isn’t being investigated as a hate crime because no epithets were spoken and no evidence such as spray-painted slurs was left, although she said hate may have been the motive. No suspects or witnesses have come forward.

On Saturday, two protesters were arrested at the Pride parade in downtown Fort Worth. No other incidents related to Pride were reported.

Granados said the attacker tried to grab his phone but didn’t get it. He doesn’t know whether the suspect was trying to steal the phone or prevent him from calling for help. The attacker fled by car as Granados made it back inside the bar.

Someone in the Rainbow Lounge called 911. Granados filed a police report and was taken to John Peter Smith Hospital.

A CT scan revealed a hairline fracture under his eye socket. He needed two stitches on the corner of his eye and three under his eye. He also suffered scrapes and bruises. Today, he said, he has been able to open his eye slightly.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Fort Worth Police Department at 817-335-4222.

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: 2 anti-gay protesters arrested at Fort Worth Pride parade

Anti-gay protesters, above and below, at Saturday’s gay Pride parade in Fort Worth.

Fort Worth police arrested two anti-gay protesters at Saturday’s gay Pride parade downtown. (Read our full story about the parade here.)

The arrested protesters are members of Kingdom Baptist Church in Johnson County, which has regularly staged anti-gay demonstrations in North Texas over the last few years.

Joey Faust, 46, and Ramon Marroquin, 33, were charged with interfering with public duties, a class-B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Faust is the pastor for Kingdom Baptist Church.

Joey Faust

According to a statement from Fort Worth police, officers encountered a group from Kingdom Baptist Church at about 12:50 p.m. The officers “maintained separation of the protesters from the parade participants to ensure public safety and to prevent a breach of the peace.”

Last year, several members of Kingdom Baptist Church were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for harassing parade attendees, and this year police announced they would increase their presence at the event.

A right-wing blog called The Trumpet Online was the first to report the arrests Saturday, under the headline, “Pastor Joey Faust Arrested at Sodomite Parade”:

These Christians stood at the entrance of the parade route rebuking floats and banners from corporations such as Lockheed Martin, and Chase Morgan, from bars such as Fort Worth’s infamous Rainbow Lounge, and it grieves me to say, from “Churches” blaspheming the name of God by walking in this mess. Once all the floats passed by, these Christians walked the parade route with banners of the Lord held high and preaching the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ alone. Approximately 2/3 along the route these Christians were met by approximately 12-15 police officers who allowed people to pass that were not with the preachers but stood in the way of the preachers. As preachers would attempt to walk around these officers, the officers would move to block the way. For causes not yet known to us, they chose to arrest Pastor Joey as well as brother Ramon. We have not ascertained what they have been charged with nor do we know when they will be released.

On a positive note, those who attended Fort Worth’s Pride parade included European LGBT rights activists who were visiting Texas on an international trip. The activists marched in the parade with the local group Students, Administrators, Volunteers, Educators Support, or S.A.V.E.S, to demonstrate solidarity with gays in Belgrade, Serbia, where gay Pride is banned. Check out a photo of the activists and read their full press release after the jump.

—  John Wright

SLIDESHOW: Fort Worth Pride parade is city’s largest

CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM TARRANT PRIDE

 

Participants say parade, in 2nd year on Main Street, presents positive image of LGBT community

LOGAN CARVER  |  Contributing Writer

FORT WORTH — Perry Anable wiped tears from his eyes Saturday as he watched throngs of gays, lesbians, allies and passersby mingle on Main Street in Fort Worth after the largest gay Pride parade in the city’s history.

Anable, brother of the late activist Thomas Anable — who was named grand marshal before his August death and who was honored during the parade with a riderless car — said the large turnout showed that gay people finally have a voice in the city of Fort Worth and are no longer afraid to live their lives openly.

Thomas Anable helped formed Fairness Fort Worth after the Rainbow Lounge raid and was instrumental in the parade’s move from Jennings Street to Downtown.

“That’s what I believe I fought for is this right here,” said Perry Anable, a Vietnam veteran. “Whether you agree with the choice isn’t important; it’s that you have the freedom to choose, and that’s what this is about.”

The first bite of autumn couldn’t chill the spirits of parade-goers as floats made their way from the Tarrant County Courthouse to the Fort Worth Convention Center.

And while there was no shortage of shirtless dancers gyrating to thumping bass, the Fort Worth parade was markedly different than its Dallas cousin.

If Dallas Pride is your flashiest pair of pumps, Fort Worth Pride is your favorite pair of Tom’s. It doesn’t have the glitz and the glamour, but it exudes a feeling of community that doesn’t go unnoticed.

The Fort Worth parade was started 31 years ago by a drag queen who wanted a place for gays to congregate that wasn’t between the four walls of a bar, said parade director Tina Harvey.

For nearly three decades, the parade took place on Jennings Street — celebrating gay Pride in front of nothing but bars, dilapidated storefronts and homeless people. Last year, with the help of Thomas Anable, the parade moved to downtown and marked a new era in the Fort Worth LGBT community.

Harvey said it gives credibility to people who have been treated as second-class citizens their entire lives; and the Main Street presence helps break down stereotypes.

“Other people can see our event going on and see ‘hey, they’re just a loving, tight-knit community and having a great time and this is a great thing,’” Harvey said. “If we’re down on Jennings, nobody comes except the gay community.”

Dana Curtis has participated in both the Dallas and Fort Worth parades and said the Fort Worth celebration is more personal.

“Everybody is on the same team in Fort Worth,” she said.

And for her, being able to ride a float down Main Street is liberating after years of oppression.

“(It’s an) absolute victory for those of us who have been marginalized for so long,” Curtis said. “We haven’t had a voice. Now we do.”

Craig McNeil, who marched with QCinema, said the parade’s downtown location — away from the bar district — makes families feel more comfortable.

“It’s good for them to see there aren’t naked people running around,” McNeil said. “It really is a great community event, and I think that’s great.”

On Saturday, the streets along the parade route were lined with elderly couples — gay and straight, families with children and allies who simply wanted to support equality in their community.

Sheldon Berry twirled a baton with the Fort Worth Pride Steppers and said it was important for non-gays in the city to see gay people who weren’t running around getting drunk.

“It’s not all like you see in the movies,” Berry said. “I just try to represent something really good and positive.”

Apparently Berry’s message was well received.

Kim Mixson was in town for a wedding, staying at a downtown hotel, and heard about the parade. She wore beads around her neck as she watched the floats roll down Main Street.

“I love it. I think it’s great. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it,” Mixson said. “People are people and to each their own.”

Rachel Tillay is a seminary student at Southern Methodist University and went to the Fort Worth parade to show support for the LGBT community and to serve as a counter balance to any anti-gay protestors.

To Tillay, anyone who claims to be Christian and uses scripture to support his or her hate speech doesn’t understand the Bible. She said the verses they take out of context and use to condemn homosexuality actually condemn a lack of hospitality, and when placed in the correct context have nothing to do with same-sex love.

“I’ve learned from my studies that we really need to be pro-gay if we want to be Christians,” Tillay said.

As expected, there were some purportedly Christian protestors quoting cherry-picked Bible verses in their vitriolic diatribe, but the Fort Worth Police Department kept them from interfering with parade viewers and participants and even straight people saw them as misguided afterthoughts.

“I think they should spend their time doing other positive things in the community instead of being out here worrying about how other people live,” said LeAnne Koonsman, who came to support the LGBT people she works with.

Fort Worth police said Monday that two anti-gay protesters were arrested. The arrested protesters are members of Kingdom Baptist Church in Johnson County, which has regularly staged anti-gay demonstrations in North Texas over the last few years. Joey Faust, 46, and Ramon Marroquin, 33, were charged with interfering with public duties, a class-B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Faust is the pastor for Kingdom Baptist Church.

After the parade and the ensuing street festival, Harvey said this year’s event was a huge success.

“It was a beautiful day of celebration on Main Street,” she said.

—  John Wright

Mary Gonzalez to speak at Fort Worth Latino voter symposium Saturday

Just because queer state representative-elect Mary Gonzalez doesn’t have an opponent in November, doesn’t mean she’s not staying busy.

Gonzalez, who came out as pansexual in today’s edition of Dallas Voice, has recently accepted the role of Latino outreach coordinator for the Texas Democratic Party. The job will include planning events like Saturday’s Latino Voter Engagement Symposium in Fort Worth in an effort to help Latino voters get engaged in politics.

“The numbers are there so if we encourage more Latino voters to vote, then we could win more Democratic races,” Gonzalez said.

Saturday’s event is planned in conjunction with state Democratic Executive Committee meeting, but Gonzalez said the response has been so positive that she’s in the process of planning more symposiums in San Antonio, Houston and El Paso in the next few months.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa will give a welcome Saturday, followed by the Democratic strategist and MSNBC contributor Chuck Rocha for the keynote. Attendees will also hear from state Rep. Armando Walle on how to motivate the Latino community, and Gonzalez will also speak at the event.

The event is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Hilton Hotel, at 815 Main Street in Fort Worth. About 100 people are expected to attend the event. There is no registration or fee to attend.

For questions or more information, contact Gonzalez via email at mgonzalez@txdemocrats.org or call 512-478-9800.

—  Anna Waugh