Dallas Diablos vs. DFW Sisters in kickball for charity

Angels vs. Demons

What do the rough-and-tumble Diablos and the ever-so-spiritual Sisters have in common? The Diablos, who play one of the roughest team sports, compete in the not-gay Texas Rugby Union and participate in the International Gay Rugby Association. Part of their mission is to forge friendships and celebrate differences.

And nothing in Dallas could be more different than The DFW Sisters, a mission of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. But that group is also dedicated to respecting diversity. And both groups include fundraising for community organizations as part of their core mission.

So what else could the Diablos do but accept the challenge when The Sisters invited them to play a game of kickball for charity?

“What a fun and zany way to raise money for Legacy,” said Legacy Executive Director Melissa Grove. “I applaud their ability to create a new and fresh event. I’ve been doing this a long time and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this.”

DEETS: Kickball at Field No. 1, Glencoe Park, 5300 Martel Ave. Sept. 11 at 2 p.m. $5.

—  Rich Lopez

FFW, Fort Worth HRC win IAOHRA President’s Award

Anable, Tucker say honor is recognition of Fort Worth’s ongoing efforts to improve city’s position, policies on human rights issues

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

AUSTIN — The International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies this week presented its President’s Award jointly to Fairness Fort Worth and the city of Fort Worth’s Human Relations Commission.

The award presentation occurred during the IAOHRA’s annual conference held the first part of this week in Austin.

“It was totally unexpected, at least from our standpoint,” said Tom Anable, Fairness Fort Worth president. “I had no idea that this was happening.

“They lured me down here [to Austin] by asking me to speak as part of a panel on Tuesday. When the panel was done and I was getting ready to leave, they asked me to stay for the dinner that night” when the award was presented.

Anable said that he believes the award will help the city of Fort Worth in terms of economic development and in being recognized as a city that cares about its citizens.
He added that he hopes it will encourage “other agencies in stepping up and doing the right thing.”

Anable also said he “couldn’t be more pleased” that the IAOHRA gave the award to the FFW and the city Human Relations Commission jointly.

“It shows that they recognize how well we work together to solve our problems in Fort Worth,” he said. “And this is a huge coup for the city. They have done a great job in addressing the problems.”

Human Relations Commission Chair Estrus Tucker said his agency is “deeply honored” to have received the IAOHRA President’s Award.

“This award is a testament to the invaluable role of organizational allies and friendships beyond identity politics in advancing civil and human rights,” Tucker said.

“Together, our efforts, in collaboration with others, demonstrate the importance of championing our common human well being, despite the socio-political identity labels that too often divide and confuse us.”

Anable and Tucker said FFW and the Human Relations Commission received the award in recognition of their efforts in the wake of the June, 2009 raid on the gay bar Rainbow Lounge by Fort Worth Police officers and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

Within a week of the raid, Fairness Fort Worth was formed, initially to help organize efforts by FWPD and TABC investigators to interview witnesses to the raid.

By the beginning of 2010, FFW had incorporated and has gone on to become an umbrella organization of sorts that helps coordinate LGBT rights efforts and events among other organizations and governmental agencies.

The Human Relations Commission took an early leadership role in prompting FWPD and TABC to investigate the actions of those officers and agents involved in the role, and in prompting the city government to respond quickly and appropriately.

The City Council quickly established a Diversity Task Force — which included several members of Fairness Fort Worth and the Human Relations Commission — to examine areas in which the city could improve its relationship with the Fort Worth LGBT community. The council eventually approved all of the task force’s recommendations except one involving expanding health benefits for transgender employees.

That one item has been tabled pending ongoing investigation into possible costs. But the council did quickly approve changes to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to include protections based on gender identity and gender expression, and the council approved domestic partner benefits.

The council also agreed to expanding diversity training to cover more LGBT issues, and to have every city employee take the training.

“By Sept. 15 this year, we should be at the 50 percent mark in terms of the number of city employees who have been through the diversity training,” Anable said this week. “I think that shows the city’s continuing commitment to this issue.”

Tucker agreed, saying, “Our continued efforts and this award, in part, transform the pain and injustices of the Rainbow Lounge incident.”

Tucker, chair of the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission for about 10 years, has also been an IOHRA member for about 10 years. He was elected to the board last year to serve the remainder of the unexpired term of Vanessa Ruiz Bolling, former executive director of Fort Worth’s Community Relations Department.

This week, Tucker was re-elected to a full term on the board.

IAOHRA is a private, non-profit corporation founded in 1949 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. With a membership of about 160 human rights agencies in the U.S. and Canada, the organization’sprimary focus is to promote civil and human rights around the world.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Boy-on-girl action

Two of Sundance Channel’s stars of a new queer reality show open up about girl-boy friendships — and how they hate the term ‘fag hag’

STEVEN LINDSEY  | stevencraiglindsey@me.com

tube
A REAL WILL & GRACE | Sarah Rose, a straight woman, and Joel Derfner, her gay best friend, are two of the stars of Sundance’s new reality series ‘Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys.’

No matter what your opinion is on unscripted television, anyone opening up his or her life for a camera crew — and potentially millions of viewers — has some balls: Maybe that comment will be taken out of context, or unflattering moments will be exaggerated or distorted, or a “character” will be created in the editing room to fill any number of pre-determined role: hero, villain, diva, token gay.

Sarah Rose and Joel Derfner knew this going into Sundance Channel’s new reality series Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, which premiered this week, focusing on the lives of four couples (each consisting of one straight woman and one gay man). Luckily for them, the experience was positive, with only minor exaggerations implied in the final edits — so far.

Still, Rose insists she is not nearly as jealous of Derfner’s pending nuptials as the show makes it seem.

“They were hammering hard on how jealous I am and I’m not, for the record,” she says, having seen the first two episodes. “But I think one thing the show really does get right with us and the other three couples is the way we relate to each other. The sort of kind of friendship we have, the kind of bond there is.”

Their particular connection has certainly stood the test of time.

“We met in the dining hall at Harvard where we both shared a love for fried things and chocolate things. They supplied us amply with both and we’ve been the best of friends for the past 18 or 19 years,” Rose says.

“Oh my God, has it been 18 or 19 years?” Derfner exclaims with a laugh.

Derfner became involved when one of the producers, who knew him from musical theater writing circles, suggested he audition for the show; Rose was his natural partner in prime time. What attracted them to the premise is that for once, the relationship of gay men and straight women would be presented a little differently than is typical for Hollywood.

“The gay best friend is typically framed as a kind of sidekick. When Stanford Blanch is off-screen, he doesn’t seem to have a life on Sex and the City — he exists only in order to be Carrie’s friend. And my relationship with Joel isn’t a sidekick situation at all. He’s primary,” Rose says.

Before the show even aired, the duo were still getting used to glimpses of fame, like seeing their faces everywhere in Manhattan.

“We’re being chased by our own buses and I’m in this really unflattering wedding dress,” Rose says. “I have this idea that the entire Metro Transportation Authority is making fun of me.”

Perhaps that’s a downside of being associated with these shows, but there are plenty of positives even if the ratings aren’t huge. Both Rose and Derfner are writers and hope that any exposure from the show will widen the audience for their books. But it’s their friendship, and Derfner’s marriage, that ultimately benefited the most.

“I wasn’t expecting it, but Sarah and I have ended up spending more time together than we often do or are often unable to,” Derfner says.

“Joel works in his underwear. I’ve seen it,” adds Rose. “What I’ve discovered is the joy of collaborating with Joel. It’s a whole element to our friendship that wasn’t really present. We were sort of each other’s cheerleaders, but we weren’t each other partners in a business venture the way this feels. And it’s extraordinary. I’m falling for him all over again. It’s like being 18.”

A series of family tragedies and other obstacles had prolonged Derfner’s engagement to Michael Combs, but the reality show actually changed things for the better.

“The reality show was really the kick in the pants they needed to actually get that done,” says Rose, who was the official witness at both the legal and ceremonial weddings.

“We were on the verge of becoming the perpetually engaged couple,” Derfner says.

Instead, they now have a very detailed record of every challenging moment, every triumph, every smile and tear. Derfner hopes in some small way, his role in all of this will be to further the argument to legalize gay marriage.

They both also expect that people better understand the relationships at the focus of this show — and that the term “fag hag” be retired for good; “friend” is descriptive enough.

“From my perspective gay men and straight women often see the world the same way and we want the same things: chocolates, boys, to be thin. She wants boys and I want boys, but not the same boys,” Derfner says. “We understand each other and we recognize how we’re in sync, but there’s no competition so we can be completely 100 percent supportive of each other without worrying that somebody’s going to encroach on somebody’s territory.”

“I get all that, plus technical support,” Rose says. “I have somebody with the same plumbing and wiring and I can ask detailed technical questions [to help understand men].”

It’s a win-win for both of them — and a lot of fun to watch for us.

Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Sundance Channel.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Friendships of a lifetime from LifeWalk

Editor’s note: This is the second on a series of four columns by past co-chairs of the AIDS Arms LifeWalk that will be published in Dallas Voice leading up to the 20th anniversary of the event on Oct. 10.

Deiadra Burns | Special contributor

Deiadra Burns, left, her partner, Sandra Howell, and their dog, Tesuque.
Deiadra Burns, left, her partner, Sandra Howell, and their dog, Tesuque.

I moved to Dallas in 1995 and at the time was living in the closet as a young, single lesbian Republican.

A neighbor and dear friend, Kathy Hewitt, asked if I would volunteer for LifeWalk. I believe it was simply because I had a big truck and she thought I was a fit to help out with operations and the route.

It’s all history from there.

I served on the committee for six years, co-chairing the event the last two of those years.

It was a humbling experience to help those in need and to volunteer for a wonderful agency. My eyes were opened to the LGBT community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and all that it can do for an individual.

It gave me strength, empowerment and friendships of a lifetime.

LifeWalk holds a special place in my and my partner Sandra Howell’s hearts.

Sandra has spent most of her career fighting infectious disease as a pharmacist in the community, and I simply like to give back to the community by volunteering and raising money. LifeWalk brought us together, and it is an event that we have shared in our relationship and throughout our family.

All of the many friends we volunteered with while we both served on the committee are true friends and “family” now.

While there are so many special memories over the years, one of our most memorable LifeWalks was the first year LifeWalk teamed up with Luke’s Locker and a race was added. We had several friends win in their perspective categories (including Sandra) and it was also the first year we were able to take our pup, Tesuque, to the walk. He was the first dog to cross the finish line!!

I hope you will all join us all in the LifeWalk spirit for the 20th anniversary. AIDS Arms is a great agency, and LifeWalk is a great event and a great fundraiser that provides for our community — both straight and gay.

The 20th anniversary AIDS Arms LifeWalk takes place Sunday, Oct. 10, beginning at 1 p.m. at Lee Park. To register, go online to LifeWalk.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas