Defining Homes: Frisco a go-go

Natalie Amberson and her wife April find comfort in both the bustling growth of Frisco and the still quiet part of the small town.

LGBT homeowners find affordability key in this northern ‘burb

By Jef Tingley

Inside the Dallas “bubble,” Frisco is often only thought of as the quickest place to get an IKEA fix. (After all, who doesn’t need a Väte Kvartal to call their very own?) But scores of gay North Texans call Frisco home too, and not just for the proximity to Swedish furnishings and meatballs.

The town is at the end of the Dallas North Tollway and spans 69-square miles. Frisco’s population reached 119,738 in January with a median age of 34 and a median household income of $101,574. If the Kinsey 10 percent theory holds true, that means there could be as many as 12,000 LGBT people living there.

We caught up with a handful of them to see what day-to-day life in this city to the north is really like and what drew them in.

“We primarily moved to Frisco because the homes are so affordable,” says Natalie Amberson, who lives in a 1,700 square foot home in North Frisco with her wife, April, and their two dogs and cats. “Our mortgage is only $100 more than our rent was [in Oak Lawn]. We also very much wanted dogs and decided that we would not take on the responsibility of canine ownership until we had a yard for them to play in.”

Fifteen-year resident Clarence Stiles agree.

“We knew the area was growing and would have good resale value.”

Stiles and his husband, Jon Wienk, share their one-story, ranch-style home with their six dogs. But affordable living aside, all of those interviewed concurred that their budding suburb’s strong sense of community makes Frisco so desirable.

“Frisco has grown as a city and a community tremendously over the last 10 years, but [it] does its best to keep that small town feel,” says James Nunn, a 12-year resident who lives with his partner, Chris Moss, and their two dogs in a 2,200 square foot home abutting one of Frisco’s many popular green belt areas.

To help keep Frisco’s LGBT community connected, Nunn became involved with the group Frisco Pride, which meets weekly in a variety of different social settings. The group, which has been in existence since 1999, recently re-launched a new website (FriscoPride.com) and Facebook page to help ease communication among its members.

Jeanne Sharon Rubin and her wife Lisa Rose Mashigian are Frisco Pride members and active with another local group that fosters the LGBT community, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance. The couple also volunteers for Youth First Texas Collin County, which is based in Plano but works with youth in Frisco. As part of their volunteer efforts, they arrange a monthly fundraiser in Frisco benefiting Youth First Texas.

Rubin and Mashigian have lived in their 2,900-square-foot home in Frisco’s Panther Creek Estates for six-and-a-half years. “We were the first to build on the street, and I had Lisa get out the hammer and drill so we could put up the rainbow flag,” says Rubin. “We wanted everyone to know that we were here first.”

But Rubin is quick to add that they have found a diverse and welcoming community with a homeowner’s association that puts on events throughout the year, book clubs, neighbors who will dog sit and lend tools. And if the weather is just right, spontaneous block parties happen.

And while their life may seem rooted in Frisco, getting there was more of a compromise.

“I was never moving to the suburbs, and Lisa was never leaving her home in Plano,” says Rubin. “I came to the suburbs kicking and screaming, but I really do love Frisco.”

Natalie Amberson echoes that statement. “I feel by living in Frisco, I get the best of both worlds. There are plenty of restaurants and shopping. Being a sports fan, I enjoy attending the minor league games, [but] most of all I actually enjoy driving by the cattle and farmland. Frisco has grown significantly, but every day I look at the green land and animals; it brings me a sense of peace.”

Clearly the suburb is more than just an Ikea destination for that affordable bookcase. Gay folk might find themselves drawn to the modern community and shopping for a home to put that bookcase in. Or at the very least, adding just a little more “pride” to the affordable and friendly city of Frisco.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright