LSRFA announces new route

Poz Pedalers will lead the LSR parade entry and wheel the riderless bike down Cedar Springs Road

Calumn.Jerry
Jerry Calumn

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Just a week before the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, Event Manager Jerry Calumn has revealed the new route for the ride.

Rather than travel though country roads making a loop to the north and west of the American Airlines Training and Conference Center on Saturday, and a loop to the south and east on Sunday, this year’s ride will travel through the Metroplex’s largest cities.

Riders on Saturday will make a loop through Fort Worth, including a pit stop at the Rainbow Lounge and one downtown at The Pour House on 7th Street.

The Sunday route will include a pass by Cathedral of Hope and then travel down Cedar Springs Road for the first time in the ride’s history.

Cathedral of Hope is planning a cheering section. A pit stop is scheduled along the route at Station 4.

The fastest riders should make it to Cedar Springs Road by 9 a.m. while slower pedallers will follow until about 11 a.m.

Calumn said that while last year’s route was scenic, riders wanted to interact with people along the way. With the mostly rural routes followed in recent years, that hasn’t happened.

At first, Calumn said, he thought the ride might stop by the Mustangs in Las Colinas. But another event was scheduled for the square that houses the statue. Instead, the city of Irving arranged for a stop at the new Irving Convention Center.

“Irving really wanted us,” Calumn said. “We’re thrilled to be stopping at the newest, greatest architecture in Irving.”

On Thursday, Sept. 15, Lone Star Ride held a pre-ride event at S4 to recognize those who had excelled in their fundraising.

In bicycling races, yellow is the color traditionally worn by the race leader. To recognize the top fundraisers, 45 yellow polos were awarded for those who had raised more than $1,000, and 27 yellow jerseys given to those who had collected more than $2,000.

This week, the ride topped the $2 million mark in collective fundraising over its 11 years. The money will be distributed to beneficiaries AIDS Outreach Center, AIDS Services Dallas and Resource Center Dallas.

Chance Browning is the participant fundraising chair of the LSRFA Council and has been working to find ways to help riders meet their fundraising goals.

He said he has been spending the past few weeks calling riders to give them fundraising suggestions, often recommending “a multi-pronged approach.”

Browning suggested riders send emails to friends, family and business associates, with links to the LSRFA website. The website provides a fundraising badge for riders to post on Facebook that links back to the rider’s page where donations can be made.

Also, Browning suggested, “Check your company to see if they offer matching funds.”

He said holding fundraising parties works for some people. But he said riders need to keep talking to people and asking for the money.

Browning said he rode for two years, but helping other people raise their money was his way of contributing this year.

In 2010, Dean Wilson was the development director for LSR and now is development associate for Resource Center Dallas. He said he’d be at the ride representing RCD, one of the beneficiaries. He’ll also be cheering on his partner.

“Last year was my partner’s first ride,” Wilson said. “We both had such an amazing time, we can’t wait til this year.”

To begin the final countdown to the 2011 LSRFA, a number of  ride participants will walk down Cedar Springs in the Pride parade on Sunday, Sept. 18. The Poz Pedalers — the team of HIV-positive riders and their supporters — will lead the group, walking the riderless bike, which memorializes those lost to AIDS, down the parade route.

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place on Sept. 24 and 25. Riders will stay at the American Airlines Training and Conference Center in Arlington on Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday late afternoon closing ceremonies, which will include a performance by the Turtle Creek Chorale, will take place there at the training and conference center.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

LSR Journal: Out of the saddle, but not the Ride

Brady Allen

Although health issues will keep Dr. Brady Allen from riding in LSR this year, he still plans to participate as part of the volunteer medical team

M. M. ADJARIAN | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Dr. Brady Allen of the Uptown Physicians Group has tended unstintingly to medical needs of the gay community for last 30 years. And in the last two years, he’s gone from casual spin and mountain bike cyclist to Lone Star Ride participant.

The transformation began in 2009.

Allen had just moved back to Dallas after a brief period of retirement in Seattle, and friends suggested he become involved in the LSR.

He needed little urging: Road biking on behalf of a cause he believed in seemed the perfect way to re-integrate himself into the community.

“I’d been involved [in the fight against AIDS] since 1982,” says the 57-year-old internist. “So I had memories of people who had passed on, including my best friend and a couple of favorite patients of mine. I think about [them] a lot.”

Allen’s 2010 LSR debut was impressive. Not only was he the third-highest fundraiser — bringing in $6,000 for the event — he also finished second overall in the 45-mile Sunday leg of the ride after the Saturday ride was rained out.

This year, however, the good doctor has to tend to his own health. After developing a blood clot in his calf at the end of April, Allen had to withdraw from this year’s ride.

His desire to participate in the event remains undiminished, though, and participants will likely see him on the medical team, doing what he does best.

“This year, I was going to do the 100- and 75-mile [ride options], because I was in much better shape,” says Allen. “I had trained harder and I was healthier. I’d lost about 15 pounds this year.”

He had also started his fundraising efforts earlier. In 2010, he began soliciting donations in May. This year, he began fundraising in March and already had pledges totaling $1,200 before he had to get out of the saddle.

That money will still go to the LSR. But Allen, who also sits on the board at Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA) and has actively supported other HIV/AIDS organizations, including AIDS Arms, for many years, will have to defer his dream of reaching the $10,000 goal he’d set for this year until 2012.

“[2010 was about] trying to ride in this Texas heat on a bike,” says Allen, who remains upbeat despite the temporary health issues he currently faces. “I [also] had to learn about how much to hydrate, how many salt tablets I had to take the day of the ride, what were the right foods to eat [and] just how to pace myself so I wouldn’t get cramps.”

He also had to learn the more technical aspects of road cycling, including how to shift gears, fix a flat and — perhaps most problematically of all — use the “pedals” of his bike.

“The bike pedals are not real pedals,” Allen explains. “You have these clips on the bottom of your shoes [that you use to] clip into the pedals, which gives you more stability on the bike. But you also have to clip out when you stop.”

Though unable to ride this year, Allen does expect to fully immerse himself in the social aspect of the 2011 ride.

“[I’m looking forward to] the camaraderie, the friendships and relationships that I’m going to develop with people I met last year and with new riders,” Allen says.

With no trace of regret for what could have been this year, he adds “It’ll be very exciting just to be in the crowd and meet new people and have common goals and passions.”

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place Sept. 24-25. For more details or to donate to a specific rider or team, or to the event overall, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

—  John Wright

Facing the challenge with excitement, energy

Jerry Calumn

New event manager Jerry Calumn wants to get the Lone Star Ride even more fiscally fit than before

M. M. ADJARIAN | Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

Change is the only constant; no one knows this better than Jerry Calumn, the former marketing consultant/standup comedian who in March replaced Dave Minehart as event manager for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS.

Articulate and sizzlingly energetic, Calumn is a man with a plan. He has to be.

The economic downturn hit nonprofits like the LSR especially hard. While the worst of the financial crisis seems to be over, it can take up to two years after a recession has ended before nonprofit organizations are able to come out of their own “parallel recessions.”

“[Once surviving] nonprofits have the resources to get their donations back, the competition for [things like] dollars and volunteers gets hefty,” Calumn observes.

For AIDS nonprofits in particular, however, the pressures are even greater, as costs for the new medical options that will become available to HIV/AIDS patients in the next 5 to 10 years are expected to skyrocket. And those are the kind of costs that Lone Star Ride’s beneficiary organizations will have to cover.

“The new treatments will be great, but they will be expensive,” says Calumn. “In the next [decade] of this epidemic, we are going to face very serious challenges with regard to the amount of money we are going to have to raise” to help the ride’s beneficiary organizations continue to cover the costs.

If Lone Star Ride repeats its 2010 fundraising efforts and brings in $150,ooo this year, that will put the event’s total for its 11-year history over $2 million.

Calumn’s strategy to increase the fiscal fitness of the ride by working the LSR core is similar to one cyclists might use to train their bodies for the actual ride itself.

He’s also actively listening to what his riders have to say about what they want to do and how they want to go about doing it.

“We’re putting a lot more tools in the [cyclists’] hands,” he says. “We’re [also] training them better on how to fundraise. And we’re connecting them to more rider-centered events throughout the season.”

One example of the way Calumn is opening up and “toning” the LSR is through the inclusion of a “ Map Your Dream Ride” meeting. On May 24, cyclists gathered together to discuss possible routes for this year’s ride. The final map layout will be announced in July.

The recession and increased costs for HIV treatment or not the only hurdles the LSR faces as an organization. Calumn, who moved to Dallas from New York, saw 50 percent of Jewish charities there and in New Jersey (and 30 percent nationally) close in the wake of the 2008 Madoff scandal.

This in turn has given rise to drastically increased investor/donor suspicion regarding who’s handling their money and how. Sensitive to these new realities, Calumn is also working to make the LSR a more transparent nonprofit.

“[That scandal] has really ingrained in people’s heads to look more closely at organization’s finances,” he says. “We don’t ask enough tough questions on the program side of our nonprofits, especially in the gay, lesbian and HIV community.”

As a conscious agent of change and man who has lived — and thrived — with HIV for the last 17 years, Calumn has his work cut out for him. Yet he relishes what’s ahead and embraces his work with inspired fervor.

He even plans to be out on the road himself, joyfully adding his own blood, sweat and tears into the mix.

His excitement is as electric as it is palpable. Declares Calumn, “I told the board and my management team as soon as I landed [in Dallas last spring], ‘I am riding!’”

And over the starting line he goes, a winner before the race has even begun.

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS takes place Sept. 24-25. For details or to donate to a specific rider or team or to the ride in general, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

—  John Wright

HRC’s 2011 Fairway to Equality Golf Tournament

Photos by Eric Scott Dickson/Dallas Voice (Arcus Media)

—  John Wright

COVER STORY: A Sister Act

FRESH FACES | Novice Sisters Amanda DeFlower, left, and Bertha Sinn say the DFW sisters have a calling to educate the public. (Courtesy DFW Sisters)

DFW Sisters bring the outrageous fun and dedicated activism of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to North Texas

RELATED ARTICLE: A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SISTERHOOD

M. M. ADJARIAN   |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

In their whiteface makeup, gaudy jewels, spangles and nun habits gone gloriously wild, the DFW Sisters are hard to miss — and equally hard to ignore. “[Our appearance] brings people to us,” says Novice Sister Tasha myFUPA. “The public wants to know: What’s this all about?”

A branch of the San Francisco-based Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the DFW Sisters have been doing fundraising, charity and service work in the DFW area for more than a year.
Originally founded as the Sisters of the Yellow Rose in February 2010, the DFW Sisters formed when the STYR regrouped the following September. In January, the main — or “mother” — SPI house in San Francisco recognized the Sisters as an SPI mission.

“We [now] have to do six fundraisers [to] prove ourselves to San Francisco and the United Nuns Privy Council,” Novice Sister Bertha Sinn explains. “Then we become a fully professed house.”

The United Nuns Privy Council is comprised of delegates from all missions and houses around the country. If all goes as planned, the Dallas Sisters will become the Dallas Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in early 2012.

The beginning

The impetus to start a Sisterhood in the DFW area came from members who had contact with other SPI houses. Says Sister Eve Angelica, “We felt that Dallas was lacking an organization … that provides an outlet for us to be out there … sharing [our stories and] teaching people about safer sex and community safety.”

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence itself — now an international organization with 1,200 past and present members — came into existence in 1980. However, the three original founders had begun appearing (or manifesting, as the Sisters would say) in public the previous year.

Their first manifestation occurred on Easter Weekend 1979. The trio donned nun habits from an Iowa convent and went for a stroll through the Castro, home to San Francisco’s gay community.

The men were members of the Radical Faeries, an alternative gay male spirituality group. Part of their intent was to protest the too-slick “Castro Clones” image that they believed inhibited freer expressions of male homosexual identity. But, as Sister Bertha remarks, “[They also just wanted to] go out and have fun.”

Irreverent gender play was not new to either the SPI founders or the Castro District gay community. In fact, the Sisterhood was a direct heir to the legacy of two theater performance groups that emerged in San Francisco in the late 1960s: the Cockettes and the Angels of Light.

These groups became known for the way they would use high camp and drag to satirize all aspects of popular culture: no topic — including religion — was ever deemed too sacred to be mocked.

From the start, however, SPI playfulness was also imbued with a sense of activist purpose. Soon after the Sisters formed in 1980, they began campaigns to stop fundamentalist Christians from preaching anti-gay rhetoric in the Castro. And when the AIDS crisis began to take shape in the early 1980s, the Sisters responded by holding the first-ever AIDS fundraiser and writing a safer sex pamphlet that they distributed to the gay community.

Today’s mission

That sense of community responsibility abides 30 years later. Says Sister Bertha, “One of our main ministries, our bar ministry, is safe sex outreach. [We always have] our bliss kits [on hand], which [include] a condom, a little packet of lube and instructions on how to use it.”

Disseminating this kind of information has become an especially important part of the DFW Sisters’ work in the aftermath of cuts the Dallas City Council made in September 2009 to HIV/AIDS education programs.

The religion-inflected language the Sisters use in referring to themselves and their work belies the non-denominational nature of the Sisterhood.

“We’ve got people of all faiths. And no faiths. It runs the gamut,” Sister Bertha notes.

Diversity also defines the personal backgrounds of individual DFW sister members. The SPI began as a male-only organization; but now “[i]t doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, [male, female], blue, white, black [or] green,” says Sister Tasha. “[What does matter is that] you feel the calling.”

As would be the case in a regular religious order, commitment to the organization and its mission is paramount, as is a strong social and moral conscience. Novice Sister Edina T. Krisis’ decision to join the group arose after the devastating loss of her partner to AIDS. “Dallas was amazing to me,” she said. “I had to give back because [others] gave me back the rest of my life.”

At the same time, the commitment required to be a sister can, as Novice Sister Angelica remarks, “almost make [the whole enterprise] feel like a part-time job.” Moreover, sister-status is not for the faint-hearted. Only after one year of rising through three levels of membership — aspirant, postulant and novice — can an individual have the chance to become a fully professed Sister. After that, the person is a member for life.

Since the Dallas Sisters are an SPI mission rather than an SPI house, those designated as Sisters are still at novice level. Only after they are approved as an autonomous house will those who have been novices for at least six months be considered for elevation to full Sisterhood.

While the Dallas Sisters now work primarily in the Metroplex’s LGBT communities, with such groups as Resource Center Dallas and the Texas Gay Rodeo Association, long-term the Sisters see themselves as also working in the mainstream, too.

“So long as the mission [of a group] is in keeping with our mission and goals,” says Sister Bertha, “then [we’ll help anyone].”

For all their good works in the community, the Dallas Sisters have not been without their critics, not all of whom have been affiliated with conservative religious organizations.

Novice Sister Polly von Acocker recalls an incident when a gay man from Dallas posted pictures of the Sisters on his Facebook account along with derogatory comments about the Sisterhood itself.

“We ruffled his feathers,” Sister Polly recalls. “He didn’t like the way the Sisters portrayed the gay community.”

Undaunted, Sister Polly used this incident to educate this detractor about the SPI: “[After] opening up a dialogue with him, [the man] became one of my biggest supporters. I know now that if I need a donation, I can go straight to him.”

The ability to attract attention, stir up controversy and change minds is part of what Sister Tasha calls “the power of whiteface.” But behind the makeup are just ordinary — and in many cases, surprisingly shy — people just trying to make a difference in the community. Their Sister alter-egos, with the outsized personalities, are what make the group successful.

Having an organizational strategy that works also helps. The DFW Sisters run primarily on consensus, Sister Polly explains. Any voting that takes place is done to lend an official stamp to any agreements reached among group members.

Where the real challenge lies, says Sister Polly, “is in making sure everyone has a role in running the [group].”

The Sisters run their organization a bit like a family, but with Roberts Rules of Order in hand. Their “kinship” ties run much deeper, however: their shared vision has become a kind of “blood bond” that unites them beyond structure.

“We bicker like family,” says Sister Bertha. “But there’s a lot of love there, too.”

HELPING HANDS | The DFW Sisters help welcome participants in the Texas Bear Round Up to Dallas. (Courtesy DFW Sisters)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

CSMA announces new event schedule for 2011

First Wednesday events are ending, but Whittall says quarterly Wine Walks, other regular events will make up the difference

JEFFERSON JOHNSON  |  Staff Writer
intern@dallasvoice.com

Although Cedar Springs Merchant Association is ending its monthly First Wednesday parties, CSMA President Scott Whittall, co-owner of Buli, said this week a calendar of quarterly Wine Walks and monthly events have taken effect.

“We changed our First Wednesday event to a quarterly event for 2011,” Whittall said about one of the first obvious changes taking effect this year.

First Wednesday now will be replaced with a quarterly Wine Walk, he explained. “The wine walks are always a really good turnout and people like the concept.”

Every wine walk will feature a new $5 commemorative glass for guests to take into participating stores to mingle, browse and shop, with the wine offered compliments of the individual stores.

Whittall says it’s also a great way for customers to meet and greet the owners.

By selling commemorative glasses, CSMA hopes to make some money back, which accounts for the cost of the glasses. Proceeds will also help fund future events, plus the glasses will give wine walks a sense of occasion, he said.

Whittall said that even though the Cedar Springs Arts Festivals in both 2009 and 2010 failed to reach their fundraising goals, the spring festival will return this year.

This time, Whittall said, organizers know what pitfalls to watch for, what to do and what not to do.

“We hope to have more than 100 artists and vendors,” Whittall said, compared to last year’s 70 or so.
Whittall said CSMA is known for its interesting fundraising events, like underwear auctions, and for throwing a great street party.

“We’re always racking our brains to come up with some new and exciting fundraisers,” like the Super Street Party the association is holding on Cedar Springs during Super Bowl weekend next month.

The Super Party, sponsored by Bud Light, is one of the larger events CSMA has planed, Whittall said. He said it will be similar to the annual Pride parade, but with a football twist.

Whittall also stressed that the event is not affiliated with the National Football League in any way, but that he hopes it will draw out-of-towners to the area and help spotlight Cedar Springs.

The purpose of all the CSMA events, Whittall said, is to have fun while raising funds to benefit and help beautify the gayborhood.

The bars and merchants along the Cedar Springs strip are faring well, Whittall said. But, he added, “Cedar Springs is not immune to the economic climate.

Whittall said that times have changed over the last 30 years and that Cedar Springs needs the support of the community to survive and thrive. The more support they get, the more money will be available for events and projects.

“Unfortunately, money is everything,” said Whittall.  “It’s hard to go out and raise funds.”

He said CSMA’s solution is to give donors something — like a wine walk or an arts festival — in return, as opposed to simply asking for a donation. More importantly, he added, donations to CSMA come back to the community in several forms.

CSMA uses funds collected to build streetlights for more safety, to improve signage and sidewalks, among other planned improvements, he said.

“The big message here is support,” said Whittall. “It’s the heart of the gay community of Dallas, and we are dedicated to keeping it just that.

“Everybody here is committed to seeing Cedar Springs be here another 30 years,” Whittall concluded. “But we need help. We need everybody’s support to make sure that does happen.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2001.

—  John Wright

Forget Gaycities — tell everyone what’s great about Big D with the Readers Voice Awards

The web site GayCities.com released its list of the best about dozens of cities worldwide, from bars to sex clubs to restaurants to fundraisers. And just how well did Texas do? Not great, actually.

Sure, we have several of the top hotels (a W, two Kimptons, a few Hyatts) and Resource Center Dallas came in fourth overall for best LGBT center (preceded only by those in San Francisco, New York and Toronto), but otherwise, the Lone Star State was practically overlooked: Splash Weekend in Austin came in sixth for an event to cross the country for, and Austin’s Kiss & Fly landed on the best strippers, but otherwise we were pretty much shut out. (Neighboring New Orleans’ Southern Decadence landed on best events list, too.)

This is, to put a fine point on it, bullshit. Dallas has so many great bars, businesses, boys and babes, it’s hardly possible for the staff here to list them all.

And that’s where you come in. We’re currently conducting the Readers Voice Awards, which single out the best of the best across the Metroplex: Favorite eateries, role models, doctors, drag queens, dog walkers, bands and more than 100 other categories. When you vote, you get to register to win two free tickets on American Airlines almost anywhere in the U.S. and its nearest neighbors. You can also vote for your favorite local Ultimate Diva!

So let’s make sure everyone knows that it’s not just NYC and San Fran and L.A. that have great gay cultures — so does Dallas. And we do it in cowboy boots.

Vote now — just click here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Pavillion owner recovering from hit-and-run

Website taking donations and fundraisers planned to help pay medical bills for Dan Friessen

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Dan Friessen
Dan Friessen

Barbara’s Pavillion owner Dan Friessen is out of the hospital and recovering after being struck by a hit-and-run driver about 6 p.m. on Dec. 9 as he was walking from his car toward the bar, located at 325 Centre St. in Oak Cliff.

According to police , Friessen was crossing the street, but not at a crosswalk. A Honda only described as gray or silver hit him and threw him 45 feet into a parked car.

The driver fled without rendering aid or leaving identification.

Three witnesses from Dallas Can Academy across the street saw the incident but did not get a license plate number.

Friessen was rushed to Methodist Hospital where he was admitted to intensive care with multiple injuries that were not life threatening.

He had surgery to repair his facial injuries. His jaw is wired shut since the surgery and he remains on a liquid diet.

Because of injuries to his ankle, he was unable to stand unassisted.

On Dec. 12, he was released from the hospital and on Monday, he stopped by the bar.

Friessen has no insurance. A website, HelpOutDan.com, and a Facebook page called “Help Out Dan Friessen” have been created to assist with the cost of medication and to help cover medical bills. Other fundraisers are planned.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Fighting the good fight with LifeWalk

Robert Moore and Ray Warner
RECOGNITION | Robert Moore, left, presents three-time LifeWalk co-chair Ray Warner with LifeWalk’s Volunteer of the Year Award in 2009.

This is the third in a series of 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 Sunday, Oct. 10.

Ray Warner Special Contributor

Because of my involvement with Nelson-Tebedo Health Clinic as an HIV counselor and phlebotomist, a good friend asked me one day if I would be interested in joining the AIDS Arms LifeWalk steering committee for 2005.

“Are you crazy?!” I answered. “I don’t have time to volunteer with another agency.”

But I said I would go to the event and see what it was all about.

Somehow I found the time to volunteer at both places, manage a home and still work full time.

The steering committee was made up of both past committee members and new members, and the people I met that day were a wonderful group. So I joined, and I had a really great time planning and doing fundraisers.

When the day of the walk finally arrived, I felt like I worked my butt off. But at the end of the day, when they let us know how much unrestricted money had been raised, I suddenly did not feel so tired. In fact, I was very excited about getting started for LifeWalk 2006.

Several months before the committee was to meet, I got a call from my friend Bill telling me that AIDS Arms had a new director of development, named Margaret Byrne. I had not met her yet so Margaret, Bill and I met for lunch. And that, as they say, is how it all began.

Bill was asked to be LifeWalk chair, and he suggested me as his co-chair. I was so honored to be ask to do something with an organization that I was passionate about.

During the 2006 LifeWalk, we raised nearly $100,000 more than we had raised in 2005. The steering committee built a float for the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and won the “Carson Kressley Trophy” for best costumes.

I was co-chair again in 2007, and again we raised even more money than we had the previous year. And we won yet another trophy in the parade, this time bringing home the “Queen Latifa Trophy” for best nonprofit.

Then came 2008, and once again I was LifeWalk co-chair, the first person to be co-chair for three years in a row. That was a huge honor for me, especially being in such a great group of co-chairs, both past and present. We again exceeded our fundraising goals in 2008. And when Margaret Byrne and Robert Moore presented me with the Volunteer of the Year Award at the 2009 LifeWalk, I was surprised and honored beyond belief.

I am so honored to have held the position of LifeWalk with such a great group of family, because, believe me, it is just like a family. We argued like brothers and sisters. There were ups and downs. But just like a family, we had each others’ backs.

Bottom line, raising money to help the clients of AIDS Arms and the other LifeWalk beneficiaries is the most important task at hand.Volunteering just a little bit of your time is so important to a nonprofit agency. These agencies are very special to my heart; some of my best friends are living with HIV, and some others have already lost their battles with the virus.

I know that a cure will be found so that no one else has to lose the battle. You can help. Get out there and volunteer for LifeWalk, walk, or just tell others about this wonderful event. I hope that I see you as I walk with the Nelson-Tebedo Team on Sunday, Oct. 10.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

In NYC, a tale of two fundraisers: ‘which one did more to advance LGBT equality?’

Another must-read column from Kerry Eleveld, providing some clarity to the events of this week:

Longtime LGBT activist David Mixner was one of about a dozen prominent equality advocates who attended the Mehlman-Singer fund-raiser, including lobbyist Steve Elmendorf, Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress, Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry, and Richard Socarides, former LGBT adviser and special assistant to President Bill Clinton.

Mixner said of the evening, “I never thought I would see the day in my lifetime” when a group of conservatives and equality activists gathered in the same room to rally around the fight for same-sex marriage.

“I’m in awe of this night,” he beamed. “Ya know, I’ve worked at this for years and years and years, and the purpose of a movement is to change minds and not to punish those who come late. And we’ve changed minds.”

Meanwhile, back on the east side, President Obama was trying to reason with protesters who were loudly registering their discontent with his administration’s funding for AIDS and efforts to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

“We heard your point,” Obama said in response to two of the shouting protesters. “This young lady here, she wants increases in AIDS funding. That’s great. We increased AIDS funding. She’d like more. I’m sure we could do more — if we’re able to grow this economy again. That young man shouted, ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ … As president, I said we would reverse it.”




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright