PwC’s LGBT employees coming to Dallas for summit

Out Professional Employee Network to discuss best practices and personal branding at two-day summit in Dallas

Arruda.William

William Arruda

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Human Rights Campaign sponsor PricewaterhouseCoopers is holding a two-day diversity summit for members of its LGBT resource group at the Joule Hotel in Downtown Dallas beginning Friday, Nov. 11, in conjunction with Black Tie Dinner set for Saturday night.

The company is headquartered in London, with offices worldwide, including Dallas.

Mark Niehaus, partner chair for the National GLBT Partner Advisory Board, explained that the resource group holds “periodic gatherings of our GLBT members from throughout the country,” and that this year, “We decided to connect it to a national event” (the Black Tie Dinner).

Jennifer Allyn, a managing director in the PwC office of diversity, said that normally a business meeting wouldn’t be held into Saturday. But, she said, the Black Tie Dinner was a good reason for people to stay through the weekend. She said the meeting will include people who are out, visible and successful.

“The group includes some of our highest-performing GLBT professionals,” she said.

Also among the speakers is personal branding expert William Arruda.

He begins the event on Friday morning by discussing how diversity can be what differentiates a person and how to use that to accelerate a career path.

“How do you put yourself out there?” Allyn said, explaining what Arruda will discuss. “Are you being thoughtful about your reputation?”

She said Arruda will discuss managing one’s reputation to succeed at the highest levels.

When he worked for KPMG, Arruda was closeted and spent about 20 percent of his time covering up who he was, she explained. But at PwC, it’s important to be out at work, especially in jobs dealing with clients and building trust.

“Integrity is important,” Allyn said. “When you’re hiding, you come off guarded. To build relationships, you have to build trust.”

She said that building trust is difficult with someone who is closeted because it becomes apparent that person is always hiding something.

In a business environment, people are always coming out. Members of PwC’s Out Professional Employee Network (OPEN) will share best practices.

“A lot of our focus is based on how we fit in the organization,” Niehaus said.

He said the group focuses on strengths and leveraging those individual personal traits.

“What makes you different is what’s important,” he said. “It connects you with clients and makes you succeed. We don’t want to lose what’s unique about each individual.”

The meeting will focus on other issues relating to personal branding and career development as well.

Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese will speak along with Point Foundation President Jorge Valencia.

While Solmonese will discuss political initiatives, Allyn said the group is especially anxious to hear from Valencia because “PwC has a big commitment to education.”

Other speakers include New York State Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David, who was involved in the fight to pass same-sex marriage in New York, and LGBT retention and advancement consultant Jennifer Brown, who will discuss career development tailored to an LGBT professionals.

“One of our initiatives is energizing allies,” Allyn said.

In conjunction with that, OPEN published I Am Open. The book complied interviews with 18 gay and straight people at PwC who have built strong working relationships with each other.

In a professional setting, the book suggests inclusive language such as asking if someone is in a relationship rather than if they’re married or invite team members to bring a guest rather than something more specific.

PwC is the first of the Big 4 accounting firms to have an LGBT Partner Advisory Board made up of openly gay partners and managing directors in the company. Many of those partners, including Niehaus, will be at the conference in Dallas.

“We want everyone to leave inspired,” Allyn said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

LifeWalk steps off Sunday in Lee Park

Nobles says that park will not be fenced this year but is worried about added cost and barrier affecting next year’s event

KICKING UP THEIR HEELS | The LifeWalk organizing committee gets ready for Sunday.

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.

The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.

Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.

Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.

Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.

The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.

But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.

“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”

The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.

“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”

She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.

“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”

Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.

AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.

Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.

The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.

Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.

Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.

But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.

AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.

LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.

LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.

That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.

Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.

“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”

He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.

“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.

Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”

Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.

“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.

Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.

Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.

Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.

“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”

Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.

LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.

Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”

There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.

She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.

“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.

Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.

Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.

Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

COVER STORY: Bear Hugs

 

Bear-Hugs-art
As The annual TBRU approaches, some locals talk about what it means to be a bear

ARNOLD WAYNE JONESLife+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

With the arrival of TBRU, we ask a fundamental question: What is it that makes a gay man a bear?

With the warming weather and approach of spring, bears across the continent are emerging from their winter hibernation and striking out to enjoy what life has to bring. And many of them will be headed toward North Texas.

Ahrens.John
PAPA BEAR | John Ahrens says bear culture is for gay men who don’t fit the buff, young mold.

Not, of course, the ursine variety: These bears shop in the big and tall department of the clothing store and have been known to pound back beer like men in the desert.
Texas Bear Round-Up XVI is almost here.

By the close of official pre-registration earlier this week, the annual fellowship of the hirsute gay male — which chose for its theme this time Bears of Justice: Heroes and Villains — had exceeded 1,100 confirmed attendees, and organizers say many walk-ups are expected throughout the weekend at various events. That makes it among the largest of gay-specific social events in Dallas.

But why do bears feel they need their own “runs” — the common name for the dozens of bear gatherings around the country?

“That’s a very interesting concept,” observes John Ahrens, when pressed to explain why bearevents have proliferated (See sidebar, Bear events and resources).

Ahrens has attended several TBRU events in the past and, at 6-feet, 2-inches and 270 pounds of furriness (everywhere but the top of his head, he notes), has long identified as a bear.

“Why do they have to have a bear round-up [and not a twink round-up]? I really don’t know. The whole concept of bears was originally that we never fit the cut, buff, skinny young look [that dominated gay culture]. This is a culture for the rest of us. It was to counteract the exclusivity of the rest of it — a place where big hairy guys could go to be themselves.”

The Bear Movement emerged from a reaction to a kind of cultural elitism within the gay community that tended to value youth, gym memberships and low-digit waistlines above all else. Bears dared to stake a claim on the alternative to the stand-and-model twink ideal  or the flamboyant drag queen that often defined gay culture, both in mainstream society and within the LGBT community itself.

Which raises a fundamental issue about bearhood: What, exactly, is a bear?

It’s a question that, when posed to self-identified bears, does not elicit quick or consistent responses. The term, by design or accident, has become a portmanteau word that tends to encompass all those gay men who like to identify as “other.”

But other than what is not wholly clear. (See sidebar, What is a bear?) For that matter, beardom is something that often must be embraced, almost like its own version of the coming out process: When does a bear admit he is one?

“I never thought you’d ask that,” says Rafael McDonnell, programs manager at Resource Center Dallas and a member since 2007 of the Dallas Bears, the organization which mounts TBRU.

Rafael_McDonnell
BEAR IN MIND | Dallas Bears member Rafael McDonnell says bearhood is an identity you have to claim.

“It’s a question of identity which, to a certain extent, is claimed by people. There are different parts to what our identity is; it’s where you end up fitting in the world as it is.”

“It’s very flexible and fluid and very personal,” says Ahrens. “I have a really close friend who never identified as bear for years, but there he is now, right on Bear411.com. The definition is so vague.

Generally, I want to say the bears tend to be older, but that’s not really true, either.”

Not at all. Carlos Deleon lives in Chicago and will be returning to TBRU for a fourth time later this month. And he just turned 30.

“It depends on where you come from. Some guys don’t look particularly bearish but identify deeply with it. Then there’s the big guy who goes to a bar and is told he’s a bear.

“For most of the guys around my age, it ends up being driven by an online thing: Looking at the various websites and finding one where you find guys who you think are attractive. You start dating those people. Then you spend more time in that part of the world,” Deleon says.

For a long time bears couldn’t go into regular gay bars and couldn’t find people to interact with, says Deleon, “so they kept finding safe spaces to congregate.”

That led to events such as TBRU.

But that was nearly 30 years ago, Deleon points out; “It’s a lot different than it was. Now it’s big business.”

And business sometimes leads more toward exploitation than inclusion.

“What finally put me off the whole [bear] thing is that it has become anything but inclusive — if you aren’t big or hairy, or are morbidly obese, you would be asked, ‘Why are you here?’” says Ahrens. “And that crap about bear codes? Oh, geez. The whole concept is trying to find an alternative community that accepts you. But [some in the bear community] have gone to the opposite extreme.”

Not everyone agrees with that assessment, although McDonnell says he has seen it.

“I think one reason TBRU has been successful is we are inclusive and organized,” he says. “I attended my first bear run outside of TBRU last fall in a city I won’t name. This event was disorganized and exclusive.”

Scott-Moore

LEATHER BEAR | Mr. TBRU 2007 Scott Moore says being a bear is something you grow into.

The myth of masculinity
Bear culture hasn’t always been its own beast, although the cliché has usually been that bears represent a less metrosexual, so-called “masculine” version of gay culture. (See sidebar, Celebearties.)
“Some gay men didn’t enjoy the prevailing ideas of looking and acting and being a certain way — that urban aesthete gay man,” says  Deleon. “They grew up being truck drivers and wanted to stay truck drivers even though they were gay.”

Initially many such men joined the leather community, but bears slowly carved their own, separate identity.

“There is the crossover with the leather stuff, too. There’s a basic assumption of masculinity in bear culture, which we both know is perfectly false. You can wear lots and lots of dead cow and be the nelliest person in the world,” says Ahrens.

“I think about guys who are rugby players but do leather, too — are they in both communities?” asks Deleon. “Bears were more a part of the leather community [once] and now are more separate from it. Younger guys who are attracted more to traditional daddy types may feel they are still separate communities.”
Scott Moore, who was Mr. TBRU 2007 and is the current Mr. Dallas Eagle (a leather title), is a prime example.

“I think the easy part for the crossover is that leather is a fetish, so it’s open to anyone of any type and background — it’s something you choose to be,” Moore says. “Being a bear, you grow into — it’s more of a character trait than a choice.”

“I think in my case it was both nature and choice,” says Ahrens. “I don’t like skinny hairless guys; I like big hairy guys and I am one. I just turned 60 and there’s this whole daddy thing that kind of goes along with it.”

“Here’s what I find interesting: Among the Dallas Bears, there is lots of cross-pollination with the court system, the Leather Knights, etc.,” says McDonnell. “I don’t know if that’s unique among bear clubs.”

One thing that newcomers often notice that is typical among bear clubs is that bears often engage in their own rituals and forms of, well, etiquette.

“If you can call it that at all,” laughs Ahrens. “Compare the balcony at JR.’s to the patio at the Hidden Door: There are fewer boundaries. That ultimately for me was kind of off-putting,” although he agrees it probably contributes to the conventional wisdom that bears are among the friendliest of gays.

“The boundary lines are somewhat different,” agrees McDonnell. “There’s much more of a tactile physicalness [to bear culture], but I’m not sure where it originated. The thing I have found is, it is an extraordinarily welcoming and affirming community, to borrow some religious language. You can go into a bear bar in Vancouver and receive the same level of acceptance as you would in Denver or Dallas.”

Whatever the definition, or the appeal of the culture, one thing is certain: Sometimes you can’t put your finger on something — you just have to know it when you experience it, and be open to its mystery.

“It’s pinning Jell-O to a wall. Some of it has to do with body size, but [being part of bear culture] is a combination not only of physical characteristics but that elusive thing that is chemistry,” says McDonnell. “Life isn’t the Sears catalogue.”

The Texas Bear Round-Up runs March 17–20 with events across the city. Visit TBRU.org for a complete schedule of events.

………………………………..

What is a bear?
The terminology associated with bear culture actually reaches deep into a variety of other animal identities: Bears “woof” at each other (a distinctly canine trait) and have subclassifications with the community that relate to other wild animals.
Although definitive descriptors are elusive and subject to change, here is a primer on some of the most common and the generally accepted definitions.
Bear — A member of the Bear Movement, usually identified as tallish, hairy (on the face and/or
body) and with a certain amount of meat on his bones. Can be anywhere from morbidly obese to a few extra pounds around the middle.
Musclebear — The same as a bear, but the meat is usually more muscle — often, though, while maintaining a stocky build. To be considered a musclebear, one normally has to have and keep a certain amount of body hair and not merely have a gym body.
Cub — A younger and/or smaller (McDonnell theorizes 5-feet-8 and under) bear; also, a bear who identifies more as a submissive in a sexual relationship.
Otter — A hairy guy who is usually thin; can be old or young, but often considered younger.
Grizzly — An older, heavy, often aggressive or dominant bear.
Polar bear — An older, often larger bear with white or grey hair.
Wolf — An older, sometimes thinner bear-identified male; also, one who tends to be aggressive.
Grey wolf — The same as a wolf, but with salt-and-pepper hair.
Daddy — Not strictly part of the bear culture, many bears are considered daddy-types, being older and somewhat nurturing of younger, more docile gay men.
Admirers/chasers — Gay men, usually younger, who do not personally exhibit the characteristics of a bear but are physically attracted to men of that type.
Cougay — A creation of my own, used to describe a gay man over 40 who is attracted to, or sought by, younger men, who can be bears or not. The cougay can, but does not need to be, a bear himself.
— A.W.J.

………………………………..

Celebearties
Here are some celebrities who, if they were gay, would probably qualify as bears:
Tom Colicchio, chef and TV personality on Top Chef.
Zach Galifianakis, comic and actor (The Hangover).
Steve Holcomb, Olympic bobsledder.
Jamie Hyneman, special effects whiz and host of Mythbusters.
Brian Urlacher, Chicago Bears linebacker.

………………………………..

Bear events and resources
In addition to the Texas Bear Round Up, well-known national bear events include Lazy Bear Weekend in Guerneville, Calif., International Bear Rendezvous in San Francisco, and Bear Pride in Chicago.

Several magazines and websites are devoted to bear culture, including Bear Magazine and A Bear’s Life.
Scruff is a smart phone application, similar to Grindr, dedicated to bearish guys. Bear411.com is a dating/sex website for bears.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

 

 

—  Kevin Thomas

Ft. Worth ordinance could affect Pride, AIDS walk

Council approves higher fees, new rules on outdoor events, but attorney says city plans to ‘phase in’ enforcement to lessen impact

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Tony Coronado and Allan Gould
Tony Coronado and Allan Gould

The Fort Worth City Council has enacted a new outdoor event ordinance that changes requirements and increases fees for some outdoor events.

The changes, which go into effect Oct. 1, could impact future Tarrant County Gay Pride parades and picnics held in October each year, and it could also affect the Tarrant County AIDS Outreach Center’s AIDS Walk, held each spring.

Senior Assistant City Attorney Sarah Fullenwider acknowledged that fees for such events were increased, but the rest of the ordinance is primarily about codifying rules already in place.

“We took current policy and put it into an ordinance,” Fullenwider said.

She noted that the ordinance “doesn’t apply to First Amendment activity,” but that it does require organizers give the city at least 48 hours’ notice for an event that will close a street.

First Amendment activities refer to protests or other gatherings that are political in nature and involve exercising free speech rights.
The new Fort Worth requirements are for events that expect 500 or more participants and spectators. In Dallas, permits are required for 75 or more people.

The fee in Dallas is on a graduated scale based on number of expected attendees. For more than 20,000 expected attendees, such as the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, the city charges $500, plus a late fee for applications received less than 45 days before an event.

Fort Worth will now require event planners to attend a calendar committee meeting. To provide enough police protection, the city is trying to prevent overlapping scheduling.

Organizers must also attend a pre-event meeting and submit a traffic plan if streets are to be closed, Fullenwider said.

Special rules apply to downtown, the Stockyards and the Near South Side, which includes the area where Fort Worth’s annual Pride parade is held.

Fullenwider said there was no request from the Museum District for any special consideration,  probably because events there do not affect the surrounding neighborhoods to the same extent.

Walks, runs and races have some special rules. Normally, all business and homeowners in the affected area need to be notified that an event will take place in front of their property.

For longer routes, area property owners may be notified by e-mail, signs, mail or newspaper ads.

ROYALTY ON PARADE | The 2009 Tarrant County Gay Pride Week titleholders wave to their fans lining the route of the parade down South Jennings last October.

Fees, which are currently $150 will not rise immediately, and Fullenwider said officials have not yet determined what the new fees will be.

She did note, however, that the city is aware of the effect increased costs can have on organizations.

She said that officials are talking about phasing in any eventual increase.

Tony Coronado of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association said his organization isn’t sure yet how the new ordinance might affect the Pride Week events. But so far, he added, he hasn’t seen any big changes

In the past, Fort Worth’s annual Pride Picnic was considered a private event that was permitted through the parks department. Because of its size, it would now be considered a public event and require a city permit as well, Coronado said.

Coronado said that a large expense for the parade is hiring extra off-duty police officers.While the number of streets to be closed has not changed, he said the number of entries could affect the number of officers needed.

The parade this year will be held on Oct. 3, after the ordinance takes effect. But permits are already in place and Coronado said he has already met with the police department.

One change in this year’s parade will be a block party that will be held at Pennsylvania and South Jennings streets. A block in each direction from the intersection will be closed all day.

That required extra coordination with the city, Coronado said, but the new ordinance presented no obstacles.

However, by next year, higher fees may be in place.  If that happens, Coronado said, “We’ll just have to bump it up.”

AIDS Outreach Center Executive Director Allan Gould said the new ordinance will affect several events benefiting his organization, including the annual AOC AIDS Walk next spring and the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS next month.

“We’ll have new due diligence on our part” to make sure the proper permits are in place, Gould said.

While this year’s Lone Star Ride happens before the new ordinance goes into the effect, if the bike ride follows the same route next year, fees will be higher and organizers will have to follow new rules about notifying everyone along the course.

The AIDS walk would also be subject to higher fees, which Gould said he hoped the city would consider waiving for fundraising events for local nonprofit organizations.

Gould said a bigger factor was that the walk is in the museum district, as is Artists Against AIDS, and the free lot outside the Community Arts Center has recently become paid parking.

Gould said hoped that wouldn’t have a negative impact on participation.

But he said AOC has been considering several solutions, including moving events out of the city or to a large, private downtown venue such as the Tandy Center.

Fort Worth Councilmember Joel Burns said that a mandatory insurance ordinance was passed last year that goes into effect at the same time. He said the new rules, however, shouldn’t materially impact neighborhood or LGBT groups.

“My hope is they’d be even better,” Burns said.

He said he thought the new ordinance would help police and city staff coordinate with groups and help make events safer.

“We held five public meetings,” Fullenwider said. “We’re hoping we did a good job. In a year, we plan to meet with event holders and see how it’s working.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens