Out candidate Donald Brown leads in Southeast Texas congressional bid

Donald Brown

Donald Brown

Texas is on its way to having two out candidates for Congress after openly gay Donald Brown received enough votes to avoid a runoff after early voting results Tuesday.

Brown received 61 percent of the vote in his Democratic bid for Congressional District 14 and he could avoid a runoff if he maintains the strong lead.

Buck Willis, who received the local Stonewall Democrats endorsement, brought in 28 percent of the vote, with Gagan Panjhazari receiving 11 percent.

CD 14 spans Southeast Texas form Freeport to Beaumont. The winner will take on Republican incumbent Randy Weber, who’s unopposed in the primary.

Brown is one of two openly gay Texas candidates running for Congress. Louie Minor is unopposed in the Democratic primary for CD 31 in central Texas. He’ll face Republican incumbent John Carter in November.

—  Anna Waugh

TCU GSA raising money for LGBT prom

gaypromFor some LGBT people, the memory of their high school prom wasn’t everything they dreamed it’d be, or in some cases, not even close.

But the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas Christian University is partnering with the university’s social work class of 2015 to ensure that LGBT students and its allies have a second chance at a memorable prom.

“This event will allow college students and above to participate in the high school tradition of going to prom that they may have missed out on due to discrimination,” TCU GSA President Shelbie Rosenblum wrote on the GoFundMe website. “Both organizations feel that the LGBTQ community and their allies should be able to experience this special moment with the person of their choice. … We support the LGBTQ community of DFW and believe that this will be a treasured moment for those who attend.”

The fund aims to raise $4,000 for an enchanting evening with food, a photo both, DJ and elegant decorations, all without charging admission for the event. So far, $440 has been donated.

The prom, while hosted at TCU, will be open to other universities and students in the DFW area on Saturday, April 12.

—  Anna Waugh

Teen charged in brutal Springtown beating to be tried under federal hate crime law

Hate-Crime

Arron Keahey

Federal prosecutors plan to try the teen who nearly killed a gay Dallas man last year under the federal hate crime law, according to The Associated Press.

Brice Johnson, 19, allegedly attacked and beat Arron Keahey after meeting him on the mobile app MeetMe over Labor Day weekend in Springtown, a small town about 70 miles west of Dallas in Parker County.

Keahey, who lived in Dallas at the time, suffered severe injuries, including nerve damage and a shattered eye socket.

Johnson was later arrested for aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, a second-degree felony, which police investigated as a hate crime. He faces 10 years in prison if convicted under the federal hate crime law.

Johnson’s trial is slated to begin in late March.

—  Anna Waugh

Couple marries in Central Park on Valentine’s Day

Valentino Felipe

Valentino Torres and Felipe Alvarez

Valentino Torres and Felipe Alvarez celebrated their 10th anniversary in November skiing in Telluride.

They met on Cedar Springs 10 years ago. For their sixth anniversary, Torres purchased promise rings at Tiffany’s and proposed on a horse and carriage ride in New York’s Central Park.

When the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act decision unconstitutional, the couple began thinking of turning the promise into reality. On the ski trip, they set the date. Valentine’s Day, they decided, was the perfect day to get married.

Last week, friends threw the couple a bachelor party. Since the party was for both of them, it was more a pre-wedding celebration, Torres said.

“There were no strippers,” he said, laughing.

Friends hired a limo, and the party was filmed for a reality show Torres is working on about gay Dallas Latino hairstylists.

On Wednesday, they left for New York City. That afternoon, they had a cake tasting in the city. On Thursday night, they had a rehearsal dinner in the West Village.

They were joined in New York by 14 friends from Dallas and a few others from the East Coast.

The wedding is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. on Valentine’s Day in Central Park — exact site to be determined.

“We have a few spots in mind,” Torres said.

An officiant they spoke to on the phone will preside and they’ve arranged for a violinist.

They’ll arrive at the ceremony in a horse and carriage to remind them of their fifth anniversary exchange of rings and during the ceremony replace the promise rings with wedding bands.

The violinist and officiant may be accustomed to New York’s cold and damp Februarys, but the Texans flying up to participate in the wedding are not. So in case of extremely cold weather, Torres said, their back-up plan is to marry at the Empire Hotel where they’re staying.

After the ceremony, they’re having a reception at Tao Uptown, a restaurant just south of Central Park on 58th Street.

“I never thought this would happen,” Torres said.

He said friends are always asking him how they’ve maintained a relationship for so long. He said he and Alvarez work at making their relationship succeed.

“Just take it day by day,” he advised.

 

—  David Taffet

Gay matchmaking service He’s For Me opens Dallas office

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From left, He’s For Me Dallas manager Dana Foley-Taylor, owner Tammy Shaklee and North Texas GLBT Chamber’s Tony Vedda and Ron Watterson help cut the ribbon at the office’s opening Friday. (Steve Ramos/Dallas Voice)

Dallas gays now have no excuse to be single — at least not for long.

Gay matchmaking service He’s for Me opened its Dallas office on Friday to celebrate Valentine’s Day and introduce the full-time staff to the community. Staff members were joined by members of the GLBT North Texas Chamber of Commerce, of which H4M is a member.

The company started in Austin in the fall of 2012. Within six months, matchmakers were setting up Dallas and Houston couples, owner Tammy Shaklee said.  The popularity made a full-time office in Big D necessary, and she plans to open a Houston location next.

Shaklee said it’s easy to meet people, but it’s hard to know if they’re single, looking for a serious relationship and if you’re compatible with them.

And she met her husband through a dating service in Austin seven years ago.

“I would have never met him without the matchmaking service,” she said.

She then tried to convince a gay friend to use a service to find love. Only he couldn’t find a service that paired gays.

“I started the research, and after three days of trying to find service for him, I found that none existed,” she said. “When I couldn’t find a service for him to hire to help him, I started the process to start it myself.”

H4M also serves gays in Seattle, after a Houston client relocated and wanted Shaklee’s company to help him there. The company now serves gays in Denver, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta.

While Shaklee, a straight ally, saw the need for gays to have a service, she said she’s researching expanding the company for lesbians with a She’s For Me component.

“I really do believe in my heart that it took a straight ally to give the community something that it hadn’t had the opportunity to have before,” she said.

H4M Dallas office is located at at 2911 Turtle Creek Blvd., 3rd Floor. For more info about HFM, go here.

—  Anna Waugh

Denton County Stonewall endorses out candidates for state House

Daniel Moran

Daniel Moran

Stonewall Democrats of Denton County voted at a meeting in Lewisville Wednesday night to endorse out state House candidates Daniel Moran and Emy Lyons. The group’s entire endorsed slate for the March 4 Democratic Primary is below.

U.S. Congressional District 24 – Patrick McGehearty

TX State Representative District 63- Daniel Moran

TX State Representative District 64- Emy Lyons

TX State Representative District 65- Alex Mendoza

TX State Representative District 106- Lisa Osterholt

District Judge 367th Court- David Heiman

U.S. Senate- Maxey Scherr

Governor- Wendy Davis

Lieutenant Governor- Leticia Van de Putte

Attorney General- Sam Houston

Comptroller- Mike Collier

Land Commissioner- John Cook

Agriculture Commissioner- Hugh Fitzsimons

Railroad Commissioner- Steve Brown

TX Supreme Court Place 7- Gina Benavides

—  Anna Waugh

WATCH: WFAA’s Dale Hansen says NFL is ready for an openly gay player

Screen shot 2014-02-11 at 9.15.50 AM

WFAA sports anchor Dale Hansen addressed the shocking emotions last night surrounding University of Missouri defensive end Michael Sam’s coming out over the weekend.

Hansen said Sam, who’s expected to be drafted by the NFL in the third to fifth round, should be welcome as the first openly gay player in the NFL, a league which has welcomed players who have committed domestic abuse, rape, murder and done drugs.

“You love another man. Well, now you’ve gone too far,” Hansen said about the reactions to Sam’s coming out.

Hansen continued to say the nation and the NFL should celebrate the differences of its players, adding that he might not understand what it’s like to be gay.

“I’m not always comfortable when a man tells me he’s gay. I don’t understand his world,” he said. “But I do understand that he’s part of mine.”

Watch the clip below.

—  Anna Waugh

23 TX couples compete for $5K in ACLU’s Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest

weddings-aclu

Even though same-sex marriage isn’t allowed or recognized in the Lone Star State, that doesn’t mean those in the LGBT community aren’t busy planning their dream weddings here at home and in other states.

Of those couples, 23 have entered the American Civil Liberties Union’s Big Gay (Il)legal Wedding contest, which highlights the unfair patchwork of state marriage laws. Couples from states without marriage equality were eligible to enter and share their dream wedding plans across state lines. Five couples will win $5,000 toward their wedding. Voting ends this weekend.

Among the Texas entries are some pretty sweet love stories, including Dallas activists Mark Jiminez and Beau Chandler, who would marry in New Mexico and then “decorate our pick-up truck with all the gayest ‘Just Married’ decorations we could find and drive back across the State of Texas to our home in Dallas.”

Here are a few other examples:

1391179874-104204-01Sharon and Marcel, who plan to marry in Hawaii.

“Marcel is my first love, first girl I kissed 30 years ago. It was the summer of 1984 when I first came out and met her. It was love at first sight, but due to the shock of the overwhelming feelings of love and coming out our relationship lasted only 6 months. We went separate ways and lost one another to life’s roller coaster, military, other relationships, heartache and never spoke to each other again. We saw each other again at my high school reunion and all those feelings came back … I proposed to her the summer of 2012 at the same spot where we first met.”

Jeff and Jeremiah, who want to take a road trip and record their wedding journey.1390127543-98122-01

“We met on an airplane. Jeff was flying home to Milwaukee, Wisc., and Jeremiah was the airline attendant on the flight. I (Jeff) was interested in him and gave him my number. We later connected online/on the phone, and began talking very often. The next time that Jeremiah’s work took him to Wisconsin, he and I shared dinner, and from their months of conversation evolved into a long-distance relationship. Jeremiah would go out of his way to book hours on flights that passed through or ended in Milwaukee, and we fell in love months later. We recently relocated to Houston, TX for Jeff’s new job.”

1391966181-111267-01Toby and Daniel, who want to wed in Washington, D.C. and have a celebration at their family’s country home in Brenham, Texas.

“We met in 2007, Daniel was from Mexico living in Houston. Bar Manager at my favorite TexMex Restaurant. I work in Consulting and would meet clients at his restaurant. In between meetings I would visit his bar and communicate via “span-tran” on my laptop with him. I didn’t know Daniel would one day save my life 7 years later by being tested anonymously and donating his healthy Kidney to me after high blood pressure and hypertension destroyed mine in 2013. His blood type, and antigen match was a perfect match to me. God knew. Miracle.”

To view all of the Texas entries, go here and search by state or couple.

—  Anna Waugh

PHOTOS: Creating Change 2014 in Houston

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Nona Hendryx performs Sunday at Creating Change in Houston. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

 HOUSTON — Thousands of LGBT advocates departed from Houston Sunday as the 26th annual National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change came to a close.

The annual five-day conference set records for the amount of attendees and workshops in its first year in Houston. And the inspiration of the weekend was all around during the conference, from Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s welcome to trans actress Laverne Cox’s keynote speech and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey’s State of the Movement address. (If you missed any of the speeches, you can watch them here.)

And, like any celebration in the LGBT community, it ended with a bang as bisexual singer Nona Hendryx rocked out on stage on Sunday after brunch.

More photos below.

—  Anna Waugh

Annise Parker touches on importance of elections, unity at Creating Change

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

Houston Mayor Annise Parker addresses the crowd at the national Creating Change conference in Houston Thursday night. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

HOUSTON — Mayor Annise Parker was cheered to the stage by thousands of people when she was introduced Thursday evening as Mrs. Annise Parker at The National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change.

Parker married her longtime partner earlier this month in California. She welcomed the applause during her welcome address at the conference, now in its 26th year, which is in Houston for the first time.

“You’re acting as if you’ve never seen a lesbian before,” Parker said. “And, yes, this what a lesbian mayor looks like.”

While conference organizers had hoped to hold the event in Houston when Parker was mayor — she’s now in her third and final term — Parker said she wanted to be a part of the experience that happens when thousands of LGBT activists and advocates converge for the national gathering.

“It was important for me to be here tonight because one, you’re my family,” she said. “Two, it is important for the rest of the United States and the rest of the state of Texas to experience what we do here at Creating Change, and I wanted to be a part of that.

“And I get to home to my new wife,” she added.

Parker, who said she lit up City Hall in rainbow colors for the conference, touched on her citywide elections and how LGBT people can create change by electing the right people to any office.

“I’m here to tell you elections matter,” she said. “And when you put someone in the state house or in the city council chamber or in the mayor’s office, you can make a difference in the lives of people that you will never meet and never see, but you know that you are transforming people’s lives. And those mayors might do something like penning the most comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinance in the United States as their third executive act.”

Parker has said this term she plans to have the council pass a nondiscrimination ordinance similar to those in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio.

She also said people could elect a mayor who supports marriage equality. Parker is a co-chair of Mayors for the Freedom to Marry, and she encouraged attendees to go by Freedom to Marry’s booth and email their mayors to support marriage equality.

And with such a diverse representation of the LGBT community, Parker ended by encouraging the community’s strength to focus on common goals instead of divisive factors.

“The most important thing that we can do here today, this evening and at this conference, is to look around at who’s here with us, look at the strength we have as a community, recognize that the differences that divide us are so much less than the things that unite us,” she said. “Our strength is powerful.”

—  Anna Waugh