You don’t have to like Adam Lambert to help YFT

In Friday’s Voice we have a story about Youth First Texas’ decision to stage a Spring Formal this year instead of the traditional Gayla Prom — in part because a full-fledged prom simply would’ve been too expensive for the cash-strapped agency.

The story also talks about how YFT’er Rosie Roetto has used Twitter, an Amazon Wish List and her Adam Lambert fan club to help bring in basic supplies including ceiling tiles, food and office chairs.

When we tried to obtain a photo of Roetto to use alongside the story, she responded as follows:

“… Isn’t the story more about Youth First Texas and the people actually putting on the prom? I don’t feel like I did enough to warrant a picture. [YFT board chair] Chris Cognetta has a wonderful picture of the 35 amazon boxes piled high on the counter from the first delivery of donations from the Adam Lambert fans, but I don’t know how much your story is about that. It was a great picture.”

Although we disagree that Roetto’s work doesn’t warrant a photo, we did want to go ahead and share Cognetta’s (above), which he sent over on Thursday. We thought we’d also mention that you don’t have to be an Adam Lambert fan to help out YFT, which among other things was recently left off the beneficiary list for Black Tie Dinner. You can respond to YFT’s Amazon Wish List yourself by going here.

—  John Wright

Notable deaths: Wagner, Raggio, LaLanne

Carolyn Wagner

Carolyn Wagner

Former P-FLAG vice president Carolyn Wagner, 57, died of cancer in Tulsa.

Wagner became an advocate for the LGBT community after her son was a victim of bullying. She sued the Fayetteville, Ark., school district in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she prevailed.

While he was a teenager, Wagner brought her son to Dallas to participate in the Gayla Prom, which was then held at the Dallas Grand Hotel in Downtown. At the time it was the only event of its type held anywhere in the region and one of the few in the country. P-FLAG Dallas was the event’s sponsor.

Wagner said at the event that she was delighted to have her son experience a healthy dating environment.

Wagner served as grand marshal of the Tulsa Pride parade in 2000. She founded the support group, Families United Against Hate.

She was a nurse who spent her career caring for children that were abuse victims and those with cancer and terminal illnesses. She founded Camp Rainbow for children with cancer.

Wagner died Jan. 18, and a memorial service was held Saturday. Donations may be made to P-FLAG.

Louise Raggio

Dallas women’s rights activist Louise Raggio, 91, died this weekend.

She was the first female Dallas County assistant district attorney. When Raggio was first hired she was paid half what the men in the department made. She was the first woman in Dallas to prosecute a criminal case and the first woman to serve as director of the State Bar of Texas.

After going into private practice, Raggio worked to get the Marital Property Act of 1967 passed. Prior to passage of that law, married women could not have their own bank accounts, apply for mortgages or have their own credit in Texas. Dallas District Court Judge Lorraine Raggio is her daughter-in-law. Her son, Greer Jr., ran for Congress in 2010 against incumbent Pete Sessions.

Jack LaLanne

Jack LaLanne, 96, the original TV fitness expert, died on Sunday. His show began in 1951 and ran for 34 years.

“The only way you can hurt the body is not use it,” LaLanne said. “Inactivity is the killer and, remember, it’s never too late.”

In 1955, at age 41, LaLanne swam handcuffed from Alcatraz to San Francisco. The year before, he set a world record swimming the length of the Golden Gate Bridge under water. In 1956, he set a world record for push-ups.

LaLanne opened his first gym in 1936. By the 1980s, he owned more than 200 Jack LaLanne’s European Health Spas. The company became Bally’s Total Fitness.

—  David Taffet

Youth First Collin County needs a new home

Organization seeks new space for Plano youth center, or at least somewhere to temporarily store furniture and other items

John Wright | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

PROM PREP | Volunteers and youth get ready for the Gayla Prom at Youth First Texas Collin County in June. YFT-CC will have to move from its current location by mid-July. (Courtesy of Jeanne Rubin)

PLANO — Collin County’s organization for LGBT youth is looking for a new home — or at least a place to store its stuff.

For the last 18 months, Youth First Texas-Collin County has been utilizing, free of charge, some vacant commercial space on Avenue K just south of East Park Boulevard in Plano.

But the landlord recently found a paying tenant, and YFT-CC will have to move by mid-July.

It marks the third time the six-year-old organization has had to move, according to lead volunteer Jeanne Rubin.

This time, YFT-CC has accumulated several large items, such as sofas, a pool table, a TV and computers — some of which were hand-me-downs from its parent organization in Dallas, Youth First Texas.

YFT-CC has found a location in Frisco where it can meet temporarily if necessary, but the organization would still need to store the items somewhere while it looks for a more permanent home.

“The real issue is that we need a space, and it would be nice if we could have a space that we would have forever, but I understand that because we want it for free, that’s not always going to be the case,” Rubin said. “We would like to take this opportunity to move a little further north. Collin County is a huge county, and we have kids from Denton and Flower Mound and Lewisville and other place besides Collin County.”

Rubin said anyone who knows of space available in Collin County is asked to contact her at CollinCounty@youthfirsttexas.org.

Donations will also be accepted to help pay for storage or to cover utilities if a space is found.

“Obviously our first choice would be to pick up our pool table and sofas and plop them in another place,” she said. “Donations are always helpful. If we end up at the Dairy Queen once or twice, we’ll have money to buy everybody ice cream.”

James Nunn, a board member at Youth First Texas in Dallas who lives and works in Frisco, said his employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters, has offered a space where YFT-CC can hold its big group meetings on Sundays.

Nunn serves as liaison between YFT-CC and the Dallas parent organization, which have been attempting to work together more closely of late.

While the parent organization is experiencing its own financial challenges, Nunn said the long-term goal is to lease a permanent satellite somewhere in the northern suburbs.

“We want to be in a position where we don’t have to rely always on somebody providing us a free space,” Nunn said. “There is a level of uncertainty when you rely on that.”

YFT-CC began as a partnership between YFT in Dallas and the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, according to Rubin.

YFT-CC meets every Sunday, in addition to twice-monthly “hangout nights” and a monthly movie night.

Rubin said about 20-30 youth typically attend the Sunday meetings in the summertime.

Collin County, more conservative than Dallas, has only three high schools with Gay Straight Alliances, Rubin said. At one of those high schools, school officials won’t allow the group to call itself a GSA, and instead it’s known as the Tolerance Alliance.

“What a lot of them say is that while the high school they go to may be cool, in terms of people don’t care they’re gay, lots of times they’ll be like the only gay kid,” Rubin said. “Even though some people don’t have a problem with that, it’s nice to come to Youth First and be

John or Jeanne, not the gay kid. Here they can come and just sort of be themselves.”

For more info, go to http://youthfirsttexas.org/collincounty/ or look for the organization’s Facebook page.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas