Hi, I’m Drake, the summer intern

Hello, Drake here.

I’m the summer intern here at Dallas Voice, here to make copies, get coffee, take out the trash, so on and so forth. Before I get to the very important duties of The Lone Intern, I thought I’d write a little about myself.

I’m the baby in the office at a mere nineteen years young. As far as the GLBT community goes, I fall into the T category, as in transgender. I’m a female-to-male transgentleman extraordinaire, going through puberty for the second time. I’ve been on testosterone for almost three months now. Perfect time to start life as an intern, right?

Outside my intern duties I take part in the fascinating world of reading and drinking coffee. I’m starting at Northlake Community College soon where I will study English and journalism, minoring in underwater basket-weaving. I dabble in many artsy-fartsy activities such as cosplay, sewing, knitting, making junk out of polymer clay, and occasionally I break out the power tools to work on some metal or woodcraft. As a non-paid side career I’m a performer from Isis Studios as a belly dancer.

I’m a lover of fantasy and science fiction and an avid fan of Harry Potter (I’ve got a tattoo of the Slytherin crest — I think that means I broke the needle on the Geek-O-Meter). I’ve got more tattoos and piercings than I probably should at my age, but I doubt I’ll quit any time soon. I am a proud fan fiction writer and editor, which is where most of my writing experience comes from. I post an inappropriate number of videos on YouTube of my cosplay shenanigans, rants about whatever I feel like complaining about, and recently I’ve started a vlog on my transitioning process from female to male. Aside from all that, I pretty much just hang out in my room and chill on Facebook.

Well, that’s all from me for now. I’m sure there will be more posts in the near future of my ramblings and opinions. For now, I say good ‘morrow.

—  admin

Right-wing Liberty Institute issues action alert in support of transgender marriage ban

Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands

Daniel Williams at Legislative Queery reports that the Texas Senate has again adjourned for the day without taking up a bill that would bar transgender people from marrying people of the opposite sex. However, The Woodlands Republican Tommy Williams’ SB 723 remains on the Senate’s calendar for Thursday. The bill, a response to the Nikki Araguz case, would remove a court order of sex change from the list of documents that can be used to obtain marriage licenses in Texas.

Daniel Williams also notes that today, the right-wing, Plano-based Liberty Institute issued an action alert calling on people to urge senators to support the anti-LGBT bill. Here’s an excerpt:

Some Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender advocates, want to thwart a Texas appeals court decision and force the state to recognize their gender (for marriage purposes) as something other than what was assigned at birth, to change their gender later on in life and force county clerks to recognize the changed gender. Such an outcome will create confusion for county clerks, for the courts and no doubt will be used by the GLBT community to undermine our marriage laws, which affirm traditional marriage, between one man and one woman.

Protect traditional marriage, support SB 723.

If you haven’t already contacted your senator and asked them to oppose this bill, this disgusting action alert from the Liberty Institute should provide plenty of motivation to do so. Email your senator by going here.

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Tavern Guild treasurer responds to criticism over gay Pride festival changes

Clearing up some Festival facts

I’m a bit disappointed by the tone of Hardy Haberman’s article on the Festival in Lee Park (“The end of the free festival,” Dallas Voice, April 15).

The writer admits up front that he never attended the event. I’m not sure where the nostalgia comes from if you have not been a regular in the park following the parade.

We all miss the “good old days” when the world was different. Days when people respected the law, followed rules, respected each other and controlled their drinking and fighting.

Things have changed. Sadly, the festival has degenerated to an embarrassing level. It was evident on the parade route this past year. It was most evident in the park for the last two years.

Uncontrolled drinking of cases and cases of beer brought into the park led to a lot of issues: Gay on gay issues; drunk, loud, vulgar language in front of children; rude behavior and more fights than we have ever experienced.

The actions of a few of our community disgusted several GLBT families with children. Rude, vulgar actions led only to anger on the part of the offending parties that their actions were questioned. And most all of it was due to uncontrolled beer and even liquor consumption.

Public drunkenness is illegal. Bringing liquor into the park is illegal. We run the risk of losing the support and attendance of much of the GLBT community if we do not control the events in the park. That would be a real loss.

TABC and Homeland Security are an issue, even though the writer scoffed at the idea. Homeland Security is the reason police requirements rose from 20 officers to 85 officers (DPD wanted 100 officers). These are all $35 to $45 per hour, per officer. We are approaching $20,000 in security.

Add to that a clean-up cost of $12,000 because in a celebration, no one wants to pick up after themselves. Add to that a festival in the park where the celebration is used by a few as an excuse to get as drunk as they want, with no thought or respect for others in attendance.

Frankly, this damages the GLBT image. It drives away good, responsible GLBT people from attending, and it cheapens the event.

A loss for the community? Yes, but that loss is not about a free event in the park. It’s a loss of reason, a loss of responsibility, a loss of respect and decency.

Americans in general have lost it. Some in the GLBT community have lost it. Fencing in the park was a last resort effort to control the drunkenness and the sanity during our festival.

The decision would have been taken out of our hands next year anyway. The Tavern Guild made the only good choice, and thanks to that decision, the festival will continue, “for now.”

Alan Pierce
Treasurer, Dallas Tavern Guild


More on charging for the Festival

Though I understand the reasoning, I think they will find that far fewer people attend the event, myself included … unless truly there is big name entertainment.

Bummer, via DallasVoice.com


The entire “Pride” thing is a joke. There is no pride. Its an excuse to be exhibionistic and to get stinking drunk. Sad, sad, sad.

Jim, via DallasVoice.com


This is what you get when you allow a community event to be sponsored by a group of business people whose main concern is getting a large amount of people into their bars and drinking their overpriced drinks. Lee Park is a PUBLIC PARK and the idea that a business group could fence it and charge admission goes against everything the idea of a public park should be. Of course, if the Tavern Guild is decrying the amount of “drunks” at the parade, they have no one to blame but themselves. Pride Schmide.

Brett, via DallasVoice.com


It (charging admission) is a great idea. I wish it would have happened sooner. I re-read the article and the negative comments seem extreme and unfounded.

Little Monster, via DallasVoice.com


Log Cabin Republicans was planning on having a booth as it always does at the festival until we read about the rule changes. The rule changes will impede attendance as much or more than the $5.

Can you imagine Lee Park with a perimeter fence? Nobody will be able to enter without going through a main entrance. Can you imagine renting a booth and not being allowed to bring in a cooler for your workers and guests? We just offer water and soft drinks, but coolers are now prohibited.

I don’t believe these rules will stand for very long as surely nobody will commit to a festival that nobody will attend.

Robert Schlein, via DallasVoice.com

—  John Wright

Leppert’s DOMA comment was a slap in the face

Lorie Burch

LORIE BURCH  |  Chairwoman, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce

As chairwoman of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce, I am disappointed with Mayor Tom Leppert’s recent statements denouncing the Obama Administration’s statement that it will no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevents the federal government and certain states from honoring same-sex marriages in other states and jurisdictions.

Mr. Leppert has purported to be an advocate of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community through his tenure as Dallas mayor. He’s been an honored guest at many of our community’s most prestigious events like the North Texas Chamber’s Anniversary Dinner and the Black Tie Dinner. He has been part of the International GLBT Press Tour, and helped to sell Dallas as a preferred destination for important GLBT conferences.

In light of his recent resignation as mayor, presumably to pursue Kay Bailey Hutchinson’s Senate seat, such a reversal is politicking at its worst and is a slap in the face to the North Texas GLBT community who have shown him its support.

It is time to expect more from our leaders. No longer should we tolerate this “back of the bus” argument that the GLBT community can have some rights, but not all rights. You cannot qualify equality and we deserve leaders who will stand up for us and be our voice and not cow-tow to their political base. Equality is not a political platform; it is the foundation of our country. Civil rights are not a matter of public opinion; they are a guarantee to us under our Constitution. It is, simply, our way of life.

—  admin

Walking into the future

READY, SET, WALK | AOC Executive Director Allan Gould and AIDS Walk Coordinator Penny Rowell are hoping this year’s fundraising walk will be the best yet. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

AOC’s 2011 AIDS Walk will kick off the agency’s 25th anniversary year

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center marks its 25th anniversary this year, and a number of events are already scheduled to celebrate. The first of those is the center’s 19th annual AIDS Walk, set for Sunday, April 3.

Walk Coordinator Penny Rowell said this week organizers are working to build this year’s walk into the biggest and best ever to help celebrate the center’s milestone anniversary.

In the beginning

AOC Executive Director Allan Gould has been involved with the center in some capacity practically since its inception in 1986 as the Fort Worth Counseling Center.

“I was working for Radio Shack then, and the folks from the counseling center came to Radio Shack and asked for help in getting the computers and phone systems and so on set up. I have been an active participant since then, either as a volunteer or a board member or an employee,” Gould said.

That first year, Gould said, the counseling center saw only nine people, but “it was the beginning of an outreach and an effort to supply something [help for people with AIDS] that was sorely lacking then in Tarrant County.”

In the beginning, the agency focused on getting volunteers — “mainly counselors and social workers and attorneys” — to offer services for people with AIDS, he said.

“Back then, there were no AIDS tests. People were only being diagnosed when it was really too late. There were no drugs to keep them alive,” Gould recalled. “I used to keep a record of all the people I knew who died of AIDS. But when the list reached 300 or so, I just stopped recording the names.

“I couldn’t do it anymore; it was just too devastating,” he said.

“It was the immediacy of that moment, of seeing people getting sick and dying so quickly, that caused our community — the GLBT community — to unite and create this organization to reach out and try and give some comfort to those who were dying all around us,” Gould continued.

“There wasn’t much we could do, other than offer them counseling and legal help to get their affairs in order. But we did what we could.”

In 1988, the center changed its name to Community Outreach Center and received its first public funding — a grant from the state that allowed the agency to hire its first actual employees, a counselor and Thomas Bruner, its first executive director. The newly-renamed center focused its efforts then on offering counseling to those with AIDS and on educating the public about the disease and how to avoid contracting it.

The name changed again in 1992 when the agency became the AIDS Outreach Center. Although today there’s nothing unusual about that name, at the time it was a controversial move.

“It was necessary to include ‘AIDS’ in the organization’s name. Including it directly addressed the needs we were trying to meet in the community and made sure people knew exactly what we were doing,” Gould said. “But at the same time, it shocked a lot of people. There was still a lot of discrimination happening, a lot of bias and bigotry against people with AIDS.

“That name change was a double-edged sword in a lot of ways,” he added. “It put us out there and made it easier for the people who needed us to find us, but at the same time, it caused a lot of people who had supported us to kind of withdraw, especially in the African-American and Hispanic communities.

“They just didn’t want to be associated with an organization that had ‘AIDS’ in its title,” he said.

Gould said that withdrawal by some previous supporters caused the agency’s donations to drop, and it took some time to rebuild the center’s funding.

Evolution

Attitudes toward the AIDS epidemic and the needs of those with HIV/AIDS have changed over the years, and so have the center’s services.

“Our mission hasn’t changed so much as it has evolved,” Gould said. “We still have the same services we started out with — although most of the legal assistance is contracted out to Legal Hospice of Texas now — but we have continued to add services.”

The center’s counseling services today are “second to none,” and the center is top on the list of agencies to which Tarrant County MHMR refers clients with HIV seeking help, Gould said.

Among the first services to be added was social and medical case management, followed by outreach, education and prevention programs.

“The Nutrition Center came next, and it grew out of the efforts of Sandy Lanier, the wife of Dr. Bob Lanier,” Gould said. “She truly believed that good nutrition was the key to good health for people with AIDS — for everybody, really — and she literally started going around to the markets and grocery stores, getting them to donate food.

“Then she would put those donations in the back of her station wagon and drive around finding people who needed the food,” Gould said. “What she was doing eventually morphed into a more structured format and finally became our food pantry, which is one of our most used programs.”

The most recent evolution came in September 2009 when Tarrant County Interfaith Network merged into AIDS Outreach Center, adding the Guisel-Morris Dental Clinic to the center’s arsenal of services.

At the same time, AOC moved from its longtime home in a cramped and dingy space in Fort Worth’s hospital district to spacious new quarters on North Beach Street.

“That merger and the move was a big drain for us,” Gould said. “We had anticipated that it would take about half a million dollars to pay for it all, and we had gotten enough pledges, enough commitments from people to cover it.

“But then the recession hit, and a lot of those pledges didn’t come through, and we found ourselves with a real cash flow problem,” he continued. About six months ago, we realized we had to make some adjustments, and we ended up laying off four employees and cutting one to half time.”

The agency was able to absorb the duties of those missing employees into other remaining positions and in doing so, realized “a huge and immediate savings of about $130,000 a year,” Gould said.

And now that the economy has begun to recover, he said, so has AOC. Since the new fiscal year began last September, Gould said, the center has seen “a much larger outreach from individual donors than in recent years,” along with a larger outreach from corporations and foundations.

So even with what is expected to be about a 6 percent cut across the board in federal and state funds looming, AOC is able to maintain its $4.5 million budget and keep offering its programs. Gould said the center now serves about 2,000 clients annually on an ongoing basis, although “not every client uses every service we offer.” Two of the most widely-used services are the dental clinic, with about 900 active clients, and the nutrition center, with about 700 clients annually.

The Walk

The goal for this year’s AIDS Walk is $110,000 to $115,000, and while that doesn’t cover a huge portion of the agency’s overall budget, the funds are important. And just as important is the opportunity the walk presents to reach a wider audience with the center’s message of awareness and prevention.

Rowell said she is encouraged by the fact volunteers helping organize the walk are coming largely from a younger generation that “is more aware of HIV and AIDS than any other generation,” and that these young people are taking the message to a new audience.

“It’s opening a dialog with a new and larger demographic,” she said.

Rowell said she is also counting on some changes in this year’s walk to help bring in a new crop of walkers and volunteers.

“We moved the walk back to Trinity Park this year” instead of starting and ending at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center with a route that circled the Botanical Gardens, she said.

This year, the walk starts at the pavilion off 7th Street, then circles through the park to I-30 and back to the pavilion. The event begins at 1 p.m., and the walk itself steps off at 2:30 p.m. Anna DeHaro, Sunday morning radio host with KEGL radio station, will emcee the walk and will have Gould as a special guest on her radio show that same day.
Cooks Children’s Hospital is sponsoring the Kids Corner with special activities for the younger participants, and the Human Society will be at the walk with pets available for adoption. There will also be vendor booths set up near the pavilion.

Pre-registration is available for $25. Registration the day of the walk will be $30, and starts at 12:30 p.m. at Luke’s Locker, located nearby at 2600 W. 7th St. Luke’s Locker, Rowell said, is a sponsor for this year’s walk and has been extremely helpful in organizing the event.

She said the store specializing in gear for runners has “done a lot of advertising for us online and at every event they have participated in recently.”

Anyone who pays a registration fee will receive an AIDS Walk T-shirt. But those who bring in at least $100 more will get a canvas tote bag and a T-shirt. Those who raise at least $250 extra get the shirt, the bag and one raffle ticket, while those who raise at least $450 get all that plus one more raffle ticket.

Items donated for the raffle range include concert and theater tickets, dinners and more. Rowell said organizers are also working with representatives from the Texas Rangers baseball team to get a raffle prize donation from the championship team.

“We’re still looking for vendors and sponsors, and anyone who is interested can call me for information,” Rowell said. She can be reached at 817-916-5224 or by e-mail at pennyr@aoc.org.

Looking ahead

Gould said this year’s AIDS Walk — as well as a May 5 open house and the June 25 “Evening of Hope” gala — are just a few of the signs of the great things to come for AIDS Outreach Center.

“We are looking at the future, looking at ways to round out our programs to take a more active role in the overall care, medically speaking, of people with HIV and AIDS in Tarrant County,” Gould said, “We are always looking at new ways to serve and grow, and there are great things to come.

“Over the last 25 years, we have made some dramatic strides forward in offering services and programs to our community,” he added, “and this agency is poised to be here well into the future.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 18, 2011.

—  John Wright

Organizers cancel gay-themed Super Bowl concert at Cotton Bowl after only 13 tickets sold

The big gay Super Bowl concert planned for the Cotton Bowl on Thursday night has been canceled due to poor ticket sales, according to Ariana Hajibashi, publicist for the now-two-night XLV Party

Hajibashi said only 13 tickets had been sold for Thursday night’s concert featuring Lady Bunny, the Village People and Cazwell, which was marketed specifically to the LGBT community.

“Our Friday and Saturday are packed, but Thursday didn’t sell anything,” Hajibashi said. “I understand that everybody in Dallas is a last-minute ticket buyer, but unfortunately with only 13 tickets sold four days out, we couldn’t invest an additional $100,000 dollars. We couldn’t have a 6,000-square-foot space with 100 people in it. It kind of makes us sad because we were really trying to do an event for the GLBT community. Everybody else is focused on the sports angle and things like that, so we’re disappointed that we didn’t get any attention.”

Hajibashi said cold weather had nothing to do with the cancellation, because the tent over the Cotton Bowl will be heated. She said organizers thought they had a great lineup that would appeal to the gay community.

The XLV Party is still on for Friday and Saturday nights, and tickets are now as low as $59 per night for a limited time. As we mentioned earlier, Outtakes Dallas is giving away tickets.

A full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright

Giffords celebrated DADT repeal with photo of Arizona sunset, attended signing ceremony

Arizona Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot today, is a member of the House LGBT Equality Caucus.

Steve Rothhaus at The Miami Herald reports that Giffords said the following after first being elected to Congress in 2006:

“I have stood up for equality in Arizona, and I am grateful that HRC and the GLBT community stood with our campaign during the primary and the general elections. We can accomplish so much for our families when we work together. Fairness is an essential American value, and when we champion fairness, we can win decisive victories in even the most competitive congressional districts.”

Giffords received a score of 81 out of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s 2008 Congressional Scorecard.

After the Senate passed a standalone bill to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” last month Giffords sent out this Tweet along with the photo above:

Giffords would later attend the presidential signing ceremony for DADT repeal.

HRC just released this statement from President Joe Solmonese:

“We are shocked and saddened by the events involving Congresswoman Giffords and our hearts go out to her and the other victims of this awful tragedy. Gabby Giffords is a champion for LGBT equality and a principled leader for Arizona. We wish her a speedy recovery as our thoughts and prayers are with her family as well as with the families of all of those touched by today’s horrific violence.”

—  John Wright

Emmer concedes; Target doesn’t

Target Retail StoreRepublican Tom Emmer finally conceded defeat to Democrat Mark Dayton in the Minnesota governor’s race. Although behind by 9,000 votes, the homophobic Emmer still thought he should have won.

The race gained national attention when Target and Best Buy made substantial donations to a PAC that supported Emmer. Although they claimed they supported Emmer for his position on lower taxes, LGBT groups jumped on the candidate’s extreme anti-gay views. He called one person who called for death to gays “a nice guy,” for example.

Target has refused to budge on its position, however. The Human Rights Campaign spoke to representatives of the company over the summer to encourage them to make equal donations to LGBT groups. Negotiations broke down and the company has not responded or supported LGBT groups in any significant way since then.

HRC’s rating of Target in the Corporate Equality Index was lowered from 100 percent to 85 percent in the latest listing.

—  David Taffet

Gay OKC pioneer Arnold Smith remembered

Arnold “Arna Lee” Smith, who owned a series of gay bars in Oklahoma City dating back to the 1960s, died Oct. 31 at 83, according to the Metro Star:

During the early 1960s America and Oklahoma were quite different, where being gay was officially still a mental illness, sodomy laws were still in the books, and gay rights (let alone marriage) weren’t even discussed. Police raids on gay bars were common, albeit on dubious pretexts and very selective law enforcement, much facilitated when most people victimized by these tactics were either afraid and/or ashamed to fight back. But even in this dark scenario Arnold’s first club, Lee’s Lounge which opened in the mid 1960s in the Paseo District, was a bright spot for the GLBT community that refused to back down. Although the club endured relentless police harassment, the club proudly kept going. On many occasions when he was arrested along with his customers, he would bail himself and his customers out and re-open the bar the same night. His drag persona, Arna Lee, became famous during this time, accompanied by his outrageously fun costumes and tap dancing with a campy wit to match. During this time he became a Drag Mother to many budding female impersonators, a passion that spanned over 40 years.

—  John Wright

Letters • 11.19.10

Fox not a credible news source

I read with interest the column written last week by Matthew Tsien (“Gay vote for GOP shows change in trend,” Dallas Voice, Nov. 12), formerly public affairs director for the Washington, D.C., chapter of Log Cabin Republicans.

I find the statements made by Mr. Tsien to be somewhat incredulous, however. He stated that 31 percent or more of self-identified gay voters voted Republican in 2010. Later he suggests that this is probably 5 to 10 percent higher, which would mean that almost half of the GLBT voters in this election cast Republican ballots.

Before we can ascertain whether or not this is an accurate number, we must “consider the source” of the data. My mother taught me a long time ago to always “consider the source” whenever you hear information or are presented with data.

Well when we look into Mr. Tsien’s source of information, we find that it is none other than Fox News, a notoriously biased network that is owned by conservative billionaire Rupert Murdoch, who also owns and controls the Wall Street Journal.

This American does not consider Fox News to be a credible news source. Fox News is what I refer to as “infotainment.” They inflame, exaggerate and basically present blatantly false information to their viewers on a regular basis. How can anyone cite this news source as being “credible?”

In all fairness, Mr. Tsien does disclose his source at the beginning of his column —  “According to Fox News….” — which puts his whole article in context to the truly discerning reader.

I recognize that there are gay conservatives, but long-studied electoral statistics have said that the only demographic group that is more loyal to the Democratic Party than the GLBT community is the African-American community.

Those numbers typically run around 85 percent.

So it is much more likely that about 15 percent of GLBT voters — or one out of seven — cast a GOP ballot.

Further, there are legitimate, credible and objective conservative sources of information, like The Economist of London. Fox News, or as we on the Left call it, Faux News is not one of them.

I agree that Democrats aren’t doing enough to advance GLBT civil rights.

But to suggest that the GOP will do so is truly preposterous.

Mom is right: “Consider the Source.”

Jay Narey
Outgoing vice president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas

……………..

‘A little suspect’

Does anyone else find it a little suspect that Matthew Tsien, when claiming that 31 percent or more of self-identified gay voters said in exit poles that they voted for the Republican Party, cited Fox News as his source (“Gay vote for GOP shows change in trend,” Dallas Voice, Nov. 12)?

Just sayin’.

Mikael Andrews
Dallas

……………..

Dems top GOP in money matters

There are many ways to measure the superiority of the Democratic Party over the GOP. Look at one that affects nearly everyone: Money.
During the Bush years, the Dow Jones went from about 11,000 to about 8,000 when he left office.

This decline of more than 27 percent proves the fiscal irresponsibility of the Republican Party. Bush left the nation in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Enter Obama and the Democrats: Dow goes from about 8,000 to over 11,000, an increase of more than 37 percent in less than two years, indicating fiscal responsibility seen by corporations and investors alike. Bush recession ends.

Don’t be fooled by GOP protestations. They have proven inept at governing.

David A. Gershner
Dallas

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens