TCU day with Chick-fil-A sparks upset

Texas Christian University is partnering with Chick-fil-A today to give free food to TCU fans sporting their Horned Frog attire.

Patrons who visit two Fort Worth locations near the university wearing TCU attire will be given a free original chicken sandwich or an eight pack of nuggets.

The event is part of TCU Athletics Big 12 Days of Summer series and drew some debate on the athletics department’s Facebook page.

Alumnus Marlon Figueroa, who is gay, said the event shouldn’t have occurred because it is inappropriate during the recent controversy with the chicken chain over gay marriage and President Dan Cathy’s anti-gay comments. He said he wants TCU to end its relationship with Chick-fil-A and not partner with the company in the future.

“I think that TCU represents a lot of people and by partnering with TCU it’s alienating a lot of people,” he said. “Our values to be inclusive are not in line with Chick-fil-A.”

Aaron Hampton, president of TCU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, told Instant Tea that the partnership sent the wrong message to students.

“It’s not just about local businesses partnering with TCU, it’s about TCU working with an organization that works to deny equal rights to citizens,” he said. “So by working with them it sends a message to TCU students that while TCU is supposedly ‘open,’ they appeal to the masses and do not stand firm in their assertion that the campus is a safe place to discuss ideas and not have some ideas shoved down people’s throats.”

TCU’s Director of Communications Lisa Albert told Instant Tea in an email that the event was to promote the university’s entry into the Big 12 Conference.

“TCU is promoting its entrance into the Big 12 through a variety of events planned months ago,” she wrote. “The University does not support political or personal statements associated with any of our event hosts.”

TCU, which is affiliated with but not governed by the Disciples of Christ church, has been progressive recently and made strides with LGBT students, said the Rev. Steve Sprinkle, an openly gay professor at Brite Divinity School on TCU’s campus.

Sprinkle said the event comes at an interesting time when Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced it would attend the company’s appreciation day Aug. 1. LGBT advocates have planned kiss-ins across the country for Aug. 3. He said the company is partnering with institutions that would help it sell its products.

He added that TCU can choose what companies to partner with for events and that the event could’ve been planned before the controversy.

Chick-fil-A will also be giving away products Saturday at Texas Rangers ballpark. Spokesman John Blake said the company is a corporate sponsor of the Rangers and the possibility of disassociating from them “hasn’t been addressed.”

The Texas Rangers were considering filming an “It Gets Better” video last year but Blake said nothing has been planned.

“We’ve talked about doing something that would target bullying but it’s not been one yet,” he said.

—  Anna Waugh

New Stephenville LGBT social group created ‘a comfort zone’ in a ‘conservative, traditional town’

The logo for the Stephenville LGBT group, STRIDE.

Brittany Williams grew up in Stephenville thinking she was the only person like herself.

The daughter of a preacher, Williams, a lesbian, said she grew up in the “very conservative, traditional town” never talking about homosexuality.

While her brother came out to her parents when he was 15, Williams said it took her until she was 21 to tell her parents the truth after they found out about her relationship.

Now 25, Williams decided to unite the Stephenville LGBT community. She started a private Facebook group in February, inviting a few friends that she knew were gay and encouraging them to invite others.

Over time, the group grew in size and attendance at socials and dinners thrived. The group now has 100 members as of Monday.

“We became family overnight,” she said.

The group was initially intended as a social group because the small town about 100 miles southwest of Dallas has so few options for the LGBT community, she said. But after a group of students from Tarleton State University asked for the group’s help with reorganizing the college’s Gay Straight Alliance, Williams said the group grew and adopted the name STRIDE – Stephenville Tarleton Recognizing Individuals in Diversity and Equality.

About a month ago, some members went to Williams to ask for help with changing the school’s Gay Straight Alliance, formally called TPT or Texans Promoting Tolerance. She said about 60 percent of STRIDE’s members attend Tarleton.

Aside from having poor attendance and few events, Williams said the GSA’s name was not welcoming enough of the LGBT students who seek refuge and acceptance by attending.

“We didn’t like the word ‘tolerance’ because we’re already tolerated,” she said. “We want to be accepted, so we’re working on a new name.”

One of the members also wants to start an LGBT fraternity at Tarleton as well, but Williams said that may take about a year to start.

Despite the history of the Tarleton administration canceling a production of Terrance McNally’s gay-themed play “Corpus Christi” two years ago, Williams said the group wants to help the college come back from that and create better relations with the LGBT community.

“We’re trying to come up back underneath all of that and to make our voices heard that we’re here,” she said. “We know there are going to be some disagreement from the community. So, we’re just preparing ourselves for whatever comes our way we’re going to stick together as one big group.”

Williams said that while her family now accepts her being gay and has embraced her efforts to bring the Stephenville LGBT community together, she is thrilled with the fast success of the group and the barriers it has already begun to break.

“It’s just awesome that there are people here that are like us. We’re all one big group and we’re here to support each other,” she said. “We all have the same kind of story. We come form a small town. We don’t feel really accepted in this town, but now that this STRIDE group has started, it’s like a comfort zone.”

One things the group has made Williams realize is that her success can be anyone’s success in a small town.

“You’d be surprised where there are LGBT individuals,” she said. “If we can do it, any small town can get any kind of group started.”

Anyone interested in joining the private Facebook group can email group organizers at LGBTStephenville@gmail.com.

—  Anna Waugh

Brookhaven GSA puts call out to local musicians and bands for inaugural Poverty & AIDS Benefit

Last week I spoke with Adrianna Thompson, a student at Brookhaven who is also the president of the community college’s gay-straight alliance. She has announced on the group’s Facebook page that she is organizing the first Poverty & AIDS fundraiser to be held May 1 on campus benefiting Resource Center Dallas. She did tell me she’s handling it all on her own and did say she could use a little help.

“I want to have local bands there and even a drag performance,” she said. “The thing is I just don’t know a whole lot of people in the community.”

Thompson is looking for all kinds of help while she balances her class schedule and homework. While she has said she’s refocusing some of the event, she has lined up students to contribute art for sale and Brookhaven’s Urban Dance Crew will join the lineup of entertainment. Dallas County Health and Human Services director Zachary Thompson is also on board to speak. Thompson is still looking for musicians and drag performers to donate time to the Tuesday night event and an additional speaker to touch on topics of safe sex. Initially the event was to be catered but she said that Raising Cane’s pulled out for reasons she deemed suspicious, so she has been forced to take money from the group’s account to offer drinks. With a full schedule of classes and classwork, Thompson has still maintained an air of enthusiasm for the event to really put the GSA on the map. And to think, she’s trying to get this done before she graduates May 10.

“There was a club a while back but it stopped,” she said. “When I found out they needed a student to be the president, nobody wanted that position so I decided to take it on.”

The Poverty & AIDS benefit will have a $2 cover or a food donation of two cans. All proceeds will go to directly to the Resource Center Dallas. For anyone wishing to donate their time and/services, email me here and I can put you in touch.

—  Rich Lopez

Thanks to opposition, Keller High School GSA outgrows its old digs, moves into Lecture Hall

(From the KHS Gay Straight Alliance's Facebook page)

Just days after we published Andrea Grimes’ cover story about Gay Straight Alliances in the Fort Worth school district, WFAA-TV aired this report about the controversy over the formation of a GSA just up the road in Keller. Turns out some students opposed to the new GSA at Keller High School recently launched a Facebook page called, “Abolish the GSA, Gay-Straight Alliance, at Keller High School.”

“This page is for Keller High School students who disagree with the recent formation of a GSA, or Gay-Straight Alliance, at our school for religious, personal, political and various other such reasons,” states the FB page, which currently has all of 49 fans.

The page claims it isn’t a hate group, but the creator later acknowledged it had offended people and apologized for the misunderstanding. The creator also stated that the page will be taken down — but not for two weeks because Facebook won’t allow it to be removed sooner:

“Just cause I’m shutting the page down doesn’t mean I won’t stop battling the GSA at Keller, this was taken as a hate page, of which it was NOT intended to be, so therefore a page with a misleading message should not be allowed. The GSA WILL be abolished, unless a counteracting straight/heterosexual/conservative club is organized. If y’all think y’all have won, you haven’t. Have a nice day! : )”

Another anti-GSA Facebook page, “Straight Club,” has also popped up. But the Keller school district says the creators of the pages won’t be disciplined because they were created after school hours.

So, how has all of this affected the Keller High School GSA itself? Well, it would appear as though the anti-GSA pages have backfired quite miserably. On Tuesday, the KHS Gay Straight Alliance wrote the following on its own page: “We are growing, and hopefully continue to grow as time moves on. A side effect of this though is we no longer fit in room 145. Meetings will now be held in the Lecture Hall, same date and time, new awesome location.”

Watch WFAA’s report below.

—  John Wright

FEEDBACK: Elmhurst really the first?

Elmhurst really the first?

Regarding the article, “Elmhurst College becomes 1st to ask about sexual orientation,” in the Aug. 29 issue of Dallas Voice.

Three colleges that I know of personally have been asking this for several years. Elmhurst is far from the first to ask about sexual orientation.

I applied to law school with the University of Pennsylvania and they ask this. U.C. Berkley used to ask this, though I’m not sure if they still do. Either Cornell or Columbia also ask on their applications.

Ryan R. Cooper, via email

Editor’s note: According to Shane L. Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, Elmhurst College is the first college to ask about sexual orientation as an optional demographic question on an undergraduate application. Graduate schools, especially law schools, have been asking the question and UPenn and Dartmouth have been leaders in that area. Windmeyer said that probably has to do with age — many students aren’t out when they’re first applying to college but have come out by the time they’re applying to graduate school. Law schools may be asking because of injustice that’s been done to the LGBT community and the variety of cases involving discrimination against the LGBT community. Other undergraduate applications have asked about interests. But interest in joining a group such as a GSA is not the direct demographic information that Elmhurst is asking.

…………………….

TO SEND A LETTER  | We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 31, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Yes I can!

couch
DECISIONS, DECISIONS Life coach Tim Kincaid helps with those needed a-ha moments when gay men can’t figure things out on their own. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The Gay Coaches Alliance isn’t what it sounds like — members like Tim Kincaid just want to make gay men more fabulous

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

When I first heard of the Gay Coaches Alliance, my mind flashed back to my high school coach’s gloriously thick thighs in tight grey Bike shorts. Man, those were some nice thighs. Alas, this groups isn’t a GSA for queer whistle-wearers. None of these coaches were going to improve my running time. Rather, GCA is an organization of life coaches that want to get gay men on the path to a better self.

And local coach Tim Kincaid had his sights set on me.

First I had to figure out if I needed coaching. I’m pretty relaxed about everything around me. When the office is insane, the boyfriend’s in a mood and the traffic won’t let up, I can Zen myself into a chill zone. I have freakouts, but mostly, I’m good.

Then I discovered that’s not what gay coaching is about; it may even be holding me back. Chill isn’t bad, but it doesn’t put me in motion.

Prior to our laser session (translation: a roughly 20-minute abbreviated rap), Kincaid sent me the Wheel of Life exercise in which I rate key segments of life like career, relationships and personal growth from one to ten on a pie diagram. Then I connect the dots to see how un-round my wheel is. Even cavemen would’ve thought mine was a hot mess.

“That’s not unusual,” Kincaid says. “Let’s take a look at some of these.”

We discussed safe ones like “physical environment” and “career.” I didn’t want to get into specifics about my “erotic fulfillment” or “significant other/romance” channels in just a few minutes. That stuff is too juicy and will wait for my memoirs.

The idea behind coaching works to help people build stronger lives through deep listening, compassion and empathy. Ultimately, the client (here, me) comes with his or her own answers.

“We help them think through situations by asking powerful questions,” Kincaid says. “Coaching is more present- and future-oriented with a bias for action.”

As it turns out, my bias for action involves clearing out the dining room and looking for advice on a potential side business. After moving into the boyfriend’s house, I’ve wanted to make my stamp on the place. My ingrained laziness at moving heavy things and unpacking forgotten boxes is my biggest opponent. Only no longer!  Thanks, Tim Kincaid!

“Part of coaching is to deep dive into your values and see what makes you tick,” he says. “If that value isn’t being honored, we have to get to what will resonate with who you are.”

To make me accountable, he finally asked if I’ll do it. I learned that when a coach asks something, a simple “yes” or “no” suffices, but with a nay comes a counteroffer and I did not have time for that. I mean, Project Runway is back on.

Thus, by Labor Day, that room will be (notice I didn’t say should) edited down to the necessities before making a den out of it. As for the side business, he assigned me to contact a peer I knew in the field to pick their brain and get some basic advice. That was done by the end of the day. Score! Man, progress felt good.

Kincaid discovered his passions have altered over the years. He dreamed of working for American Airlines, which he did for 16 years. At 50, that changed. He took an early retirement package, earned his doctorate, received coach training and now he makes lives better — or gives them direction rather. Although the focus of him and the GCA is geared toward gay men, he’s not opposed to expanding his services to the other letters of the LGBT communities.

“The alliance figured there were a lot of gay men who needed a coach to get past unquestioned beliefs or things told to them by culture and society,” he says. “I would love to see other groups form and coach all people in the community. This is just the starting point.”

I told Kincaid I felt guilty for wanting more since dreams of mine have come true. He told me something I never considered.

“Just dream some more,” he says.

That’s some good Oprah-stuff right there.

For more information, visit KincaidCoaching.com or TheGayCoaches.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD ignores bigoted Mayor Timothy O’Hare, allows GSA at R.L. Turner

Timothy O’Hare

Last week we told you how bigoted Farmers Branch Mayor Timothy O’Hare had used his Twitter account to rail against the formation of a Gay Straight Alliance at R.L. Turner High School in Carrollton. We also mentioned that we’d heard rumors that the GSA at R.L. Turner had not been allowed to meet.

But Angela Shelley, a spokeswoman for the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, told us today that those rumors are completely false. Shelley said the GSA was allowed to form at R.L. Turner and has already met three times. She also said it wasn’t the district’s first GSA; there’s one at Creekview High School.

“By policy and actually by federal law, we can’t keep groups from meeting,” Shelley told Instant Tea. “We do not want to be Flour Bluff ISD [the district in Corpus Christi that recently denied a GSA]. The GSA met all the requirements, they have a great mission and a constitution, and they’re an active group.”

O’Hare, on Twitter, had called on parents and students in the district to do something to stop the GSA, but Shelley said she hasn’t heard of any opposition to the club. In fact, she said three people spoke in favor of allowing the GSA at a school board meeting last week.

O’Hare wants Farmers Branch to secede from the Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and form its own school district, an issue that voters will decide in the May election. So we’re pretty sure he was just trying to use the GSA as ammo against the Carrollton Farmers-Branch ISD. But apparently it isn’t working, so we guess now he’ll go back to bashing immigrants.

—  John Wright

Flour Bluff ISD will allow GSA and other groups on campus — at least for now

Trustees for Flour Bluff High Independent School District approved a resolution late Tuesday night to allow a proposed Gay-Straight Alliance — along with other non-curricular groups — to meet on the school campus, at least temporarily, according to KRISTV, the NBC station in Corpus Christi.

The vote allows the the groups, including a GSA, to meet while the district conducts a study before making a permanent decision. The vote came after nearly five hours, about four of which the trustees spent in a closed executive session discussing the situation.

The decision came after the ACLU threatened legal action against the Flour Bluff High School, where school officials had refused to allow student Nikki Peet to form the GSA, although other groups, like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, were allowed to meet on campus. School officials then banned all groups to avoid having to allow the GSA.

Nikki Peet was not able to attend the meeting because she is in the hospital being treated for an infection. But her mother, Maria Peet, and other family members were there to speak for her. Members of the GSA at Texas A&M University in Corpus Christi — to whom Nikki Peet had appealed for help — also attended the school board meeting.

Jay Raymond with the TAMU-CC group said his group would be there to “see this through,” and pledged, “There is no chance of this dying down until what we want is what we get.”

—  admin

WATCH: Rally in support of Gay Straight Alliance outside Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi

As many as 150 people gathered outside Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi on Friday to protest the school district’s decision to deny a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance.

Flour Bluff High School student Bianca “Nikki” Peet, 17, has been trying to launch the GSA since November.

Last week, Flour Bluff Superintendent Julia Carbajal announced that the district would bar all non-curricular clubs from meeting on campus in order to avoid allowing the GSA.

The American Civil Liberties Union responded by threatening legal action against the district, saying officials are required to allow the GSA under the First Amendment and the federal Equal Access Act.

On Friday, supporters of the GSA rallied outside the school for eight hours and presented a petition with more than 28,000 signatures to a district spokesman. A handful of anti-gay counterprotesters, led by right-wing radio host Bob Jones, gathered across the street.

At one point, according to the video report below, a pro-GSA protester tried to give a couterprotester some water. The counterprotester responded by saying he wouldn’t touch anything a gay man had, telling him to “stay away from my grandson.”

—  John Wright

GSA supporters to protest outside Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi on Friday

Nikki Peet

A pro-equality demonstration is planned Friday outside Flour Bluff High School in Corpus Christi, where officials say they’ll eliminate all non-curricular clubs to avoid allowing a chapter of the Gay Straight Alliance.

Paul Rodriguez, president of the GSA at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, said he’s expecting more than 300 people to attend the protest.

Rodriguez has been working with 17-year-old Flour Bluff student Nikki Peet since November to launch the GSA. After the Flour Bluff principal refused to allow the GSA, district officials announced they’ll bar all non-curricular clubs from meeting on campus — including the Fellowship of Christian Athletes — to avoid running afowl of the federal Equal Access Act.

“I couldn’t believe my ears,” Rodriguez told Instant Tea. “I couldn’t believe that an administration of a public school would actually go to that length to show hatred, to show intolerance. It’s just appalling.”

Rodriguez said supporters of the GSA have contacted both Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union, which are investigating. But the goal of the protest is to convince district officials to change their minds.

“As far as Nikki and her supporters go, they were very nervous about going to school today, because they don’t know what kind of hostility or bullying they’re going to face,” Rodriguez said. “They’re afraid they’re going to get blamed for all the non-curricular clubs not being allow to meet. We’re hoping to redirect that anger to where it really belongs. If we can get all those people on board and join us in this fight for equality, that would just be awesome.

“We want equality to rein at Flour Bluff,” he added. “We want them to open their eyes and realize that everyone is human, everyone can co-exist. You don’t have to like us, you don’t have to agree with us, but you do have to co-exist with us.”

For more information on the protest, go here.

—  John Wright