ACLU fights web filtering at Missouri school

I know many gay school teachers, and in the past, several have told me that Dallas Voice cannot be read on school computers. I don’t mean they can’t download a film or the filter blocks out articles that have “offensive” wording. I mean they can’t even find DallasVoice.com on their browser.

So it was nothing new to me to hear the ACLU has filed suit against a school district in Missouri which blocks all content of a gay nature … except that which is anti-gay. That means not only are teens blocked from reading Dallas Voice, but also information about AIDS and HIV (if published on a gay-approving website), or trans issues, or coming out, or dealing with bullying … Well, you get the idea.

You can read more about the lawsuit here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

AOC announces partnership with AIDS Healthcare Foundation to open HIV/AIDS clinic in Fort Worth

Allan Gould, right, executive director of AIDS Outreach Center of Tarrant County, today announced that the combined boards of AOC and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation have signed a letter of intent to plan and develop the Community Healthcare Clinic in Fort Worth specifically to offer medical treatment to people with HIV/AIDS.

Gould told Dallas Voice this afternoon that “if all goes as planned, we anticipate that the clinic will be open by April 2012.”

In a written statement released today, Gould said the clinic will “underscore AOC’s mission of being the ‘one stop shop’ addressing the HIV client’s vital medical, emotional and social service needs. He also said plans are in the works to implement a mobile health care van to meet the needs of those with HIV/AIDS living in rural areas.”

He said that estimates are the clinic will initially serve more than 400 individuals when it opens.

Based in Los Angeles, AIDS Healthcare Foundation is the nation’s largest provider of HIV/AIDS medical care, offering cutting-edge medical care to more than 27,000 people in the U.S., Africa, Central America and Asia, regardless of the patient’s ability to pay, according to AOC’s press release. In the U.S., AHF operates 14 healthcare centers and 11 pharmacies in California, Washington, D.C., and Florida.

Read Gould’s statement in its entirety below:

—  admin

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

My version (please no editing for factual accuracy) of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS

DV Classified Account Manager Chance Browning, right, in his business casual attire at Day 2 Pit 2 at Station 4.

The total amount of money raised for AIDS organizations has now topped $2 million in the 11 years of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS. The Ride supports AID Services Dallas, Resource Center Dallas and the AIDS Outreach Center. That’s the important thing. All the rest is just plain fun — and physically and emotionally draining.

The first day of LSR, riders made a loop from the American Airlines Training and Conference Center just south of D/FW Airport through Fort Worth and back. Riders had a choice of routes up to 100 miles. However, most — including me — chose to make their own route. Or got lost.

About 22 miles of the Fort Worth route was along the Trinity Trails, which follow the course of the streams that flow into the Trinity River and the main fork that flows through Downtown Fort Worth. The trail is not one continuous route and more than 40 riders reported going off-course without street signs or clearly identifiable landmarks along the way to indicate where to turn or cross the river.

My riding partner Shelly Morrow and I rode to the end of a wrong trail, carried our bikes over a guard rail, over a bridge down an embankment and continued down another trail — before realizing the river was flowing in the wrong direction. We knew we needed to be near Downtown Fort Worth for the lunch pitstop. So we turned around, made some frantic but unanswered calls, had a flat and a broken spoke, fought off snakes, scorpions, alligators and other critters indigenous to the wilds of Fort Worth, survived the intense sun and brutal heat, a wind storm and finally, 100 miles later, after seeing most of the Trinity Trails, some of it twice, made it into lunch, bruised and battered — and dead last.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s a ride, not a race. And the Trinity Trail is very scenic — even if it’s not all paved.

—  David Taffet

Overcoming fear and finding passion

Landon Starnes had to step outside his comfort zone to compete as Lotta Pink in the Miss LifeWalk Pageant

lotta1
Landon Starnes as Lotta Pink

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Talk to Landon Starnes about his involvement with LifeWalk, the annual walkathon benefiting AIDS Arms and its partner agencies, and you’ll hear

Starnes repeat the words “passion” and “fear” a lot.

Starnes said he let fear rule him for too long. But in the end, there’s no doubt that “passion” wins out.

Starnes, who works as a hairdresser, said that he was diagnosed with HIV in October 1998. But he wasn’t prepared to deal with reality, and so for years, he said, “I ignored my diagnosis emotionally.”

But then some friends began to encourage him to confront his HIV status by getting involved in LifeWalk, specifically by joining the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk team.

Starnes said it took him awhile to get up to speed, and he was involved with LifeWalk just “off and on” for several years. But three years ago, he decided to really take the plunge and has been an active member of the Guys and Dolls team ever since.

This year, even that got ratcheted up a notch when Starnes finally gave in to his teammates’ cajoling and entered the Miss LifeWalk Pageant.

“My team had been asking me for two years to enter the pageant, but I declined every time. I was just scared to death to do drag,” Starnes explained. “But this year, I decided to accept the challenge, even though it scared me.”

The first challenge was to come up with a character, so “I started brainstorming about a character, about who I would be,” Starnes said. “I started thinking about things I, as a person, am passionate about. And I am passionate about the singer Pink.

“Her music gets to me in a way that no one else’s does,” Starned continued. “Her lyrics inspire me. I think, if I had to pick just one, my favorite Pink song is ‘Glitter in the Air.’ It says, ‘Have you ever wished for an endless night?’ ‘Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?’ It made me look into myself, literally. Last summer, while we were on a road trip, my friends and I stopped and actually threw a fistful of glitter in the air. It was silly and fun, and now it is a memory that will last forever.”

But there is one line in the song, Starnes said, that really touched him, one lyric that made him think and gave him the determination to set aside the fear that had held him back: “Have you ever looked fear in the face, and said, I just don’t care?”

It was, Starnes said, a spark that made his passion for LifeWalk and for doing something to help others blaze even brighter.

“I knew I wasn’t going to try to be Pink, but I love what she does. So I decided I would kind of pay tribute to her with my character,” Starnes said.

And so, Lotta Pink was born.

And lo and behold, Lotta Pink won the Miss LifeWalk title on her first try, helping Starnes bring in about $7,000 for LifeWalk this year, bringing his total over all his Guys and Dolls years to about $11,000.

Starnes said he and Lotta Pink obviously have a lot in common. “We share our passion for the cause, first of all, and second, we both want to step outside the box,” Starnes said. “I was afraid of doing drag. But my favorite quote is ‘Do it scared,’ so that’s what I did. I stepped outside the box and challenged myself, and in doing that, I learned that fears are just fears, nothing else.”

Starnes said that while his fears still remain to some degree, Lotta Pink “has no fear,” and she is helping him overcome his own.

“It’s easier when you can put on a wig and some makeup and kind of step outside yourself,” Starnes said. “Now, learning to step out without that disguise is what comes next!”

Knowing that what he does is all to help AIDS Arms and the clients the agency serves makes it even easier to put the fear aside, Starnes said.

“The Guys and Dolls team works all year, not just on the day of LifeWalk. And the people at AIDS Arms work all year trying to help other people. I love AIDS Arms, and I love what it stands for,” Starnes said. “The walk itself is symbolic, to me. It’s a short walk, yes, but just going through the movement of walking allows you to release your passion.

“Everybody who participates is there for their own reasons, but whatever the reason, they are passionate about it,” he continued. “That alone speaks volumes. The biggest thing that came out of all this for me was seeing how good people really are.”

Again, it all comes down to overcoming fear and fully realizing the passion.

“It’s so important for everyone to find their passion, whether it’s LifeWalk or something else,” Starnes said. “Finding my passion has lifted me to a whole new level of awareness, understanding and joy. It’s just such a positive energy when you are around all these people at LifeWalk who work so hard to make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s helped me find a happiness I have never known before.”

AIDS Arms LifeWalk will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, at Lee Park. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 1 p.m. For more information, go online to LifeWalk.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride 2011 • Tavern Guild names 5 parade beneficiaries

Organizations provide a variety of services for those in the LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities

Draconis von Trapp  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

Beneficiaries

In recent years, increasing costs have forced the Dallas Tavern Guild to cut back on the number of organizations chosen as beneficiaries of the annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, choosing only one each year.

This year, however, the Tavern Guild has been able to expand its list of beneficiaries once again. In addition to Youth First Texas, the sole beneficiary for the last several years, beneficiaries this year also include AIDS Arms Inc., AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas and Legacy Counseling Center.
Each of the agencies is profiled below:

……………..

Nobles.Raeline

Raeline Nobles

AIDS Arms Inc.
AIDS Arms is the largest nonprofit HIV/AIDS organization in North Texas, serving more than 7,000 individuals every year. The agency’s executive director is Raeline Nobles, and John Loza is chairman of the board of directors.

The AIDS Arms offices are located at 351 West Jefferson Blvd., Suite 300. The phone number is 214-521-5191, and the website is AIDSArms.org.

AIDS Arms’s case management programs offer numerous services to assist individuals in learning to live longer and healthier lives with HIV by providing access to medical care and support services specific to them. The agency’s goals are to create and maintain long-term access and adherence to medical care and stabilization so clients can successfully manage the side effects of HIV and AIDS.

Professional case managers are trained to respond to clients’ unique needs by providing a comprehensive assessment of needs and barriers to accessing medical care and support, as well as assessing clients for eligibility for programs such as HIV medication and health insurance assistance, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security and other benefit programs that may help with the financial issues of HIV treatment. Case managers also develop a long-term care plan with the client.

The Case Management Resource Directory helps clients locate services such as food, housing, counseling, support groups, job training and more.

AIDS Arms offers multiple minority-specific programs for women, youth, substance abusers and those with mental health needs. The agency offers linguistic services with case managers versed in more than 10 foreign languages and dialects, and with a variety of diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and experiences.

The intake program helps newly diagnosed clients navigate the services available to them in Dallas.

AIDS Arms’ Peabody Health Center is an outpatient medical clinic that offers comprehensive medical care in coordination with other services needed to increase access to care and maintain adherence to treatment. The clinic employs physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses and others professionals who are experts in the medical field and specify in HIV treatment.

AIDS Arms is currently in the process of opening a second clinic.

One specific support group, WILLOW (Women Involved in Life Learning from Other Women), is a program that brings together HIV-positive women to learn from each other and develop new skills. Activities and group discussion lend to the positive environment where women learn how to live healthier lives and form good relationships.

……………..

Pace.Steven
Steven Pace

AIDS Interfaith Network
AIDS Interfaith Network was founded in 1986. Steven Pace is executive director. The agency’s offices are located on 501 N. Stemmons, Suite 200,
and the phone number is 214-941-7696. The AIN website is AIDSInterfaithNetwork.org.

Among its programs, AIN offers Outreach, a program to guide individuals and gives them access to prevention and care services, make referrals and ensure that those affected by HIV/AIDS have access to proper care. The program specifically targets African-Americans (African American Health Coalition) and Latinos (Manos Unidas).

AIN offers a variety of programs, including linguistic services with interpretation and translation of written materials for Spanish-speaking clients, caregivers and other service providers.

Educational services, including prevention education and risk reduction sessions, are available for at-risk individuals, groups and communities, as well as collaborative HIV testing and prevention programs.

Another program offers HIV education for minority women at high risk of infections. The program specifically targets African-American and Hispanic women, but it is open to all.

AIN’s client advocacy program receives referred clients and enrolls them into the appropriate programs. It also provides direct assistance by making referrals, providing follow up and collaborating with case management. This program collects client data, creates and updates files and provides documentation.

Transportation services are offered to clients living in both metropolitan and rural areas through van rides, bus passes for the DART and train system and taxi rides to ensure access to treatment facilities and support services throughout the prevention system.

AIN also operates the Daire Center, an adult daycare center that provides stabilization services and respite care to relieve caregivers. The center also includes monitoring, individualized support, activities, socialization and nutrition assistance. The meals program provides prepared breakfast and lunch daily in the Daire Center for clients who need assistance to meet or enhance their nutritional needs.

For those interested in taking part in helping affected clients, AIN’s volunteer program recruits, trains and manages volunteers, offering different curricula of buddy and companion services for those affected. The program also provides on-site assignments at AIN to give program, administrative and project support and to participate in fundraising events.

For clients requiring spiritual support, AIN offers pastoral services for care, counseling, education and support. The program refers clients and accepts referrals, collaborates with Outreach, offers prevention education and recruits volunteers.

……………..

Maison.Don1-
Don Maison

AIDS Services of Dallas

AIDS Services of Dallas was founded in 1985. Don Maison is president and CEO. ASD offices and apartment buildings are located in North Oak Cliff, near Methodist Medical Center. The phone number is 214-941-0523 and the website is AIDSDallas.org.

ASD’s housing program provides furnished, service-enriched housing and assisted living in private apartments for people with HIV/AIDS. ASD never turns away clients due to an inability to pay rent and it is the largest licensed provider of medically supportive housing for infected individuals in Texas, with four facilities: Ewing Center, Revlon Apartments, Hillcrest House and Spencer Gardens.

Ewing Center consists of 22 units — five one-bedroom apartments, 15 efficiencies and two special need beds/rooms. Revlon Apartments are designed to accommodate individuals and families, with 20 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments.
Hillcrest House, which provides service to individuals who are formerly homeless and living with HIV/AIDS, has 64 single-unit efficiencies. And Spencer Gardens, named in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, provides housing for 12 low-income families.

ASD provides morning and lunchtime meals five days a week and coordinates dinner meals through the Supper Club volunteer program. For immobile clients, the program also provides carryout meal services.

For transportation services, ASD provides a 15-person van to provide regularly scheduled trips to a local food pantry, supermarket and second-hand clothing stores. It also carries residents to and from medical appointments and social service appointments and is used to transport residents to recreational activities planned and implemented by the Resident Councils.

ASD’s case management program provides professional social work staff to determine the psychosocial services needed for each individual resident and assist them in accessing community-based service providers. In addition, the social workers provide on-site case management, substance abuse counseling, individual and group counseling and grief support as needed.

The Social Work Department provides recreational activities for the children of ASD and helps their adjustment to the community and public schooling. With funding from the ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program, ASD has hired a children’s activity coordinator to provide recreation during the summer months for the children residing at ASD.

ASD provides 24-hour care and support for its residents. Nurses provide both care and support to residents as well as implement the health maintenance programs. Personal care aides monitor every individual’s needs and habits and provide full-time assistance with routine tasks of daily living for HIV-positive residents.

……………..

Grove,-Melissa11
Melissa Grove

Legacy Counseling Center and Legacy Founders Cottage
Established more than 20 years ago, Legacy Counseling Center provides mental healthcare, substance abuse treatment and housing services for individuals affected by HIV and AIDS. Melissa Grove is executive director. Legacy’s offices are located at 4054 McKinney Ave., Suite 102. The phone number is 214-520-6308 and the website is LegacyCounseling.org.

Legacy Counseling Center provides both individual and group therapy. In individual therapy, individuals receive one-on-one private therapy sessions with licensed professional counselors specially trained in mental health issues of persons affected by HIV and AIDS.

They assist with coping, anxiety, depression and survivor guilt as well as medication compliance.

Group therapy is offered both during the day and the evening and helps HIV-infected individuals contend with many unique issues, and include female-only groups, Spanish-speaking groups and other targeted groups.

Legacy’s Substance Abuse Program provides intensive outpatient substance abuse treatments along with ongoing relapse prevention services for HIV-positive individuals. The program also educates clients about drug abuse and how it ties in with HIV and AIDS in both group and individual therapy. The outpatient therapy schedule can be tailored to the individual’s needs.

To take part in these programs, the individual must be HIV-positive with a letter of diagnosis, at least 18 years old and must remain alcohol and drug-free during the program.

Legacy also operates the Legacy Founders Cottage, a licensed, seven-room special-care facility for people living with AIDS in critical stages of their illness who require 24-hour supervised care.

……………..

Youth First Texas

Wilkes.Sam
Sam Wilkes

Youth First Texas is staffed by Director of Development and Administration Sam Wilkes. The YFT offices are located at 3918 Harry Hines Blvd. The phone number is 214-879-0400 or, toll-free, 866-547-5972. The center is open Tuesday and Wednesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and the second and fourth Saturday of the month from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

YFT offers free counseling to LGBTQ youth ages 22 and younger through volunteer counselors. All counselors are licensed professionals or student interns working under the supervision of a licensed counselor. All legal and ethical guidelines are followed including confidentiality and keeping files. Youth under the age of 18 must have written consent from a parent or guardian before receiving individual counseling services.

Counselors address issues such as coming out, family and school issues, bullying, self-mutilation, depression, isolation, relationships and dating, gender identity and expression, and drug and alcohol abuse.

YFT offers three main groups, but these may be supplemented with other support groups as the need arises. The three support groups are Survivors, Gender Identity and Coming Out.

Survivors’ Group is a peer support group for youth who have suffered isolation, abuse or other trauma, offering them the opportunity to discuss things that are troubling them and receive feedback from peers in a safe space. This group is held on the first and third Thursdays of the month from 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Gender Identity Group is specific to youth dealing with issues related to gender identity and expression. The group is also open to youth who are curious about their gender-variant peers and gender issues in general. It is held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month from 7:45 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Coming Out Group deals with thoughts and feelings about sexuality. YFT periodically offers a four-week support group, providing an opportunity to share with a small group of peers about sexuality and coming out.

YFT also offers multiple educational programs throughout the year. Among these are book club, café cinema, GED tutoring, “Our Roots Are Showing,” Youth Defenders and GSA Network. The center also offers many recreational activities, such as Dallas PUMP!, Friday Night Kula Feast, Movie Camp, Open Mic Night, and the YFT Dance Group.

Throughout the year YFT participates in softball through the Pegasus SlowPitch Softball Association, volleyball through Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, concerts by the

Turtle Creek Chorale, theater performances by Uptown Players and other functions. YFT participants are also kept privy to queer-related opportunities such as performing at their annual fashion show Give E’m Heel and the Gayla Prom by Resource Center Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas

With 9/11 anniversary approaching, Sally Kern reminds us that homosexuality is the real threat

Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern

Right Wing Watch reports that Oklahoma State Rep. Sally Kern has doubled down on her claim, first made in 2008, that homosexuality poses a greater threat to the U.S. than terrorism. Here’s RWW’s transcript of Kern’s remarks during an Aug. 31 interview with Peter LaBarbera of the hate group Americans for Truth About Homosexuality:

You know if you just look at it in practical terms, which has destroyed and ended the life of more people? Terrorism attack here in America or HIV/AIDS? In the last twenty years, fifteen to twenty years, we’ve had maybe three terrorist attacks on our soil with a little over 5,000 people regrettably losing their lives. In the same time frame, there have been hundreds of thousands who have died because of having AIDS. So which one’s the biggest threat? And you know, every day our young people, adults too, but especially our young people, are bombarded at school, in movies, in music, on TV, in the mall, in magazines, they’re bombarded with ‘homosexuality is normal and natural.’ It’s something they have to deal with every day. Fortunately we don’t have to deal with a terrorist attack every day, and that’s what I mean. …

It’s more dangerous, and yes I think that it’s also more dangerous because it will tear down the moral fiber of this nation. We were founded as a nation upon the principles of religion and morality, if we take those out from under our society we will lose what has made us a great nation, we will no longer be a virtuous people, which we see happening already. And without virtue this nation will not survive.

The audio is here.

—  John Wright

Uptown Psychotherapy celebrates 15 years

Therapists say that focus has changed over the years from being primarily on HIV to things like marriage and parenting

SHRINK | Deborah Beckman, left, Will Handy, center, and Tim Myrick say that over 15 years things have changed for their LGBT clients. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When Deborah Beckman and Tim Myrick registered the name Uptown Psychotherapy Associates in 1996, fewer than 10 other business were using the term “Uptown.”

When they renewed their name 10 years later, more than 600 businesses had it as part of their registered name.

But that’s not all that’s changed during Beckman and Myrick’s 15 years in business together.

The two met in 1994 when they were interning at Legacy Counseling. When they opened their private practice, the main issue they continued to confront was AIDS.

Will Handy, who joined Myrick and Beckman a few years after they started their practice, still works at Legacy while maintaining his private practice at Uptown.

“In the old days, it was about helping people deal with the end of their lives,” Handy said.

Beckman said that now she works with her HIV-positive clients on issues of aging, supporting stability and incorporating taking medication into a routine that’s as normal as brushing your teeth.

Uptown and Legacy still have a good working relationship.

“If someone calls Uptown and cannot afford private therapy, we refer them to Legacy and know they’ll get good care,” Handy said. “Legacy will sometimes refer to us if a private setting will help a client more.”

Uptown has the only private HIV-positive support group in the area, Handy said, adding that although members have changed, the group has been around since the practice opened.

That gives the group and the therapists the collective wisdom of 15 years’ worth of members, Handy said.

Today, Beckman said, only about a third of her clients list HIV as their main concern. She said she hears a lot of relationship issues. And with the current economic crisis, she speaks to many people trying to make decisions about their careers.

Beckman said one of the most common questions she hears is, “What do I want to do next?”

One thing that hasn’t changed much, both Beckman and Hardy said, is how people talk about their relationships.

Over the past 15 years, same-sex marriage has been legalized in a number of states, but both therapists said gays and lesbians have always taken their own relationships seriously. It’s just that now, with marriage equality becoming a more high-profile issue, other people are taking those relationships more seriously, too.

Myrick, Beckman and Handy said they work with many people whose original religious foundation was punitive.

“Some are in a state of reaction to what amounts to religious persecution,” Handy said. “Others haven’t reacted to that enough.”

Beckman said that the difference over the past 15 years is that now so many churches have adopted an attitude of “Who’s gay? Who’s straight? Who cares?” She said that when she started in practice, she could hand out a very short list of churches that would welcome the LGBT community.

“Now people really can find a church that fits,” she said. “We can give directions on how to go church shopping.”

More and more gays and lesbians are deciding to have children. And Beckman and Handy discuss with their clients what parenting means and why they want to be parents.

Are they doing it “to prove they’re super parents, or are they doing it for the kid?” Beckman asked.

Handy added that it is the therapists’ job to make sure that couples and individuals want to be parents for “all the right reasons.”

Handy and Beckman both agreed that the best change over the past 15 years has been among some of their youngest clients:

They have some need to come to therapy but they’ve been OK about being gay since they were young.

They’ve had gay role models, had other friends who were out in school and watched gay characters on television.

Handy said it was a big difference from when he was the first and only out licensed therapist in Madison, Wisc.

“It’s truly heartening. A joy to experience,” he said. And he’s learned a valuable lesson from those younger clients: “Don’t go looking for trauma when it isn’t there,” he said.

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

—  Michael Stephens

New foundation set to serve children impacted by HIV/AIDS

Kidscapes creator says being laid off gave her the chance to follow a dream and honor a beloved cousin

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Shannan Wilkerson-Brown fell victim to corporate downsizing last Nov. 4 for the third time. But this time, she said, she didn’t cry or get upset. Instead, “I actually felt good,” she said. Where others might have seen only a devastating setback, Wilkerson-Brown saw an opportunity, and she reached out and grabbed it with both hands.

And by Dec. 18, the 39-year-old mother of one had launched Kidscapes Foundation, fulfilling a dream and honoring the late cousin she had loved like a brother.

“I had had this idea in my head for a long time. But I never had the time to really get it going,” Wilkerson-Brown said. “Then the day I was laid off, I stayed up until 6 o’clock the next morning and got all the text ready for the website.”

Shanna Wilkerson-Brown

That next morning, she sent the text off to the web designer, and by Dec. 1, the Kidscapes website was up and running. And on Dec. 18, the foundation was officially launched.

The mission of Kidscapes Foundation, Wilkerson-Brown explained, is to “change the landscape of a child’s life” by working in three areas: providing financial assistance to children who are infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS, providing free life insurance policies to economically disadvantaged children and enriching children’s lives through programs focusing on education, fitness and art.

Wilkerson-Brown said that finding ways to help children impacted HIV/AIDS is perhaps the primary motivating factor behind Kidscapes, because she started the foundation to honor the memory of her cousin who died of AIDS at the age of 23.

“He was such a beautiful man, and we were so close. I am an only child, and he was like my brother. It was just devastating to me when he died,” she said.

Wilkerson-Brown launched Kidscapes last Dec. 18 with the “Back to Life” campaign that collected backpacks and school supplies to children from low-income families. On Valentine’s Day this year, Kidscapes held the Act of Love Day during which those backpacks and school supplies were distributed. And earlier this month, Wilkerson-Brown staged the foundation’s first fundraising event, the Hugs and Love Happy Hour at Kenichi sushi restaurant.

But this week has been perhaps the most hectic yet as Wilkerson-Brown rushes to handle the last-minute details as she gets ready for the foundation’s biggest project so far: Art Camp, next Monday through Friday at the African-American Museum in Fair Park.

So far, she said, about 20 children are registered for the week of activities that include lessons in photography, painting, sculpture, music and dance. There is room for five to 10 children more, and plenty of room for artists in all media who want to volunteer their time.

“I could especially use some more performers for the final day of the camp to perform for the children,” Wilkerson-Brown said. “Performance time will be from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. next Friday, about 15 minutes for each person, and we’re looking for people to sing or dance or read poetry — anything like that to entertain the kids.”

Right now, Wilkerson-Brown is running the show on her own, with the help of a few voluntters. She said she would gladly welcome new volunteers who could help with any aspect of the foundation, from the administrative end to fundraising to outreach through social media.

“Right now, I really need to work on getting some grants, some funding,” she said, adding that she launched the foundation last winter using only $500 of her own money.

Now, though, she would like to secure more substantial funding so that she afford to hire a full-time staff member.

Wilkerson-Brown was forced to put the interview on hold for a minute as she answers a text from someone helping organize the art camp. “Sorry,” she said. “It’s just been so hectic this week, trying to get everything done.”

She paused for a moment and then continued, “It’s been tough. I’ve really been missing my cousin. This is going to be so wonderful, and I really, really wish he could be here to be part of all this.

“When I was laid off last November, I thought about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and I knew this is what I wanted to do,” Wilkerson-Brown continued. “I truly believe a cure [for AIDS] is coming, and I want to create something that will be here for these children, the ones impacted by HIV and the ones whose families don’t have money. I want to build something that will make this community better for everyone.”

To volunteer for Kidscapes Foundation or for the Art Camp, or to register a child for the Art Camp, contact Shannan Wilkerson-Brown by phone at 214-394-4541 or by email at shannan@kidscapesfoundation.org. For more information about the foundation, go online to KidscapesFoundation.org.

—  John Wright

Fahari Arts to mark 30 years of AIDS with exhibit, issues call for submissions

In their commemoration of 30 years of HIV/AIDS, Fahari Arts Institute will host their 2011 Fall group exhibition Our 30. Artistic director Harold Steward along with Diedrick Brackens will curate the event and are now inviting artists of all mediums to participate in the exhibit set to open Sept. 10 at 1111 Studio Gallery. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 6.

The release says, “This exhibition looks at 30 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in black southern communities.”

Before you apply, read Fahari’s rules on submissions. Then contact them here about your potential entry.

The group is also counting down their season with two final events. The last Queerly Speaking is set for July 22 featuring Brandon Jackson. That is followed by Fahari Fierce: A Celebration of Black Queer Movement on July 30. Most Fahari events take place at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

—  Rich Lopez