HGG 2011 Gift-A-Day: Last minute gifts and stocking stuffer roundup

COUNTING IT DOWN

Whether you need to give to the coworkers, neighbors or just add to the gift stock pile by stuffing the stocking, these might help out on your decision making.

SPIRITS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH

Moon Mountain vodka makes this holiday season more “green” that is certified organic by the USDA. Made in America, the artisanally crafted vodka is made from Midwestern corn, but in small batches creating the right taste to make it the perfect spirit to toast the season. The vodka is priced at $19.99.

Available at major spirits retailers.

FORGET SANTA

These Biscoff cookies are a surprisingly addictive treat, that it may be hard to give away. The crispy biscuits with the caramel flavor are ideal with coffee or even on their own. And a welcome alternative to usual holiday sweets with their light touch. Made from Belgium, these treats are vegan and contain 0 grams trans fat and 0 cholesterol per serving. So your recipients will be quite happy about these. Coming in a variety of counts and packages, these Biscoff Cafe Totes house eight packages of two. So you can get one for yourself and then try to give the other one away. You could leave them out for Santa but try not to eat them before he does. Ten percent of the purchases of this item go toward Teach for America. A set of three is priced at $16.95.

Available through Biscoff.com.

MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU

For the Star Wars gamer geek — er, loved ones — comes this quirky stylus set. Made for Nintendo DS products, Star Wars fans can have their very own Clone Wars with these character-designed stylus lightsabers.  The stylus can be used for DS Lite, XL and 3DS and is for ages six and up. Priced at $9.99.

Available at Best Buy, Walmart, Target and other major video game retailers.

 

GAY FILM FEST

Breaking Glass Pictures has made gift giving for your LGBT movie fan rather enticing. The company that distributed the locally-made Ticked Off Trannies with Knives is offering a 30 percent off purchases made during the holiday season. Stack up on indie gay movie faves like Violet Tendencies, The Big Gay Musical and the 30th anniversary edition of the gay classic Taxi Zum Klo. Head to the site withthe promotion code “holiday” and snag a bargain on the films. Hey, you might even get one for yourself.

Available at BreakingGlassPictures.com.

 

 

 

BRUSH AWAY

Expect an eye roll if you give kids a toothbrush, but once they start handling his Arm & Ammer Spinbrush Proclean, they might get more on board. The battery-operated brush is a simple, but effective way to keep those pearly whites, um, white, with the appeal of being a whirring gadget. Don’t talk about how better it is than a manual toothbrush and dental health. Yawn for days. Hype up the dual action technology, the durable body style and what a grown-up “toy” it is. Because, of course, adults can use it to. Retails between $8–9.

Available at retailers nationwide.

 

—  Rich Lopez

Pet of the Week • 12.16.11

Angel

Pet-AngeleAngel is an angelic brown tabby with white markings and enormous gold-green eyes.

She’s just 8 months old and weighs a mere 4 pounds. Angel is sweet, calm, laidback and loving. Why not adopt an Angel of your own this holiday season?

Angel and many other cats, dogs, puppies and kittens are available for adoption from Dallas Animal Services, 1818 N. Westmoreland at I-30, just minutes west of Downtown Dallas. The shelter is open Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. and Sundays noon-5 p.m. The regular adoption cost is $85 for dogs and $55 for cats, but discounts are offered for animals in the shelter longer than 45 days, to senior citizens and to those who adopt two animals at the same time. All dogs are negative for heartworms, and cats have been tested for FeLV and FIV.  For more information, visit DallasAnimalServices.org or call 214-671-0249.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Turtle Creek Chorale holiday show ‘My Favorite Things’ at Meyerson

Chorale Christmas tradition

The holiday season isn’t complete without the annual Christmas concert by the Turtle Creek Chorale. In My Favorite Things, they pay tribute to The Carpenters Christmas Collection and of course, they add their own special touch.

DEETS: Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St. 8 p.m. $16–$65. TurtleCreek.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Planning, preparation can make the holidays much more jolly for all

LGBTs often deal with stress, depression during the holiday season due to family issues

Candy Marcum

Candy Marcum

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Many people have such high expectations for the holidays that they get depressed when those expectations aren’t met. And in the LGBT community, dealing with family issues is often painful.

Counselor Candy Marcum said that holiday depression is the gap between how you think your life should work and how it is working.

“If you think Christmas should be family and love and laughter and you’re having trouble paying the rent and your family rejects you, then work to lessen the gap,” Marcum said.
She suggested changing the idea of how the holiday should be.

Marcum said that many people come out to family during the holidays because that’s when families get together.

And coming out in person is usually better than over the phone.

But, Marcum said, making a big announcement at the dinner table might not be the best way to do it.
Counselor Randy Martin said that anyone intending to come out to family over the holiday needs to plan and prepare beforehand.

“Find someone to bounce it off of,” such as a friend or sibling, he said. “Like a dry run.”

But when to spring the news? Each family is different, Martin said.

In some families, it’s best to talk about big news in pairs.

In others, groups are fine.

If a family has an expectation of how holiday dinner should be, interrupting it with this sort of news might not be the best idea. But in some families it could be the perfect setting, Martin suggested said.

Going home for the holidays and introducing a new partner is another stressful situation. Even the fully accepting family may react awkwardly to the new situation.

Randy-Martin-photo

Randy Martin

Marcum suggests staying in a nearby hotel might be the answer to avoiding family conflict. That avoids the embarrassing question of sleeping arrangements.

Or talk to family ahead of time. Staying with a sibling or other relative might work also.

Martin agreed that a hotel stay could be a perfect alternative for a couple during a holiday visit: “Maybe Grandpa smokes and one of you can’t tolerate it, or your family gets up much earlier than you do,” he said.

He added that any number of situations could make it simpler all the way around not to stay with one’s parents.

Marcum said another uncomfortable situation is visiting family after a breakup. While you might have moved on, everyone else could be feeling the loss for the first time, she said.

“Now you’ve got a new one [partner],” Marcum said. “That’s awkward at best.”

Martin agreed. “The family already has a pattern down. Do what you can to let everyone else catch up,” he said.

Loneliness is another common problem many people in the LGBT community face during the holidays.

Happy childhood memories of the holidays can bring on a bout of depression when those expectations will not be met because of family rejection, Marcum said.

Others are alone for the holidays simply because of distance, cost of travel or having to work.

Martin suggested doing some extra preparation for the holidays, especially if that time of year tends to be difficult. While many people spend quite a bit of time going to parties and shopping for everyone else, he suggested spending time making plans for yourself.

“Loneliness is real,” Martin said. “We’re hard-wired to be connected. Make plans.”

And he said make back-up plans in case other plans fall through. Think of whom to contact if you’re alone — maybe someone to go with to a movie.
Marcum agreed, adding, “Be good to yourself.”

“Make a plan that pleases you,” she said. “Whatever gives you joy.”

She suggested going to church, volunteering in a soup kitchen or having friends or neighbors over.

“Buy yourself something,” she suggested. “Wrap it up and put it under the tree.”

She said that when sadness around the holiday is a result bad family relations, keep the door open.

“Take the high road with your family,” Marcum said. “Continue to reach out.”

That includes inviting them to visit, and calling or sending cards and emails to keep in touch.

Martin’s general advice is to stay connected. He said that if exercise is part of your regular routine, make time to get in a workout. He said to not let all the parties and shopping and pressure from the holiday become overwhelming.

And Marcum gives a word of warning about drinking during the holiday “Watch your alcohol intake,” she said. “Alcohol is a depressant.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

HGG 2011 Gift-A-Day: Bella Bears

FLUFFY BEARS FOR YOUR HUNKY BEAR (or anyone else)

For an eco-luxury gift idea, consider Bella Bear & Co.’s line of recycled heirloom fur teddy bears that are handcrafted. These bears are not only an heirloom but can be customized as well. Don’t get too freaked out by the fur thing. Bella Bear takes an exoluxe approach to the material. Their products are all made from recycled furs and none from endangered animals. The Mink Bear Collection comes in petite 12″, classic 18″ and grande 24″in shades of champagne, caramel and chocolate. The Limited Edition features a variety of one of a kind bears from decadent fox, New Zealand Opossum as fluffy as cotton candy and velvety sheared beaver (no jokes, please). And all feature hand detailed faces and decorated for the holiday season with sparkling Austrian crystal necklaces. The bears can be customized for that extra special touch. They can be made from your grandmother’s mink cape, your mother’s fox coat, or other fur item – and passed on as treasured heirlooms.The bears are priced from $125–$375.

Available through BellaBearCompany.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Spirit of Giving: MCCGD’s coat drive for the homeless

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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Colleen-Darraugh

Colleen Darraugh

This year for the sixth year, Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas is collecting coats for the homeless.

The first delivery will go to clients of AIDS Interfaith Network, said the Rev. Colleen Darraugh, MCCGD pastor. Of people with AIDS in Dallas, that organization’s clients are among the most at-risk and most likely to be homeless, she said.

Darraugh said that the annual coat drive has expanded this year to include sweats, hoodies and socks.
“A dry pair of socks can make all the difference,” she said.

The church kicked off its holiday season of giving by participating in Saturday Night Live at AIN, in which a group prepared a weekend supper for clients and provided  entertainment. After dinner, the 27 volunteers sent AIN’s clients home with bags of granola bars, apples and oranges in addition to leftovers.

Darraugh said the need is so great, members of the church by themselves can’t provide everything AIN’s clients need.

“So we’re asking people to ask neighbors and co-workers to contribute,” she said.

They are collecting items every Sunday at the church at 1840 Hutton Drive #100 in Carrollton.

Anyone who would like to help with delivery is welcome to join. Darraugh said they have a borrowed horse trailer that they expect to be filled with items. After stopping at AIN near downtown Dallas, they will distribute items to people living on the street.

But Darraugh said the need doesn’t end at Christmas, and the church will continue collecting items to make a January delivery as well.

She said that especially those not staying in a shelter often lose what little they have when they leave their items unattended.

To arrange to make a donation during the week, to participate in the delivery of items to the homeless or for more information, call the church at 972-243-0761.

— David Taffet

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of Giving: Pam’s Presents Toy Drive for Genesis Women’s Shelter

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

…………………

PamDaphyneLyle

Pam and Daphyne Lyle

In December 2008, Daphyne Lyle didn’t know what to expect when she organized the first Pam’s Presents event. But that didn’t matter, since Lyle merely wanted to continue the charity work her mother Pam Lyle did during the holidays with her partner Pat Wilson.

Fast forward three years as the Pam’s Presents Christmas Toy Drive holds its sixth event at TMC: The Mining Company on Dec. 11.

“She and Pat would have Christmas parties at their house for the employees and asked people to bring an item or toy,” Lyle said of her mother. “She would donate those items to The Family Place. After she passed, I wanted to keep that spirit alive and do our own drive.”

Pam Lyle lost her battle to cancer in the spring of 2008, but Daphyne Lyle opted not to dwell on any misery. Instead, she seemed to feel beholden to continuing the legacy of her mother.

“She was a nurse and had such a caring spirit about people.

The death of anyone is traumatic, but I wanted something positive out of it. It’s such a warm feeling to see people with handfuls of donations and to have it honor my mom and help people out — it’s overwhelming,” she said.

The beneficiary for the event is Genesis Women’s Shelter, the nonprofit that offers assistance to women and children escaping situations of domestic abuse.

This year’s event features an all-day lineup of local musicians who have donated their time to the event. Familiar names such as SuZanne Kimbrell, Kathy Corbin and Heather Knox are among those set to play.

Santa Claus appears at every Christmas event for photos and an art auction has been added to help increase monetary donations. Gift donations are particularly needed for teenage boys and girls and newborns and infants.

The holiday season starts early for Pam’s Presents, with the Christmas in July event which collects school supplies and also has an art auction.

As people began to learn about the events, it grew and TMC was both the perfect fit and a big help.

“We were at Woody’s for the summer event, but we needed something bigger where bands could play in and out,” Lyle said. “When the TMC manager offered the club, we were very excited. People have been so kind donating space and time.”

And so Pam Lyle lives on with the help of Wilson and Daphyne Lyle and through their collective generosity, Genesis clients can look forward to a merrier Christmas.

“The only thing I want everyone to know is thank you,” Lyle added.

Pam’s Presents will be held Sunday, Dec. 11, at TMC: The Mining Company, 3903 Cedar Springs Road. For more information, search “Pam’s Presents’’ at Facebook.com.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Spirit of Giving: Linze Serrell’s Toys for Tots Show

EDITOR’S NOTE: As the holiday season kicks into high gear, the LGBT community of North Texas once again is responding in a variety of ways to help out those who are less fortunate.

This week Dallas Voice profiles five events intended to raise funds or other donations for a number of different causes. But the community’s good will doesn’t end with these events.

If you know of an individual, business or organization that is holding or participating in a charitable holiday event or effort, email the information to editor@dallasvoice.com.

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Linze-Serrell

Linze Serrell

Saturday night, Dec. 10, Garlow’s in Gun Barrel City will play host to Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots fundraising show, to gather donations of cash and toys for the U.S. Marines’ Toys for Tots program.

Brian Paris, show director at Garlow’s, said that this is the second holiday season since the bar opened, and the second year that the club has hosted the event.

Paris explained that the annual Toys for Tots benefit show was started more than 25 years ago by Bill Lindsey, known across the Metroplex as Linze Serrell, a female impersonator who sings live and focuses his efforts on charitable events.

“This is Linze’s baby, her pet project, on top of everything else that [Lindsey and his partner Michael Champion, aka Sable Alexander] do,” Paris said.

For Lindsey, the annual show is a way to give back and say thanks for the blessings in his own life.

“My mom was a single mom who worked three jobs. There were times growing up that we wouldn’t have had Christmas without the support of the church and organizations like Toys for Tots,” he said. “I know what it feels like to be without, and I want to do something to make sure other kids don’t have to go without.”

Despite a recent stroke, Lindsey said he would definitely attend the event at Garlow’s. “I’d have to be six feet under not to be at this show! And even then, they’d dig me up and put me in the corner! I even plan on singing a song in the show.”

Paris said the show will be “really just a regular drag show,” except that all the performers are donating their time and all the tips go to help buy toys for Toys for Tots.

“Last year, we had a stage full of people participating, and we raised about $2,000. And we had a lot of fun doing it. And all the people participating do it on their own dime. No one receives a penny of compensation.

“These entertainers, we all travel thousands of miles each year, whether it’s to participate in a pageant system for the Home for the Holidays [a program that raises funds to send people with HIV/AIDS home]. But there is nothing in this show that has any personal benefit for the performers, in terms of winning a title or anything. They just do it for the fun of it and for the chance to make Christmas a little bit better for some children who might not have had Christmas otherwise.”

He said that this show is also the only time that Garlow’s ever charges a cover charge, and that the suggested donation of $5 or a new, unwrapped toy at the door will also go into the Toys for Tots total.

But Paris said he knows that a trip to Gun Barrel to attend the show may be out of the question for some. “If someone wants to help but can’t make it down here to Gun Barrel City, then they should find someone where they are who needs help,” he said. “It doesn’t even have to be doing something for kids.

There are lots of people in nursing homes who need a hug. Just go and sit and spend some time with someone who needs your company.”

Linze Serrell’s annual Toys for Tots benefit show begins at 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, at Garlow’s, 308 E. Main St. in Gun Barrel City.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Local briefs • 11.25.11

Blanket collection drive set

As part of the weekly Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope — called BACH — program that provides a meal for homeless people, Denise Shoemaker is spearheading a drive, in honor of the late Windy Churitch, to collect blankets to be distributed to the homeless as colder weather approaches.

Shoemaker said this week that blanket donations will be collected during the December Chick Happy Hour on Thursday, Dec. 1, beginning at 6 p.m. at Kinki Lounge, 3606 Greenville Ave.

Blankets can also be delivered to The Brick/Joe’s, 2525 Wycliff Ave., on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Shoemaker explained that BACH volunteers last year began a program to provide “something extra, besides the breakfast” for homeless people during the holiday season. She said the blanket drive is being held in honor of Churitch, a longtime Dallas-area resident who died unexpectedly in October.

“Windy was a really good person and a good friend, and we thought that this would be a great way to honor her memory,” Shoemaker said.
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O&E elects officers

Jeffrey Gorczynski with Citi was chosen as affiliate chair of the Out and Equal DFW Regional Affiliate on Saturday, Nov. 19, when the organization elected its officers for 2012.

Other officers are Chair Emeritus Paul von Wupperfield with Texas Instruments, Community Outreach Chair Ted Vantrabert, Secretary Samantha Seelbach with American Airlines and Treasurer Brandon Aldrich with KPMG.

Gorczynski is a vice president at Citi and has been an active leader and officer of the Out & Equal DFW Regional Affiliate for several years. He played a major role in planning for the Out & Equal Workplace Summit, held in Dallas in October.

Gorczynski said the organization plans to “leverage the success of the summit to start some new initiatives right here in Dallas/Fort Worth. Our ultimate goal is to make the workplace a better place for everyone.”

Von Wupperfeld, who was the first chair of the Out & Equal DFW Regional Affiliate when it was formed five years ago, said he was “particularly pleased we were able to engage so much of our community in those events [during the summit] and show the summit attendees what an exciting place Dallas can be to live and work.”

Out & Equal is a national, non-profit organization headquartered in San Francisco that champions safe and equitable workplaces for LGBT people. In addition to holding its annual workplace summit, the organization has a “Building Bridges” program offering LGBT diversity training for all workplace settings.

For more information, go online to OutAndEqual.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Don’t miss our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide and the online exclusives

We are officially in the midst of the holiday season. I mean seriously, where did Thanksgiving come from? That’s next week already. Of course, Thanksgiving means one thing — Black Friday. Before you head out to retailers at midnight, check out our 2011 Holiday Gift Guide for your shopping ideas. With items for the home, that special person and even for man’s best friend, we cover a wide array of gift giving ideas that run from stocking stuffers to helicopter rides.

But don’t stop there, we also have our 2011 HGG online exclusives posted here. Just some additional gifts to add to the mix. We’ll add to those with our Gift-a-Day posts that you’ll read about in the online exclusive list.

By the end of it all, we hope we’ve helped you out with your shopping list. And don’t forget to get you a little something for yourself.

—  Rich Lopez