Gay MBAs meet in Dallas

Corporations meet with LGBT MBA candidates to recruit, offer internships and present workshops on career development

MBA CANDIDATES | Organizers of the 14th annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference at the Fairmont Hotel put together welcome bags on Wednesday, Oct. 12, before participants arrive. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

More than 75 corporations stepped forward to sponsor the 14th annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference taking place at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas this weekend, according to the students who organized the event.

The entirely student-run event each year brings 500 LGBT MBA candidates and 500 professionals together for career development workshops and consulting projects as well as recruiting for careers and internships.

Organizer Billy Hwan, an MBA student at UC Berkeley, said that the first day of the conference is devoted to career sessions and the second day will focus more on lifestyle issues.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, teams of five will be tasked with coming up with innovations for 10 local non-profits, according to convention organizer Oron Stenesh, a second-year MBA student at University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.

Organizer Anthony Esposito, a MBA student at Baruch College in New York, said he was most excited about a project that teams LGBT students with a local Baptist Church.

“It’s a sharing of values that benefits everyone,” he said.

Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas will work with another team. The Dallas Holocaust Museum, which began a relationship with the LGBT community this year when it brought an exhibit on the Nazi treatment of gay men from the U.S. Holocaust Museum, is turning to the group for ideas on continuing the relationship and developing membership in the LGBT community.

Organizer Rebecca Price, an MBA candidate at Babson College in Boston, said that entrepreneurship is another component of the conference. Three teams have been selected to make a pitch to a panel of venture capitalists. The winner will receive a $1,500 prize.

Among the speakers for the event are Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns and Human Right Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

Public relations expert Howard Bragman, best known from his appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and on HNL, will speak on Friday evening. Elyse Cherry is the Saturday speaker at noon. She is CEO of Boston Community Capital and President of Boston Community Venture Fund.

Also as part of the weekend, Target, one of the conference’s platinum sponsors, will host a charity event that benefits the Point Foundation National LGBT Scholarship Fund.

Among the local companies recruiting are AT&T, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

And since most of the students will be back in school in two weeks when Out & Equal Workplace Summit convenes in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole, representatives of the conference and some employee resource groups will be at Reaching Out.

“We encourage our attendees to join employee resource groups,” Esposito said.

The students all said that organizing this conference was one of the most important parts of their graduate education.

“This is one of the most formative experiences of our MBA career,” Price said.

“We get to share with 1,000 people,” Stenesh said. “This is my gay MBA family.”

Reaching Out continues through Saturday and walk-up registration is available. $400. ReachingOutMBA.org.

—  Michael Stephens

Another living gay Holocaust survivor identified

Gad Beck (photo from U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

Last week we reported that Rudolf Brazda, the last remaining Holocaust survivor who was arrested for homosexuality, had died at 98.

Over the weekend, Alice Murray, director of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, sent a message that she got word of another gay survivor who is still alive. His name is Gad Beck, and he was profiled in the film Paragraph 175.

Beck was born in 1923 and worked for the underground during World War II.

Although Beck was half-Jewish, he managed to escape detention and deportation to a concentration camp. During the war, he used his non-Jewish gay connections to get food and supply hiding places to Jews escaping to neutral Switzerland. He was betrayed by a Jewish Gestapo spy and arrested in 1945. He was held in a Jewish transit camp in Berlin until the end of the war.

After the war, he helped Jewish survivors emigrate to Palestine. In 1947, he left Germany and moved to Palestine himself. He lived in Israel until 1979 when he moved back to Berlin, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The story of the treatment of gays during the Holocaust is told in an exhibit assembled by the USHMM and is on display at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 N. Record St., through Sept. 5.

UPDATE: Steve Rothaus, a writer for the Miami Herald, interviewed Beck 10 years ago. He described their discussion as very moving. Here’s the link to the article.

—  David Taffet

Telling the stories of persecution

Curator calls the exhibit in Dallas the most personal of all the Holocaust stories he’s told

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Of all the exhibits Ted Phillips has worked on in his 17 years as director of exhibitions and resources at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945 is “nearest and dearest to my heart,” he said in a a recent interview.

The traveling show is currently on display at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. On a visit to Dallas for the opening of the exhibit, the curator said he spent two years of his life researching the topic.

“My friends thought I was doing it 24/7,” he said. “It was all I talked about.”

Phillips said that at times he had to stop looking at the pictures of men who were so similar to him — gay and around his age — who were tortured to death by the Nazis. Sometimes he had to put the pictures aside to write the script, he said.

Phillips was an unlikely candidate for his current position. With no museum experience, he said that if he applied for the job today, he would never be considered for it.

“I fell into it,” Phillips said.

With a Ph.D. in Russian history, he had been teaching at the University of Maryland. In 1994, the museum was still looking for staff and a colleague suggested, “How about a nice historian.”

Phillips, who has been with the museum for 17 years, has been part of every exhibit the museum has created since then. That includes the one currently on display at the Dallas Holocaust Museum.

“When the museum [in Washington] was putting itself together in the late ’80s, early ’90s, they wanted to tell more than the core story of the persecution and murder of six million Jews,” he said.

He said that after the museum was up and running, ideas that were originally brochures, such as the treatment of gay men, were developed into full-blown exhibits.

The museum opened to the public the same weekend that the 1993 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights took place. Many people who were in town for the LGBT rights demonstration visited the museum.

“So we knew we had strong audience interest in the subject from the beginning,” Phillips said.

But work on the show now in Dallas didn’t begin until about 10 years later.

While assembling the exhibit, Phillips made two trips to Germany to work with the Schwule (Gay) Museum in Berlin. A contract researcher in the city also sent information back.

“So much of what we were working with were police files,” Phillips said.

He said that drawers of files and documents in German back up the story as told in the exhibit. However, little personal testimony exists.

Phillips speculates that since Nazi-era laws regarding homosexuality remained on the books until 1969 in West Germany, few gay people came forward to talk about the persecution they suffered. Some who sought reparations in the 1970s were rebuffed and told that gays were not persecuted and not entitled to compensation, Phillips said.

In East Germany, the Nazi version of Paragraph 175, the anti-homosexuality law, reverted to that of the Weimar Republic, he said. That law had fewer generalities under which so many men were arrested.

But discrimination continued and East German gays had other reasons to not tell their stories.

Phillips said that he worries about the first section of his exhibit. That portion details how it was possible to go from acceptance of gays in Berlin to thousands of people put in concentration camps.

But while most people who visit the Holocaust Museum are horrified by the inhumanity, Phillips said he wonders what some people have gotten from the exhibits.

“Obama is Hitler,” he said, is one comment that he sees visitors enter in the guest book, and he calls that utter ignorance of history. But that is why he worries about the introductory panels in Nazi Treatment of Homosexuals.

“Is the beginning a how-to?” he asked.

During his study of the subject, Phillips learned about the difference between the Nazis’ ultimate goal with Jews and with gays.

The objective was to rid society of Jews so Jews from every place under Nazi control were sent to concentration camps and death camps.

But the goal with gays was to change their behavior so they would help build the Aryan population. Gays — other than those who were also Jewish — were still considered Aryans. With hard work, they could be changed to produce more Aryan children.

So only German gays were arrested.

“Being forced to work hard would correct their behavior,” Phillips said of the Nazi mentality about gays.

Except for about 2 percent who were considered incorrigible, Nazis considered gays’ behavior something that could be unlearned. Generally the sentences given were relatively short — about 18 months. But gays were often assigned to punishment battalions.

“They got the hardest work, longest hours, least food and quickest death,” Phillips said. “The mortality rate was extraordinary, but they weren’t sent to the gas chambers.”

Lesbians were generally not arrested because they could still produce children. Those who were detained were often taken for political reasons or for being “asocial.”

Phillips said there was, oddly, no record of gay Jews. The pink triangle with an overlaid yellow triangle (pink indicating gay and yellow Jewish) was listed in a Nazi chart of prisoner markings. But the usually meticulous record keepers did not chronicle any examples of its use that Phillips could find.

“So it was established, but there’s no evidence that it was put into use,” he said.

Phillips said he used the term “homosexual” in the title of the exhibit because it reflected the connection and importance of sex and reproduction to the reason for the arrests.

He said that “gay” as known it today is something quite different.

The exhibit remains in Dallas through Sept. 5.

Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 Record Street at West End Station. Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. $8. 214-741-7500.

—  John Wright

Gay exhibit installed at Dallas Holocaust Museum

From one of the crates

Last night, the exhibit Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945 arrived from the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 13 crates each weighing 300 pounds. The exhibit opens at the Dallas Holocaust Museum on Friday — in time for LGBT Pride Month.

A group of about 10 volunteers from exhibit sponsors Texas Instruments and Congregation Beth El Binah unloaded the exhibit along with museum staff and moved it from the loading area into the museum’s temporary exhibition area.

The exhibit documents the approximately 100,000 gay men and several thousand lesbians who were arrested in Nazi Germany under Paragraph 175. That was the law dating from the 1880s making homosexuality illegal. The punishment was two years in prison.

But under the Nazi regime, those in prison were transferred to concentration camps. Thousands more were arrested and sent to brutal work camps to die. Few survived.

After the war, when others were released from concentration camps, those gays who did survive were sent to prison to complete their sentences. Homosexuality was still considered a crime. Time served in a concentration camp was not considered toward prison time.

Paragraph 175 wasn’t rescinded until 1994 and those who served sentences under the law were not pardoned until 2002.

Dallas Voice is the media sponsor of the exhibit.

The exhibit opens Friday, June 3 at Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 N. Record St. at West End Station in Downtown Dallas. Mon.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat.-Sun, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. through Sept. 5. Admission $8 includes audio guide to the permanent exhibit.

—  David Taffet

Lampanelli fights Westboro hate with comedy — and with cash for the GMHC

Lisa Lampanelli

Comedian Lisa Lampanelli — known for her equal opportunity insults against every group, minority or not and known as well as an LGBT rights supporter, despite her gay jokes — is performing tonight in Topeka, Kan. And of course, Fred Phelps and his bunch of loony-tunes from Westboro Baptist Church have announced they plan to protest outside the Topeka Performing Arts Center while Lampanelli is performing inside.

Taking a page, perhaps, from Resource Center Dallas‘ playbook, Lampanelli has announced that for every protester who shows up tonight, she’ll donate $1,000 to New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the country’s oldest AIDS/HIV service organization.

This has the potential to be a big money maker for GMHC.

Last July, the Phelps clan protested outside Resource Center Dallas because that’s where the primarily LGBT Congregation Beth El Binah holds its services. (The Phelps Phools protested outside Dallas’ Holocaust Museum and the Jewish Community Center that same day.) But instead of asking counter-protesters to come out to face off against the Westboro Baptist group — which often uses such encounters to provoke counter-protesters into doing something the WBC folks can sue over), RCD asked people to pledge donations to the center for every minute the WBC protesters remained outside the center. RCD ended up with more than $10,000, money that was used to purchase a new freezer to store food for the center’s meals program.

Personally, I am not a big fan of Lampanelli’s brand of insult-based comedy. It’s just not my cup of tea. But if I lived anywhere near Topeka, I would damn sure buy a ticket and go see her show tonight. Because anybody willing to open up their own pocketbook to turn Westboro Baptist’s hate into a positive thing for a worthy cause is somebody I am willing to support.

—  admin

Dallas Holocaust Museum finds piece of gay art, marks International Holocaust Remembrance Day

When I was working on my story on gays in the Holocaust, I asked Nanette Fodell at the Dallas Holocaust Museum if they have any pieces relating to the subject in their archives. The museum archivist found one piece.

The piece was painted in 1984 by William D. Kaddatz (1953–1989) and was purchased in a garage sale and later donated to the museum. It depicts two men wearing the pink triangle.

The card under the painting reads:

Treblinka

I saw him often in the parks in Berlin and though we were intimate we never used names or even spoke at all. I saw him just the other day bit it was far from being the same. He was standing in another enclosure the SS built for the care and feeding of the Domestic German Jews [sic]. Dogs are treated better. It was bitterly cold and had wrapped rags around his neck in a more or less futile effort to stay even a bit warmer. We all did it and still a few froze to death in their sleep. We just strive now I suppose to remember better days. I know its [sic] not anticipation of a future because they no longer exist.

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in 1945. To mark the day, a candlelight ceremony will be at the museum at 6 p.m. Bring a traditional yahrzeit candle (Kroger on Cedar Springs has them in the kosher food section) or they will supply candles.

Museum officials sent a special welcome to the LGBT community noting the support the community gave them last July when Westboro Baptist Church began a weekend of picketing in Dallas at the museum.

Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 North Record St. Jan 27 at 6-7 p.m. The museum is located at West End Station on the Red, Green, Blue and Orange lines. Parking is available at Houston Street and Pacific Avenue).

—  David Taffet

Pink triangle: Even after World War II, gay victims of Nazis continued to be persecuted

German police file photo of a man arrested in October 1937 for suspicion of violating Paragraph 175. (Courtesy of Landesarchiv, Berlin)

Dallas Holocaust Museum invites the LGBT community to International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemoration

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

The United Nations declared Jan. 27 International Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. And while Jews comprised the largest portion of those incarcerated and murdered by the Nazis, lesbians and gays were victims, too.

During the Holocaust, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians were arrested in Nazi Germany along

WATCH VIDEO OF GAY CONCENTRATION CAMP SURVIVOR

with Jews, Roma, Jehovah’s Witnesses and a variety of other groups including priests and political opponents.

But after the war, gay men were treated much differently than other victims.

Dallas Holocaust Museum spokeswoman Nanette Fodell drew a parallel between the Holocaust and recent events affecting the LGBT community. She said that the Holocaust began with the bullying of Jewish children in schools.

“Bullying turned into genocide,” she said.

The law that criminalized homosexuality in Germany, known as Paragraph 175, was written in 1871. The law was rarely used during the Weimar Republic, and Berlin became one of the gayest cities in the world.

However, after the rise of the Third Reich, Paragraph 175 was enforced. Even after World War II, it remained on the books and continued to be used against gay men.

Tens of thousands of gays were arrested in Germany and, after they were occupied by the Nazis, the countries of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland put similar laws into effect. Estimates by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., of the number of gay men arrested range up to 100,000.

The Nazis distinguished between those with “learned” behavior and “incorrigibles.” While those named incorrigibles were sent to concentration camps, many with s

Prisoners at forced labor in the Mauthausen concentration camp. Beginning in 1943, homosexuals were among those in concentration camps who were killed in an SS-sponsored “extermination through work” program. (Courtesy of Nederlands Instituut voor Oorlogsdocumentatie, courtesy U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum)

o-called learned behavior were sent into the military. That group was put on the front lines and sent on suicide missions.

Those sent to camps had a short life expectancy as well. They died from overwork, starvation, physical brutality or murder.

That and other information about the plight of gays during this period has been gathered into a traveling exhibition entitled Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945. Fodell said the Dallas Holocaust Museum hopes to bring that exhibit here soon.

While Jewish prisoners wore a yellow triangle, gay men wore a pink triangle. Asocial individuals, the group that included lesbians, wore a black triangle.

Those with a pink triangle later reported miserable treatment by other prisoners as well as by their captors.
Gays were among those killed in an SS-sponsored “extermination through work” program that began in 1943.
Many of those who were liberated from the camps were rearrested after the war to serve out their terms of imprisonment. The punishment for homosexuality under Paragraph 175 was two years in prison, but time spent in a concentration camp did not count toward their sentence.

After the war, the West German government began paying reparations to those who had spent time in the camps. But in 1956, the government declared that those imprisoned for homosexuality did not qualify for compensation.

Homosexuality was finally decriminalized in East Germany in 1968 and in West Germany in 1969. But in the same way that the Texas sodomy law — Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code — remains on the books seven years after The U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional, Paragraph 175 was not expunged from the books until 1994. And not until 2002 did the German government grant a full pardon those who served time in prison for homosexuality.

The Holocaust museum in Washington presents a broad and encyclopedic view of the event. But the Dallas museum’s focus is tighter, with no extensive information yet on the lesbian and gay victims of the Holocaust

Fodell described the focused experience presented at the Dallas museum, located in a small, temporary space in the West End with plans to build a larger building nearby.

“We’re looking for our visitors to learn to make better decisions than were made during the Holocaust,” Fodell said. “Are you going to be an upstander or a bystander?”

The permanent exhibit focuses on three events that happened during one particular day. Much of the story is told through the personal effects and photos of survivors who moved to Dallas after the war and coverage in the local Dallas and Fort Worth newspapers.

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising is the first event covered in the exhibit.

The second is the story of the 20th deportation train from Belgium.

“This is the only time someone tried to stop a death train and freed about 230 people,” Fodell said.

The third event that occurred that day was the Bermuda Conference. World leaders met that day in Bermuda to discuss the Holocaust but decided to do nothing. Instead they played golf.

Commemoration

Few monuments exist to honor gay victims of the Holocaust. The Homomonument, the first, was built in Amsterdam in 1987. Since then, memorials to gay victims have been built in Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne and at the site of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp.

However, Dallas museum officials wanted to include the LGBT community in its Holocaust Remembrance Day event.
In July 2010, members of Westboro Baptist Church picketed both the museum and Congregation Beth El Binah, the primarily LGBT synogogue in Dallas. Fodell said the two groups formed a strong bond the day of that event.

To mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the museum will hold a candlelight ceremony at 6 p.m. The memorial will begin at the museum and proceed two blocks away to the site of the planned new building.
Participants are asked to bring a Yahrtzeit candle, a traditional memorial candle lit to remember the dead.

Candlelight Ceremony commemorating International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 North Record St. Jan 27 at 6-7 p.m. The museum is located at West End Station on the Red, Green, Blue and Orange lines.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Jan. 21, 2011.

—  John Wright

Anti-violence group plans ‘Phelps-a-thon’ during Westboro Baptist Church’s visit to Tucson

Phelps clan in Dallas

The Phelps clan is headed to Tucson.

In response, the Arizona Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation banning protests within 300 feet of a funeral. In some show of compassion (maybe in fear for their lives), the clan decided not to protest the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was murdered. However, they still plan to picket the funeral of U.S. District Judge John McCarthy Roll.

When the clan visited Dallas to picket downtown at the Holocaust Museum and Congregation Beth El Binah at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, a fundraiser was held called “When Hell Freezes Over.” The goal was to replace the $3,000 ice maker at the community center. They raised move than $11,000.

The Wingspan Anti-Violence Project will be doing the same thing this week. They are holding a Phelps-a-thon.

Although we wish them luck, the circumstances are completely different. The group came to Dallas for no reason whatsoever and everyone who participated made a joke of the appearance. There was plenty of time to prepare stupid signs and costumes to welcome their afternoon of hate.

In Arizona, people are mourning. They are dealing with loss and healing. No one is in the mood for a jolly old time to mock the haters. The focus is on funerals and people in hospitals. Reaction to Phelps is a mere afterthought. But the gesture is appropriate. Let their visit to promote hatred after a violent incident raise money to decrease violence.

—  David Taffet

Annise Parker tells youth, ‘It Gets Better’

Annise Parker

Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s staff has been encouraging her to do an “It Gets Better” video. She took the opportunity to do so during a presentation at the Houston Holocaust Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The museum presented her with a Guardian of the Human Spirit Award, a platform for acknowledging dedicated Houstonians who have worked to enhance the lives of others and to better humankind.

On its website, the museum listed among the reasons she was given the award was her expansion of the city’s nondiscrimination policies:

One of her early official acts was to issue one of the most comprehensive non-discrimination orders in the nation. The order prohibits discrimination and/or retaliation on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity at every level of municipal government, including hiring, contracting and/or access to city facilities and programs/activities.

Her acceptance speech includes her thoughts on the recent rash of publicized suicides by teens who had been bullied. Her office noted the lighting that makes Parker look radioactive. Prior to her appearance, the content of the speech changed several times and it wasn’t until the last minute that Parker decided to include the “It Gets Better” piece and asked that it be recorded.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center dedicates ‘Hell Freezes Over’ Fred Phelps Memorial Icemaker

RCD executive director Cece Cox
Councilmember Pauline Medrano

Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano and Brent Rubin from State Rep. Eric Johnson’s office were on hand Friday morning to dedicate the Fred Phelps Memorial Icemaker. Members of Congregation Beth El Binah joined Resource Center staff to cut the ribbon and scoop the first buckets of ice.

The money for the icemaker was collected during the Phelps clan’s July visit to Dallas. They picketed Congregation Beth El Binah at Resource Center Dallas and other Jewish groups around the city.

The fundraiser was dubbed “Hell Freezes Over” and $11,000 was collected. The previous known record for a Phelps event was about $10,000 in New York City.

“Inspiration comes from the strangest sources,” said Rafael McDonnell of Resource Center Dallas. “Without the inspiration of the visitors from Topeka, we would never have been here today to dedicate our new icemaker.”

“Eric’s very impressed by what you’ve done in regard to Fred Phelps’ visit,” said Rubin. “How you’ve gone one step beyond and made good come from a crummy situation.”

“There are lessons to be learned from this,” said Medrano. “Everybody can make a difference in the midst of bad news.”

During a city budget crisis, she said she was delighted to be at the Resource Center celebrating the agency getting money from other sources. She thanked Phelps for helping the city take care of people with AIDS.

Josh Manes represented Beth El Binah. He was happy to see the government representatives celebrating at the Center.

“I remember a time when the city would have supported Phelps,” he said.

The plaque on the ice machine reads: “This machine is dedicated to the participants of ‘Hell Freezes

Over.’ Thank you for showing how the power of caring and compassion can triumph over hate. August 6, 2010.”

In one of their silliest choices of protest sites, the Phelps clan began their day of nonsense at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. The museum marked record attendance that day as a result of the Phelps publicity.

Phelps was invited to attend the dedication ceremony by e-mail. He did not respond to the gracious invitation.

—  David Taffet