Awakening Heart offers meditation series

Brother ChiSing

Brother ChiSing says Buddhist meditation techniques can help all faiths on spiritual journeys

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Brother ChiSing from Awakening Heart will facilitate music, meditation, movement, message and more at the Interfaith Peace Chapel on Mondays through Lent.

“Lent is a period of finding yourself,” said Brian Parman of Cathedral of Hope, adding that the series at the Peace Chapel is a spiritual experience that cannot be pigeonholed as just yoga or meditation.

“It’s about finding your center and peace,” he said.

About 50 people attended the first Monday evening event and Brother ChiSing said he hoped for a bigger turnout in coming weeks.

Gary Floyd, Robin Hackett and Cornell Kinderknecht provided the music.

“Cornell on flute was mesmerizing in that space,” Brother ChiSing said.

Awakening Heart is a Dallas-based spiritual ministry inspired by Buddhist teachings that presents workshops, classes and retreats around the country.

Brother ChiSing grew up as a Southern Baptist. “But in college, when I came out, it didn’t work for me anymore,” he said.

His parents kicked him out of the house and he said his church gathered a committee that excommunicated him. While he reconciled with his parents, he began exploring more liberal traditions in Christianity.

Then he discovered Buddhist meditation while living in San Francisco.

“I settled on Buddhist meditation as my main path,” he said.

He earned two Masters degrees in spirituality and divinity and moved back to Texas five years ago.

A year ago, he opened the Dallas Meditation Center in Richardson and continues traveling around the country to do meditation retreats. He calls his center one of the most thriving in North Texas. He said they’ve had Jewish, Hindu and Sufi Muslim as well as Christian meditation events at the center and events embracing various forms of Buddhist traditions.

“Our mission is to remind religious communities meditation is important,” he said. “I’m not here to convert anyone.”

Brother ChiSing said that as he’s worked with different religious traditions, he’s found they have more in common than they have differences.

“Buddhism doesn’t teach directly about God,” he said, “But Buddhists aren’t godless.”

He said they simply use different words to describe the belief in God. He said he personally believes in an afterlife and reincarnation, although Buddhism doesn’t require that. But Buddists, he said, do not believe in eternal damnation.

“There’s no eternal hell,” he said, “Because everyone has a second chance.”

The Monday night series at the Interfaith Peace Chapel is a two-hour experience.

“The musicians uplift the spirit and set the tone,” Brother ChiSing said.

The evening begins with about five minutes of yoga that he describes as very beginner friendly. The purpose is to get rid of nervous energy.

Slow walking meditation for 10 minutes follows, then 20 minutes of sitting meditation.

Brother ChiSing then delivers a 20-minute message on a relevant meditation topic — transforming suffering, cultivating happiness, what is mediation or what is enlightenment.

He said the evening ends with questions and sharing time.

“Meditation is missing from modern religious practice,” he said.

He said meditation was a part of all traditions and his mission is to remind religious communities it’s important.

Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. March 14–April 18. 7–9 p.m. Awakeningheart.org

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

—  John Wright

Russian LGBT leader Nicolai Alekseev speaks tonight

A true international male

Nikolai Alekseev has become the face of Russia’s LGBT community. He comes to Dallas to discuss the plight and triumphs of gays worldwide and how today’s community can work toward equality everywhere. Gay Liberation Network’s Andy Thayer from Chicago joins Alekseev talking about his experiences in Russia.

DEETS: Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 7 p.m. InterfaithPeaceChapel.org.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 03.04

A true international male
Nikolai Alekseev has become the face of Russia’s LGBT community. He comes to Dallas to discuss the plight and triumphs of gays worldwide and how today’s community can work toward equality everywhere. Gay Liberation Network’s Andy Thayer from Chicago joins Alekseev talking about his experiences in Russia.
DEETS: Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 7 p.m. InterfaithPeaceChapel.org.

Saturday 03.05

Let’s try this again, shall we?
Caven celebrates Mardi Gras across its clubs with Carnivale VI. With Ricky Sinz at TMC: The Mining Company and aerial artist Amber Monson at Sue’s, the night is highlighted by the return of Cazwell at Station 4. We’re not expecting the same Super Bowl party debacle that canceled his last show here. We are expecting a major crowd, if it’s anything like his last S4 gig.
DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. $15–$20. PartyatTheBlock.com

Thursday 03.10

Denton deals a pair of queens
The NX35 Music Conferette gets underway for a four-day music conference in little ol’ Denton. Little D’s answer to SXSW, NX35 gets way impressive with some pretty familiar names on the roster. The fest begins with legendary soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples and ends with outrageous sissy bouncer Big Freedia on Saturday.
DEETS: NX35 event grounds, 110 W. Hickory St., Denton. 35Conferette.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

Update on Alekseev in Dallas

As we reported last Friday, Russian LGBT activist Nikolai Alekseev is will be making two appearances in North Texas this week.

On Thursday, March 3, at 3 p.m., Alekseev will speak at Brite Divinity School, and we just received some updated information on his Friday, March 4 appearance in Dallas.

Alekseev will speak Friday, at 7 p.m. at the Interfaith Peace Chapel, and for that appearance he will be joined by Andy Thayer, the co-founder of Gay Liberation Network who is accompanying the Russian activist on his U.S. tour, as well as several local LGBT leaders who will take part in a panel discussion to compare and contrast the fight for LGBT equality in Russia with the movement in North Texas.

Panelists will include moderator Blake Wilkinson, Rafael McDonnell with Resource Center Dallas, Agape MCC pastor the Rev. David Wynn and Dawn Meifert of MergeMedia Group.

Both events are free and open to the public.

—  admin

Lesbian couple turned away by Justin chapel to marry Friday at Cathedral of Hope

The Country Abbey in Justin

Earlier we noted that no Valentine’s Day marriage equality demonstration is planned for Dallas this year, so perhaps this is the next best thing.

PR guru and former Dallas Voice staffer Kris Martin sends along word that two local women who were turned away by a private wedding chapel last year for being lesbians plan to tie the knot on Friday in a ceremony at the Cathedral of Hope.

Tina Shaft and Tiffany Fenimore have been together for 10 years and made news in June when they were turned away by the Country Abbey in Justin as well as by other locations, according to Martin. Now, the Cathedral of Hope and community businesses are donating a chapel and services to make the couple’s dream wedding come true.

Christopher Thomas will officiate the wedding on behalf of the Cathedral, and the couple and their three children will sit for “No H8″ campaign photographs following the ceremony.

The ceremony is open to the media and will be at 3 p.m. Friday at the Cathedral’s Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas.

—  John Wright

Local briefs • 12.24.10

CoH plans Christmas Eve services

Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ will hold five Christmas Eve services beginning at noon Friday, Dec. 24, with “A Shopper’s Christmas Eve” in the Interfaith Peace Chapel. Shoppers can buy gifts in the Sources of Hope gift shop, have their packages wrapped and worship during their lunch hour.

The Children and Families Service, with sing-alongs, puppets and more begins at 5 p.m., followed at 7 p.m. by Mass en Español in the Interfaith Peace Chapel.

Traditional candlelight communion worship services will be held at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Services are free and open to all.

Pavillion holds Stocking Stuffer drive

The stocking stuffer benefit for Legacy Founders Cottage hospice continues through Friday, Christmas Eve, at Barbara’s Pavillion in Oak Cliff.

Patrons are asked to donate gifts to fill up the gigantic stockings at the bar and then donated to the Founders Cottage. Wish list items includes paper towels, Lysol, coffee, gift cards for groceries, disposable adult diapers (medium), cleaning supplies, hard candy, trash bags, Ziploc bags, disposable tableware, wipes, non-powdered latex gloves, games, etc.

Barbara’s Pavillion also has Christmas stockings on hand that patrons can purchase and decorate, with proceeds also benefiting Legacy Founders Cottage.

ONE Church in new location

The ONE Church, the only LGBT-affirming Apostolic Pentecostal church in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, now holds services each Sunday at 6 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St.

The church also holds prayer service each Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., followed by Bible study from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m., also at Resource Center Dallas.

Tuesday Night Fellowship is from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Buffalo Wild Wings on Lemmon Avenue at Douglas Avenue.

For more information go to the church’s website at Dallas1Church.org.

Sadlek wins MTAR award

The MetroTex Association of Realtors has announced that Mark Sadlek from Republic Title is the 2010 Affiliate of the Year award winner. The announcement came at MTAR’s annual awards and charity event.

Sadlek has served on the MetroTex board of directors and is a MetroTex Leadership Academy Graduate, currently serving on the Leadership Committee.

He also serves on the Human Rights Campaign’s Board of Governors and as co-chair of the Federal Club. He co-founded and chaired Leadership Lambda Inc. in Dallas and has done planning and fundraising for Design Industry Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA).

“I have been amazed with Mark’s dedication to MetroTex this year,” said 2010 MetroTex President Kay Weeks of Ebby Halliday Realtors. “His contributions to our organization reflect his professionalism and devotion to the real estate industry.”
MetroTex has honored one of its affiliate members with this award annually since 1982.

Stonewall Denton elects officers

DENTON — Stonewall Democrats of Denton County, now completing its third year, has elected new officers for 2011.

Eloy Machuca of Flower Mound was elected as the second president in the chapter’s history. Outgoing founding President John McClelland did not seek re-election.

“I was honored to have lead this chapter and in becoming the first openly gay elected official in the county in my final year,” said McClelland. “Our members put a lot of faith in me. I felt it was the perfect time to get some new blood on our executive board.”
Joining Machuca will be Vice President Courtney Medina of Flower Mound, Treasurer Tod King of Lake Dallas and Secretary Stacey Langley of Denton.

“Our new officers are representative of our chapter being male, female, Caucasian, Hispanic, gay, straight and bisexual,” said Machuca. “Stonewall is intended to fight for everyone.”

Stonewall Democrats of Denton County has been instrumental in holding a Pride Weekend in the city of Denton, organizing rallies for the Prop 8 rulings, providing scholarships for community organizations and promoting progressive Democratic candidates.

Estate-planning seminar set

Attorney John McCall and Sparkman Hillcrest Family Service Director Ron Boson are sponsoring a free estate-planning seminar on Jan. 2 at 2 p.m. at Oak Cliff Coffee in the Bishop Arts District. Complimentary coffee and refreshments will be served. Seating is limited so call 214-942-1100 to reserve a seat.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Local briefs • 12.10.10

Minehart leaves Lone Star Ride after three years as event manager

Lone Star Ride Event Manager Dave Minehart has announced he will leave the ride at the end of this month. He has accepted a new position as development director for a nonprofit organization in his hometown, Iowa City, Iowa. He has been in Texas for the past 28 years but over the past seven, his goal has been to move closer to family.

Minehart participated in all 10 Lone Star Rides, the last three as event manager.

Laura Kerr is the incoming board chair. Co-chairs of the ride are John Tripp and Danny Simpson. Tripp co-chaired the ride this year and Simpson has been responsible for fundraising events outside the ride and participated in it for a number of years.

GAIN holding holiday social, taking up donations for Silver Star Room

GAIN, an organization for mature LGBT people, will hold its annual December Social Event Thursday, Dec. 16, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St. Those attending are asked to bring canned food items and personal car items to donate to those at the Adult Protective Services Silver Star Rooms, a facility specifically for people over 65 who have been abused or neglected in their homes. A list of needed items is available online in the GAIN section at RCDallas.org.

GAIN is a program of Resource Center Dallas.

TGRA, UCLSE joining to host Hard Candy Christmas benefit

Texas Gay Rodeo Association of Dallas and the United Court of the Lone Star Empire will host the annual “Hard Candy Christmas” benefit show and auction Saturday, Dec. 11, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. The evening begins with Christmas Cocktails at 6 p.m., followed by the show and auction at 7 p.m. MCs are Donna Dumae and Trisha Davis.

Broadway star Sam Harris performing benefit concert at CoH

Sam Harris will peform a benefit concert Sunday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary at Cathedral of Hope to raise money for the church’s Interfaith Peace Chapel. Tickets are $20 and are available at the church. For information call 214-351-1901.

Consultant seeking LGBT coming out stories for upcoming anthology

Consultant Sonia Friedrich is looking for LGBT people to contribute their personal coming out stories to the anthology Coming Out: Personal stories that will make you smile, laugh, shudder and cry.

Ideally, stories should be between 300 and 1,500 words, with the maximum length being 3,000 words. Those who haven’t come out can also submit their stories on why they haven’t.

Stories will be edited and can be anonymous.

For more information or to submit a story please contact soniafriedrich@virginbroad- band.com.au.

Friends nightclub hosting ‘Toys for Tots’ benefit in Gun Barrel City

Friends Nightclub, 410 S. Gun Barrel Lane in Gun Barrel City, hosts “Reva’s and Rusty’s Annual Toys for Tots” benefit show Saturday, Dec. 11, beginning at 9 p.m.

The event is held in conjunction with the Family Resource Center and the Gun Barrel City police and fire departments and helps raise money and collect toys for underprivileged children in the Cedar Creek Lake area.

Suggested donation at the door is $5 or a new, unwrapped toys. Tips given to performers during the show will be used to purchase toys to donate as well.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week holding membership meeting

The annual organizational meeting for Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association will be held Sunday, Dec. 19, beginning at 3 p.m. at Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave. in Fort Worth. Topics for discussion include closing out business for 2010, voting on new officers and advisory council members, proposed rules and regulation changes for 2011 and an overview of Prideevents planned for 2011.

The meeting is open to all interested people and everyone signed in at the meeting is eligible to vote. The Miss, Mr. and Ms. HoHoHo contest will be held at 8 p.m. that evening, also at Best Friends. Packets for anyone interested in competing are available at the bar.

Tickets on sale now for Women’s Chorus of Dallas concert at Wyly

Tickets are now available for The Women’s Chorus of Dallas’ first performance of its 22nd concert season, “Love & Light,” being held Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7 p.m. at AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Wyly Theater.

In addition to the children’s choir from Good Shepherd Episcopal School, the concert will also fearture Tony-Award winner Victoria Clark.

Tickets are on sale now from the AT&T Performing Arts Center. To charge by phone, call 214-880-0202 purchase tickets online at attpac.org. Tickets are also available for the after-party with Clark.

Johnson, West co-hosting town hall on upcoming legislative session

State Rep. Eric Johnson and state Sen. Royce West will co-host a Legislative Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center, 4500 Spring Ave.

The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the upcoming 82nd session of the Texas Legislature and how the two lawmakers will work together to address the issues facing their constituents. In particular, their remarks will focus on the process of drawing new Congressional and state legislative districts following the decennial United States Census and the impact of the Texas’ expected budget deficit on services provided by the state.

Following their remarks, the floor will be open for questions and comments.

Additionally, a representative from Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute will present information on community resources available to help fight diabetes. Juanita J. Craft Recreation Center is home to Baylor’s Diabetes Health and Wellness Institute.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

C.U.R.E. announces huge AIDS Quilt display for 2011

Display in Plano will be largest in more than a decade, with at least 500 panels included, organizers say

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

TIME TO REMEMBER | Visitors walk through a display of panels from the NAMES Project Quilt exhibited Wednesday, Dec. 1, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel as part of a World AIDS Day event. Next September, C.U.R.E. will bring more than 500 Quilt panels to Plano for the largest display in a decade. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

PLANO — C.U.R.E. will bring at least 500 panels of the Names Project’s AIDS Memorial Quilt to the Dallas Convention Center next September for the largest display since the entire Quilt was shown on the Mall in Washington, D.C. in 1996, according to C.U.R.E. leaders.

The Plano-based group made the announcement at their World AIDS Day event at Event1013 in Plano, where they displayed 13 blocks of the Quilt. They placed other panels at several other corporate headquarters located in Plano.

C.U.R.E. President and founder Rosemarie Odom said that one of those companies, Pepsico, has signed to be the lead sponsor of the Quilt display next year.

She said they are tentatively set to display the panels in Exhibit Hall F of the Convention Center from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2.

Tyler Sweatman is the event director. He said that the dates were chosen to correspond with LifeWalk. He’s hoping Lone Star Ride, which will take place the weekend before the event, will also participate.

“We’d love LifeWalk to walk right through the Convention Center,” said Odom.

Sweatman said that they will be requesting specific panels and will be taking requests from the community. He said it would be easier to get more of the requested panels in September than around next year’s World AIDS Day.

Sweatman said he was living in San Francisco in 1987 when Cleve Jones started the project. He watched the sewing going on in a little shop on Castro Street to memorialize friends who had died of AIDS.

Sweatman said he is amazed at how much the Quilt grew in just a few years.

The Quilt now has 91,000 names representing 17.5 percent of those who have died of AIDS in the United States. The Quilt was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and, at 1,293,300 square feet, is the largest piece of folk art ever produced. It weighs 54 tons.

Each panel is three feet by six feet, the size of a coffin. Eight panels are sewn together to form a block.  Several years ago, the Quilt moved from its original home in San Francisco to Atlanta. Sweatman said he expects the Quilt eventually to be housed in the Smithsonian.

The first day of the 2011 Quilt display is a Friday, and Sweatman said he hopes school groups from around North Texas as well as Oklahoma and Arkansas will come to see the display.

“Our goal is AIDS education,” he said.

To encourage the most people to see the Quilt, admission will be free. But staging the event will be costly. The group, which has non-profit status, is looking for additional sponsors and donations.

In addition to the cost of shipping the Quilt back and forth from Atlanta, there is the rental of the Convention Center, advertising, lighting and sound equipment.

During large displays, the names of persons who have died of AIDS are continuously read.

Volunteers are needed as Quilt monitors. Sweatman said he would especially like people who made any of the quilt panels or those who knew the people represented on the panels to talk about who they were.

Bono’s group ONE will coordinate volunteers. Sweatman said details are being worked out and will have more information about that and about volunteer opportunities soon.

Odom was excited about the opportunity to present such a large piece of the Quilt in Dallas. She became emotional standing in front of one of the 13 blocks hanging in Plano on World AIDS Day and warned about what an emotional experience the large display in September would be.

“I don’t want anyone to walk away from one of our events feeling good,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Remembering the fallen

READING THE NAMES |  As Aaron Barnes and Dorian Mooneyham, above, read the names of the victims of violence against the transgender community, others line up, below, to lay red roses on a table in memory of the victims during the Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony held Sunday, Nov. 21, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope in Dallas. For a full story and video of the event, go online to DallasVoice.com. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 26, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

WATCH: Capacity crowd marks Transgender Day of Remembrance at Cathedral of Hope

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

A capacity crowd filled the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope to mark Transgender Day of Remembrance on Sunday night, Nov. 21.

Nell Gaither, a steering committee member for GEAR, served as MC. She noted the recent spate of suicides among gay youth. GEAR is the transgender program of Resource Center Dallas.

Among transgender adults, 40 percent have attempted suicide, a rate 25 times higher than among the rest of the community, she said.

She said 20 percent of transgender people had been refused healthcare treatment and even more experience harassment in a medical setting.

Among transgender people of color, 35 percent live below the poverty level.

A portion of the memorial was dedicated to Alexander Allison, a local trans man who committed suicide this year.

Among the speakers were Resource Center Dallas Executive Director Cece Cox.

Cox thanked the transgender community for answering her many questions so she can be a better ally. She also commented on the growing visibility of the transgender community.

“When someone tries to make me feel invisible, it makes me feel ‘less than’ and that doesn’t feel good,” she said.

Former Mayor Pro Tem John Loza said the community needs to do more than just tell LGBT youth that in 10 years it will get better — it also must provide the tools for them to get there.

“But there is reason for hope,” he said.

He listed recent gains the transgender community has made, including the election of the first transgender judge in California and Houston Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment last week of Phyllis Frye as a municipal court judge. He lauded Dallas Independent School District’s new enumerated anti-bullying policy that includes gender identity and expression.

As Aaron Barnes and Dorian Mooneyham read the names of 30 transgender victims of violence, members of the community lit candles and laid red roses on a table. Two of those victims were from Houston.

Mo Snow gave closing remarks. “I don’t want to be the reason my partner is discriminated against,” he said, calling her the most loving person he’d ever met.

For the third year, the Women’s Chorus of Dallas ensemble MosaicSong opened and performed during the ceremony. Voice of Pride winners Mel Arizpe and Laura Carrizales also performed.

—  David Taffet