Six local youth headed to National Equality March, thanks to chamber dinner attendees

Youth

Last night during the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s Pride Dinner at the Warwick Melrose Hotel, keynote speaker Cleve Jones issued a challenge: If you can’t make it to the National Equality March in October, send someone in your place.

Shortly after Jones concluded his remarks, six chamber members and/or Pride dinner attendees responded, with each agreeing to pay for one of the local LGBT youth on hand to go to Washington. The six beneficiaries from Youth First Texas, shown after the dinner, are Will Mason, Chris Lopez, Victor Rodriguez, Steven Richmond, John McKnight and Hai Duong. They are pictured along with chamber member Jay Forte, far right.

Sending the youth to D.C. reportedly was the idea of longtime lesbian activists Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, who conceived it during the dinner and will be sponsoring one of the youth. Afterward, Young noted that many of Dallas’ pioneering activists, including Bill Nelson and Don Baker, attended the first gay-rights march on Washington in 1979.

“I think it’s so important for the next generation of activists to have some of the experiences that have sustained us,” Young said. “These things [marches] are very energizing.”

UPDATE: According to Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda, the others who agreed to send a youth to D.C. were Cordey Lash, Derrick Brown, Mark Reed (2) and Jonathan Palant.

—  John Wright