Kaleidoscope joins the fight for equality

New London-based advocacy organization is getting a warm welcome from British politicians and the international media

Phyllis Guest
Taking Notes

As Pride celebrations continue around North Texas, a new London-based LGBT organization is getting off to a sensational start.

Kaleidoscope International Diversity Trust has clearly been in the works for some time; it already has an attractive website, KaleidoscopeTrust.com, with a mission statement, backgrounders, personal stories, donation options and a newsletter free for the asking.

Kaleidoscope — the instrument, not the organization — was named by its 19th century Scottish inventor, Sir David Brewster, who combined three Greek words: kalos = beautiful, eides = form and scopos = watcher.
It seems a fine choice of organizational name, for LGBTs are beautiful in our variety, formed by countless influences, and ever so watchful.

Kaleidoscope — the organization, not the instrument — made BBC World News and thus, the local NPR station very early the next day, when two of its founders were interviewed.

One was an American who works in the United Kingdom, the other a Nigerian who has asylum in the U.K. The interview was brief and quite straightforward, ending with both men acknowledging how far their adopted country has come in terms of LGBT rights and recognitions, but asserting it still has far to go. For while the U.K. recognizes domestic partnerships, the American must fly home to New York to marry his guy, and the Nigerian must fight prejudice against his color and his sexuality.

Yet Kaleidoscope’s welcome by official Britain could scarcely have been warmer.

On Monday, Member of Parliament and Minister for International Development Alan Duncan issued a statement welcoming the Kaleidoscope Trust, labeling it “outrageous that people across the world are still subject to arrest, detention or even death” because they are LGBT, and reminding the world that the U.K. had in March 2011 “published an action plan” aimed at fighting discrimination worldwide.
(Not incidentally, MP Duncan is gay and a Conservative and lists his partner in official biographies.)

That’s not all. Kaleidoscope’s launch merited a House of Commons reception “hosted by Speaker John Bercow MP,” the organization’s honorary president. Plus its director is Lance Price, a prominent journalist who worked both for the BBC and for the Labour government of Tony Blair.

Joining them in praising Kaleidoscope were Prime Minister David Cameron, Labour Party leader Ed Milliband and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.

Amazing to hear competitive politicians speaking with one voice. But then Bercow, Cameron, Milliband and many of their colleagues are Oxford “old boys.”

The outlier, Clegg, graduated from Cambridge; perhaps he is allowed into the club because he speaks four languages.

On its website, Kaleidoscope uses a quote from Chinese philosopher Confucius and another from United Nations Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, plus a speech Archbishop Desmond Tutu gave to a U.N. panel on decriminalizing homosexuality.

Its theme: “This wave of hate must stop.” And in Britain, MPs, straight media stars and gay rights activists are lining up to support the group.
Far and away the cutest and — if his BBC comments were an indication — the most charming is Bisi Alimi. He studied theater at the University of Lagos until he was expelled for being gay and was the first Nigerian to announce his sexuality on TV, after which his family threw him out, his bosses fired him and many strange people threatened to murder him outright. Now he is studying at an English university and works with a number of human rights/gay rights groups.

By contrast, the most appalling of gay rights activists is London-based “pastor” Rowland Jide Macaulay. For some reason, Kaleidoscope chose to include Macaulay’s essay, “Leave My Father Alone,” on its website.

His main points were that Nigerians should not criticize his father’s love of him, the gay son, and that his father still disapproved of him. Then Macaulay wrote this: “At least we agreed that homosexuals cannot be compared to thieves, prostitutes, drunkards and robbers, but to dwarfs and people with physically (sic) disability.” (Feel free to object online; I did.)

Further, as coverage of the Kaleidoscope kickoff pointed out, “At present, homosexuality is illegal in 76 countries [and] at least five countries — Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania and Sudan — have used the death penalty against gay people.” (I’d say more; think of the treatment of LGBTs on much of Asia’s mainland and on nearby islands.)

In any case, Kaleidoscope has work to do at home and abroad. But the Guardian of London reported that it “intends to leave U.K. gay rights campaigning to the long-established advocacy group Stonewall.”
Stonewallers and other progressives, are we up for the fight? What can we do here in Dallas? Remember: On Jan. 27, 2011, mere hours after his State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama proclaimed, “LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights.”

Yes. Sure. But the fight for human rights is ongoing because, as George Orwell knew, some of our fellow humans will always believe that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
We’re among the others.

Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Couple pledges $2M to RCD

Donation tagged to help pay for construction of center’s new facilities

CeCe Cox
Cece Cox

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

In what has been described as the second-largest gift ever given to an LGBT organization by a living donor, Dallas couple Eric V. Culbertson and David W. Carlson have pledged $2 million to Resource Center Dallas, officials announced this week.

RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox said the donation would be used to help pay for construction of a new building that will consolidate programs and double the agency’s available space. Property has been purchased for the new building on the corner of Cedar Springs and Inwood roads.

Cox said that the center has already hit the 30 percent mark in its effort to raise the $12 million needed for the new facility.

“We’re aiming to break ground in 2014 and move in 2015,” she said.

Cox said that the donation was a result of building a strong relationship but the money was pledged after the couple took a tour of the center’s facilities.

She said they told her, “We had no idea you did all this.”

Culbertson is the owner of Salon Three-Thirty located in Uptown at 2510 Cedar Springs Road. For the past several months he has offered yoga classes at Resource Center Dallas through his new non-profit group, Strength Through Yoga, which takes “the empowering aspects of yoga to organizations and individuals who can use it to heal and strengthen the mind, body and soul.”

Carlson is the founding chief financial officer of GameStop. The Grapevine-based video game and entertainment software retailer has more than 6,500 stores worldwide and is ranked 255th on the Fortune 500. GameStop has been the presenting sponsor of Black Tie Dinner for several years.

Carlson retired from GameStop recently and is now co-owner of Uptown Energy Fitness in West Village.

The couple declined to be interviewed for this story but released comments in a statement.

“The driving force for our donation was the center’s staff,” Culbertson said. “They make [the center] what it is, working so hard and doing so much.”

“After touring all the facilities, and understanding the full scope of services, we knew that the center needed to have a new building, and very soon,” Carlson said.

Cox said she wanted others in the community who are not familiar with Resource Center Dallas to come tour the facilities.

“I want people to come meet our staff. They’re so passionate and so great at what they do,” Cox said. “We are the only organization who does what we do. We started in this community and are still in this community.”

She said that in Dallas two-thirds of new HIV infections are in the LGBT community, higher than the national average.

“People are living longer so we’re caring for them longer. And our dental program is one of only two in Dallas,”  that is providing care to people with HIV who cannot access care elsewhere, Cox said.

Although the Nelson Tebedo Clinic recently added a new dental room, the new building will allow the agency to increase services.

In addition to HIV services, RCD runs a number of programs for the LGBT community, Cox said, adding, “There’s more and more demand for our cultural competency training.”

The center recently completed sensitivity training for 700 Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission employees statewide, and Communications and Programs Manager Rafael McDonnell, who has participated in most of the TABC training classes, said that the last class included TABC Administrator Alan Steen.

Cox said that the state agency recently signed a new contract with Resource Center to continue services. She also pointed out the counseling program RCD provides in conjunction with Southern Methodist University.

David Chard, dean of the SMU School of Education that administers the program, said that when he began the program he was told that no one would want to participate in it. He said there has been a waiting list of counseling students who want to work at RCD.

Cox said that the program is currently limited by lack of space. She said that the lunch program is one of the center’s great successes. United Way representatives told her that they saw a real sense of community among those who participated.

“They could go elsewhere for a meal,” Cox said, but they come to the Resource Center where they are welcomed.

To expand programs, Cox said RCD needs its new building. She is looking to develop more relationships like that with Culbertson and Carlson.

“Donors are relationships,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 5, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

BREAKING: Parole board reverses decision, will not release Buice in October

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has reversed its decision to grant parole to Jon Buice, one of the men convicted of murdering gay man Paul Broussard in Houston in 1991, according to Broussard’s mother, Nancy Rodriguez. The parole board voted on July 1 to release Buice in October.

Jon Buice

Rodriguez, who lives in Georgia, said she was notified of the reversal this morning through a phone call from the Houston Police Department’s Victims’ Services unit.

Buice has served 20 years of a 45 year sentence. Rodriguez had requested he serve one year for every year of her son’s life; Broussard was 27 when he was killed.

Equality Texas, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, helped coordinate a letter-writing campaign oppposing parole for Buice. Among those who participated were state Rep. Garnet Coleman and state Sen. John Whitmire, both of Houston. Whitmire said he rarely writes to the parole board either for or against granting release.

Broussard was killed in the Montrose area of Houston in 1991 by a gang that had come into the city from the Woodlands, a wealthy suburb north of Houston, to target gay men. Advocates wanted Buice to remain in prison longer because of the brutality of this particular hate crime: Buice admitted being the one who had stabbed Broussard at least three times. Broussard was also kicked, punched, stomped and hit with nail-studded boards.

Equality Texas, then called the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby, followed the case closely and campaigned for a hate crimes law in Texas to enhance penalties. That law was passed 10 years after Broussard’s death.

—  David Taffet

Dallas FrontRunners comes out of hiatus

LGBT joggers, runners and walkers may have been dismayed when Dallas FrontRunners fizzled out. But a transplant to Texas took on the task of restarting the group and is now looking to get members to (re)join. And you can start by heading to the new website or searching “Dallas Frontrunners” on Facebook.

Lin Wang sent us the below email about his intentions in restarting the group and the call for people to join:

—  Rich Lopez

2011 Readers Voice Awards: Metro

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ULTIMATE LGBT
ROLE MODEL
Joel Burns

City Councilman,
Fort Worth District 9
City Hall,
1000 Throckmorton St.
817-392-8809

If there was one award we could have predicted the winner of last fall, it was this one. Joel Burns made history in 2007 when residents of Fort Worth’s District 9 elected him to represent them on the City Council, in the process becoming the city’s first-ever openly gay council member. But it was in 2010, after Burns made headlines around the country with a 12-minute heartfelt appeal to LGBT youth contemplating suicide, that his star really sparkled. Recounting his own teenage experience with bullies, Burns spoke of the successes in his life since then and the love he found with his husband, J.D. Angle. And Burns promised: “It gets better.” And it did, for millions of Americans, after hearing Burns. That’s more than a role model; that’s a hero.

— Tammye Nash

 

BEST LOCAL LGBT ORGANIZATION
Resource Center Dallas

2701 Reagan St.
214-528-0144
RCDallas.org

 

BEST NATIONAL LGBT ORGANIZATION
Human Rights Campaign

1640 Rhode Island Ave., N. W., Washington, D.C.
800-777-4723
HRC.org


A TEAM YOU WANNA BE A MEMBER OF Pegasus member club TKO took home the top trophy at the Gay World Series last summer.

BEST LGBT SOCIAL OR SPORTS ORGANIZATION • TIE
Pegasus Slowpitch Softball League

DallasPSSA.org


Dallas Independent Volleyball Association

DIVADallas.org

There may be no “I” in team, but there’s definitely an “A” in gay. And Dallas is home to two of the most A-list gay sports clubs anywhere. Voice readers agreed, voting both into the top spot as their favorite social/sports organization. Pegasus Slow-pitch Softball is a league with more than two dozen teams, with names as colorful as the players: Imagine getting up to bat against a pitcher for­ the Donkey Punchers. Or the Itchy Kitties. Or Sons of Pitches. Pretty intimidating, right? Well, not really. PSSA is celebrated for its camaraderie, sportsmanship and sense of fun. The spring season just started, so it’s not too late to catch them in action or put on a jersey and join a team. If you prefer hitting balls with your hands instead of a bat, DIVA, the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, is the perfect organization for showing off that killer serve or power spike you perfected when nobody was looking in middle school P.E. There are five divisions of teams (recreational, intermediate, competitive, advanced and power), so no matter your skill level, there’s a team (with or without a net) waiting with open arms. Just not so open that they miss the ball.

— Steven Lindsey

BEST LOCAL
LGBT FUNDRAISER
The Black Tie Dinner

4015 Lemmon Ave, Suite 4001,Suite 321
Next Black Tie Dinner: Saturday, Nov. 12
972-733-9200
BlackTieDinner.org

 

BEST PLACE OF WORSHIP
Cathedral of Hope

5910 Cedar Springs Road
Services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sundays
214-351-1901
CathedralofHope.com

 

ULTIMATE
PEOPLE-WATCHING SPOT
The balcony at JR.’s Bar & Grill

3923 Cedar Springs Road
Caven.com


BEST GAY BLOG
Gay List Daily

GayListDaily.com

 

BEST SMARTPHONE
SOCIAL APP
Grindr

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

—  John Wright

Students building Equality at Eastfield College

BUILDING EQUALITY | When Philomena Aceto, right, realized that Eastfield College had no LGBT organization on campus, she and another student decided to start one themselves. Judith Dumont, left, signed on as the fledgling group’s faculty advisor.

Snow delays start of Eastfield College GSA, but organizers say first meeting will be rescheduled

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

MESQUITE — Eastfield College was the largest of the area’s community colleges without a Gay Straight Alliance, according to student Philomena Aceto. But now Aceto is working to change that.

Aceto — whose partner is longtime activist Dawn Meifert and who has her own history as an activist — began working on her degree at Eastfield last summer. She met Kris Fleskes, another student, and they realized there was no representation for the LGBT community on the more than 18,000-student campus.

Other area two-year colleges have GSAs and campus LGBT alliances. Last fall, P.R.I.S.M., which stands for Promoting Respect In Sexual Minorities, opened successfully at Navarro Community College in Corsicana. The GSA at Richland College, the largest Dallas County Community College, meets twice a month.

“Let’s start one,” Aceto urged Fleskes.

Any campus group must have a faculty advisor but faculty cannot start a group themselves. So Fleskes and Aceto met with two Eastfield staff members, Judith Dumont and Kristie Vowels.

Dumont, former director of Youth First Texas, is now the faculty advisor for the new group.

When she began working at Eastfield last summer, Dumont said, she tried to make her office the safe space on campus for the LGBT community and indicated that by putting an HRC sticker and “proud ally” stickers on her door.

She said she cheered when the two students approached her about starting the GSA.

Aceto said Vowels told her, “You are exactly what we’ve been praying for.”

The group’s first meeting has been postponed twice because of weather. Aceto said that’s just giving her more time to promote the club in classes and on campus.

“I’m out preaching it every day,” Aceto said. “This isn’t about being gay. It’s about equality.”

To emphasize that point, they’re calling their group Equality.

Aceto said she’s has been running up against some resistance and a lot of indifference in an area she called one of the most conservative in Dallas County.

“We’re curious how the campus will receive us,” Dumont said.

She attended advisor training and said there was no reaction when she announced the name of the group she would facilitate.

“I’m hoping everything will be OK,” she said.

But Dumont agreed that the campus was very conservative.

“There were raised eyebrows on campus when I didn’t change my name after I got married in November,” she said.

Aceto said she would like to bring some interesting speakers to campus and produce some creative programming.

“We want to go after bullying,” she said.

Dumont said the group was important as a safe space not just for students, but for faculty, staff and administrators as well.

She said she’s already planning to participate in National Day of Silence. Last year, Dumont organized that event among students who are active with Youth First Texas.

Eastfield College was closed on Wednesday, Feb. 9, the most recent launch date for Equality. Aceto said the group would reschedule over the next week.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright