Best Bets • 12-02-16

Friday 12.02 —Saturday 12.24


TBT busts  a nut across North Texas

Dallas Theater Center has its Christmas Carol, the Turtle Creek Chorale has its seasonal concert, and the Texas Ballet Theater? Well, of course its holiday tradition is Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. The classic, gorgeous ballet returns to both Dallas (Winspear) and Fort Worth (Bass Hall) for multiple performances until Christmas Eve. Support your local (sugar plum) fairies!

Winspear Opera House, 2401 Flora St.
Dec. 2–4; Bass Performance Hall, 535 Commerce St.,
Fort Worth. Dec. 9–24.

Friday 12.09


Jessica Lang Dance returns to Winspear

When Jessica Lang Dance premiered in Dallas in 2013, the recital was heralded as one of the best dance events of the season. The acclaimed company is back, for a one night only presentation featuring an all-new work created in collaboration with architect Steven Holl.

Winspear Opera House
2401 Flora St. 8 p.m

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Scene • 12-02-16

Making the SCENE the week of ­­­Dec. 2–8:

• Alexandre’s: Girls Night Out with Peggy Honea on Friday. Repeal Prohibition Day–La Pompe on Saturday.

• Cedar Springs Tap House: DJ Woofy for T-Dance on Sunday.

• Club Reflection: December Party on the Patio at 9 p.m. on Saturday.

• Dallas Eagle: Bear of the Month Contest on Friday. United Court of the Lone Star Empire presents Go Elf Yourself at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Dallas Bears and Leather Knights club night on Saturday. Line Dance Lessons with Yoshi from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday.

• Havana: This Free Life featuring Alyssa Edwards at 10 p.m. on Friday.

• JR.’s Bar & Grill: Cassie’s Freakmas show benefits the Sam Houston Elementary School Secret Santa program at 11 p.m. on Monday.

• Marty’s Live: Rudeboy Dallas Boys N Booze from 10 p.m.-2 a.m. on Wednesday.

• Round-Up Saloon: Christmas Cookie Party with food, fun and frivolity from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday.

• The Rose Room: Miss Gay Fire and Ice USofA Pageant starring Aurora Sexton, Porsche Paris, Krystal Summers, Onyx and Christina Ross at 10 p.m. on Sunday.

• Two Corks and a Bottle: Show Tune Night from 7-10 p.m. on Wednesday.

Scene Photographers: Kat Haygood

—  Dallasvoice

Crossword Puzzle • 12-02-16

Click to download this week’s PUZZLE
Click to download this week’s SOLUTION

—  Dallasvoice

Editorial Cartoon • 12-02-16


—  Dallasvoice

A Couple of Guys • 12-02-16


—  Dallasvoice

C.U.R.E. honors long-time community activists

DAVID TAFFET  |  Senior Staff Writer

C.U.R.E., the Collin County-based HIV prevention and education organization, will honor three community members for their years of work fighting HIV/AIDS at a World AIDS Day event in Richardson on Thursday, Dec. 1.

Chris Bengston and Marvin Green will receive the Open Heart Award and James A. Lester will receive the Ryan G. Barrows Award.

C.U.R.E. President Roseann Rosetti said the annual World AIDS Day event was inspired by Glenn Kopanski who was in the U.S. Navy when he had a tonsillectomy and need a transfusion. He was not only infected with HIV but also Hepatitus C. “He wanted to leave as his legacy educating young people, getting rid of the stigma and finding a cure,” she said.

For years, Kopanski was a regular speaker in Frisco’s schools and later spoke to thousands of students in Plano. He passed away in January this year. Rosetti said this year’s event is dedicated in his memory.

Chris Bengston
Bengston was nominated for the Open Heart Award by the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, although she might have been nominated by any of the AIDS service organizations in Dallas. As a 30-year employee of Caven Enterprises, Bengston has helped stage fundraisers for every agency.

Over the years her work has been recognized throughout the community. In the 1990s, she received the Howie Daire Award from Oak Lawn Community Services. For years, she cooked a monthly meal for clients at the Daire Center — now part of AIDS Interfaith Network — and cooked holiday meals for them as well.

In 2011, she was named Grand Marshal of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. In between, she’s volunteered for just about every HIV/AIDS organization. She’s worked at the Resource Center Food Pantry when it was located behind the stores on the Strip. She helped bring GayBingo to the Strip.

When the city worried about gay bars being located within a block of an elementary school, Bengston organized employees and customers of Caven bars to make sure that students at Sam Houston had the school supplies they needed at the beginning of the school year, and for Christmas each student got a present. Rather than complaints, the teachers and administration at the school were calling the bars on Cedar Springs Road the best neighbors a school could have.

Bengston has worked on LifeWalk, the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, the Pink Party for the Susan G. Koman Foundation, the Purple Party, the Bear Dance and more. AIDS Arms Director of Development Tori Hobbs said she relies on Bengston’s years of experience for advice.

“You can come to her with any situation or idea and know you’re going to get a well thought out answer that’s going to help,” Hobbs said.

Marvin Green
Several years ago, LifeWalk fundraiser and Green Team organizer Marvin Green had a heart attack. When Hobbs entered his hospital room, she saw his LifeWalk T-shirt pinned to wall and said all she could do was laugh as she watched him use his hospital stay as an opportunity to ask doctors and nurses to buy raffle tickets.

Green began raising money for LifeWalk in the event’s second season. He recently said he would have begun sooner, but he didn’t hear about it the first year. For his first LifeWalk, three friends walked together. Today, the Green Team numbers about 25.

That first year, Green said it was sad and they cried a lot, but felt like they were doing something — raising money to help care for others who needed help. Over the years, he said, he lost 26 close friends.

“AIDS stole my entire group of friends in the late 1980s and 1990s,” he said. “I, like so many young people, was no angel, but for some reason, I was spared from the disease. Because of the losses I saw happening all around me each day in those early years and because I had been so very fortunate in my own life, I know I had to do something — to give back and make a difference.”

Since that second LifeWalk, the Green Team has raised more than $315,000. This year, the team set a new one-year record for itself, contributing $42,305 to LifeWalk. “He’s one of those guys who will give you the shirt off his back if he thinks it will help you,” Hobbs said.

In addition to all the money he’s raised himself and all the events his team has staged to raise money for LifeWalk, Hobbs said Green regularly attends and contributes to other teams’ events.

“I have lost so many dear friends,” Green said. “We have lost Green Team members to AIDS. I see the funding cuts that are happening everywhere and the impact it has on people’s lives and chances to survive. It makes the work we do even more important.”

James Lester
While both Bengston and Green will receive the Open Heart Award, which recognizes people who have volunteered large amounts of time to help people with HIV, Lester will receive the Ryan G. Barrows Award, which honors someone who has dedicated years of his life to helping people with HIV. The award is named after a C.U.R.E. founding board member who died three years ago.

Early in his career, Lester was a part-time nurse at the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic. He has spent 30 years caring for people with HIV and AIDS. “He not only does a lot of volunteer work, but serves on boards and is generous in helping organizations with sponsorships,” Rosetti said.

Among the boards he serves on is AIDS Walk South Dallas, and AWSD President Auntjuan Wiley said Lester is “instrumental in its success.”

Lester, who currently works in cardiac care at UT Southwestern, instilled a sense of the importance of caring for other people in his family as well. “He taught his son to care for people and put others first,” Wiley said. Lester’s son has also become a registered nurse.

In addition to awards and speakers, panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display. In 2014, C.U.R.E. accepted and dedicated six panels that have been sewn together into a new block. They honor Bryan Gray, Annie Adaway, Ryan Barrows, Warren Davolt, Glitz and Glamour, and Resource Center GALA Youth. A panel remembering Resource Center’s first Executive Director John Thomas will be on display as well as the 12-foot X 12-foot signature block from the inaugural Tanqueray Texas AIDS Ride, a bike ride from Austin to Houston to Dallas that took place on Oct. 5-11, 1998.

View panels from the quilt, meet and greet sponsors, award recipients and program speakers at 6 p.m. Program at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 at Noah’s Event Venue, 2251 N. Greenville Ave., Richardson.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2016.

—  David Taffet

Pet of the week • 11-25-16


Big Girl is a gorgeous dilute brindle female pit mix aptly who will be spending her second Christmas in a boarding facility unless she can find her forever home soon. Big Girl is super people social — she loves anyone and everyone, men, women, people of any age. But she also wants to be a princess and so needs to be the only dog in a one-dog family. Big Girl is about 4 years old and wants desperately wants her own home.

If you are interested adopting Big Girl, visit Richardson Humane Society at

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

The Gay Agenda • 11-25-16


­­­Have an event coming up? Email your information to Managing Editor Tammye Nash at or Senior Staff Writer
David Taffet at by Wednesday at 5 p.m. for that week’s issue.

• Weekly: Lambda Weekly every Sunday at 1 p.m. on 89.3 KNON-FM. This week’s guests Jason Hanna and Joe Riggs from the Teddy Bear Party; United Black Ellument hosts discussion on HIV/AIDS in the black community (UBE Connected) at 7 p.m. every fourth Tuesday of the month at 3116 Commerce St., Suite C; Core Group Meeting every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; Fuse game night every Monday evening except the last of the month at 8 p.m. at the Fuse space in the Treymore Building, 4038 Lemmon Ave, Suite 101; FuseConnect every Wednesday from 7 p.m. For more information call or e-mail Jalenzski at 214-760-9718 ext 3 or

• Nov. 30: Red Ribbon Bash
Resource Center commemorates World AIDS Day from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at The Stoneleigh Hotel, 2927 Maple Ave. $50.

• Dec. 1: World AIDS Day

• Dec. 1: World AIDS Day C.U.R.E. Awards
C.U.R.E. (Community Unity Respect Education) marks Worlds AIDS Day 2016 with an event at Noah’s Event Venue, 2251 N. Greenville Ave., in Richardson. James Lester, Marvin Green and Chris Bengston will receive C.U.R.E.’s 2016 Open Heart Award. Portions of the NAMES AIDS Memorial Quilt will be on display. Auntjuan Wiley will be keynote speaker. For information email

• Dec. 1-3: The Laramie Project
The award-winning Lewisville High School Theatre Department presents three performances of The Laramie Project,
the play by Moises Kaufman that revisits the 1998 anti-gay hate crime murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming
and its aftermath. Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. each night in the LHS Stuver Auditorium, 1098 W. Main St. in Lewisville. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for studets.

• Dec. 2: AIDS Arms 30th Anniversary celebration
AIDS Arms celebrates its 30th anniversary with a celebration including light appetizers and beverages at 6 p.m. and a program at
7:15 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5901 Cedar Springs Road. RSVP to For information call 214-521-5191.

• Dec. 2: Federal Club holiday celebration
The 29th annual HRC Federal Club holiday party. RSVP by Nov. 22. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. for major donors and Black Tie
board members and 8 p.m. for Federal Club members. Nuvo Room, 4241 Sigma Road.

• Dec. 4: The Dallas Way fall brunch
Fall Brunch: 2016 The Year in Review from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at the home of Richard Shampain and Jeff Henderson. $50.

• Dec. 5: Judge Don Adams retirement party
From 5-7 p.m. at the Angry Dog, 2726 Commerce St.

• Dec. 5: Stonewall Democrats holiday party
From 7-9 p.m. at the Round Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

• Dec. 6: GLFD Holiday party
Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas holiday party for members and guests from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on the terrace at Bistro 31, 87 Highland Park Village #200.

• Dec. 7: Steps to PrEP
Abounding Prosperity presents a forum for primary care physicians, OB/GYNs, physicians assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, pharmacists and AIDS organization staffs for implementing PrEP from 6-8 p.m. at Westin Dallas Park Central, 12720 Merit Drive. Dinner and registration at 5:30 p.m.

• Dec. 8-11: A Not So Silent Night
The Turtle Creek Chorale presents its annual Christmas concert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St. Tickets at

• Dec. 10: Super Hero Ball
Holiday party from 7-10 p.m. at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth.

• Dec. 14: GALA Holiday Party
North Texas Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA) holds its Holiday Party from 6-10 p.m. at Event 1013, 1013 E. 15th St. in Plano. Absolut Vodka is the liquor sponsor for the party which will include food, drinks, a raffle and a silent auction.

• Dec. 24: Chinese food and a movie
Congregation Beth El Binah has a traditional Jewish Christmas Eve dinner at 7 p.m. at Royal China, 6025 Royal Lane.

• Dec. 25: Christmas

• Dec. 31: Once in a Blue Moon dance
New Year’s Eve party for women from 7 p.m.-midnight at DanceMasters Ballroom located at 10675 East Northwest Highway, Suite 2600B. $25.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve
Find your party and party safely.

• Happy New Year

• Jan. 17: Stonewall elections
Stonewall officer elections at 7 p.m. at Sue Ellen’s, 3014 Throckmorton St.

• Feb. 25: Dash for the Beads
5K and 10K run, 1K walk and festival at Kidd Springs Park, 711 W. Canty St.

• April 8: No Tie Dinner
This year’s theme is An Artful Life, inspired by the pop artists. From 7-10 p.m. at Frontiers of Flight Museum, 6911 Lemmon Ave.



Resource Center and C.U.R.E. both have events planned locally to mark World AIDS Day. Resource Center holds its Red Ribbon Bash on Nov. 30 at The Stoneleigh Hotel in Dallas, and C.U.R.E. holds its World AIDS Day event Dec. 1 at Noah’s Event Venue in Richardson. See the Gay Agenda listings for details.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice

Cassie Nova

Cassie gives thanks for her pawpaw, and offers some vaping advice

Hey, everybody! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. If you are like me, you can’t get that damn “beans, greens, potatoes, tomatoes” song out of your head. If you haven’t already heard gospel cassie-nova-purple-dresssinger Shirley Caesar’s song … do not Google it. You will not be able to get it out of your head. Every time I think of what to have for dinner, I’m singing it again.

I just read that there is a pastor in New Zealand that claims that the gays are responsible for earthquakes. He said that us being gay, and all of the gay sex we have, literally caused earthquakes. Well, Bishop Tamaki from New Zealand, you cray-cray. I know some of us like it rough but damn, we not causin’ earthquakes … unless the gays are all X-Men.

Could you imaging if we had that kind of power? Bitch, we can’t even get the person we want elected for president. Hey Mr. New Zealand idiot! Let me introduce you to my friend — science. I guess it’s good to know America doesn’t have a patent on crazy. I swear I have spent the past few weeks in a state of disbelief. What the hell is going on? Crazy is the new normal.

I was recently reminded of a story about my grandpa that I love and thought I would share with y’all. Pawpaw was a gentle giant. He was a tall cowboy with a calm demeanor and a firm handshake. He also had a pacemaker. If I remember correctly, it was put in the year I was born, so he had it a long time before his passing about six years ago.

I remember being told at a very young age that we were not allowed to run the vacuum if he was in the house because it could somehow interfere with his pacemaker. I took that very seriously. One Saturday afternoon, around my junior year of high school, I woke up to a list of chores my mom wanted done before I went to work. My grandparents lived with us because their house burned down the year before, but when I woke up that day, I had the rare occasion to be home alone.

I clipped my Sony Walkman cassette player to my belt, put on my headphones and rocked out to the Pet Shop Boys or Depeche Mode. I did the dishes with a bounce in my step and dusted as only a gay teenager could, with great flair and spiked hair. I pulled the vacuum from the closet, plugged that bad boy in and proceeded to dance around the living room and hallway, sucking up dirt. I was really in my own world when I noticed something moving out of the corner of my eye. Pawpaw was leaned against the wall clutching his chest, slowly sliding down to the floor. I was killing my grandfather. I screamed and ripped the cord from the wall in a panic. I yanked my headphones off and ran to him to help — call 911 or something. I got over to him nearly in tears and completely grief-stricken, wondering how I was going to tell Mom that I killed her father … and he is laughing. Sitting on the floor just giggling.

I was relieved, embarrassed and a little pissed, but his laugh was infectious so I laughed, too. Apparently he was home the entire time taking a nap and the vacuum woke him. He got me good. After that, we joked that if he didn’t watch it I would use the vacuum on him. Thinking about that still makes me smile.

Around that same time, I remember us watching TV and Whitney Houston’s video for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” came on. In that video, there is this fine-ass guy that does a flip, goes onto his back and pops up onto his feet. It was impressive and I thought the guy was hot. I was a kid and did not want to say anything to give a clue to my gayness, but I felt I needed the world to know that I thought the guy in the video was cute, so I told Pawpaw, “That is what I wanna look like when I grow up.” He just nodded his head in his quiet way.

About a year before Pawpaw died, we were sitting on the front porch of my grandparent’s house. It was me, Pawpaw and my husband Jamie. Pawpaw and Jamie hit it off from the start. Jamie actually reminds me of Pawpaw, now that I think about it. We were just making small talk when out of the blue, Pawpaw told me he loved me. I don’t remember how he worded it, but basically he kind of told me that it didn’t bother him that I was gay. He said he had known for a long time. I asked when did he know? He very quickly told me, “When you made me watch that video with those dancing boys over and over.” I knew exactly which video he was talking about. I thought I was being so subtle; apparently not. Pawpaw was kind of a quiet guy and didn’t express his feelings much — that’s why that conversation was so great and surprising to me. I truly miss that man.

And now…let answer a question from our studio audience.

Dear Cassie, My boyfriend and I have been together for about two years. He smokes; I hate it so much. I only went out with him because he is so damn fine: Great body, cute AF with a nice piece. He is a courteous smoker — he doesn’t smoke in the house and tries not to do it around me, but it still drives me crazy. I hate the smell on his clothes, his car and sometimes on his breath. I finally talked him into trying an e-cigarette and it somehow has made it worse. He vapes everywhere, all the time. He has gotten really into it. He tries all of the different flavors and now has a super vape that produces a lot of vapor. I’m embarrassed to go anywhere with him. He vapes at the movies, restaurants and even at Kroger. What should I do? Please help. I really like him — actually I love him — but his smoking (and now vaping) drive me insane. Thank you, VapeHater2112.

Dear VapeHater2112, What you have is what we call a “douche vaper.” There is nothing more annoying than someone that makes a production out of their vaping. Some may find it cool to look like douchey choo-choo train. Trying to control your vape like you are The Last Airbender, when in reality, unless you vape, it is so off-putting.

Last week in the Rose Room, a girl was super-vaping and creating her own fog. She looked like Pigpen from Peanuts. She kept blowing vape on the people in front of her. Well, the girl sitting in front of her had a pink streak in her ponytail, turned to her and asked her to please stop. Miss Vape told her no, she could do whatever she wanted as she worked her neck from side to side and took a big ol’ drag off her vape-box thing. Miss Pink Streak stood up. Miss Pink Streak was at least 6 feet tall. Miss Vape said, “Sorry,” swallowed her vape, turned and got the hell out of the Rose Room.

If your boyfriend is going to smoke or vape, he won’t quit until he actually wants to quit. Ask him to please just be respectful of those around him. Ask him to be as courteous a vaper as he was a smoker. You sound like you have been dickmatized because you put up with a lot of bullshit. Offer him your penis every time he needs something in his mouth. Tell him to “smoke this” as you whip it out. Good luck!

Remember to love more, bitch less and be fabulous! XOXO, Cassie Nova.

If you have a question of comment, email it to

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2016.


—  Dallasvoice

Honoring the activists on World AIDS Day


From Left to right, Auntjuan Wiley, Daron Kirven, Melvin Slack and David Hearn.

From Staff Reports

As we mark World AIDS Day 2016, Dallas Voice takes a minute to recognize just a small handful of the people in North Texas that have dedicated themselves to the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS. Listed below, in alphabetical order, are those DFW Metroplex activists in the LGBT community who have been included in POZ Magazine’s POZ 100 — Celebrating the South.

As you read through the list and honor these people, remember that even though the advent of new medications has turned HIV from a quick death sentence to a chronic but manageable disease for many people, the battle continues.

According to a fact sheet released this month by UNAIDS, 18.2 million worldwide were accessing antiretroviral therapy as of June this year. In 2015, 36.7 million were living with HIV, and 2.1 million were newly-infected with the illness. An estimated 1.1 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses last year.

From the beginning of the AIDS pandemic through the end of 2015, an estimated 78 million people became infected with HIV; of those, about 35 million have died of AIDS-related illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2014 an estimated 44,073 people were diagnosed with HIV in the United States. About 1.2 million people in the U.S. were living with HIV by the end of 2012, and about 13 percent did not know they were infected. In 2012, 6,955 people died of HIV/AIDS.

So this year as we mark World AIDS Day, remember: We have to follow the examples of these activists and do more than just light a candle or wear a red ribbon if we want to achieve the goal of an AIDS-free generation.

David Hearn
“People don’t always realize what we do,” David Hearn said recently of the Greg Dolgener Memorial AIDS Fund, the organization he founded to help people with HIV/AIDS meet emergency needs.

The organization — which Hearn founded 20 years ago and named after his late partner, who was an AIDS activist and volunteer until his death in 1994 — donated $1,000 to Resource Center to use in filling empty shelves at the agency’s food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS. GDMAF also donated $1,000 to help repair damage from a fire at Legacy Founders Cottage. “We saw those things as emergency needs,” Hearn said.

But GDMAF’s primary function is to help individuals with HIV/AIDS who have an immediate financial need that other AIDS service organizations are not geared to fill — like money to make repairs to the car that gets that person to and from their job and their doctor appointments, or money to pay rent or utilities if a person comes up short one month.

Hearn said his agency helps between 200 and 250 people a year, and that’s not counting the partners, spouses, children of those people who are also affected by GDMAF’s efforts. Since the organization is totally volunteer and does not have the resources perform intake services and maintain a roster of clients, GDMAF works with “all the major AIDS service agencies” in DFW, asking those agencies to refer clients who need GDMAF’s assistance in emergencies.

“We accept three requests per agency a month. That’s 24 total each month. Sometimes we can help them all, and sometimes we run out of money before the end of the month,” Hearn said. “We do the best we can to help as many people as possible.”

For Hearn — who has lost two partners and 34 friends to AIDS — running the agency that bears the name of his beloved Greg is a labor of love. And his efforts to help those with HIV/AIDS don’t stop with GDMAF. In addition to his role as president and treasurer of GDMAF, Hearn has served on the board of the organization formerly known as AIDS Services of McKinney; he started the MetroBall, GDMAF’s largest annual fundraiser in 2005, and from 2012-2015 served on the board of AIDS Arms. During his time on the AIDS Arms board, Hearn served as chair of the People and Operations Committee, on the Research and Development Committee and on the committee to review the agency’s new marketing direction.

The honors that have come his way because of his work are just icing on the cake. Before he retired from JCPenney, Hearn received the James Cash Penney Award in 1996 for Community Service for the entire company. That same year he was named KRLD Citizen of the Week for his volunteer work with AIDS Services of McKinney.

In 2009, C.U.R.E — Community, Unity, Respect and Education — presented Hearn with its Open Heart Award for community service, and in 2011 the Dallas Bears gave him their Randy Franklin “I Care” Community Service Award. He won Health Services of North Texas’ Hearts and Heroes Spirit Award in 2012, Miss Gay Texas State Pageant System’s “Around the World” Midnite Memorial Legends Award and the Leather Knights’ John Leaphart Memorial Award for Community Service in 2015, and the Dallas Voice Readers Voice LGBT Role Model Award and the AIDS Arms Heart and Hands Award in 2016. Being recognized as one of POZ Magazine’s POZ 100 for 2016 is the latest honor on Hearn’s resume.

Daron Kirven
Daron Kirven began working at AIDS Arms in 1993.

“A friend of mine was diagnosed positive,” Kirven said. “That sparked my interest.”

His friend didn’t tell him his diagnosis for awhile, because of the stigma. That bothered Kirven and he applied for a job at the AIDS agency. He said he thought he’d be there a few years, but 24 years later, he’s still going strong.

Today, Kirven may have one of the most challenging jobs at AIDS Arms, but one of the most rewarding. He heads a program called Free World Bound, helping people being released from prison by enrolling them in the ADAP program that pays for their medications once they are free, and getting them linked into care.

Kirven came up with the name Free World Bound when some of the prisons he and his staff visited refused to let them distribute material with the name AIDS printed boldly on the cover. What he heard from prisoners, though, was they were headed into the “free world.”

In 2001, AIDS Arms got state funding to identify those offenders who were HIV-positive and were being released into the community. Kirven said they also added a risk reduction component to the program.

But while AIDS Arms’ top priority might have been to make sure these newly-free clients continued their medication and received medical care, that might not have been the main concern of the clients. “Their top priority might be housing or employment,” Kirven said, or even having food. Some medications can’t be taken without food, so Kirven said making sure those other basic needs were taken care of became as important as making sure they received medication.

Free World Bound expanded with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to work with the parole department, substance abuse facilities and any other agency that might have contact with ex-offenders with the goal of keeping them in housing, employed, on medication and linked to care.

In addition, Kirven works with clients to make them more marketable. “We’ll teach them necessary skills,” he said. That may include working on resumes, helping them attain a GED diploma or get clothing for an interview.

In March, AIDS Arms held a re-entry summit that included a job fair, health fair and housing fair.

“Everyone knew there was a reentry background,” Kirven said, so clients were more at ease when talking to potential employers or landlords. They weren’t trying to hide their past. And a number of people did find employment or a place to live. For others, he said he saw quite a bit of networking going on.

Kirven said another summit would take place in March 2017 and employers or others who would like to participate should contact him at AIDS Arms.

AIDS Arms Director of Development Tori Hobbs said not every warden welcomed Kirven when the program started and she credited him with its success.

“If it weren’t for his ability to get along with others, we never would have gotten this off the ground,” Hobbs said.

She said it was so successful, no other program in Texas is working with the prison system to the extent Free World Bound is. Even the state recognizes its success and Kirven’s program is now in its fourth five-year grant cycle.

Melvin Slack
When Melvin Slack found out he was HIV-positive in 2009, he was a 20-year-old student at Grambling State University in northern Louisiana. Rather than hide his status, he disclosed it to the entire student body.

During his senior year, Slack moved to Shreveport where he conducted rapid HIV tests and facilitated support groups for HIV-positive men. After moving to Dallas, he became an ambassador for the Greater Than AIDS campaign.

In his Greater Than AIDS video, Slack said that when a nurse told him he was HIV-positive, he thought his life was over. “I thought nobody would love me,” he said. “Nobody would care for me. Nobody would be there to support me.”

But his grandfather told him to come home and that it would be OK.

Slack said it took more than three months to adjust and he cried a lot. But he came to accept his diagnosis and once he began to accept his status, he decided to help others.

Since coming to Dallas, Slack has work for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s mobile testing unit and he currently volunteers for Resource Center’s Fuse program, facilitating a monthly HIV-positive support group. He was nominated for HIV Advocate of the Year by United Black Ellument, another group providing services and support to people with HIV.

Auntjuan Wiley
Auntjuan Wiley, known as Mr. Community for his years of work in the HIV/AIDS community, is president and CEO of AIDS Walk South Dallas.

Wiley’s involvement began in the early 1990s when he started volunteering with the Urban League, doing education, testing and outreach. From there, he began working for Resource Center in client service, starting the Positive Personals program as a time that there was an extreme stigma about dating someone with HIV. The program included a monthly publication and events at The Brick — then located on Maple Avenue just a few blocks from Resource Center — for people living with HIV.

In addition to being named one of this year’s POZ 100, Wiley’s work has been recognized by a number of Dallas organizations. DFW Pride Movement honored him with the Icon Award in 2012. He received the Ryan G. Barrows Award in 2013 from C.U.R.E. In 2014, he earned the Community Service Award from The Living Faith Covenant Church and in 2015, he received the Crystal Hope Award from AIDS Interfaith Network. This year Wiley was named the 2016 ICON of Community Affairs by The Elite Gospel Music Academy.

Wiley founded and facilitates The Group, a safe space that supports, empowers and educates African-American men with HIV. He’s a board member of  Hope Capetown USA, a Dallas-based organization that increases access to medical treatment and support services for children with HIV in Capetown, South Africa.

This year’s AIDS Walk South Dallas steps off from the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center on MLK Boulevard near Fair Park on March 25. Funds raised will benefit programs of AWSD including the Strength Conference for men living with HIV. This year’s conference, which took place on Nov. 11-13 at the Love Field Embassy Suites, attracted more than 100 men from across the country.

Wiley will be a speaker at C.U.R.E.’s World AIDS Day event in Richardson on Dec. 1 (see story this page).

Senior Staff Writer David Taffet and Managing Editor Tammye Nash contributed to this report.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2016.

—  Dallasvoice