Pride Run sign found stepped on after disappearing from Katy Trail again

A sign promoting the DFW Front Runners’ first-ever Pride Run this Sunday went missing for a second time over the weekend.

Front Runners President Lin Wang told Instant Tea last week that two 18-by-24-inch metal signs were placed along the Katy Trail to advertise the event. One was near the Katy Ice House and the other was near Hall Street. The one near Hall Street went missing early last week.

Wang suspected that the theft was motivated by anti-gay bias, and after he noticed the replacement sign was missing this morning after putting it up on Friday, he’s even more convinced that someone is against the LGBT Pride event.

“There’s no other reason someone would steal it,” he said.

Wang emailed Instant Tea on Monday afternoon saying the sign had been found but was stepped on, leaving behind a “funny footprint” on the back, and tossed along the trail. The sign has been put up again near the entrance.

Wang hadn’t reported the first theft to the Dallas police because he’s been too busy working on last-minute preparations for the run, but he said he did plan report the incidents. If the sign had not been found, he said the group wouldn’t have replaced it because it would likely have been stolen again.

More information on the event can be found here. The cost for registration is $25. The Front Runner Dallas walking and running group meets Saturday mornings at 8:30 at the statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Park. Volunteers for the event can sign up on the website.

—  Anna Waugh

LGBT running group suspects anti-gay bias after Pride Run sign goes missing

A sign advertising LGBT running group DFW Front Runners’ first-ever Pride Run went missing over Labor Day weekend, and group’s president suspects anti-gay motives.

Front Runners President Lin Wang told Instant Tea that two 18-by-24-inch metal signs, which feature larger versions of the image at right, were placed along the Katy Trail on Saturday, one near the Katy Ice House and the other near the Hall Street entrance.

He said while he was running early Monday morning, he noticed the sign near Hall Street was missing. He said the other sign was probably still in place because of the number of people at the Katy Ice House.

Wang is also the race director for the Pride Run, which is on the morning of Dallas Pride, Sept. 16. He contacted the Katy Trail administrator and the trail manager, who told him the sign would only have been taken down if it was too early to advertise an event or if the run had already passed.

Wang said he thinks whoever took down the sign had anti-gay motives, due to the rainbow colors and the fact that the run benefits AIDS Interfaith Network.

“Either someone really liked the sign, which I doubt, or someone really hated the sign,” Wang said.

He said he replaced the $20 sign and had a large banner printed so he could tie it onto the fence.

More information on the event can be found here. The cost for registration is $25. The Front Runner Dallas walking and running group meets Saturdays at 8:30 at the statue of Robert E. Lee in Lee Park. Volunteers for the event can sign up on the website.

—  Anna Waugh

Feet don’t fail

Recently all but dead, Lin Wang helped Frontrunners catch its second wind

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

When Lin Wang came to Dallas and thought about joining the DFW Frontrunners, he encountered a fizzled-out band of running enthusiasts with an expired website.

“I found an email to an old contact, but no one answered,” Wang says. “Then I learned from someone that it died out a few years ago.”

But Wang’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his spirit has helped bring the group back to life.

Frontrunners isn’t just a Dallas thing — it’s an international affiliation of LGBT running and walking clubs that first began 28 years ago in San Francisco. Wang had been an active member of both the Pittsburgh and New York City chapters, so when he moved to Dallas in the summer of 2010, he was surprised to find that in a city of its size, the group basically didn’t exist.

“I don’t know why it went away,” he says. “With all the other sports groups, there is such a demand for athletics in this large LGBT community.”

So he started the rebuilding.

DFW Frontrunners had been so out-of-date that the international association told him to just register the group as “new.” With the help of Julio Chong, the group changed its meeting place from White Rock Lake on Saturday mornings to a more central spot in Lee Park. For the group to succeed, Wang felt it needed to be closer in the ‘hood.

“Julio and I did this together,” Wang says. “We started small, but the biggest group we’ve had is about 15 members and we now have close to 20 active members.”

Wang recalls the decisions to have the first group meeting last June.

“It was a horrible time to begin because of the summer,” he laughs, recalling the sweltering heat of 2011’s record-breaking season.“ But we had to prove this was not a dead organization. We welcome anyone who wants to join us.”

With a diverse group including some straight members, Frontrunners meets at the Robert E. Lee statue and then proceeds to the Katy Trail. Groups can then walk or run in their preferred direction, eventually meeting back at the statue. Then it’s off to breakfast.

Like any gay sports organization, Frontrunners also pushes the socializing aspect of a club. Fellowship is a booster among those working on their fitness levels. Local activist Latisha McDaniel has met some of her personal goals as a member along with broadening her circle of friends.

“[Frontrunners has] been a great experience and has really increased my love of running,” she says. “It has given me a new jump start and a good way to meet new people.”

McDaniel even improved her fitness level. She started with the walking group, but has graduated to running and even surprised herself with her abilities.

“I’ve participated in two races since joining and about to run in another one,” she says. “I did a few races in college but haven’t really done anything since moving to Dallas.”

“We’re not gonna scare people away who like walking,” Wang adds. “We always make sure one person walks so others feel fine to join in.”

Wang intends for Frontrunners to be much more than the weekly meetup. He’s used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on the group and to entice online members to join them in person. He has had the group participate as volunteers for the White Rock Marathon as a water station team and expect to repeat that this year. He also wants to push the group into hosting Dallas’ first Pride race.

We’re focusing hard on doing the first-ever event,” he says. “St. Louis has one and we think that it could be an integral part of our Pride festival. It would be a different way to have and witness a different Pride involvement. And we’d like to tie it in to an organization and the race can be a viable fundraiser.”

Although Wang would like to accomplish all this in 2012, it’s more realistic to expect everything in place by Dallas Pride 2013. In the meantime, the group hopes to expand membership and enjoy the health and fellowship that accompanies it. And for now, you can join without paying membership dues.

“We’re in the process of becoming a nonprofit and so we may have to charge in the future,” he admits. “but we expect it would be very minimal. We don’t want to push anyone away.” The only running away he wants to see is on the trail.

For more information, visit Frontrunners Dallas.org or meet up with them Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. under the statue at Lee Park.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens