Thanks for an amazing year at RCD

LGBT, HIV communities should be prepared for new challenges in 2011

What a year! Who could have predicted all the twists and turns it has taken, or the events that galvanized our country and united our communities?

HELL FREEZES OVER  | A member of the Phelps clan from Westboro Baptist Church protests outside Resource Center Dallas in July. A counterprotest fundraiser organized by RCD netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for the agency’s hot lunch program. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

So much happened in 2010 involving Resource Center Dallas, and none of it could have occurred without the strong support of the HIV/AIDS and LGBT communities in North Texas.

Looking back, I am filled with gratitude and wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you. Here’s what you helped us accomplish:

• Dallas Area Rapid Transit expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include gender identity, in the wake of news stories about the discrimination experienced by a transgender bus driver;

• RCD joined forces with the Kaiser Family Foundation, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and AIDS ARMS to bring the “Greater than AIDS” campaign to Dallas, highlighting services available to people living with HIV/AIDS and promoting HIV prevention;

• DFW International Airport expanded its nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation and gender identity, following a request from RCD and Fairness Fort Worth;

• A fundraising counterprotest against a “church” from Kansas brought out hundreds of community members in a rainstorm and netted more than $11,000 to buy a new ice maker for our HIV/AIDS clients’ hot lunch program;

• Following advocacy by RCD, Lambda Legal, LULAC and a coalition of other community groups, the Dallas Independent School District adopted a first-of-its-kind-in-Texas comprehensive, enumerative antibullying policy that covers not only LGBT students, but all students;

• We partnered with 138 community groups, including the Tarrant County Health Department and the Urban League of Greater Dallas, in the “Stomp Out Syphilis” campaign; administered over 3,100 HIV tests; and delivered HIV prevention messages to more than 8,600 people;

• We completed diversity training for all 700-plus employees of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage commission statewide — the first time a state agency conducted this training for all its employees;

• And, we served more than 21,500 weekday lunches and provided about 29,000 visits to our food pantry for our HIV/AIDS clients in 2010 — distributing more than 350 tons of groceries.

These accomplishments, funded while the economy remained sluggish and both the need and demand for our services continued to increase, show the generous nature and support of our communities and allies. Each and every one of you who got involved deserves recognition and a deep, sincere thank you — especially the more than 1,100 people who volunteered at RCD in 2010.

As we stand on the cusp of another year, we do not know what opportunities for change will be presented. Clearly, the political landscape has shifted, and the new realities in Washington and Austin will provide opportunities and challenges for the LGBT and HIV communities.

One key area — funding for ADAP (AIDS drug assistance programs), medical care and social services for people living with HIV — will be an issue for Texas lawmakers already grappling with a large budget deficit.

The movement toward marriage equality will continue in the federal courts, as well as state legislatures. Even though “don’t ask, don’t tell” is coming to an end, work needs to be done so that gay and lesbian members of the military can serve openly — and, there remains a prohibition on openly transgender members of the armed services.

Over the past year, the LGBT and HIV communities responded to issues as they developed. We made phone calls, wrote letters, spoke truth to power, and rallied. We donated our time to organizations quietly and without thought of recognition. We sent our dollars in to provide economic support to organizations that share our values, focus and interests.

What 2010 teaches us is that we must be ready to meet whatever challenges we encounter. Resource Center Dallas will be there, engaged on behalf of not only our communities but all North Texans. We’ll continue to develop partnerships across the region, because the issues of HIV, discrimination and equality don’t respect city limits or county lines. And, we’ll be turning to the communities again for your help and support.

Playwright and author Thornton Wilder reminds us, “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Throughout this year, you and our work with and for you kept us fully alive and conscious of our shared treasure. For that, and the opportunity you offer us to serve you and our communities, Resource Center and I say thank you. And Happy New Year!

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager at Resource Center Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

DADT rally planned Thursday on Cedar Springs

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and other groups are planning a rally — either a protest or a celebration — on Cedar Springs on Thursday night following a possible Senate vote on the Defense spending bill that includes a repeal of “don’t ask don’t tell.” From the e-mail we just received:

The Senate will be voting on DADT 12/09/10. We are going to join other LGBT community organizations tomorrow for either a celebration or a protest according to how the vote goes tomorrow.

Here is what we need the membership to do:

1. Call Senator Hutchison (202) 224-5922 or (214) 361- 3500 and/or FAX (202) 224-0776

2. Call Senator Cornyn (202) 224-2934 or (972) 239-1310 and/or FAX (202) 228-2856

Just tell them your name and that you are a voting constituent. Then tell the staffer you URGE the Senator to vote to REPEAL DADT. While you’re at it you can also urge them to vote in favor of the DREAM ACT! Both legislations effect our LGBT brothers & sisters.

3. Show up at the rally at 7 p.m. on 12/09/10. We will meet at the Oak Lawn Library and then march down Cedar Springs to the Monument of Love and have our celebration or protest rally! Bring your PRIDE Flags, banners, signs, or just yourself! History will be made tomorrow. Be a part of it! Please forward this rally email to everyone you know. Please post in your Facebook and/or Twitter statuses! Thank you to Equality March Texas (EMT), LULAC 4871, HRC, and Out & Equal groups that are already on board for the rally!

—  John Wright

Students from W.E. Greiner Middle School donate 65 frozen turkeys to HIV/AIDS food pantry

Macario Hernandez, left, assistant principal of W.E. Greiner Middle School, and Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC #4871.

Last week we reported that Resource Center Dallas’ food pantry for people with HIV/AIDS won’t be able to offer turkeys to its clients this Thanksgiving, due to increased demand and declining donations. However, it turns out the pantry will have at least 65 frozen turkeys to give out that were dropped off last Friday by folks from Dallas’ LGBT chapter of the League of United Latin American Citizens. According to LULAC #4871 President Jesse Garcia, the turkeys were donated by the families of students at W.E. Greiner Middle School.

“I want to publicly thank Greiner Middle School and their assistant principal Macario Hernandez for donating much-needed protein to the Resource Center Dallas food pantry,” Garcia said. “This food pantry helps people of all ages from every part of the city who are affected by HIV. These clients have to deal with being sick and at times are unable to work. Some have to sacrifice between paying for their expensive medicine or affording a good meal. Greiner Middle School just made a big difference.”

Read Garcia’s full press release below.

Resource Center Dallas facilities manager Lionel Solis, left, and volunteer Luis Zarate.

—  John Wright

Bill White’s daughter at Havana tonight

Elena White

OK, so it’s not quite Chelsea Clinton at JR’s a few years back, and Texas Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill White himself is set to march in the gay Pride parade in a few days. But first his daughter, Elena, will appear at Havana on Wednesday night at the monthly meeting of Dallas’ gay LULAC chapter. From LULAC #4871 President Jesse Garcia:

Elena White is a rising junior at Rice University, where she is studying Economics and Energy Studies. At Rice, Elena helped found Owl Microfinance, a non-profit microfinance organization that makes loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries. President Clinton chose Owl Microfina…nce as one of twelve organizations out of over a thousand to award a special honor at the Clinton Global Initiative University Conference.

Elena has spent her free time engaged in community issues. She was a counselor at Talento Bilingue, a Latino Cultural Arts Center. She also worked as an administrator and math teacher at Breakthrough Collaborative, Houston’s summer middle school for promising students from underfunded educational backgrounds.

In 2008, Elena spent a year working for King’s Academy in Jordan, a boarding school that attracts students from all over the Arab world and beyond. As a Junior Fellow, Elena was a resident advisor, coached swimming, interned in the Development Office, and mentored students.

Let’s welcome this active community member to Dallas!

The meeting will be from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Havana, 4006 Cedar Springs Road.

—  John Wright

Stonewall remembered at Dallas march

Rally draws more than 100 from as far as Tyler, Fort Worth

Activist Aaron Rathbun waves one of many Rainbow flags that could be seen flying during Sunday’s Stonewall commemoration in downtown Dallas. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

The LGBT community marked the 41st anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion and the first anniversary of the Rainbow Lounge raid with a rally, march and candlelight vigil on Sunday evening, June 27 in Downtown Dallas.

A crowd of about 150 gathered outside the Dallas County Records Building at 6:30 p.m. Elizabeth Pax energized the crowd before a march through downtown.

Event organizer Daniel Cates said he was inspired by the words of gay rights pioneer Harvey Milk, who encouraged the LGBT community to march down Main Street. From Historical Plaza in front of the Records building, marchers proceeded down Commerce Street, turned the corner at Neiman Marcus and returned to the square walking hand-in-hand while chanting along Main Street.

The march took about 30 minutes and was led by a group representing each letter in LGBT. They carried a banner that said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Another banner read, “Full federal equality now.”

Signs said things like, “Adam & Steve. Madam & Eve. It’s all good” and “Wake Up America. Being homophobic kills. Equality now.”

Several signs remembered Milk.

“Harvey Milk. American politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California, winning the seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors,” one sign read.

Shannon Kern, a straight ally, served as emcee of the rally that followed the march.

“Burst down those closet doors because you are perfect the way you are,” Kern said.

Jesse Garcia of Dallas gay LULAC council told the crowd to vote and encouraged straight allies to do the same. He challenged the group to reach out to fellow minorities who understand that the fight is for civil rights, and to stick together and not bow to forces that want the community to turn against itself.

When Rafael McDonnell from Resource Center Dallas spoke, he began by asking how many were attending their first gay-rights rally. About a quarter of the crowd cheered.

Get Equal Now activist Michael Robinson reminded the crowd of last week’s DART non-discrimination victory.

“Lock me up and set me free,” said activist Chastity Kirven. She was referring to her arrest at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office while protesting inaction on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

Kirven led the group in several chants including “One struggle, one fight,” driving home the evening’s theme of unity.

Referring to the handful of anti-gay counterprotesters from a Mansfield church who’ve become a fixture at local LGBT events, Kirven questioned their morality.

“When they want to look into your bedroom, who’s the pervert?” Kirven shouted.

Renee Baker spoke on behalf of the transgender community and, as a Youth First Texas board member, on behalf of young people.

“I’m doing this for our youth,” she said. “They’re taking the brunt of this because they’re still in the public schools.”

Nonnie Ouch, president of the Gay Straight Alliance at Texas Tech University, also mentioned the counterprotesters.

“Let’s not be like our enemy who cowers behind his theology,” she said.

Cates responded to the Mansfield group’s signs saying homosexuality is a choice that does not deserve “special rights.”

“I’ll tell you what’s a choice. Religion is a choice and it’s protected by the constitution,” Cates said.

Cates finished his remarks by thanking the Republican Party of Texas for defining their hatred of gays and lesbians so heinously in its platform that it’s being ridiculed in the national media.

The Rev. Steve Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth spoke about the response to last June’s Rainbow Lounge raid. He said the event united Dallas and Fort Worth into one LGBT community to produce an appropriate response.

He said while the goal of police was to harass and humiliate, the LGBT community showed it won’t be intimidated.

A candlelight vigil followed to remember those no longer with us.

Spencer Young, from the cast of the Tyler production of “The Laramie Project,” which right-wingers tried to cancel, remembered Nicholas West during the vigil.

West was 23 when he was kidnapped from a Tyler park and murdered on Dec. 30, 1993. Young compared that murder to Matthew Shepard’s five years later. As he told the story, the clock in the tower above Old Red eerily tolled the hour.

Pax ended the evening by leading the crowd in rounds of “We Shall Overcome.”

—  David Taffet

Jesse Garcia and Bret Camp would really like you to fill out and return your Census form

Later today, the U.S. Census Bureau will unveil six public service announcements, the first-ever such videos focused on encouraging the LGBT community to fill out and mail back their forms. One of the six leaders featured in the videos is Jesse Garcia, president of Dallas’ gay LULAC Council (above). The Census Bureau has also posted several other videos on its Web site that were filmed at Creating Change in Dallas in early March, including one featuring Bret Camp, associate executive director of Resource Center Dallas (below). There’ll be press conference in New York later today to unveil the videos, which will be shown on Logo beginning today. You can watch a live stream of the press conference at 1 p.m. Dallas time by going here. For more info on the Census and the LGBT community, go here.

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—  John Wright

Farouk to visit gay LULAC Council tonight

Farouk Shami
Farouk Shami

Houston hair care magnate Farouk Shami, the only Texas gubernatorial candidate who’s released a comprehensive policy statement on LGBT issues, will appear tonight at a meeting of Dallas’ gay LULAC Council, according to Council President Jesse Garcia. The meeting, at 6:30 p.m. at Hungdinger, 4000 Cedar Springs Road, will also feature appearances by State Rep. Roberto Alonzo, Texas LULAC Director Joey Cardenas III and representatives from the Human Rights Initiative.

As I noted last week, Shami has adopted the policy statement on LGBT issues that was previously published by Hank Gilbert, who dropped out of the Democratic gubernatorial primary to run for agriculture commissioner. The policy statement proposes repealing Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage and allowing civil unions that give gay and lesbian couples the same privileges and protections as heterosexual couples. It also proposes legislation banning discrimination in employment, insurance and public education based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Former Houston Mayor Bill White, who’s considered the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, has yet to release a policy statement on LGBT issues. White was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats of Dallas last for mobileкак создать сео фирму

—  John Wright