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  taffet@dallasvoice.com

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.

—  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 week.

—  John Wright