Making a difference

When Dallas resident David McCrory learned of the plight of a homeless gay teen in Colorado and tried to help, he discovered he could help make things better, but it wasn’t easy

McCrory.David

David McCrory

Draconis von Trapp  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

One person can make a difference.
It’s been said a million times, and while some believe the old adage, some are still skeptical.
David McCrory used to be one of those skeptics.
But McCrory, a gay man who works for Dermalogica and a native New Orleanian who moved to Dallas from Los Angeles, discovered a whole new perspective after he helped a 19-year-old boy from committing suicide — from two states away.
McCrory moved to Dallas for his job and ended up participating with the Human Rights Campaign’s entry in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade this year for the first time. The parade featured British ex-rugby star Ben Cohen, who founded the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation that focuses on battling bullying and homophobia in schools.
After working with Cohen, McCrory started paying attention to the StandUp Foundation’s Facebook page, and that’s where he happened upon a post about how Jamey Rodomeyer, a young gay boy, had committed suicide.
As with most celebrity Facebook updates, there are usually several hundred comments. McCrory, usually not one to bother reading those comments, decided this time to take a look at the feedback.

“I was just browsing through the comments and I noticed this post from A.J.,” McCrory said. “And I guess it was the timing, having just read about Jamey, that I felt like I needed to reach out to him.”

A.J. had commented about how he felt that his only option was to end his life, saying that he was homeless just because of his sexual orientation. He said that he didn’t want to kill himself, but he didn’t know what else to do.

The comment was left in the morning on Sept. 21. It only took 30 minutes for someone to respond to A.J.’s post, recommending that he call the Trevor Project. But it took another eight hours for someone to proactively do something about it.

McCrory, after reading and responding to A.J.’s comment, emailed Cohen’s manager, Jill Tipping, confirming that both she and Cohen had read that post and responded to A.J. with suicide hotline numbers and contact information for different organizations that could help.

Feeling that more needed to be done, McCrory added A.J. as a friend on Facebook, started emailing him with reassuring messages and exchanging phone numbers with the young man.

After feeling out A.J.’s situation a little more, McCrory discovered that the teen had been living on a park bench for two days with no food after an altercation with his father.

“I left Colorado to go to Michigan to get in touch with my family there,” A.J. explained. “That kinda went south, so I came back to live with my father and things were fine.”

But the next day his father started questioning A.J.’s orientation. While A.J. had been out to his friends, he hadn’t yet come out to his family and wasn’t sure how they would take it. While he figured they would react negatively, he said, “I didn’t expect it to go as far as it did.”

After that, AJ’s father told him to leave.

McCrory said he did contact the Trevor Project, and while they were friendly and helpful, ultimately they could do nothing for A.J. immediately.

They provided some more contact information for organizations and crisis intervention programs in A.J.’s area — and that was the end of it.

McCrory said he tried all the contacts that were given to him but had little to show for it. Most numbers led to voice mailboxes and the one immediate crisis line he contacted could only help by advising he call the police.

At this time it was starting to rain where A.J. was, and McCrory was running out of options.

Finally, using his hotel points, McCrory booked a room for A.J. at a Marriott Hotel and, after discussing A.J.’s situation with the manager, was given the room for free as well as two meal vouchers so A.J. could eat that night and the next morning.

With cab services refusing credit card numbers over the phone and the police being short staffed, McCrory’s cousin used her credit card to have a driving service fetch A.J.

The next day McCrory tried to contact the LGBT community center in Colorado, but never got through to anyone. In a moment of clarity, it occurred to him that most towns had an LGBT-friendly church, and upon researching it, he found one close by A.J.’s location.

The Metropolitan Community Church’s pastor, Weff Mullins, provided McCrory with more up-to-date, reliable resources for A.J. and welcomed the teen into the service that Sunday.

One reputable organization Pastor Mullins recommended was Inside/Out Youth Services, which McCrory contacted, finally talking to someone who was able to get the ball rolling on providing A.J. with housing, therapy and a job to help him get back on his feet.

It was the help the young man needed.

A.J. has been living for free at a hotel since then and said that he has a brighter outlook on his future — one that doesn’t include suicide.

“I’m actually much better than I was before,” he said. “I’m mostly stable now and I’m pretty good.”

A.J. and McCrory have kept in contact and often talk on the phone.

“He’s a good kid,” McCrory said. “It’s pretty amazing that we’ve gotten so close and we’ve never met. I never thought that I would be helping someone out of a crisis situation like this.”

McCrory’s company has since made a $1,000 donation to Inside/Out Youth Services, which is being matched by the Gill Foundation, along with $100 from one of McCrory’s coworkers.

They worked together to get some Wal-Mart gift cards so A.J.could buy some clothes for himself.

“Plus, being gay, you know he will need some beauty products,” McCrory joked.

McCrory said that his involvement in helping A.J. has opened his eyes to how influential one person can be when they simply take the initiative to care.

Working with A.J. has furthered his inspiration to start a non-profit organization through Resource Center Dallas that features a 24/7 crisis center for teenagers who need help.

“It really blew my mind that there is a missing link in that chain, like you can get counseling over the phone, but you can’t get help after hours,” McCrory said incredulously.

“You can have a crisis as long as it’s within business hours.”

McCrory also said that had A.J. been underage, this whole thing could have ended up a lot worse. Due to the possible liabilities in dealing with a minor, most people don’t want to deal with them — and they can’t check into hotels alone. The only thing left to do would have been to call the cops and let Child Protective Services handle it, “which is kind of shocking,” McCrory said.

“I thought it was kind of an amazing story that select people think there’s nothing you can do,” McCrory said. “But it takes one small step of doing something that, as little as it may be, it could be the one thing that changes that one life, really.”

In the Dallas area, Promise House in Oak Cliff is a shelter for LGBT teens in crisis. They have a 24-hour crisis line that can be called at 1-866-941-8578. They are located on 224 W. Page Ave. and provide crisis intervention services along with case management, counseling, emergency and long-term shelter as well as advocacy and outreach.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

A new take on an old holiday classic: Anita Mann’s version of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’

It’s the holiday season, and so today I thought I’d share this video that I found on Mark S. King’s blog, “My Fabulous Disease.”

King is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, not to mention an AIDS activist since the early days of the epidemic, and this video features his alter ego, Anita Mann, reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as part of a fundraiser for LGBT people recovering from addiction. As read by Anita, it’s the same old Christmas story we’ve all heard a million times, but her, uh, interpretation can make you see it in a whole new light.

And when you’re done watching the video, go on over to King’s blog and explore. Be sure to read his biographical information, and then read some of his posts, which are all about keeping a stubbornly positive attitude and always looking for the lighter side of life. It might give you a new outlook on life in general, not to mention the holiday season.

—  admin

Your daily dose of Joel Burns

Ever since his “It Gets Better” speech, it seems not a day (or even an hour) goes by that we don’t hear something new about openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. Today’s news comes from GayPolitics.com, which reports that Burns is the Victory Fund’s first endorsed candidate for 2011.

His powerful October speech about the suicides of young gay people, delivered in the chambers of the Fort Worth City Council, has been viewed nearly 2.5 million times on YouTube, prompting media outlets from across the country (and the world) to seek interviews to discuss the issue of anti-LGBT bullying.

Councilman Joel Burns has become a hero to LGBT youth who so desperately need role models — people who are successful and respected, but who are also open and honest about being gay.

Now Burns is also the first 2011 candidate to earn the Victory Fund’s endorsement. He’s running for re-election to represent District 9 on the Fort Worth City Council, and the Victory Fund is out to make sure he wins.

“Joel represents what the Victory Fund is all about — making sure LGBT voices are represented in government, and making sure we are heard,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund.

—  John Wright

Rex Reed introduces you to Ira Gershwin tonight at the Eisemann Center

Famous for his bitchy film criticism, Fort Worth-born Rex Reed  turns his eye (and his ear) to music with Ira Gershwin revue

Watching too many movies can be a bad thing. After years of deconstructing films and either ripping them apart or praising their genius, Rex Reed has finally had enough. For now at least.

“You have no idea of the crap I sit through. Movies today are ghastly,” Reed says. “I gotta get out of this rut. Everybody has to do something in life that’s a little bit of fun and I love this a million times more than reviewing.“

“This” refers to The Man that Got Away: Ira without George — The Lyrics of Ira Gershwin, a show Reed created to celebrate the work of the lesser-known songwriting brother. The production makes its first stop outside of New York in North Texas Nov. 12 at the Eisemann Center.

“This show is a celebration of his genius,” he says. “I feel this kind of music is our culture; it’s America’s greatest gift to this world and it’s in danger of disappearing.”

Along for the ride with Reed are performers Tom Wopat, Marilyn Maye and Susan Mays, who sing songs from Gershwin’s catalog. They help Reed do his part in preserving a part of American culture, in which he gave preferential treatment to his favorite lyricist. He created this show to bring Ira from under his brother’s shadow, despite Ira having the longer career. But with George’s huge signature pieces, Reed still has to remind people that they aren’t going to get what they think they came for. Either that, or they don’t know the difference between the two siblings.

“George has always had his share of fame and praise even though he rarely made a move without his brother,” he says. “It was time he got his fair share. This is not about George. We’re not gonna have Rhapsody in Blue or Porgy and Bess. This is all Ira on his own.”

DEETS: The Man that Got Away: Ira without George — The Lyrics of Ira Gershwin. Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive, Richardson. 8 p.m. $39–$72. EisemannCenter.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Rex in effect

Famous for his bitchy film criticism, Fort Worth-born Rex Reed  turns his eye (and his ear) to music with Ira Gershwin revue

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

Film critic Rex Reed
GAGA FOR GERSHWIN | Film critic Rex Reed prefers his love of Ira Gershwin’s music to reviewing the ghastly movies coming out today.

THE MAN THAT GOT AWAY
Eisemann Center,
2351 Performance Drive, Richardson.
Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. $39–$72.
EisemannCenter.com.

…………………………………….

Watching too many movies can be a bad thing. After years of deconstructing films and either ripping them apart or praising their genius, Rex Reed has finally had enough. For now at least.

“You have no idea of the crap I sit through. Movies today are ghastly,” Reed says. “I gotta get out of this rut. Everybody has to do something in life that’s a little bit of fun and I love this a million times more than reviewing.“

“This” refers to The Man that Got Away: Ira without George — The Lyrics of Ira Gershwin, a show Reed created to celebrate the work of the lesser-known songwriting brother. The production makes its first stop outside of New York in North Texas Nov. 12 at the Eisemann Center.

“This show is a celebration of his genius,” he says. “I feel this kind of music is our culture; it’s America’s greatest gift to this world and it’s in danger of disappearing.”

Along for the ride with Reed are performers Tom Wopat, Marilyn Maye and Susan Mays, who sing songs from Gershwin’s catalog. They help Reed do his part in preserving a part of American culture, in which he gave preferential treatment to his favorite lyricist. He created this show to bring Ira from under his brother’s shadow, despite Ira having the longer career. But with George’s huge signature pieces, Reed still has to remind people that they aren’t going to get what they think they came for. Either that, or they don’t know the difference between the two siblings.

“George has always had his share of fame and praise even though he rarely made a move without his brother,” he says. “It was time he got his fair share. This is not about George. We’re not gonna have Rhapsody in Blue or Porgy and Bess. This is all Ira on his own.”

When Reed met younger sister Francis Gershwin, he discussed his plans for the show. As it turned out, she felt it was time.

“She gave me her full blessing,” he says. “When I met her she said, ‘This is what I’ve been praying for. I’m so glad you’re doing this.’ That was that; it was amen and here we go, after that. I’m really hoping people in Dallas will like it.”

This concerns Reed. He begins asking questions about the venue, knowing that it isn’t in Dallas proper — and he wonders if there is an appreciation for American standards. He senses a hunger for this music and figures it deserves to be exposed. He even challenges LGBT audiences, hoping they will break away from the usual listening pleasures.

“As a rule, gay people have always had better taste, they just need to be exposed to this,” he says. “It could expose LGBTs to something higher in quality than the stuff they are hearing in discos. That can just go so far. I don’t go to these places where I hear eardrum bursting second-rate music.”

The challenge though is to move people out of their musical comfort zone by heading to the past. Like Michael Feinstein, who comes to Dallas later this month, Reed finds it important to preserve this musical heritage of America. That’s his mission — besides reviewing films.

“I applaud Michael for what he’s doing. When people hear this, I hope a light bulb goes off,” he says. “If it’s not in top 40, they’re afraid to listen. I just need to get them to move beyond the fear of discovering the unknown.”

But he does give fair warning: Reed hosts the show but also sings one Gershwin tune.

“There is an awful lot of me in it! So if you don’t like me, don’t come.”
He’s kidding.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens