Events you can expect to see at the IGRA Rodeo

Rodeo-Event

ROUNDING THE BARREL | Barrel racers ride a three-point cloverleaf pattern as quickly as possible. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

• Calf Roping on Foot: The contestant stands in the roping box and when a calf is released, attempts to throw their loop over the calf’s head. Once the loop passes over the calf’s head, the contestant must pull up the slack in the rope.

• Steer Decorating: This event requires a two-person team. One member stands 10 feet from the chute gate holding the end of a 25-foot rope, which is looped around the horns of the steer that is in the chute. The other team member stands 40 feet from the chute holding a 24-inch long ribbon. When the chute gate opens, the first team must bring the steer out and across the 10-foot line. The second team member then tries to tie the ribbon on the steer’s tail while the first team member tries to remove the rope from the steer’s horns. When the ribbon is on the tail and the loop is off the horns, the team member who tied on the ribbon must tag the timer.

• Mounted Break-Away Roping: The roper is mounted on horseback with one end of his or her rope tied to the saddle horn by a piece of string. When the calf is released from the chute, the roper  follows to try and rope the calf. When the loop is thrown, it must pass completely over the calf’s head. As the calf pulls away from the rider and horse, the rope grows taut and will break away from the saddle horn.

• Team Roping: The team consists of two ropers mounted on separate horses. One roper is called the “header” and his or her responsibility is to rope the steer by the horns while the teammate, called the “heeler,” must get the rope around the steer’s back legs, or heels.  When the header makes the catch, he or she must wind the rope around the saddle horn, called “dallying off,” turning the steer away from himself thus causing the steer’s heels to fly in the air for the heeler’s loop to catch. When both ropers have been successful in their tasks, they must turn their horses to face the steer and pull their ropes taut.

• Junior Bull Riding: A junior bull is a young bull that has not built up the bulk, or testosterone, of a full-grown bull. The rider has a “bull rope” wound around the animal just behind the front legs and then around the rider’s hand; no knots are allowed. This handhold and the riders legs, locked like scissors around the animal, are all the rider has to count on to stay on top. A rider who is able to spur, or move their legs back and forth on the animal’s sides, will receive a higher score. The rider must stay on the bull for a designated length of time to receive a score at all.

• Bareback Bronc Riding: A specially designed “bareback riggin” with a built-in handhold is tied onto the horse. The rider climbs on the horse’s back in the chute, and settles him or herself before the chute gate is opened. When the gate is opened, the rider has to start the ride with both of his or her feet extended forward over the horse’s shoulders and, on the first leap out of the chute, must “rake” the feet backwards toward the horse’s rump. If the rider misses this, they are disqualified and get no score for the ride. If the rider stays on the horse for six seconds, then pick-up riders move in to help the rider dismount safely. Contestants may elect to ride two-handed from start to finish, but will receive a lower score if they do so.

• Goat Dressing: This two-person event was created specially for gay rodeo. The team stands 50 feet from the point where the goat is tethered. One of the team members has a pair of jockey-style underwear pulled over their forearms. When the whistle sounds, the team runs to the goat. The team member without the underwear picks up the goat’s rear hooves, grabs the underwear from around the other member’s arms, and pulls it up the legs of the goat.  Both team members must then race back to the start/finish line and cross the finish line to stop the time. The underwear must stay over the goat’s tail bone until the timer is tagged by both members.

• Chute Dogging: The steer and the contestant both start in the bucking chute and face a 60-second time limit. When the chute gate opens, the contestant must bring the steer out to a 10-foot line in front of the chute, and then attempt to wrestle, or “dog” the steer to the ground. The contestant will turn the steer’s head up and toward the steer’s shoulder, to force the steer to fall over on its other shoulder, causing all four feet to point in the same direction as the head was turned. If the steer is contrary and falls the other way, it is termed a “dog fall” and the contestant can either attempt to turn the head the same direction or let the steer up and start over.

• Pole Bending: In this event, horse and rider compete for fastest time working a linear pattern through six equally spaced poles. The poles must be at least six feet in height and spaced 21 feet apart. A running start is allowed and a five-second penalty will be assessed for knocking a pole down, and disqualification will take place if the team goes off course.

• Wild Drag Race: Teams are made up of one male, one female, one “drag” (either male or female), and one wild steer. The steer, with a halter and a 25-foot lead rope, is in a bucking chute at the beginning of the event. The cowgirl holds the rope and the cowboy and drag stand 40 feet from the chute. When the chute gate opens, the team tries to direct the steer toward the finish line, which is 70 feet from the chute. They must get the steer across the finish line, mount the “drag,” and then ride back across the finish line. The “drag” must be mounted on the steer before the steer starts back across the finish line and must stay on the steer until all four feet of the steer have crossed back across the finish line.

• Barrel Race: Contestants vie for the fasted time in running a triangular, cloverleaf pattern around three barrels. The horse and rider are allowed a running start and time begins and ends upon crossing the starting line. A five-second penalty is assessed for knocking over a barrel. The pattern can be started either from the left or right, and contestants that go off the prescribed course are disqualified.

• Flag Race: A triangular pattern similar to that of the barrel race is used, with the substitution of a pole in place of barrel number three. The two other barrels will have a bucket that is three-fourths full of rabbit pellets placed on top of it, and a flag in one of these buckets. The rider may choose to run to the right or left and as they pass the first barrel, they pick up the flag, race past the pole, back to the second barrel, and attempt to place the flag in the second bucket. If the rider knocks over the first bucket or the pole, a five-second penalty will be assessed. If the rider does not pick up the flag or misses the second bucket, no time will be given. If the second bucket or barrel is knocked over, the rider is disqualified.

• Bull Riding: The same as junior bull-riding, only with bigger, meaner bulls.

……………………………………..

RODEO PARTIES

Friday, Oct, 7
• After registration, in the lobby of the Crowne Plaza Fort Worth South Hotel, 100 Altamesa Blvd. East, western dancing in the ballroom begins at 7 p.m.

HomoRodeo.com hosts a party at Best Friends from 7 p.m. until 2 a.m. The group put together a calendar that will be on sale at the club. Proceeds of sales benefit contestants who participate in the gay rodeos. All 12 models will be at the club for a signing party, according to organizer Michael Castlow. He said there will be a buffet for members.

Saturday, Oct. 8
• Lone Star Dance Competition and Country Hoedown takes place in the Grand Ballroom of the Crowne Plaza at 7 p.m.

• Lipps LuRue of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire presents a candidate’s show at Dallas Eagle at 7 p.m.

HomoRodeo.com hosts a calendar signing party at Woody’s Sports and Video Bar on Cedar Springs in Dallas at 8 p.m. Castlow said he would be at the Eagle with a number of the calendar models before heading over to the signing party.

Sunday, Oct. 9
• A banquet with entertainment begins at
7 p.m. at the host hotel followed by the final awards ceremony at 9 p.m.

• The World Gay Rodeo Finals closing party takes place at JR.’s Bar & Grill in Dallas.

LOCATION AND TICKET INFO

Rodeo tickets are $15 per person, per day, with those under 12 admitted free.

The rodeo will be held at the Watt Arena in the Will Rogers Memorial Center, 3401 W. Lancaster Ave., in Fort Worth. Gates open at 8 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, and at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 9.
Tickets will be sold on site, and will be available Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

SPECIAL HONOREES

Grand Marshal: David Hill of Colorado

Honorary Grand Marshals: Gary Miller and Alan Pierce of Dallas

Community Hero: Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Making a better world, one step at a time

John Boeglin

John Boeglin repays the help he gets as a client at AOC by also being a volunteer at the agency

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — John Boeglin, first diagnosed with AIDS in 1989, has been a client of Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center off and on since 1991.

But Boeglin doesn’t just go to the center for help for himself; he helps others in turn by volunteering at AOC. And he has taken his volunteerism a step forward by looking for — and finding — ways to help the agency go a little more green.

“I have volunteered in different parts of AIDS Outreach, and I had volunteered in the food pantry for about four years when I started thinking that there was a real need for us to start incorporating recycling into all of our events,” Boeglin said.

So he took the initiative of coordinating with the city to get recycle bins at the agency and has been leading AOC’s recycling efforts in the three years since then.

“It’s not very profitable. But at least we are helping the environment. We can now take all the cardboard and plastic and aluminum that comes through here and recycle it, instead of having it all end up in a landfill somewhere,” he said.

He added, “I have always been cautious about my own carbon footprint, about the impact I have on the environment. I was always riding a bicycle everywhere. I didn’t even have a car until my father passed away.”

Boeglin has also been a big supporter of AOC’s annual AIDS Walk, both as a walker and as a volunteer who helps set up on the day of the event, and then take everything down and put it away when it’s over.

“I’m usually there from the first thing in the morning until that night when it’s all done,” he said. “And I have walked in the AIDS Walk for at least 10 years now.”

Boeglin said he volunteers with and walks in the AIDS Walk, now in its 19th year, because “it helps earn money to pay for the services that we need. And with all the cuts the government has made since 2000, that money has become a real necessity.

“This agency probably wouldn’t make it without the money from the AIDS Walk,” he continued. “Because of all the changes made by the previous administration [under President George W. Bush], people can’t even get on disability now. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to make it without the programs at AIDS Outreach Center.”

Boeglin said he first started doing volunteer work “primarily because there wasn’t a lot else to do. Those of us who were diagnosed in the 1980s and early ’90s, we found out we were sick and so we started planning for the end of our lives. Then all of a sudden, we realized we weren’t dying.

“So we tried to go back to work, but we either couldn’t get jobs at all, or we couldn’t get jobs that would actually pay the bills,” he said. “So we found ourselves sitting around our apartments with nothing to do. That’s how it happened with me. So I started volunteering.”

Boeglin said he volunteered with the Healing Wings program at JPS Hospital and then later at AIDS Outreach when the program moved. He has also volunteered with Q Cinema and has been involved with Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. He has been politically active as well, once getting a scholarship that allowed him to fly to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress on behalf of the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.

He said he has lobbied the Texas Legislature on HIV and LGBT related issues, too.

“Sometimes, you can get a little burned out when you stay in one place, doing one thing for too long. So I avoid the burnout by going from one place to another,” Boeglin said. “After I had volunteered at the food pantry [at AOC] for several years, it started to get really difficult. When you start losing so many people, it gets hard. You come in and even though you know they’re gone, you keep looking for them, keep waiting to see them. It’s hard.”

That was one reason, he said, that he chose to work with Q Cinema. “I needed to do things that let me see more people that are affected by HIV instead only seeing people who are infected with HIV. I needed that change of pace,” he explained.

Boeglin has a lot of hobbies, too, that help keep him busy and healthy. He is a writer and an artist and works in wood crafting. He also likes to attend Scarborough Faire and sci-fi conventions, and will be volunteering at an upcoming convention here in North Texas.

Boeglin said his interest in sci-fi conventions grew out of a fascination with science and with space that began when he was a child and sat with his grandfather to watch as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

“Did you know that it was protease inhibitors developed during experiments on the space shuttle that led to the use of the ‘drug cocktails’ in the 1995 that have helped people with AIDS live better and longer?” Boeglin asks. “They were able to grow these protein crystals large enough in space with zero gravity to be able to see how they would affect how HIV is able to enter cells. And millions of us are alive today because of those experiments they did on the space shuttle in 1995.”

While some people may joke about the sci fi convention fans and the separate world they sometimes seem to live in, Boeglin sees a kind of nobility in that world that gives him hope for a better future in this one.

“The conventions and the fans, there’s a very, very good sense of community there, just like there is here at AIDS Outreach,” Boeglin said. “It makes me believe that someday that altruistic future [of the sci-fi world] may really someday come true, because people care enough to be here, to be at the AIDS Walk and participate in it — the ones who don’t have to be there, but are there anyway, and the ones who struggle to be there and make a difference. It gives me hope.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

Anti-bullying bills top Equality Texas’ 2011 agenda

Despite the Republican super majority in the Texas House, advocates hope lawmakers will be too busy with redistricting, budget to push anti-gay measures

Tammye Nash  |  nash@dallasvoice.com

Standing-on-the-seal-2
WAITING FOR THEIR BUSY SEASON | Equality Texas Executive Director Dennis Coleman, left, and Deputy Executive Director Chuck Smith will be spending a lot of time at the Texas Capitol once the 82nd Legislature convenes on Jan 11. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

November elections gave Republicans a 19-12 majority in the Texas Senate, while the elections plus defections by two Democrats gave the GOP a 101-49 majority in the Texas House.

In a state where the GOP platform calls for homosexuality to be recriminalized — among other anti-gay planks — such an overwhelming Republican majority would normally be really bad news for LGBT Texans.

But maybe not this year.

“We haven’t seen any anti-gay bills filed so far, and obviously, we hope we don’t see any during this session,” Chuck Smith, deputy director for Equality Texas, said during a December interview.

“If you look at an analysis of the [November election results], only four of the new Republicans taking office campaigned on social conservative issues. And none of them made those issues a top priority,” Smith said. “Most of the new people coming into the Legislature were elected based on issues of fiscal responsibility.”

Lawmakers were sworn in earlier this week and will convene the 82nd Legislature next Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Smith predicted that Texas lawmakers would spend the lion’s share of the session on two issues: passing a budget and redistricting.

The Texas Constitution requires that lawmakers, when they meet every other year, pass a LEGISLATURE balanced budget. And with a looming deficit of between $8 billion and $25 billion this year, that will be a difficult task indeed.

And, thanks to the ever-growing population of the state as recorded in the 2010 Census, Texas will be getting four new seats in Congress. That means lawmakers will also face a redistricting battle to make room for those new seats, and that’s never an easy fight.

“I believe the legislative session will be mostly consumed by the budget deficit and redistricting,” Smith said. “And there are several other contentious issues — things like immigration and reproductive rights — where numerous bills have already been prefiled. So I am not sure how much time for [lawmakers to consider] anything other than these hot-button issues.”

And that’s good for the LGBT community if it keeps at bay the kind of anti-gay measures that have been introduced in the past, like measures to prevent same-sex couples from becoming adoptive or foster parents.

But it could also keep the several pro-LGBT bills that have already been prefiled from getting consideration, too.

“I don’t think we will be as fortunate as we were in 2009 and get as many hearings [on pro-LGBT bills] as we did in 2009, when we had hearings on seven bills,” Smith said.

“I think we will have more good bills filed in 2011, but I think we will see a lot more of them get left pending,” he continued. “What bills get hearings and which ones get sent to the floor for a vote is all a function of the committee chairs and the make-up of the committees.”

Still, Smith said, he hopes that at least the issue tagged as Equality Texas’ top priority will get attention from lawmakers this year.

Former state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt, a Dallas Democrat, introduced the first anti-bullying legislation has been on Equality Texas’LGBT-inclusive legislation — the Dignity for All Students Act — addressing bullying in Texas’ public schools back in 1997, and Houston Democrat Garnet Coleman has introduced the measure in every session since 2003. That bill was sent to the Public Education Committee in 2009, but never got a hearing.

But Smith said he hopes this year’s new crop of anti-bullying measures may have a better chance, given the attention focused on a recent string of highly-publicized incidents in which LGBT teens — or teens perceived as LGBT — committed suicide after being bullied persistently.

Legislation on bullying

Nine bills addressing bullying, including anti-LGBT bullying, have been prefiled, including, for the first time, nearly identical comprehensive measures in both legislative chambers.

“It would be accurate to say that the current Texas Education Code does not have a modern-day definition of bullying and doesn’t include adequate information on what it is and what to do when it happens,” Smith said.

Fort Worth’s Democratic senator, Wendy Davis, has filed two bills — SB 242 and SB 245 — addressing bullying. The bills define bullying as “engaging in written or verbal expression or physical conduct, including an action motivated by a perceived imbalance of power based on another student’s actual or perceived personal characteristics, behavior or beliefs” that harms a student or a student’s property, or places that student in “reasonable fear of harm” to themselves or their property.

The definition also says that bullying is behavior that is “sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive enough” to create an “intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment for a student,” to interfere with a student’s education opportunities or disrupt the orderly operation of the school.

The bill also specifically includes cyberbullying, defining it as “bullying that is done using electronic communication, including electronic media,” and specifically covers bullying that occurs not only at school or during school-sponsored trips or events, but also behavior occurring away from school and school-sponsored events.

Dennis-Coleman-hi-contrast
BACK TO THE FUTURE | Since the weak economy forced Equality Texas to make staffing cuts, new Executive Director Dennis Coleman said the organization is going back to its original model, in which the executive director focuses on lobbying as well as fundraising. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

SB 242 also requires school districts to adopt policies prohibiting bullying and to prohibit retaliation against anyone reporting a bullying incident, as well as requiring school districts to develop strategies and training for faculty and staff on dealing with bullying.

SB 245 would amend Section 21.451(d) of the Texas Education Code to include requirements for training of educators in “preventing, identifying, responding to and reporting” incidents of bullying. It also would amend Section 39.306(a) to require an annual “statement of the number, rate and type of incidents of bullying, including cyberbullying, harassment, sexual harassment and discrimination against any student on the basis of the actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, national origin or disability of the alleged perpetrator or victim that occurred on each district campus.”

Both Davis’ and Strama’s bills would “do a number of things,” Smith said, aimed at correcting current shortcomings in the Texas Education Code in addressing bullying.

Rep. Mark Strama, an Austin Democrat, has filed HB 224 which is “nearly identical” to Davis’ Senate bills, but which does not include “gender identity and expression” in the section requiring collection of data of bullying incidents that occur.

“Our preferred bill is Wendy Davis’ bill in the Senate,” Smith said. “We want as much data collected as possible, and we want legislation that provides clear guidance into the future on what the school districts need to do to be the most effective in addressing bullying.

“We’d like to see [both bills] read the same way, both have those four words in there — ‘gender identity and expression,’” he added.

Six other bills addressing bullying have also already been filed, but Smith said none are as comprehensive as either Davis’ or Strama’s bills.

Rep. Ryan Guillen, D-Rio Grande City, filed HB 24, Rep. Richard Raymond, D-Laredo, introduced HB 170, both of which would also remove bullies from the general classroom and put them in a “disciplinary alternative education program.”

Smith said, however, that Equality Texas is not “just looking to make the bullies the bad guys,” and would prefer legislation that provides counseling or some other help for bullies as well as those who are bullied.

Also in the House, Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, introduced HB 130, which would create a bullying hotline.

In the Legislature’s other house, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has introduced two bills addressing bullying: SB 42 adds the word cyberbullying to existing Texas Education Code sections addressing bullying, and SB 49 would require that parents of students transferred to an disciplinary alternative education program be notified of the incidents prompting the move.

Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, has introduced SB 205, which would add certain requirements to the Texas Education Code’s Code of Conduct.

“All these other bills deal with just bits and pieces of the problem,” Smith noted. “None are as comprehensive as Davis’ and Strama’s bills.”

Other bills Equality Texas supports

Smith said lawmakers have again filed three bills that were “part of Equality Texas’ agenda in the 2009 session,” Smith said. But he again added that he doesn’t expect to see any positive action on them this year, either, given the partisan makeup of the Legislature and the likely focus on the budget and redistricting.

The three bills are each authored by lawmakers long considered staunch allies of the LGBT community.

Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, has filed HB 172 that would create a study on the effectiveness of the Texas hate crime law. Dallas Democratic Rep. Roberto Alonso has filed HB 208, which would prohibit anti-LGBT discrimination in insurance, and Rep. Rafael Anchia, another Dallas Democrat, has filed HB 415, which would allow birth certificates to be corrected so that same-sex couples who adopt could have both their names on their child’s birth certificate.

Changes within Equality Texas

Despite Smith’s prediction that budget woes and redistricting worries will keep lawmakers away from any anti-gay bills, the conservative majority in the Legislature this year could be a frightening specter for an advocacy organization that has recently undergone major changes.

Chuck-Smith
Equality Texas Deputy Director Chuck Smith (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

The 82nd will be the first legislative session for new Executive Director Dennis Coleman, who left his position as South Central regional director of Lambda Legal last summer to replace Paul Scott as head of Equality Texas. In addition, the recession and the continuing weak economy has forced the organization to cut back on staff.

The former political director, Randall Terrell, is gone, and the staff is down to just three: Coleman, Smith and Operations Manager Allison Jones. Coleman said there are also two interns already working with the organization, “and a third will be coming on.”

Scott, during his tenure, tended to focus on fundraising and maintaining the structure and operations of Equality Texas, while Smith and Terrell put most of their efforts into lobbying and working with lawmakers. Interns and other employees were there to pick up the slack.

But Coleman said recently he firmly believes that, with the help of and active and determined board of directors, the organization can be efficient and effective.

“Up until they hired Randall Terrell, this organization had always functioned without a political director, and they did a very effective job. Plus, Randall was only here for one [legislative] session,” Coleman said. “This organization has a history of the executive director being the chief face of the lobbying effort, and I think we can go back to that and be just fine.”

Board Co-Chair Anne Wynne has experience as a lobbyist, and North Texans Jeanne Rubin and Paul Tran, on the board’s “strong and diverse” legislative committee, have the experience and dedication to “make sure we stay connected at the Capitol and when [lawmakers] go back to their home districts,” Coleman said.

“I definitely have a strong enough board, especially on the legislative side, for us not to miss a beat,” he added. “We will be able to move forward with the structure we have and feel confident in getting bills passed.”

The groundwork for passing anti-bullying bills has already been laid, Coleman said. But in the event that the organization “gets to the point on introducing new, we will consider hiring a contract lobbyist. But since the Legislature only meets every two years, the question is, do we really need a fulltime lobbyist?”

Despite the financial straits of the past two years, Coleman said that monthly donations have begun to increase again, and Equality Texas also recently received a challenge grant from The Gill Foundation “challenging us to raise $25,000 in monthly donations.”

“The board has really stepped up to the plate when it comes to fundraising, which allows the staff to focus on doing what needs to be done at the Capitol,” he said.

Coleman said Equality Texas’ leaders will, in the coming months, be looking at new ways to “beef up our field work and to bring in the cash to, say, deploy someone to work on a ballot initiative in El Paso, or something like that. Our job is to find out how we can make the largest impact with the resources we have.”

Coleman also noted that Equality Texas’ Lobby Day is set for March 7, and that this month he and his staff and board “will start reaching out the community to come to Austin to lobby that day. Stonewall Democrats will be [in Austin] for their annual retreat at the same time. We are reaching out to LULAC, to Log Cabin Republicans — we’re reaching out to everyone to come to Austin that day.

“This is an exciting time for us,” Coleman continued. “There is legislation already introduced that we really have a chance of passing this year. And the more diverse we can be in our efforts to lobby our legislators, the better chance we have.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.31.10

What’s your New Years resolution?

Jason A Walker — “I made a resolution last year to stop making resolutions and I kept it all year. First time I’ve ever done that.”

Felipe Gutierrez — “To join the Air Force Reserves.”

Paul Phelps — “Lose weight and not shop too much.”

Jibril Salami — “To become better as a person and better myself. But I have so many, that’s just one of em!”

Latisha McDaniel — “To stay consistent with the workout regimen.”

Ivan Rowe Watson
— “To become more of a well-rounded person.”

Chris Yannacone
— “Drop some holiday weight.”

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.24.10

Have you done any special giving project for the holidays?

Ivana Tramp Gomez — “Following a tradition my late uncle started in the 1980s, I try as often as I can to drive around downtown Dallas handing out jackets that I have collected from family and friends to homeless people.”

Cindy Noble Cole — “Gathered coats for the 24 Hour Club, a wonderful rehab/home for alcoholics and drug addicts. Also my daughter’s job sponsored a military family this Christmas — a single father with a 13-year-old son.”

Ty Larson — “Every year, my family goes to all of our friends and collects clothing, toys and food for families in need in Grand Prairie, where my mother works as a kindergarten teacher.”

Jason A Walker  — “The husband of a teacher at the school where I work is dying of lung cancer. They had no Christmas decorations up and she didn’t have time or energy to put them out. I got a group of students together and we went to their home and put their decorations out for them.”

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

On our Christmas list: These pink headphones

Perhaps one of the perks of being in this biz is the opportunity to check out products and shows and music before they hit the general public. We review and then offer our opinions and that’s that. But one item was offered to us that leaped to the top of the Christmas list. OK, it’s pink, but that’s part of the charm.

When AblePlanet Linx Audio sent our senior editor Tammye Nash a sample of their Extreme gaming foldable active noise-canceling headphones (with Linx Audio), we were both oohing and ahhing over the whimsical pink color and Burberry-ish plaid accents. Initially, they looked like the stuff kids plastic toys are made of and the pink paint chipped off upon opening. Bummer.

And then we tried them out.

—  Rich Lopez

Stone stepping into a quieter life

Founder of PFLAG-Dallas, Late Bloomers leaving group to focus on painting, involvement with church

Tammye Nash  |  nash@dallasvoice.com

Stone.Pat
Pat Stone

The Tuesday night, Dec. 14, meeting of Late Bloomers was a bittersweet event for Pat Stone. It marked her last meeting as leader and an active member of the organization she founded 13 years ago. But it also marked her first full steps into the next stage of her life.

Stone, who started Late Bloomers for women life herself who came out as lesbian later in life, was also one of the founding members of the Dallas chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of

Lesbians and Gays in 1992. Stone and her former husband helped start the PFLAG chapter in support of their lesbian daughter and were the driving force behind the Dallas organization in its early years.

She was president of the Dallas chapter for five years and was also on the national PFLAG board.

Then in 1997, after coming out as a lesbian herself, Stone started Late Bloomers to give other women coming out later in life a place other than nightclubs to go where they could meet other women like themselves and to learn about the LGBT community.

Stone said this week that her decision to leave Late Bloomers was, in truth, a decision to retire from her nearly 20-plus years as an activist on LGBT issues. Now, she said, she will concentrate on her life with her partner as part of a vibrant LGBT community in the Cedar Creek Lake area, her involvement with Celebration on the Lake Church, and on her painting.

“It’s been 13 years since I started Late Bloomers, and I just think the time is right to move on,” said Stone, adding that the monthly trip into Dallas for the group’s meetings from her home on Cedar Creek Lake was becoming increasingly arduous.

“I think it’s time [for Late Bloomers] to find someone local to lead the group,” she said. “I am stepping away from it for so many different reasons.”

One of those reasons, she said, is that she didn’t want to get “burned out, and I could feel that starting to happen.”

That is in due, in part, she said, to the fact that “the last couple of years were pretty rough” as she dealt with the break-up of a long-term relationship, the death of her mother and, later, the beginning of a new relationship.

“Linda [Sands] and I are living at the lake, and I think it is just time for us to concentrate on a quieter life out here with my friends. And I want to get back to my oil painting, too,” Stone said.

“I have begun doing more paintings that are geared to the elderly, researching on the types of things that older eyes can more readily pick up on, like plainer backgrounds and things like that,” she explained. “I have been in contact with the Mabank Nursing Home, where my mother lived at the end of her life, and I want to do paintings to donate there, paintings that the residents there can see better and that might make them think of all their good memories.”

Stone continued, “I will be 68 this month. That’s not ancient, but I just think it’s time to concentrate on my community here at the lake and my involvement with the church and the things I want to do now.”

Stone said the enormity of the change she is making by leaving Late Bloomers hasn’t really hit her full force yet, although she began to really see it during last Tuesday’s meeting. “There was a full house there. It was sad for me. I shed a few tears. But I was able to get through it,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

She said many of those who attended Tuesday talked about how much Late Bloomers has meant to them through the years. Some recalled how scared they were to attend their first meeting, but how the members of the group have, over the years, become like family to them, and how the group has helped give a specific voice within the community to women who come out later in life.

Stone said she had been worried that the group might not continue after she left, but that her fears were allayed at this week’s meeting.

“I know things are different now than they were 13 years ago. But I sure wouldn’t say that this group isn’t needed any more,” she said. “There are still women out there who are going through this [coming out process as older women], and they need specific kinds of help. Women who come out later in life still face some very specific issues that other people don’t face.”

Stone said she was glad to hear on Tuesday that Late Bloomers members want to keep their group going, and that new leaders are already stepping up.

“They said this group meant to much to them to let it die,” she said. “So a new committee was formed to transition the group. They even met that night. They are dividing up the duties and are determined to continue. I was so proud of them and the fact that so many stepped up to the plate to save the organization.”

Among the new leaders for Late Bloomers is Linda Harwell. Anyone with questions or who wants to be involved with the group can contact her at 410-868-8244.
While there is certainly a degree of sadness that comes with the decision to turn her life in a new direction, there is also a sense of satisfaction and excitement at the adventures to come, Stone said.

“It’s been almost 20 years that I have been involved in activism, and it is hard to step away from that,” she said. “But I am happy and content that I have helped many parents of gay and lesbian kids, as well as women who have come out later in life.

“Dallas has a great gay and lesbian community, and I am just so proud to have been a part of it for all these years.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.17.10

What’s your preferred holiday greeting and why?

……………………………

John Kroll — “I respond however I’m greeted. ‘Merry Christmas’ gets ‘Merry Christmas;’ ‘Happy Hanukah’ gets ‘Happy Hanukah,’ and so on.”

Terry Don — “A hug. No matter the greeting it gets a hug.”

Tomi Kuczynski — “My preferred is ‘Merry Christmas’ because it is what I grew up with and has many memories attached to it. But I also believe in respecting others’ cultures and beliefs by greeting with happy holidays when with an acquaintance or client.”

Courtney Davis — “I say ‘Happy Holidays’ out of respect for someone’s culture and religion. The nasty right wing gets so upset over this. Really?”

Jason A. Walker — “Depends on what holiday it is and what the cultural/religious tradition of the person I’m speaking to is. If I don’t know the person to whom I’m speaking I generally go with ‘hello.’”
………………………..

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com
.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Query • 12.10.10

Do you call the two Texas senators when a vote like DADT comes up?

…………………..

Gregg S. Gunter — “Absolutely! They have paid staff members to take our phone calls and listen to their constituents! Democracy in action!”

Carl Smith — “No. I e-mail them — repeatedly — and encourage others to do the same.”

Kissiah Aiken — “No. I don’t figure they give a damn, being Republicans.”

Latisha McDaniel — “Never hurts.”

Alex Hanselka — “No. I should probably.”

Elizabeth Parker — “E-mail repeatedly.”

Brian Burcham  — “Definitely call them. They need to know that it is time for DADT to be repealed!”

…………………..
Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 10, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Query • 12.03.10

Are you excited about the Super Bowl coming to DFW?

………………………

Bobby Natale — “No, not really — at least not about the game. But the clubs are going to be hopping, hooking the up the economy. Positive thing there.”

Daniela Gonzalez — “No! My job will be a pain.”

Cristov Russell — “Not in the slightest.”

Raun Savage — “Am I looking forward to it? The simple answer would be no. However, I am grateful for the boost it will bring to our local economy.”

Evilu Pridgeon — “Rent your house to people going to the game and be someone else making money besides Jerry Jones.”

Holly Smith — “No! I live literally across the street from that giant eyesore! I still haven’t figured out how I am going to leave my house! Anyone want to put me and my three doggies up for a few nights?”

……………………

Have a suggestion for a question you’d like us to ask?
E-mail it to nash@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens