From LIFE magazine leather to Baylor and Channel 39: A coming out story

The June 1964 issue of LIFE magazine.

Someone asked me recently when I first “came out.” I started to rattle off a date, but decided to consider my answer more seriously. For me coming out was a process. I had a pretty good idea I liked guys by my first year in high school, but at that time, 1964, there was little support for someone like me.

I first realized there were others who might share my desires in a very strange circumstance. I was on a jet, bound for London, with my parents. The flight attendant was passing around magazines and I ended up with the June 1964 issue of LIFE magazine. That issue had a bombshell article in it called “Homosexuality in America,” and though it was supposed to be an expose of a sordid world, the double-page photograph of the Tool Box Bar spoke to me only of desire. It was a shadowy, black and white photo of dozens of men, most wearing leather jackets and caps, crowded into what was one of the early San Francisco leather bars.

To a 14-year-old boy who had never quite been able to put his finger on what he wanted sexually, it was all I could do to not scream out, “YES, that’s what I want!”

It took another three years before I finally spoke with my mother about my sexuality, and then only in the most general terms. My father died when I was 18 and our household was pretty much in upheaval, so I don’t think my mom really got what I was telling her. My friends already knew, and in fact I had already had sexual experiences with a few of the guys I hung out with. To them it wasn’t important to “come out”; we were just exploring sexual possibilities and by the time I entered college, there were plenty of opportunities to explore.

—  Hardy Haberman

2 ways to come out in Denton on National Coming Out Day

Two LGBT events are planned in Denton on National Coming Out Day — Thursday, Oct. 11. A concert with Justin Roth benefits OUTreach Denton, a support and advocacy group for LGBTQA teens, and The Dallas Way — the GLBT History Project presents its third Outrageous Oral storytelling program, the first outside of Oak Lawn.

Outrageous Oral takes place at the Willis Library on the University of North Texas campus in Denton. The school has begun a project archiving the North Texas LGBT community and opened a repository for papers and artifacts. The Phil Johnson Library has moved from Resource Center Dallas to UNT.

The first two Outrageous Oral events took place in the Vixin Lounge at Sue Ellen’s on Cedar Springs Road.

Each edition of Outrageous Oral includes a number of LGBT community members telling their stories. The program in Denton includes pieces by Monica Greene, Bruce Monroe, Penny Krispin, Buddy Molino, Arturo Ortega and Don Maison.

Restaurateur Green tells her story of transitioning in the ’90s. Her story, as she told it at the first Outrageous Oral evening at Sue Ellen’s, is posted below.

Krispin, a nurse, will recount how she offered Pentamidine Mist treatments to prevent a fatal pneumonia at a time when Parkland Hospital was refusing to administer it. Her work was the beginning of what became the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic.

Maison, President and CEO of AIDS Services Dallas, was an attorney and will recount two cases he handled in the ’80s. He represented Dallas Gay Alliance, which sued in 1988 Parkland to eliminate a waiting list for medication and limit the number of beds for persons with AIDS. In another case he litigated, Southwest Airlines was forced to hire men as flight attendants.

Justin Roth concert: Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 1111 Cordell St., Denton at 7 p.m. $10.

Outrageous Oral: Willis Library, 1506 Highland Avenue, Denton. Oct. 11. 7–9 p.m. Free and open to the public.

—  David Taffet

UTA celebrates 1st-ever Pride Week


The University of Texas at Arlington will celebrate its first Pride Week this week with several events, activities and speakers planning to attend.

The festivities kick off tonight at 6 p.m. in the university center with gay bingo.

Campus Pride Executive Director Shane Windmeyer will speak Tuesday afternoon about ways colleges can meet the needs of their LGBT students.

Windmeyer will also speak Tuesday night as the week’s keynote speaker, addressing challenges facing LGBT youth and ways to provide safer and more welcoming communities.

Gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns will talk about bullying on Wednesday afternoon, followed by a Thursday National Coming Out Day event on campus with a pink door and the college’s Safe Zone training in the afternoon.

Most events are free and open to the public. For more information, go here.

UTA has planned events around National Coming Out Day before but funded a $42,000-initiative this summer for the planning of LGBT events and activities on campus. Leaders of the new program said they wanted to have larger events, a Pride Week and even a drag show eventually in the coming months.

Check out the flyer with the full schedule below.

—  Anna Waugh

Equality Texas encourages LGBT people to come out to their legislators

Oct. 11 is National Coming Out Day but Equality Texas has named the day, “Come Out to Your Lawmaker Day.”

Equality Texas field organizer Daniel Williams said it’s not enough just to come out to your parents, employers or hairdresser. He said this year it’s important to come out to your lawmakers.

Here’s what Williams says to do:

Step 1: Go to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us and look up your state representative and senator
Step 2: Call them and tell them that as a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender Texan, or as an ally to the LGBT community you want them to support LGBT legislation
Step 3: Tell your friends to do the same
Step 4: Let us know how your call went by e-mailing comingout@equalitytexas.org

Below is a video of Williams calling his state representative Garnet Coleman of Houston who’s been a big ally of the LGBT community. While it’s important to let allies know you live in their district, it’s even more important to let those who vote against the LGBT community know you’re from their districts.

Want to know more about National Coming Out Day? The Human Rights Campaign tells the history of the event that commemorates the 1987 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights.

—  David Taffet

YouTube celebrates National Coming Out Day

Kinda digging YouTube’s efforts at recognizing today as National Coming Out Day. They’ve created a playlist of videos by LGBT bands and artists that is rather impressive. Instead of going with the obvious, they featured an eclectic selection of groups like Xiu XiuHidden Cameras and San Antonio band Girl in a Coma. From YouTube:

In honor of National Coming Out Day, we celebrate bands who make great music…and who also happen to have gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender members. Vive la difference!

Right on! Now finish your day out with the playlist starting with this.

—  Rich Lopez

Gay Day at State Fair disputed

On Thursday we reported that Saturday, Oct. 8, appeared to be this year’s unofficial “Gay Day” at the Texas State Fair, based on a Facebook page which now has more than 200 confirmed attendees.

Not so, says one Jason Bradberry, who wrote the following on Dallas Voice’s fan page in response to our post: “Gay Day at the State Fair of Texas is ALWAYS has been and ALWAYS will be the Sunday before National Coming Out. State Fair PR offices can confirm this. Please put out the correct information, not what some Facebook event was created.”

According to Bradberry’s calendar, “Gay Day” is Sunday, Oct. 9, since National Coming Out Day is next Tuesday, Oct. 11.

I say we just call it a whole gay weekend and dedicate it to this guy.

—  John Wright

‘Gay Day’ at the State Fair is Saturday

The Texas State Fair is back, and fried food, vomit-inducing rides (not necessarily in that order) and live music make the annual event appeal to both young and the young at heart. The DART Green Line makes accessing the fair a breeze and in no time you’ll be experiencing the funsies of the fair once again.

But if you’re up for an event that attracts hundreds of queers to partake in shenanigans (and who isn’t?), then make sure to get down to the fair this Saturday to enjoy the unofficial Gay Day at the Texas State Fair.

The plan is to meet at “Big Tex” (the giant cowboy with the flat butt) from noon to 12:30 p.m. as a community and then break off to strut the fair. To recognize your fellow LGBT brethren and to support anti-bullying campaigns and National Coming Out Day (which is Tuesday), make sure to don a purple shirt (or just wear a bunch of rainbow-themed accessories).

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page.

—  admin

A former Aggie cadet comes out and comes clean

Clint Hooper is a gay man who went to Texas A&M and served in A&M’s Cadet Corps.

On Monday, to mark National Coming Out Day, Clint sent a letter to Col. Jake Betty, interim commandant of the A&M Cadet Corps., coming out to Betty as a gay man, and “coming clean” about how he “broke the Aggie Honor Code in every way.”

With Clint’s permission, I wanted to share that letter with all of you in Instant Tea land:

Colonel Betty:

I am a proud Aggie, and as such, I believe it is my responsibility to inform you that as a cadet, I broke the Aggie Honor Code in every way and would like to come clean and come out.

As a closeted gay man in the Corps of Cadets, I lied. I lied to my buddies, to my leaders as an underclassman, to my followers as a First Sergeant and a Company Commander, and to myself. I lied because in a setting that is so masculinized it is “Not a privilege to be gay, sir!” there was seemingly no possible way to be honest.

As a closeted gay man in the Corps of Cadets, I cheated. I cheated during the selection process for leadership positions. I was selected to be company First Sergeant and Commander over my buddies because of my dishonesty. I knew that, should I have been truthful, I would not have been placed in those leadership positions.

As a closeted gay man in the Corps of Cadets, I stole. I stole the learning experience of knowing a gay man from my buddies and fellow cadets. There is a stigma and fear of gay people that only knowing and conversing with a gay person can dispel. I have seen it time and time again, the literal eye-opening experience when a person I knew has had a meaningful and educational conversation with a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person and realizes that what they have been told is wrong.

As you may know, today is National Coming Out Day. It is a day where gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender and allied individuals across the national make an effort to make people they known and love aware that they know and love a GLBT person. At this critical time in our nation, and ultimately, humankind’s history, it is imperative that you, the Commandant’s Staff, Corps Housing, cadets and anyone affiliated with the corps know that you are all surrounded by co-workers, friends, family, cadets, classmates, buddies, ol’ ladies, leaders, followers and professors who are openly being discriminated against and forced to live a life of lies. Since 1994, more than 14,000 soldiers have been discharged under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; 29 states allow GLBT persons to be fired because of their sexuality, and GLBT youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers.

With nearly 2,000 cadets walking the quad every day, it would be naive to believe that the Corps uniform is not being worn by even a single gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender individual. We are there. We are in the ranks of khaki. We are living on the quad. We are eating in Duncan. We are marching into Kyle Field to the beat of the drums that countless other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender cadets have marched to for over a century.

Within each fish Cadence and in every Standard is a section of Core Values that states, “We respect others and have regard for their dignity, worth and individuality.” Yet I do not believe this to be so. When young men and women, destined to become leaders in the pubic and private sectors of society, are made to feel rejected, insignificant and outcast, then there is no regard for dignity, worth or individuality.

As an integral part of a university that is constantly working on not only advancement in education and science, but on improving our society, the Corps, as a foundation of the university, should take a stand on the acceptance of GLBT cadets and individuals in general. The Corps of Cadets proudly boasts that it is producing “leaders of character.” These future leaders will undoubtedly lead or be GLBT people. To deny this is absurd. This nation is changing, and the movement is reaching far and wide. People, young and old, are taking to the streets, picking up their phones and writing to their congressmen and women, demanding their own or their loved ones’ rights. One of our own, former president of Texas A&M Robert Gates, is currently working on the process of repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Wouldn’t it be prudent of the Corps of Cadets to be at the forefront of this movement?

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell is succumbing to public opinion and will be repealed sooner rather than later; states will change their employment laws that allow people to be fired based on their sexuality, and equality will lead to more public acceptance of the GLBT community. When this happens, should the Corps of Cadets be left behind as a relic of the past? Or should the Corps of Cadets take the necessary steps now to ensure that its former, current and future cadets are proud to say that they received the quality leadership experience and education that I received without having to break the Aggie Honor Code?

Colonel Betty, I am asking you to take a stand for the rights and welfare of the cadets that you advise and oversee. Though they may not be known to you, they are there and they are looking to for leadership. Support the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and make it known that the Corps of Cadets is a safe environment for everyone no matter their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, country of origin, (dis)ability or sexual orientation. That hate is not an Aggie value, discrimination based on sexuality will not be tolerated and that the leaders, destined for the military and for the civilian sector, which are forged and educated in our corps are true leaders of character. To not do so would be an injustice to them, to you, to our Cadet Corps, and to the university we hold so dear.

Clint Hooper, Denton

—  admin

Trevor Project calls for moment of silence for suicide victims at 7 p.m. Dallas time today

We aren’t aware of any specific events planned for Dallas in response to the suicides of six teens in the U.S. who were gay or perceived as gay in September, but it looks like a National Safe Schools Day of Action will take place next Tuesday, Oct. 5. Also, there will be a Stand Up to Youth Suicide Rally and March in San Francisco on Friday, Oct. 8, and rallies are reportedly being planned next weekend through the “It Gets Better” project, in advance of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Does anyone know of anything that’s planned for Dallas? As we reported earlier, many plan to gather around Big Tex at the State Fair at noon Saturday, Oct. 9 during the unofficial Gay Day, so perhaps this would be a good time to do it. Just a thought.

Anyhow, The Trevor Project is calling for a moment of silence and reflection at 7 tonight Dallas time in remembrance of the victims. Here’s the full press release:

The Trevor Project Asks All Americans for a Moment of Silence at 8pm ET, 5pm PT Tonight

(West Hollywood, CA, October 1, 2010) – Statement from Charles Robbins, Executive Director of The Trevor Project:

Late last night, The Trevor Project learned of yet another young LGBTQ person who died by suicide. Raymond Chase was a sophomore at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island when he took his own life on Wednesday. Words do not adequately describe the tragic loss felt across the country for the five promising young individuals who were so isolated and felt so alone and cut off from their peers and society that suicide became an option.

We encourage all people who feel connected to these tragic events, whether friends, family, peers, community members, and sympathetic human beings to pause today at 8:00 PM Eastern, 5:00 PM Pacific for a moment of silence and reflection in remembrance of Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. Events are being planned across the country in the coming weeks to mourn the loss of these young people, and to take action to stop bullying crimes that lead to suicide, and a website http://makeitbetterproject.com/.

To help stop the cycle that leads young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people to feel they are alone, connect them to The Trevor Project. There is a place that’s free of bullying and judgment online, where young LGBTQ people, their friends and allies ages 13-24 can connect safely and be themselves. More than 13,000 young people already belong to TrevorSpace.org, and more youth join every day. If you or someone you care about shows warning signs for suicide, please do not hesitate to call The Trevor Lifeline at: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). The call is free and confidential.

We mourn the loss of these 5 young people, and today we will stand in silent solidarity for an end to the unnecessary loss of young lives.

—  John Wright

Thankfully someone took it upon themselves to declare Gay Day at the State Fair — Oct. 9

Big Tex loves his gays.

Last year, people were asking us about gay day at the State Fair, but we were as much in the dark. When Big Tex started rolling around this year, we were bracing ourselves for the inquiries. And then Facebook saved the day — or rather, Mike Weaver did.

Weaver, who hails from Watauga, started the Gay Day at the State Fair Facebook event to begin getting a consensus on when it should be. Of course, one date wasn’t going to make everyone happy, but he made the final decision to say that Saturday, Oct. 9 is the day. I say it’s not such a bad day to pick. It doesn’t compete with LifeWalk on Sunday and is two days shy of National Coming Out Day on Monday. He proposes that LGBT peeps wear colors of the rainbow and meet at noon at Big Tex.

Although he didn’t make it out last year, Weaver wanted to be part of the community coming together. “We can show people who are GLBT that it is OK to step out of the box and be with your fellow GLBTs and supporters. Maybe this could be a day for people who stay in because there scared to get them to come have fun.”

I’m there. That is if I can break away from the just close-enough Belgian waffle stand.

—  Rich Lopez