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

Drawing Dallas • Digna

Singer and spokesmodel Digna Mederos balances multifarious interests in her life

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Digna Mederos, 26

Spotted at: 7-11 at Oak Lawn and Maple

Occupation: Marketing/promotions, spokesperson, brand ambassador, actress

This lovely Cuban-Mexican-American with the warm smile and long legs was born in Dallas and raised in neighboring Ennis. She was a gorgeous child with personality to boot and her Cuban father nourished her burgeoning interest in performing with ballet classes (since age 3), singing, dancing, voice and piano classes.

Her World, the Stage. Digna attended community college for commercial music, and then switched her study to music theory and dance at a performing arts school in Corona, Calif. Her student life was put on hold when she was chosen as one of the finalists in “La Academia,” a Big Brother/American Idol type program produced in Mexico by Azteca-America. Although she didn’t ultimately find herself in the final cast, the experience gave her a new perspective on the world of performing for television. You can also spot her in numerous local television commercials.

Digna has an incredible singing voice, honed from an early age. Her natural beauty and vocal chops won her the title of Miss Kaliente, after three nights of stiff competition. The competitors were selected from three categories: swimsuit, formalwear and talent. She borrowed a dress from a drag queen, who helped her adjust it to fit her. Her win was guaranteed when she sang “No Me Queda Mas,” one of Selena’s most popular songs.

Digna’s hobbies include attending art shows, tennis and Asian cuisine

(Korean, Thai and Vietnamese are her favorites).

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Mr. Nice Guy

Gay musician Tom Goss stays defiant about his squeaky-clean image

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

PINING UPSIDE DOWN BEEFCAKE | Tom Goss just turned 30, and love has softened his musical heart.

TOM GOSS
With Brant Croucher. Opening Bell Coffee, 1409 S. Lamar St. May 12 at 8 p.m. $5.
OpeningBellCoffee.com

………………….

Once upon a time, Tom Goss was a wounded, angry man. He alludes to his parents’ marriage leaving scars when he was younger, and at one point even believed he wouldn’t live to see 30.
But Goss hit that milestone birthday this week, so some things must be going right.

“You know, I kept waiting for my tragic death,” he admits. “When I turned 30 a few days ago, I used it as an excuse to give myself a new perspective on things.”

Goss performs Thursday at Opening Bell in support of Turn it Around, an album that heralds an optimism not heard on his early releases. Now married to his partner of five years, Goss is in love and he wants the world to know.
“I got married to the man I’m madly in love with and I want to convey that in this album,” he says.

Everything about Around is feel-good, maybe overly sentimental, but it does offer a refreshing perspective.  Goss dissolves the idea that uplifting songs equate to Christian music. Instead, he brings a level of cheer without being annoying. And with such a blatant overtone of romance, he resonates with gay listeners who might also want to celebrate their love.

“As an artist, I want my music to connect with everyone,” he says. “I don’t specify ‘he’ or ‘she’ in my lyrics, because I want to focus on everybody. I like the things people share instead of divide. At the same time, I can bring a kind of normalcy to gay relationships.”

He does that to full effect in videos such as “Till the End,” “You Don’t Question Love” and most notably in “Lover,” from his 2009 album Back to Love. Depicting the relationship between two men —  one a soldier hurt in battle, the other waiting at home — the video has gotten heavy rotation on Logo. While portraying gay relationships, Goss also makes political statements … even if he doesn’t mean to.

“I wasn’t trying to shock anybody with the video — I’m not that political,” he says. “I started getting emails and meeting soldiers telling me about their involvement with ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the video was a result of that even though the song wasn’t originally written with that in mind.”

Goss says that his evolution as an artist is most apparent with this album. His songwriting is crisper and he felt like he let loose with a strong positive energy all in an effort to make a “really great pop album.” He’s fine without trying to have an edge that music sometimes requires.

“You can go back to first album and hear the hurt, but I don’t feel like I have that anymore,” he says. “As for an edge or dark side, I don’t really have one. I’m supposed to be edgy and all these things but for the most part, I’m nice. I left my anger and violence in my past.”

He laughs at himself for being a “bad artist” because he thinks more about songwriting than branding or marketing, but he also knows his look, sound and tone are bright and what his fans want — something that’s wholesome.

“So much of the world, especially in the gay world, is bitter,” he says. “Although I’m not sure I ever set out to be anything particular, I want to turn people emotionally. I want to show them there is something beyond that bitterness.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens