AIDS housing funding survives challenge in Houston city council

Helena Brown

The city funding for four Houston nonprofits providing housing to at-risk populations living with HIV/AIDS survived a challenge from city council member Helena Brown last Wednesday. Under consideration by the council were ordinances to dispense almost $2.5 million in federal funds managed by the city to the SRO Housing Corporation, Bering Omega Community Services, Catholic Charities and SEARCH Homeless services.

Brown initially used a parliamentary procedure known as a “tag” to delay the funding for the Houston SRO Housing Corporation and Bering Omega. Any council member may tag an item under consideration, delaying the vote on the item for one week. Brown explained that she objected to government funding of charitable entities:

“I spoke last week on this very issue on grant funds and the idea that we are, you know, fighting with other entities and other governments for grant funds that really isn’t there. The federal government is in a worse condition than the city of Houston and to continue to try to milk the system where there’s no milk, is just, I mean, we’re fighting with our brothers, as I said last week, to get credit for who is going to push a friend over the cliff… We need to continue to look at the private sector and the business sector. Because even, I attended this event where this wonderful speaker was talking about the generosity of Americans and 80% of donations to nonprofits come from private individuals, not even corporations, and we need to continue to rely on that right now because the government right now, we’re broke – we need to face that reality.”

Other council members spoke passionately of the need for continued funding, arguing that by assisting people living with HIV/AIDS in achieving independence, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness,  the programs added to the tax based and help insure long-term stability.

“We don’t live in a perfect a world,” said freshman council member Mike Laster (the first out gay man to serve on the Houston City Council). “These organizations do their very best to raise money to care for the people among us, but they still need to reach out to entities that have that kind of capital, and by the grace of God this city and this government as an entity has some of that capitol, and I’m very proud that we’re able to provide those kind of services to some of my community members.”

Council member Wanda Adams, who serves as chair of the council’s Housing and Community Development Committee, also spoke in favor of continuing funding. Council member Ellen Cohen, whose district contains both SRO Housing and Bering Omega, spoke of how her life had personally been touched by AIDS:

“One of the first young men to pass away in New York City was a cousin of mine of something [then] called a very rare form on pneumonia… which we now realize was not. So I understand the need for these kinds of services. On a personal note I worked with Bering and I know all the fine work that they do, I’m addressing all the items but I’m particularly addressing [the Bering Omega funding] and feel it’s absolutely critical that we provide the kind of funding items, and that we are, in fact, our brother’s and our sister’s keepers.

After Laster asked Mayor Annise Parker the procedure for overriding a tag Brown removed her tag, but raised a new concern about HIV/AIDS housing, saying that her office had requested a list of the owners of apartment units where those receiving rental assistance lived. City Attorney David Feldman explained to Brown that federal law prohibits making public information that could be used to identify people receiving assistance through the housing program. Feldman said that, in his legal opinion, revealing the names of the owners of the apartments would violate federal law. Brown said that she was concerned that their might be a “conflict of interest” with apartment owners that needed to be investigated, claiming that as the reason for her tag.

Brown eventually removed her tag, rather than have it overturned. All four ordinances providing funding passed with only Brown voting “nay.”

—  admin

Feet don’t fail

Recently all but dead, Lin Wang helped Frontrunners catch its second wind

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

When Lin Wang came to Dallas and thought about joining the DFW Frontrunners, he encountered a fizzled-out band of running enthusiasts with an expired website.

“I found an email to an old contact, but no one answered,” Wang says. “Then I learned from someone that it died out a few years ago.”

But Wang’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his spirit has helped bring the group back to life.

Frontrunners isn’t just a Dallas thing — it’s an international affiliation of LGBT running and walking clubs that first began 28 years ago in San Francisco. Wang had been an active member of both the Pittsburgh and New York City chapters, so when he moved to Dallas in the summer of 2010, he was surprised to find that in a city of its size, the group basically didn’t exist.

“I don’t know why it went away,” he says. “With all the other sports groups, there is such a demand for athletics in this large LGBT community.”

So he started the rebuilding.

DFW Frontrunners had been so out-of-date that the international association told him to just register the group as “new.” With the help of Julio Chong, the group changed its meeting place from White Rock Lake on Saturday mornings to a more central spot in Lee Park. For the group to succeed, Wang felt it needed to be closer in the ‘hood.

“Julio and I did this together,” Wang says. “We started small, but the biggest group we’ve had is about 15 members and we now have close to 20 active members.”

Wang recalls the decisions to have the first group meeting last June.

“It was a horrible time to begin because of the summer,” he laughs, recalling the sweltering heat of 2011’s record-breaking season.“ But we had to prove this was not a dead organization. We welcome anyone who wants to join us.”

With a diverse group including some straight members, Frontrunners meets at the Robert E. Lee statue and then proceeds to the Katy Trail. Groups can then walk or run in their preferred direction, eventually meeting back at the statue. Then it’s off to breakfast.

Like any gay sports organization, Frontrunners also pushes the socializing aspect of a club. Fellowship is a booster among those working on their fitness levels. Local activist Latisha McDaniel has met some of her personal goals as a member along with broadening her circle of friends.

“[Frontrunners has] been a great experience and has really increased my love of running,” she says. “It has given me a new jump start and a good way to meet new people.”

McDaniel even improved her fitness level. She started with the walking group, but has graduated to running and even surprised herself with her abilities.

“I’ve participated in two races since joining and about to run in another one,” she says. “I did a few races in college but haven’t really done anything since moving to Dallas.”

“We’re not gonna scare people away who like walking,” Wang adds. “We always make sure one person walks so others feel fine to join in.”

Wang intends for Frontrunners to be much more than the weekly meetup. He’s used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on the group and to entice online members to join them in person. He has had the group participate as volunteers for the White Rock Marathon as a water station team and expect to repeat that this year. He also wants to push the group into hosting Dallas’ first Pride race.

We’re focusing hard on doing the first-ever event,” he says. “St. Louis has one and we think that it could be an integral part of our Pride festival. It would be a different way to have and witness a different Pride involvement. And we’d like to tie it in to an organization and the race can be a viable fundraiser.”

Although Wang would like to accomplish all this in 2012, it’s more realistic to expect everything in place by Dallas Pride 2013. In the meantime, the group hopes to expand membership and enjoy the health and fellowship that accompanies it. And for now, you can join without paying membership dues.

“We’re in the process of becoming a nonprofit and so we may have to charge in the future,” he admits. “but we expect it would be very minimal. We don’t want to push anyone away.” The only running away he wants to see is on the trail.

For more information, visit Frontrunners Dallas.org or meet up with them Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. under the statue at Lee Park.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

“Head Figure Head” more about journalism than about Gov. Rick Perry’s sex life

Head Figure Head, the new e-book from Glen Maxey, details the author’s arduous and frustrating six-month effort to investigate rumors of Gov. Rick Perry’s gay sex life. Maxey served as executive director of the Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby of Texas (now Equality Texas) during Perry’s tenure as a state representative, later serving for 12 years as a state representative, spanning Perry’s time as agricultural commissioner, lieutenant governor and governor. Of all the people who’ve attempted to look into the rumors of Perry’s trysts with men, Maxey is perhaps best positioned to get to the truth, and takes great pains to ensure we are aware of that fact.

The book is the narrative of Maxey’s research, assisted by a journalist from a national media outlet. Like almost every character in the book other than Maxey and Perry himself, “the Journalist” is referred to only as a pseudonym. Maxey and the Journalist begin their search for proof in June 2011 as rumors of Perry’s impending presidential bid are widely circulating. Immediately the pair find that almost every gay man in Austin has a friend who has a friend who claims to have slept with Perry. For the next three months they track those leads and come excruciatingly close to breaking the story.

—  admin

What’s Shakin’ – Wolfman at Wortham, Vampires on Pacific St.

The Wolfman1. If you got your hard-core Halloween partying out of the way this weekend, why not curl up under the stars (and a blanket) for the 1941 horror classic “The Wolfman,” at the Miller Outdoor Theater in Herman Park. Show starts at 7:30 pm. In this version the Wolfman (Lon Chaney Jr.) has an estranged father, frequents antique stores, caries an ornate walking stick for no particular reason and (of course) engages in nocturnal behavior of a hairy and bestial sort. Sounds like some of my friends. Admission is free, but prime spots on the lawn fill up quickly so arrive early.

2. If you didn’t get your hard-core partying out of the way then you’ll be glad to know that the clubs of Pacific street are still going strong. JR’s Bar‘s “Anytheme Goes” party (808 Pacific) and Meteor‘s “True Blood” festivities (2306 Genesee) continue tonight with a costume contests at 11 pm, while South Beach‘s “Twilight” fete (810 Pacific) waits till midnight for its contest . Cash prizes are up for grabs at all three for best costume, best couple or group and most outrageous costume.

3. Broadway World reports that Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D – NY, plans to introduce the Senate companion to the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” introduced by Rep. Pete Stark, D – CA, last May. The bill would remove barriers to otherwise qualified LGBT parents servings as foster parents or adopting. “By removing all barriers for LGBT families to serve as foster parents, New York City has increased its foster parent pool by nearly 26,000 prospective parents,” said Gillibrand. This legislation would open thousands of new foster and adoptive homes to children ensuring they are raised in loving families.” So far only three of Texas’ thirty-two congressional representatives, including Houston’s own Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, have signed on as cosponsors.

 

—  admin

ENGAGEMENT • 10.28.11

GUY_STAAS-ENGAGEMENT

GUY - STAAS

GUY-STAAS  |  Stanley Edward Guy and David Brian Staas announce their engagement go be married. The wedding will take place on Dec. 6 in New York City. Staas is a programmer/analyst for UT Southwestern Medical School. Guy is comptroller for Countdown Inc. The couple has been together for eight years and lives in Oak Lawn.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 28, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

What’s Brewing: Gay Marine from N. Texas reacts to court’s order halting DADT enforcement

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. In the wake of Wednesday’s order from a federal appeals court halting enforcmeent of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” we checked in with a gay active-duty Marine from North Texas whom we profiled last year to see what the development means to him. Here’s what he said:

“I was VERY happy to hear that. I’m not really sure about what will happen next. I hope that the president and justice department will leave it at this and not push it to the Supreme Court. This law has gone on entirely too long already. Why keep something hanging on by a thread that we know is so close to being over? It wouldn’t make any sense. But like I said before, I will not be satisfied until there is a full repeal. I have came out to most people in my unit. So I don’t think there will be too much of a change for me except that I won’t have the thought of discharge lingering over my head, and I won’t have to hide my partner (he isn’t currently open with his unit).”

2. New York City will open clerk’s offices in all five boroughs on a Sunday — July 24 — so same-sex couples can marry on the first day it’s legal, The New York Times reports. We kept waiting for the quote from some tea party homophobe about wasting tax dollars and defiling the Lord’s Day, but it never came.

3. Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy signed a bill prohibiting workplace discrimination based on gender identity and expression on Wednesday, making Connecticut the 15th state to do so, Raw Story reports. As you can see from the map below, Texas remains one of about 30 states where you can still be legally fired for being gay or transgender. And let’s face it, that will never change until the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act is passed. Speaking of which, where the hell is ENDA?

—  John Wright

Scenes from the Stonewall Inn — THIS June

This week 42 years ago, the Stonewall Inn was the crucible where the gay rights movement was ignited. But on Friday night — just before New York City Pride — it was a very different but raucous scene.

Ray Robert Lee, who lives in Hell’s Kitchen, took these photos. He was meeting a friend for dinner in the West Village, and they decided to walk over to Sheridan Square and Christopher Street. At 10L31 p.m., as they hit the intersection where the Stonewall is, Lee’s iPhone flashed: The state senate had passed same-sex marriage.

“The streets erupted,” he says. “Christopher Street had been cordoned off and thousands were flocking and cheering and celebrating.”

The scene overwhelmed him, he says, filling him with pride over the diversity of the community and the historic moment he was a part of, but also remembering those friends who did not make it to this day.

Thanks to our friend, Dallas’ Gordon Markley, who put Lee in touch with us. More pics below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

What’s Brewing: Jack’s Backyard closes abruptly

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. Some unfortunate gay Pride news: Someone slashed tires on dozens of floats headed for Chicago’s parade in a possible hate crime;  organizers cancelled the Pride parade in Anchorage after a vehicle carrying the grand marshal struck and killed a marcher; and police arrested 14 activists during an unauthorized Pride demonstration in St. Petersburg, Russia. On the bright side, an estimated 2 million celebrated Friday’s same-sex marriage vote at Pride in New York City on Sunday, and the star of the show was Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Watch video below.

2. Jack’s Backyard, the predominantly lesbian Oak Cliff bar owned by Kathy Jack, closed abruptly on Sunday, according to multiple reports. Word is the landlord wanted the property back and Jack is searching for a new location. From the bar’s employees on Facebook: “Heartbreaking as it is I am confirming the rumors that Sunday is the last day Jacks will be open. But we will be back and for you loyal friends and customers thank you for your support. The odds have always been stacked against Kathy Jack ever making this place last. On behalf of the loyal employees of Jacks, rest assured that we will be there when Kathy Jack finds a new location.”

3. Don’t miss our photos and video from Saturday’s Stonewall march in Dallas. And stay tuned for reports from this weekend’s Pride celebrations in Houston and Mexico City.

—  John Wright

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg visits Albany to rally the troops in support of marriage equality

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in Albany on Thursday discussing marriage equality with Republican senators, according to the Albany Times Union.

Bloomberg told the Albany newspaper that he was willing to back his support for marriage equality with political contributions to Republicans who supported the measure. He said he believes that marriage equality is important to keep New York City competitive. (We wonder if the next Dallas mayor would ever do anything like this.)

On Wednesday night the Assembly passed the marriage equality bill, the fourth time they have done so. But the Senate remains one vote short. Passage in the New York Senate takes 32 votes. So far 29 Democrats and two Republicans said they would vote for the bill. The one remaining Democrat will vote against the bill. Another three or four Republicans have indicated that they are open to supporting equality.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said more discussion is needed on the issue, which equality opponents see as positive. Only one more day is scheduled for the state Senate before adjournment for the year on Monday, June 20, although they may go to extended or special session.

The hate group National Organization for Marriage has threatened to run primary challengers against any Republican who votes for equality. Polls in New York have been consistent showing 58 percent of New Yorkers favor equality.

If the bill passes in New York, the number of people living in states that allow marriage equality will more than double.

Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat from Staten Island whose impassioned speech in favor of equality went viral on Youtube in the last session, posted a message on her office door.

“Bigots and homophobes please put your literature here,” it said, with an arrow pointing to a garbage bin on the floor.

Among the most ironic anti-equality lobbyists in Albany is Bill Banuchi. Banuchi is a marriage counselor. Is he trying to tell us something?

—  David Taffet

NYPD arrests 5th suspect in deadly hate crime

Associated Press

NEW YORK — New York City police have arrested a fifth suspect in the suspected hate crime beating death of a teenager after a birthday party.

Police say 18-year-old Anthony Collao died Monday after he was taken off life support.

The suspects showed up Saturday at a party that had been advertised on Facebook, and refused to pay the cover charge.

Police say they flashed gang signs, yelled anti-gay slurs and scrawled epithets on the walls in red marker. Collao was severely beaten.

The fifth suspect, who’s 17 years old, was arrested Wednesday on charges of manslaughter and assault as hate crimes.

Four suspects were previously arrested and charged with manslaughter and assault and are being held on bail.

—  John Wright