Resource Center honors volunteers

Leon Catlett receives top honor posthumously at annual dinner

LEGACY OF SERVICE | Carol Fisher accepts Resource Center Dallas’ 2011 Volunteer of the Year Award on Sunday, Jan. 29, on behalf of her son, Leon Catlett, who died last year. RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox, left, and services manager Kee Holt presented Fisher with Catlett’s award during the annual Volunteer Appreciation Party at the Starlight Room in Dallas.

From Staff Reports
editor@dallasvoice.com

More than 1,090 people gave more than 49,100 hours of their time and talents valued at more than $1.05 million to Resource Center Dallas in 2011, allowing the center to make life better for thousands of North Texans.

The volunteers were honored at the center’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Party on Sunday, Jan. 29 at the Starlight Room in the Dallas West End.

Longtime volunteer Leon Catlett, who died last November, posthumously received the 2011 Martha Dealey Volunteer of the Year award.

“Leon’s vibrant presence volunteering for the center, from the front desk and nutrition center to events such as Toast To Life, was a comforting and consistent presence for our staff and clients,” said Cece Cox, RCD’s executive director and CEO. “We miss him terribly, but are comforted by and thankful for his legacy of service to the center.”

Resource Center Dallas also recognized the following:

• Michael Chau received the Randolph Terrell Community Service Award, given to a group or individual for exceptional service to the LGBT community and/or people living with HIV/AIDS;

• Miles Vinton was given the Suzanne Wilson Award, presented to the year’s most significant volunteer in Client Services;

• Jack Hancock received the John Thomas Award, in recognition as the Gay & Lesbian Community Center’s exceptional volunteer of the year;

• Dr. Jaime Vasquez was awarded the Bill Nelson Award honoring the Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center’s outstanding volunteer of the year; and,

• David Granger received the Bruce Long Award for outstanding development department volunteer.

The center also recognized 117 volunteers who contributed more than 100 hours during 2011. Miles Vinton, with 906 hours, was recognized for donating the most amount of time last year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Undefeated

Three deaf gay North Texans refuse to let what some would see as a disability stand in the way of a fulfilling life

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
lopez@ dallasvoice.com

Noise. There are layers of it every day. The bustle of traffic, dogs barking, someone stomping down the hall, the whirring of a desk fan and the blare of digital music from computer speakers.

These can all register with most people all at once — even if they don’t know it. For some others, they may be fading aural glimpses — or nothing at all.

When deaf culture and gay culture collide, it’s not an unusual thing. Although one has nothing to do with the other, there is an interestingly significant proportion of gay people who are deaf. The Rainbow Alliance of the Deaf states that the percentage of the LGBT population is “approximately 10 percent of the deaf population.”

But is there an added pressure to being deaf or hard of hearing and gay?

Three gentlemen would say no.

“The deaf community is a very welcoming one and doesn’t discriminate,” Jeffrey Payne says. “It’s a non-issue.”

Payne may be most recognizable as the winner of International Mr. Leather in 2009 and more recently as a new co-owner of the Dallas Eagle club — but more on him later.

Andy Will

Born this way

Speaking of non-issues, Andy Will was born completely deaf 36 years ago. He seems perplexed at times talking about it, because for him it’s a fact of life. And knowing he was gay at a very young age didn’t hurt Will in discovering who he is.

“I knew I was gay when I was 8,” he said.

For the record, the majority of his quotes here are via Facebook chat and text messages.

Will didn’t come out until later, and before doing so he got married and had a daughter, Sarah. The gay thing didn’t go over too well with his wife, and the two were only married for eight months. Will didn’t see Sarah for quite some time.

But something in Will is so optimistic about life and what it offers that it would seem patience paid off for him. Or maybe it’s optimism mistaken for proud parent considering the exclamation he has when talking about his girl.

“I wanted to be honest to my family and my ex-wife that I’m gay,” he said. “I didn’t see my daughter for 11 years but she came to see me on her 12th birthday and we’re happily back together. Father and daughter! And she knows and has kindly accepted me as being her gay dad!”

In the meantime, Will met Joseph and they were together for five years. But Joseph passed away after losing a battle to cancer. Will met Dwane online and then officially at JR.’s Bar & Grill. They are celebrating 10 years together.

Dwane is not deaf.

“I’m not sure how I did that. Life is pretty happy here,” Will said.

Some of Will’s hobbies may seem unexpected to the hearing population. Once a week he drives more than 50 miles from his home in Krugerville, north of Denton, to the Oak Lawn Boxing Gym off of Riverfront Boulevard. He’s been taking lessons from gym owner Travis Glenn for “about four or five months,” and according to the coach, it’s been a learning experience for both men.

“Many people have suggested that I just need to learn a few basic American Sign Language signs, but that doesn’t work when you have on boxing gloves,” Glenn said. “It took a few lessons, but Andy and I have found a working rhythm for his training. When he does something that needs adjustment, I point to him, mimic what he did, and shake my head ‘no.’ Then I point to myself, do the movement correctly, and shake my head ‘yes.’

“I’m sure it looks odd to bystanders, but it seems to work for us,” Glenn said.

Will mentions that sometimes they have to work with a pen and pad or that he can read Glenn’s lips as he speaks, but he’s at the point now where he can almost tell what Glenn is thinking.

“I can read his movements and body language but sometimes I can read what he means in my mind and get the movement right,” he said.

Out of simple ignorance, people may incorrectly assume that deaf people can’t do as much as hearing people. But Will has never bought into that.

“I’ve been playing sports since I was a kid,” he said. “I used to play basketball and football in school and I currently play on softball and rugby teams. And now boxing.”

Again, for Will, this is nothing, but he knows what people may think. He isn’t trying to shatter any images. He’s just living his life. But if he changes someone’s perception along the way, he’s fine with that, too.

Above all the labels that people could place on Will, he’s shooting for one.

“I’m the proud gay dad of Sarah,” he said, “And sometimes I can surprise people that a deaf person can do the things that I like doing.”

Ronnie Fanshier

Normal fears

Ronnie Fanshier used to be a male dancer. He once was Mr. Texas Leather. Now he lives a comfortable life in the suburbs and is one step away from being completely deaf.

“I am classified as profoundly deaf,” he said.

He also just turned 50 and isn’t worrying so much about his deafness as much as just accepting the landmark birthday — like anyone does.

“Fifty is a milestone if you’re gay, straight or whatever. I have mixed feelings about it, but I appreciate what I’ve learned about life up to this point,” he said. “I certainly would not want to go back and live all over again. There would be so many friendships and loves I’d miss out on and that’s not a chance I would take.”

For someone who is so close to having 100 percent hearing loss, Fanshier doesn’t sound like he’s letting that be an albatross. Born with nerve deafness — meaning that the nerves transmitting sound to the brain don’t function properly — Fanshier always knew what the ultimate result would be with his hearing. Acceptance wasn’t so much an issue, but socially, it did have an impact — good and bad.

“Looking back to school, I adapted quite well to most social situations I was exposed to. I knew I was gay at an early age, but I played the boyfriend/girlfriend game until I graduated. Back then, if you were even suspected of being gay, you were pretty much ostracized,” he said.

As a youth, Fanshier seemed to use his deafness as a way to glide by students prone to bullying anyone who was gay, although he remembers it with some delight.

“Being hard of hearing/deaf helped immensely in that respect, since I was already a little different in an accepted way,” he recalled. “What’s funny is I remember some classmates saying I was a ‘fag’ and other classmates would say, ‘No he’s deaf, and that’s why he talks different.’ Isn’t that a hoot?”

As adulthood came, Fanshier says he kicked the closet door down and hit the gay bars. Everything he had learned socially in school to communicate and even get by worked wonders for him in the community. And he developed his own tricks to party it up on the dance floor.

“I loved dancing,” he said. “I would turn my hearing aids off and dance to the beat. If the bass got soft, I would watch others on the dance floor and use their rhythmic movements to create a sort of metronome to dance to until the bass got strong again.”

He loved it so much that he took it to the pedestals. As a college student, he danced his way through gay bars in Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City and Tulsa. His confidence brimmed.

“I was young, athletic-looking and very personable,” he said. “I would intentionally wear one hearing aid up there on the box and it was a good ice breaker for tippers. This was another way of making myself more memorable. I was very social and outgoing and my handicap never stopped me.”

What Fanshier does instead is own his deafness. He didn’t apply fear to it and instead worried about what he says every gay man probably worries about: Health, finding Mr. Right (he did), family acceptance — oh, and one more thing:

“Will I be able to get the clothes, car and home that any self-respecting queen should have,” he joked.

What’s curious about Fanshier is that he never learned sign language. He was actually discouraged by his parents and teachers who feared that society would single him out. And he’s glad for that.

“I thank them profusely for that,” he said. “I would not be the person I am today if that decision had not been made for me. I should learn ASL, but I tend to have a short-term memory and I probably wouldn’t retain it, and I have few hard-of-hearing friends to use it with. I also work in a mainstream environment, and sign language would have severely limited my job options.”

But Franshier’s made it work the way he knows how. He’s built a good life with a long tenure at the hospital he works for, a house by the lake and his partner of 14 years — all while taking what may easily be considered a detriment, and turning it to his advantage.

Jeffrey Payne

The emergence of a voice

Jeffrey Payne has not been silent about his experience. He told the Voice before about discovering his hearing loss at 40 years old and was initially told he would be completely deaf by Christmas 2010.

The timeline has been wrong so far, but Payne has taken his visibility in the Dallas LGBT community and is turning it into increasing the awareness of Dallas gay deaf denizens.

“I’ve come to know many individuals in Dallas who are hard of hearing and also gay,” he said. “What’s really wonderful about it is that it’s all part of same gay community.”

Payne himself could be looked upon as the spark that began an increased interest in Dallas. With such a high profile in the leather community that reached out beyond, people could identify with him in a way perhaps they couldn’t before.

“I believe some people saw the need for it when I went from hearing to hard of hearing,” he said.

He’s worked with several local gay organizations in increasing options for hard of hearing, but was ecstatic with the Texas Bear Round Up’s efforts this past March.

Organizers looked to Payne for directon on providing an enjoyable experience for hard-of-hearing and deaf bears attending.

“With TBRU, this huge event and largest bear event I believe, they were so proactive reaching out to me and the St. Cyr Fund to ensure interpreters at all functions,” he said. “I was thrilled, to be honest with you.”

The Sharon St. Cyr Fund was created by Payne — and named after his mother — to assist with purchasing hearing aids for those who can’t afford them and to increase the presence of ASL interpreters at events. Payne has taken his plight and turned it into opportunity — and doesn’t mind if he’s a little uncomfortable.

“Just with my story I’ve been given, I’ll talk to anyone on a microphone, even if it is out of my comfort zone,” he said. “ASL is really just a different language, but some people get frustrated if they can’t sign. [Hearing] people also want to learn so it’s nice knowing the awareness level is there now. Sign language is a very beautiful language.”

As for his personal struggle, Payne doesn’t dwell on it. He sounds repurposed for this new mission in life. He credits his husband, David, and his family for their support and understanding. He’s intent on not just dealing with deafness, but making the most of it.

Payne said before winning IML, he was a background kind of guy. That ended when his name was announced as the winner, but he was  encouraged by his partner not to waste the opportunity he had.

“I’ve always been a firm believer that things happen for a reason,” Payne said. “I was thrust out of the background with IML and now I can make a difference.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

Defining Homes: Frisco a go-go

Natalie Amberson and her wife April find comfort in both the bustling growth of Frisco and the still quiet part of the small town.

LGBT homeowners find affordability key in this northern ‘burb

By Jef Tingley

Inside the Dallas “bubble,” Frisco is often only thought of as the quickest place to get an IKEA fix. (After all, who doesn’t need a Väte Kvartal to call their very own?) But scores of gay North Texans call Frisco home too, and not just for the proximity to Swedish furnishings and meatballs.

The town is at the end of the Dallas North Tollway and spans 69-square miles. Frisco’s population reached 119,738 in January with a median age of 34 and a median household income of $101,574. If the Kinsey 10 percent theory holds true, that means there could be as many as 12,000 LGBT people living there.

We caught up with a handful of them to see what day-to-day life in this city to the north is really like and what drew them in.

“We primarily moved to Frisco because the homes are so affordable,” says Natalie Amberson, who lives in a 1,700 square foot home in North Frisco with her wife, April, and their two dogs and cats. “Our mortgage is only $100 more than our rent was [in Oak Lawn]. We also very much wanted dogs and decided that we would not take on the responsibility of canine ownership until we had a yard for them to play in.”

Fifteen-year resident Clarence Stiles agree.

“We knew the area was growing and would have good resale value.”

Stiles and his husband, Jon Wienk, share their one-story, ranch-style home with their six dogs. But affordable living aside, all of those interviewed concurred that their budding suburb’s strong sense of community makes Frisco so desirable.

“Frisco has grown as a city and a community tremendously over the last 10 years, but [it] does its best to keep that small town feel,” says James Nunn, a 12-year resident who lives with his partner, Chris Moss, and their two dogs in a 2,200 square foot home abutting one of Frisco’s many popular green belt areas.

To help keep Frisco’s LGBT community connected, Nunn became involved with the group Frisco Pride, which meets weekly in a variety of different social settings. The group, which has been in existence since 1999, recently re-launched a new website (FriscoPride.com) and Facebook page to help ease communication among its members.

Jeanne Sharon Rubin and her wife Lisa Rose Mashigian are Frisco Pride members and active with another local group that fosters the LGBT community, the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance. The couple also volunteers for Youth First Texas Collin County, which is based in Plano but works with youth in Frisco. As part of their volunteer efforts, they arrange a monthly fundraiser in Frisco benefiting Youth First Texas.

Rubin and Mashigian have lived in their 2,900-square-foot home in Frisco’s Panther Creek Estates for six-and-a-half years. “We were the first to build on the street, and I had Lisa get out the hammer and drill so we could put up the rainbow flag,” says Rubin. “We wanted everyone to know that we were here first.”

But Rubin is quick to add that they have found a diverse and welcoming community with a homeowner’s association that puts on events throughout the year, book clubs, neighbors who will dog sit and lend tools. And if the weather is just right, spontaneous block parties happen.

And while their life may seem rooted in Frisco, getting there was more of a compromise.

“I was never moving to the suburbs, and Lisa was never leaving her home in Plano,” says Rubin. “I came to the suburbs kicking and screaming, but I really do love Frisco.”

Natalie Amberson echoes that statement. “I feel by living in Frisco, I get the best of both worlds. There are plenty of restaurants and shopping. Being a sports fan, I enjoy attending the minor league games, [but] most of all I actually enjoy driving by the cattle and farmland. Frisco has grown significantly, but every day I look at the green land and animals; it brings me a sense of peace.”

Clearly the suburb is more than just an Ikea destination for that affordable bookcase. Gay folk might find themselves drawn to the modern community and shopping for a home to put that bookcase in. Or at the very least, adding just a little more “pride” to the affordable and friendly city of Frisco.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

CCGLA launches partnership with Health Services of North Texas, donates 160 pounds of food

CCGLA members Kathy Scalise, from left, Jeanne Rubin, Jane Schmidt and Morris Garcia volunteer at HSNT.

By Jeanne S. Rubin

PLANO — Each year at the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance Annual Holiday Party, CCGLA members collect for various charities. This year the board decided to focus on one longtime partner, Health Services of North Texas and develop a more meaningful relationship between the two organizations. After consulting Plano nutrition center employee Diana DeLashaw, members were encouraged to donate macaroni and cheese and Hamburger Helper, popular items that are hard to keep on the food pantry shelves.

Volunteers delivered more than 160 pounds of food to HSNT and worked with DeLashaw to weigh, check dates, take inventory and stock shelves. I took the opportunity to meet with DeLashaw about further volunteer opportunities for CCGLA members and plans for a second food drive. In addition, HSNT Director of Development Leslie Runic-Boysen and CCGLA President Morris Garcia spoke about common goals and a desire to work together in the future.

“I only had a short window to help out because I had to pick up my granddaughter,” explained CCGLA member Kathy Scalise, “but I am really glad I made the time. This experience made the donation more more meaningful. I encourage other members to give a few hours of their time. You will definitely get more than you give.”

The mission of HSNT is improving the quality of life of underserved North Texans through medical care, support services and advocacy. For more info, go to www.healthntx.org. The mission of CCGLA is advocating equality, dignity and respect through education, political awareness and social interaction. For more info, go to www.ccgla.org.

Jeanne S. Rubin serves on the board of the Collin County Gay & Lesbian Alliance.

—  admin

The face of anti-trans violence

As North Texans commemorate Trans Day of Remembrance, one trans woman remembers the attack she survived as a child

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Winter Mullenix
Winter Mullenix

To many people, statistics on anti-transgender violence are just numbers. Astounding, perhaps frightening, but still just numbers.

Winter Mullenix is the face of one of those numbers. One of many.

Mullenix was attacked when she was 9 years old by someone who had apparently been stalking her for a while.

“He was disgusted by my behavior. I was living as a boy, but it was obvious to everyone,” she said, describing herself. “I would dance and prance and I hung out with the girls.”

Mullenix said that when she was a child, she would sneak out of the house at night and go to a nearby playground. She isn’t sure now what time she left the night she was attacked, but, she said, she knows she had waited until everyone in the house was sound asleep.

“He jumped me,” she said. “He was hiding near the playground.”

Mullenix said her attacker jumped out from behind a tree or maybe even from inside the hollowed-out old tree. Then he grabbed her and dragged her down to a creek near the playground.

“If you want to be a woman, you have to learn to bleed like a woman,” he told her.

Then he put a knife into her rectum and cut the skin around her tailbone. Then he raped her, using her blood as lubricant, she said.

Before he left her, Mullenix said, he asked, “You don’t want to be a little girl anymore, do you, faggot?”

Those words are burned into her memory, proof that the attack was a hate crime and not just the actions of a violent pedophile.

When he was done, he left Mullenix for dead, laying in a pipe connected to the sewer.

Her memory of getting home is blurry. She told no one about what happened and healed without medical attention. Her attacker was never caught, at least not for this crime. Mullenix never reported the rape.

“I became numb,” she said. “I cut myself off from the world.”

Mullenix said she became delusional and entered a fantasyland to mask her pain. But things started to change five years later when she began the process of coming out as transgender at age 14. She was having severe nightmares.

“I’d doodle a lot during class,” she said. “My Spanish teacher noticed I was drawing very violent things. She worried about what was happening to me and sent me to a school counselor.”

The school counselor referred Mullenix to outside counseling until she achieved her goal at age 20 of having sex reassignment surgery.

“I was focused,” Mullenix said.

She had determination uncommon in a teenager.

Although continuing to dress as a male until age 17, Mullenix knew who she was when she began going to counseling. Throughout her teens she was determined to complete her transition early. She worked, saved money and paid for the surgery herself.

Despite the words of her attacker, Mullenix knew exactly what she wanted and who she was.

“I felt as normal as I could when I completed the transition,” she said.

But Mullenix still suffers the psychological effects of the brutal attack. She has panic attacks and a fear of the dark.

“I can’t sleep without a light on,” she said.

She’s paranoid that someone is going to sneak up behind her and jump her. She scares easily. She’s uncomfortable in unfamiliar surroundings.

“People think I’m a creature of habit,” Mullenix said. But she actually just avoids unfamiliar places.

“I survived,” she said. “But I have friends who died from violent crimes.”

“The homicide rate for transgenders is so high,” said Marla Compton, the coordinator for GEAR, the transgender program at Resource Center Dallas.

Human Rights Campaign estimates that one out of every 1,000 homicides in the U.S. is an anti-transgender hate crime.

“We do have to be more careful,” Mullenix said. “Violence is more likely for us.”

Despite her experiences, Mullenix said that she can’t let what happened control her life.

“[You] have to take control and take proper precautions,” she said. “For me, I’m happily married now and I have some great, supportive friends.”

Mullenix also stressed that a violent situation doesn’t have to mean the end of a normal life.

“I want transgender youth to know they shouldn’t let fear control them if something terrible happened and they survived it,” she said.

Transgender Day of Remembrance is important to Mullenix because it displays unity within the LGBT community.

“It acknowledges us as part of the community,” she said.

“The day gives us a chance to pause and remember those who left us and cherish those who are still here,” Compton said.

She said that having friends and allies attend a TDoR event is emotional and uplifting to her. But she also said that it helps others understand the violence the transgender community faces.

“Fortunately, I’ve never had to read the name of a friend at TDoR,” Compton said.

But too many others have.

Dallas’ Transgender Day of Remembrance observance takes place at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope Sunday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m.

Organizers asked people to participate in the memorial by bringing a flower. Speakers will include Cece Cox and Andy Moreno, with performances by Voice of Pride 2010 winner Mel Arizpe, Women’s Chorus of Dallas ensemble MosaicSong and the Youth First Texas choir PUMP!

In Fort Worth, TDoR remembrance will be held during morning worship at Agape Metropolitan Community Church on Sunday, Nov. 21.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Hot 2 trotters

Couple Enrique MacGregor and Mark Niermann are back to Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

MacGregor and Niermann
ON FOOT | MacGregor and Niermann call the Trot a family tradition. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

While most of us will limit our exercise on Thanksgiving Day to waddling from the dining room into the living room to watch the Cowboys lose, Mark Niermann and Enrique McGregor will do the unthinkable: Run eight miles in the early hours of a holiday known for getting people fat, not thin.

Clearly, they don’t understand the occasion. But they are not alone: 40,000 North Texans turn out for one Thursday each year to support the Turkey Trot, now in its 43rd year.

It’s not as insane as it sounds, although both MacGregor and Niermann — who have been together for 14 years — do concede that traditionally, it’s cold in late November. But it’s also worth it.

“For the Turkey Trot, it’s more about having fun — it’s not a competitive race. It’s about thousands of people getting together on a festive occasion,” says MacGregor. “It’s a thrill — entire families will dress as turkey leg dads and cranberry kids and run together.”

Wait a minute: Exercise that comes with costumes? How come more gays don’t do this? Half could recycle their loincloths from Halloween and go as Native Americans.

But of course, many gays do participate — often with their families.

“We started seven or eight years ago when Enrique’s family started coming here for Thanksgiving,” says Niermann. “Thanksgiving is all about being together and having fun. I think it’s a great day to have the run.”

“It’s something to get people out of the house and get some fresh air,” adds MacGregor. “And Mark is trying to beat my nephew this year.”

While this couple always tackles the longer 8-mile course, there is also a 5K course for those less accustomed to jogging — though even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

“I think a lot of the people running the eight miles are not serious runners but the once-a-year kind who say, what’s the harm?” says MacGregor. Some even jog part of the way, they walk the rest — although he admits neither he nor Niermann do that. Both are in a more elite group of serious-minded athletes. Two years ago, they ran the White Rock Marathon together, and they routinely exercise by running several courses through their neighborhood.

Niermann notes, however, that they have both been traveling a lot lately and may find this race more challenging than in part years — though nothing like the marathon.

Sharing an affinity for athletics is nothing new to them — it actually kicked off their relationship.

“We met swimming,” says MacGregor. “The first time I ever said him was underwater at a public pool in Denver. Everything looks bigger underwater! He was in the next lane over. I turned and saw this little vision in a blue Speedo … and Mark was right behind that!”
Niermann laughs.

The Turkey Trot isn’t their only charitable venture. Niermann and MacGregor are co-founders of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas, which just celebrated it 10-year anniversary. That group started as a way to raise money to build the Latino Cultural Center, but has since increased its scope, donating more than $1 million for education, artistic and medical enterprises across the city.

The Trot, though, is more about tradition than fundraising for them.

“We always have a big dinner — this year about 40 people are coming,” says Niermann. “It’s really a reunion for Enrique’s family — they come from Maryland, Mexico, San Diego.”

“We also have a golf tournament the day after and hold a creative contest of some kind,” says MacGregor.

“And we have a contest for best sweet potato recipe, which I always win,” says Niermann.

The Trot takes place early enough that, aside from waking up early, it leaves plenty of time for the rest of the day to finish cooking, watch the Macy’s parade and football on TV. But the Trot remains a highlight.

“Even if you’re not a runner or a walker, the spectacle of seeing 40,000 people is an amazing experience,” says MacGregor. “Everyone can participate.”

“Plus it builds up your appetite for dinner later,” adds Niermann.

Pass the pumpkin pie — you’ve earned it.

Day-of registration is $30. For more information, visit TheTrot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Resounding success

For the third year, Tim Seelig’s choral group sings to feed a real need

Resounding Harmony
SUPPER CLUB | Tim Seelig, center, with members of Resounding Harmony, wants his concert to feed North Texans.

RESOUNDING HARMONY
Meyerson Symphony Center, 2301 Flora St.
Nov. 10. 8 p.m. $30–$50.
ResoundingHarmony.org.

…………………………………..

Timothy Seelig gets angry when he considers that during the season of Thanksgiving, there are still thousands of North Texans who go hungry. Which is why, for the third year in a row, the new season of his Resounding Harmony choral group begins with a fundraiser for the North Texas Food Bank.

“Resounding Harmony is an amazing blend of men [and] women, ages 13 to 77, from absolutely every walk of life, brought together by the music and the larger mission of making a difference in our community,” explains Seelig, the founding artistic director for the chorus.

Now more than 200 voices strong, Resounding Harmony had its genesis in a smaller mixed choral group Seelig helped put together for the March 2008 Voices of Peace celebration to honor Maya Angelou. That group caught the eye of Gregg Smith, a pastor at the Oak Lawn United Methodist Church, who approached Seelig and Hope for Peace & Justice about creating another chorus to help raise money and collect food for the needy. Not long afterwards, Resounding Harmony and its “musical philanthropic mission” were born.

“The North Texas Food Bank shared with us that they had just launched a three-year initiative and we immediately signed on to partner with them,” Seelig says.

The first year, Resounding Harmony raised enough to provide the NTFB with the means to offer 65,000 meals to North Texans unable to feed themselves. Last year, the chorus took an even more ambitious aim: to help provide 100,000 meals — a goal it surpassed by 10,000 meals. This year, Seelig once again wants to exceed the 100,000 mark. The concert takes place Nov. 10 at the Meyerson Symphony Center

“We are working very hard to add to the concert proceeds, income from the virtual food drive, actual food drives, Dinner in Destin Raffle, the Recyclable Grocery Bags and the Fabulous Table Auction,” Seelig says.

While the concert is intended to call attention to the reality of hunger in North Texas, Seelig promises that the show itself will be “[a] perfect balance of humor and seriousness.”

Some songs on the program, like “Lime Jello Marshmallow Cottage Cheese Surprise” and “Jalapeno Chorus”(a distinctly Southwestern play on Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus”) are laugh-out-loud funny. Others, like the poignant “Famine Song” and the rousing “Love Can Build a Bridge,” are intended to stir emotions.

Additional concert highlights include Russ Rieger playing the Lay Family Concert Organ and pianist Antoine Spencer performing a medley of Leonard Bernstein pieces.

“Every person attending will enter these holidays with beautiful music in their ears and in their hearts,” Seelig says.

In the three years of its existence, Resounding Harmony has also sung on behalf of other organizations, such as the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts, Lowe Elementary and The Samaritan Inn. With its June 2010 Carnegie Hall “Sing for Cure” performance for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, it has also quickly established itself as a distinguished member of the Dallas arts community

“The philosophy is to use our music as a philanthropic vehicle to raise money and awareness,” explains Seelig. “It is truly an effort to use music as a means to a greater end, rather than an end in and of itself.”

— M.M. Adjarian

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

—  Michael Stephens

2 gay North Texans elected to IGLTA board

The International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, a group that promotes the gay market as one destinations and industries in the travel biz should cultivate, announced its new board last month. For the first time since 1995, a lesbian was elected chair, PR rep for Tourisme Montreal and founder of Girlports Tanya Churchmuch. Also elected to the board are two Dallas-area industry pros: George Carrancho with American Airlines was named treasurer, and Cordey Lash with the Hilton Anatole was named secretary.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones