DIFFA donates $428k to HIV nonprofits

DIFFA Grant 2014-076

DIFFA/Dallas awarded $428,000 to HIV/AIDS organizations — include $330,000 18 to North Texas-based groups — at a party on Sept. 11 at Roche Bobois. Among the recipients of funds from the 2013-14 DIFFA season were AIDS Arms, AIDS Interfaith Network, AIDS Services of Dallas, Bryan’s House, Legacy Counseling Center, Legal Hospice, Resource Center and The Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

The 2014-15 season kicks off with Burgers & Burgundy on Oct. 3, followed quickly on Oct. 15 with an announcement party revealing this year’s Style Council ambassadors. Clint Bradley is once again the chairman of DIFFA/Dallas, and the spring Collection will return to the Omni Dallas Hotel.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

National gay chamber convention gets under way at Omni Dallas hotel

Tim&Thom

Tim and Thom DeWitt (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Omni Dallas Hotel began this morning with a pre-convention including a boot camp for LGBT-certified businesses. The skill-building session is designed for LGBT entrepreneurs to learn to connect with larger corporate partners looking for diverse suppliers.

Dallasites Tim and Thom DeWitt were setting up an American Airlines display in the third floor lobby of the hotel where most of the conference is taking place. The airline is the presenting sponsor of the conference.

The DeWitts’ OBOX Solutions was the chamber’s first LGBT-certified business to win a contract with a corporate partner through the chamber. One of the highlights of the conference is a matchmaking session that puts LGBT entrepreneurs together with decision makers from major corporations.

NGLCC spokeswoman Laura Berry said the conference is virtually sold out with more than 600 registrations, but local attendees may register onsite and attend workshops, plenaries and breakout sessions.

A second track of the conference is for local chamber staff. North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce CEO Tony Vedda is among the speakers for this afternoon’s local chamber staff academy. A welcome party tonight takes place at the Perot Museum.

The general conference opens Wednesday. Registration is on the third floor of the hotel.

For a full schedule of the conference, go here.

—  David Taffet

Gay chamber brings ’13 conference to Omni Dallas 4 years after benefits flap

The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has selected Dallas as the city to host its summer 2013 National Business & Leadership Conference — and the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel as the venue.

The 10th anniversary conference will come to Dallas four years after local controversy over Dallas’ city-operated Omni offering domestic partner benefits. Dallas Voice raised questions about the hotel not offering DP benefits in 2009 after the city signed a 15-year operating agreement with the company for the $500 million hotel.

Omni is one of the few major hotel chains that doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits to its employees throughout the U.S. Omni is also owned by Oak Lawn-based TRT Holdings, whose CEO, Robert Rowling, has contributed millions to Karl Rove’s super PAC, American Crossroads.

The convention center hotel later announced it would offer DP benefits when it opened last fall after Mayor Tom Leppert convinced the company to do so, even though it hadn’t been considered as part of the operating agreement between the city and the hotel.

Omni is now a member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

“The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce is honored to be hosting the 2013 NGLCC Business & Leadership Conference,” President & CEO of the North Texas GLBT Chamber Tony Vedda said in a release. “Dallas is a city of entrepreneurs and innovation; two words that are synonymous with the NGLCC. It seems only fitting that Dallas should host the NGLCC’s 10th anniversary conference.”

The conference will be from July 30 to Aug. 2. Registration begins Feb. 1.

Read the full press release below.

—  Anna Waugh

Omni sensual

New hotel’s artwork is as much a draw as its location

Omni

‘THUNDERHEAD’ | Gay artist Ted Kincaid’s largest-ever work dominates the new Omni Hotel’s lobby. He’s one of a number of local artists represented throughout the facility. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

“Did you see the gay clouds?” Jeff West asks.
Of course, the clouds themselves aren’t gay — they are, at most, bi-cumulus — but West (who works with Matthews Southwest, the lead developer of the new Omni Hotel in Downtown Dallas) knows that many gay art fans will know just what he’s talking about: The massive, distinctive digital wisps that are instantly identifiable as the work of Ted Kincaid.

Thunderhead 1111 is Kincaid’s largest work to date, and it dominates the lobby of the Omni — a great testament to the inclusion of local artists throughout the property.

Art, in fact, is a key aspect in the design of the hotel; the halls are decorated with unique pieces, as are the individual rooms. In most instances, pieces are for sale. It’s probably a natural progression from being able to buy a hotel robe or slippers, but still a nice one.

Especially because of the Omni’s attention to detail. Meeting rooms in the hotel are named after Dallas neighborhoods and landmarks (enjoy a conference in the Katy Trail room, a reception in the Oak Cliff), and the artwork reflects that, from photos of Deep Ellum to abstract paintings of Bishop Arts.

The building itself is dazzling as well, from the LED lights that decorate the exterior (but do not flood into the rooms) to the graceful lines in the Texas Spice restaurant. You can’t call it a museum, but the Omni is a gallery of a kind, and worth a tour even if you aren’t from out of town.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 2, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Gay backlash over Robert Rowling’s donations spreads from Gold’s Gym to Omni Hotels

We’ve been saying all along that if the LGBT community is going to get pissed off at Gold’s Gym over Robert Rowling’s political contributions, the community should be equally pissed at Omni Hotels. Rowling is the CEO of TRT Holdings, which owns both Gold’s Gym and Omni Hotels. Well, it appears as though some media outlets that have been covering this story are finally beginning to pick up on this fact. The Huffington Post even points to our coverage of Omni’s decision to offer domestic partner benefits at the city of Dallas’ convention center hotel:

But TRT Holdings also owns the Omni Hotels, which may be facing increased heat in the coming days.

“We’re concerned about the massive infusion in corporate money being poured into campaigns in an effort to influence the governance of the country,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “This is extremely disturbing to many, including ourselves. As for the Omni Shoreham, we have used it in the past as an event venue, but have no current plans to do so. We do take such issues into consideration when looking at venue options.”

The Omni Shoreham in Washington, D.C. is a popular hotel and venue for conferences and events, and just one of several dozen of the brand’s locations.

This is not the first time the Omni Hotels have been embroiled in controversy over LGBT issues. Last year, a Dallas Omni chain agreed to offer domestic partner benefits in response from city officials and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce.

“The Human Rights Campaign has not used an Omni Hotel in a long time,” said Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications and marketing. “We also have no plans to boycott the hotel chain. We generally don’t agree with boycott as they impact people well beyond the owners of the hotel.”

While HRC didn’t go as far as the Task Force, it did stress it was “concerned about the influx of a lot of anonymous money into this election.” Omni did not return The Huffington Post’s request for comment.

—  John Wright