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DFW Frontrunners had been so out-of-date that the international association told him to just register the group as “new.”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

A year’s worth of giving

LEATHER KNIGHTS DONATE | Leather Knights President Jason Kloss, front left, and Charitable Events Chair Derrick Dawson present a check to Steven Pace and Larry Finch of AIDS Interfaith Network for $1,001 raised during the Dragon Lady of the Realm pageant in February. AIN was one of four organizations who received donations from the Leather Knights during a reception at Youth First Texas on Monday, Dec. 13. Youth First Texas received $1,404 raised during the Buy Daddy’s Box auction in November. The dental clinic at the Nelson-Tebedo Health Center received $1,200 raised during Military Manuevers in November. And AIDS Services of Dallas received $2,000 raised during AWOL 2 in May.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

AIDS Interfaith facing fundraising shortfall

Steven Pace

In October, members of the staff here at Dallas Voice spent one Saturday night participating in AIDS Interfaith Network’s Saturday Night Live program, providing an evening meal to some of the agency’s clients who might have otherwise not had a hot meal over the weekend. It was an excellent opportunity for us to see firsthand some of AIN’s outstanding programs, not to mention, to personally meet some of the wonderful people AIN serves.

So today when I opened an e-mail from Steven Pace, AIN’s executive director, and saw that the agency is in need of funds — quick — I knew I wanted to pass the information along here on Instant Tea in hopes of helping the agency meet their goal.

AIN has less than a week — until Monday, Nov. 15 — to hit the $10,000 goal, and when Pace sent the e-mail yesterday, the agency was still $3,000 short.

You might be able to donate only a small amount, and you think that your little gift wouldn’t really matter. But Pace points out, “Thanks to a generous grant from The Moody Foundation, your gift of $50, $100, or even $250 will be matched dollar-for-dollar.”

So every little bit counts, and it can count double.

Pace adds: “Everyday at AIN we see the impact that generous donors like yourself make in the lives of those we serve. From a hot meal or a ride to a doctor’s appointment for a client living with HIV/AIDS, to valuable prevention education for those at risk, your support matters.”

Go here to contribute.

—  admin

NYT: Obama let Gates ‘set a slow pace in overturning’ DADT

You may recall that on April 30, 2010, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sent a “strongly worded” letter to Capitol Hill making it clear that he did not want legislative action on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell this year. That confirmed what SLDN had been hearing via “multiple reports” from Capitol Hill: Obama administration officials had been urging Congress not to vote on DADT this year.

It was Obama who repeatedly promised to end DADT — and he reaffirmed that commitment in his State of the Union. But, Obama has let Gates set the agenda on DADT:

Mr. Obama has relied on Mr. Gates as his ambassador to the military and deferred to him repeatedly. When Mr. Gates wanted to force out Gen. David D. McKiernan in May 2009 as commander in Afghanistan in favor of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, Mr. Obama signed off. Likewise, cognizant of Bill Clinton’s ill-fated effort to end the ban on gay and lesbian soldiers, Mr. Obama let Mr. Gates set a slow pace in overturning the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, even though it has disappointed gay rights advocates.

Yes, that “slow pace” it has indeed disappointed gay rights advocates. We’re going to be even more disappointed — actually quite angry — if the compromise DADT repeal language isn’t signed into law this year. The looming problem is that the “slow pace” set by Gates may take us into the next Congress. And, if Democrats lose control of the House, there will be no repeal.

Let’s hope Jim Messina, who (along with CAP’s Winnie Stachelberg) concocted the DADT repeal compromise, has a strategy to make sure the Defense Authorization bill, which contains the DADT repeal language, is signed by the President this year. The GOPers are going to do their part to prevent that from happening.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  John Wright

Did the Rainbow Lounge raid prompt TABC to stop arresting people for public intoxication?

In fiscal year 2009, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents made 761 arrests for public intoxication — a figure that includes a few high-profile ones you may have heard about at the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth.

In fiscal year 2010, which began one month after the Rainbow Lounge raid, TABC has made just 81 arrests for public intoxication, The Austin American-Statesman reported over the weekend.

Based on these numbers, one might deduce that the highly controversial raid — which resulted in three agents being fired — also prompted TABC to abruptly change its enforcement practices. But according to the agency, this is only partly true.

TABC officials say the changes really began in fiscal year 2007, two years before the raid. Consider that in fiscal year 2006, TABC agents made a whopping 3,100 public intoxication arrests.

But in response to a long series of controversies — the Rainbow Lounge raid being just one of the latest — TABC began shifting its focus from petty criminal enforcement back to its mandate of regulating the businesses that sell alcohol.

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for TABC who also now serves as its liaison to the LGBT community, told Instant Tea on Monday that’s it’s “impossible to calculate” how much of a factor the Rainbow Lounge raid has been.

“If you look at the decreasing numbers of criminal citations issued by our agents, and the increasing number of hours spent on investigations, it’s clear that we have been moving in this direction since FY 2007,” Beck said. “But you can also see a significant jump forward this fiscal year which started 9/1/09. It’s impossible to calculate how much of that push was in response to the Rainbow Lounge, but certainly incidents like the Rainbow Lounge and the shooting in Austin resulted in our agency direction changing at a faster pace.”

—  John Wright