BACH for the holidays …. and beyond

Volunteer Wanda Brown helps get ready for the Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope on Chirstmas Eve

I have been out of the office, on vacation, since Dec. 22, and when I got back to work today and started wading through the thousands of emails in my inbox, I found one from Hank Henley, asking if we could include some information in Dallas Voice about BACH, the weekly Breakfast At Cathedral of Hope program in which church volunteers prepare and serve breakfast to the homeless.

So I am including Hank’s write-up about BACH’s Christmas Eve event here on Instant Tea, just as he sent it to me:

Use the words “Bach” and “cathedral” in a sentence this time of year, and most people will picture the “Christmas Cantata” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” But at a certain church in Dallas, BACH stands for “Breakfast at the Cathedral of Hope,” a program that just celebrated its four-year anniversary in November. On Christmas Eve morning, while most of Dallas was nestled all snug in their beds, a small army of volunteers was in the kitchen at the Cathedral of Hope whipping up a hot and hearty breakfast for the homeless and needy that would be coming through their doors by 7:30 a.m. Under the direction of Rev. William Baldridge, Associate Pastor for Community Outreach, this weekly breakfast has grown from serving just 11 guests at the first meal to an average of 200 guests each Saturday morning.

And guests they are: receiving a hot meal served on china plates and with silverware and glasses. The guests may also receive a haircut after they eat, if they so chose.

This week, in addition to the usual food and drink, each guest received a bag with a blanket, hat, gloves, toiletries, water and food coupons. The gift bags were the result of the generous work of Jan Okerlund and Leslie Frye.

Leslie Frye, one of the volunteer coordinators, when asked how the volunteers feel about the work they do, said, “The real blessing is in the cooking for and serving those less fortunate, not only during this Season, but all year long.”

This Saturday’s volunteers included members of the church community of the Cathedral of Hope, members of the Turtle Creek Chorale and a group of 14 students from “I-CERV,” the “Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering.” They are here once a month, all year long. Kenneth Campbell, the Interfaith Services Director Volunteer Coordinator of the Memnosyne Foundation, brought these energetic and focused youth.

The Memnosyne Foundation is a wonderful organization whose mission is “to help a diverse people of the world consciously encourage an evolution of themselves and for future generations by providing the means to encourage positive, peaceful global collaboration.” The diverse crowd of leaders, volunteers and guests were certainly doing that on this morning.

And one guest, who guest shared his story quietly and privately with tears streaming down his face, personifies the spirit of sharing and giving. This time last year, he was on the street, living under a bridge and depending on the generosity of others to survive. He told me he could always count on a hot meal and being treated with respect when he came to BACH. This year, he is able to draw social security and is donating $25 a month to BACH. “They always fed me and helped me get through. Now I want to give back whatever I can. God blessed me and it’s what I want to do.”

Across the room, his hands deep in a bucket of soapy water, volunteer Jamie Rawson, spent the morning scraping plates and glasses, getting them ready for the dishwashers.

“There a few things a person can do which so clearly put Christmastime in perspective as doing something to help others. It is has been said so often as to become a cliché — but it is no less true for being a cliché. It is heart-warming to see so many people gathered to help provide for those in need. It is especially affirming to see so many young people from such a diversity of backgrounds. This has been the most fitting and rewarding way to truly start my Christmas.”

When the guests were finished with breakfast, finished visiting with friends and volunteers, finished with their haircut, and picked up their bag of supplies for warmth and comfort, they left the cathedral and headed back into the rain and the street.

As they left, Richard Boule greeted each of them and wished them a Merry Christmas.

“As I watched those people leaving the Cathedral after breakfast this morning, I could not help wondering where they were going and what each one of them had to look forward to this Christmas time. But I had the feeling that they were grateful for the humanity they were shown, so many left with a smile. May they be blessed.”

If you would like to help with BACH, please call Rev. Baldridge at the Cathedral of Hope at 214-351-1901.

You can see more photos from the Christmas Eve Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope after the jump.

—  admin

Banks Appointed to Citizen Police Oversight Board

Kris Banks

Kris Banks

On Wednesday the Houston City Council confirmed Mayor Annise Parker’s appointment of Former Houston GLBT Political Caucus President Kris Banks to the Independent Police Oversight Board.  The Oversight Board provides a way for Houstonians to have input into allegations against police officers involving use of excessive force, discharge of firearms, serious bodily injury or death or mistreatment of citizens.  The Board also makes recommendations on recruitment, training and evaluation of police officers; and considers community concerns regarding the Department.  Houstini talked with Banks about his new role:

[Houstini] Why have you agreed to serve on the Oversight Board?

[Banks] I believe the Oversight Board performs an important and vital function that benefits all involved. Police officers are granted extraordinary powers over their fellow Houstonians. They can, under legally sufficient circumstances, detain people against their will, walk into other people’s homes without their permission, and even use physical force to make people comply. We grant police officers these powers because they are necessary for the officers to do their jobs. However, with these great powers come great responsibility, and the Oversight Board exists as a check on those powers, thereby protecting the public against the very rare officer who uses her or his powers irresponsibility or excessively. It also benefits the police department. With the assurance that the Board is providing oversight, members of the public can be more confident of the police department, and form a better working relationship with officers.

[Houstini] What do LGBT Houstonians who have concerns about police behavior need to know about the mission of the Oversight Board?

[Banks] Historically, the LGBT community has had concerns about very broad and obvious police harassment, like bar raids. Incidents like these still occur (see Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth), but they tend to not be the focus of issues that exists between the LGBT community and the police department. Concerns between the community and the police department now tend to be over specific incidents that sometimes come to light and sometimes do not. That being said, the IPOB will review internal police investigations for complaints of excessive force, any discharge of a firearm, any time there is a death or serious injury, or any matter the police chief refers to us. We make recommendations, and the chief has ultimate discretion. What I want to highlight here is that a complaint has to be made for the IPOB to have any role. Complaints have to be sworn, either by the complainant, or, if the complaint is anonymous, by the person taking the complaint.

LGBT Houstonians should also know that I take my role as a community representative very seriously. I will not only take my perspective as an LGBT Houstonian to the police department, I will also take the knowledge I gain back of police procedure back to the community. For instance, I mentioned anonymous complaints above. In the training I have received so far, I learned that organizations can be deputized to take anonymous complaints (LULAC and the NAACP are both deputized). Anonymous complaints are, unfortunately, a big concern for our community. Whether because our congress has failed to pass job protections, family concerns, or any other personal reason, there are still many, many people in the closet. But being in the closet does not mean that a person is not protected. I will learn more about the deputizing community groups and take that back to organizations in our community like the Caucus, Community Center and Transgender Foundation so they can begin that process (as a caveat, I do not have a full list of deputized organizations and any of these organizations may already be deputized).

—  admin

Defining Homes • Super (re)model

Remodeler Chris Sandlin says slow your roll before that redux

Wingren-Kitchen-5By Jonanna Widner

As a third-generation homebuilder and remodeler, it’s no surprise that Chris Sandlin opted out of a journalism career and instead chose the family business. He made the change in 2005 and with such a history of the industry in his blood already, Sandlin brings a fairly unique perspective to the market.

“I’m 30 years old, which is relatively young compared to others in my position,“ he says. “But I put a lot of time and energy into the right team of workers and sub-contractors to customers’ homes so the end result lives up to what the homeowners deserve. As a gay business owner, I’m happy in providing stellar home services to the community.”

Before moving forward with that remodel, Sandlin says to think before demolishing.

Wingren-Master-Bath-2Know when to remodel: “I commonly work with homeowners to determine whether it makes more sense to remodel or move. I approach each situation openly and honestly, and try my best to suggest what I think would be best, even if that means I don’t win the job.”

Remodel before selling: “This is usually the case with older homes that have not been remodeled recently. Homeowners accept my guidance for what sells. I have a good combination of experience in the homebuilding and real estate industry.

“There is a catch-22 here. If the house sells quickly, homeowners in won’t have time to experience the finished remodel project which tends to be the kitchen or master bath.”

“This can happen very easily. Most $250,000 homes do not need a $50,000 bathroom redo, nor does a $300,000 home need a $100,000 commercial grade kitchen. A wide variety of factors need to be considered, including how long they plan to stay in the home, what’s the budget, how it adds to the home’s value.“

Budget help: “When in the budgeting/planning phase with homeowners, research the values of nearby homes, especially with remodels. This has been helpful in concrete figures regarding their remodel, as well as experienced conjectures about how the remodel will affect the home’s future value.”

Don’t rush the details:  ”Too many homeowners want to rush into their project without a clear vision. Step back, assess the project and come up with a plan. With that, the end result will be everything the homeowner wants. Rushing into it without a plan will only result in more time, money and headaches.”

Going green: “This is an area I take pride in. As a certified green professional through the National Association of Homebuilders, I integrate green philosophies and I want to minimize waste factor and landfill component as much as possible.”

“I started making many green features as my standard a long time ago because I feel it’s the right way to build and remodel. I’m happy to see more homeowners interested in these options.”

DIY:  “I’m happy to help prepare homeowners for what they would encounter if doing it on their own. Sometimes it works out just fine, with small jobs that don’t require licensed tradesmen or city permits. When it comes to larger jobs, people need to know if they honestly have the time to do this in addition to the day job.”DH

Visit SandlinBuild.com for more information.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

—  Kevin Thomas

LSR Journal: 2 of a kind — but different

Paul Cross and Jim McCoy were single when they each started volunteering for Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS; now as a couple, their dedication is renewed

Paul Cross, left, and Jim McCoy

M.M. Adjarian  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

If ever two people exemplified the idea of “different strokes for different folks,” it’s longtime Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS supporters Paul Cross and Jim McCoy.

Each man loves to cycle, especially if he’s with the other. But as for the individual approaches Cross and McCoy take to bike riding — that’s another matter entirely.

Both men have either participated in or donated to the LSRFA since 2001, the year the ride began. In that inaugural ride, when both were still single, Cross served as a pit crew volunteer and McCoy cycled.

By 2003, however, the two bachelors had become life partners and rode together in LSRFA as a couple. Their commitment to each other took top priority after that.

“We had been meaning to get back to it [the ride] over the last three or four years,” says McCoy, a consultant in healthcare IT. “It’s just one of those things we had in common — our [desire to help] the community.”

Shared goals have made for a strong union between the two men. But it’s the differences that have kept their relationship consistently interesting. Take, for example, their divergent cycling styles.

“[After we got together,] people kind of laughed at us: They called us the Tortoise and the Hare,” McCoy says. “When I want to go fast, Paul goes slow. And then when Paul wants to go fast, I want to go slow.”

These differences in style translate into differences in perspective. If McCoy tends to be the one more eager to get from one point to another as quickly as possible, his partner takes special pleasure in smelling the proverbial roses along the way.

“I like to just ride and look around and just watch everything,” says Cross, a banker.

“But then when we get to a hill, I’m the one with the energy,” he adds with a certain smugness.

The behavior these 40-something partners display in the saddle could not be more dissimilar. Yet both men are alike in how they carry exceptionally painful memories of the devastation HIV/AIDS wrought in the gay community.

“One of the things I’ll remember throughout my life is when This Week in Texas came out and there were no obituaries to report,” says McCoy. “That was in the late 90s. For a long time [before that], you had pages and pages of obituaries.”

What they saw in the dangerous decades of the 1980s and ’90s has served as the impetus behind their participation not only in the LSRFA, but in other HIV/AIDS-related causes such as Cheer Dallas and the AIDS Life Walk.

“We’re not ‘going out’ people,” admits Cross.  “But where there’s a fundraiser or event, we’re definitely there.”

The Tortoise and the Hare still haven’t decided how many miles they’ll be doing together in this year’s Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS: Tortoise says 180 and Hare says 150. Regardless of how far they plan to pedal or the approach each will take to reach the finish line, both are united in their belief that they’re cycling for a cause that matters.

Says McCoy, “With the way the economy is, there are a lot of people who need a lot of assistance. Programs are constantly getting cut.”

“Everyone seems to have put [HIV/AIDS] on the back burner like it’s not out there anymore, but it is,” adds Cross. “And we still need to raise awareness.”

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS will be held Sept. 24-25. To donate to an individual rider, to a team or to the Ride itself, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Applause: Broadgay at Winspear

Lexus series adds queer event to upcoming season of musicals

What’s gay about ‘Jersey Boys’? The GLBT Broadway subscriber series at the Winspear will tell you.

The Lexus Broadway Series offers a muscular lineup of shows that feature classic stories and contemporary rock ‘n’ roll. But they go one step further in the 2011-12 season with the stage equivalent of special edition DVDs, featuring enhanced performances and pre-show engagements for subscribers — including its gay patrons.

Dallas Voice Life+Style Editor Arnold Wayne Jones will host a conversation every second-week Tuesday about 45 minutes before each show. The series, called GLBT Broadway, will highlight the appeal for queer audiences for the shows in the series. The discussion will touch on issues of gender identity and sexuality in regards to the show and the teams behind them. Some — such as the season lead-off, Hair — might be easier to analyze from a gay perspective than, say, Jersey Boys, but that’s part of the fun of the series.

The season starts with Hair, which won the Tony in 2009 for best musical revival. Youth in 1960s America are all about peace, love and understanding — including nudity and homosexuality — in this iconic musical. Sept. 20–Oct. 2.

The epic Les Miserables follows with a new 25th anniversary production. Dec. 20–Jan. 1.

Best musical Tony winner In the Heights details the immigrant experience as characters find a new life in their new country. March 13–25.

Alt-rockers Green Day went Broadway with American Idiot, touted as a mashup of a rock concert and staged musical. May 8–20.

The season concludes with Jersey Boys and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. Classic hits like “Big Girls Don’t Cry” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” tell the tale of this well-accomplished music group from the ‘50s. June 12–July 15.

Other subscriber series include Broadway University, hosted by SMU theater professor Kevin Hofeditz which will explore themes of the show and its place in theater history (every second Saturday matinee) and Broadway Uncorked (every second-week Wednesday), where an expert sommelier will host a wine tasting based on the show. We wonder what American Idiot’s wine will be.

— Rich Lopez

For more information on the Lexus Broadway Series and its enhanced performances, visit ATTPAC.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 26, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Pedaling Olives: An Evening with Michael Godard

Rock star meets high art

Dallas Voice, Wisby – Smith Fine Art Gallery and Hudson Ferus Vodka present an extraordinary collection of works by Artist Michael Godard. Michael Godard, is known as the explosive “Rockstar of the Art World”, and global top selling artist!

His world of art invites us into his lighthearted perspective of life surrounding us, with animated olives, grapes and, dancing strawberries. His unique portrayal of fun is an exciting combination of imagination and subtle humor, which evoke the creative side in “Olive” us right down through our souls. He has redefined art as we know it with a new definition and of course a punch line. Come meet Michael Godard at this very special event and enjoy complimentary beverages.

The night is also a fundraiser. Ten percent of proceeds from art sales will benefit Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS!

DEETS: Wisby-Smith Fine Art Gallery, 500 Crescent Court. 6 p.m. For more information, click here.

—  Rich Lopez

Fighting the normalcy bias

David Webb

Gas pump sticker shock brings home some hard lessons we all need to learn

DAVID WEBB  |  The Rare Reporter

After months of ignoring it, sticker shock at the gas pump has finally registered in my consciousness. And that moment of enlightenment has led me to do a little research about economics.

I now know that I’ve been acting exactly how the experts predict the average consumer will when faced with an unprecedented personal experience.

It all started when I filled up my gas tank at a service station in Oak Lawn the other day, and the tab came to more than $60 for just a few drops more than 15 gallons.

It occurred to me as I drove off that using a credit card at self-service pumps could lead someone to be blindsided in a big way when the monthly bills arrive.

I drive a modest four-cylinder sedan, so I don’t even want to consider what people who drive big gas guzzlers are paying to fill up — not to mention the shock that could be in store for them at the end of the month.

To put things in perspective, I started driving when I was 14 and at that time — I’m talking about nearly a half-century ago — gas cost about 33 cents per gallon. If I’m figuring correctly, I think that’s about a 1,200 percent increase in my lifetime of driving.

Admittedly, talking about price increases that have occurred over a 50-year period, the increase might not seem so radical. But just a little over a decade ago, gas cost less than $2 per gallon. It cost me less than $30 to fill up a similar car’s gas tank back then.

If it were only gas that had increased in price, it might not seem like such a big deal. But everything that we require to go about our daily lives, such as groceries and clothes, has increased just as dramatically.

Even the price of beer, which one needs in order to cope with the stress of all the other high prices, has skyrocketed.

We’ve all been warned for a long time by people who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s that hard times could be coming. But most of us never took those predictions seriously.

After my gas pump experience the other day my research revealed that my delayed awareness of the seriousness of the situation is not abnormal. In fact, it is a condition that is known as “normalcy bias.”

Basically, what that means is that if a person or group of people have never experienced a type of disaster or other traumatic experience, they tend to discount the possibility of it ever occurring.

I assume that’s why — despite the repeated warnings that prices for gas and everything else that depends on energy for its production and distribution would be going through the ceiling — that so many of us have ignored the threat.

It’s clearer to me today than it was a week ago that all of us could be on the brink of making some pretty severe changes in our lifestyle to cope with the economic hardships that appear to be on the horizon. Considering the numbers of people who are unemployed, surviving on food stamps or even homeless, there’s a real crisis out there that most of us just don’t fully comprehend.

What’s really scary is that all of the states and local governments are bankrupt and are quickly becoming unable to help support people who are in trouble. The federal government is in the same shape, and the dollar is losing its value quickly.

An even scarier scenario is that many people live beyond their means and amass big debts that will crush them should they become unemployed or lose a paycheck for any other reason.

Again, someone who has never lost a job or been unable to find one may not realize that it could indeed happen to them as well, according to the “normalcy bias” theory.

One of the examples of “normalcy bias” afflicting a whole group of people reportedly occurred in Germany in the 1930s when Jewish people who had lived in the country for generations failed to realize the dangers they faced from Adolph Hitler and his Nazi Party. These intelligent, affluent, accomplished and sophisticated people simply were unable to comprehend what was about to happen to them.

Some things are out of our direct, individual control as regards what could happen to the economy. But there is something that everyone probably needs to do in troubling times: I now remember financial experts on talk shows recently advising people to get out of debt, stay out of debt, start foregoing some luxuries, build a strong cash reserve to take care of basic needs and fill pantries with nonperishable foods.

Until my moment of awareness at the gas pump the other day, I might have considered such a plan to be a little alarmist, because like most people I know, I’ve never gone without anything. But that could change.

Now, it just seems like good common sense.

David Webb is a veteran journalist who has covered LGBT issues for the mainstream and alternative press for three decades. Email him at davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com.

—  John Wright

James Cain’s bad day

Ok, I freely admit that there is nothing “gay” about this blog post. But, well, it is such an interesting story that I couldn’t help but post it here on Instant Tea.

It’s about a guy named James Cain who had a really bad day. And it all started when he decided — allegedly — that he was going to rob a house in Arlington.

From my perspective, robbing a house is never a good idea, so that was his first mistake. His second mistake was deciding to pull a “Santa Claus” and shimmy down the chimney to get inside.

Apparently, Cain didn’t have any of Santa’s magic shrinking dust, because Cain got stuck on the way down. His only recourse at that point was to start hollering for help. Somebody heard him and called the cops, who called the fire department to come cut out a section of the wall to get Cain loose.

And if that’s not trouble enought, Cain made one more mistake. He left his marijuana in his vehicle, which he parked down the street from the house he was — allegedly — trying to rob.

Now Cain is being held in jail, in lieu of an $11,500 bond, facing charges of burglary of a habitation and possession of marijuana.

—  admin

Midterm Perspective

Pundits aren’t just blowing smoke when they tout wisdom about the party in power most always losing seats in the first post-presidential midterm dates back to around Civil War. In fact, This 124-year-old snip could run in tomorrow’s papers with very few alterations:

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Good As You

—  admin

Back to School: An Ally’s Perspective on Welcoming Schools

This post is part of our Welcoming Schools “Back to School” blog series. Welcoming Schools, a project of the HRC Foundation, offers administrators, educators and parents/guardians the tools they need to ensure their elementary schools welcome all students and families.

This post comes from Dr. William A. Howe, past-president of the National Association for Multicultural Education and a Welcoming Schools advisory council member:

Why Should a Straight Guy Like Me Care About an LGBT Inclusive Approach in Elementary Schools?

As an educator for 35 years now, I have watched our schools grow into a microcosm of our larger society – more colorful and more inclusive. Trained as an elementary and special education teacher, I started my career working with mentally and physically handicapped students warehoused and hidden in institutions. Those institutions are gone and now these students share the same public schools with other students. Walking the halls of schools today I often see what I hope will be the future of our country – recent arrivals practicing English, students speaking multiple languages, children of all colors playing and learning together, able-bodied students pushing the wheelchairs of their classmates. Teachers are preparing students for a vastly different world, where skills in working with diversity are just as essential as the three R’s.

As an educator and an activist, I have worked with Jewish students taunted with anti-semitic comments, Muslim students who were called terrorists, disabled students shunned by peers, children of same sex parents brought to tears by cruel comments, gay and lesbian students driven to attempt suicide by callous fellow students and, yes – teachers. As a human being how can I not care? My students’ problems are mine too. Their success in life depends on learning in a school environment where they feel safe, both physically and emotionally.

An inclusive approach to education introduces students to the full spectrum of American life that does not always mirror the world as a Norman Rockwell painting. An LGBT inclusive school teaches students that differences in family structures are not deficits. Students are learning about life at a younger age. As an educator I have learned that as young minds, beliefs and values form we must guide them to make their own, informed decisions. We hold our breaths hoping that they will grow up to be compassionate, empathetic, accepting and caring human beings that take a stand against bigotry of all forms. That, for a teacher, is just as important as academic success.

Non-traditional families – single parent, same-sex parents, bi-racial, multicultural, multi-ethic, two-religion — loving families are now a part of the grand experiment of democracy envisioned by the founders of this country. A multicultural, LGBT inclusive America presents the best opportunities for our children to succeed in a global economy and diverse workforce.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright