Overcoming fear and finding passion

Landon Starnes had to step outside his comfort zone to compete as Lotta Pink in the Miss LifeWalk Pageant

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Landon Starnes as Lotta Pink

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Talk to Landon Starnes about his involvement with LifeWalk, the annual walkathon benefiting AIDS Arms and its partner agencies, and you’ll hear

Starnes repeat the words “passion” and “fear” a lot.

Starnes said he let fear rule him for too long. But in the end, there’s no doubt that “passion” wins out.

Starnes, who works as a hairdresser, said that he was diagnosed with HIV in October 1998. But he wasn’t prepared to deal with reality, and so for years, he said, “I ignored my diagnosis emotionally.”

But then some friends began to encourage him to confront his HIV status by getting involved in LifeWalk, specifically by joining the Guys and Dolls LifeWalk team.

Starnes said it took him awhile to get up to speed, and he was involved with LifeWalk just “off and on” for several years. But three years ago, he decided to really take the plunge and has been an active member of the Guys and Dolls team ever since.

This year, even that got ratcheted up a notch when Starnes finally gave in to his teammates’ cajoling and entered the Miss LifeWalk Pageant.

“My team had been asking me for two years to enter the pageant, but I declined every time. I was just scared to death to do drag,” Starnes explained. “But this year, I decided to accept the challenge, even though it scared me.”

The first challenge was to come up with a character, so “I started brainstorming about a character, about who I would be,” Starnes said. “I started thinking about things I, as a person, am passionate about. And I am passionate about the singer Pink.

“Her music gets to me in a way that no one else’s does,” Starned continued. “Her lyrics inspire me. I think, if I had to pick just one, my favorite Pink song is ‘Glitter in the Air.’ It says, ‘Have you ever wished for an endless night?’ ‘Have you ever thrown a fistful of glitter in the air?’ It made me look into myself, literally. Last summer, while we were on a road trip, my friends and I stopped and actually threw a fistful of glitter in the air. It was silly and fun, and now it is a memory that will last forever.”

But there is one line in the song, Starnes said, that really touched him, one lyric that made him think and gave him the determination to set aside the fear that had held him back: “Have you ever looked fear in the face, and said, I just don’t care?”

It was, Starnes said, a spark that made his passion for LifeWalk and for doing something to help others blaze even brighter.

“I knew I wasn’t going to try to be Pink, but I love what she does. So I decided I would kind of pay tribute to her with my character,” Starnes said.

And so, Lotta Pink was born.

And lo and behold, Lotta Pink won the Miss LifeWalk title on her first try, helping Starnes bring in about $7,000 for LifeWalk this year, bringing his total over all his Guys and Dolls years to about $11,000.

Starnes said he and Lotta Pink obviously have a lot in common. “We share our passion for the cause, first of all, and second, we both want to step outside the box,” Starnes said. “I was afraid of doing drag. But my favorite quote is ‘Do it scared,’ so that’s what I did. I stepped outside the box and challenged myself, and in doing that, I learned that fears are just fears, nothing else.”

Starnes said that while his fears still remain to some degree, Lotta Pink “has no fear,” and she is helping him overcome his own.

“It’s easier when you can put on a wig and some makeup and kind of step outside yourself,” Starnes said. “Now, learning to step out without that disguise is what comes next!”

Knowing that what he does is all to help AIDS Arms and the clients the agency serves makes it even easier to put the fear aside, Starnes said.

“The Guys and Dolls team works all year, not just on the day of LifeWalk. And the people at AIDS Arms work all year trying to help other people. I love AIDS Arms, and I love what it stands for,” Starnes said. “The walk itself is symbolic, to me. It’s a short walk, yes, but just going through the movement of walking allows you to release your passion.

“Everybody who participates is there for their own reasons, but whatever the reason, they are passionate about it,” he continued. “That alone speaks volumes. The biggest thing that came out of all this for me was seeing how good people really are.”

Again, it all comes down to overcoming fear and fully realizing the passion.

“It’s so important for everyone to find their passion, whether it’s LifeWalk or something else,” Starnes said. “Finding my passion has lifted me to a whole new level of awareness, understanding and joy. It’s just such a positive energy when you are around all these people at LifeWalk who work so hard to make a difference in other people’s lives. It’s helped me find a happiness I have never known before.”

AIDS Arms LifeWalk will be held Sunday, Oct. 2, at Lee Park. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m., and the walk begins at 1 p.m. For more information, go online to LifeWalk.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Quote Of The Day – Albert Mohler

“When we talk about same-sex marriage, we talk about something that is already legal in one form or another in basically twelve states. So whether they call it marriage, as they do in a few states, or marriage-lite as they have now in twelve states, the reality is that a good number of Americans are living where they’re already facing not just the inevitably, but the reality of same-sex marriage. I think it’s clear that something like same-sex marriage – indeed, almost exactly what we would envision by that – is going to become normalized, legalized, and recognized in the culture. It’s time for Christians to start thinking about how we’re going to deal with that.” – Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, speaking on a Focus On The Family radio show.

Stand by for the wingnut denouncements.

Joe. My. God.

—  David Taffet

Crazy Eyes Quote Farm

Buzzfeed’s always-amusing Matt Stopera today provides us with thirty memorable quotes from Crazy Eyes. Hit the link and enjoy. Another example: “[Pelosi] is committed to her global warming fanaticism to the point where she has said she has even said she is trying to save the planet. We all know that someone did that 2,000 years ago.”

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Quote Of The Day – Stephen Colbert

(Source)

Joe. My. God.

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Quote Of The Day – Richard Cohen

“The Marines of today know that virtually the entire Republican Party stood up for bigotry. The Corps knows that some important senators – John McCain and Jon Kyl, to name two – furiously fought to retain the status quo, always in the sainted cause of unit cohesion. (Kyl said repeal could “cost lives.”) Marines know, too, that in surveys, those on the front lines are least supportive of having gays among them and they are also aware that their brass fought to keep “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The issue for me, as for Gen. Amos, is unit cohesion. That’s why he has to go. ” – Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen, calling for the dismissal or resignation of USMC Commandant James Amos.

Joe. My. God.

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Quote Of The Day – Kevin Spacey

“Look, at the end of the day people have to respect people’s differences. I am different than some people would like me to be. I just don’t buy into that the personal can be political. I just think that’s horseshit. No one’s personal life is in the public interest. It’s gossip, bottom line. End of story. Now some people feed that. They’ll go to the trendy restaurants where all the photographers are and then bitch about being famous. But if you don’t want to feed that and you want your life to be based around what your work is then it ends there.” – Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, taking a page from Queen Latifah in a Daily Beast interview that asks why he won’t officially come out.

Joe. My. God.

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Quote Of The Day – Bristol Palin

“You say you ‘don’t agree with the family’s politics at all’ but I say, if you understood that commonsense conservative values support the right of individuals like you, like all of us, to live our lives with less government interference and more independence, you would embrace us faster than k.d. lang at an Indigo Girls concert.” – Bristol Palin, in a not so thinly-veiled lesbian slam at Margaret Cho, who last week said that Bristol was forced into Dancing With The Stars to further her mother’s political ambitions.

RELATED: GOProud’s Chris Barron loves Bristol’s “Yeah, well YOU are a dyke” message.

Joe. My. God.

—  admin

Quote Of The Day – Bryan Fischer

“In a strange way, it is a badge of honor for these groups to be tagged now by the SPLC as hate groups. It’s a sign of desperation on the part of the SPLC, and a sign that they are so threatened by the truths that these groups speak that they are now flailing about trying to silence them rather than to debate them. They’ve given up winning on points, and so have taken to trying to run them off the field. Their strategy now is not to persuade the public but to demonize their cultural adversaries.

“I’ve often maintained that liberals, progressives, Democrats, socialists, Marxists, etc. – they’re all the same under the covers – hate free speech. They hate freedom of religion, and they hate freedom of the press, because such freedoms threaten their stranglehold on public discourse and their goal of indoctrinating the American people with their non-traditional moral values. They hate the First Amendment, for the very reason that it was designed by the Founders to protect robust public discourse on political and social matters.” – American Family Association radio host Bryan Fischer.

(Via – Good As You)

Joe. My. God.

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Quote Of The Day – Tony Perkins

“The Southern Poverty Law Center is a massively funded liberal organization that operates under a veneer of public justice when, in fact, they seem more interested in fundraising ploys than fighting wrongdoing.

“This is a deliberately timed smear campaign by the SPLC. The Left is losing the debate over ideas and the direction of public policy so all that is left for them is character assassination. It’s a sad day in America when we can not, with integrity, have a legitimate discussion over policy issues that are being considered by Congress, legislatures, and the courts without resorting to juvenile tactics of name calling.

“The Left’s smear campaigns of conservatives is also being driven by the clear evidence that the American public is losing patience with their radical policy agenda as seen in the recent election and in the fact that every state, currently more than thirty, that has had the opportunity to defend the natural definition of marriage has done so. Earlier this month, voters in Iowa sent a powerful message when they removed three Supreme Court justices who imposed same-sex marriage on the state. Would the SPLC also smear the good people of Iowa?

“Family Research Council will continue to champion marriage and family as the foundation of our society and will not acquiesce to those seeking to silence the Judeo-Christian views held by millions of Americans. We call on the Southern Poverty Law Center to apologize for this slanderous attack and attempted character assassination.” – Family Research Council president Tony Perkins.

Notice how all these reactions are coming on Thanksgiving, when none of their followers will hear about it?

Joe. My. God.

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Quote Of The Day – Matt Barber

“So, center-right America: If you happen to believe in the sanctity of natural marriage and that, as a culture, we’re best served by honoring the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic of our forefathers, you’re now an official ‘hater.’

“Of course, the tired goal of this silly meme is to associate in the public mind’s eye mainstream conservative social values with racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The ironic result, however, is that, as typically occurs with such ad hominem and hyperbolic attacks, the attacker ends up marginalizing himself and galvanizing his intended target (I’m rubber, you’re glue and all that).

“Hence, beyond a self-aggrandizing liberal echo chamber, the SPLC – and by extension the greater “progressive” movement – has become largely, as it stews in its own radicalism, just another punch line. It’s often said that the first to call the other a Nazi has lost the argument. Congratulations, conservative America: They’re calling you a Nazi. Carry on.” – Liberty Counsel spokesbigot Matt Barber, riding the waahbulance over the SPLC’s new hate groups list.

Joe. My. God.

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