WATCH: Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns makes another video, this time for GLSEN

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns’ “It Gets Better” video has more than 2 million views, but it’s good to know that his advocacy for safe schools won’t end there. Burns has followed up by filming the above PSA for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s Safe Space Campaign, which aims to place a GLSEN Safe Space Kit in every middle and high school in the country. What’s next, a YouTube reality show?

—  John Wright

Real(ity) estate • Defining Homes

A Dallas couple’s adventure in house selling becomes an episode of HGTV’s ‘My First Sale’

By Arnold Wayne Jones

Keith Yonick, left, turned Dallas couple Troy and Cindy Hughes on to the idea of being on TV. But their youngest child, opposite, might steal every scene.

Although they live cosmopolitan lives — she’s a lawyer; he works for FM 105.3 with Chris Jagger — and count many gay neighbors in their gate East Dallas community among their friends, Cindy and Troy Hughes both grew up in small towns and craved the pace and benefits of the suburbs: lower taxes, good schools, safe streets. With a 4-year-old and a new baby, they figured next year would be a good time to look for a new home.

But the house-hunting started earlier than they expected. And more dramatically.

The Hugheses got a call from their real estate agent, Keith Yonick, with a proposition: Would they be interested in trying to sell their house now and have their experience filmed for the HGTV series My First Sale?

“When Keith called us and told us about the show, we went for it,” Cindy says.

“I think it’s great they chose Dallas for the show,” Yonick says. “I asked them why and they said because the houses are so different — they could film a townhouse in the city and a farmhouse in Forney or a suburban house.”

Yonick submitted four applications, and the network jumped at following the Hugheses. Still, it wasn’t the couple’s first foray into a reality series.

When Troy worked with Kidd Kraddick, he was recruited to be the “bachelor” in a radio rip-off of The Bachelor TV series. He was just supposed to chronicle his dates with several dozen women and invite one to a gala event. The one he selected was Cindy; they married three years later.

Still, a radio date is one thing; having yourself photographed 24/7 during a stressful process — the first sale of your home — was more pressure. Cindy even knows that on one day of filming, she came across as bitchy. (She’s hoping they edit that out, but Troy has forgiven her in any event.)
“We never treated it like a reality show but as a way to document this part of our lives,” Cindy says. “It was like making a home video.”

Knowing that “most houses take a year or more to sell” — Yonick says 370 days on the market is not unusual — they expected the process to stretch on for months, just in time for the next school year. So they were astonished that their house sold so quickly. In less than two months, they had a buyer.

Even so, the sale caught them so by surprise that they hadn’t even decided for certain where they would move.

“Our friends have all moved on to their next chapters — they were moving to Frisco and Rockwall.  They were always saying to us, ‘You have to move to Frisco!’ But we started looking in Wylie.”

It isn’t as far as it may seem. Troy leaves for work at 3 a.m. for his radio show (“I share the road with cops, construction workers and drunks,” he says) and Cindy’s job in Arlington meant she had a hike anywhere east of I-35.

“We thought we would move to Rockwall, but Wylie reminds me of what McKinney looked like when I came here in 1999,” Troy says. “We get more for our money out there, and there’s still a mall within four miles.”

Rather than buying an old house or going with a foreclosed property, they decided to build. Since the house won’t actually be ready until after they close on their sale, they’ll have to rent back their current house for a month. But as far as hardships go in real estate, that’s one they can live with.
“We got really lucky,” Troy says.

The Hugheses close on their sale on Oct. 29; their episode of My First Sale will air in the spring.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of Defining Homes Magazine October 8, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

New site for LGBT deaf people in the works

It can be pretty difficult to find some place other than a bar to find and connect with other LGBT people, especially if you don’t live in a city big enough to have an organized LGBT community of some sort.

And it can be even more difficult for LGBT people with special circumstances — like being deaf.

Michael Bamford, founder of Frisky Factory LLC, said he learned that lesson after meeting Martin Richie, a fashion model from Austin who was on the Oxygen Channel reality show “The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency,” who talked about how his own community — the community of deaf LGBT people — was socially isolated.

So Bamfield has created FriskyHands.com, a website that “allows the gay deaf community (in all English-speaking countries) and their supporters to interact through a ‘Live Chat’ function, as well as e-mail,” according to a press release about the new site.

The statement says the site, intended to launch this spring, will soon add a video-conferencing function that “will allow the deaf and hearing populations to directly communicate without sign language, in English.” It will also include a search function that allows users to find men or women with common interests in a specific geographical area.”

I checked this morning and the site still has the “coming soon” announcement up, with a place for you to sign up to receive e-mail updates on its progress.

I don’t know exactly when Bamford will have the site up and running full blast, but I do know that if it’s done right, it could be a lifeline for people who have for too long been left lonely, isolated and, as Bamford said, left behind.

—  admin