Jack Evans has died

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Jack Evans, left, and his husband and partner of more than 55 years, George Harris

Jack Evans, 86, better known as half of “Jack and George,” has died. He had been in a rehab facility for several months.

Jack and George celebrated their 55th anniversary in February. They were the first couple married in Dallas County and their picture was featured on the front page of newspapers around the world a year ago this weekend after the marriage equality ruling.

Jack and George helped found many of Dallas’ LGBT organizations. Most recently, they founded The Dallas Way, the LGBT history project. That project began after telling their story to Dallas Voice before their 50th anniversary.

The couple held a religious marriage ceremony a year before their legal ceremony to protest the Methodist Church’s stand on same-sex marriage.

Jack and George served on the boards of Resource Center, Turtle Creek Chorale and Black Tie Dinner. They were awarded the Kuchling Award for service to the community.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 2 at Northaven United Methodist Church, 11211 Preston Road.

 

A statement from Dallas Mayor Rawlings on the death of Jack Evans.

 

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—  David Taffet

Community leaders meet with Police Chief Brown

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Resource Center CEO Cece Cox talks to reporters Tuesday after meeting with Police Chief David Brown, as Cannon Brown of Stonewall Democrats looks on. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Resource Center CEO Cece Cox and a team of six other LGBT community leaders attended a meeting with Dallas Police Chief David Brown this afternoon (Tuesday, May 31) in which the chief “acknowledged that standing up with [anti-LGBT First Baptist Church pastor Robert] Jeffress has harmed the LGBT community,” Cox said.

In mid-April, at a press conference attended by Brown and former Mayor Tom Leppert, Jeffress announced that his church was offering counseling services to Dallas police officers, as well as offering summer camp scholarships — presumably to the First Baptist Chuch camp — to the children of police officers and holding weekly Sunday School classes specifically for officers. The church also honored Brown at an April 17 morning service.

Jeffress is widely known  for his anti-gay sermons and his condemnations of every religion other than his own. The same weekend that Resource Center opened it’s new building, Jeffress made statements declaring transgender-friendly businesses to be a bigger threat than ISIS.

Resource Center officials had asked for a meeting with Brown last week after issuing a statement condemning Jeffress’ anti-trans comments, according to the center’s communications and advocacy manager, Rafael McDonnell. McDonnell said they had received word Saturday that the chief wanted to meet with them, but did not know until about 10 a.m. today that Brown wanted to meet with them this afternoon.

Others attending the meeting were McDonnell, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tony Vedda, Dallas Gay and Lesbian Association President Patti Fink, Stonewall Democrats President Jay Narey, and Stonewall Democrats board member — and Young Stonewall and Take Back Oak Lawn member — Cannon Brown. City Councilman Adam Medrano was also there.

Cox said about 14 members of Brown’s staff were also present.

Cox said that while “We don’t agree on every single thing that got said today,” she and the other community leaders “felt heard.”

Cox said that while Brown did not agree to “step away” from any association with Jeffress and First Baptist, he did agree to issue a statement acknowledging that he understands how that association could be harmful to the LGBT community.

Cox said Brown told the community leaders that he and the police department as a whole have a responsibility to the entire community, and that it is their job to “ensure everyone has free speech.” He also said that he doesn’t turn down invitations from any segment of the city’s population.

Cox said she and the other community leaders addressed the “18-plus unsolved attacks” that have happened in the Oak Lawn area since last September, and that the chief is committed to solving those crimes, as is the community. The chief and community leaders are also “all committed to continuing the dialog.”

“Oak Lawn has become dangerous in a way it has not been in decades,” Cox said, noting that many community members — for a variety of reasons — are reluctant to report crimes and if they report them, follow through by cooperating with police in the investigation. She said she believes Brown understands that and is committed to addressing those problems.

Cox said Brown acknowledged that the city’s crime rate has been rising, due largely to spikes in crime in Oak Lawn, in domestic violence and in drug-related incidents. He said the police force — which is shrinking in size and is one of the lowest-paid departments in the area — faces a number of barriers in addressing those increases.

“Dallas needs to get with the program and solve some big issues, micro and macro,” Cox said.

Cox said that she and other community leaders are working to find ways to offer resources other than those available through First Baptist, and that Tuesday’s meeting is just the beginning of what needs to be an ongoing dialog.

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Cannon Brown of Stonewall Democrats, Patti Fink of DGLA and Jay Narey of Stonewall Democrats

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North Texas GLBT Chamber President and CEO Tony Vedda speaks to reporters

—  Tammye Nash

DVtv: Resource Center open house, Part 2

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As promised, here is Part 2 of the DVtv coverage of Resource Center’s grand opening/open house on Saturday, May 21. Thanks again to our on-air talent, Brad Pritchett, our camerawoman/editor Haley Richter and DVtv producer Israel Luna.

If you missed Part 1, watch it here.

—  Tammye Nash

DVtv: Resource Center shows off its new building

Part 1

Dallas Voice and DVtv were there Saturday, May 21, when Resource Center opened its gorgeous new facility to the public. You can David Taffet’s photos of the open house here. And watch Part 1 of DVtv’s coverage — that’s right, there was so much goodness it took two videos to cover it all — below.

Then watch Part 2 here.

—  Tammye Nash

New community center opens on Saturday

IMG_8224This is the picture I wanted to use for this week’s cover: Cece jumping for joy over the completion of the new community center.

We chose a different picture because either we lost her jumping or we lost the building. The picture is oblong and the paper is more square. And Cece didn’t want her stomach showing on thousands of copies of the paper distributed across the area.

One thing I didn’t get into the story is the donation wall, just inside the front door. Everyone who contributes to help pay off the remaining $344,000 will get their names on the donation wall. Cox said that they thought of cutting off the list at $100 or $250 or more, but this is a community center, built by the community and every donation is important. So she decided every name of every person (or company or foundation) that contributes belongs there.

Open house is Saturday, May 21 from 10 a.m.-noon. Stonewall Democrats holds a fundraiser and open house on Monday, May 23 from 7-9 p.m. Community groups are encouraged to use the facility. Contact the community center (the number’s the same: 214-528-0144) to reserve space.

Here are some more pictures of the new center:

—  David Taffet

New food pantry open

Food pantryThe new Resource Center Food Pantry is open at 2701 Reagan St. Volunteers stocked shelves on Sunday (May 1) to get the pantry ready to open today.

“Perishable goods should be available next week once refrigeration system is complete,” Resource Center posted on its Facebook page. So perishable items that need to be refrigerated such as eggs, meat or milk are not available yet.

The former food pantry location closed a month ago because the retail center on Denton Drive Cutoff that also included Elliott’s Hardware will be torn down to make way for a so-called “West Village-type” mixed-use development. Resource Center had hoped to keep the former location open until renovations at its new location were complete.

—  David Taffet

Food pantry to remain closed another week

Resource-Center

Color rooms being rebuilt into food pantry

The Resource Center Food Pantry will remain closed at least another week.

Spokesperson Rafael McDonnell said in what center officials had hoped would be a final inspection on Wednesday, April 20, there were a few minor issues remaining. He said those have already been corrected, but the soonest an inspector can schedule another visit is Wednesday, April 27.

“We understand what a burden this has been on our clients,” McDonnell said. “We’re working as quickly as we can and we’ll have an update next week.”

He said the issues were minor, but without the green light from the city, the pantry can’t open.

The food pantry on Denton Drive closed sooner than Resource Center expected. That property is being torn down for redevelopment. The new food pantry is located in the old “color rooms” at the main location at 2701 Reagan St. Resource Center’s headquarters is moving in May to a new building being completed on Cedar Springs at Inwood Road.

If the food pantry gets its permit on April 27, it should be open on May 2.

 

—  David Taffet

Food pantry awaiting inspection to reopen

Resource-Center

Food pantry space under construction last month

The Resource Center Food Pantry is awaiting one final inspection before it can reopen.

The pantryhas  moved from its Denton Drive location to the main Resource Center building at 2701 Reagan St. but hasn’t opened yet as it waits for its final city permit to operate.

“Once we get our permit, we can get the freezer hooked up,” Resource Center spokesman Rafael McDonnell said.

That involved adding  220-current outlets, and that means extra inspections.

McDonnell said dry goods are out and ready for distribution.

If the space does pass inspection tomorrow (Wednesday, April 20), the pantry should reopen for business on Monday, April 25.

The hot meals program, which takes place in the building next door to the main space, has continued serving meals uninterrupted. The center lost its space on Denton Drive sooner than it expected.

—  David Taffet

Resource Center receives two major gifts toward capital campaign

Resource CenterTwo major gifts to Resource Center’s capital campaign have put it one step closer to completing its fundraising goal.

The Louis L. Borick Foundation of Houston has donated $300,000 and the Moody Foundation of Galveston has donated $500,000, putting the campaign just $400,000 shy of its $8.7 million goal.

The capital campaign allows for new and expanded LGBT in a new community center currently under construction near the intersection of Cedar Springs and Inwood roads. The Reagan and Brown office and community space is currently undergoing remodeling improvements to consolidate HIV services, nutrition services and the food pantry.

The new community center is scheduled to open later this spring.

“Resource Center is here to meet the unique and growing needs of the LGBT and HIV communities. The generous investments from both The Borick Foundation and Moody Foundation moves us closer to ensuring that LGBT youth have a space free from bullying, that families and seniors are supported, and that persons living with HIV are cared for,” Resource Center CEO Cece Cox said in a statement.

Jamie Williams, North Texas regional grants director for the Moody Foundation, said Resource Center’s contributions to the community are vital to the LGBT community. “The Moody Foundation is pleased to support the Resource Center and its many wonderful programs which are vital to the wellbeing of our community,” Williams said.

The new gifts mean the Center has raised $8.3 million of the $8.7 million it needs. The campaign will go public this summer and will conclude December 2016.

—  James Russell

The Passing of an Icon: Jean Nelson

Jean Nelson

Jean Nelson

A NOTICE FROM THE DALLAS WAY:

It is with sadness that The Dallas Way announces the recent passing of one of its first contributors and supporters, Jean Nelson, the mother of the great gay rights activist Bill Nelson. Jean passed away peacefully in her home in Houston, at the age of 93, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016. She was born October 30, 1922.

In the tumultuous decade of the 1980s, Jean’s life seemed to be one of constant challenge and adversity. She lost her husband of 26 years when he had an automobile accident on his way home from work. She then became the main caregiver for his aging parents, both of whom also died during this period.

Her son Bill let her know about his sexual orientation shortly before it was published in a headline story in the Dallas Time Herald, bringing his 10-year teaching career at W. T. White High School to an end as he rose to become a principal leader of the Dallas gay community. Soon she found herself supporting Bill in his efforts to combat the AIDS crisis of the 1980s through the creation of the AIDS Food Pantry, the AIDS Resource Center and the AIDS Clinic.

Bill’s partner, Terry Tebedo, became Jean’s “second son.” When both Bill and Terry were diagnosed with HIV, she became their chief caregiver. Terry died in 1988. Shortly thereafter Jean moved into Bill’s home to serve for 18 months as his main caregiver. About this experience, Jean once said: “I had gotten extremely mad when Bill’s doctor announced to us that Bill had two more weeks to live. He looked at me and said, ‘Mrs. Nelson, you need to put Bill in hospice and get on with your life.’ What a thing to say to a mother and son who continued to tell others you don’t ever give up!”

Jean eventually lost Bill to AIDS in 1990.

Wanting to leave behind the painful memories of her last decade in Dallas, Jean soon moved to Houston to live near her daughter Sheila, and Sheila’s young children. But she found she had been forever changed by her experiences in Dallas. At the age of 70 she decided to become a trained and certified hospice volunteer. The course she enrolled in had a meaningful first assignment:

Bill Jean Terry

From left, Bill Nelson, Jean Nelson, Terry Tebedo

“Our first assignment was to write a letter to the person we had lost. My first reaction – NO WAY !! That night I was awakened with all the words I wanted to say to my son. I got up at 3 a.m. and started writing! The words were just flowing! I don’t think I was ready to give God credit at this time, but it did seem strange. I had never been able to express my feelings, and now the words I wanted to say to Bill kept coming. It almost seemed that my son’s talents were being passed on to me.”

Her next challenge was to face the idea of making a panel for her son as part of the AIDS Quilt project. “Before I left Dallas, Bill’s friends had asked me if I could make a block for the AIDS quilt. This was a tool being used to bring awareness of how quickly AIDS was spreading. Now I was ready. So while I was taking the [hospice] course, Sheila and I created a beautiful pictorial review of Bill’s life. We also made one for Terry, Bill’s partner.”

When she finished the hospice course and became certified, a new career opened up before her. “Hospice training was very thorough, teaching me how to accept death and giving me the desire to help others. I chose to go to homes to sit with a loved one who was dying, giving the caregiver ‘time out’ – to go to church, go out to lunch, the grocery store – whatever. My patients were mainly cancer patients; one had AIDS, one had been injured in a car accident. These visits helped me to feel good about myself – that I could still help others even though I was old. I continued my volunteering for several years. … Tears have been replaced with laughter from good memories. Love leaves behind more than death takes away.”

JT Mike Bruce Dick Jean

Dick Weaver (red stripe not facing camera) then from left, Mike Anglin, Jean, Bruce Monroe and John Thomas.

Meanwhile, back in Dallas, the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic was being relocated to a new and larger facility. Jean was asked to return to Dallas to speak at the opening ceremony. She mustered to courage to return to Dallas and to stand up in front of so many who knew and loved her “two sons.”

Here is what she said to them:

“My emotions have gone from one extreme to another. Happiness because of what I see here today. A wonderful place to seek and find knowledge and hopefully a cure someday for this dreaded disease called AIDS. And extreme sadness because Bill and Terry are not here with me today for the official opening of the new Nelson-Tebedo clinic named in their honor. Therefore, I think it should be my role today to thank you for Bill and Terry. Bill, of course, was here to have the thrill of seeing the huge banner across the [original] building ‘Nelson-Tebedo Clinic’ – remarking at the time ‘But Mom, I think most buildings are named for those who have gone on.’ Oh, how I wish he could see what a super place it is today!

“I, too, want to say thanks to all of you who have worked so hard to make this a success. Thanks to the staff I love and admire for their dedication. Karen Estes, who worked so hard to see that all construction work was done correctly. A very special thanks to Gloria and Dr. Green. With their guidance I’m sure the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic will rank tops in the nation.

“What a thrill it is for the mother to see a clinic for the purpose of fighting AIDS name for her two sons. A very special memorial for two very special young men who spent so much of their life working for the cause of human rights, so that this will be a better place for everyone. … So thanks a million. Thanks for the love shown here today. This will be another one of my wonderful memories.”

On November 28, 2001, Jean was asked to speak at the second World AIDS Day worship service taking place at the John Wesley United Methodist Church in Houston. Here is what she shared with that audience:

“Last year, when I read the announcement in the church paper that John Wesley would be observing World AIDS Day, I was not only filled with joy, but I knew I needed to share this joy with our minister, Don.

“Without an appointment, I arrived at the church. … When my turn arrived to see Don, I walked into his office and said ‘Don, I’d like to re-introduce myself.’ To this he replied ‘But Jean, I already know who you are. You are Jean Nelson.’

“I replied, ‘I mean the real me. I’m Jean Nelson, the mom of a gay son who died of AIDS in 1990. I’ve come to thank you for the service to observe World AIDS Day.’

“Now we are having our second service, and I have been asked to have a part in this program. What I would like to do tonight, God willing, is to introduce my son Bill to you.

“Bill started out life as a very timid child, making first grade very difficult because he wanted all of his work to be perfect. He had great teachers through elementary, junior high and high school, receiving many achievement awards. During high school he was very active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship at Lovers Lane Methodist Church, where he had attended all his life. His leadership abilities really became very strong. For example, when the World’s Fair was in Montreal, Canada, he went to our minister, Tom Shipp, asking permission to plan a trip [to Montreal] for the MYF. Tom was reluctant at first because of the huge responsibility but told Bill if he thought he could organize it he could give it a try. Bill started immediately — with his dad’s help — planning the route the bus should take, writing Methodist churches along the route for permission to spend one night. The responses from the churches were great. The trip did happen. After months of preparation, 33 teenagers and six adults boarded a Greyhound bus.

“After graduating from high school, Bill attended SMU for five years — going to France for one semester to study French. He graduated with a bachelor of arts and masters degree in liberal arts, English and French.

“He did his practice teaching at his own high school [W. T. White High School in Dallas, Texas], teaching French. After graduation he was hired as a permanent teacher at his high school. There, with two other teachers, he created a new course called ‘The American Experience’ — a two-hour course that included a combination of English, history, art, music and architecture. His extra activities including coaching a wrestling team and teaching stagecraft. After three years he received the outstanding teacher award.

“After 10 years of teaching — when he chose to announce to the world that he was gay — no teaching job was then available. At this time he and his partner, Terry Tebedo, started an antique/junk store on Cedar Springs called Crossroads Market. He also became very interested in human rights, ending up as president of the Dallas Gay Alliance and then the Texas Human Rights Foundation.

“Since I moved to Houston, my daughter Sheila and I have made two panels for the AIDS quilt. One in memory of Bill’s life, the second in memory of Bill and Terry’s life and their fight for human rights. The quilt has become a powerful tool to bring awareness of AIDS.

“Dallas — though extremely conservative — learned to love my son. After his death a 30-minute tribute to his life was shown on Channel 13.

“I’m a much stronger person because of my son’s life. Never did I dream I could stand before you and talk. Tonight I’m here to continue carrying the torch for human rights and awareness of AIDS. I had a super guy for a son. Thank you for letting me introduce him to you.”

—  David Taffet