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

HA! @frcaction thinks @EqualityMD is scared of ‘export/criminalize gays’ guy

Oh now this is cute. The Family Research Council thinks we equality activists are fearful of Peter Sprigg:

Twitter SpriggWho knew that FRC’s experts could actually strike fear in the hearts of gay activists? Apparently, Peter Sprigg’s mere presence at the Maryland committee was so palpable that it warranted a Twitter alert from Equality Maryland. The group spotted Peter in the hallway before his testimony on the same-sex “marriage” bill and immediately tweeted, “Watch out #Marryland–Peter Sprigg is in the Senate bldg!” Of course, we’re flattered that Peter is reaching celebrity status in the homosexual movement. But the real danger to their agenda isn’t Peter–it’s the research he has uncovered on the harms of same-sex “marriage.” In Maryland –and then 24 hours later in the Rhode Island legislature–Peter contributed to the hours and hours of testimony with compelling evidence of the long and short-term consequences of counterfeit marriage



SOURCE: Ladies and Gentlemen, Peter Sprigg Has Left the Building [FRC]

Oh, FRC. So silly. You don’t even realize snar when you hear it. So here, let us help.

The reason, FRC, why Peter’s mere presence earns a #mention is not because he’s scary or because his “evidence” is in any way lock solid. It’s not. Just look at his latest pamphlet, which we’ve only semi-busted up (there’s certainly more there for some other committed person to take on). If we were “scared” we would do what the socially conservative movement so often does: Ignore that which is inconvenient. But we don’t do that. That’s not our game. We dive in head first. Expose the lies. React and repudiate rather than espouse our own preconceived narratives. Fear would’ve led us away from this soul-numbing fight years ago.

So no, no, FRC: The reason Peter Sprigg is noteworthy to us is because of the unbelievable, thoroughly unhinged, completely beyond the pale, hysterically histrionic things he’s dared to say about us in public. Most notably, the times when he suggested gay “exportation” or criminalization would be conversations worth having:



*SOURCE: Gays seek immigration reform [Medill Reports]



*SOURCE: MSNBC

If this is the kind of “celebrity status” you all seek, then so be it. But don’t be surprised when our cause célèbre wins the big prize.




Good As You

—  David Taffet

Judy Gold Is Scared Of Bedbugs

And the screaming octogenarian working out at the Harrah's gym in Las Vegas, where she's been holed up doing that whole "performing" thing. She tells The Six Pack that when she's forced to visit Sin City, nothing scares her more (besides crazy old gym rats) than fat smoking heterosexuals.

CONTINUED »


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Queerty

—  admin

Should New Hampshire’s Gays Be Scared About a Possible Marriage Repeal?

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Will New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch's veto be enough to stop Republican lawmakers there from repealing the state's same-sex marriage law? We've been down this path before, with legislators making a stab at repeal just six weeks after the law took effect this time last year; it failed. But now Republicans have gained significantly in both the State Senate and House, and the Concord Monitor says it "seems likely" a repeal of the law will make it through both chambers. Throw in some of NOM and FRC's attack dollars, and you've got folks scurrred: "For now, there are at least two proposed repeal bills in the Legislature and one constitutional amendment. Only the constitutional amendment has the potential to go on a statewide ballot, but not until 2012. Rep. David Bates, a Windham Republican who proposed two of the bills, said he anticipates moving forward with a repeal bill this session but perhaps not pursuing the constitutional amendment until 2012. A constitutional amendment would require a majority vote of 60 percent in the House and Senate, and a two-thirds' majority of the state's voters. The governor would not have a role."


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Queerty

—  admin

Newsweek on Obama’s ‘moral cowardice’; NYT on House Dems running scared

The headline of Jacob Weisberg’s column continues: “The president needs to find his principles.”

It is one of the more scathic indictments of the Obama administration — and the President himself that I’ve seen in a while. It touches on many issues, including immigration and marriage equality.

Obama has had numerous chances to assert leadership on values questions this summer: Arizona’s crude anti-immigrant law, the battle over Prop 8 and gay marriage, and the backlash against what Fox News persists in calling the “Ground Zero mosque.” These battles raise fundamental questions of national identity, liberty, and individual rights. When Lindsey Graham argues for rewriting the Constitution to eliminate the birthright-citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment, or Newt Gingrich proposes a Saudi standard for the free exercise of religion, they’re taking positions at odds with America’s basic ideals. But Obama’s instinctive caution has steered him away from casting these questions as moral or civil-rights issues. On none of them has he shown anything resembling courage.

With the Proposition 8 fight, Obama has fallen short in a different way, by his reluctance to join an emerging social consensus. Obama had previously criticized California’s Proposition 8, the ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage, as “divisive.” But his official position-which no one believes he actually holds-is that he is against legalizing gay marriage. Americans are changing their views on this issue with inspiring rapidity. Judge Vaughn Walker’s moving opinion provided an occasion for Obama to embrace the extension of equal rights to gay people. Instead, he slunk mumbling in the other direction. How dismal that America’s first black president will be remembered as shirking the last great civil-rights struggle.

Few would argue that defending liberal principle serves Obama’s short-term interests. Americans oppose the mosque 61 percent to 26 percent, according to one recent poll, and support the Arizona law by an even wider margin. But even if some people don’t like Islam, or illegal immigrants, or gay weddings, they may respond to admonitions that our society is built around freedom of conscience and equal treatment under law. If he applied his oratorical gifts to these principles, Obama could remind a grumbling nation what it liked about him in the first place.

Weisberg may be overly optimistic about how responsive some Americans to logic or appeal to equal treatment under the law. It didn’t help with Prop 8. And I really doubt that appeal with work for immigration. The nativism awakened with that and the “9/11 Mosque” shows just how much our nation is in moral distress.

He also takes the position is that the President’s inability to weigh in with sufficient fervor has allowed the right wing noise machine to flourish – and put the WH on the defensive. After all, look at how it drops everything (including political common sense) to respond to Glenn Beck when he opens his mouth. The response is to ensure America that the President prays every day and is a good Christian.

This is a WH that chooses to be weak and respond with political pablum to challenges. That was not the Barack Obama that was on the campaign trail, and certainly not the same man who asked to be challenged if he was dropping the ball. There in lies the problem when you have a WH and President beholden to the charges of the likes of Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin and the “papers, please” supporters, rather than the people who put in money, time and votes to get him into office.

***

Meanwhile, take a look at this NYT article – Democrats Plan Political Triage to Retain House. The meat of the story here is the begging for $$$ — watch for more ploys to tap the gAyTM touting that long list of padded “accomplishments” as the desperation mounts. What it boils down to is “it’s the economy, stupid.” The jobs have no materialized in some of the hardest-hit areas of the nation. People are angry, and sadly, only a couple of years after over a decade or GOP economics, some are ready to revisit that disaster again.

“We are going to have to win these races one by one,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, conceding that the party would ultimately cut loose members who had not gained ground.

… A sputtering economy and discontent with Washington have created a high sense of voter unease that has also put control of the Senate in question.

To hold the line against Republicans, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, issued an urgent plea for members in safe districts to help their endangered colleagues by contributing money. She called out Democrats who were delinquent on paying their party dues and instructed members with no re-election worries to tap into a combined 8 million from their campaign accounts to help save their majority.

“We need to know your commitment,” Ms. Pelosi wrote to lawmakers last week in a private letter, demanding that they call her within 72 hours to explain how they plan to help. She added, “The day after the election, we do not want to have any regrets.”

As always, give time, effort and money to the individual pols who support issues important to you. No DINOs. No homophobes. No self-loathing closet cases. No more.
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright