Drawing Dallas • Rick Phillips

With the holiday upon us, floral designing is a labor of love for Dallas’ Rick Phillips

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name: Rick Phillips

Occupation: Floral designer

Spotted at: Dog park on Swiss Avenue

Tanned, fit Aquarian Rick Phillips was born in Dallas but raised in neighboring Grand Prairie. He sprouts from a small but creative family: His mother sings opera, his brother is a drummer in a rock band, and his grandmother was also a gifted artist.

Labor of Love: Rick has been creating beautiful floral arrangements for more than 17 years. His first job interview in the business was to create a funeral arrangement. “I almost cut my thumb off,” says Rick, “I think they felt sorry for me. I got the job!”

Studying photography in college led to a natural progression into painting and finally into floral design. The instant gratification he gets from the process satisfies his art muse. Rick says he makes up his arrangements as he goes along. “I have a concept about color and shape when I start, but after that I free-wheel it.” He has been the exclusive florist for a high-profile jewelry store for eight years.

When he’s not handcrafting floral masterpieces, Rick enjoys cooking and shopping vintage and junk shops for awesome shirts and cool coats (and he can’t wait to for the weather to get cooler so he can wear them!) He loves all kinds of music from classical to techno/dance.

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

—  Michael Stephens

LOCAL BRIEFS: AIN poker tourney at the Brick; Bates set for Dallas Black Pride

AIN poker tourney set at the Brick

A charity poker tournament is set for Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Brick, 2525 Wycliff, to benefit AIDS Interfaith Network.

The Dallas Bears and the LGBT poker league Pocket Rockets will co-host the event with the Brick. Miller Lite is the sponsor and play begins at 3 p.m.

It’s free to play but AIN will benefit in a number of ways. The agency will receive a portion of the drink specials sold. Players may buy additional chips, and the Bears will hold a 50/50 raffle.

A cash prize pool of $500 will be awarded and all levels of players are welcome.

Bates set for Dallas Black Pride

Christopher H. Bates will speak at the Dallas Black LGBT Community Summit on Friday, Sept. 30 at the Dallas Marriott City Center Hotel. He is the director of Health and Human Service’s Office of HIV/AIDS Policy.

Bates will discuss the federal government’s response to the high infection rate among young gay African-American men. He has 20 years experience in public health policy and has been with OHAP for more than a decade.

Bates administers funds for the Minority AIDS Initiative and advises the Undersecretary of Health on education, prevention, testing, research, care and treatment strategies. Information is available at DFWPrideMovement.org.

Martin offers program for couples

Randy Martin, LPC, will facilitate an eight-session program for couples, Wednesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. throughout September and October.

The program is based on the theory and practice of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy (EFT). The first session focuses on the new science of love and what it teaches us. The next seven sessions focus on helping couples shape and use the seven conversations laid out in the book Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson, the developer of EFT.

Couples interested in participating should contact Martin at 214-520-7575. The cost of the program is $500 per couple and includes a copy of the book Hold Me Tight and other necessary materials.

NGPA seeks donations

The National Gay Pilots Association recently awarded $22,000 in scholarships and is seeking donations for future awards to aspiring LGBT aviators.

Since its founding in 1998, the NGPA Education Fund has given 46 awards totaling $139,000. Donations can be made on the group’s website, NGPA.org.

—  John Wright

Drawing Dallas

Makeup artist Tony Price is hoppy to be our Easter cover boy

MARK STOKES  | Illustrator
mark@markdrawsfunny.com

Name and age: Tony Price, 20

Spotted at: Intersection of Lemmon and McKinney

Occupation: Student in cosmetology and makeup; model

Born in Tulsa, this tall, fit Virgo moved here from Tangipahoa Parrish, La., five months ago to continue his education in cosmetology and make-up. Tony grew up the middle son between two sisters, and in school excelled in track and field, and he continues to stay in shape by running and lifting weights. He enjoys meditation, dance, the arts and, of course, makeup.

Tony remembers the fifth grade very well. That was the year a cousin, who was then in cosmetology school, sparked an interest in him becoming interested in doing hair. His grandmother, a fabulous cook, tempted him to consider a career in the culinary arts, but makeup won out and Tony continues his education to become an artist extraordinaire. His goal is to own his own spa and become celebrated for his cosmetic skills.

Tony will spend his Easter with family, sharing good times and a great meal that he will cook himself.

—  John Wright

Defining Homes: First Impressions

Steven McFarland, below, and his company The Make Ready Group can prep any house before it hits the market. The company also offers services to customers just in need of home services but not necessarily selling their homes.

The Make Ready Group takes care of all those finishing touches before your house goes on the market — and more

By Rich Lopez

Apartment dwellers are all too familiar with the dreaded make ready preparations when moving out. Whether it’s making sure the baseboards are pristine or the oven actually works, everything has to be in tiptop shape for that next renter.

Apply that idea to that home about to go on sell and the task grows exponentially. But don’t fret — this is where The Make Ready Group can step in.

“We focus on the whole make ready aspect of helping Realtors out,” says founder Steven McFarland.

So basically, someone can do all this for you. That in itself can be a much needed relief from the already stressful duty of selling a home. But McFarland reminds that the property owner remains completely accountable for the house and any issues it may have — especially if it’s to sit vacant while on the market.

“Although the upkeep can be farmed out to an agent, the owners of that property are responsible for everything,” he says. “Sometimes a bank will own a property but they will usually have a property preservation dispatch that covers everything in the home like maintenance, repairs, landscape. Even the structure is maintained.”

The Make Ready Group grew out of working on apartments, but evolved because McFarland was also a Realtor. He began seeing how much time was getting taken up just preparing a home when he could have been selling. Now, he and his company focus solely on homes and specialize in not only preparing a home for the market, but also taking some burden off the agents.

“They really want someone to take over that responsibility,” he says, “And we specialize in that.”

Much like that property preservation crew, the Make Ready Group are the people that will handle the same issues. With McFarland coming from a real estate background, he knows all to well the importance of having a picture perfect house.

“We do anything to a property that needs to be done. Our philosophy is that the land must be maintained,” he says. “The buyer is the consumer and they will buy what they like.”

With Texas having such extreme weather, McFarland warns of certain precautions. The Texas heat is a given, but with major ice and snow storms over the past two years, he says the smallest measures can reduce major catastrophes.

“With the cold weather like we just experienced, you always want to winterize the pipes,” he says. “Drain water from the pipes and heater and make sure the water is secured going into the property. And drip the faucets. Nobody wants the pipes to burst. I’ve seen water pouring out of the ceiling and it just destroys.”

On the flip side, he recommends safety when it comes to heat. As summer gets over 100-degree temperatures, McFarland advises that no matter what, at least two people should tend to the duties should one suffer from heat stroke.

“People tend to insulate the attics in the summer, but it gets so very hot in there,” he says. “So two people are a must. Otherwise, people should really have some good ventilation going through the house and sometimes it’s just as easy as putting a box fan in.”

But one item stands out that a buyer will have much concern over.

“Heating and air is a biggie,” he says. “A place that sits vacant for a long time with the heater or air conditioning off needs to be checked to see if it’s working properly.”

McFarland has advice for the people who opt to do the make ready themselves, because there are those few willing to take it on. With his experience, McFarland immediately knows what to look for that needs his services. But ultimately, the goal is to make the house presentable and he says that can start easily with a new coat of paint, a “royal cleaning,” adjusting doors and patching holes in the wall.

“You want it ready,” he emphasizes. “Nobody can see a flaw when they walk in.”

Just don’t think the company is only for sellers. They provide home services throughout Dallas and have moved beyond the city limits tending to homes in Frisco and Southlake. But McFarland’s also noticed a recent trend in his maintenance orders.

“Oh yeah, you don’t have to be selling the property to use us,” he says. “Even if you have a commercial space, we can do the job. We have individuals with the proper skills for most any job. And we’re familiar with lots of areas around town, but as of late, we’ve definitely been getting more orders from the LGBT community in and around Oak Lawn.”

Sounds like just the right kind of company.

For more information, visit TheMakeReadyGroup.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright

PHOTOS: Brent Out Of Shape

MORNING GOODS — If you're unwilling to hit the ground and get dirty, then Mark Alan Brent has little use for you.

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Queerty

—  admin

Bedford school rejects lesbians’ daughter

Dean says Harrisons’ relationship violates St. Vincent’s ‘basic Christian values,’ but mother says discrimination is ‘just not right’

Click here to watch video for this story

Click here to read the full text of Dean Ryan Reed’s responses to our questions

John Wright  |  Online Editor wright@dallasvoice.com

OLIVIA HAS 2 MOMMIES
OLIVIA HAS 2 MOMMIES | St. Vincent’s, a school operated by a Bedford church that left the Episcopal Church USA over the denomination’s policies on ordaining women and accepting LGBT people, waited until just four days before school started to tell a lesbian couple that their daughter would not be allowed to attend classes there. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

BEDFORD — Four-year-old Olivia Harrison was disappointed to learn she won’t be attending St. Vincent’s Cathedral School this year.

“We said, ‘You realize that you’re not going to go to the same school,’” said Olivia’s biological mother, Jill Harrison. “She said, ‘Yes I am, I want to go to that school, I want to play there.’

“They have a fish pond, and she said, ‘Yeah, but I need to feed the fish and take care of them,’” Jill Harrison said.

Regardless of whether Olivia fully understands the decision, she can now tell you why she’ll be starting pre-kindergarten at another school next week, instead of St. Vincent’s.

“They don’t like that I have two mommies,” Olivia says.

“She’s just repeating, so we’re careful about what we’re telling her,” said Jill Harrison. “I don’t want her to think that she in any way shape or form did anything wrong.”

Olivia, who’d been accepted into St. Vincent’s earlier this summer, was set to start on Monday, Aug. 23. But school officials abruptly changed their mind last week after learning that her parents, Jill and Tracy Harrison, are a lesbian couple.

St. Vincent’s is part of the Anglican Church in North America, a group that broke away from the Episcopal Church USA a few years ago, in part over the denomination’s acceptance of gays.

Since the school’s Aug. 19 decision to revoke Olivia’s acceptance, the story has made national news, being picked up by CNN in addition to several media outlets in North Texas.

Jill and Tracy Harrison said despite the initial shock and devastation of the school’s denial, they’re glad they’ve able to get the word out that anti-gay discrimination is alive and well.

“It’s been a whirlwind for the last few days, but it’s been worth every moment,” Jill Harrison told Dallas Voice during an interview at their home on Tuesday, Aug. 24. “I put up a blog on Facebook the other day that said, ‘Today’s probably the proudest day that I could call myself a parent, because I stood up for something that I believe in for my daughter.’”

‘Just not right’

After touring the school in June  — and thoroughly researching it online — the Harrisons settled on St. Vincent’s because of its solid academic reputation and its small class sizes, as well as the fact that it’s so close to their home.

They also said they wanted Olivia to learn the basic tenets of Christianity, such as the Golden Rule and the Ten Commandments.

However, they were clueless about the school’s history and its split from the Episcopal Church.

Jill and Tracy Harrison were legally married in Canada in 2006. Both Olivia and their 2-year-old son, Spencer, were conceived with the help of a sperm donor.

Jill Harrison said she crossed out “father” on Olivia’s application to St. Vincent’s, replaced it with “mother” and inserted Tracy’s name — something they’ve done routinely on paperwork since Olivia was born.

On Tuesday, Aug. 17, the Harrisons attended parents night at St. Vincent’s, and they said they felt it went well. Among other things, Jill and Tracy Harrison requested stickers for each of their vehicles so that Tracy could drop off Olivia and Jill could pick her up.

Two days later — and four days before school was to start — St. Vincent’s officials called Jill Harrison and asked her to come to the school and meet with them.

After inquiring about Jill’s relationship with Tracy, the school revoked Olivia’s acceptance.

“I was absolutely hysterical when I left there,” Jill Harrison said. “It’s her first time in school. We’ve made a really big deal about it.”

Ryan Reed, dean of St. Vincent’s, said in e-mails this week that officials told Jill Harrison that, “the values taught at the school were in conflict with those at home.”

“We thought this might put Olivia in a very conflicted situation to which Jill agreed,” Reed wrote. “We don’t dispute God’s love for this family, just that one of the basic Christian values that we subscribe to is sexual activity inside a faithful, lifelong relationship between a husband and wife. As best we could ascertain, this was not something that Jill was in agreement about.”

Asked why it took so long for school officials to realize the situation, Reed claimed that they tried repeatedly to contact the Harrisons over the summer to inquire about the altered application form.

Reed also said the school would have accepted Olivia if Jill Harrison were single and a lesbian but agreed to remain abstinent.

The decision was pursuant to a strict school policy that was also used to deny admission to a gay couple’s daughter two years ago, to terminate an unmarried teacher who became pregnant, and to ban a parent — a husband who left his wife for another woman, Reed said.

“We are simply asking people to strive toward the traditional Christian teaching in matters of how we live our lives,” Reed said. “We don’t follow people around if they are single and dating to make sure the date stops at the front door,” he said. “We don’t monitor what husband and wives are doing. But if something becomes public, we try to handle it in a pastoral and private way.”

Asked how the school justifies punishing Olivia over her parents’ identity, Reed said, “It seems far from punishment to me, in fact, it seems more loving to refer them to a school that can accommodate their family situation rather than put her in a situation where the moral legitimacy (and still in Texas the legal legitimacy) of her mom’s relationship is called into question.”

Jill and Tracy Harrison agreed that they wouldn’t want Olivia to attend a school that doesn’t accept their relationship.

But they denied that school officials tried to contact them before parents night, and they questioned why it took so long. They’re also still struggling to come to terms with something they said they’d never experienced before.

“If persecution happens to just us, we’re adults, we can handle it,” said Tracy Harrison, who identifies as a “recovering Baptist.”

“But they’ve taken it a step farther than that. They’ve discriminated against us because we’re gay, and took it out on our 4-year-old daughter. And that’s just not right. There’s no part about that that’s right.”

Legal implications

Jill and Tracy Harrison said they’ll likely never forget some of the vicious comments that have been posted about their family online in response to the story.

They also denied rumors raised on some blogs that they plan to sue and try to force the school to accept Olivia, who’s now scheduled to begin attending a local fine arts preschool Monday, Aug. 30.

One LGBT legal expert confirmed that if the Harrisons did try to sue, they wouldn’t have a case, because the school appears well within its constitutional right to religious freedom and expression.

“There are some areas where there is some gray, but pretty much a religious school is off limits,” said Ken Upton, a senior staff attorney for Lambda Legal who’s based in Dallas. “The truth is, religion is still a very powerful thing in America when it comes to the law. They get a lot of free passes to do terrible things. That’s unfortunate, but that’s the way the First Amendment works.”

Although the Harrisons don’t plan to sue St. Vincent’s, the school remains embroiled in litigation with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.

“They’re occupying Episcopal Church property, and they’re using our name,” said Katie Sherrod, a spokeswoman for the diocese.

Initial media reports referred to the school as St. Vincent’s Episcopal School. As of Thursday, Aug. 26, the school’s website had been changed to say St. Vincent’s Cathedral School, but Reed remained defiant.

“[The Episcopal Church USA] does not own the term Episcopal,” he wrote. “There is in this country the Charismatic Episcopal Church for example or in other places the Scottish Episcopal Church. In conversation, I refer to myself as an Anglican but until the lawsuit is settled we are still the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, ‘province of the Southern Cone’ (which is part of South America).”

Sherrod acknowledged that it could be years before the issues are resolved in court.

“They left the Episcopal Church over the issues of the ordination of women and over the blessing of same-sex unions and the fact that we have two openly gay bishops,” Sherrod said. “I’m not at all surprised that the leadership at St. Vincent’s school made this decision. It’s consistent with what they’ve been doing for years. I’m saddened by it, but I’m not surprised by it.”

Sherrod is among those who’ve contacted the Harrisons to offer her support and condolences.

“Jill had to sit Olivia down and say, ‘Nope, you aren’t going to get to go,’” Sherrod said. “That’s just heartbreaking.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Letters • 07.02.10

Working tirelessly isn’t ‘too pretty’

I feel that I must respond to the article “Have we made the face of AIDS too pretty?” by David Webb in the June 11 issue of Dallas Voice.

Twenty-two years ago, my partner and I started a variety troupe for no other reason than because we sat many days and nights with friends in our bowling community as they were dying of this dreadful disease, making a difference by changing their briefs, bathing them or cleaning them up after a sick episode. Later, we would cry our eyes out, wishing we were able to help them more.

We started our group to help raise money in any way we could so those friends could have some chance at a quality life amid all the “toil and trouble.”

To say that in doing benefit shows we are glamorizing the face of AIDS, quite honestly, is crap. We, along with many of our friends, have seen the angry head of the “face of AIDS” rise up and take down far too soon so many of those whom we loved and cared for.

Did you know that 90 percent of money raised in our community is raised by men and women who donate their time and talents to entertain in some shape, form or fashion just to try and make a difference? Heaven knows, the government cares very little about the population that is faced with this dreaded disease every single day.

There have been many weekends I wanted to just stay home and watch movies with my partner and spend time with my animals. But my partner and I both believe we have a job to do. You may call it glamorizing the face of AIDS, but we do this with a heartfelt passion that should give hope to many that we are trying to make a difference in their lives somehow, someway, now.

So the next time you hear that someone has gone to get food from the food pantry, or that someone has gotten assistance with their rent so they didn’t have to live on the streets, or that someone who is at a critical stage in their disease and wants to visit their family one last time and they got the plane ticket they needed; remember it is because of all the many wonderful men and women of our community who spend their free time trying to help those in need.

Let me finish by challenging you to come watch us as we tirelessly work our butts off every weekend trying to raise money, one dollar at a time, for those brothers and sisters in need.

If you think what we do “glamorizes” AIDS, then get up off your sofa or bar stool and do your part by working as hard as we do.

I pray to God that the men and women who work so hard and care so much will always stand together, because, heaven knows, if it wasn’t for us, it wouldn’t get done.

Just know there are many organizations that stand with us and know what goes into the things we do, and why we do them.

Home for The Holidays Texas Inc., Legacy Counseling Center and Founders Cottage, Cedar Creek Lake Meals on Wheels, Fort Worth AIDS Food Pantry and AIDS LifeWalk are but a few.

Glamour is about guts — remember that!

Linze Serell, aka Bill Lindsey
Miss Charity America 2010


Hardy, don’t get so worked up

Re: “A platform of ideas — bad ideas” by Hardy Haberman (Dallas Voice, June 25)

Every convention cycle, the apparatchiks within the Texas GOP outdo themselves by passing increasingly bizarre, and unfortunately offensive, party platforms. Why get worked up over these manifestos, which are ground out by a roomful of tools, who are accountable to no one?

It’s an election year, so this is the time to talk to candidates and officeholders who are running under both party labels about the virtue of equal rights for gays and lesbians, and not give credibility to these documents which under our system of government maintain the same force of law as the most recent issue of Tiger Beat magazine.

Steve Labinski
Austin

TO SEND A LETTER  |  We welcome letters from readers. Shorter letters and those addressing a single issue are more likely to be printed. Letters are subject to editing for length and clarity, but we attempt to maintain the writer’s substance and tone. Include  your home address and a daytime telephone number for verification. Send letters to the senior editor, preferably by e-mail (nash@dallasvoice.com). Letters also may be faxed (214-969-7271) or sent via the U.S. Postal Service (Dallas Voice, 4145 Travis St., Third Floor, Dallas TX 75204). All letters become the property of Dallas Voice.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas