Fahari Arts to mark 30 years of AIDS with exhibit, issues call for submissions

In their commemoration of 30 years of HIV/AIDS, Fahari Arts Institute will host their 2011 Fall group exhibition Our 30. Artistic director Harold Steward along with Diedrick Brackens will curate the event and are now inviting artists of all mediums to participate in the exhibit set to open Sept. 10 at 1111 Studio Gallery. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 6.

The release says, “This exhibition looks at 30 years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in black southern communities.”

Before you apply, read Fahari’s rules on submissions. Then contact them here about your potential entry.

The group is also counting down their season with two final events. The last Queerly Speaking is set for July 22 featuring Brandon Jackson. That is followed by Fahari Fierce: A Celebration of Black Queer Movement on July 30. Most Fahari events take place at the South Dallas Cultural Center.

—  Rich Lopez

Demolition complete at new AIDS Arms clinic

Heavy equipment completing demolition at the new AIDS Arms clinic on Sunset Avenue in Oak Cliff.

Construction on AIDS Arms’ new Oak Cliff clinic on Sunset Street is progressing on schedule.

AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles reports that all demolition is complete with plumbing now being installed in the foundation of the building.

“In addition, the new HVAC system is being put into place,” Nobles said. “Wall materials have begun to be delivered as well.”

The new facility on Sunset Avenue should open for clients by the fall. The building formerly housed the administrative and social services offices of AIDS Arms. Those have moved to 351 Jefferson Blvd., Suite 300.

The new clinic will compliment the agency’s Peabody Clinic in South Dallas. A full-service pharmacy, laboratory, diagnostic and exam rooms and an HIV research center will all be part of the new facility.

Other support services that are offered by AIDS Arms and other agencies will be provided in a community resource center at the clinic.

Construction began May 4 after a sledgehammer party to begin tearing down the old walls of the facility.

—  David Taffet

Live-blogging tonight’s election results

UPDATE: Early voting results from Dallas are here.

I’m here at the Instant Tea Brewery, David Taffet is doing his best watch party pub crawl, and Tammye Nash is keeping an eye on things over in Tarrant County. Together we’ll be bringing you coverage of tonight’s municipal election results, so keep it right here.

The polls close at 7 p.m., and early voting results should be posted shortly therafter. In Dallas, about 26,000 people voted early, which amounts to about half of the expected overall turnout. This means the early voting results should give us a good idea where some races are headed. However, it could be 10 p.m. or later before Election Day results are posted and we know the final outcomes.

Races we’ll be watching most closely include:

Dallas mayor: David Kunkle, Ron Natinsky, Edward Okpa and Mike Rawlings are in a four-way battle to become the city’s next top elected official. If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote tonight, we’ll have a June runoff between the top two vote-getters. Kunkle is endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Natinsky has the backing of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

District 14 Dallas City Council: Three-term incumbent Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT ally, is being challenged by openly gay candidate James Nowlin, who’s endorsed by Stonewall Democrats and has raised the most money in the race. Hunt is endorsed by DGLA. The other two candidates in the District 14 race are Vernon Franko and Brian Oley. Again, if no one gets 50 percent tonight, we’ll have a runoff between the top two.

District 7 Dallas City Council: Casie Pierce is vying to become the first out lesbian elected to the council in the city’s history, but she faces an uphill battle against incumbent Carolyn Davis for this South Dallas seat. Also challenging Davis is Helene McKinney. Pierce is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and DGLA.

District 3 Dallas City Council: Incumbent Dave Neumann faces a stiff challenge from Scott Griggs for this Oak Cliff seat previously held by openly gay Councilman Ed Oakley. Griggs is endorsed by both Stonewall Democrats and DGLA.

District 5 Arlington City Council: Realtor Chris Hightower is vying to become Arlington’s first openly gay city councilman. Hightower, one of four candidates challenging eight-year incumbent Lana Wolff, is endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.

Fort Worth mayor: Five candidates are vying to replace Mike Moncrief, who is not seeking re-election. They are Jim Lane, Cathy Hirt, Betsy Price, Dan Barrett and Nicholas Zebrun.

—  John Wright

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 03.18

Footes won’t fail you now
Honoring the Texas playwright, the theater community unites for the first Horton Foote Festival. The fest kicks off with DTC’s Dividing the Estate. but even a touch of gay can be found with The Young Man from Atlanta, which Uptown Players will perform in April.
DEETS:
Various theaters and venues. Through May 1. Visit HortonFooteFestival.com for details.

Friday 03.18

When wine strolls attack
Savor Dallas is upon us again, filling the weekend with food, wine and fabulosity. The event starts off with an Arts District Wine Stroll within the museums and venues. Just don’t get tipsy and spill the wine on the art. That’s a whole lot of bad karma. And look for local celebrichefs like Stephan Pyles and Blythe Beck. Bon appetit!
DEETS:
Various venues. 5 p.m. $35. Through Saturday. Visit SavorDallas.com for schedule.

Saturday 03.19

Hey, why don’t you go take a walk
Designer Anthony Chisom took issues into his own hands starting the Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation and creating the inaugural South Dallas AIDS Walk. Seeing the impact of AIDS beyond the gayborhood, Chisom’s foundation strives to expand the city’s vision of where AIDS impacts. After all, it is the same fight for the cure.
DEETS: South Dallas Cultural Center, 3400 S. Fitzhugh Ave. 8 a.m. SouthDallasAIDSWalk.org.

—  John Wright

Abounding Prosperity promotes HIV prevention

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Abounding Prosperity will launch its new initiative, “Dallas Taking Control,” at a town hall meeting that will be held next week in conjunction with the first South Dallas AIDS walk.

Kirk Myers, Abounding Prosperity’s CEO, said his organization is the only African-American run AIDS organization in South Dallas. The agency’s offices are located across the street from AIDS Arms’ Peabody Clinic.

Among the initiative’s goals are increased access to prevention education and outreach to men who have sex with men, and increasing awareness of the urgency of HIV/AIDS through social networking and increase partnerships.

Myers.Kirk
Kirk Myers

Myers said that while AIDS Arms cares for people with HIV, his organization is dedicated to preventing infection.

 

He referred to the $8 million AIDS Arms is raising for a second clinic.

“Eight million dollars can prevent a lot of HIV cases too,” he said.

He said he isn’t criticizing the work of AIDS Arms, but is questioning the county’s and state’s commitment to promoting awareness and preventing the disease.

The South Dallas AIDS Walk will be held on Saturday, March 19. The Anthony Chisolm AIDS Foundation that scheduled the walk planned a town hall meeting the night before at Cornerstone Baptist Church. Phill Wilson is the featured speaker.

Wilson founded the Black AIDS Institute in 1999. Before that he co-chaired the Los Angeles County HIV Health Commission and was director of policy and planning at AIDS Project Los Angeles.

Wilson.Phill
Phill Wilson

After Wilson speaks, Dallas’ new first lady, State Rep. Barbara Mallory-Carroway, will moderate a panel discussion about the Dallas Taking Control initiative.

Among the panelists will be Dallas County Health Director Zachary Thompson. From the Texas Department of State Health Services, the director and the manager of the TB, HIV and STD division, Felipe Rocha and Dr. Ann Robbins, will appear along with Kevin Jones, a behavioral scientist with the Centers for Disease Control.

A study issued by the CDC last year found that gay black men in Dallas had among the highest rates of HIV in the country. Myers called the statistics a disaster and his organization requested a state of emergency in Dallas.

While the state of emergency was denied, Myers said that the panel is a result. He said this is the first time county and state health officials have come together specifically to address the black gay community in Dallas.

Myers said that his organization continues to grow and is receiving more recognition for its work.

Abounding Prosperity operates Prosperity House in South Dallas as a temporary housing providing low-cost transitional housing.

Myers said his agency is looking to expand to provide free temporary housing for at-risk gay black youth aged 17 or older.

……………………………

First South Dallas AIDS Walk steps off on March 19

The Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation will hold the first South Dallas AIDS Walk on Saturday, March 19.

The 5K walk begins and ends at the South Dallas Cultural Center on Fitzhugh Avenue near Fair Park. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk at 10 a.m.

“The goal is to inspire, galvanize and rally South Dallas,” the foundation’s executive director, Auntjuan Wiley, said.

He said the dollar goal is $100,000.

“We still need sponsors, vendors, volunteers, walkers and teams,” Wiley said.

At the end of the walk, he said there will be entertainment and children’s activities.

Wiley said the foundation, which began in 2008, provides financial assistance for people with HIV. They help with rent, utility bills, insurance payments and access to medication. Transportation vouchers help clients get to their medical appointments.

For more information, please call Auntjuan Wiley at (214) 455-7316. You may also visit SouthDallasAIDSWalk.org.

The agency also provides HIV and syphilis testing, counseling and referral services. Myers said his group is not a nine-to-five office-hours, HIV testing organization.

“Our goal is to serve the most at-risk people,” he said. “We do it at times convenient to our clientele.”

That includes sending staff to clients’ homes when necessary, Myers said.

Abounding Prosperity also runs substance abuse meetings for men dealing with alcohol and drug problems.

This year, Black Tie Dinner approached the group about applying to become a beneficiary. Myers said the  agency completed and submitted its application and he is waiting to see if Abounding Prosperity is accepted as a beneficiary.

Myers said he appreciated the outreach by Black Tie and added that it confirmed that the work his organization is doing within the black gay community is being recognized beyond the South Dallas community as well.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 11, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

District 7 challenger aims to become Dallas’ 1st out lesbian councilmember

Casie Pierce

Casie Pierce believes that the Great Trinity Forest could be the gateway to lifting up South Dallas community

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

If Casie Pierce wins her District 7 race, she would be the first open lesbian to serve on the Dallas City Council. She is challenging incumbent Carolyn Davis.

District 7 runs from the Mesquite border north of I-30 then dips south of the highway through Pleasant Grove, across parts of South Dallas including Fair Park and stopping just before North Oak Cliff.

There have been no openly-LGBT council members since Ed Oakley resigned to run for mayor in 2007. James Nowlin, another openly gay candidate, is challenging incumbent Angela Hunt in the District 14 race.

For a number of years, Pierce has been active in her Parkdale community, a section of Pleasant Grove with a large LGBT population. She worked on neighborhood cleanup and park projects with at-risk youth.

In 2005, Pierce founded Groundwork Dallas Inc., a nonprofit organization that has improved access to the Great Trinity Forest and cleaned up gateway neighborhoods. The group has built nature trails that connect with the Trinity River Audubon Center and the planned neighboring equestrian center. The group has also done landscaping around churches and on roadway medians, and, using grant money, it has employed at-risk neighborhood teens.

Pierce sees the possibility of bringing business to South Dallas by developing local eco-tourism in the forest surrounding the Trinity River.

“Lots of people go outside of Dallas to go mountain biking,” Pierce said, adding that most people don’t even know these trails are here.

Pierce said that much more could be done to develop the Great Trinity Forest into a recreational area. The 6,200 acres of forestland lies just four miles south of downtown encompassing an area four times the size of Manhattan.

While Pierce calls District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis supportive of the work she’s done to clean up neighborhoods and attract more people to the district, “I’d be more aggressive” as the District 7 council representative, she said.

Pierce said that businesses should be given a reason to move into the district. With the opening of DART’s Green Line, she would work to bring development to the area as a council member, especially around the new Lawnview Station.

Pierce said that while she wasn’t expecting anything on the scale of the development that surrounds Mockingbird or Park Lane stations to come to her South Dallas district, she would like to see some new apartments and stores.

Pierce works as a grant writer. She cites that talent as a source for funding new projects that will stimulate and attract business to the district. Groundwork Dallas got started with an initial $100,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program.

As a City Council member, Pierce said she would be more aggressive in attracting grant money to her district for development.

And she believes the area is primed for business development. Pierce points to all of the vacant stores, offices and manufacturing facilities in the area. She said that while much of the opposition to beer and wine sales in last November’s election came from her district, she’d like to see a few carefully zoned stores inside the Dallas border that cater to the still-dry Mesquite market.

“Right now they’re shopping in Garland,” she said.

Pierce calls herself a fiscal conservative and said the city should stop giving away PIDs — public improvement districts that offer large tax advantages to locate businesses in certain areas. She mentioned the new Hunt Oil building downtown that she said was going to be in the exact same location whether they received a tax abatement or not.

“That’s $30 million,” Pierce said. “We shouldn’t bribe people to be here.”

Pierce said her strategy is to build a coalition of voters who want to see positive growth in the area. She said she hoped her fiscally conservative views would attract voters in the more conservative District 7 areas north of I-30. In her neighborhood clean-up campaigns, she has worked with a number of South Dallas pastors who she hoped would support her candidacy.

In addition to her grant writing career, Pierce has worked for the McKinney Avenue Transit Authority and still volunteers as a trolley operator when they need extra help for special events.

Her Parkdale neighborhood lies east of Fair Park and south of Military Parkway. She lives with her partner who manages a high-end restaurant.

District 7 incumbent Carolyn Davis was contacted for comment for this article, but had not responded by press deadline.

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

—  John Wright

Marlon Riggs Film Festival continues this weekend

Back in black

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs changed the face of black gay America with his monumental film Tongues Untied. The 1989 documentary was controversial, but his legacy endured. Two decades later, the Fahari Arts Institute strives to keep Riggs relevant — especially to a younger audience.

“Youth is a big focus this year,” says arts director Harold Steward. “We are encouraging people to bring their families to the festival.”

The Marlon Riggs Film Festival returns for a second year on Feb. 18. The festival is presented in association with Black Cinematheque, Q-Roc TV and the  South Dallas Cultural Center as well as with the cooperation of the United Black Ellument and AIDS Arms.

Read the entire article here.

—  Rich Lopez

South Dallas AIDS Walk volunteer orientation meeting reset for Tuesday

The South Dallas AIDS Walk volunteer orientation meeting originally scheduled for Feb. 9 and delayed due to the bad weather has been rescheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 15.

The meeting will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Blue/Yellow Room at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan.

The  walk, set for March 19, is being presented by The Anthony Chisom AIDS Foundation to help promote awareness and education efforts in the South Dallas area, one of the hardest hit areas in the state in terms of HIV infections.

For more information or to register as a volunteer, contact Ray Jordan, Volunteer Committee chair, by e-mail at rayj1979@gmail.com.

—  admin

Gay DISD cop among few out male officers

Although Jeremy Liebbe is 100 percent out, he declined to be photographed for this story because he does undercover work.

Jeremy Liebbe serves as co-commander for major Oak Lawn events and is a board member at Youth First Texas

JOHN WRIGHT | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

Jeremy Liebbe’s coming-out-at-work experience was unusual to say the least.

It was September 2004, and Liebbe had been with the Dallas Independent School District’s police force for less than two months. He and another officer were traveling down U.S. Highway 175 toward “Dead Man’s Curve” at a high rate of speed late at night, with their lights and sirens activated, responding to a call for help from a third officer who was in a fight with some suspects.

Liebbe’s partner, a former Marine raised in South Dallas, was behind the wheel. (“Not the individual you would think to come out to,” Liebbe says.)

Liebbe’s partner suddenly turned to him and said flatly, “Are you gay?”

“My first thought was, if I answer correctly, are we going to wreck out in Dead Man’s Curve?” Liebbe recalls. “I just said, ‘Well, yeah.’ And he said, ‘OK, cool.’ Then we go down and deal with the fighting suspects and get everybody in custody, and he decides to out me to the suspects and the other officer by telling them what type of person, in Marine terminology, just kicked their tail.

“I was like, well, that’s one way to come out at work.”

A few weeks later, Liebbe says, rumors about his sexual orientation, now confirmed, had “spread like wildfire,” and he found himself called in to meet with his supervisor, the lieutenantover internal affairs. The lieutenant explained there was a rumor going around that Liebbe was gay.

“I said, ‘OK, well it’s true.’ And he said, ‘So you’re just going to freely admit it?’” Liebbe recalls. “I said, ‘One, we have our nondiscrimination policies that are board mandated, and two, as the internal affairs lieutenant, if I lied to you about something as trivial as that, would you ever trust me again?’

“He said, ‘That’s a damn good point.’”

Since then, Liebbe says, his sexual orientation hasn’t been much of an issue at DISD, and he gets along well with the lieutenant.

“There have been some situations that have come up at work, as would be expected in a paramilitary organization, but for the most part, I’m a supervisor now,” he says. “Most people, just because of the fact that I’m a supervisor, are going to leave me alone. It also helps that DISD has a longstanding nondiscrimination policy for employment practices that covers sexual orientation, so that gives some fallback.”

Today, the 32-year-old Liebbe has been with the DISD police for more than six years and serves as a detective sergeant in narcotics. (Because he does undercover work, he didn’t want his photograph to appear alongside this story.)

Liebbe is one of the few openly gay police officers in North Texas who are male — if not the only one. And as it turns out, Liebbe’s decision to go into law enforcement was something of an accident that began in the gayborhood.

In 2001, Liebbe was studying computer science at UT Dallas and had started a database design company. At 22, he had “damn good money flowing in,” and he says he found himself on the Cedar Springs strip three to five nights a week.

At the time, Liebbe says, there was gang activity in some of the clubs. As a regular who happened to be a first-degree black belt, Liebbe says he wound up ending a couple of fights “quickly and efficiently.”

When Caven’s security team asked Liebbe to join them, he questioned why he’d want to. But after learning it would mean free drinks and reduced cover charges, “I said, ‘Where do I sign up?’” Liebbe recalls.

Shortly thereafter, Liebbe caught the attention of Sgt. Lynn Albright, then the Dallas Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer, who noticed that he was a little different from other Caven security guards.

“She said, ‘If you want something to do when you’re bored, come play with us,’” Liebbe recalls.

Albright asked Liebbe to ride along with her twice, and if he wasn’t’ convinced to go to the police academy and become a reserve officer, she’d leave him alone.

“I actually thought she was crazy for suggesting I become a cop,” he recalls.

But Liebbe was hooked, and despite becoming a cop, he never abandoned his roots in the LGBT community.

For the last eight years, Liebbe has worked all of the major events on Cedar Springs, from Pride to the Halloween block party to, most recently, the Super Bowl block party. And for the last three years, he’s served as operations co-commander for them.

It’s a huge job that requires hundreds of hours of preparations for each event on the part of Liebbe and two co-commanders.

“We almost are getting to the point where we literally roll from one event to another,” he says.

Liebbe says he’s proud of how smoothly events run in Oak Lawn compared to other areas of the city. And he’s convinced so many DISD officers to work the events that they now typically make up half the law enforcement presence — which he says ultimately benefits LGBT youth.

Liebbe also serves as a volunteer and board member at Youth First Texas, which stemmed from his role on the Pride Steering Committee since YFT is a beneficiary of the parade.

As an Eagle Scout who was eventually ousted from the Boy Scouts for being gay, Liebbe says he’s always had a place in his heart for youth organizations.

He began volunteering at YFT a few years ago while taking some time off from work, after he’d just finished investigating 33 cheese heroin deaths at DISD.

He recalled that on his YFT volunteer application he wrote, only half-jokingly: “I think it would be spiritually uplifting to work with at-risk groups who are not in handcuffs.”

As it turns out, the presence of a law enforcement officer at YFT has both practical and symbolic importance. For example, the former director of YFT sometimes questioned why Liebbe insisted on carrying a concealed firearm at the center — until a deadly shooting a few years ago at an LGBT youth center in Israel.

Liebbe also teaches a self-awareness and self-defense program at YFT called SEED, which stands for Survive, Evade, Escalate and Destroy. Liebbe, who was bullied as a teenager, says his role as a DISD police officer gives him an interesting perspective on the problem, and the recent LGBT youth suicide crisis reopened old wounds.

Despite its name, Liebbe says the SEED program, which he wrote with a friend, doesn’t advocate violence. Instead, the program is based on the idea that most bullies will back down if you stand up to them, even if it’s just verbally.

“We teach that violence is a last resort,” he says. “You don’t hit anybody unless they’ve taken a swing at you. But once the bullying escalates to violence, once it becomes bashing, then the nature of the game needs to change.”

Liebbe says he makes clear to YFT youth that he isn’t there as a cop, before adding that he hopes they’re never involved in one of his investigations, because his case clearance rate is pretty high.

But given the perception in the LGBT community that law enforcement isn’t gay-friendly — and the fact that a lot of officers sleep through diversity training — Liebbe acknowledges that the mere presence of a gay law enforcement officer at YFT can’t hurt.

“Every one of the youth there who get to know me can say there’s at least one cop that, if I see him, I can give him a hug and he’ll help me,” Liebbe says.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

BACK IN BLACK: The 3-day Marlon Riggs Film Festival returns to mark the gay black pioneer

CUT AND PRINT | Cleo Manago’s ‘HIV Healing in Young, Black America’ screens as part of Fahari’s Arts and AIDS series.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Filmmaker Marlon Riggs changed the face of black gay America with his monumental film Tongues Untied. The 1989 documentary was controversial, but his legacy endured.

Two decades later, the Fahari Arts Institute strives to keep Riggs relevant — especially to a younger audience.

“Youth is a big focus this year,” says arts director Harold Steward. “We are encouraging people to bring their families to the festival.”

The Marlon Riggs Film Festival returns for a second year on Feb. 18. The festival is presented in association with Black Cinematheque, Q-Roc TV and the  South Dallas Cultural Center as well as with the cooperation of the United Black Ellument and AIDS Arms.  In efforts to expand the quality, panel discussions with filmmakers have been added to supplement the screenings. The inaugural day is centered on Riggs and his work: I Will Not Be Removed: The Life of Marlon Riggs and the short Tongues Untied: Still in Vogue.  In a nod to those works and Riggs, this year’s festival is titled Untied, but not Removed.

“Each day has a theme which helps our film selection,” Steward says. “We always start with Riggs and Lamond Ayers who worked with him will come to speak about his relationship with him and working in media and film in the ’80s and ’90s.”

The Texas Health and Human Services Department stepped in to sponsor the second night that gives attention to health issues and the impact of HIV/AIDS on the black community. This serves as part of Fahari’s Arts and AIDS series. HIV Healing in Young, Black America: Getting the Language Right by Cleo Manago screens alongside Claudia Malis’s Why Us? Left Behind and Dying. Malis will be in attendance to discuss the issues of youth today becoming infected and her initiatives in which youth research the impact first hand. Free HIV testing will be offered through the evening.

“It is a gift to have her here to talk about that,” Steward says.

The three-day event wraps on Sunday with a series of short films thematically addressing the idea of black masculinity in a gay world. Julien Breece’s short The Young and Evil may raise the most eyebrows. The film takes on the controversial topic of bug chasing and looks at one man in his quest to contract the virus. Robert X. Goldpin’s Punch Me follows a man as he struggles to accept himself in the midst of his father dying and the loss of his boyfriend. Goldpin will Skype in to the festival for a virtual panel discussion about his film. Patrick Murphy’s Animal Drill rounds out the three films.

The goal of this festival is to use these films and media as a guide through black America,” Steward says. “Riggs addressed culture, sexuality and health in his work. We just want to continue that work.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright