WATCH: Dallas Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson records LGBT Pride Month message

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas, pledged her continued support for equality in an LGBT Pride Month video.

The video was posted on the congresswoman’s YouTube page Friday.

A longtime supporter of LGBT rights, Johnson voted in favor of the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 but now is now a sponsor of the bill to repeal DOMA.

In the video, she mentions that this year is the 43rd  anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, reflecting on the “enormous advancements in gay rights” since then that include the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” and the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

“These laws strengthen our commitment to value every American’s life equally, both publicly and privately,” she said. “The law of the land must protest every American’s civil rights.”

Johnson pledges in the video to continue to support gay rights as a member of LGBT Equality Caucus and to help pass legislation that “ensures a more united fight against discrimination and intolerance.”

“While great progress has been made, more work needs to be done,” she said.

Watch the video below.

—  Anna Waugh

Camina raising funds to complete Rainbow Lounge documentary before March premiere

Filmmaker Robert Camina

Filmmaker Robert Camina said his new film Raid of the Rainbow Lounge is currently being mixed at a sound studio, and he is raising money to pay off costs incurred and post-production expenses as well as pay for distribution fees.

The 100-minute documentary details the bar raid that took place in Fort Worth on the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. The Rainbow Lounge raid left two patrons of the bar injured, including one with severe head injuries.

“But I hope it has an inspiring message,” Camina said.

He said the film goes beyond documenting the raid to tell the story of the progress Fort Worth’s LGBT community made as a result of the incident. The raid, conducted by two Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents and seven Fort Worth police officers, led to new transgender protections in the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, a police liaison to the LGBT community, sensitivity training for all city employees and a variety of other advances.

Before making this film, Camina’s experience was with comedies.

“I learned more about politics making this film,” he said.

The film is narrated by Meredith Baxter, and Camina hopes to premiere it in March in Fort Worth.

Contributions to expenses for the film can be made here. As a thank you, Camina Entertainment is offering mugs, T-shirts and autographed copies of Baxter’s book, Untied.

—  David Taffet

Arthur Evans, activist who once started a VW repair business called the Buggery, dies at 68

Arthur Evans

Despite having now worked in the gay press for nearly five years, I’m ashamed to say I’d never heard of pioneering activist Arthur Evans, who died Sunday at 68. Evans was involved in the Gay Liberation Front, the group that formed following the Stonewall Rebellion, and he later co-founded another group, the Gay Activists Alliance, because he didn’t feel the Gay Liberation Front was aggressive enough. Wow, has this story not repeated itself over and over throughout the LGBT equality movement? Anyway, what I found most interesting about Evans is the story of his life before becoming a gay activist. After attending Brown and Columbia, he dropped out of school and moved to Washington state, where he and a companion started a group called the Weird Sisters Partnership, homesteading a small piece of land and living in a tent. Then Evans moved to San Francisco and opened a Volkswagen repair business called the Buggery before finally heading back to New York. Evans didn’t come out to his parents until 1970 at age 28, and you’ll never guess how. From The New York Times:

Growing up, Mr. Evans had hid his sexual orientation, though he himself was aware of it at 10, he said. By November 1970, when he was scheduled to appear on “The Dick Cavett Show” with other gay leaders, he had still not told his parents that he was gay. But, by his account, he did tell them he was going to be on national television. Thrilled, they told friends and neighbors to tune in.

Mr. Evans later said he regretted his handling of the matter.

 

—  John Wright

PHOTOS, VIDEO: Hundreds celebrate NY marriage win at 3rd annual Stonewall march in Dallas

 

VIEW MORE PHOTOS FROM THE NORTH TEXAS MARCH FOR EQUALITY

About 150 people marched through Downtown Dallas on Saturday evening in the third annual North Texas March for Equality. Some local media outlets reported the event as a last-minute celebration of the New York marriage equality vote, which happened late Friday. But in fact it had been planned for months.

The march left from the JFK Memorial. Marchers walked seven blocks down Commerce Street to Neiman Marcus and returned on Main Street for a rally in front of Old Red. Police kept one lane of traffic open while marchers passed. Motorists waved and gave thumbs-up signs to the marchers. No counterprotesters appeared along the route or at the rally.

Daniel Cates, the local GetEQUAL organizer, put together the event. Cd Kirven was the emcee and introduced about a dozen speakers at the rally. Many of the speakers celebrated the marriage equality vote in New York, and all demanded equal rights.

The march began in 2009 as a way for Dallas, which celebrates Pride in September, to commemorate the June anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

—  David Taffet

Giffords intern Daniel Hernandez Jr. to speak at Stonewall Democrats fundraiser in Dallas

Daniel Hernandez Jr. and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords prior to the shooting. (via Facebook)

We’re working to get in touch with Daniel Hernandez Jr., the gay Latino intern credited with saving the life of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, but for now we thought we’d go ahead and mention that Hernandez will be in town next Tuesday for a Stonewall Democrats fundraiser marking the 42nd anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Hernandez is a University of Arizona student who’d been an intern for Giffords for only five days at the time of the January shooting in Tuscon. Hernandez applied pressure to Giffords’ head wound and held her upright so she wouldn’t choke on her blood while waiting for paramedics to arrive. Then he rode with her in the back of an ambulance, squeezing her hand as she squeezed back.

The following day, Instant Tea was the first to identify Hernandez as gay. And a few days after that, he would be honored at the Tucson memorial attended by President Barack Obama, where he insisted he wasn’t a hero.

Hernandez will attend a private fundraiser at the home of Stonewall Democrats members on Tuesday, before making a public appearance at the Brick. Sponsorships for the private fundraiser range from $50 to $1,000 and can be purchased here. The fundraiser runs from 6 to 8 p.m. at 2916 Throckmorton St.

The public event runs from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the Brick, and Hernandez will speak at 9. A $10 donation is suggested.

Watch Hernandez’s interview with CNN after the shooting, as well as his speech at the memorial service, after the jump.

—  John Wright

Dallas officials to host 1st Pride Month reception, but flag at City Hall must wait till next year

Delia Jasso

Dallas city leaders will host what is believed to be the first-ever official LGBT Pride Month reception in the Flag Room at City Hall next week.

District 1 Councilwoman Delia Jasso organized the reception with the help of the LGBT task force she created after first being elected two years ago.

Jasso said she will read an LGBT Pride Proclamation from the city and present it to the task force during the reception, which is open to the public and will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday. Jasso is hosting the event along with District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, who represents District 2.

City Manager Mary Suhm, Fire-Rescue Chief Eddie Burns and Police Chief David Brown are expected to attend, Jasso said. She also plans to invite Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings. The Pride Reception will take place on the same day a new mayor and council members are sworn in, so it’s likely others will be there as well.

“I think it’s the first time,” Jasso said. “I have no idea why it’s never been done before, but the task force took it upon themselves.

“It’s an important day in the gay community, and we wanted to be sure we did something for it,” she added, referring to the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, June 28.

Jasso said a banner marking LGBT Pride Month has been on display in the lobby of City Hall since June 1.

Beginning next year, she hopes the city can fly the LGBT Pride flag outside the building for the entire month. This year, organizers didn’t have time to obtain a flag large enough and determine the necessary steps for approval.

“The next step is to see what it would take to fly the flag next year,” Jasso said.

—  John Wright

A long road still lies ahead in the fight for equality

Pride Month celebrates our accomplishments, but an East Texas funeral service reminds us that we have a long way to go

Rafael_McDonnellRAFAEL McDONNELL | Special Contributor

This is national Gay Pride Month. In the 40-plus years since 1969 and the Stonewall Rebellion, there have been significant changes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and it’s important to celebrate our accomplishments.

Take a look at what has happened in the last year:

The federal government took the first steps toward repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which bans open military service by gays and lesbians. Federal officials also unveiled new guidelines on how hospitals should deal with LGBT patients and their families.

Closer to home, DFW International Airport and Dallas County added policies to protect their LGBT employees from employment discrimination, and Dallas ISD adopted a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that protects all students regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

I’m happy to say Resource Center Dallas played key roles in these local accomplishments.

In addition, public attitudes are changing. A Gallup poll released last month shows more than half the people surveyed now find gay and lesbian relationships, in the words of the survey, “morally acceptable.” The poll also showed half the people surveyed support marriage equality; up from 26 percent in 1996.

Much of this growth is attributed to people under the age of 35, and a change of attitude among men.

With all of these positive developments, we could become complacent. We could think the heavy work is done. At times, I’ve allowed myself to fall into this self-congratulatory trap.

Then I hear a story, as I did over Memorial Day weekend, which jars me back to the reality that our lives are precarious. It reminded me that there are far too many hearts and souls whose attitudes toward us have not changed.

At a funeral for a gay acquaintance of mine in East Texas, the minister delivered an anti-gay message from the pulpit, as did a relative of the deceased. In fact, the relative said he did not accept his brother’s sexual orientation in life, and wouldn’t in death.

Think about that for a minute. Can you imagine what the LGBT friends of the deceased must have felt, hearing those words in that setting?

This happened in 2011, a short drive from Dallas/Fort Worth. It stunned me, and reminded me of several recent events that together show the path for full inclusion remains bumpy.

When a state representative tries to eliminate funding for LGBT resource centers on Texas public college campuses, we have a long way to go. When a state senator attempts to restrict the rights of transgender Texans to marry, we have a long way to go.

When criminals target people because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, we have a long way to go. When LGBT people can still be fired from their jobs because of who they are or who they love, we have a long way to go.

When there are laws labeling our relationships and partnerships as less than legal and equal, we have a long way to go. When LGBT seniors face discrimination in long-term care facilities, we have a long way to go.

When we are treated unequally under federal programs like Social Security and Medicaid, we have a long way to go.

This is not meant to be a bucket of cold water on a festive, celebratory time. We’ve shown over and over again in the years since Stonewall that we have created communities, forged alliances and literally moved mountains to affect positive change for the LGBT community. We’ve rallied over the people we’ve lost and the temporary setbacks dropped in our path by lawmakers.

Rather, I think we should use Pride Month as an opportunity to look forward as well as back. Our pride in being who we are, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, isn’t limited to 30 days every year, or a parade in the early fall. It’s pride in how we live our lives and how we work to fulfill the promise of equality for those who come after us.

Remember, this promise of equality is — for us — only a theoretical promise. To achieve equality, much more needs to be done, and each one of us must play a part.

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas and a former broadcast journalist. Email him at rmcdonnell@rcdallas.org.

—  John Wright

TABC, Fort Worth consider settlement with patrons injured in Rainbow Lounge raid

Tom Anable

Fort Worth city administrators are recommending that the City Council approve a settlement with Chad Gibson, one of the patrons who was injured in the Rainbow Lounge raid. The pending settlement is a result of mediation among the city, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and Gibson’s attorneys.

The amount of the settlement from the city is $400,000. The amount from TABC has not been released.

The raid by Fort Worth police officers and TABC agents occurred on June 28, 2008, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion.

Gibson suffered a head injury. George Armstrong was also injured and is included in the settlement. Pending felony charges against Gibson and Armstrong were dropped toward the end of last year before the mediation began.

Three Fort Worth police officers received short suspensions, and two TABC agents were fired, as a result of the incident.

Tom Anable, a founder of Fairness Fort Worth, a group formed in the wake of the raid, said he’s pleased that the city had come to an agreement.

“I think that the willingness of the city to enter into mediation without a federal lawsuit being filed is an indication of their willingness to move forward with our community,” Anable said.

Anable said this is the first time the city has entered into mediation without the threat of a federal lawsuit and the first time a city and TABC entered into joint negotiations.

“That speaks volumes of the city and of TABC,” Anable said. “No one wants to go backward, and that’s the story.”

While Anable said he has no inside information about the negotiations, he added, “As with any mediation, it’s successful if neither side is really happy but both are satisfied.”

Carolyn Beck, a spokeswoman for TABC, said, “TABC has engaged in settlement discussions with [Gibson] attorney Don Tittle. At this time the parties have agreed not to comment on those discussions until any resolution is finalized.”

Adam Seidel, an attorney for Gibson and Armstrong, was not available for comment this morning.

The item is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Fort Worth City Council meeting.

Gibson, who was hospitalized after the raid, is still receiving treatment for the injuries he sustained.

—  David Taffet

Top 10: FW changes continued in wake of Rainbow Lounge

Rainbow.Lounge
FROM PROTEST TO PARTY | The Rev. Carole West, left, and David Mack Henderson, right, both of Fairness Fort Worth, are shown with Chief Jeffrey Halstead during a barbecue at the Rainbow Lounge on June 28 to mark the one-year anniversary of the raid. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

No. 8:

View all of the Top 10

When the Fort Worth Police Department  and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage raided the Rainbow Lounge on June 28, 2009 — the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion — it sparked outrage around the world and enough headlines to fill newspapers for the rest of the year.

But the story didn’t end with 2009, as repercussions from the raid continued this year.

Publicity from the raid undoubtedly helped punch up business for the Rainbow Lounge, enough so that by January, the bar’s owner, J.R. Schrock, announced that he had a second bar — Percussions — in the works, as well as a third club and possibly a fourth.

In February — despite acknowledgments from both TABC and FWPD that the raid should never have happened — officials with the Fort Worth city attorney’s office said they were going ahead with efforts to prosecute those arrested in the raid, including Chad Gibson, the young man who suffered a lasting brain injury while in TABC custody.

One of Fort Worth police Chief Jeff Halstead’s first acts after the raid was to appoint openly gay officer Sara Straten as his department’s first full-time liaison to the LGBT community.

On June 28, as a way of highlighting the progress the city had made in the year since the raid and improved relations between the police department and the LGBT community, Rainbow Lounge held a party attended by Halstead, Straten and many of the officers who patrol the area in which the bar is located.

Despite the progress though, in July anti-gay forces packed the City Council chambers to once again protest the council’s vote the previous November to amend Fort Worth’s nondiscrimination ordinance to offer protections to transgenders and other initiatives proposed by the City Manager’s Diversity Task Force.

At the end of the public comments section of the meeting, Mayor Mike Moncrief told the crowd that while “there is room for all of us” in Fort Worth, “What’s in the Bible or what isn’t in the Bible, that’s not our job. Our job is to maintain the quality of life in our city, and that’s what this [diversity] training is all about.”

As the year continued, more examples of the changes in the city emerged: The police department reached out to the LGBT community in looking for new recruits. Halstead announced plans to start a hate crimes unit. The annual Tarrant County gay Pride celebration expanded, adding a block party and holding a parade and picnic far larger than in years past.

In September, the council quietly approved adding domestic partner benefits for lesbian and gay city employees, and in mid-November, the city attorney’s office announced that all charges against those arrested in the raid were being dropped.

Perhaps one of the most welcome results of the Rainbow Lounge raid, however, was the emergence and continued growth of Fairness Fort Worth.

Formed quickly in the wake of the raid to offer assistance to witnesses who wanted to testify during investigations into the raid, the group has morphed into an active LGBT advocacy organization complete with officers and a strategy for the future — filling a void that has long existed in Tarrant County’s LGBT community.

— Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 31, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

New block party added to Tarrant Pride celebration

Parade, picnic highlight week of gay, lesbian Pride events in Fort Worth

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Tarrant County Pride
MARCHING THROUGH | Celebration Community Church celebrated the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion with a float in a previous Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade depicting a high-heeled shoe kicking down a wall.

Dallas isn’t alone in holding Pride in a month other than June. Fort Worth’s 29th Pride parade will take place two weeks after the Dallas event, on Oct. 3.

A week of Pride events begins with a Sunday afternoon parade on South Jennings Avenue that steps off at 2 p.m.

“The parade is going to change directions,” said Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association President Jody Wasson.

The route will be reversed from previous years, heading toward downtown. Line-up will be on South Jennings Avenue at Rosedale, where the parade traditionally has ended.
“What’s new this year is the block party,” said Wasson.

The intersection of South Jennings and Pennsylvania avenues near the new end of the parade route will be blocked off for a street party starting at noon. He said the block party will include entertainment through the afternoon and food, soft drinks, beer and wine will be available.

“There will be an area for the kids and for pets,” he said. “Even your pets have Pride.”

Tony Coronado of the TCGPWA committee said that anyone can enter their dogs in the parade. They will compete in small, medium and large categories. From the winners, a king and queen will be chosen who will preside over next year’s Pride Pets competition.

Although it rained last year, that parade was the largest in Fort Worth history, coming just months after the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Wasson said he couldn’t predict participation in this year’s parade and that applications are just now coming in.

To participate, applications with payment must be postmarked by Friday, Sept. 24. Forms are available online. A $100 late fee must accompany applications received later than that.

But Sept. 30 is the absolute cutoff date since recent changes in Fort Worth’s outdoor events ordinance require organizers to notify the city of expected attendance by the end of this month.

The standard entry fee is $50 but groups that meet certain eco-friendly standards qualify for a discounted fee of $35. Those groups must be in a hybrid vehicle or be a walking group and not distribute any items.

TCGPWA is sharing the national “One Heart, One World, One Pride” theme that Dallas is also using this year. One of the awards that will be presented after the parade is for the entry with the “best interpretation of the national theme.”

Other awards will be given for best performance, a “brothers and sisters” award for the best out-of-town entry and “vivaciously vivid” for best costume.

Pride Week ends on Oct. 10 with the Pride Picnic. Traditionally, that is the largest LGBT community event in Fort Worth.

Wasson said TCGPWA plans a bigger main stage with entertainment continuing non-stop from noon to 6 p.m. He said he expects everything from church choirs to a stomp group to perform.

“We’re adding a new area this year,” Coronado said. “In addition to the health and wellness area and family-friendly area we’ll have an arts and cultural area.”
Applications are available on the website.

The picnic takes place at Trinity Park near the 7th Street Pavilion.

The following day is National Coming Out Day.

QCinema plans to screen “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride” at Four Day Weekend Theater on Oct. 4. Other Pride Week events are scheduled at Fort Worth’s bars.

For more information, visit TCGPWA.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens