TCU GSA raising money for LGBT prom

gaypromFor some LGBT people, the memory of their high school prom wasn’t everything they dreamed it’d be, or in some cases, not even close.

But the Gay-Straight Alliance at Texas Christian University is partnering with the university’s social work class of 2015 to ensure that LGBT students and its allies have a second chance at a memorable prom.

“This event will allow college students and above to participate in the high school tradition of going to prom that they may have missed out on due to discrimination,” TCU GSA President Shelbie Rosenblum wrote on the GoFundMe website. “Both organizations feel that the LGBTQ community and their allies should be able to experience this special moment with the person of their choice. … We support the LGBTQ community of DFW and believe that this will be a treasured moment for those who attend.”

The fund aims to raise $4,000 for an enchanting evening with food, a photo both, DJ and elegant decorations, all without charging admission for the event. So far, $440 has been donated.

The prom, while hosted at TCU, will be open to other universities and students in the DFW area on Saturday, April 12.

—  Anna Waugh

Rev. Jo Hudson joins Brite faculty

The Rev. Jo Hudson

The Rev. Jo Hudson

Joretta Marshall, dean of Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, announced that the school has hired the Rev. Jo Hudson, former pastor of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, as an adjunct faculty member. Brite is on the campus of Texas Christian University.

Hudson, who resigned from COH after nine years in April, will be part of the Carpenter Initiative in Gender, Sexuality and Justice, which produces “programs that promote a critical engagement with issues of gender and sexual justice” and promotes attention to these issues in church and culture. Marshall directs the Carpenter Initiative.

Marshall said Hudson will teach part time, working with the school’s United Church of Christ students, lecturing, conducting workshops and preaching in chapel this fall. She said she hopes some of the programs will be open to the public and plans are still being formed.

“We extremely excited to have her on staff,” Marshall said.

Hudson will not be the first LGBT staff member at Brite. Both Marshall and the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle are also gay.

Marshall said Hudson is also working as the gathering pastor of Extravagance UCC, described on the website as, “a web-based spiritual community that gathers in a new way of defining church in the 21st century.”

—  David Taffet

UPDATE: TCU says anti-gay views ‘irrelevant’ in Chick-fil-A decision

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UPDATE: TCU spokeswoman Lisa Albert said the anti-gay controversy with Chick-fil-A wasn’t relevant to the conversations that began in the spring to bring the restaurant to campus.

Albert said university dining officials started student focus groups to determine what would drive them to the 1873 restaurant on campus to help limit an overflow of traffic at the campus dining hall. She added that while the company’s anti-gay reviews were likely “part of the conversation” in the focus groups, students have been asking for a Chick-fil-A for years.

“I think that the controversy was sort of irrelevant,” she said. “This was about what the students were wanting.”

She said the decision to bring Chick-fil-A to the university’s campus was made in the spring based on continued input from students about having it brought on campus. The announcement was made in the summer because that’s when the contracts were signed.

Albert said the university partners with several vendors and companies, including a Starbucks on campus, but officials don’t “support any political or personal opinions of those vendors.”

“I certainly understand the sensitivity within the gay community toward Chick-fil-A, but at the end of the day, [the company’s opinions] don’t reflect the opinions of TCU,” she said.

ORIGINAL POST: When students return to Texas Christian University’s campus for classes on Aug.  19, they’ll have Chick-fil-A as a dining option.

TCU announced internally in late May that the on-campus 1873 restaurant would be converted into a Chick-fil-A and open in the fall. A story followed in the school’s newspaper, but students had already left for the summer and it appears that few people noticed. Now LGBT advocates are questioning why the university chose to allow a controversial anti-gay restaurant chain on campus.

Todd Camp, a Fort Worth LGBT activist and TCU alumnus, said he recently heard about the restaurant coming to campus from a friend and was surprised there hadn’t been upset about it. He said the university knew the news would be controversial so it waited until after students were gone to avoid backlash.

“I find it disingenuous that they didn’t now Chick-fil-A would be controversial,” Camp said.

—  Anna Waugh

Overtures: Notes on the classical scene

Classical music writer Gregory Sullivan Isaacs tracks what’s going on (not a whole lot, actually!) in classical concerts this summer.

Well, classical music fans, July is on the dry side … and August is worse. We’ll spend August looking forward to the fall, when most seasons start. In the meanwhile, there are three series of performances that should be terrific.

Ludwig van Beethoven

The beginning of July brings the always-excellent Mimir Chamber Music Festival at PepsiCo Hall at TCU in Fort Worth. There will be some changes this summer due to the fact that artistic director Curt Thompson — who used to be on the TCU faculty — accepted an appointment Down Under as head of strings at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music. He will present the same festival there in September.

The festival has been reduced to one week but the quality remains high and the programming fascinating. Concerts will be on July 2—7 (with a break on the Fourth). As before, the performers will be distinguished string players from orchestras around the country, such as the Chicago Symphony, and the programming covers a great range: from Dvorak and Beethoven to living composers such as Paul Schoenfeld and Dana Wilson. There will be a tango string quartet by Astor Piazzolla and Benjamin Britten’s third quartet. Two young quartets, chosen by a jury, will play.

In Dallas, the Fine Arts Chamber Players present Basically Beethoven at City Performance Hall in the Arts District. Concerts take place on the four Sunday afternoons in July and are free to the public, thanks to generous underwriters — no tickets or reservations are required. (Performances starts at 3 p.m., but at 2:30 there is a “rising star” performance by an outstanding young performer.) Each hour-long intermission-free concert features outstanding local performers; many are members of the Dallas Symphony, the Fort Worth Symphony and the Dallas Opera Orchestra.

Although it’s not specifically a music concert, there is a curious musical performance as part of the Tenth Annual Modern Dance Festival at the Modern in Fort Worth. The whole festival is amazing, but on July 19-21 and July 26-28, they will present “9 Beat Stretch/Music of the Spheres.” This is Scandinavian sound artist Leif Inge’s altered version of Beethoven’s Ninth symphony — it is stretched to 24 hours with no pitch distortion. (There have been dreadful performances of this piece that I felt stretched that long, but I cannot begin to imagine how this will sound.) While that happens, there will be other performance events scattered throughout the museum building and grounds. Various dancers/companies/artists (and audience members) will come and go. Anyone up for the whole 24 hours?

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

TCU day with Chick-fil-A sparks upset

Texas Christian University is partnering with Chick-fil-A today to give free food to TCU fans sporting their Horned Frog attire.

Patrons who visit two Fort Worth locations near the university wearing TCU attire will be given a free original chicken sandwich or an eight pack of nuggets.

The event is part of TCU Athletics Big 12 Days of Summer series and drew some debate on the athletics department’s Facebook page.

Alumnus Marlon Figueroa, who is gay, said the event shouldn’t have occurred because it is inappropriate during the recent controversy with the chicken chain over gay marriage and President Dan Cathy’s anti-gay comments. He said he wants TCU to end its relationship with Chick-fil-A and not partner with the company in the future.

“I think that TCU represents a lot of people and by partnering with TCU it’s alienating a lot of people,” he said. “Our values to be inclusive are not in line with Chick-fil-A.”

Aaron Hampton, president of TCU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, told Instant Tea that the partnership sent the wrong message to students.

“It’s not just about local businesses partnering with TCU, it’s about TCU working with an organization that works to deny equal rights to citizens,” he said. “So by working with them it sends a message to TCU students that while TCU is supposedly ‘open,’ they appeal to the masses and do not stand firm in their assertion that the campus is a safe place to discuss ideas and not have some ideas shoved down people’s throats.”

TCU’s Director of Communications Lisa Albert told Instant Tea in an email that the event was to promote the university’s entry into the Big 12 Conference.

“TCU is promoting its entrance into the Big 12 through a variety of events planned months ago,” she wrote. “The University does not support political or personal statements associated with any of our event hosts.”

TCU, which is affiliated with but not governed by the Disciples of Christ church, has been progressive recently and made strides with LGBT students, said the Rev. Steve Sprinkle, an openly gay professor at Brite Divinity School on TCU’s campus.

Sprinkle said the event comes at an interesting time when Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced it would attend the company’s appreciation day Aug. 1. LGBT advocates have planned kiss-ins across the country for Aug. 3. He said the company is partnering with institutions that would help it sell its products.

He added that TCU can choose what companies to partner with for events and that the event could’ve been planned before the controversy.

Chick-fil-A will also be giving away products Saturday at Texas Rangers ballpark. Spokesman John Blake said the company is a corporate sponsor of the Rangers and the possibility of disassociating from them “hasn’t been addressed.”

The Texas Rangers were considering filming an “It Gets Better” video last year but Blake said nothing has been planned.

“We’ve talked about doing something that would target bullying but it’s not been one yet,” he said.

—  Anna Waugh

Fort Worth’s Brite Divinity School holds vigil for teen lesbian couple shot in S. Texas

Participants bow their heads during the vigil on June 29.

Oak Lawn wasn’t the only place in the DFW area where a vigil was held for the teenage lesbian couple who were shot in a park near Corpus Christi on June 23. Mollie Olgin, 18, was killed, and Kristene Chapa, 19, remains hospitalized.

Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth held a vigil on its campus Friday. The vigil was led by Brite’s Executive Vice President and Dean Joretta Marshall and professor Stephen Sprinkle. Both are openly gay.

Sprinkle said he believed it was the only vigil for Olgin and Chapa held on the campus of a divinity school. Brite President Newell Williams issued a pastoral response that was read at the vigil. The full text is after the jump.

—  David Taffet

Tyler Oakley tells TCU audience how YouTube brought hate but also inspired him to fight it

Tyler Oakley poses with attendees at the TCU Southwestern LGBT Leadership conference after his speech Saturday, March 3.

FORT WORTH — California YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley shared his story of how video stardom led to his first experience of anti-gay hatred — and how he used the hatred to encourage others, on Saturday at the TCU Southwestern LGBT Leadership Conference.

Oakley created a YouTube channel in 2008 as a way to keep in touch with friends after heading to Michigan State University. After his mother asked him if he was gay when he was 14 and he simply said ‘yes,’ Oakley explained that the support from her and his stepfather was overwhelmingly positive.

“But when I told my mom I upload videos, she freaked out and was like, ‘Do you where clothes in these videos?’” he said.

Although he told his mother that the videos were decent and a way to communicate with friends about random things, the idea of uploading personal videos still struck his family as odd.

“I couldn’t be more blessed when it came to them being accepting of me as a gay man, so I lucked out on the important one,” he said, laughing.

While his campus at Michigan State had gay students and supportive professors, and the Gay-Straight Alliance was viewed as “the cool thing,” comments on his videos about his sexuality began to become offensive and even threatening.

The comments were “an eye-opening experience,” he said, because his family and college had been so accepting.

“At first it was overwhelming because I’d never been judged for who I was,” he said. “It was comments like that that encouraged me to do something bigger.”

—  Anna Waugh

Ex-TCU star Vincent Pryor proposes to partner at awards lunch in ‘a beautiful, touching moment’

Vincent Pryor proposes to his partner of 13 years, Alan Dettlaff, at an Atticus Circle lunch where Pryor received an award Feb. 29. Courtesy Dinkins/De Jong.

AUSTIN – Former TCU football star Vincent Pryor received an award Wednesday from LGBT advocacy group Atticus Circle.

But the award that highlighted his courage to come out to his teammates in 1994 was not the event’s surprise. It was his proposal to his partner, Alan Dettlaff, at the end of his speech that shocked the sold-out audience of 300 and brought them to tears.

“It was a beautiful, touching moment,” Atticus Circle Executive Director Ruth Gardner-Loew said. “People were in tears and it was wonderful.”

Pryor and Dettlaff met at TCU at the beginning of their junior year. Dettlaff announced in their social work class one day that he was gay and was starting a group for other gay students.

The announcement came months after Pryor had decided to commit suicide and was desperately seeking support.

The two became friends and the group Dettlaff began, TCU Triangle, came to inspire Pryor to reveal his sexuality to his teammates in the fall of his senior year.

The two began dating several years after they graduated after running into each other at JR.’s in Dallas. They live together in Chicago now.

Pryor said he and Dettlaff have been discussing marriage for a long time and he thought the event was the perfect place to propose after 13 years with Dettlaff.

“I thought doing it in Texas in my home state with my family there would be the best place to do it,” he said. “It was a blast. It was completely exciting.”

—  Anna Waugh

Keynote speaker, dates change for TCU Southwestern LGBT Leadership Conference

Tyler Oakley

A few changes have been made to the 2012 Southwestern LGBT Leadership Conference at TCU’s campus this weekend.

The dates were originally March 1-3, but they have changed to Friday night registration and a kickoff at 7 p.m. Breakout sessions, a two-hour service project and the keynote address are now set for Saturday, March 3, conference Co-director Jamal King said.

The decision to change the dates was primarily for travel reasons, King said, as the conference will have an attendance from Kansas and Arizona colleges with the regional focus this year.

San Francisco YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley will give the keynote address instead of the Shane Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride.

After Windmeyer was unable to attend, King said Oakley’s experience with the Trevor Project and his national impact with his YouTube channel made him an obvious choice.

Several LGBT organizations including PFLAG, Q Cinema and the AIDS Outreach Center are still expected to attend to discuss issues affecting the community.

Registration for the conference is $25, and people can register up until the day of the conference. The new fee is lower than the initial cost of $50 and $40 for early registration. King said those who registered before the fee reduction will receive a refund.

For more information, to register or download the conference schedule, visit the Southwestern Association of Gay-Straight Alliances website or the Facebook event page.

—  Anna Waugh

TCU’s LGBT Leadership Conference aims to become ‘the big gay conference in our region’

TCU students at the 2011 conference

After last year’s well-received LGBT Leadership Conference on the TCU campus in Fort Worth that focused on empowering LGBT youth after several suicides in the fall of 2010, this year’s conference will continue the inspiring message of the “It Gets Better” campaign.

But instead of inviting only Texas schools like SMU and UTA, this year will have a regional focus with the Southwestern Association of Gay-Straight Alliances, an organization that grew out of the success of last year’s conference, said Jamal King, treasurer and historian of the TCU gay-straight alliance.

Schools like Kansas State and Arizona State universities will join local schools, and the turnout is expected to be similar to last year’s event, which brought in 75 students from about nine colleges, King said. After the word about a large conference in Texas spread, he said other schools wanted to participate, leading to the creation of the regional organization.

King was the mastermind behind the first conference and served as co-director for the event this year, which will once again bring several LGBT organizations like PFLAG, Q Cinema and the AIDS Outreach Center together to discuss issues affecting the community.

Last year’s highlight was a presentation from the Trevor Project, but this year the keynote address will come from Shane Windmeyer, founder of Campus Pride, a nonprofit that helps students establish safe campuses for students.

Windmeyer was an obvious choice for the conference, King said, because his organization portrays acceptance on campuses nationwide, something that became a focus this year with the regional college attendance.

“We were looking for someone who had a lot of experience with the issue of LGBT suicide on a larger scale and working with Campus Pride is a much larger scale on a national level,” King said. “We’re going bigger and so is our scope.”

—  Anna Waugh