TCU LGBT alumni group forms

Organizer says school has been helpful, supportive in forming group for gay graduates

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

There are some schools that are — or have been — affiliated with religious institutions that  not only wouldn’t welcome an LGBT alumni group, they would block such a group outright.

But when Doug Thompson, a graduate of Fort Worth’s Texas Christian University, associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), approached his alma mater’s alumni association about forming an LGBT affiliate, he said, the response was, “Absolutely. No problem.”

TCU’s new LGBT alumni group will hold its first large meeting on Saturday, Oct. 22, after the TCU homecoming game. Thompson acknowledged that sports isn’t the main concern of many LGBT alumni, but homecoming is still a time when many alumni return to visit the campus.

Thompson said when he asked the alumni association whether the LGBT group would need approval by the school’s administration, he was told the administration would back it. The group was approved in April.

Unlike Baylor University, which sued to keep its LGBT alumni from using the school name to organize a group, Thompson said there has been no objection from the TCU campus.

“We just want to get people involved however they want to be involved,” Kristi Hoban, associate vice chancellor alumni of relations, said. “We just reach out, whether it’s a class or the business school or a special interest group.”

She said that black alumni were not participating until the Black Alumni Alliance formed about 11 years ago. Now, she said, they’re active leaders in class reunions, homecoming and department alumni events, adding that she hopes to see the same thing happen with the LGBT network.

Finding LGBT alumni hasn’t been easy, Thompson said, as students aren’t asked about their sexual orientation before they graduate.

But Thompson said about 120 alumni have already responded, mostly to calls on social media sites. And now that the school has a Gay Straight Alliance, he said, finding future alumni will be easier.

“Our goal will be to support gay and lesbian students and start a scholarship,” Thompson said. “And we’ll form activities around things gay alumni have an interest in.”

He mentioned support for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival on campus as a direction for the group.

Thompson said that having an LGBT alumni group will help the school provide a better environment for its LGBT students.

Two years ago, TCU proposed setting aside dorm space for LGBT students. A week after the announcement, when only eight students had signed up for the housing, the school scrapped those plans.

“That got totally blown out of proportion,” Hoban said.

She said the intention was never segregated housing but really just an LGBT campus group.
Thompson said the school would have avoided the bad publicity if it had the alumni group to guide them.

The LGBT alumni group will get together after the homecoming game against New Mexico on Saturday, Oct. 22. They will meet at Tommy’s Hamburgers’ Camp Bowie Boulevard location from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

…………………

OUT, PROUD ATHLETE

Pryor.Victor

Victor Pryor

Perhaps one of the best known Texas Christian University grads that will be attending the new LGBT alumni group’s meeting this weekend is Vincent Pryor, a TCU Horned Frogs football star from 1994.

That year, before the final game of the season against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Pryor came out to his teammates. Rather than shunning him, Pryor’s coach told him he was proud of his honesty

“My teammates and my coaches overwhelmingly supported and accepted me,” Pryor writes on his website, VincentPryor.com. “All of the fears and concerns I had about being kicked off the team, or losing my scholarship, or embarrassing my school — none of that happened.  And the best part of it was that I became a better athlete after I came out.”

That day, Pryor had the biggest game of his college career, tallying a record 4.5 sacks — a record that still stands today. His performance helped TCU win the conference title and a berth in a post-season bowl game.

Today, Pryor works in sales and lives in Chicago with his partner of 12 years, who was a classmate at TCU. To watch his just-
released an “It Gets Better” video, below.

—  Kevin Thomas

Ex-TCU linebacker Vincent Pryor came out as gay to teammates before setting sack record in 1994

Seventeen years after setting a school sack record during a landmark victory over Texas Tech, ex-TCU linebacker Vincent Pryor has revealed that he came out as gay to his teammates before the game:

“I knew that at the end of this game I was going to be free. I can be who I am. I am a gay athlete who just so happens to play football. I had no regrets. Everyone knows I’m gay. … I was just at peace with myself.”

“He was a beast” on the field, said Marcus Allen, Pryor’s teammate and the team’s middle linebacker. “I do believe that once he came out of the closet, he did feel relieved. You did notice something different about him. He was always happy, he felt good about himself, he felt like didn’t have anything to hide.”

Pryor’s 4 ½ sacks still stand in the TCU record book (he shares it with David Spradlin from 1987) as do his 34 sack yards. But that’s not why Pryor’s story is worth telling. Rather, it’s his journey of acceptance as an openly gay man and athlete in our most macho sport.

Pryor now lives in Chicago with his partner, whom he met at TCU but didn’t start dating until four years after they graduated. Read the full story from Jim Buzinski at OutSports here. And watch Pryor’s video for the “It Gets Better” project below.

—  Rich Lopez

West goes rappelling for dollars, raises ‘about $10,000′ for Celebration Community Church

The Rev. Carol West swings near an arch of the 26-story-tall XTO Building in downtown Fort Worth after rappelling down from the roof of the historic edifice. At this point, she had only about four stories left to go to reach the sidewalk.

“My knees are knocking!”

Those were the Rev. Carol West‘s first words to me this morning after she rappelled down the side of the 26-story XTO Building in downtown Fort Worth.

But the adventure was worth it. Celebration Community Church‘s senior pastor told me she wasn’t sure of the exact total she raised for the church with her trip from the roof of the 1920s-era building to the Main Street sidewalk via rope, but that it was “about $10,00o.”

West’s daredevil adventure was part of a day-long fundraising event presented by Downtown Fort Worth Inc., and produced by Over The Edge USA, a nonprofit that does rappelling events like this one all over the country. Participants paid $1,000 to rappel down the building, and then raised funds for their chosen organizations by getting people to sponsor them in the event. At least I think that’s how it worked. I haven’t found exact details anywhere and I didn’t have a chance to ask West.

West was one of several local dignitaries and celebrities who participated in the event. Mayor Mike Moncrief took the leap, too, as did the TCU Horned Frog mascot. West told me this morning that she did it because “the church’s board thought it was a good idea.” By the look on her face, I’m not sure she was thinking it was a good idea at all!

(Just as a side note, while I was waiting for Carol to take her turn rappelling down the building, I sent a text to gay Fort Worth Councilman Joel Burns, asking him why he wasn’t down there jumping off that building with Carol. He told me he was in New York where he spent last night at an LGBT fundraiser where he got to introduce President Obama. I guess that’s a pretty good excuse!)

Anyway, you can see more photos after the jump. And next time you see Carol West, be sure to give her a big high five — 26 stories is WAY high, and I am not sure I would have had the guts to step out over that edge.

—  admin

Steve ‘Santa Claus’ Sprinkle’s message to gay youth goes national: No, God doesn’t hate you

Dr. Stephen Sprinkle’s “It Gets Better” video has been viewed almost 12,000 times.

The other day we shared with you the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle’s “It Gets Better” YouTube message to LGBT youth. Sprinkle, a gay 58-year-old assistant professor at TCU’s Brite Divinity School, may lack the celebrity appeal of some others who’ve recorded these messages in recent days, such as Chris Colfer, Tim Gunn or Ke$ha (also, $prinkle doesn’t usually spell his name with a dollar sign). But out of more than 1,000 videos submitted to the “It Gets Better” YouTube channel, Sprinkle’s is among a handful featured in a national story about the campaign from the Associated Press. That’s because, according to AP, Sprinkle is like the gay Santa Claus. And after all, for the average LGBT youth who’s not going to become a celebrity, a grandfather figure who’s a man of the cloth probably has a lot more cred than Perez Hilton. At least we’d like to think so. Here’s the excerpt about Sprinkle from the AP story:

It’s been 40 years since Stephen Sprinkle was in high school. At 58, he rocks gently in an office chair, his trim gray beard and gentle smile offering a touch of Santa Claus in his video. He describes his Christian upbringing in rural North Carolina and his decision to deny himself an “affectional life” as a gay man when he received his call to the ministry in his 20s.

“It made me lonely for a lot of years,” he tells his viewers, as he constantly looked over his shoulder and lived in fear he would slip up and reveal his secret.

It wasn’t until he was hired as an assistant professor at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas, that he decided to come out “utterly, fully and completely,” surviving attempts to have him fired and earning tenure, Sprinkle said in an interview.

Since posting the video, he’s heard from several young people, including one so upset that Sprinkle tracked down professional help.

“He’s 18. He’s a closeted religious person and he told me he was afraid he was going to explode,” Sprinkle said. “He kept asking over and over, `Does God hate me?’ I said ‘Heavens, no. God created you beautiful and complete. God makes no mistakes like that.’”

—  John Wright

Genderqueer student Skye Newkirk among candidates for homecoming king at TCU

Skye Newkirk

We’ll have more on Andy Moreno — the transgender girl who’s reportedly been told she can’t run for homecoming queen at North Dallas High School — in Friday’s Voice.

But for now we wanted to note that Skye Newkirk, a genderqueer student at Texas Christian University, is apparently running for homecoming king. Genderqueer is a catch-all term for gender identities other than male or female.

Newkirk declined to comment for this story because she said homecoming king candidates are barred from promoting their campaigns anywhere except on Facebook, which is where we learned about it.

Anyhow, it looks like the first round of voting for TCU homecoming king got under way today and will continue until midnight tonight. Then there’ll be more interviews Oct. 14 before final voting on Oct. 20 and 21. Voting is open only to TCU students.

If Newkirk wins, it will be interesting to see how the school handles it. If you’ll remember, she was at the center of a major flap last year over a gay dorm at TCU.

The winner will be announced at halftime of TCU’s home football game on Oct. 23 — when the Horned Frogs’ take on Air Force.

—  John Wright

The next design star

Nicholas Clements-Lindsey went from TCU fashion student to hot young designer in one year. What took him so long?

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor jones@dallasvoice.com

Nicholas Clements-Lindsey
HIS OWN PROJECT RUNWAY | Lindsey’s colorful designs earned him at spot at New York Fashion Week — the youngest African-American designer ever to show there. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Nicholas Clements-Lindsey is not an overnight success. No — it took him a year. Well, almost a year. It’s crazy, he knows.

“You work so hard to get to those points,” he says. ” I worked hard. But I got them all in one year, which is outrageous. And I am achieving those goals.”

Just last summer, Lindsey was a student in Texas Christian University’s fashion merchandising program.

When he started the program, he planned to work fashion advertising. “You don’t take too many classes on fashion design,” he admits. But after a trip to Italy, he caught the bug and wanted to launch his own line.

“I did my first presentation in August of 2008 in front of 37 people,” he says. “We did it out of a really small location — a salon. I showed seven pieces, that’s it.”

But some of those 37 people were big-wigs in fashion from Los Angeles and New York as well as Dallas.

He began building a fan base. Then last summer, he did a larger show at J.D. Miller Gallery in the Design District (a show I attended; I even tried to buy a garment from it).

“That was my final presentation for school,” Lindsey says. And it catapulted him to new heights.

Before he left Dallas, Lindsey was already invited to show at L.A. Fashion Week. He met the Factor family (as in Max), who loved his designs.

“Our relationship just blossomed from there. And before you know it, when they saw the reviews, I was invited to show at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York,” he says. At 26, Lindsey has become the youngest black designer ever to show at that all-important New York fashion show, which takes place Sept. 9 through 16 (Lindsey’s show is on Sept. 11).

“It’s been a wild ride,” he admits. Not bad for the tall gay boy who grew up in rural Mansfield, Texas.

This summer, Lindsey returned to his hometown to do press and finalize the line that will debut next month. It’s already been picked up by a department store (he can’t say which one) and will be widely available starting in March. Then the process starts all over again with another collection. And hopefully another and on and on.

Lindsey is as surprised as anyone at his success. (When he was a kid, he wanted to be an ob-gyn, of all things.)

“I wasn’t going to go into fashion design — I didn’t think it was in the stars for me,” he says. “I’m a real go-getter kind of guy. But for me, it just happened.”

But as with all overnight sensations, a lot of work went on leading up to it. And talent helped.

Lindsey took a lot of his inspiration after seeing a Chanel summer preview in Florence in 2006. He started sketching ideas for garments before he even got on the plane. When he returned to the U.S., he called a good friend who was a seamstress.

“I said, ‘I have all these sketches — can you show me how to sew stuff?’ We started with the simplest things ever, like min-shirts. Then I began developing my own patterns from the commercial patterns I saw.”

For a while, Lindsey admits, he was all over the place — even at his show last summer, he was designing menswear. But he soon decided he needed to maintain focus on what felt most comfortable for him.

“Last year, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. I played with casual and haute couture and womenswear and menswear. But I got to a point where I had to mark off what I didn’t like doing. No. 1 off the list was menswear. I found my personal style varies, but for business it’s set: Ready-to-wear.”
Lindsey describes his typical client as a woman, age 23 up to 50 — what he calls “the timeless generation.”

“I make garments that are so versatile, they will be able to wear that to the office and do something after 5 and then do a charity event. You can wear the same garment without looking super dressy or down-dressed.”

Not that he hasn’t found room to go glam on occasion. He’s dressed Jessica Alba at multiple events, and has had brushes with true celebrity royalty.

“At the Grammys, I was gonna dress Lady Gaga and all of a sudden she chose Armani. And I was gonna dress Julianne Moore for the Golden Globes and at the last minute she wore Tom Ford instead. At least he’s hot,” he laughs. “I met [Ford] about two years ago and told him I wanted to marry him. He said, ‘You’re just a little bit too young for me.’”

Lindsey admires Ford’s design skills as well, and of course idolizes Dior, Chanel and St. Laurent. (“I was always mesmerized by their design technique. Yves St. Laurent was a genius, but the other two were giants.”) But the designer he calls his “ultimate girl?” Hollywood costume designer Edith Head.

“I remember seeing To Catch a Thief when I was 8 years old and being impressed how she could take an idea and develop it into a theme and make it into a variation that tells a complete story. Oleg Cassini did the exact same thing. I passed out when I went over to Warner Bros. and saw the Edith Head costume department.”

Lindsey, though, hopes that one day people will talk about him with the same reverence he talks about other designers.

“Since my line is now officially a brand, I’m coming up big-time in October. I feel really, really blessed.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

'The Amazing Race' gay brothers team kinda from Fort Worth talk up God and competition

CBS posted this vid of brothers Sam and Dan McMillen yesterday. They talk about growing up gay and Christian and then get sassy about the rest of the players on this season of The Amazing Race. The bros also talked to the Star-Telegram last week about coming out on national TV.

We dug that they were “from Fort Worth” but the Texas connection is no more. Sam finished his studies at TCU this spring and has recently moved back to Missouri.

—  Rich Lopez

New season of 'Amazing Race' to feature gay brothers, including one from Fort Worth

Dan, left, and Sam McMillen
Dan, left, and Sam McMillen

The new season of CBS’ “Amazing Race” will feature a pair of gay brothers, one of whom is from Fort Worth. Dan, 21, and Sam McMillen, 23, are natives of Liberty, Mo., but CBS says Sam currently resides in Cowtown, and reports indicate that he may be studying medicine at Texas Christian University. Sam and I have one mutual friend on Facebook, campus LGBT leader Skye Newkirk (and he has a whopping total of 1,561). It will be interesting to see how his appearance on the show is received at conservative TCU. According to their bio on the Amazing Race Web site, “Sam and Dan will tell you that their relationship did not truly start until last summer when they both came out and told each other that they were gay.” Read the full bio after the jump. Below is a video interview with Dan and Sam.

—  John Wright