The event will include the presentation of Crystal Hope Awards to Sam Bowers and Glen Romero (individuals), Dallas Light and Sound (corporate), and Auntjuan Wiley (faith community). The celebration is presented by Texas Instruments.
The diversity employees group of Texas Instruments, TI Pride Network, share their Pride with this video released today to celebrate National Pride Month. On the company’s Facebook page they write, “We are an organization that values inclusion and equality for all. In honor of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month, our TI Pride Network produced this video that features testimonials from employees and leaders about why they support the group.” The video not only lists the achievements of the company’s inclusion policies, but also features a spectrum of those involved with the group.
TI Pride Network is also the group behind the monthly High Tech Happy Hour which is open to all to come. The event is held in various restaurants and bars around town. In an email from TI employee Paul von Wupperfield, who is the chief contact for HTHH, he says, “The members and supporters of the TI Pride Network want to wish everyone on the “High Tech Happy Hour” friends list a very happy 2012 LGBT Pride Month. To celebrate, we have released a short video on who we are, our history and our mission.”
I asked a few simple questions at this week’s Out & Equal conference. That’s what I do. I like to break news in the Dallas Voice. After all, I’m covering this event and the New York Times isn’t.
So I asked Barbara Spotts, at the Out & Equal conference representing NASA, if she could tell me when the first manned mission to Mars would take place. She couldn’t tell me.
Neither could David Morse, also with NASA.
“Just one scoop. Anything,” I said.
“Wish I had one for you,” he said.
And FOR Michael Barber with the CIA, a few simple questions.
He’s here to dispel myths. One of my favorite is that “everyone drives a sports car with machine guns in the tailpipes.” He assured me that he didn’t, but wouldn’t reveal to me where he does hide the machine guns in his sports car.
And he couldn’t tell me, even off the record, the CIA’s budget or who’s the next dictator we plan to bump off. Off the record! Sheesh. I wouldn’t tell. I’d just say that I knew.
And when I approached people from Chevron, I told them I write for Dallas Voice and said, “So, say something nasty about ExxonMobil.”
I wasn’t expecting them to be so gracious. This is big business. One of the people I spoke to manages a $220 million project. His project is bigger than most companies. Bigger than the economy of some countries. I expected cut-throat. Mean and nasty. This is big business.
I didn’t expect, “We want them to get their benefits too.”
See what happens when gay people get into upper management in business. People turn … well, downright nice.
I did learn that the LGBT employee group at American Airlines is even larger than the more than 50 volunteers they had at the conference. Gay people at American Airlines? Who knew? One confided that there may even be some gay people at Southwest Airlines as well.
I spent time trying to understand the thinking behind one of the week’s awards but couldn’t find a good reason that Houston won “affiliate of the year” honor. At least not until I spoke to Paul von Wupperfeld.
Out & Equal spokeswoman April Hawkins told me that Houston had an active group with more than 80 companies participating. OK, I thought, staring blankly, shaking my head. She said there are lots of activities sponsored by the Houston affiliate. OK, I’m listening. They’re growing rapidly. They’re active with the national group. I’m still not convinced.
Von Wupperfeld, who heads the Dallas affiliate finally explained: “Dallas won last year. We won the first award.”
OK, so Houston is second. Hawkins should have just said that in the first place.
To Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry, Dallas activist Louise Young is a workplace equality advocacy legend.
Young worked at Texas Instruments and helped found the employee resource group at that company. Texas Instruments added benefits for its gay and lesbian employees commensurate with its straight employees and nondiscrimination became a way of life at the company, due in no small part to Young’s efforts.
Then Texas Instruments sold the division in which Young and a number of other LGBT employees worked to Raytheon, a company that did not have the LGBT-related policies and benefits that TI had.
So Young made an appointment with top Raytheon executives. She explained to them that she worked hard to gain her equality in the workplace, and that former TI employees now moving to Raytheon would expect the same at their new company.
And she did it all long before Out & Equal was ever created.
Raytheon GLBTA Global President Gib Murray said, “They were very receptive to having an inclusive workplace, allowing employees to be their complete self and recruit and retain the best and brightest.”
And he said that the company was pretty thorough when it looked at employee benefits.
“It’s just kind of handled,” Murray said. “When a situation comes up, it’s addressed.”
He said that once Raytheon embraced diversity, it jumped to the head of the pack to become the first defense contractor to receive a 100 percent rating in the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index.
Out & Equal’s mission
Equality has become the norm at large U.S. corporations, despite one very large local exception — ExxonMobil. But even in a category like defense contracting, Raytheon is no longer alone in ensuring equality.
Northrup Grumman also rates 100 percent and its CEO will speak in Dallas next week at the national Out & Equal Workplace Summit being held at the Hilton Anatole Hotel.
Out & Equal is the national organization committed to ending workplace discrimination for LGBT employees. It works with employee resource groups, or ERGs, from major corporations to encourage best workplace practices for all LGBT employees. The Oct. 25-28 conference will be the largest LGBT meeting Dallas has ever hosted, with 2,500 people expected to attend.
Max Rippetoe of JC Penney Pride said ERGs have three purposes — to attract and retain the best talent, to get the most out of those who are here and to reach out to the community.
At his company, he said having the Pride group may attract a designer that wouldn’t go to a cross-town, upscale rival — Neiman Marcus, which scored 30 percent in the CEI guide — that doesn’t have a similar group. He said having the group was simply good for business.
LGBT customers feel welcome shopping at a place that maintains its 100 percent rating with HRC, Rippetoe said.
When the Out & Equal Workplace Summit comes to Dallas, JC Penney will be a “titanium sponsor.” The company will present a fashion show, and retiring CEO Mike Ullman and Liz Sweney, executive vice president, senior general merchandise manager and the executive sponsor of JC Penney’s Pride, will participate as plenary speakers.
Daphne Avila is a JC Penney company spokesperson and a member of Pride. She said, “Since this is the first time Out & Equal is coming to Dallas and this is our home base, it made sense for us to sponsor.”
She said that she was proud of how the company has transformed internally.
“The company made inclusion and diversity part of our turnaround,” Avila said, crediting Ullman with the company’s commitment to diversity.
Ullman himself has disabilities and has adopted two daughters with disabilities. The Penney’s group for associates with disabilities is one of the most dynamic of the company’s ERGs, Avila said.
Over the past few years, Avila said, associate participation in resource groups at JC Penney has grown. The groups contribute to “training programs that keep store employees cognizant of diverse customer needs.”
LEAGUE@AT&T, created in the late 1980s, will celebrate its 25th anniversary next year, according to its president, Theresa Bates-McLemore, who called her group the original employee resource group.
She said that her company encourages its employees to come out, because staying in the closet at work takes up too much time and energy and is counterproductive to a healthy work environment.
She said that Gary Fraundorfer, vice president of human resources, is so committed to ending workplace discrimination that he recently joined the board of Resource Center Dallas. Because the current AT&T is made up of various phone companies that have merged, Fraundorfer is currently reviewing policies inherited from each entity to make sure that there is no discrimination company-wide.
Incoming LEAGUE@AT&T President John Cramer said that if a situation comes up, being a member of LEAGUE helps, since the group has direct access to top management.
He added that employees can’t get domestic partner benefits if the company doesn’t know about the partner.
Paul von Wupperfeld is a member of TI’s employee resource group and heads the local Out & Equal regional affiliate. Many companies are beginning to address transgender discrimination and benefits. He said the biggest argument against adding those benefits is cost.
“But no company was ever bankrupted by gender reassignment surgery,” von Wupperfield said.
Adding that benefit, he said, “sends a powerful message that they care about employees’ well-being.”
Von Wupperfield said that other area companies are working with is benefits equality.
A company may offer health insurance for domestic partners just as it is offered to married spouses. However, the federal government taxes the benefit given to a same-sex partner, but not toa heterosexually married spouse — even in states that have marriage equality.
“We’d rather see it fixed at the government level,” he said, but some companies have begun paying employees the amount they owe in extra taxes. Bank of America announced this month that it would pay that differential to its gay and lesbian employees.
TI is looking into this form of compensation as well, he said.
Von Wupperfeld said that the ERGs at his company work well together.
“No employee resource group can exist in opposition to any other,” he said.
So when the Christian Values Initiative formed, his group made a point of working with them.
This summer the two groups were among the co-sponsors of an exhibit on Nazi treatment of gays at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. Members of the Christian group were at the museum when the exhibit arrived in crates, helping to unpack and assemble the displays.
OUT AT WORK | The 2011 Out & Equal DFW council spent the year preparing to welcome the largest conference Dallas has ever hosted.
Selise Berry said the Workplace Summit is inspiring. In little more than a decade, Out & Equal has grown into one of the largest LGBT organizations in the country.
A graduate of University of North Texas, Berry was a teacher in Dallas before moving to the San Francisco Bay area to attend Presbyterian Seminary. Because she was lesbian, she could not be ordained, so she went to work for non-profits and did diversity training.
In 1999, Berry created Out & Equal, pulling together the various employee resource groups around the country and regional groups of groups.
For three years she worked alone. Today, Out & Equal has 17 regional affiliates, including ones in Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston.
The Workplace Summit is the organization’s big annual event, but the staff of 20 works throughout the year to create resources for healthcare providers, nonprofits and corporations of all sizes that do not have their own ERGs.
Berry said that one of the themes at this year’s conference is taking LGBT benefits global. Among the issues is whether a company would take a contract in a country where its LGBT employees would not be safe, and if it does, how does it deal with that discrimination.
Out & Equal is becoming an international organization. Among the attendees at this year’s conference are people from a number of companies around the world.
One measure of Out & Equal’s success is the lineup for the conference.
“It took us a number of years before a CEO agreed to speak,” she said. “This year we have two.”
The conference will feature 140 different workshops and a number of featured panels. CNN’s LZ Gunderson will interview Golden State Warriors President and CEO Rick Welts, the highest-ranking person in professional sports management to come out. Entertainers such as Meredith Baxter, Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton will attend.
Dallas will contribute to the entertainment with Turtle Creek Chorale, Dallas Black Dance Theater and Ballet Folklorico performing.
Online registration has closed but registration will be accepted at the door beginning Tuesday, Oct. 25 at 8 a.m. at the Hilton Anatole. Three-day registration is $1,195. One-day rate is $400.
The Collin County-based AIDS education group C.U.R.E. will display 18 blocks from the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt at the Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Dallas this weekend. In addition, there will be a signature panel for people who have viewed the quilt to sign.
Group founder Roseann Rosetti said many of the panels are in memory of people from Dallas.
The quilts will be on display at the Hilton Anatole in the Tower Building in the hall and rotunda and outside the Trinity Ballroom where the lunches and dinners for the conference take place. Rosetti said everyone is welcome to come view the panels.
— David Taffet
For a list of celebrities appearing at the
Out & Equal summit, Oct. 25-28 in Dallas, CLICK HERE.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.
This has been a long week for me, so I’m glad to see that High Tech Happy Hour, the traveling after-work party sponsored by Texas Instruments’ gay employees group, is close by. It’s a Macho Nacho on Cedar Springs in the old Hunky’s space tonight starting at 5:30 p.m. I reviewed it here, and cannot say enough good things about the skinny queso. Get it with a beer — or better, some tequila. Save one for me — I may stop by if I don’t crash earlier.
RAISING FUNDS | Out & Equal DFW Council held “Deep in the Heart of Texas” at Times Ten Cellars on Aug. 18. The event was the organization’s fifth fundraiser to support its educational programming in the DFW area and to support scholarships to attend the 2011 Out & Equal Workplace Summit, set for Oct. 25-28 at the Hilton Anatole. Pictured are Gib Murray of Raytheon, left, Jeffrey Gorczynski of Citi, center, and Paul von Wupperfeld of Texas Instruments.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.
BADASS TEXAS TOUR
2509 Pacific St. July 29 at 8 p.m.
Porn star Michael Brandon loves the cool weather in his hometown of San Francisco, but he is happily, and voluntarily, giving it up to come to Dallas.
“I actually have family there,” he says. “Legend has it my uncle was the CEO of Texas Instruments back in the day.” Not counting family reunions, the trip will mark the Dallas debut of his live show. So what exactly got him to Texas finally?
“I think I would have to credit Monster,” he says.
Monster, it turns out, is his pet name for his penis. Only if you listen to Brandon talk about it enough, it seems like a business partner rather than a part of his business.
Here’s how it happened.
“One of my fans, Topher, has been on me to come to Texas for years — ‘Bring Monster to Texas!’ he kept saying. For some reason, Texas wasn’t an easy nut to crack for me,” Brandon says. So superfan Topher took it upon himself to meet Monster in person, setting out on a campaign to get someone — anyone — to bring Monster and his owner to the Lone Star State.
“I’ll be damned if he didn’t get Midtowne Spa [on board],” Brandon says still a bit incredulously. “Midtowne doesn’t normally fly people in, but they agreed to this time — and it went from ‘just Dallas’ to a three-city tour.”
Brandon’s Badass Texas Tour — designed to promote the adult performer’s first hardcore sex film in several years, the fetish picture Badass — started in Austin Wednesday, and will bring him (well, them) to Dallas tonight at 8, followed by an appearance in Houston on Sunday.
To hear Brandon talk about it, it really is a collaboration, and one borne unexpectedly from tragedy.
In the 1980s, Brandon was, in his words, “fresh off the bus” when he came out of the closet with a vengeance. He was 24 and quickly got involved in the seedier aspects of gay culture. He was working at a bar when he answered an ad for XXX models. The photographer was impressed by the young man’s member.
“In the gay world, your cock can be your calling card on many levels — especially in the sex industry, and mine is really large,” Brandon quickly admits. But soon after he started doing porn, he developed an addiction to meth. It ruined his life.
TEXAS AT LAST | Brandon’s Texas tour resulted from an email campaign from a superfan.
“I was already 140 lbs. soaking wet without using anything, but I dropped even more — I was skinny as a rail. When I did the speed I stopped doing porn because I didn’t have any confidence in front of the camera. Then I started selling it, then did jail time, then prison time, then living on the streets. From 24 to 34, I saw eight-and-a-half years inside state penitentiaries. But those revolving doors kept me alive. Left to my own devices, I would have been dead. I should be dead. Dead! I’m talking skull-and-crossbones chemicals being shot into my veins. I’ve known people who did less than I did and can barely put two sentences together. Staying as strung out as I did, I would have been so out of it I would have walked in front of a bus.”
He spent 18 months in rehab, and it was really after that when “Michael Brandon” was born.
“’Michael Brandon’ was just my stage name but I started cultivating it as an entity and business,” he says.
Brandon won back-to-back performer of the year Gay VN Awards in 2001 and 2002 — the only porn actor to do so — and Monster was a big part of it.
“Part of the process [of recovery] is to learn who you really are, so I was reading reviews of me on an [escort evaluation site]. One review, the client was saying how nice my eyes were and called my cock a ‘monster.’ I thought, ‘Why don’t I give it an identity and take mine back? And it’s been a hit. Working together has been huge for my career. Monster gets his own birthday wishes, own emails, his — ‘can Monster come out and play?’ It’s been such a big marketing tool. No pun intended.”
Brandon took a break from porn and escorting when he met his true love, Marcos, “and in order to cultivate a healthy personal relationship, I stepped out from in front of the camera and basically had a monogamous relationship with him.”
That relationship ended after five years “in a blaze of glory” last October; in December, Brandon went back in front of the camera to make Badass. He was already 45 years old. But apparently as in-demand as ever.
“People ask me, ‘How long have you been in your industry?’ I sometimes answer, ‘How old are you?’ I get a lot of emails saying, ‘I have watched you since I was 12 years old.’ I wanna ask, ‘How old are you now, 15?’ Our community is youth-obsessed but I find the youth is obsessed with the papis and the daddies. I get these random emails that say, ‘I really like having sex with older men.’ When did that happen?”
But Brandon isn’t complaining. Despite a drug relapse — he has been clean for a second time almost three years now, following a nine-month binge that nearly destroyed him again — he’s as happy and focused and well-adjusted as he’s ever been. And like Lady Gaga, he credits his little — well, not so little — Monster.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.
United Way of Metropolitan Dallas recently honored Andy Smith was honored with the agency’s Live United Volunteer Award.
Smith also recently joined the UWMD board of directors, becoming the only openly gay board member for the agency.
UWMD President and CEO Gary Godsey said, “He’s the kind of guy I’d like to have 100 of. If he says yes, it’s a done deal. He always follows through.”
Smith, the director of corporate philanthropy for Texas Instruments, chairs both the Volunteer Experience Subcommittee and the UWMD LGBT Partnership Committee.
In his position at TI, Smith coordinates support for United Way. His company is one of the agency’s leading corporate contributors.
Although United Way was, in the early 1990s, hesitant to award grants to LGBT organization Resource Center Dallas, RCD has now become a regular recipient of United Way funding.
This is no longer “your father’s United Way,” Smith said.
“They [the Resource Center] have really earned their stay at United Way with some really great proposals,” Godsey said.
AIDS Arms got one of this year’s larger United Way grants. Bryan’s House was added to the list of recipients for the current grant cycle.
Smith said that United Way doesn’t want to just be involved with the LGBT community, United Way wants to be a part of the community. That’s why the agency had an entry in last year’s Pride parade and a booth at Razzle Dazzle Dallas earlier this month, and has become a regular Out & Equal participant.
Smith said his involvement with United Way began in Austin with Communities In Schools — Central Texas Inc. When he moved to Dallas and went to work for TI, he got involved as a donor to the United Way campaign.
In his current position, Smith manages TI’s giving campaign. But he also creates volunteer opportunities for individuals, teams and families that include mentoring, tax consulting and staffing health fairs.
He said those opportunities are also available to other members of the LGBT community through United Way.
This year, United Way changed its giving campaign to focus on education, income and health. As a result, new agencies were included and others lost their United Way funding. All applicants currently apply and are vetted annually.
“There’s a rigorous stewardship process,” Smith said.
The allocation panels help vet grants and decide where the money goes and said that up to 200 volunteers participate.
He said a number of committees, including marketing and finance, need volunteers as well.
Godsey said that United Way could not operate with its volunteers and he called Smith a shining example of inspirational leadership.
LGBT advocates have long said that the greatest weapon we have in our arsenal when it comes to the battle for LGBT equality is coming out, letting our friends, families and co-workers know that we are LGBT and thereby putting a familiar face on what for many people was a frightening unknown. We cannot win the battle by ourselves; we are in the minority and we need our non-LGBT allies on our side.
With that in mind, Out & Equal Dallas-Fort Worth is bringing the “Out & Equal National Tour on Ally Empowerment” to Dallas on Tuesday, June 21.
The day-long session will be held in the South Campus Auditorium at Texas Instruments, 12500 TI Blvd.
According to a press release from Out & Equal DFW: “This multi-city tour features education of and for straight allies, helping to understand the experience, needs and roles that allies can play in our companies and our employee resource groups. This event is especially helpful for executive sponsors, human resource and diversity professionals and ERG members, both LGBT and non-LGBT alike.”
The day begins with Ally Empowerment Training, led by corporate diversity trainer and college instructor David Hall, from 8:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. (fee for this portion is $30 per person), followed by a reception and afternoon program from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The reception and afternoon program are free and open to all.
To register online or to see a map of the location, go here.
For more information about Out&Equal and the Ally Empowerment tour, go here.