Gay teens get their own Valentine’s Day dance; now they just need a photographer and a florist

LGBTQ youth in North Texas are getting their very own Valentine’s Day dance this year.

Chapters of the Gay Straight Alliance from five high schools in Dallas and Collin counties are coming together for the first-ever “Love Conquers All Ball,” hosted by LULAC #4871 and Youth First Texas.

The event will be from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 12 at Youth First Texas, and a $2 requested donation at the door will benefit the Trevor Project.

Jesse Garcia, president of LULAC #4871, said all teens ages 14-18 are invited regardless of whether they’re members of GSAs — and regardless of whether they have dates.

Garcia also said organizers are looking for a photographer to take digital images of the couples, as well as a florist who can donate 50 to 60 flowers. Those interested in providing photography or flowers should e-mail jessegarciadallas@gmail.com.

A full press release is after the jump.

—  John Wright

Johnny Weir shocks the world and comes out

Johnny Weir

In the most shocking coming out since Sean Hayes confirmed he was gay a year ago, U.S. figure skating champion Johnny Weir came out this week. Weir had never denied being gay. He had just never confirmed it.

Weir has not avoided the LGBT community at all. In October, he was presented with the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award and had also been given a similar award by Equality California.

He has raised money for the Trevor Project and appeared on Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List.

Last year, Weir was on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team for the second time. He and Michelle Kwan are the only two skaters to ever be named Skater of the Year more than once. In 2001, he earned the title World Junior Champion. He was U.S. National Figure Skating Champion three times from 2004 through 2006.

Weir has a new book coming out Jan. 11 called Welcome to My World.

—  David Taffet

Spinning his wheels?

Gay racer Evan Darling needs major sponsors to keep his motor running

mikey rox  | mikey@paperroxscissors.com

EvanDarling1
REVVED UP | As NASCAR’s only out racer, Evan Darling stands out — but still can’t nab a sponsor.

Professional racecar driver Evan Darling is at a crossroads in his career: His engine is revved, but he’s running out of gas.

“The LGBT community has been very supportive and happy to see me doing what I am for the community — just not financially,” says the 42-year-old openly gay NASCAR athlete.

A lack of sponsorship may force the adrenaline junkie to trade in his fire suit for a grease monkey’s jumpsuit sooner than later.

“Things are not looking good for next season and I may have to go back to being a mechanic,” admits Darling, who competes in NASCAR’s Grand Am series. “I have had many say I would not get support, and I would hate to prove them right. I will always put effort into trying to get sponsors and race on a pro level — and

I have put all of my resources into it over the last few years. But the well is dry.”

Darling had his first pro race in April 2007, finishing 7th out of 37 starters, and raced Daytona in 2008. He was also on the Out 100 list in 2007.

But since 2009 he’s been almost raceless on the circuit. He’s secured local sponsors in Florida races, but none big enough to foot the $450,000 price tag needed to fund a full season. If he doesn’t snag the money before Jan. 5, he’ll miss the first race of the season and probably have to go back to being a full-time mechanic.

“I’m at the end of my financial ability to survive and will need to start over,” he says.

It’s not been for lack of effort. Darling approached LGBT political supporters with the promise of using their money to place a Trevor Project logo on his car to bring awareness of the initiative, but such supporters are not typically interested in sporting events… odd, considering that Gay Inc. makes a big stink about wanting pro athletes to live and play out-and-proud.

“I told my publicist I would be way more popular if I wore a pink sequin blouse under my racing suit,” Darling quips. “But that’s not me — I’m a regular guy that happens to be gay.”

Much to the chagrin of his teammates. Professional sports are notoriously homophobic, perhaps none more so than NASCAR, which is perceived to cater to rednecks, rappers and religious organizations — groups not particularly fond of the LGBT community.

“Many people have made derogatory remarks about my sexuality. I was fully expecting that going in [to racing],” he says. “I am a mechanic by trade and have had to put up with this mentality my whole life, so it’s not new to me.”

In fact, Darling’s dealt with bigots since childhood. His father, an attorney, represented the Irish-American war veterans in preventing Boston’s LGBT community from participating in its annual Veterans Day parade. His brother Brian is director for U.S. Senate Relations for the ultra-conservative Heritage Foundation, which famously feuded with Rosie O’Donnell on Larry King Live. Even his mother is still in denial about her son’s sexuality. But at least he can shrug that last one off.

“Things are a bit better now between us,” he says. “I visit them at Christmas and sometimes if I am in the area I stop in. I also call them every week as they’re getting up there in age.”

Darling’s tepid relationship with his family is indicative of how he’s approaching this new chapter in his life — one that may see him fixing cars instead of racing them. Much like his parents, he suggests, NASCAR just isn’t ready for a gay driver — and, as he’s realized, changing the minds of the unwilling is an uphill challenge.

“I think it would be great for the sport and the LGBT community,” he says, contemplating what would happen if someone like Sprint Cup superstar Jeff Gordon came out of the closet. “[But] there would be huge fallout from the NASCAR community. It would be very difficult for anyone that came out with that kind of career. I’m sure it would be interesting to see how his sponsors would react.”

The reality is, some of his current sponsors would certainly abandon him. But with the media frenzy an announcement of that caliber would create, new sponsors would surely step up to the pit, checkbooks in hand — probably none faster than Gay Inc. Because as Darling knows all too well: “It’s all about the bottom line” …. even if that should be, “supporting the community that supports you.”

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

—  Kevin Thomas

Joel Burns to speak prior to screening of ‘Trevor’ to mark Human Rights Day in Fort Worth

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns will speak tonight prior to a film screening to mark Human Rights Day put on by the city’s Human Relations Commission. One of the three films screened will be Trevor, about a gay 13-year-old who attempts suicide. The 1994 film inspired the founding of the Trevor Project, the national organization focusing on crisis and suicide prevention for LGBT youth.

“Movies That Matter: A Night of Human Rights Films” will be at Betsy and Steve Palko Hall, in the Amon G. Carter Lecture Hall on the TCU campus. Estrus Tucker, chairman of the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, will also speak. The other films screened will be Crossing Arizona and 12 Stones.

Burns will speak during an informal reception that begins at 6:30 p.m. The film screenings begin at 7:30 p.m.  Admission is free, and light refreshments will be served. Seating at the screenings is limited. To ensure seating, RSVP to humanrelations@FortWorthGov.org.

For more info, go here.

—  John Wright

WATCH: FCKH8 bashes back against gay bashing — what took so long?

While other causes are a little more on the sentimental side, I have to say the FCKH8 campaign has gotten my attention in under three minutes. Cursing kids shooting the middle finger — hilarious! Proceeds from the sales of their merch benefit the Trevor Project. T-shirts emblazoned with “Don’t B H8n on the Homos” among other clever items are too good to pass up. I’m digging the hoodie, although purple isn’t my color.

The campaign released its latest video on Sunday and while it’s fun to watch, it is so NSFW.

—  Rich Lopez

Finally, a chance to win Joel Burns’ underwear

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns has sat with Ellen, and if you play it right, he’ll sit with you. Burns, whose anti-bullying video became an Internet sensation, is himself the prize at the Thursday performance of Fort Worth’s Amphibian Stage Productions’ presentation of No Child… . The play, written by Nilaja Sun and directed by Rene Moreno, is a one-woman show about a teacher trying to make a difference in an inner-city school. The Nov. 11 performance of the play is devoted to the Trevor Project, which seeks to help at-risk LGBT youth. Twenty percent of that evening’s box office will go to the Trevor Project, and those in attendance that night can enter to win the “Lunch with the Hon. Joel Burns” raffle. He’ll also offer a pair of Ellen Show boxer shorts he autographed for auction.

You can find out more at AmphbianProductions.org.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

See the new Harry Potter movie early, support the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

OK, how many Harry Potter fans do we have out there? And how many of you are chomping at the bit to see the new movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1″?

It comes out at midnight on Thursday, Nov. 18, but here in the Metroplex, you have a chance to see the movie four hours early and at the same time contribute to a good cause: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I think it is a fitting fundraiser, considering the commitment that the film’s star, Daniel Radcliffe, has made to The Trevor Project and the many times Radcliffe has spoken out for LGBT rights.

The screening will be held at the Rave Theatre in Northeast Mall in Hurst. Tickets are $16 each and are available online at MugglesForLife.webs.com.

—  admin

Yet another gay teen suicide?

Alec Henriksen

Another teen who may have been gay has taken his own life — and this time he was from Utah, where a Mormon apostle just a few days ago called same-sex attraction “unnatural” and “impure” and said it can be changed.

We’ve long been saying on this blog that those in positions of power who spew homophobia have the blood of gay teen suicide victims on their hands — and we can only hope the reality of this will finally take hold in the mainstream.

PrideInUtah.com reports that 18-year-old Alec Henriksen, a Utah native who was a student at Earlham College in Indiana, was found dead on Sept. 30:

Alec Henriksen was a brilliant young computer programmer. And while suicide is always a terrible idea, I want to use his death as a call-to-action for anyone who cares for these young people. Please, help them. Love them for who they are. Put them in touch with the Trevor Project if possible.

PrideInUtah.com adds that the website from which it obtained the information about Henriksen’s suicide — and presumably about his sexual orientation — has since been taken down.

However, Instant Tea found this statement on the Earlham College website confirming Henriksen’s death. The statement says his body was found on property belonging to Earlham Cemetery, and that no foul play is suspected. We also found Henriksen’s obituary in the Salt Lake Tribune.

If it turns out that Henriksen was not gay, our point remains. And if he was gay but someone is trying to cover it up, it would be typical of how Mormon culture deals with gay teen suicide — which is a big problem in Utah.

If Henriksen was gay, his death would bring to at least six the number of gay teen suicides that have been reported nationwide in recent weeks. Of course, it’s safe to say the real number is considerably higher.

—  John Wright

Daniel Radcliffe speaks out on teen suicides in PSA for The Trevor Project

Lots of celebrities have been speaking out over the past week or so on the subject of the teens who have killed themselves after being bullied. Daniel Radcliffe, star of the Harry Potter film series, has added his voice to the discussion in the form of a public service announcement for The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.

Because I am a Harry Potter fan, I am sharing Radcliffe’s video here:

—  admin

Trevor Project calls for moment of silence for suicide victims at 7 p.m. Dallas time today

We aren’t aware of any specific events planned for Dallas in response to the suicides of six teens in the U.S. who were gay or perceived as gay in September, but it looks like a National Safe Schools Day of Action will take place next Tuesday, Oct. 5. Also, there will be a Stand Up to Youth Suicide Rally and March in San Francisco on Friday, Oct. 8, and rallies are reportedly being planned next weekend through the “It Gets Better” project, in advance of National Coming Out Day on Oct. 11. Does anyone know of anything that’s planned for Dallas? As we reported earlier, many plan to gather around Big Tex at the State Fair at noon Saturday, Oct. 9 during the unofficial Gay Day, so perhaps this would be a good time to do it. Just a thought.

Anyhow, The Trevor Project is calling for a moment of silence and reflection at 7 tonight Dallas time in remembrance of the victims. Here’s the full press release:

The Trevor Project Asks All Americans for a Moment of Silence at 8pm ET, 5pm PT Tonight

(West Hollywood, CA, October 1, 2010) – Statement from Charles Robbins, Executive Director of The Trevor Project:

Late last night, The Trevor Project learned of yet another young LGBTQ person who died by suicide. Raymond Chase was a sophomore at Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island when he took his own life on Wednesday. Words do not adequately describe the tragic loss felt across the country for the five promising young individuals who were so isolated and felt so alone and cut off from their peers and society that suicide became an option.

We encourage all people who feel connected to these tragic events, whether friends, family, peers, community members, and sympathetic human beings to pause today at 8:00 PM Eastern, 5:00 PM Pacific for a moment of silence and reflection in remembrance of Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Seth Walsh, Asher Brown and Billy Lucas. Events are being planned across the country in the coming weeks to mourn the loss of these young people, and to take action to stop bullying crimes that lead to suicide, and a website http://makeitbetterproject.com/.

To help stop the cycle that leads young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning people to feel they are alone, connect them to The Trevor Project. There is a place that’s free of bullying and judgment online, where young LGBTQ people, their friends and allies ages 13-24 can connect safely and be themselves. More than 13,000 young people already belong to TrevorSpace.org, and more youth join every day. If you or someone you care about shows warning signs for suicide, please do not hesitate to call The Trevor Lifeline at: 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386). The call is free and confidential.

We mourn the loss of these 5 young people, and today we will stand in silent solidarity for an end to the unnecessary loss of young lives.

—  John Wright