More suicides? Lesbians found dead in Canada

Chantal Dube, left, and Jeanine Blanchette

The Canadian LGBT news site Xtra is reporting that the bodies of two young lesbians have been found in a wooded area in Orangeville, Ontario after the two apparently committed suicide.

Girlfriends Jeanine Blanchette, 21, and Chantal Dube, 17, reportedly made “goodbye” phone calls to two friends, and left goodbye letters behind for family members. The friends immediately reported the calls to police, by Blanchette’s family said didn’t take the threat seriously enough or look hard enough for the two young women, choosing to believe instead that Blanchette and Dube had run away together and would come back home before long.

Police have said autopsy reports won’t be available for several weeks, but one of Blanchette’s family members said they believe the two young women deliberately overdosed on prescription medications. The families have also said they do not believe the girls’ deaths had anything to do with their sexual orientation, according to a report in The Toronto Star.

The girls’ bodies were found by a member of Blanchette’s family. The family, frustrated over what they saw as a lack of response from police, contacted a psychic for help and then formed their own search party.

Xtra points out that these deaths come in the wake of suicides by six teenage boys in the past month who had been the victims of anti-gay bullying.

—  admin

Harnessing the power of Green energy for LifeWalk

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Marvin Green
GOING GREEN | Marvin Green founded the LifeWalk Green Team 19 years ago. The team will participate in the 20th annual fundraiser for AIDS Arms next month. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Nineteen years is a long time — especially in the world of HIV/AIDS activism and fundraising, where burnout is common.

But landscape designer Marvin Green and his Green Team this year mark their 19th year as participants in LifeWalk, the annual fundraiser that this year is celebrating its 20th anniversary.

“The Green Team is 19 years old this year, just one year behind LifeWalk. We are the oldest team participating,” Green said this week. “Other teams have come and gone, but the Green Team has managed to keep it together for 19 years.”

The first LifeWalk was held in 1991, presented then by Oak Lawn Community Services. When OLCS closed down, the responsibility for continuing LifeWalk fell to AIDS Arms Inc.

Green said he first heard about LifeWalk in 1992 through an advertisement, and he knew immediately that he wanted to participate. So he recruited two friends, dubbed the small group the Green Team, and showed up that October Sunday afternoon at Lee Park.

Between the three of them, they raised $75, Green recalled.

“I read about the walk and just thought I’d like to do something to help out,” Green said. “I mean, I know I was no angel, and I really dodged a bullet when it came to AIDS. I didn’t have AIDS, but a lot of my friends did. And I wanted to do something to help. I wanted to give back to the community.

“That first year was very sad,” he added. “I cried a lot that day, remembering my friends who had died and thinking about friends who were sick. But there was also joy, the joy of knowing that we were doing something to make a difference.”

Of the two people who walked with him that first time as the Green Team, one has since died and the other has moved away.

In 1993, the Green Team returned to LifeWalk, this time four members: Green, Rob Stewart, Darin Colby and Brian Wolter. Stewart and Colby, Green said, are still on the team today.

In 1996, the Green Team sported its first official T-shirts: White shirts emblazoned with a green lawnmower — riffing on Green’s status as owner of GreenScapes landscaping company — the handle of which was formed by a red ribbon. In later incarnations, the lawnmower/red ribbon logo became smaller, and even later it was replaced by a new logo, a white tennis shoe and a red ribbon on a green shirt, with the slogan, “It’s all in the soul.”

In those early years, Green and his team just collected some money, showed up and walked. But each year, the team grew and became more active, turning their efforts from a one-day-a-year thing to a nearly year-round effort.

So team’s donation continued to rise as the years passed. The Green Team broke the $1,000 mark — $1,670 — by 1995; the very next year, Green Team donated nearly $5,000. Last year, 2009, saw the team’s largest total yet: $19,181. This year, as LifeWalk celebrates its 20th anniversary, Green said the team has set a goal of reaching $20,000.

Now, instead of just showing up on the day of the event and donating, the Green Team works year-round, holding thank-you parties and fundraising events. This year, since LifeWalk will be held on 10-10-2010, Green said his team adopted the plan of holding 10 events in 10 months, starting in January with the WinterGreen Party at The Brick.

“We were the first team this year to start bringing in money. We raised $1,600 at that party. The Brick was very nice and helped us out a lot; all the girls in the show let us have the tips that made that night. There were 10 performers, so that was a nice amount,” Green said.

The team has also continued to grow in size. After starting with just three people that first year, the Green Team for 2010 has 37 members.

“We’ve got big things planned for next year, too, when we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Green Team,” Green added. “We will have the WinterGreen Party again, and performing arts shows, car washes, garage sales, a wine tasting, pageants. And we do an event at the parade each year. Caven gives us space to set up a booth on Cedar Springs, and we take donations for bottled water, sodas and other things. And all that money goes to LifeWalk.”

Green admits that burnout did become a factor at one point in the history of the Green Team.

“About 10 years ago, I was starting to get really burned out. But then, I had a meeting with Jay Nolan of the Guys and Dolls Team. We went out to dinner, and he was giving me a lot of advice, telling me things like designate tasks to other team members instead of trying to do it all myself. He said we should get co-captains each year.

“So I started doing some of those things, and it really relieved a lot of the stress,” Green said.

In addition to being captain of the Green Team, Green has also become more involved with the inner workings of LifeWalk and is now on the steering committee that plans and executes the event each year.

But he is quick to spread around the credit for the ongoing success of the Green Team.

“Even though I started the team, I couldn’t keep doing it without the help of my whole team. We have a great group of team members who do so much to get us to our goal each year,” he said. “And I have to give a special thanks to my partner, John Castro, too, for putting up with all the long hours I spend on LifeWalk each year. Thank you John, for all your patience.”

What really keeps him going, though, is his memories of the friends he has lost and thinking about all the people who continue to live a daily battle against HIV/AIDS.
“My whole group of friends I was with in the ’80s and early ’90s are gone now,” Green said. “I have lost 25 friends to AIDS. I have held people’s hands as they died.

“People today don’t seem to know about all that, about how it was. They think you just take a drug cocktail and everything’s okay. They need to know how it really is,” Green continued. “I thought we’d have a cure by now, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Not any time soon. So these funds are still desperately needed. Organizations like AIDS Arms need the money to be able to take care of those who are already sick, and to educate people to stop the spread of AIDS.

“There’s still such a desperate need for it, so I can’t stop. I won’t stop.”

AIDS Arms LifeWalk will be held Sunday, Oct. 10, at 1 p.m. in Lee Park. People can register to participate up until the time the walk begins for LifeWalk and for LifeBark, the part of the event that lets people participate with their pets. For more information, go online to LifeWalk.org.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Another gay bar patron robbed at gunpoint

The robbery occurred in this area of Travis Street near Fitzhugh Avenue, according to one of the victim’s friends who witnessed it. Dallas Voice offices are in the background.

A group of three gay men who attended the Adam Lambert concert on Tuesday night were thrilled that they also got a chance to hang out with the young pop icon when he showed up at BJ’s NXS on Fitzhugh Avenue after the concert.

But they weren’t so thrilled when one of them was robbed at gunpoint on Travis Street about a block from BJ’s — and less than a block from Dallas Voice offices — as they were returning to their car.

According to Dallas police reports, the 23-year-old victim was running down the street at about 2 a.m. because it was raining heavily. As the victim neared some  bushes, the suspect jumped out, grabbed him by the hair and slung him to the ground, putting a gun to his head. The suspect, a Latin male, was accompanied by four other Latin males who were standing near a cream-colored, four-door, older-model Cadillac.

The suspect told the victim to empty his pockets and put his hands up, police reports say. The victim gave the suspect his cell phone and chapstick, and the suspect pulled off his ring and bracelets.

When one of the victim’s two friends came running up from behind yelling at the suspects, they jumped in the car and took off.

The victim’s other friend, who’d run ahead of him at the time of the robbery, contacted Dallas Voice on Thursday. In the wake of a shooting the week before in Oak Lawn, he said he wanted to remind people to be aware and travel in numbers when visiting the gay bars. The witness said he felt like his friend may have been targeted because they were leaving a gay bar. In addition to BJ’s, Zippers and Pub Pegasus are in the immediate area. The victim’s friend noted that parking is sometimes difficult along Fitzhugh on busy nights, which is why their car was a few blocks away.

The victim’s friend said the suspects yelled at him and tried to chase him as he ran past. When he realized they were robbing his friend, he came running back. The third friend, who was running behind the victim, ran up at about the same time. As the victim’s two friends converged, the suspects took off.

The victim and his two friends quickly got in their vehicle and drove away from the area. The victim was unhurt, but his friend said it took him about 15 minutes to calm down and stop crying. They reported the crime the following morning. A Dallas police spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

“We were lucky — we are very, very lucky to be alive,” the victim’s friend said. “I think it’s important to know that it’s still going on out there.”

UPDATE: Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse informs us that no further suspect information is available. Janse said the suspect was wearing a mask. Anyone with information about the case can call DPD at 214-670-4414.

—  John Wright

Letters • 07.30.10

Perception of weakness

In the article “Letter criticizes FBI’s handling of Terlingua attack,” (Dallas Voice, July 23), the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School makes a very profound statement.

He said, regarding the victim of the attack, “I think he was targeted because he was perceived as weak and vulnerable.” He went on to elaborate that what mattered was the “perception” that the victim was “different.”

This is strikingly familiar to the story, several months ago now, of two men attacked in the Oak Lawn area by those wielding baseball bats (“Community outraged over assault,” Dallas Voice, May 21).

It was the “perception” of their vulnerability that more than likely made them the target of those who attacked them. But something made them stand out in the minds of their attackers.

It is the perception of being vulnerable that is really the issue here. It does not matter so much if someone is perceived to be “gay” so much as they are perceived to be “prey.” What was it that made them stand out in the predator’s/predators’ mind(s)?

The more we ask these questions of ourselves, the more we initiate those skill sets that allow us to think like a predator instead of prey.

A person’s gender, age, race, religion or sexual orientation are really superfluous to the issue at hand. What matters is the “perception” of vulnerability — period.

And there isn’t always safety in numbers. As the two men attacked recently will attest, four attackers still outnumber two victims, let alone if they have weapons.

I just spoke to a man in Uptown last week, late 20s and very physically fit, who was attacked by two men while on business in Atlanta. His level of fitness afforded him nothing when faced with two assailants when he was admittedly a bit “tipsy” leaving a nightclub, separated from his two friends and distracted by the new female friend he had just met inside. His two assailants knew he was vulnerable for several reasons.

Until we all ask those internal questions that only the individual can ask and then seek out the advice and training to help us fill in those gaps of vulnerability, the stories involving predator and prey will continue to be a recurring theme in our print and news media.

Jeff McKissack, speaker/instructor
DefenseByDesign.com

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas