Making a better world, one step at a time

John Boeglin

John Boeglin repays the help he gets as a client at AOC by also being a volunteer at the agency

TAMMYE NASH  |  Senior Editor
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — John Boeglin, first diagnosed with AIDS in 1989, has been a client of Tarrant County’s AIDS Outreach Center off and on since 1991.

But Boeglin doesn’t just go to the center for help for himself; he helps others in turn by volunteering at AOC. And he has taken his volunteerism a step forward by looking for — and finding — ways to help the agency go a little more green.

“I have volunteered in different parts of AIDS Outreach, and I had volunteered in the food pantry for about four years when I started thinking that there was a real need for us to start incorporating recycling into all of our events,” Boeglin said.

So he took the initiative of coordinating with the city to get recycle bins at the agency and has been leading AOC’s recycling efforts in the three years since then.

“It’s not very profitable. But at least we are helping the environment. We can now take all the cardboard and plastic and aluminum that comes through here and recycle it, instead of having it all end up in a landfill somewhere,” he said.

He added, “I have always been cautious about my own carbon footprint, about the impact I have on the environment. I was always riding a bicycle everywhere. I didn’t even have a car until my father passed away.”

Boeglin has also been a big supporter of AOC’s annual AIDS Walk, both as a walker and as a volunteer who helps set up on the day of the event, and then take everything down and put it away when it’s over.

“I’m usually there from the first thing in the morning until that night when it’s all done,” he said. “And I have walked in the AIDS Walk for at least 10 years now.”

Boeglin said he volunteers with and walks in the AIDS Walk, now in its 19th year, because “it helps earn money to pay for the services that we need. And with all the cuts the government has made since 2000, that money has become a real necessity.

“This agency probably wouldn’t make it without the money from the AIDS Walk,” he continued. “Because of all the changes made by the previous administration [under President George W. Bush], people can’t even get on disability now. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to make it without the programs at AIDS Outreach Center.”

Boeglin said he first started doing volunteer work “primarily because there wasn’t a lot else to do. Those of us who were diagnosed in the 1980s and early ’90s, we found out we were sick and so we started planning for the end of our lives. Then all of a sudden, we realized we weren’t dying.

“So we tried to go back to work, but we either couldn’t get jobs at all, or we couldn’t get jobs that would actually pay the bills,” he said. “So we found ourselves sitting around our apartments with nothing to do. That’s how it happened with me. So I started volunteering.”

Boeglin said he volunteered with the Healing Wings program at JPS Hospital and then later at AIDS Outreach when the program moved. He has also volunteered with Q Cinema and has been involved with Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats. He has been politically active as well, once getting a scholarship that allowed him to fly to Washington, D.C., to lobby Congress on behalf of the AIDS Drugs Assistance Program.

He said he has lobbied the Texas Legislature on HIV and LGBT related issues, too.

“Sometimes, you can get a little burned out when you stay in one place, doing one thing for too long. So I avoid the burnout by going from one place to another,” Boeglin said. “After I had volunteered at the food pantry [at AOC] for several years, it started to get really difficult. When you start losing so many people, it gets hard. You come in and even though you know they’re gone, you keep looking for them, keep waiting to see them. It’s hard.”

That was one reason, he said, that he chose to work with Q Cinema. “I needed to do things that let me see more people that are affected by HIV instead only seeing people who are infected with HIV. I needed that change of pace,” he explained.

Boeglin has a lot of hobbies, too, that help keep him busy and healthy. He is a writer and an artist and works in wood crafting. He also likes to attend Scarborough Faire and sci-fi conventions, and will be volunteering at an upcoming convention here in North Texas.

Boeglin said his interest in sci-fi conventions grew out of a fascination with science and with space that began when he was a child and sat with his grandfather to watch as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon.

“Did you know that it was protease inhibitors developed during experiments on the space shuttle that led to the use of the ‘drug cocktails’ in the 1995 that have helped people with AIDS live better and longer?” Boeglin asks. “They were able to grow these protein crystals large enough in space with zero gravity to be able to see how they would affect how HIV is able to enter cells. And millions of us are alive today because of those experiments they did on the space shuttle in 1995.”

While some people may joke about the sci fi convention fans and the separate world they sometimes seem to live in, Boeglin sees a kind of nobility in that world that gives him hope for a better future in this one.

“The conventions and the fans, there’s a very, very good sense of community there, just like there is here at AIDS Outreach,” Boeglin said. “It makes me believe that someday that altruistic future [of the sci-fi world] may really someday come true, because people care enough to be here, to be at the AIDS Walk and participate in it — the ones who don’t have to be there, but are there anyway, and the ones who struggle to be there and make a difference. It gives me hope.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 1, 2011.

—  John Wright

World’s first-ever gay Super Bowl block party planned for Cedar Springs in February

Scott Whittall

It’s being billed as the first-ever gay Super Bowl block party, and it’s planned for Saturday, Feb. 5 on the Cedar Springs strip in Dallas.

Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, announced today that the “Super Street Party” — organizers are barred from using the term “Super Bowl” — will be from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the eve of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium.

Whittall said recent special events on the strip — including the Arts Fest, the Halloween block party and last weekend’s Sidewalk Sale – have been very successful. So the group didn’t want to miss out on a major opportunity to spotlight the city’s gay entertainment district.

“No matter which two cities’ teams are in the Super Bowl, there are going to be a lot of gay people coming to town,” Whittall said. “We love sports — we’re just like everybody else — and I think sports-minded gay people will come out in force. I don’t think you have to be sports-minded, either, to enjoy a big party.”

In another first, Cedar Springs Road will be fenced from Reagan Street to Throckmorton Street for the Super Street Party, Whittall said.

The fencing requirement, which will apply to all future block parties, is designed to facilitate crowd control and stop people from bringing in alcohol beverages and glass containers. There will be no charge for admission.

The Super Street Party will include beer booths manned by volunteers from local gay sports organization, which will keep a portion of the profits, Whittall said. Any leftover funds will go toward the Merchants Association’s beautification efforts.

“Our main concern is throwing a great party,” he said. “I think the only thing that makes us nervous is the weather. You never know what to expect weather-wise in Dallas in February. But at the same time, cold weather if football weather.”

—  John Wright

HRC Volunteers in D.C. Keep Dialing In for Equality Across the Nation

In this last week before the critical Midterm Elections, we’ve been contacting HRC members  all over the country from here in D.C.  It’s exciting because I know just how much of an impact every conversation makes.

On Monday night I headed over to George Washington University and lead a phonebank withthe  student group Allied for Pride and dialed in for marriage equality in New York State.  Across town, Deputy Field Director Jeremy Pittman led another group of D.C. volunteers and HRC supporters as they also dialed to elect pro-equality state Senate candidates in New York.

We continued making calls into New York on Tuesday night with a great new group at George Mason University, StandOUT.

I’m so happy to support these key campaigns which will get us that much closer to passing marriage equality. I’m invested and passionate about all of our campaigns across the nation, but this one is particularly close to my heart. I grew up “upstate”- depending on your definition of upstate- in Hudson, NY.  I also recently got engaged to my partner, Renee. If I ever wanted to return home to New York to get married, I wouldn’t be able to do so legally. Unfortunately, situations like mine are not isolated. This is a sobering fact, and I want to do as much as I can to change the tide and see that all families in New York are recognized.

On Wednesday night I was joined by eight D.C. area volunteers and we continued to mobilize our members, this time in Minnesota, which is poised to be another marriage-equality state. At the same time, former HRC intern Josh Langdon ran a simultaneous phone bank with University of Ohio law students that reached out to hundreds of voters to support pro-equality candidates there.

In the last three days, we’ve held 5 phonebanks in three different locations and dialed over 2,000 numbers. It sounds like a lot, but we still have so much work to do.

Just two and half hours of your time will help us reach out to more than one hundred members and in races this close and this important, that could make all the difference.

Please email me directly at Christine.Sloane@hrc.org to sign up for our last election phonebank, on Monday, November 1. That night, we’ll be making calls into key districts all over the country to mobilize our members and get out the vote for pro-equality candidates.

We will provide pizza, training and a fun atmosphere on the eve before the elections. We’ll also be starting early, at 5:00 p.m., and calling right up until 9:00 p.m.  Stop in after work, on your way to the metro, and give what time you can; just let me know that you’re coming!

It’s simple- we need all hands on deck.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

HRC Volunteers in Florida Come Out in Record Numbers

The following post comes from  Regional Field Organizer Jess Osborn. Jess is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

The last couple weeks have been an amazing success for the HRC’s volunteer effort. Last week, an HRC phonebank here in Florida had seventeen volunteers come out to dial up HRC members about the upcoming elections. Seventeen! No doubt a record for an HRC Phonebank. The volunteers at this phonebank, and each phonebank we hold here in Florida, are working hard to ensure that people have everything that they need for Election Day, and that they are fully aware of their pro-equality candidates in these elections.

Volunteers for this record-breaking phonebank included a member of the HRC Steering Committee here in Orlando, young college students from local schools and the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) from the University of Central Florida (UCF). AMSA turned out ten volunteers and made a big contribution to this phonebank. It is so inspiring to see young people getting involved in the elections, and doing everything that they can to push for equality this election. Young people are our future and it is crucial that we encourage and educate the future leaders (and the future voters) of America.

This phonebank is just one of the many events that we are taking part of down here in Florida, in the last few weeks, I have been all around the state, doing everything in my power to reach out to our membership and to get the word out about pro-equality candidates. Whether it rallying with members and volunteers in Orlando(with Former President Bill Clinton!), hitting the ground canvasing or setting up our table at Revolution Nightclub to talk to young voters, I am honored to be a part of the exciting work that is going into this year’s elections. Thanks to all of amazing volunteers that have made all of our work possible. Let’s keep up the momentum through election day and keep equality moving forward.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

D.C. Region Volunteers Keep Equality Spreading

The following post comes from HRC Regional Field Organizer Christine Sloane . Christine is working hard here in D.C. to support the 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

Over 6,000 dials and hundreds of conversations later, the D.C. phonebanks are marching on. Volunteers have traveled from as far as Baltimore to give three hours of time to reach out to HRC members in districts that they cannot vote in, that are situated in counties they’ve never heard of.

This is the kind of dedication and activism that inspired me to change careers and become a professional organizer. Our D.C. volunteers have been calling into states like New York, Ohio and Minnesota to protect and elect candidates who value members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as equals. The candidates we are working to elect will support issues like marriage equality, tougher bullying laws and employment non-discrimination.

Here in the District, our volunteers have worked alongside me to make sure that my colleagues, who are scattered far and wide, have the support that they need to mobilize our members to not only get out and vote but to get involved.

It’s an inspiring chain of event that looks like this: we make calls to D.C. area supporters and recruit them to come in and volunteer to Dial for Equality. Those volunteers make calls to even more supporters and recruit them to Dial for Equality with one of my colleagues on the ground in one of 16  states across the country. Then those supporters call even more supporters and the chain goes on and on. Grassroots magic.

It may not seem that making calls is glamorous, but in truth, it is one of the single most important (and easiest) things you can do to make change. There’s no time to lose. With just over a  week until elections, we need your help.

Please Dial for Equality tonight , Monday, October 25 from 6:00-8:30 and/or Wednesday, October 27 from 6:00-8:30 p.m.

After a quick, energetic training and few slices of pizza shared among like-minded new friends, you’ll get on the phone and become part of the chain for change. Will you join us?


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

Volunteers Stand Up for Chris Coons in Delaware

Delawareans are coming out in force to help elect Chris Coons to the U.S. Senate.  I’ve been working here in Lewes to turn out our members throughout Delaware, and the dedication of the volunteers is amazing.  With so much on the line and everyone watching, it’s been great to work with such a dedicated group of volunteers here in eastern Delaware.

The race is definitely a top target and it’s been exciting to talk to our members about why they need to vote.  There’s talk of an enthusiasm gap, but that’s definitely not the case here;  everyone that I have talked to is excited to go cast a vote for pro-equality candidates like Chris Coons.

The time here on the ground has blown by, and I’m sure that the time from now until Election Day  will go even faster. Here’s to getting out the vote.  Go Coons!

Paid for by the Human Rights Campaign PAC and authorized by Chris Coons for Delaware


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

HRC Volunteers Keep Equality Moving Forward in the Keystone State

The following post comes from Regional Field Director Sultan Shakir. Sultan is just one of 30 HRC staff that will be on the ground in 16 states by Election Day, working with HRC-endorsed candidates and engaging our membership about the upcoming elections:

This week, HRC members in the greater Philadelphia area joined in on another phone bank to help turn out HRC members in this critical election.  Across the state, HRC members are being plugged into key races, working hard to ensure that pro-equality are elected to represent us.  With just under two weeks left, the energy is high and we’re working harder than ever to make sure our people get out to vote.

Thank you to everyone who has helped out all across the state, and thanks those who will do so between now and Election Day. Together we will continue to drive equality forward in the Keystone State this fall.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  admin

D.C. Volunteers Make a Difference in NY

I love campaign season. The period leading up to elections can be terribly stressful for many of us, but it can also be tremendously rewarding. I am in western New York right now, where we are working hard every day to make marriage equality a reality here in the Empire State. The results of the upcoming elections will play a huge part in making this all possible, and the volunteers that have given their time this fall know how important it is to let everyone know that fact.

One of the most exciting things about our work here in New York is that I have been able to work very closely with my colleague and friend, HRC Regional Field Organizer Christine Sloan – despite the fact that she is over 400 miles away, working in our nation’s capitol. Christine has been working hard in D.C., organizing our D.C. based volunteers there to call our members here in New York to get them fired up about marriage equality in the state. The work that Christine and our outstanding HRC volunteers in D.C. have done has played a big part in mobilizing our membership from the Big Apple to the Great Lakes, from Long Island to the Capital Region and everywhere in between.

Regional Field Organizer Christine Sloan hard at work at our offices in D.C.

If you want to know more about the Campaign for NY Marriage, visit our website, where you can learn about which candidates we have endorse, upcoming events in the state, how you can help and more.

If you’re in the western New York area and interested in meeting other HRC members and volunteering on a strong, pro-equality campaign, please contact Regional Field Organizer David Contreras Turley at 202.330.3790 for more information.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Proposal revived to prohibit Cedar Springs club-goers from parking on Hall Street

A little over a year ago we wrote about a proposal to establish a “resident-parking only” zone on the 3900 block of Hall Street, just off the Cedar Springs strip.

The RPO zone would prohibit non-residents from parking on the block during certain hours on weekend nights.

Some residents say the RPO is needed because they have no place to park due to spaces being taken by patrons of the gay entertainment district.

But opponents say those residents knew it was an entertainment district when they moved there, and they fear another RPO zone would make a bad parking situation worse in Oak Lawn.

There are dozens of RPO zones in Dallas — mostly in the Lower Greenville area. There currently is only one RPO near the gay entertainment district — in the 3200 block of Throckmorton Street.

According to Jim Musick, a resident of the 3900 block of Hall Street who opposes the RPO, the proposal appears to have been revived after more than a year.

“I find this totally inappropriate and offensive.” Musick wrote to Instant Tea.

Musick forwarded a note from the property manager for his complex seeking volunteers to circulate a petition in support of the RPO. As the note dated Oct. 12 states, the petition would need the signatures of two-thirds of homeowners on the block for the proposal to proceed. Here’s what the note said:

Hi All:

It had been mentioned to me at the Board meeting held last month that there is an interest in homeowners and guests being able to park in the street and spaces being available.

I met with a neighboring property on your street that I also manage and they have visited the city to see what needs to be done to apply for permits for homeowners on Hall Street . I have a form that each homeowner would have to sign and provide your license plate number. A total of 2/3 of the homeowners have to sign this document to be submitted to the city.

I need a volunteer that can visit each homeowner within your community to get it signed. Would someone like to help me with this project as I need original signatures?

Please let me know and I can drop by and give you the form.

Thanks
Ed

Ed Colvin, CMCA, AMS
Association Manager
Principal Management Group, AAMC, AMO

—  John Wright

LEADING THE WAY

Guide Dogs
Sewell Automotive Companies and Sewell Subaru, which market to the LGBT community in Dallas and have on staff openly lesbian sales manager Vicki Gullion, have donated $10,000 to help establish Guide Dogs for the Blind’s first Texas group of guide dog raisers. The Dallas-based group, Lone Star Puppy Raisers, will use Sewell’s donation to help fund the costs of initial training and raising of future guide dogs. “We are thrilled to help bring this very important group to Texas and wanted to help the volunteer families as they get the puppies started on their journey to becoming wonderful service dogs that are beloved companions,” said Chris Chick, general manager of Sewell Subaru. “Both Sewell and Subaru are dedicated to the support of animal organizations and we’re looking forward to a continued partnership with GDB and Lone Star Puppy Raisers.” Chick is pictured with Lone Star Puppy Raisers’ first group of volunteers and their puppies.

—  Kevin Thomas