Feet don’t fail

Recently all but dead, Lin Wang helped Frontrunners catch its second wind

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

DFW Frontrunners members Steven, left, and Kevin, right, set the pace with new members like Moe, center, to powerwalk for fitness with the group when they meet every Saturday morning to hit the Katy Trail.

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

When Lin Wang came to Dallas and thought about joining the DFW Frontrunners, he encountered a fizzled-out band of running enthusiasts with an expired website.

“I found an email to an old contact, but no one answered,” Wang says. “Then I learned from someone that it died out a few years ago.”

But Wang’s enthusiasm is infectious, and his spirit has helped bring the group back to life.

Frontrunners isn’t just a Dallas thing — it’s an international affiliation of LGBT running and walking clubs that first began 28 years ago in San Francisco. Wang had been an active member of both the Pittsburgh and New York City chapters, so when he moved to Dallas in the summer of 2010, he was surprised to find that in a city of its size, the group basically didn’t exist.

“I don’t know why it went away,” he says. “With all the other sports groups, there is such a demand for athletics in this large LGBT community.”

So he started the rebuilding.

DFW Frontrunners had been so out-of-date that the international association told him to just register the group as “new.” With the help of Julio Chong, the group changed its meeting place from White Rock Lake on Saturday mornings to a more central spot in Lee Park. For the group to succeed, Wang felt it needed to be closer in the ‘hood.

“Julio and I did this together,” Wang says. “We started small, but the biggest group we’ve had is about 15 members and we now have close to 20 active members.”

Wang recalls the decisions to have the first group meeting last June.

“It was a horrible time to begin because of the summer,” he laughs, recalling the sweltering heat of 2011’s record-breaking season.“ But we had to prove this was not a dead organization. We welcome anyone who wants to join us.”

With a diverse group including some straight members, Frontrunners meets at the Robert E. Lee statue and then proceeds to the Katy Trail. Groups can then walk or run in their preferred direction, eventually meeting back at the statue. Then it’s off to breakfast.

Like any gay sports organization, Frontrunners also pushes the socializing aspect of a club. Fellowship is a booster among those working on their fitness levels. Local activist Latisha McDaniel has met some of her personal goals as a member along with broadening her circle of friends.

“[Frontrunners has] been a great experience and has really increased my love of running,” she says. “It has given me a new jump start and a good way to meet new people.”

McDaniel even improved her fitness level. She started with the walking group, but has graduated to running and even surprised herself with her abilities.

“I’ve participated in two races since joining and about to run in another one,” she says. “I did a few races in college but haven’t really done anything since moving to Dallas.”

“We’re not gonna scare people away who like walking,” Wang adds. “We always make sure one person walks so others feel fine to join in.”

Wang intends for Frontrunners to be much more than the weekly meetup. He’s used Facebook and Twitter to get the word out on the group and to entice online members to join them in person. He has had the group participate as volunteers for the White Rock Marathon as a water station team and expect to repeat that this year. He also wants to push the group into hosting Dallas’ first Pride race.

We’re focusing hard on doing the first-ever event,” he says. “St. Louis has one and we think that it could be an integral part of our Pride festival. It would be a different way to have and witness a different Pride involvement. And we’d like to tie it in to an organization and the race can be a viable fundraiser.”

Although Wang would like to accomplish all this in 2012, it’s more realistic to expect everything in place by Dallas Pride 2013. In the meantime, the group hopes to expand membership and enjoy the health and fellowship that accompanies it. And for now, you can join without paying membership dues.

“We’re in the process of becoming a nonprofit and so we may have to charge in the future,” he admits. “but we expect it would be very minimal. We don’t want to push anyone away.” The only running away he wants to see is on the trail.

For more information, visit Frontrunners Dallas.org or meet up with them Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. under the statue at Lee Park.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 17, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

‘The Lady’ exhibit at Bath House Cultural Center

Who’s that lady of the lake?

You know those stories of driving in the White Rock Lake area and seeing a mysterious drenched lady. She needs a ride, sits in the back seat and then disappears leaving only a puddle ruining your fine upholstery. The story is legend in Dallas and for whatever reason, is still creepy. The urban legend is turned into art in The Lady, where artists depict in various ways their take on the legend of the woman who drowned in the lake years ago. Real or not, it’s a spooky slice of Dallas history retold in art form — and perfect for getting in the Halloween mood.

DEETS: Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Drive. Through Jan. 28. Free. BathHouseCultural.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Tasting notes

Veggie Fair returns, Dish launches fall menu and you can win foodie swag!

Ahi-Tuna-Pica

A-HA, AHI! | Dish’s ahi pica is one of its best fall menu additions from new chef de cuisine Garreth Dickey.

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

You can get deep fried bacon and fried butter and fried just-about-anything at the Texas State Fair, but this weekend, the fried foods are more animal friendly at the Texas State Veggie Fair, now in its second year. Sponsored by Jamey Scott with DallasVegan.com to celebrate and promote the health benefits and environmental impact of the vegan lifestyle, the festivities start on Saturday with the Texas premiere of the documentary Vegucated where, a la Morgan Spurlock, three meat-eating New Yorkers go vegan for six weeks. The screening will take place at the Texas Theatre in Oak Cliff on Saturday at 1 p.m., with the filmmaker in attendance.

That night, the animal rights group Mercy for Animals, founded by gay vegan Nathan Runkle, hosts the official kick-off party for the fair at Sons of Hermann Hall, starting at 7 p.m. Then on Sunday, you can enjoy the entirety of the fair — including a fried food competition (for which I will serve as a judge), music and speakers, as well as veggie food — at Winfrey Point on Lawther Drive on White Rock Lake. Admission is free to the fair and runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, visit DallasVegan.com or TexasStateVeggieFair.com.

North Texas seemed to progress quickly from sweltering heat to autumnal cuddliness with almost no transition time at all. I’m not just talking about the weather, but about the food as well.

It certainly feels like fall already at Dish. The new chef de cuisine, Garreth Dickey, has retooled the menu at the three-year-old restaurant, editing some of the regular items and adding all new ones. The coolest tweaks to the menu: A “weekly specialties” list, which Dickey swaps out each Wednesday, and a $35 prix fixe menu which allows him the opportunity to experiment with new recipes and you to be the first to try out what’s new.

The tender flat iron steak, already a staple of the menu, is still there, as are the selection of flatbreads. But burgers have been deemphasized in favor of tacos (the sweet and tangy Carolina pork tacos, $12 as a dinner entrée or two bucks each in the bar at happy hour, are a special now; don’t miss ‘em), and Dickey’s new prosciutto flatbread is the best of them all.

Perhaps the standout of the new items, though, is the ahi pica appetizer. More flavorful than the usual tuna tartare, this version sings with the slow-rising heat of scotch bonnet chilis and the tropical wisp of coconut atop a large wonton disk.

Dish doesn’t have a pastry chef, so Dickey’s desserts are simple yet exceptional. The caramel pot de crème has the personality of creamy butterscotch, and the sweetness of the banana cake is softened with a hint of saltiness.

This month, Café Brazil re-released its seasonal coffee blend — always popular with longtime regulars — as well as a new menu that exudes the fall season. Among the offerings: cinnamon pumpkins pancakes and French toast a la bananas foster, two sweetly indulgent breakfast items designed to raise your blood sugar.

Not to be outdone, Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop on Preston Road in Plano lists “the Bobbie” as one of its most popular offerings. It is nicknamed “Thanksgiving on a bun,” and that about sums in up: Sliced turkey, stuffing and a cranberry relish recreate the sensations of turkey day with the convenience of a sandwich. In fact, it’s the perfect day-after Thanksgiving meal without all the mess and lost refrigerator space.

This year, the annual Beaujolais & Beyond Wine Festival, sponsored by the French-American Chamber of Commerce of Dallas, moves to the brand new Omni Dallas Downtown on Nov. 18. You can check out the big new convention center hotel while sampling wines from France’s Beaujolais region as well as American Rhone style wines, all set to a hip ‘60s-inspired theme. Participating restaurants include Parigi, Hotel St. Germain, Bonnie Ruth’s Café and many more. Tickets are $60 in advance ($55 for four or more) and available at FACCDallas.com. 

……………….

online exclusive

Get some culinary swag! To win a pound of seasonal blend coffee from Cafe Brazil, a pint of Dickey’s barbecue sauce and more, email lifestyle@dallasvoice.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Pride 2011 • LGBT seniors in Dallas ‘just out of luck’

One man’s plight highlights the needs, dangers facing the entire community of older LGBT people

Kee-Holt
Kee Holt

David Webb  | Contributing Writer
davidwaynewebb@yahoo.com

Almost a year after a well-known gay community activist was discovered wandering the streets and apparently suffering from dementia, he remains alone in a nursing home near White Rock Lake without any support from family or friends, according to representatives of Dallas’ Crisis Intervention Unit.

“He is completely alone,” said Valencia Hooper, a caseworker for the unit, which is a program administered by the Dallas Police Department. “He doesn’t have anybody.”

The activist, whose identity is being withheld because of his vulnerability, was arrested by police just before Christmas last year when he was allegedly discovered trying to get into a car that did not belong to him. At the time the activist was homeless and wandering the streets after being evicted from his Oak Lawn apartment.

It is suspected that at the time of his arrest he was too confused to understand what he was doing, and that he was likely trying to find shelter from the weather.

While he was in jail¸ the activist came into contact with a nurse who realized that he was suffering from dementia and did not belong there, according to Marilu Thorn, another caseworker with the unit that initially assisted him and tried unsuccessfully to locate family members or friends who knew him.

Thorn said that when she started looking into the activist’s personal history in an attempt to find help for him, she was shocked to discover that he had been so well-known in the community. A few years ago, the activist was on the Democratic Party’s ticket running for a state representative’s position for a district in central Dallas.

Thorn reached out to the Dallas Voice for help, and a notice was posted on the newspaper’s blog featuring a picture of the activist and asking for assistance in locating his family. The effort was unsuccessful so the activist now only has contact with nursing home staff, other residents and the caseworkers who still monitor him.

“He’s pretty much out of it,” said Hooper, who noted that he needs someone to visit him and make sure that he has the personal things he needs such as clothing and shoes. “He’s really a very sweet man.”

Hooper said that as it stands now, if the activist were to die there wouldn’t even be anyone to notify to determine if anyone wanted to hold a memorial service. “He is going to die someday,” she said.

The activist, who moved to Dallas in 1975, is believed to have a son and a grandson somewhere, but apparently no one knows how to contact them. A former roommate of the activist’s now reportedly lives in Florida.

Hooper said that when the activist was first evicted from his apartment, some of his neighbors tried to help him for a while. One neighbor would let him sleep on her sofa at night. He would go to the streets during the day when she left for work.

“They didn’t know what to do,” Hooper said. “They kind of treated him like he was a little dog.”

At the time the activist’s plight came to the attention of the Dallas Voice, research showed that there were scarce resources dedicated to aging LGBT people who lack personal resources. Although the activist’s plight sparked some concern in the community, apparently no progress has been made so far.

One reader who commented about the lack of resources said the community’s resources are rightfully dedicated to HIV/AIDS services, and that there is no room for other programs.

He said that LGBT people are already entitled to the same resources that benefit all elderly people, but another reader noted that many programs benefiting seniors are religion-based and reject homosexuality.

Resource Center Dallas sponsors a program for LGBT seniors, the GLBT Aging Interest Network or GAIN, but its primary focus is education, entertainment and social activities, according to Kee Holt, RCD’s center services manager who oversees the GAIN Program.

After the activist began receiving help from the caseworkers, he was transferred from jail to a medical facility for evaluation and eventually was placed in the nursing home.

Thorn said anyone who was aware of the activist’s plight could have called Dallas’ 311 service to report his situation. That would have resulted in his case probably being referred to the

Crisis Intervention Unit, and he would have avoided the trip to jail, she said.

“It shouldn’t have gotten that bad,” Thorn said.

Holt said that as unfortunate as this man’s story is, a nearly complete lack of services in Dallas for LGBT seniors means that he is probably not the only one in such a situation.

“There’s really nothing at all out there for GLBT seniors in this city,” Holt said. “If you’re an older GLBT person here who needs some specific services, you’re really just out of luck.

There are no GLBT-specific shelters, no GLBT-specific services or resources. Oak Lawn United Methodist Church does have a program that helps a lot of people, but it’s not GLBT-specific.”

There are, of course, more general services and resources for senior citizens in the area, and Resource Center Dallas recently became a member of the Community Council of Greater

Dallas, an umbrella organization for Dallas-area agencies on aging. But, Holt stressed, those services are often not educated on the special needs of LGBT seniors and in some instances are outright hostile.

“When I first took this job in 2008, I started just cold-calling all the nursing homes and assisted-living facilities I could find in this area, just to try and get a feel for what people knew about LGBT seniors and their issues and how welcoming they would be,” Holt said. “I got hung up on a lot of times, and I even had some people tell me that they didn’t have any LGBT residents because ‘they grow out of it by now.’ Some just told me, “We don’t have that kind of thing here.’”

It’s attitudes like those, Holt said, that put many older LGBTs in an untenable either-or situation: “They have lived their lives as out LGBT men and women, and now, they face the decision of either going back into the closet and spending the rest of their lives hiding who they are, or they can stay out and face being ostracized, maybe even mistreated, by staff members and other residents at the nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

“It’s just a really, really difficult situation, with no good answers right now,” he said.

Holt noted that the Dallas Area Agency on Aging has recently asked Resource Center Dallas to conduct diversity training for its staff in an effort to increase understanding on LGBT issues. That is a step in the right direction, he said, but there are many more steps that are needed.

“The Resource Center needs a full-time staff person to work on just these issues. I don’t have the time to do that, and the funding for that isn’t there right now,” Holt said. “What we need in Dallas is an activist organization focusing on these [LGBT senior] issues. I don’t think that GAIN will be that organization. But we need one.”

Dallas Voice Senior Editor Tammye Nash contributed to this report.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

LSR Journal:Pedalling — and padding — his way to Zen

Chef Kerry Chace says cycling is a great way to burn off calories and relax, as long as you’ve got the proper gear

Kerry-Chace.LSR-cutout
Kerry Chace

M.M. Adjarian  |  Contributing Writer
editor@dallasvoice.com

If you had told Kerry Chace a few years ago that cycling would one day become akin to a spiritual practice, he would’ve thought you were joking. But now, the joke’s on him.

This second-year Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS cyclist can’t imagine not spending his spare time pedalling for his body and mind as well as his community.

“I’m a corporate chef so I consume a lot of calories during the week, and I have to burn them off,” Chace grins. “So every weekend I’ve got to get on my bike and burn off as many doughnuts as possible.”

Chace came to LSRFA last year after he saw a Twitter post about it. When he signed up to participate, though, he had no time to do any of the fundraising required of each cyclist: It was already mid-September — just two weeks before the event.

But that didn’t stop him.

“I just wrote the check myself at registration,” Chace recalls. “And all of a sudden, I was in the Ride.”

The Calgary native was no stranger to charity cycling events and had participated in the 1998 Texas Tanqueray AIDS Ride. But once the TTAR was over, he didn’t saddle up for another 12 years.

On a whim, Chace finally rolled out his bicycle again in the spring of 2010 and decided to go around White Rock Lake.

“[One day], some guy came up beside me and said, ‘Dude, you need to get a better bike.’ [I suddenly became aware that] I was pushing big fat tires and an old bicycle.”

And, Chace said, that wasn’t his only sudden realization.

“What you see on a bike [is not what] you would see if you were in the car,” he says. “If you’re up by White Rock Lake, you can see the sailboats. It’s amazing what you become aware of and smell and see.”

To hear Chace talk, you would almost think that he is describing a spiritual experience. And in fact, he is: His lakeside outings helped him find inner tranquility and balance.

“I’ve told others that maybe [the feeling comes] because I’m moving faster than my brain is working,” he explains. “It’s a very calm feeling I get when I’m riding, even though it could be 110 degrees and I’m going uphill.

“I just kind of lose myself, so I say that it’s yoga on wheels.”

He chuckles: “Some people think I’m absolutely crazy. But while I’m riding, my mind is clear; it’s really Zen.”

His cycling experiences have only been enhanced by participating in the LSRFA. Not only has the Dallas chef been able to indulge his newfound passion for “yoga on wheels,” he’s also been able to make many new friends while celebrating the lives of those he’s lost to the AIDS epidemic.

Chace says he has also gotten to know a lot about himself and the proper way to enjoy cycling.

“I remember when I first got my jersey and bike shorts. I didn’t think [the shorts] were very flattering; it was vanity, I guess. I’m like, ‘Wow, this doesn’t make my butt look very good.’ So I got some really cheap ones with very thin padding,” he recalls.

Chace now understands that to achieve a state of Zen bliss, he must be mindful of the choices he makes on the physical plane.

“You really want as much padding as you can back there,” he grins. “Get yourself a good pair of shorts or you will be looking for a pillow.”

Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS will be held Sept. 24-25. To donate to an individual rider, to a team or to the Ride itself, go online to LoneStarRide.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Truck me!

Dallas’ food truck trend hits terminal velocity at massive meet up

dining
FOOD ON WHEELS | The lines were long at every truck in the Sigel’s lot last week, as Dallas foodies turned out for the first major food truck event. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

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

The food truck has been an American tradition — as expected as corrupt politicians —  for decades. But if you don’t recall seeing them in Dallas much in the past, there’s a reason for that: a city ordinance that required them to move every hour. Being itinerant is one of the joys of the food truck, a mobile kitchen that can bring its unique flavors to where the people are and migrate with them. If they high-tail it like the revenuers after a moonshine still every 60 minutes, it seems less like a convenience and more like a grey market transaction. And how do you follow a restaurant that moves all the time?

The solution has been two-fold: Repeal that pesky ordinance (the City Council did that in June), and let folks track you via GPS and Twitter. Now, a truck can hole up for as long as the business is booming, and when it goes on the move, it’s easy for tech-savvy foodies to follow. I first saw the new semi-permanent advantage put into practice this summer at the Bath House Cultural Center along White Rock Lake during the Festival of Independent Theatres: Patrons didn’t have to scarf down Doritos or speed a few blocks to a Whataburger to eat between performances, they could just go outside and sample the automat-on-wheels.

It’s become hugely trendy in the past few months — In-N-Out Burger with mobility. It reached, arguably, its peak last weekend with a festival in the Sigel’s lot on Greenville Avenue, as half-a-dozen trucks set up shop for three hours to show Dallas what it has been missing.
But it ended up as something of a clusterfuck.

Organizers underestimated the demand for rolls that actually roll, even on a sweltering evening in August. There was simply too much demand and not enough supply.

One truck, Ruthie’s Rolling Café, announced it would not take new orders for its gourmet grilled cheese sammies until it caught up with its backlog. “Half-hour, 45 minutes,” the girl there sympathetically apologized. Ninety minutes later, my order still hadn’t been taken.

I could hardly blame the chefs, who worked like 8-year-olds in a Chinese shoe factory to get the dishes served but still couldn’t seem to get their heads above water. And honestly, looking at the menu whetted my appetite to finally track them down. The Bomb cut off new orders of its fried pies well before the event was set to end. (Not so Nammi Truck, which has a long line and a two-hour wait for their bahn mi bites.)

The only dishes my party and I were actually able to sample were from 3 Men and a Taco. Figuring this might be my only chance at actual food, I tried a trio: beef charkalaka, pork and pico and an alligator taco. The gator, which I generously spritzed with the spiciest of their spicy salsas, was tender, and the sauce didn’t cause my eyes to roll back in my head (a failing — I like spicy — but tasty nonetheless). There was something unnerving about the texture of the pork, which had the consistency of wet cottonballs, though the flavors were solid. I’ll return to try the rest of the menu, just not when the line’s so long.

In the end, we ditched the parking lot and scooted over to Mariano’s Hacienda for frozen swirls and some flautas. It cost more, but at least we left with our bellies full in less than an hour. Food trucks are meant to sate you, not sap you.

Ah well. Kinks will be worked out. By the time the permanent food truck lot opens next year on Lower Greenville, there’ll be a rhythm. Until then, it’s back to playing Twitter detective and seeking out the trucks when the lines are shorter. It might be less communal, but at least you get fed.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Good eatin’: Sunday’s Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake

Part of me wonders why anyone who lives in Texas ever plans to do anything outdoors between Memorial Day and Labor Day. But then you have a nice event like Sunday’s Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, and you know.

The food-a-thon started Saturday with a series of events — brunch to late-dinner — and concluded Sunday with a well-attended but still fairly intimate barbecue, all hosted by top local chefs. Sunday’s picnic, commemorating the centennial of White Rock Lake, featured fresh Texas peaches, watermelon salad, orzo, baked beans, grilled chicken, beef brisket and delicious housemade salad from host-chef Brian C. Luscher of The Grape (pictured with Parigi’s Janice Provost). There were also banana puddings, cupcakes and best of all: Iced tea vodka from Deep Eddy. And I managed to stay in the shade most of the time with a breeze off the water.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Tasting notes

Photo-2---Murray's-in-Kroger-Shot
SAY CHEESE | Murray’s Cheese Shop just opened at the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station with a delectable selection.
Murray’s: What a friend we have in cheeses; White Rock holds a picnic

What a friend we have in cheeses, now that Murray’s Cheese Shop has moved out of the ghetto of Greenwich Village in New York City and hit the real center of the cheese world, the hometown of Paula Lambert: Dallas.

At least, that’s how I approach it at my house, where a day without cheese is like a day without sunlight. So to have the celebrated fromagerie inside the Kroger Dr. Pepper Station is a coup for local cheese lovers.

The shop groups its cheeses by use more than style: Melting cheeses, stinky cheeses, spreadable, etc. Even better, there’s a section for this month’s specials, where you can get great deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for samples, or go outside your comfort zone, such as a deliciously crunchy version of two-year gouda called Reypanaer, or the veiny, pungent Smokehaus blue.

White Rock Lake celebrates its centennial with several culinary events this weekend. On Saturday, the beach turns into the Veranda Lounge, with a day-long choice of meals. Culinary couple Jeana Johnson and Colleen O’Hare of Good 2 Go Tacos serve brunch from 10 to 11:30 a.m., followed by lunch and wine at noon, afternoon tea at 2, cocktails at 4:30 and dinner with chef Marc Cassel starting at 7 p.m., followed by music and fireworks.

Then on Sunday, Brian C. Luscher, chef/owner of The Grape, hosts Chefs’ Picnic at the Lake, starting at noon at the Bath House Cultural Center. Cassel will be back, along with Jeff Harris of RedFork, Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava and others. Visit HighlandParkCafeteria.com for more info and to purchase tickets.

Central 214 executive chef Blythe Beck recently adopted a dog, which motivated her to hold a benefit for Operation Kindness. (It’s also a mission close to our hearts — Dallas Voice profiles a shelter pet for adoption every week.) On June 30, the restaurant at the Hotel Palomar will hold a VIP Party — that’s Very Important Pet — on the patio, with drink special and all-you-can-eat bites for just $10. It runs from 7 to 10 p.m.

Dish is back with its drag brunch this Sunday, and will do them twice a month from now on, with bottomless mimosas and a special brunch menu.

Taste of Dallas returns to Fair Park, Friday, July 8 through Sunday, July 10. The annual festival of food features live music, contests and lots of tastings. Among the chefs on-hand are gay restaurateur Scott Jones of Macho Nacho and Cowtown Diner and Jason Boso of Twisted Root Burger Co. and Cowboy Chow. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the gate. See the full lineup at TasteofDallas.org.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

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NUP_141681_0107TRAVEL DIARY

Josh Flagg, pictured, a star of the Bravo series Million Dollar Listing who came out earlier this year, is letting his Pride flag wave. Flagg will host a four-day dance party in the Quepos/Manuel Antonio area of Costa Rica next month. It takes place July 21–25 in a gated community on the Latin American nation’s South Coast. To learn more, visit HMCRPride.com/party.

GayTravel.com is reaching out to the queer artistic community to highlight the local arts scenes in destinations for its readers.
LGBT artists and allies who work in any media are invited to submit pieces that would be of interests to gay travelers — pieces promoting events, trends or just themselves that can add to the experience of visiting new locales. You can read more about it on the website, or email sophie.needelman@gaytravel.com for details.
— A.W.J.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 24, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Putting the pedal to their mettle

545 MILES OF HOPE | Wild Stallions Trae Schaefer, Christy Lestina and Burt Barber raise money on Saturday to pay for their rides in California this summer. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

Lone Star Ride veterans the Wild Stallions take their biking-for-bucks operation on the road

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer
stevencraiglindsey@me.com

There are much faster ways to get from San Francisco to Los Angeles. But few more scenic. Or more charitable. For a solid week — this year from June 5–11 — more than 2,500 cyclists will pedal the 545 miles between two major California towns to raise money for fighting and bringing awareness to AIDS.

But you don’t need to be from Cali to participate. Indeed, among that group of enthusiasts pumping along the Pacific Coast Highway will be Dallas’ Wild Stallions.

Made up of gays and straights alike, The Stallions are united in their love of biking and their desire to help a greater cause. Saturday, the team hosts a two-hour Spin-A-Thon at the Cooper Aerobics Center to help raise money to get the cyclists ready to ride. It’s not small change to enter: A minimum of $3,000 per rider is needed to cover the cost of travel, hotels, meals, entry fees and the cost to ship their bicycles.

It’s all part of the fun of cycling for a cause. In 2002, Stallion Burt Barber was invited to a fundraising event for the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS. At the time, he chose to donate money rather than participate because the idea of riding 175 miles over two days seemed nearly impossible.

Nine years later, he’s an old hand, preparing for a ride more than three times as long. Following back surgery in 2003, Barber was no longer able to run, so he quickly took up cycling as an alternative.

“As I started training, I met friends and we started training together. We named our group the Wild Stallions after an energy drink at the 7-11 by White Rock Lake that we made into a pit stop during our training rides,” Barber says. “We trained hard and realized how fun and enjoyable this has become, so we started to ride in various charity rides.”

The Stallions have participated in the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS every year since 2003 and have no plans of stopping. The California ride is just an opportunity to raise awareness in a different way. This year will mark Barber’s second time in the AIDS LifeCycle, his first just two years ago.

“That was a difficult ride emotionally for me,” Barber says. “One week before that ride, I paid a visit and said my goodbye to Jason Harmon. This was difficult because as I said goodbye,

Jason told me to come back and tell him how the ride went.” Two days before the ride began, Harmon passed away.

“Jason was inspirational to me and instrumental in my cycling. He was the crew captain and always cheered me on training rides. And on the rides themselves, he was always there flagging me in and pushing me to finish.”

Barber rides in his honor and for Janet Park, the woman who first introduced him to the Lone Star Ride.

For fellow Wild Stallion Trae Schaefer, participating in the ride is essential to getting out a bigger message.

“There is a misconception by a lot of people that HIV/AIDS is no longer a life-threatening disease because of all the progress with the various medications,” he says. “You see advertisements every day that make it look like simply taking a pill will allow you to lead a normal, healthy life even if you are HIV-positive. Anyone who knows someone who is positive and takes these pills knows there are serious side effects, which are sometimes just as bad as the disease itself. We need to remind people that no cure has been found and we need to remember all of those that have died from this dreadful disease.”

He says this ride, like so many others, provides awareness, remembrance, and most importantly, a reality check.

Straight team member Christy Lestina participates for personal reasons, as well.

“I have friends who are HIV-positive and need my support. I have also had a dear friend pass away from AIDS in 1993 and I am still saddened by his loss. I want to make a difference in my friends’ lives who are affected by it,” she says. “I feel that riding my bike 545 miles is the least I can do to ease their pain.”

It has benefits for the riders as well, though.

“What you really get is a sense of becoming part of a family, knowing that all the hard work you put in fundraising, training and riding really does make a difference for a lot of people,” Schaefer says. “You get to personally meet these people and hear about how much you help change their lives by doing something as simple as riding your bike for seven days. I may not be able to donate a million dollars, but after the ride, I feel like I have.”

Cooper Aerobics Center, 12200 Preston Road. April 16, 1-3 p.m. Anyone interested in donating to the Wild Stallions can email Burt.Barber@yahoo.com or visit AIDSLifeCycle.org and donate in the name of a team member.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 15, 2011.

—  John Wright

LSR Journal: It’s a lot more than just pedaling

Suzy Smith Team Sabre Flyers
Suzy Smith Team Sabre Flyers

In March of 2008, a friend asked me to join her in riding Tour Dallas, a 30-mile bike rally in and around the Dallas area.

It was my first time on a bike since I owned a pristine pink Huffy as a child, and I was more than just a little intimidated that chilly morning as we headed out of the AAC parking lot with thousands of other riders.

Crazy, maybe, but I convinced myself that riding a bike was just like … well, riding a bike.

Ask anyone that knows me for a description, and a sort of theme always seems to appear.

I am stubborn, determined, and “a little” competitive, and it shows in my work and hobbies.

I began marathon training simply by putting one foot in front of the other, and ran countless miles and several marathons.

Although I’d never been particularly athletic, I found strength in running, seeing the sun and my shadow, and training to reach a goal.

By the time I’d pedaled to the end of the Tour Dallas route, I’d not only fallen in love with cycling, but established a new challenge for myself — I would train for the Hotter than Hell 100, held in Wichita Falls at the end of every scorching Texas summer.

With that goal in mind, I clipped into the pedals of my Trek, started pedaling, and never stopped.

On the best days, cycling is my meditation. With the familiar sound of “clipping in,”  I find mental clarity in pushing my body. I know every inch of the concrete and asphalt around White Rock Lake and delight in the summer heat and breeze coming off the water.

On the worst days, when my legs feel like jelly and even kids with training wheels pass me by, I believe that Beyonce and Lady Gaga on the iPod can be considered a performance-enhancing drug.

In just more than two years of riding, cycling has become such a part of my life that even my vacations include a bike rack and a route map.

I own more bike shorts than jeans, have tan lines that never fade and my friends all roll their eyes at my persistent Facebook posts about cycling.

This year, I will be participating in my third Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS, riding two days and 180 miles across the Metroplex with the singular goal of improving the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS.

The Lone Star Ride stands out among all the cycling events in which I participate, and I find it the most motivating and meaningful.

The route of the two-day course is as challenging as any you’ll find in North Texas, but the ample support of crew members — whether directing traffic from motorcycles, refilling Gatorade or providing a much needed laugh — truly makes the LSR experience unique.

When I roll out this September with two hundred plus riders and as many crew members, it will be to make a difference as an athlete, an activist and an educator.

I ride for those who cannot, for those who the AIDS Outreach Center, Resource Center Dallas and AIDS Services Dallas provide much needed support, and to reduce discrimination directed towards people with HIV and AIDS.

I ride for a future of the Lone Star Ride in which, not hundreds, but thousands of cyclists work together to raise awareness and funds.

For two days this fall, I ride because “riding a bike” is a far greater event than just pedaling. Won’t you join me?

Suzy Smith is a member of Team Sabre Flyers. Donate to her online at LoneStarRide.org.

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

—  Michael Stephens