What’s Brewing: Right-wing evangelist puts out ‘voters guide’ for Fort Worth city elections

Richard Clough

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A right-wing evangelist from Kenneth Copeland’s church has distributed a “voters guide” to Fort Worth city elections, the Star-Telegram’s Bud Kennedy reports. The Rev. Richard Clough, a failed political candidate operating under the name Texans for Faith and Family, sent questionnaires to city council candidates seeking their positions on so-called “precepts” about sharia law, abortion and, of course, LGBT issues. Nine of the 22 council candidates actually responded to the survey, with some indicating through their responses that they strongly oppose LGBT equality. So perhaps this is as much a voters guide for the LGBT community and its allies as it is for the fundies. View the candidates responses by going here.

2. East Dallas garden designer Robert Bellamy will host a second “Light A Fire” anti-bullying event benefiting Youth First Texas tonight, the Dallas Morning News reports. While the first “Light A Fire” event was geared toward teachers, this one will be geared toward parents. Speakers will include Dallas mayoral candidate Mike Rawlings, YFT director Sam Wilkes, Dotty Griffith from the American Civil Liberties Union, and Wendy Ringe of the Human Rights Campaign. Admission is free, but a $25 donation to Youth First Texas is suggested. The event is from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, 3120 McKinney Ave.

3. In its cover story this week, the Dallas Observer takes a look at the Latin American drag shows, or “travesty shows,” that have become popular at Taquerias around Dallas. Although the topic is hardly new, it’s a pretty good story with some really good photography. But we’re not sure some transgender advocates will appreciate the online headline for the article: “Tortillas and Trannies at Dallas Taquerias.”

—  John Wright

DART Green Line coming to Oak Lawn

24-mile extension of DART train route will include 4 stops in, around Oak Lawn, making travel easier for YFT and food pantry clients

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

ALL ABOARD | DART’s Green Line already includes a stop in Deep Ellum, pictured, and Victory Plaza. Beginning Monday, the train will also make stops near Youth First Texas’ location, the Resource Center Dallas Food Pantry and Parkland Hospital. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

On Dec. 6, DART opens a 24-mile extension of the Green Line with four stations in and around Oak Lawn.

The four new Oak Lawn-area stations are Market Center Station, Southwestern Medical District/Parkland Station, Inwood/Love Field Station and Burbank Station.

Market Center Station is the first stop north of Victory Station. The American Airlines Arena was the northern terminus of the original four miles of the Green Line that opened in 2009 in time to connect riders from the Red and Blue Lines to the State Fair.

Located on Harry Hines Boulevard, Market Center Station should have greatest impact on the youngest members of LGBT community.Located across the street from Youth First Texas, the rail link will make services to the center available to hundreds more young people.

Youth First Texas Director of Development and Administration Sam Wilkes said the organization chose their new location partially because of the proximity to DART.

“Being at a DART hub, we’re excited to see how many will access Youth First Texas now that the line has come to fruition,” Wilkes said.

Bus service has been available, but waiting for a train at a well-lit station at night is safer and the service easier to access, he said.

Parkland Station, the second new Oak Lawn area stop, is located between Maple Avenue and Harry Hines Boulevard near Hudnall Street. Once the new Parkland Hospital is built, the stop will be at the facility’s entrance.

For now, DART will be a short one-block walk away from the main hospital, AIDS clinic Amelia Court, Zale-Lipshy and Children’s Hospital. St. Paul Hospital and the rest of UT Southwestern are a longer walk and connected by shuttle bus service.

Inwood Station on Inwood Road at Denton Drive Cutoff is across the street from the Resource Center Dallas Nutrition Center/Food Pantry. The Dallas Eagle is a block south and Cathedral of Hope is two blocks north. Resource Center Dallas’ proposed new building is also a block from this stop.

“It will make it quicker and easier for clients who access the pantry, especially those who travel great distances,” said Resource Center Dallas spokesman Rafael McDonnell.

The pantry is bracing for new clients who will now be able to access the agency’s services more easily. But McDonnell wasn’t worried about shortages of food due to additional clients.

“We’ll let folks know and we hope they’ll step up as usual,” McDonnell said.

Cathedral of Hope spokesman Coy James said, “We have lots of people who commute from all over the place. We have people who currently use the bus to get to services.”

He said that a number of church staff members were looking at ways to use the train to commute to work.

“We’re looking forward to it,” he said.

To travel by DART to Love Field, bus 39 will connect Inwood Station with the airport terminal. That bus line will operate daily.

Large parking areas will open for commuters from Oak Lawn at Market Center, Inwood and Parkland Stations. Parking in DART lots is free.

The final new Oak Lawn area station is Burbank Station at the north end of Love Field adjacent to Southwest Airlines corporate headquarters. Southwest employees can get to work and Love Field West neighborhood commuters may take advantage of this stop, although no parking is available.

North of Love Field is Bachman Station, located just south of Northwest Highway at Denton Drive. Two more stations in Dallas are located at Walnut Hill Road and Royal Lane along Denton Drive before the Green Line heads into Farmers Branch and Carrollton.

Rafael McDonnell

Next summer, Green Line commuters will be able to travel all the way to Denton when the A Train opens. That line will connect Downtown Denton to Trinity Mills Station with four other stops along the 21-mile route.

From the southern end of the Green Line at Fair Park, four new stations in Pleasant Grove and South Dallas extend the line to the southeast corner of Loop 12.

Also opening Monday is the first phase of the Orange Line. Eventually, that route will connect the system with DFW Airport. Originally the Orange Line will duplicate service from other lines on a limited schedule.

The Orange Line will follow the Red Line route from Plano through Downtown Dallas. Rather than continue to Oak Cliff, the Orange Line will head north along the Green Line route from West End Station to Bachman Station.

When the Orange Line is completed, it will head west from Bachman Lake through Irving and Las Colinas to the airport. The first Irving phase should open in 2012.

Also opening on Monday is the new Lake Highlands Station on Walnut Hill Road at White Rock Trail. This infill stop is between the White Rock Station and LBJ/Skillman Station on the Blue Line. That station will provide an extra stop for White Rock Lake skateboarders, joggers or bike riders taking their bicycles on the train to the trail.

The Blue Line that now terminates in Garland will continue to Rowlett by 2012.

Also planned but without construction dates are a second Downtown alignment. During rush hours, three lines heading through Downtown on one set of tracks gets congested. Now the Orange Line and the expanded service on the Green Line will add extra rail traffic.

The Blue Line will expand south from Ledbetter Station to the new UNT Dallas campus in South Dallas. No date for that expansion is set.

The opening of 15 stations along 24 miles of new track is the largest single-day expansion of a light rail system in the country since 1990. The $1.8 billion Green Line opens on time and within budget.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

YFT-Collin County still looking for a home

Back in July we reported that Collin County’s organization for LGBT youth was looking for a new home, after being forced to move from its meeting space of 18 months in Plano.

Two months later, the organization still hasn’t found anything permanent or even semi-permanent, according to volunteer Jeanne Rubin.

Rubin tells Instant Tea the the group is still meeting on a temporary basis in the offices of Big Brothers Big Sisters in Frisco, where one of its board members works.

“Attendance has been sparse which is probably due to vacations, etc., but also because it isn’t our space,” Rubin says. “This seems to be a common problem for non-profits, all of which are suffering right now. I have gotten a few leads and followed up but so far nothing has worked out.”

Anyone who knows of space available in Collin County can contact Rubin at CollinCounty@YouthFirstTexas.org.

Collin County YFT will hold its regularly weekly meeting at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 12, before taking a week off for Dallas Pride. The group’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 26. The group has discontinued its Wednesday meetings until further noticed and instead will plan an activity once or twice a month. For more information, visit the website or the Facebook page.

—  John Wright

YFT plans fundraiser to kick off Pride celebrations

Event intended to help make up shortfall in youth group’s budget caused by economic downturn

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Sam Wilkes
Sam Wilkes

Youth First Texas kicks off Pride with a fundraising party at the home of Jo Bess Jackson and Joanne Martin on Sept. 11.

“It’s a great way for those in our community who want to celebrate Pride and support a great organization,” said Youth First Texas Director of Development and Administration Sam Wilkes.

Advisory board member Renee Baker put out a call to members of the Women’s Business Network to help raise money for the center after it moved to its new location. Jackson and Martin responded.

While no admission to the party will be charged, Wilkes said they will showcase the services the organization offers and hope the community will be generous with its financial support.

“We’ll probably have a short presentation. A youth or two will make an appeal,” said board member Chris Hendrix.

He said the group was looking for monthly donors who will make a multi-year commitment and challenge appeals.

Wilkes said that their Collin County group recently lost its space and is currently meeting at an office owned by Big Brothers/Big Sisters. The group is looking for a space of its own.

“We need a smaller, more secure spot,” he said. “YFT Collin County is a more intimate group. We have a couple of things in the works and are looking for what will be the best fit.”

The main Dallas center moved earlier this year to a new location on Harry Hines Boulevard.

Baker said the old space on Maple Avenue leaked, had air conditioning problems, was located near a meth clinic and had homeless people hanging out on the property. The new, more modern facility is safer and has attracted more youth.

“As of last month, we served 1,300 individuals so far this year,” Baker said.

That’s about a 25 percent increase in the number accessing services, and with the safer location some attend more often.

YFT is gearing up for another increase later this year when DART’s Green Line opens in December.

Market Center Station is across the street from their new building, making the facility even more accessible.

Jackson said she and her partner were delighted to open their house to help the organization continue to offer a variety of services.

“I’m a cheerleader for them,” Jackson said. “What they do is not duplicated by anyone else.”

She was referring to the way YFT integrates social activities with group and individual counseling.

“We offer community dinners to develop peer groups not based on drugs and alcohol,” Wilkes said.

Baker said she’s participated in movie nights, arts and crafts activities and cooking classes.

Twice a month, a gender identity group helps transgender youth gain self-acceptance. Lawyers work with the group pro bono to explain the steps needed to change legal papers, and counselors help them with a variety of questions and help them deal with pent up anxiety.

A six-week coming out series helps youth cope with family, friends and school.

YFT provides additional, unlimited free individual counseling as well. They partner with AIDS Arms and Resource Center Dallas to provide free HIV testing.

Wilkes said the agency works with a number of youth who are living on their own and struggling.

“Our food pantry is cleaned out and restocked each week,” he said.

Jackson and Martin have opened their North Dallas home to other groups many times, Jackson said. She is an estate-planning attorney who works with a number of transitioning people and with same-sex couples and single gays and lesbians.

“We have to protect ourselves even when the law doesn’t,” Jackson said. “We have to be creative.”

She said that’s exactly what YFT does that for LGBT youth and hoped the community would offer its support.

Sept. 11. 6 p.m.-8:30 p.m. at a private residence in North Dallas. To RSVP and attend the Youth First Texas party, e-mail Sam Wilkes at samw@youthfirsttexas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010

—  Kevin Thomas

Cece Cox named new ED at Resource Center Dallas

Equality Texas extends offer to ED candidate while YFT puts search on hold for the summer

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

NEW DIRECTOR | Cece Cox assumes her new duties as executive director of Resource Center Dallas on Saturday, July 3.

Resource Center Dallas on Thursday, July 1 announced that Cece Cox has been named as the new executive director of the organization, replacing Mike McKay, who resigned in April to take the position of chief of operations in the Volunteer Recruitment and Selection Division for the Peace Corps.

RCD board chair Reid Ainsworth sent an e-mail to staff on Thursday, announcing Cox would become the new executive director of the organization.

Cox already works at the center as associate executive director of GLBT Community Services. She assumes her new position on July 3.

“I cut my teeth as a baby activist in this building,” Cox said.

She has been active in the LGBT community since the early 1990s when she started a local chapter of GLAAD. She was later president of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

Cox has also worked as director of development and marketing for the Turtle Creek Chorale.

Cox was instrumental in coordinating support on the Dallas city council to include non-discrimination based on sexual orientation for city employees and the inclusion of sexual orientation in 1995 in DART’s employment policy.

Cox received her law degree in 2004 and after a short period of working for a private law firm, took the position at the community center.

“I missed my community terribly,” Cox said of why she returned to community activism.

She said she always thinks about the history of the community center.

“Before John [Thomas] died, he told me, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t stop.’”

Thomas was a founder and original executive director of the center.

Cox sees her immediate goals as serving the increasing number of people with HIV and working locally to achieve equal rights for the LGBT community.

“And I’m going to get us into that new community center so we can serve more people,” she said. “There are lots of opportunities for us to engage and get our community the rights we deserve.”

Resource Center Dallas was one of three high-profile LGBT organizations searching for new executive directors over the past few months, along with Equality Texas and Youth First Texas.

Equality Texas may be at the end of its search process for a new executive director after the board met Thursday and decided to extend an offer to a candidate.

Paul Scott stepped down as executive director of Equality Texas in January to become executive director of AIDS Services of Austin. Scott preceded McKay as executive director of Resource Center Dallas.

Judith Dumont left Youth First Texas in June to assume a position at Eastfield College but it is unlikely the organization will begin looking for a replacement for her until fall, officials said.

On Thursday, July 1, the boards of Equality Texas and the Equality Texas Foundation met jointly by phone to approve and extend an offer to a candidate to become the organization’s new executive director.

Interim executive director Chuck Smith said an announcement should be made next week when the candidate accepts the offer.

Equality Texas began its nationwide search for a new executive director on Jan. 8. At the time of the announcement, the goal was to have a new director in place by May 15, but the interview process took longer.

Smith said he’s looking forward to going back to his position as deputy director and getting a day off.

“It certainly has been a rigorous and thorough process,” he said. “We’ve seen many strong candidates.”

Smith said he expects the new director to be in place during the summer, long before the start of the new legislative session in January 2011.

When fully staffed, Equality Texas has six full-time positions. In addition to the executive director vacancy, the position of director of development is also open.

Smith said it made sense to wait until the new director was hired and for that person to select the new development team.

He said the work of the organization has continued on schedule. The political action committee will be making endorsements in legislative races through the summer.

Political director Randall Terrell, who was recently in Dallas for the DART vote on nondiscrimination, said he is already planning for the January legislative session.

YFT board chair Cathy Gonzalez said that the organization would staff activities and programs with volunteers through the summer. She said some volunteers would be given job titles and responsibility for supervising other volunteers.

“It will get us through the summer,” Gonzalez said.

The board met this week for the first time since Dumont resigned.

“In the fall we’ll convene a search committee,” Gonzalez said. “We need someone with a counseling or social service background.”

But she said they weren’t ready to start accepting resumes.

“That wouldn’t be fair to applicants,” she said, since they wouldn’t be looking at them through the summer.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Youth First Collin County needs a new home

Organization seeks new space for Plano youth center, or at least somewhere to temporarily store furniture and other items

John Wright | Online Editor
wright@dallasvoice.com

PROM PREP | Volunteers and youth get ready for the Gayla Prom at Youth First Texas Collin County in June. YFT-CC will have to move from its current location by mid-July. (Courtesy of Jeanne Rubin)

PLANO — Collin County’s organization for LGBT youth is looking for a new home — or at least a place to store its stuff.

For the last 18 months, Youth First Texas-Collin County has been utilizing, free of charge, some vacant commercial space on Avenue K just south of East Park Boulevard in Plano.

But the landlord recently found a paying tenant, and YFT-CC will have to move by mid-July.

It marks the third time the six-year-old organization has had to move, according to lead volunteer Jeanne Rubin.

This time, YFT-CC has accumulated several large items, such as sofas, a pool table, a TV and computers — some of which were hand-me-downs from its parent organization in Dallas, Youth First Texas.

YFT-CC has found a location in Frisco where it can meet temporarily if necessary, but the organization would still need to store the items somewhere while it looks for a more permanent home.

“The real issue is that we need a space, and it would be nice if we could have a space that we would have forever, but I understand that because we want it for free, that’s not always going to be the case,” Rubin said. “We would like to take this opportunity to move a little further north. Collin County is a huge county, and we have kids from Denton and Flower Mound and Lewisville and other place besides Collin County.”

Rubin said anyone who knows of space available in Collin County is asked to contact her at CollinCounty@youthfirsttexas.org.

Donations will also be accepted to help pay for storage or to cover utilities if a space is found.

“Obviously our first choice would be to pick up our pool table and sofas and plop them in another place,” she said. “Donations are always helpful. If we end up at the Dairy Queen once or twice, we’ll have money to buy everybody ice cream.”

James Nunn, a board member at Youth First Texas in Dallas who lives and works in Frisco, said his employer, Big Brothers Big Sisters, has offered a space where YFT-CC can hold its big group meetings on Sundays.

Nunn serves as liaison between YFT-CC and the Dallas parent organization, which have been attempting to work together more closely of late.

While the parent organization is experiencing its own financial challenges, Nunn said the long-term goal is to lease a permanent satellite somewhere in the northern suburbs.

“We want to be in a position where we don’t have to rely always on somebody providing us a free space,” Nunn said. “There is a level of uncertainty when you rely on that.”

YFT-CC began as a partnership between YFT in Dallas and the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, according to Rubin.

YFT-CC meets every Sunday, in addition to twice-monthly “hangout nights” and a monthly movie night.

Rubin said about 20-30 youth typically attend the Sunday meetings in the summertime.

Collin County, more conservative than Dallas, has only three high schools with Gay Straight Alliances, Rubin said. At one of those high schools, school officials won’t allow the group to call itself a GSA, and instead it’s known as the Tolerance Alliance.

“What a lot of them say is that while the high school they go to may be cool, in terms of people don’t care they’re gay, lots of times they’ll be like the only gay kid,” Rubin said. “Even though some people don’t have a problem with that, it’s nice to come to Youth First and be

John or Jeanne, not the gay kid. Here they can come and just sort of be themselves.”

For more info, go to http://youthfirsttexas.org/collincounty/ or look for the organization’s Facebook page.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Creative Arts Center celebrates YFT art

More evidence that Youth First Texas is a breeding ground for creative queer kids: Tonight, the Crreative Arts Center presents an exhibit (continuing through May 2) at the Catheral of Hope that shows the efforts of eight LGBT youth at studying digital photography. The exhibit — and the accompanying booklet, which I’ve seen — is called Unseen America, and it’s an empowering collection of work from students aged 17 to 22.

The event begins tonight with a reception from 6 to 8. Check it out.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones