When Candy Marcum began her practice as a marriage and family therapist in the 1970s, her method was revolutionary. Rather than approach homosexuality as something to be fixed, she encouraged gays and lesbians to be happy about themselves and worked to help them maintain healthy relationships.
"You cannot take a client any further than you’ve been. I was willing to say I was gay," Marcum says.
Her approach attracted Howie Daire, a Dallas school teacher with a degree in counseling. After he founded Oak Lawn Counseling Center, Marcum became the organization’s first paid employee.
She remembers the difficulty they had placing ads in both of Dallas’ daily newspapers — The Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times Herald — for additional counselors.
"Neither paper would use the word ‘gay.’ We had to say ‘alternative lifestyle,’" she says. But, she adds, that was code at the time, which everyone understood.
Marcum says the non-political, non-religious counseling center brought many mainstream gays and lesbians back into the community. A number of people cut their teeth here, she says, learning how to serve on a non-profit board.
She recalls the early years of AIDS, saying, "My whole career and motivation was that I was lesbian and all my friends and clients were dying. It was war."
She adds, "Because of AIDS, I became involved with HRCF," referring to the original name of the Human Rights Campaign. "I could see on a local level we weren’t going to have the resources we needed to fight AIDS."
She chaired the national HRC board for four years, "always with a focus on home," she says.
On June 15, she celebrates her 23rd anniversary with her partner Carolyn Hall, an interior designer. As for any marriage plans, she says, "I’m a Texan. I’m waiting for here."
When Lory Masters filed for non-profit status for the Flying W Motorcycle Club in 1974, she broke new ground. The group, which she refers to as Dykes on Bikes, was the first LGBT group in Texas to gain 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
For the first few years of the Pride parade, when Dallas police wouldn’t come near, Alan Ross asked Masters’ group to provide security.
"Everyone was so scared they were going to be on camera, but we did it anyway," she says.
Masters learned her organizational skills at the Business and Professional Women of Dallas Inc. When she joined in 1970, she says, lots of lesbians were involved.
Locally, Masters has been involved in organizing a number of groups, including the Women’s Chorus of Dallas and The Oasis, a drug and alcohol treatment program that was part of Oak Lawn Community Services.
She began her involvement with the Human Rights Campaign as a member of the first Board of Governors, and she later served on the national board.
"For many years everything was East Coast/West Coast. I tried to make the national committee understand that there were lots of gay and lesbian people in Dallas," she says.
As an original member of the Dallas Black Tie Dinner committee, she succeeded. The dinner annually raises more money for HRC than any other event like it in the country.
She credits the success of the Dallas community to cooperation. She remembers shouting matches, such as when Bill Nelson wanted the Dallas Pride parade to be renamed the Gay Pride Parade. "But we could have heated arguments but then go out for coffee together," she says.
Next year, Masters celebrates the 25th anniversary of her company, Master Realtors. She sold so many houses to gays and lesbians in an area bounded by LBJ Freeway, Northwest Highway, Josie Lane and the Tollway that her customers renamed the area Loryland.
Despite being "out at 14 and in the bars by 15," Masters says, "I had the very first gayby."
That gayby has given her a grandgayby, now five years old, who calls her "Grand."
I come from a family of civil rights activists," says Felicia Miller.
ÂShe tells the story of her great-grandmother, a member of the NAACP, who hosted future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in her home when he was in town working on a case and no hotels would allow blacks to stay.
Miller continues to champion civil rights and says her family’s only surprise was that she concentrates on rights for women and for gays and lesbians.
In 1995, she joined the Black Tie Dinner committee. By 1999, she became a member of the board. Today, Miller chairs the Human Rights Campaign’s national diversity committee and finishes her second term on the board of governors in October.
"As a committed governor of HRC, I’ve tried to actualize the goals on inclusion," she says.
But her goal is for inclusion to be such a part of the fabric of the organization that a diversity committee would be unnecessary. As for her message to the LGBT community, she says she wants them to "get over the idea of HRC being pale, male and elitist."
Through HRC, Miller has been active with Dallas Southern Pride. She co-chaired the African-American Lesbian Conference in 2005 and, through Legacy of Success, established a scholarship in the name of her late partner, Hazel Hatcher, who died in 2004.
She and her current partner, Katrina Franklin, an AIDS Arms board member, belong to a straight African-American AME church where they have been featured on AIDS panels and done HIV screenings.
Miller believes outreach to all communities is important and lists Republicans among the groups she includes in her work. Because of that outreach, she says, her congressman, Republican Sam Johnson of Plano, provided the couple with tickets to the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Terry Tebedo and Bill NeÂlson
Bill Â Nelson was the public face. Terry Tebedo worked behind the scenes.
"Terry was the one to turn to to make it happen," says William Waybourn. He was "very resourceful."
Waybourn remembers an AIDS protest where hundreds of wooden crosses appeared. He has no idea where they came from, but he knew Tebedo, along with another early Dallas AIDS activist named Bill Hunt, had gotten them. A photo from that demonstration was used by mainstream media for years.
Nelson and Tebedo were founders of what is now known as the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. When Nelson was quoted in the local newspapers after attending the first March on Washington in the late 1970s, he was fired from his teaching job.
The couple held large garage sales at their East Dallas home. After Nelson lost his job, those garage sales evolved into the Oak Lawn Junk Company, located in the back the Cedar Springs strip. When a store on the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton streets closed, the landlord asked Nelson and Tebedo if they would like to take over the lease. Along with a group of others, they opened an eclectic shop called Crossroads Market.
Nelson ran for Dallas City Council twice. Although he lost both races, he was the first openly gay person to run for office in Dallas.
Crossroads Market was campaign headquarters and "you wouldn’t believe the parallels" between Nelson’s races and those of Harvey Milk, who had run and been killed just a couple of years earlier, says Waybourn.
When the AIDS epidemic hit, Nelson and Tebedo put up a shelf in their section of the store and asked customers to leave a can of food if they could and take a can if they needed it. That shelf grew into what is now the Resource Center Dallas’ food pantry for people with HIV and AIDS.
In 1988, Tebedo died of AIDS. Nelson passed away in 1990. The Nelson-Tebedo Health Resource Center on Cedar Springs is named for them.
Ed Oakley is a builder, not just in his business, but also in his service to Dallas and the LGBT community.
Originally from Davis, Okla., Oakley came to Dallas and started a construction company. His early success came largely through building many of Frank Caven’s LGBT bars and other businesses along Cedar Springs.
Oakley spent most of his time as a businessman rather than as an activist. He has been openly gay much of his adult life, but it was never a big thing.
When the Cedar Springs area would have been adversely affected by a planning commission’s PD 193 Development District, Oakley saw this as a problem and got involved. He began going to the planning commission meetings and building support.
Eventually he became District 6 representative on the planning commission, representing the Oak Cliff area of Dallas as well as the Stemmons corridor.
His work on the commission got him noticed by city businesspeople and politicians. And Oakley, building a coalition from the inside, soon became the go-to guy for getting things done. In 2001, he ran for Dallas City Council and for six years continued his work for the citizens of Dallas and for the LGBT community.
Oakley was not the first openly gay City Council member — that was Craig McDaniels — but he was very influential in Dallas politics both gay and straight.
In 2007 Oakley did something that put Dallas on the "gay map" of the U.S. He ran for mayor and received a lot of attention from local and national media.
Even though his campaign was unsuccessful, his candidacy changed the way the country thought about Dallas. An openly gay man came very close to winning — and that exposed just how progressive Dallas was.
In the words of Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, who supported Oakley’s campaign, "They say ‘close’ doesn’t count in politics, but Ed Oakley’s historic campaign may have changed politics forever… . It is a testament to the fair-mindedness of this country, and a wake-up call for the political establishment."
— Hardy Haberman
Rev. Michael Piazza
In 1987, a young, red-haired former Methodist minister from Georgia breezed into Dallas to head the then-pastorless Metropolitan Community Church. Arriving at the peak of the AIDS crisis, the Rev. Michael Piazza was faced with a community in decline. Local gay leaders were dying at an alarming rate and he conducted funerals on a sometimes daily basis.
But instead of succumbing to the somber mood the congregation faced, he became what many characterize as a force of nature, a man whose fiery sermons and relentless activism grew the small church into the largest predominantly gay and lesbian congregation in the world today.
His visions for the church and the Dallas LGBT community have always been expansive. From the small building that now houses the John Thomas Community Center, Piazza spearheaded a building project that resulted in the existing Cathedral of Hope.
As the church continued to grow, Piazza unveiled an even larger vision, an ultra-modern cathedral designed by renowned gay architect Philip Johnson. That sometimes-controversial project has hit a few bumps in the road and remains unbuilt, but it continues to be part of his vision for the church.
In 1999, The Advocate magazine named Piazza one of the most influential people in the gay and lesbian movement, but his influence has been felt outside the LGBT community as well. Piazza has been a vocal opponent to the war in Iraq and former President Bush. His book, "The Real Anti-Christ" even featured a photo of Bush on the cover. He has marched in demonstrations protesting discrimination against immigrants, spoken in anti-war rallies and debated fundamentalists on national television.
Though no longer senior pastor of Cathedral of Hope, Piazza is still involved in the church as its dean and through Hope for Peace & Justice, a separate non-profit organization affiliated with the cathedral.
He and his partner, Bill Eure, are raising two teenage daughters and are still active in the church and the LGBT community.
Alan was the person who got me involved in politics," says former city councilman Ed Oakley. "He took me under his wing, introduced me to all the groups personally."
Alan Ross pulled together the once-fractious Dallas Tavern Guild, the organization of gay and lesbian bar owners. As the group’s executive director, he convinced the group to stage and pay for the annual Pride parade.
The parade as we know it today began spontaneously as a celebration of Judge Jerry Buchmeier’s ruling declaring the Texas sodomy law unconstitutional. Although his ruling was later overturned, the parade continues to take place in September to mark the anniversary of that event.
At first, Ross mounted the event single-handedly, Oakley says.
From designing and hanging posters to soliciting entries to line up the day of the parade, Ross was responsible for everything in its early days. Today, hundreds of people coordinate the event that was renamed The Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade shortly before his death in April 1995.
Ross also worked as human services director for Caven Enterprises, which operates four Cedar Springs bars. Because he saw so many employees of the company who needed assistance, especially those who had contracted HIV/AIDS, he created CEBA, the Caven Enterprises Benevolence Association. That organization continues to aid the company’s employees in need of help.
He also initiated the Holiday Gift Project, working tirelessly each holiday season to make sure that every person with AIDS received a gift bag.
Devastated by the number of friends he had lost to AIDS, Ross wanted to establish a memorial in Lee Park to honor those who had died. After more than five years of work trying to convince the park board, they finally gave him approval in 1990, allowing Ross to plant trees and add benches.
Until his death, Ross continued to tend his memorial, and he became a member of Lee Park’s Arlington Hall Conservancy. His estate contributed money that was used in the park’s current landscaping and the building addition.
Tim Seelig seemed an unlikely man to become a name synonymous with gay music and art in Dallas. ÂRaised in a Baptist family and studying to become a minister, he was drummed out of his church and family when he came out.
Seelig found a job and a mission in the struggling Turtle Creek Chorale in 1987, and that’s when the tempo of his life changed.
Seelig brought a unique sense of theatricality and eclecticism to the Turtle Creek Chorale, and the talented group blossomed. But its success was bittersweet, coming when it did as HIV/AIDS began devastating the chorale’s membership.
The chorale lost 140 members to the disease and Seelig’s training as a minister served him well as he not only guided the group musically but emotionally, as well, through some very hard times.
In 1991, Seelig also become conductor of the Women’s Chorus of Dallas and for nine years he led both groups. The quality of performance netted the groups invitations to sing at Carnegie Hall in New York on two occasions.
After 20 years conducting the Turtle Creek Chorale, Seelig stepped down, but he is still listed as conductor emeritus of the group.
Today, Seelig is on the adjunct music faculty at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts and serves as the director of Art for Peace & Justice.
His pioneering work in the Dallas LGBT community as well as his dedication to artistic pursuits has earned Seelig a unique position in the city. Embraced by both the LGBT and straight communities, he and the groups he is involved with have become ambassadors for the city and its vibrant arts scene.
Doors are still opening for me today because of the work that began under his leadership," says Sereta Agnew about Don Sneed.
Sneed founded Renaissance III, an AIDS services organization specifically targeting African-American gay men.
"He was one of the best grant writers," says Agnew, who worked as assistant program coordinator for House of Osiris, one of Renaissance III’s projects. When studies indicated one out of three African-American men between the ages of 15 and 27 were positive, Sneed received a $1.5 million grant that he turned into a variety of outreach programs.
Dressed in Army fatigues, he became known as a warrior against HIV/AIDS. To educate the black community about HIV/AIDS, he created after-school programs partnering with Campfire Boys and Girls. His health promotion and prevention programs reached out to women, especially those with partners who had unprotected sex with men.
Sneed began a statewide program for incarcerated black men. Although prisons would not reveal who had tested positive, he distributed literature to the infirmaries where they made sure the information got to the right people. He also arranged for those being released to have enough medication between their last infirmary visit and entry into local programs.
House of Osiris, a community center, trained South Dallas youth in computer literacy and film production. The production unit, while teaching skills, produced HIV awareness videos.
Later in life, Sneed became a more controversial figure in the community. Renaissance III closed after allegations that Sneed himself harassed and discriminated against some African-American employees of the organization.
Early in George Bush’s first term in office, Sneed was appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. He was dropped from the council later, due to the controversy over Renaissance III.
"Unfortunately, Don became one of the very people we were trying to help," Agnew says.
Sneed died last year and was honored at an international AIDS conference.
John Thomas was a great bear of a man, who hugged his friends with warmth and passion, Âthe same way he embraced his community. His enthusiasm for life and for causes brought him to serve as the first paid executive director of the AIDS Resource Center in 1988.
An imposing presence, Thomas was known for his gentle art of persuasion rather than his confrontations, but that didn’t prevent him from being part of the first suit to challenge "21.06," the Texas sodomy law.
He also became involved in a legal challenge to Parkland Hospital’s treatment of AIDS patients, which up to that point had been inadequate.
Thomas worked tirelessly. In his career as an activist, he founded or supported almost 20 different organizations. His civil disobedience on behalf of AIDS causes and equal rights got him arrested at protests in Dallas, Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco.
Yet he still found time to enjoy his other passions, one of which was music. Thomas sang with the Turtle Creek Chorale from its beginning, continuing his love of singing that began as a child when he sang in the Baptist church where his father was the pastor.
Thomas’ politics surprised a lot of people. He was a Republican and became the first openly gay person to speak to the Republican National Committee.
Though some people disagreed with his political affiliation, few could fault his commitment and resolve.
He stepped down as the director of the AIDS Resource Center in 1995 as his health began to succumb to the disease he worked so hard to defeat. He continued to work for the cause, but not in an official manner.
Still, inactivity didn’t sit well with Thomas and in 1997 he once again became a visible figure: co-chair, with Lory Masters, of the Cathedral of Hope’s national fundraising campaign. The first part of that construction, the seven-story bell wall was christened the "John Thomas Memorial Bell Wall" as a national AIDS memorial.
Thomas’ name would appear again on a building. In 1998 the Resource Center building at Reagan and Brown streets was renamed the "John Thomas Gay and Lesbian Community Center."
Thomas died the following year from AIDS-related causes. His memorial service was attended by more than 1,000 people.
John Thomas was an agent of change for Dallas and the LGBT community. He once wrote, "Change is a certainty. We grow and get bigger and stronger, or we shrink and get smaller and weaker." He dedicated his life to making sure that the LGBT community — in Dallas and around the country — changed for the better.
Fearless is the first word that springs to mind when you meet Lupe Valdez — not recklessness, but a genuine bravery that comes from some inner drive to succeed.
As well as being the first Hispanic woman to be elected as Dallas County Sheriff, she is the first open lesbian to ever hold that position. She is also the only lesbian Latina sheriff in the nation.
Born the child of migrant farm workers, Valdez doggedly sought education, finishing high school and putting herself through college against her father’s wishes.
She showed her fearlessness again when she entered the Army. When she left the service she had attained the rank of captain and was a tank commander.
Lupe continued a life in public service, working as a jailer, a U.S. Customs agent, with the U.S. Agriculture Agency and finally as an agent with the Department of Homeland Security before seeking elected office as sheriff.
She won both her first election and re-election primary campaigns by taking more than 50 percent of the vote against multiple opponents.
Though opposition campaigns have tried to use her sexual orientation against her, the citizens of Dallas continue to support her at the polls.
Valdez’s diminutive size is deceptive, and she makes no small plans.
She instituted a Sheriff’s Department employment nondiscrimination policy that includes sexual orientation and gender identity, the first such policy in the county.
Outgoing and gregarious, Valdez is often seen at LGBT events as well as other community gatherings. She seems comfortable in the world of politics and activism as well as law enforcement.
She has an infectious smile and a mild demeanor that often hides the rugged determination that drives her.
In 1979, John Thomas — the man who became the first executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center — asked William Waybourn Âto be on the membership committee of the Dallas Gay Alliance (as the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance was then known).
That was the beginning of what became a lifetime of activism for Waybourn.
At the time, Waybourn was working in public relations at Dallas Market Center. Along with Bill Nelson, Terry Tebedo, Phil Johnson and several others, Waybourn became one of the original owners of Crossroads Market, which opened in December 1980.
"Every time Crossroads was mentioned in the press, I knew we had to be there early the next morning to wipe the eggs off the windows," Waybourn says, recalling a time when Dallas was much less tolerant of the LGBT community.
By 1986, Waybourn had bought out all of the other partners. A week after he became sole owner of the store, it burned down.
He rebuilt; the business grew, and in 1991, he sold it to begin a new venture.
But before he left, Waybourn spent more than a decade on the front lines of LGBT activism in Dallas. He was a perennial leader of the DGLA, and was often the face and voice of the community since, when the mainstream media wanted someone to comment on an LGBT issue, they often came looking for Waybourn.
When Mica England sued the Dallas Police Department for discriminating against her because she was a lesbian, Waybourn was the one most often standing at her side.
In May 1991, Waybourn started the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and, he says, the original donations that helped elect several gay and lesbian officials all came from Dallas.
Waybourn later moved to Washington, D.C., with his partner Craig Spalding, where he headed the organization until 1995.
For the next two years, Waybourn worked with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to nationalize the organization. Until then, it was a collection of local chapters.
In 1997, Waybourn became a consultant, advising companies like AOL and United Airlines on LGBT issues. At about that time, he formed Window Media to acquire gay and lesbian newspapers. The first was the "Southern Voice" in Atlanta.
In 2000, they purchased the New York and Washington Blades, and in 2006, Waybourn retired and returned to an early interest of his, photography.
Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong
Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong have been partners since they met at the University of Colorado in 1971. Their enduring relationship would have been reason enough to admire these two women, but their record of service and activism really set them apart.
Since the 1970s, both have been deeply involved in the Dallas LGBT community.
From their early involvement with the Dallas Gay Political Caucus, Young and Armstrong knew that bringing the gay community into local politics was a big step toward gaining equal rights. Young would become the first woman president of the renamed DGLA and was instrumental in bringing the lesbian community into the organization.
Young carried her fight for equality into her professional life, founding an LGBT employee group at Texas Instruments. Later, when the TI division she worked for was bought by Raytheon, she founded the Raytheon Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and Allies employee resources group.
Armstrong worked for Visiting Nurses Association, one of the few hÂealth providers to work with people with AIDS in the early days of the epidemic.
Both women also spent many years as active and visible members of the Democratic Party, working hard to get the party to make progress in its stances on LGBT issues and to raise the profile of LGBT people in the party.
With all their hard work has come recognition for Young and Armstrong. In 1991, they were recipients of the Dallas/Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Award for their outstanding contributions to the LGBT community. In 2002, Young was awarded the Out and Equal Workplace Advocates’ Trailblazer Award, and she and Armstrong were invited to ride in President Clinton’s first inaugural parade on the float, "The Family of America," representing LGBT Americans.
In 2008, the American Jewish Congress recognized Young’s history of activism by presenting her with the Women of Spirit Award. She is the first out lesbian to receive the honor.
In 2000, the couple registered their civil union in Vermont when that state officially recognized same sex relationships, and in 2008 they were married in California.
Now in their early 60s, Young and Armstrong are looking back on their past as activists. In an interview in the Dallas Voice, Young said, "This is really a time of reflection, a milestone in our lives when we are starting to look back and say, ‘Have I made a difference?’ I think we can both say, yes, we have."