Community worries Nelson-Tebedo Clinic will drop longtime activists’ names, but CEO says that’s not true
Recent rebranding efforts by Dallas’ LGBT community center, Resource Center, has angered community members who fear the names of legendary Dallas activists Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo will be removed from the center’s clinic.
While the center announced a rebranding effort with a new logo in September for its 30th anniversary, new materials including stationary letterhead and fliers list the clinic as Resource Center Clinic or just clinic.
But the center’s leadership told Dallas Voice this week the official name of the clinic wasn’t changing and all materials would eventually reflect the correct name.
Don Maison, president and CEO of AIDS Services of Dallas, said a resident brought the issue to him in October and then mentioned it to the agency’s board of directors at a meeting on Nov. 9. Since then, the perception from the local LGBT community has started to think the names would be dropped from the clinic.
“It saddens me to think we may be losing our history, and if that’s the case, it’s a tragedy,” Maison said.
Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo, the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic’s namesakes, were founders of the original AIDS Resource Center and the Dallas Gay Alliance. They also started the center’s food pantry as a shelf in their store, Crossroads Market, that quickly grew with the community’s involvement. Nelson was also the first openly gay person to run for Dallas City Council.
“As far as I’m concerned, the clinic has already branded,” he said. “It’s named after our two Harvey Milks.”
Bruce Monroe, former president of Dallas Gay Alliance, was one of the founders of the clinic and helped push for it to reflect the names of Nelson and Tebedo.
“Bill had the big vision of a community service center,” Monroe said. “And Terry was right there with him every step of the way.”
The Resource Center has had many names changes over its three decades in Dallas, most recently dropping “Dallas” from its title Resource Center Dallas earlier this year.
The actual center is named the John Thomas Gay & Lesbian Community Center, but the center’s various youth, senior and food services fall under the Resource Center umbrella. While there used to be a sign with Thomas’ name out by the street at the center’s building on Reagan Street, two benefactors who paid for the building, are still listed by the front door.
The clinic’s original name was Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic for AIDS Research, but it since changed to Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic. It provides dental, HIV and STD prevention and testing, and transgender health services among its services.
The name-change controversy reached a peak last week with Resource Center posting a statement from CEO Cece Cox on its Facebook page, explaining that the rebranding process wasn’t complete, and the goal was to have the many programs under one uniform name.
“Resource Center honors the legacy of John Thomas, Bill Nelson, Terry Tebedo and so many others,” the statement read in part. “Without their vision, passion and tireless efforts, we would not exist today nor have the privilege of serving our community. As we complete the changes to our facilities, you will note signage, photos and artifacts of John, Bill, Terry and others that remind us all of their tireless efforts to ensure excellent healthcare services for those living with HIV/AIDS.”
Some, like Monroe, worried the signage on the clinic’s building on Cedar Springs Road would change and only memorial plaques would hang on the walls with Nelson and Tebedo’s names. But what angered Monroe was that there has “been no clear answer.”
But Cox said this week that the rebranding process is a lengthy one that would continue into the next year.
“We’re in a long rebranding process,” she said. “It’s been a thoughtful process.”
She said removing Nelson and Tebedo’s names had “never been our intention and that’s not what’s happening.” While the current logo refers to it as Resource Center Clinic, Cox said that is just the primary logo and the next logo will include the names, as well as the letterhead, as part of the center rolling out the rebranding efforts.
“We’ve always intended to honor the legacy, and the clinic is going to reflect the names of Nelson-Tebedo, along with the new logo,” Cox said. “That was always the intention, and that’s what we’re going to do.”
In the meantime, the community will have to wait for the names to reappear in connection with the clinic. But they still worry they’ve lost them.
“The community names buildings and structures after visionaries and leaders. Now their names are missing,” Monroe said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 22, 2013.