For some LGBT-ers, life away from the city ain’t bad

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer


COUNTRY PRIDE | Cathy Brown, right, and her partner, Stephanie, find a quieter side of life in Lancaster. (Rich?Lopez/Dallas Voice)

The bright lights and big city are undeniably exciting. Whether it’s a new restaurant opening in old East Dallas or a high-rise rising in Uptown, the city’s energy flows at a continuous rate. The hubbub of a city is crucial to an active gay community.

But some people have found a nice refuge outside of the city limits.

Cathy Brown is a familiar face in the community, heading up the chorus and orchestra every Sunday at Cathedral of Hope as its church conductor, or leading the New Texas Symphony Orchestra as artistic director.

The commute to her day job at Cedar Valley College from Oak Cliff wasn’t long, but one day, fate intervened.

“I spotted the house for sale on the way to work one day and fell in love with it,” she says.

The home was a foreclosure mess, but after lots of hard work and elbow grease, Brown and her partner Stephanie turned it into a home worthy of an American family portrait in the southern suburb of Lancaster — with a queer twist. And in a town where the whole “gay thing” could be an issue, Brown has had no problems.

“Much like the rest of our lives, we just live as we do and don’t offer it to be questioned,” she says. “It is not something we broadcast, nor something we hide. We just try to be good neighbors and the overall reaction has been great.”

The couple loves the lush green trees and large lawns in both front and back, and are proud of the white fence they built on the porch.
“We just had to have that for this home,” Stephanie says.

If there’s one drawback to life in the ‘burbs, it’s the dining options.

“There is little variety and non-smoking is non-existent,” Brown grimaces. “Dallas Avenue Diner and Big Bruce’s Bar-B-Que are really good family-owned restaurants, but to have a really nice dinner, we have to drive back into Dallas.”

Daryl Hildebrand and Rudy Lopez went north to find a home in The Colony. North Dallas suburbs usually fall into a Stepford template with cookie-cutter houses and gated communities, but Hildebrand has found some true character in his town.

“The Colony has been good to us for a small town,” he says. “I live in the neighborhood where everyone waves and speaks when you pass by. When you don’t have kids, it’s harder, but we do feel welcomed here.”

That doesn’t mean people haven’t noticed they are gay, but fortunately, it’s “not a thing,” he says. “I don’t think we are the deep, dark, secret in the neighborhood. If you meet us, you would probably guess we are a couple. We are conscious of our surroundings, but never had a reason to feel uncomfortable.”

Dave Cudlipp takes a funny approach to his ‘burb of choice — not a surprise for the member of the Dallas Comedy Conspiracy troupe. He and his partner took up residency in the Mid-Cities.

“We live in Useless, er, Euless, or as they say now Fab-Euless,” he says. “It’s close to work for both of us. We bought a nicer home out here than we could afford in Dallas.”

The two haven’t any qualms about their neighborhood or what people might think. But also, neighbors have been surprised the two are a couple — probably because they both look like members of the Dallas Cowboys.

“It never enters my mind that I am living somewhere as an out person,” he says. “When they meet us, they are very surprised to find out we are a gay couple. Because we’re both big, pretty muscular, masculine guys people usually assume we’re straight. Not that we care what they think but no one has ever said anything negative to us — at least to our faces.”

Brown, Hildebrand and Cudlipp seem to have no regrets: Commutes, neighbors, jobs aren’t as much a factor as just finding a home where the heart is. Although Brown had one problem her city counterparts may never have.

“We’ve experienced regular neighbor issues — loud music, rowdy kids, horses let loose in the front yard.”

Horses? “OK, that only happened once.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.