Holiday spotlight: Fourth annual LGBTQ Saves winter prom



James Russell  |  Staff Writer

Proms are a staple of high school life for many teens, just as much as homecoming, football games and endless college applications.

But Sharon Herrera of Fort Worth never felt comfortable attending hers. For the closeted lesbian, dancing with, much less dating, a man wasn’t her idea of a fun time.

Two decades later, you’d think Herrera wouldn’t just avoid reunions, but that she’d also try to forget her bad high school experiences.

But as a Fort Worth Independent School District employee, Herrera can’t avoid high schools. So instead she’s working to change them, in part by creating the kind of prom for the district’s LGBT students and their friends that she would have loved to attend when she was in school.

Thus was born the LGBTQ Saves Winter Prom, presented by the youth advocacy group supporting FWISD.

The prom will be exactly like the typical high school prom: There will be DJs, snacks and drinks. But it will be “more comfortable, where the students can be freer,” Herrera said, meaning it will be really, really queer.

Bernardo Vallarino, vice president of the group’s board, didn’t have a negative experience at his high school prom. But when asked if he’s attending, he responded with an enthusiastic “yes.” Students and parents learn about the prom through a variety of means: schools with Gay-Straight Alliances, word-of-mouth and outreach by board members and LGBT community liaisons.

Unfortunately not all students can attend.

Some students may be out at school or among school employees but in the closet at home. Many others lack the means of transportation to get to the small church in Fort Worth’s Near Southside neighborhood where the dance will be held, Vallarino said.

“But we’re working on it.”

Board Secretary Pilar Candia-Juarez is an ally who only joined the board six months ago. She’s among those who are “working on it.”

Candia-Juarez said she joined the LGBTQ Saves board to provide mentorship and guidance. A passionate advocate for LGBT causes for all of her life who grew up with LGBT friends, she knows LGBT youth need strong advocates. “Teenagers need as much as they need to be loved and accepted,” she said.

Candia-Juarez also knows high school students need to have fun in a safe and welcoming space. She can’t wait to attend the prom for another, more personal reason. Growing up poor in Mexico, she said, she was never able to attend one. But this weekend, with her husband as her date and a new dress, she’s excited to be among LGBT people, whom she proudly calls family.

7–10 p.m. at Celebration community Church, 908 Pennsylvania, Fort Worth.




Through Dec. 20: Gauge Xavier’s Annual Coat Challenge
Dallas Bears member Gauge Xavier challenges you to donate new or gently used winter clothing to the local charity of your choice, preferably one that does not resale the item.

Dec. 3–Dec. 24: 16th Annual CoH Christmas Gift Wrap Service
Drop off gifts in the reception area at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, before Sunday morning and Wednesday evening services throughout December and they will be wrapped and ready for you when you leave. Purchase gifts at Sources and use the CoH Gift Wrap Service to receive a $2 Sources gift card.

5:30–8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 3, 10 and 17. 8:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7, 14, 21. 10 a.m.–2 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 24.

Contact Paul Kolasci at to make an alternative appointment.

Dec. 5: Taizé: “Blue Christmas Service of Healing” at 7 p.m. in the CoH’s Interfaith Peace Chapel.

Dec. 5: Purple Foundation presents quarterly party with DJ Joe Ross
The Purple Foundation presents its quarterly party with Houston DJ Joe Ross, 9 p.m.–2 a.m., at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave. Suggested $5 donation.

Dec. 6: Lost Souls Rugby Toy Drive and Ugly Sweater Party
Lost Souls Rugby Club hosts a toy drive and ugly sweater party, 6-9 p.m., at The Round-Up Saloon, 3912 Cedar Springs Road.

Dec. 6: LGBTQSaves Winter Formal
Fourth annual dance LGBT youth group in Fort Worth, 7–10 p.m., at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania, Fort Worth.

Dec. 7: Cantata
9 and 11 a.m. at Celebration Community Church, 908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth.

Dec. 7: Hope 4 Peace and Justice Year-End Banquet
H4PJ celebrates the year’s accomplishments, honors long-time board members for their years of service and recognizes the contributions of the Rev. Jim Mitulski, interim pastor of Cathedral of Hope, 6:30 p.m. at Mattito’s Tex-Mex, 3102 Oaklawn Ave.

Dec. 7: Advent: Peace Sunday service at 9 and 11 a.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910  Cedar Springs Road.
Dec. 10: Dallas County Democratic Party Jingle Bell Bash
DCDP hosts its annual Jingle Bell Bash 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Stoneleigh, 2926 Maple Ave. Toys can also be dropped off for its Toys for Tots drive, running through Dec. 12, at the party and at DCDP offices, 4209 Parry Ave.

Dec. 10: PULSE: “Third Way” contemporary service at 7:15 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

Dec. 11: Our Lady of Guadalupe/Dia de la Virgen de Guadalupe
Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, honors Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration with a procession of the image of the Our Lady of Guadalupe shrine in Mexico City at 7 p.m. A following Mass includes a retelling of the 1535 revelation at Tepeyac in Mexico and Folkloric dances by Alegre. After the mass, attendees will share the typical tamales and atole (a Mexican drink similar to chocolate milk).

Dec. 12: AIDS Walk South Dallas launch party
Fifth anniversary launch party hosted by Dallas Black Dance Theater, 6:30-9:30 p.m. at 2700 Flora St.

Dec. 13: Women’s Chorus of Dallas presents HoliDAZE
TWCD sing holiday classics with a twist, 7 p.m. at City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St. Tickets at 214-520-7828 or

Dec. 13: LEGACY Christmas Event & Planning Session
Cathedral of Hope’s monthly social group for adults 50 years and older meets for A Christmas Carol potluck dinner at 1:30 p.m. at Bath House Cultural Center, 521 E. Lawther Dr. Contact Roy Joplin via e-mail at with questions.

Dec. 13: Linze’s Toys for Tots Drive
Linze Serell’s eighth annual Toys for Tots drive and Christmas party begins at 8 p.m. at Garlow’s, 308 E. Main Street, Gun Barrel City. Wal-Mart gift card donations will be accepted through Dec. 10. Send to Bill Lindsey/Linze Serell, 802 Bayou Court, Wylie, 75098.

Dec. 14: Advent: Joy, Music
Sunday, 9 and 11 a.m., at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

Dec 14: Worship Service and Holiday Potluck
Following the 10:30 a.m. service, stick around for the 11:45 a.m. Holiday Potluck Dinner at Agape Metropolitan Community Church, 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth.

Dec 14: Community Cantata: “Noel Celebration”
Former WFAA news anchor Gloria Campos narrates the production featuring churches from the region, 3 p.m. at Celebration on the Lake, 9120 S. Hwy. 198, Maybank. Contact Kathy at 817-602-4645 for more information.

Dec. 15: Resource Center Open House
Drop by and meet the staff , 5:30–6:30p.m. at Resource Center, 2701 Reagan St.

Dec 16: DFW Trans-Cendence Holiday Party and Potluck
7 p.m. at Agape MCC, 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth.

Dec. 18–21: Turtle Creek Chorale presents Jangled
Holiday program includes a family version at the Saturday matinee. Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday–Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Dec. 18: GALA Holiday party and fundraiser
Caroling, silent auction and performance by Gary Poe,. 6–10 p.m., at 3504 Pinehurst Drive, Plano. $18 in advance. $20 at the door. Free for GALA members. RSVP by Dec. 10 to

Dec. 20: 23rd Annual Lights of Love
7 p.m. at Celebration Community Church,
908 Pennsylvania Ave., Fort Worth.

Dec. 20: Salvation Sisters
The DFW Sisters stage The Salvation Sisters, a take-off on the Salvation Army Christmas bell ringing, 8:30–11 p.m. in front of Hunky’s, 3930 Cedar Springs Road. Proceeds benefit HIV services.

Dec. 21: Advent Love Sunday Service and Christmas Concert: Unspeakable Joy!
Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road, celebrates Advent at the 9 and 11 a.m. services, and holds a concert at 7 p.m.

Dec. 22: Ring in the Holidays with Leslie Jordan
Benefit for Legacy Counseling Center at 8 p.m. at Theatre Three, 2800 Routh St. Suite 168. Tickets at

Dec 24: Christmas Eve

Dec. 24: Beth El Binah goes out for Chinese
The LGBT Jewish congregation fulfills the biblical commandment to eat Chinese food on Christmas at 7:30 p.m. at Thairrific, 4000 Cedar Springs Road #E. Everyone welcome.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve Communion Service
7 p.m at Agape Metropolitan Community Church, 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth.

Dec. 24: Cathedral of Hope holds four Christmas Eve Candlelight Holy Communion Services.
Family worship at 5 p.m. in the sanctuary. A Spanish language service at 7 p.m. in the International Peace Chapel. English language services at 9 and 11 p.m. in the snctuary. All at CoH, 5910 Cedar Springs Road,.

Dec. 25: Christmas                      

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 5, 2014.