Expand focus of LGBT issues

So much focus by the Dallas Voice on the Human Rights Campaign’s list of what constitutes gay issues would seem to ignore the many other issues that also impact LGBT citizens each day.

When evaluating whether a candidate would be good for the LGBT community, I question why the focus by our press (and many activists) is so fiercely intense on just marriage, Don’t ask, don’t tell and hate crimes, at the exclusion of others that are very important.

In his article about me attending the press conference with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison ("Lesser evil, or 2 equals?" Dallas Voice, Aug. 14), John Wright failed to report on many subjects that he and I discussed that should also be of concern for many LGBT people, including LGBT business owners, LGBT property owners, LGBT taxpayers and LGBT people who need employment.

An extended analysis would indeed show how Sen. Hutchison has been and will continue to be good for them.

By the way, do you think it is smart to headline a story about our likely next governor as either a "lesser evil or equal"? Is this how we ask someone to include us in political discussion?

LGBT business owners should agree with Sen. Hutchison, who does not favor the health plans that are being proposed by our Democratic House that will cost them thousands of new dollars by mandating coverage for everyone, including part-time employees, or a new 8 percent payroll tax.

From LGBT-owned food and beverage business owners to the salon owners, a mandatory health plan might be enough to put their businesses under, or at least cause them to cut more staff in these tight economic times.

LGBT people who own or manage retail properties should agree that a new health burden might cause even more retail vacancies and job losses.

LGBT property owners might be pleased that Sen. Hutchison favors lowering the property tax rate, which is among the highest nationwide. Many LGBT people own homes and commercial properties that are taxed at almost 3 percent of value. With mortgages at 5 percent, that’s over half-again the interest rate just to pay property taxes! In reality, we never own our homes as the increasing tax rate lives on and on.

LGBT people who live in Tarrant County might have supported Sen. Hutchison’s fight to keep Lockheed Martin’s F22 bomber program. This program has just been cancelled by the Democrats, and may cost Fort Worth thousands of high-paying jobs.

LGBT military members (and related suppliers) and those who have family in the military might question why Democrats want to reduce funding for missile defense systems which might put more local jobs in jeopardy.

Perhaps most importantly, LGBT people with children may wonder how their loved ones and the next generation will be able to pay for a deficit that has already quadrupled under President Obama.

All of these are gay issues, too.

I believe what constitutes a "gay issue" has historically been too narrowly defined, and today it needs broadening so that it extends beyond marriage, DADT, and hate crimes.

Further, our community’s press should spend more editorial time and space on the many political topics that impact LGBT people every day.

I challenge the Dallas Voice to shine the light on the subjects that are of concern to the almost 30 percent of LGBT people who voted for John McCain, and the many more who will likely vote Republican in 2010.

I often ask folks what cost they would pay for LGBT equality. So far, the price for "hope" has been quite high, yet we have received little or nothing from a Democrat-controlled Washington.

Let’s broaden our debate about what impacts the LGBT community while Log Cabin Republicans endeavors to show our community why conservative fiscal and security management is the key to restoring our economy, and how it benefits them as it does the rest of our brothers and sisters in this great nation.

Rob Schlein, president
Log Cabin Republicans Dallas

The Oak Lawn I remember

The recent news of Hunky’s being forced out of it’s longtime location broke my heart. Hunky’s was Oak Lawn.

My memories go back a little bit farther, to when Oak Lawn was cheap, run down and shared by hippies, hookers, homos and the police.

There was the classic coffee shop on the corner of Oak Lawn and Ceder Springs, next to Tamales restaurant in one of the great, old large houses of the neighborhood.

Further down was the timeless pawn shop next to the beloved Esquire Theater where I was finally able to see "HAIR" during the 1980s, because in 1970 Dallas banned it and we had to drive to Fort Worth to see the "naked hippy chicks."

Further down Oak Lawn (about where Half Price books was) my friends had a head shop called ABOVO, where we spent psychedelic weekends being high school cool. There were the underground papers Dallas Notes and The Iconoclas, whose publisher, Stoney Burns, was once sentenced to life in prison for posession of a single joint.

And of course, there was the infamous "Turtle Creek Massacre," where the "pigs" went after the "dope smoking hippies" for swimming in Turtle Creek in "Freak Park."

You could go to Lobo Bookstore, filled with delicate young men and lots of cats.

Lobo was also the place where I first discovered there was such a thing as lesbian music, when I bought a copy of a vinylalbum called "Changer and the Changed" by Chris Williamson. That record would lead me into the world of "women’s music" concerts with Little Feather Productions for almost 20 years, and into the world of gay theater in Dallas.

Speaking of gay theater, Theatre Gemini is where I met the incredible Craig Hess at the Dallas Gay Alliance, and that led to more changes in my life.

Straights would cruise down Cedar Springs to see thehookers and queers. It was almost like taking a ride on Gray Line.

I remember walking into The Bronx once with a canary in a cage I had just adopted. I wasn’t allowed to bring "Sgt. Rock" into the restaurant and, not wanting to leave him in the car on a cold night, I interrupted a conversation between a Dallas cop and a drag queen, and they said they would watch him until I came back. And they did.

Oak Lawn was also the site of Adair’s Restaurant, whose walls were covered with spit wads andgays were not too welcome.

And across from Hunky’s was the classic Cinema 69 where, just out of high school.We took my best friend there in order to kill time before her 5 a.m. flight, and to her great surprise, whenshe pulled back the screen into the movie house, right in front on a 40-inch screen, she saw her first "’cum" shot. I accidentally sat downin the lap of an elderly gentleman wearing a raincoat who was not very happy at being disturbed.

And you can’t forget the beginnings of two iconic stores in the area. At Tapelenders, you could rent gay porn Betamax. And the much-missed Crossroads Market started as a small bookstore with a thrift store in the back. It was great for shopping and was run by two dear men, Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo.

This was the very beginning of Homo Heights, where I once manned the Gayline, a community organization where people could call to find out the hot bars, what to do if the cops raided theplaces (as they were wont to do), or talk about coming out or try to soothe their hurt soul when they thought about suicide.

This was my beloved Oak Lawn, before the AIDS decimated the populace and destroyed the heart of this writer and the community.

In the last few years before death came it was a great time — time spent helping Terry Tebedo paint the back room of the old DGA that stood next to the laundry where this wonderful woman would wash and fold your clothes cheaper than you could do it yourself.

Itwas names and places now often spoken of reverently, such the old Metropolitan Community Church, a building that now houses the Dallas Resource Center and that, a long time ago, hosted Little Feather concerts starrinng the likes of Holly Near, Chris Williams and Theresa Trull. It was a place for women all over to spend an evening listening to music about their real lives before groups like the Indigo Girls played the Majestic.

There were evenings of comedy and drama in the DGA back room, where my best buds — Kelly Honeycutt, David McDowell,Patrick Williams and Don Jackson — and I spent hours preparing for shows such as "Street Theater" and "Blue Fish Cove," featuring some of the best local talent in town.

It was back when the parades first began and you could park right on the street an hour before the parade started right in front of Panda and have 20 friends sitting all over your truck, enjoying the best seats in town for the pure fun a really local hometown parade that was always led by Dykes on Bikes and the drag queens twirling batons, and the Texas Gay Ride Association with the giant Texas flag marching proudly.

And after it was done, you had dinner at the Wok or Ojeda’s, or a cocktail at Throckmorton Mining Company.

Among those I met over the years were Deb Elder, Alan Ross, the wonderful John Thomas and the mercurial Bill Hunt.

All of them are gone from Dallas now, just like the Oak Lawn I remember.

Sharon Brimm

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 21, 2009.
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