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Meet our April 24 Outrageous Oral – Volume 10 Storytellers

Join us for our 10th Volume of The Dallas Way’s exciting Outrageous Oral storytelling series. We hold these events at The Rose Room @ S4, courtesy of Caven Enterprises. Please note our new time! Doors open at 6:30pm.  Program begins promptly at 7:00. As always, our Outrageous Oral storytelling programs are free, but donations are appreciated to support our important collections and archives programs at UNT.  If you’d like to watch videos of our previous events, click this link to our YouTube Channel.

Outrageous Oral is a program of The Dallas Way: a GLBT History Project.  We bring you storytellers from Dallas’ rich GLBT past who relate their often funny, poignant, and inspiring stories. Ours is a history filled with courage, dignity, nobility, and amazing victories. Please let us know you are coming  by clicking this link: RSVP

 

Our Storytellers

Randy Roberts Potts

Randy Roberts Potts

Randy Potts - Randy Roberts Potts is a freelance writer, photographer, public speaker, and performance artist focusing on the intersection of religion, culture, and LGBT rights. In addition, he has spent much of his career focused on young people: working with juvenile delinquents on the East Coast, as a social worker in Oklahoma City, and as a middle school English teacher.  Randy’s freelance work has been seen in many publications including The Washington Post, The Dallas Morning News, The Advocate, This Land Press, D Magazine, and Box Turtle Bulletin, among others; Randy was also a contributor to the “It Gets Better” project. Read it here.

Molly Behannon

Molly Behannon

Molly Behannon – Molly Behannon has counseled children and adults, couples, groups, organizations, and businesses for over 35 years. Whether as a special education counselor, director of elementary guidance, private practitioner, counselor, supervisor, business owner, consultant, experiential retreat facilitator, team builder, or motivational speaker, Molly has assisted others toward a lifestyle of wellness, wholeness, and balance. Molly founded and directed the Park Cities Counseling Center in Dallas from 1982 to 2010, and served as Director of Counseling at Oak Lawn Community Services in the late 80’s. Currently a life coach, Molly has created Molly Behannon Services designed to bring her vast experience in the area of human behavior, stress management, experiential learning, team building, organizational and individual wellness to the community. She is a keynote and motivational speaker and writer combining wit and wisdom to inspire others to live, love and laugh. You can read her “Molly Moments” blog here.

Leslie McMurray

Leslie McMurray

Leslie McMurray – Leslie McMurray is a transgender woman living and working in Dallas. She has spent the bulk of her career on-air hosting a morning show or programming radio stations across the country.  Originally from the Los Angeles area, Leslie has lived in 13 cities in 7 states including Houston and Dallas. Some would call her “well travelled” others would say: “She can’t keep a job!”  She has 2 daughters, one in Phoenix and the other in Atlanta with 3 grandchildren. Leslie was married for 33 years prior to her transition.  She is involved with volunteer work at the Resource Center through GEAR and also is now a freelance writer.  She enjoys shopping, loves to cook and rides a Harley.

George Keaton, Jr.George Keaton, Jr. – George is Dallas native and graduated from UNT in 1981 with a B.S. degree in Education with a minor in Music. He was a teacher and counselor with the Dallas ISD for 31 years before retiring in 2013.  Beginning in the mid 1980’s, George volunteered with the AIDS Resource Center for its African-American Outreach Group and Speakers Bureau. While doing his internship for a degree in Clinical Counseling at Amberton University in the mid 1990’s, he began counseling HIV/AIDS patients at the Legacy Counseling Center, Legacy Cottage, and at various centers to meet with newly diagnosed clients and their families. Additionally, George has held leadership positions in the Dallas GLBT community’s African-American Outreach Group, Men’s Gathering, Renaissance Book Club, REAACH (Real Education About AIDS Can Help) and the Couples group that he and his current partner, Reginald, started in 1995. Additionally, George holds or has held leadership roles in the field of genealogy as an officer of The African-American Genealogy Interest Group (AAGIG), The White Rock Garden of Memories Cemetery, Inc., Black Dallas Remembered, Inc., The Shaw Family Reunion, and was recently a featured contributor of the My Immovable Truth Project at the African-American Museum. Mr. Keaton often freelances as a tour guide for local tour companies in the Dallas area and specializes in the history of local African-African Americans and historical sites of the African-American Communities. George has a passion for culture, travel and fine cuisine. He has traveled extensively in and out of the country. He has taught music and played for churches for over 25 years and has been a culinary student at El Centro College for the past four years.

 

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New Outrageous Oral Videos Available — posted by Bruce Monroe

We had a terrific Outrageous Oral storytelling event in January featuring Terry D. Loftis, David Taffet, and Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong.  The Dallas Way began Outrageous Oral in June of 2012 as part of our mission to to gather, store, organize, and present the complete GLBT history of Dallas, Texas.  We record these events on video and post them on our YouTube page.  They will become part of the permanent collection at the GLBT archives at the University of North Texas for future historians to study.

Outrageous Oral has proven to be a memorable evening of poignant, often funny, sometimes tearful stories of our rich GLBT Dallas history. If you’d like to see all of our previous storytellers on YouTube, click HERE.

Terry D. Loftis – Terry is a musician, a strategist, a minister, and an activist.  He has served with many community organizations: Legacy Counseling Center, Friends of the Katy Trail, and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing Arts.  He also served on the board – and ultimately, President – of Resource Center, where he helped create GayBingo, Lone Star Ride, and Toast for Life. Terry is a recipient of the Lambda Legal Civil Rights Award for Leadership.

David Taffet – Most of you know David from his byline at the Dallas Voice or just by his voice on Lambda Weekly, KNON-FM radio, the longest running LGBT talk show in the country.  But some of us have known David for his work on the boards of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, Equality Texas, and Resource Center – of course all of those organizations were operating under different names when David was working.  He is also active in Congregation Beth el Binah. David is the most recent recipient of the Black Tie Kuchling Humanitarian Award.

Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong – Louise and Vivienne have been active in gay and lesbian civil rights since 1971, when they joined the Gay Liberation Front while the University of Colorado.  Shortly after moving to Dallas in 1976, they joined the Dallas Gay Political Caucus, which we now know as the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.  Louise and Vivienne worked tirelessly to build political relationships between the LGBT community in Dallas and other political organizations that, to this day, have been steadfast allies in local, statewide, and national politics.  In 1993, they represented LGBT Americans in President Clinton’s Inaugural Parade on the “Family of America” float.  Their 42-year relationship has been featured in many books and they are recipients of numerous awards, including the Black Tie Kuchling Humanitarian Award.  Louise has been especially active in the workplace equality movement.  She retired after a 33-year career with Raytheon Company where she was instrumental in Raytheon becoming the first aerospace and defense company to score100 percent on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.   Vivienne retired after a distinguished career of more than 30 years with the Visiting Nurse Association, including leadership in HIV services.

SAVE THE DATE for our next exciting volume of storytellers on April 24, 2014 in the Rose Room @ S4 on Cedar Springs.  Doors open at 6:30 and we begin promptly at 7:00pm.  Our speakers that night will be: Molly Behannon, Leslie Michelle, George Keaton, Randy Potts, and Sister Polly von Acocker. More detail about these fantastic speakers will be coming soon.

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Honoring Bill Nelson’s 65th Birthday — story by Mike Anglin

William H. (“Bill”) Nelson

March 7, 1949   -   February 19, 1990

March 7th, 2014 would have been the 65th birthday of Bill Nelson, one of the leading figures in the rich history of the Dallas GLBT community.  Bill was born March 7, 1949, and grew up in Dallas, attending W. T. White High School, where he later taught.

Bill Nelson

Bill Nelson

In 1979, Bill Nelson, a teacher and coach at W.T. White High School in Dallas, attended a public “gay rights rally” in Lee Park.  A photograph of the event was published in the Dallas newspaper, and a student at W.T. White recognized his teacher as one of the people attending the rally and showed the photo to the high school principal.  Dallas Independent School District attempted to reprimand Bill for this public display, but he refused to accept the censure, and the school district ultimately backed down.  Their action only accelerated Bill’s growth into a principal leadership role in the gay rights movement in Dallas.

Bill’s first concrete step in this process came later, in 1979, when he appeared before the executive committee of the Dallas Gay Political Caucus to urge that organization to fully support the first National March on Washington.  He and his partner, Terry Tebedo, publicized the event in Dallas and generated a list of Dallas residents who would commit to attend the October 14, 1979, March on Washington.

Bill Nelson at Dallas City Council Meeting

Bill Nelson at Dallas City Council Meeting

In 1981, Bill and Terry pulled together a number of friends and created an organization that would sponsor a citywide social event for the gay community.  The new organization was named “Razzle Dazzle Dallas.”  It held its first gala later that year at the Hall of State in Fair Park.  That same year they, along with friends, William Waybourn and Craig Spaulding, opened a business at the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton called the “Crossroads Market,” which became as much of a community meeting place as a commercial book and sundries store.

In 1983, Bill and Terry, along with other supporters, created a new umbrella organization for the gay community named The Foundation for Human Understanding (eventually to become Resource Center).  FHU was designed to be the parent organization for a number of groups, programs, and smaller organizations affiliated with the Dallas Gay Alliance/DGLA.  FHU purchased the MCC Church building at Reagan and Brown Streets in Dallas and still serves as headquarters for Resource Center.

As president of the then Dallas Gay Alliance in the early 1980s, Bill helped open the city’s first LGBT community center storefront location on Cedar Springs — later to become a clinic for an HIV population left underserved by county and government institutions.  In fact, the clinic today carries his and his partner Terry Tebedo’s names as the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic.  He was also among the first in Texas to sound the alarm about AIDS and help educate individuals to avoid the transmission of HIV, turning the Alliance from a purely political organization to an agency delivering real services, including food, clothing and financial assistance.  These services continue today under the auspices of Resource Center, and through other cooperating organizations like the AIDS Services of Dallas and the AIDS Arms Network.

In the fall of 1985 Bill became the third recipient of the Black Tie Dinner’s “Humanitarian of the Year Award” (known today as the Ray Kuchling Award), and in 1989 the Texas Senate honored Bill for his many accomplishments as a community leader.

Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo at G*U*T*S City Hall Chalking. 1989

Bill Nelson and Terry Tebedo at G*U*T*S City Hall Chalking. 1989

Sadly, Bill and Terry didn’t survive the AIDS epidemic they both so valiantly fought to end, but they paved the way for many others to hold out until more effective medications were discovered and incorporated into the treatment of people with HIV.

Bill’s many accomplishments are being now being documented by The Dallas Way and an extensive collection of Bill Nelson memorabilia is now being collected and preserved so future generations of the GLBT community will be able to study and be inspired by this pioneer of the Dallas GLBT community.

 

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Resource Center LGBT Collection: 50 Years of LGBT History in Dallas – by Morgan Gieringer

We hope you can check out this outstanding exhibition at the UNT Willis Library in Denton, running now through January 2, 2014. The exhibition was curated by Resource Center’s CeCe Cox and UNT’s Dr. Mark Vosvick.

Dallasites at March on Washington 1979

Dallasites at March on Washington 1979

The exhibit “Resource Center LGBT Collection: 50 Years of LGBT History in Dallas” celebrates the opening of the largest archival collections of LGBT-related materials in the north Texas area. The exhibit includes original documentation and photographs of important people, organizations and events including the founding documents of the Circle of Friends (1965), photographs of the first pride parade held in Dallas (1972), photos and documents from the 1979 March on Washington and photographs of a 1988 demonstration held in Dallas . Continue reading

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From the President

Buddy Mullino photo

Buddy Mullino, President
- courtesy Debra Gloria Photography

What’s in a Name?

The Dallas Way has a mission to “gather, store, and present the complete GLBT history of Dallas.” It is ambitious, but isn’t ambition at the core of our beloved city and community? Harvey J. Graff (author of The Dallas Myth) has suggested that ours is both a “city with no limits” and a “city with no history.” While we may wholeheartedly agree with the former, those of us in the community should reject the latter. One of the many reasons why our name, The Dallas Way, was chosen was to reflect the Dallas ethos of “bigger, bolder, and better.” Continue reading

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From Our Founders

Jack Evans and George Harris

Jack Evans and George Harris
Courtesy: Dallas Voice

Thank you for visiting our website.  Please allow me to tell you why the mission of The Dallas Way is so very important.  The history of the Dallas GLBT community is rich and varied, dramatic and exciting.  Its characters and events have demonstrated bravery and defiance, confidence and intelligence. The Dallas GLBT community, and its leaders, have been an example for the entire U.S.A.  The ideas and successes that have been conceived and established here in Dallas have generated a ripple effect that has improved the lives of GLBT people throughout North Texas, and beyond.   Continue reading

Outrageous Oral – June 26, 2014

Known for its amazingly diverse and entertaining recollection of GLBT history in North Texas, The Dallas Way’s exciting storytelling series, Outrageous Oral, returns with four sensational speakers on Thursday, June 26, in the Rose Room upstairs at S4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road in Dallas.  Doors open at 6:30 pm.  The program begins at 7:00.
Outrageous Oral’s storytellers are long-time members of the GLBT community who share their inspiring, humorous and emotional experiences with an audience determined to let this rich history not be forgotten.
Four remarkable presenters will tell their stories at this next Outrageous Oral, the 11th installment in the ongoing series.
Sister Polly von Acocker is a member of the playfully activist troupe that is the Dallas branch of the San Francisco-based Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.  The Dallas Voice describes the Sisters as a group that uses high camp, drag and garish make-up – “irreverent gender play” – to satirize all aspects of popular culture, including religion.  Sister Polly promises to explain how “ruffled feathers” have been converted to strong support of the Sister’s “ministry”.
An African-American lesbian, Alpha Thomas is a radical activist and community leader who is committed to young people’s acceptance of themselves.  She dedicates her strength and passion to making sure that there will be positive differences experienced in their GLBT youth communities.
Ron Zimmerman, whose leather scene name is Master Z, has been active in BDSM/Leather events for more than a dozen years.  A founding member of the Texas Leather Tribe, Master Z is a well-known dominant and an often-requested presenter on the master/slave and leather lifestyle.
Transgender activist Pamela Curry is a very well-known health and disability advocate.  She demonstrates her fervor for social justice in her daily expressions of service, faith, politics and community involvement.  Curry consistently appears at public hearings and community events to carry forward her dedicated advocacy in matters of importance to the GLBT community.
There is no charge to attend The Dallas Way’s Outrageous Oral events.  Donations are appreciated to support important collections and archives housed at the University of North Texas in Denton.  Each Outrageous Oral presentation is video-taped and archived in The Dallas Way collection at UNT.  Additional oral and written histories of people important to GLBT history in North Texas are also included in that collection.  Materials are being digitized to allow world-wide access to this significant history.
Please RSVP to attend this next installment of Outrageous Oral via The Dallas Way group page on Facebook.  If you haven’t already done so, “like” The Dallas Way Facebook page to receive a direct invitation to each future event.
The mission of The Dallas Way is to gather, store, organize and present the complete GLBT history of Dallas Texas.  The Dallas Way is a registered 501(c)3 organization.  All contributions are tax deductible.  For more information, visit The Dallas Way website at www.thedallasway.org.

 

Unsung Heroes: Joe Desmond and Ken Flanagan

This is the first of what I hope to be a series of articles on Dallas’ Unsung Heroes.

Joe Desmond and Ken Flanagan

Joe Desmond and Ken Flanagan

Joe Desmond was a stalwart, albeit quiet, volunteer for the Dallas Gay Alliance and the Foundation for Human Understanding for more than nine years. He bought the first (!) computer for the Alliance: a Kaypro suitcase portable computer, from which we managed the membership roster of the DGA, the minutes, and also published Dialog, our monthly newsletter. Joe never missed a board meeting – and we met EVERY Monday, including our monthly membership meetings.

Joe Desmond served as a Captain in the Army where he honed his considerable secretarial skills as a protocol officer for the base commander. That experience served the Dallas Gay Alliance well. His minutes were impeccable and quite succinct.

His long term partner, Ken Flanagan, served in the Marines. Ken volunteered every Wednesday on the membership committee. Never one to lead, he was absolutely dependable. Ken, ironically was the outgoing one. Ken would wait for Joe each Monday night across the street at JR’s along with other partners and friends of board members. They called themselves the Bored of the Board. When the meeting concluded, we all retired to dinner at the Bronx.

Joe and Ken both participated in most, if not all, of our street actions. One in particular was when we used to let out the air in the tires of the buses of the Christian organizations that would pester the community on the streets of the Crossroads every weekend.

Both Joe and Ken were out in their respective workplaces. Joe was an actuary and Ken worked in insurance, as well. In addition to their service to the Alliance, They were quite active in Dignity Dallas and in the Leather community.

I remember, fondly, their annual Christmas Party at their home in Oak Cliff. The house was decorated to the hilt. Much like their personalities, it was usually a quiet affair, punctuated by Ken’s famous laugh.

When we bought the building that now houses the John Thomas Gay and Lesbian Community Center and Resource Center, we were worried about going into debt. Joe insisted that we could and should do it. We fretted about the note often and Joe kept telling us it would all work out fine.

Joe and Ken honored at Resource Center

Joe and Ken honored at Resource Center

They both volunteered until they were too sick to participate. Ken died first, in 1993. Joe followed a year later. After they died, Joe and Ken’s sizable estate, more than $500,000 – unbeknownst to all – paid off the remaining debt. This is why their names adorn the exterior of Resource Center today.

Outrageous Oral January 30, 2014

Join us Thursday evening, January 30, 2014 from 6:30 to 9:00 in the Rose Room @ S4 on Cedar Springs for the first Outrageous Oral storytelling event of 2014! Our featured storytellers will be Terry D. Loftis, Louise Young and Vivienne Armstrong, and David Taffet. Outrageous Oral is a program of The Dallas Way: a GLBT History Project. Admission is free.  Let us know you are coming by clicking here: Eventbrite.

Terry D. Loftis

Terry D. Loftis

Terry D. Loftis – Terry Loftis is a brand strategist and was President of Verve Communications Group, a full service marketing communications firm from 1997 until 2013. A Dallas native, Terry’s life began in the North Dallas projects until his family moved into their first home in Oak Cliff where he grew up. He graduated high school from the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and moved onto Eastfield College as a jazz studies major.

His community work began when he joined the board of directors for the Resource Center, where he served for 8 years and ultimately became board president. During his tenure at the Resource Center, Terry was instrumental in restructuring of Toast to Life, assisted in the creation of the Lone Star Ride and GayBingo.  Terry’s company donated over $100K in creative services to Resource Center that helped increase revenue across all programs and services. For his efforts, he was awarded the Lambda Legal Civil Rights Award for Leadership. Terry returned to Resource Center in 2012 as a member of the Capital Campaign Committee.

Terry has served on the boards of Legacy Counseling Center, Friends of the Katy Trail and the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts.  In addition to his career and work in the community, Terry is a jazz vocalist and ordained minister.

David Taffet

David Taffet

David Taffet – David Taffet started working as a freelance writer for the Dallas Voice in 1989 moved to part-time before joining the staff as a full-time news and feature writer in May 2008.  David grew up in Yonkers, N.Y. and graduated from State University of New York at Albany with a degree in English. In 1979, he was working retail in New York City and was transferred to Dallas to manage the company’s NorthPark store. Since then he has worked in retail and wholesale, was part owner of a travel agency and has hosted radio and television talk shows. While working at the travel agency, he began writing a travel column for Dallas Voice. That column appeared monthly for ten years and developed into other arts writing.  Since 1990, he has been a co-host of the KNON-FM talk show Lambda Weekly, the oldest, longest running LGBT talk show on the air anywhere. He also took over the North Texas Polka Radio show, which he co-hosted for seven years. In 2005, David began hosting a daily talk show for the short-lived Q Television Network, a gay and lesbian cable network that predated Logo and was based in Haltom City. David has served on the boards of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, The Foundation for Human Understanding (now known as Resource Center), Lesbian/Gay Rights Lobby (now known as Equality Texas), Congregation Beth El Binah, and the regional board of the Union for Reform Judaism.  In addition to doing talk shows on radio and TV, he has appeared in a number of TV shows and films including JFKBorn on the Fourth of JulyPrison BreakWalker Texas RangerInspector Mom and Friday Night Lights. He’s usually cast as a reporter and his lines usually end up on the cutting room floor. But he’s proudest of his performance in the indy film Crushed where he played a rapist. In 2013, David  was honored with the Raymond Kuchling Humanitarian Award by Black Tie Dinner.

Vivienne Armstrong and Louise Young

Vivienne Armstrong and Louise Young

Vivienne Armstrong and Louise Young – Vivienne and Louise met at the University of Colorado’s Gay Liberation Front in 1971 where Louise was completing her Ph.D.  Since then, their lives and relationship have been interwoven with the movement for LGBT rights.  They moved to Dallas in 1976.  In 1977 they joined the newly formed Dallas Gay Political Caucus (now the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance (DGLA)) and soon assumed leadership roles.  They were the architects of the political arm of DGLA that established strong ties between the Dallas LGBT community and mainstream political parties.   In 1993, they represented LGBT Americans in President Clinton’s Inaugural Parade on the “Family of America” float.  They are recipients of numerous awards, including the Black Tie Dinner’s Kuchling Humanitarian Award.  Both have been featured in media throughout their relationship of over 42 years and have put a public face on long-term same-sex relationships.  They were featured in the in the books, Uncommon Heroes: A Celebration of Heroes and Role Models for Gay and Lesbian Americans and Creating Civil Union: Opening Hearts and Minds and many articles on long term relationships and domestic partner benefits.  Louise has been especially active in the workplace equality movement.  She retired after a 33-year career with Raytheon Company where she was instrumental in Raytheon becoming the first aerospace and defense company to score100 percent on the HRC Corporate Equality Index.   Vivienne retired after a distinguished career of more than 30 years with the Visiting Nurse Association, including leadership in HIV services.

The Dallas Way is a 501(c)3 charitable organization whose mission is to gather, store, organize, and present the complete GLBT history of Dallas, Texas.

Fairness Fort Worth

Historically, law enforcement has been not just unreceptive, but downright injurious toward the gay community. This is especially true in the traditionally conservative areas of Southern America. The city of Fort Worth Texas is no exception.  A incident at a bar in 2009 let to the usually reclusive members of the Fort Worth Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgendered community standing up with a newly founded voice. This voice came from the group Fairness Fort Worth that formed in response to an episode that took place one evening between local and state law enforcement and patrons at a new gay bar, and has helped to provide positive changes for many gays and lesbians in North Texas.

Shortly after midnight in the early morning hours of June 28, 2009 what should have been a routine inspection by the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC) at The Rainbow Lounge, took a turn for the worse that would eventually prove to be a catalyst for change in the gay community of North Texas. Two TABC officers were working with six Fort Worth Police Department Officers to conduct an inspection of this newly opened bar.  In the dark of the bar, the officers claimed that they were threatened and sexually provoked by drunken patrons and began removing and arresting the offenders.  By the end of the debacle, twenty one patrons had been arrested (and eventually released), and one unfortunate individual, Chad Gibson, was hospitalized.  To add insult to injury to the gay community, this incident occurred exactly forty years from the date of a similar raid on a similar bar, The Stonewall Inn in New York City. That raid led to three days of riots and is credited with spurring the current gay rights movement.  In response to the raid on the Rainbow Lounge, the gay community once again banded together, but instead of riots they formed the activist group Fairness Fort Worth. This new group would insist upon equal treatment for gays and lesbians from government officials and law enforcement specifically in Forth Worth Texas and the surrounding areas.

Immediately, a media campaign was started with over 3000 emails describing the incident and abuses of the previous night.  By two o’clock that afternoon, according to Tom Anable, the emails and information had “gone viral.”  They arranged a candle-light vigil that evening at the bar, two protest marches, set up a Facebook page to deliver information, and caught the attention of openly gay Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns. The following Tuesday June 30, 2009, Fairness Fort Worth was born in the back room of a local church in Fort Worth Texas when Tom Anable, a local CPA with a successful accounting firm and the bar’s accountant, met with Todd Camp, a leader with QCinema (a local gay themed media and movie outlet), Reverend Carol West and nine others at Celebration Community Church.

Once some organization was determined, work began to right the wrongs that happened the night of the raid.  The leaders of Fairness Fort Worth insisted on major case investigation by both the FWPD and TABC into the events of June 28, 2009 at the Rainbow Lounge.  A witness clinic was arranged with eighteen pro-bono attorneys who were available at Celebration Community Church for anyone who was a patron at the bar that night. According to Mr. Anable, finding all of the attorneys was easy compared to the process of finding all of the witnesses. Twenty three of the thirty eight witnesses identified used this free service. The immediate outcomes of the investigations led to the termination of three TABC Officers, official reprimand of two TABC Officers, the suspension of three FWPD Officers, and the appointment of FWPD Officer Sara Straten to act as Liaison between the LGBT community and the police department.

Officer Straten worked closely with Fairness Fort Worth, and many individuals in the LGBT community to ensure the establishment of an open route of communication.  She attended and held several meetings, and worked closely with Reverend West at Celebration Community Church.  In these meetings Officer Straten worked to assure members of the LGBT community of the commitment of the Chief of Police, Jeffery Halstead and the entire Fort Worth Police Department to support the LGBT community.  She also provided an integral part of the city’s transition into an open and inclusive community only months after the incident at the Rainbow Lounge.

According to Officer Straten the challenges to this culture change were extreme. She provided some examples of what she learned in the diversity training classes she facilitated.  An anonymous survey was handed out at the start of each class with questions about personal knowledge and beliefs that each individual held regarding gays and lesbians. One question asked class participants what would be their reaction if they could predict the sexuality of their unborn child. In each class at least one response to that question was to “abort the pregnancy” (Straten). While this was not a common response, it is an example of the obstacles that gays and lesbians have faced in their efforts to be included in American society for years, and the difficulties faced by everyone involved with Fairness Fort Worth when trying to promote the acceptance of gays and lesbians.

The short term goals of Fairness Fort Worth had been accomplished in that these officers were held accountable for their improper behavior the night of the raid and Chief Jeffery Halstead of Fort Worth Police Department committed to open communication and cooperation with the LGBT community of Fort Worth.  Mr. Anable, who sold his private accounting business to lead Fairness Fort Worth, began working in partnership with many established LGBT groups in Texas. The Dallas Resource Center, Equality Texas, and the Human Rights Campaign were, and continue to be, close allies of Fairness Fort Worth.

Fairness Fort Worth worked side by side with City Councilman Burns, Officer Straten, several other LGBT groups, and the local community.  Some local LBGT activist groups took a more confrontational approach.  During one specific city council meeting the members of Dallas-based Queer Liber-action caused quite a scene in protest of what happened at the Rainbow Lounge.  After they were removed, members of Fairness Fort Worth stood up to calmly introduce their requests. Each group however did play a part in beginning the process of building an open working relationship with the city of Fort Worth to ensure equal treatment for the LGBT community.

Within a year of formation Fairness Fort Worth,  with the help of Councilman Burns, had encouraged the city of Fort Worth, the police department, and  Forth Worth School District to pass ordinances and enact policies that are today some of the most liberal and progressive of many large US cities. The creation of a Diversity Task Force led by City Manager Dale Fiseler helped in the training and implementation of many of these new policies, including mandatory diversity and sensitivity training for all FWPD Officers, and a letter given to all new police recruits from Chief Halstead about the importance of acceptance.  All Fort Worth city employees, without regard to sexual orientation, would now be included in the benefit program, and the city tourism board began advertising gay-themed and gay-owned business.  In cooperation with the Resource Center Dallas, Fairness Fort Worth also gained domestic partner benefits for the employees of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The Fort Worth Gay Pride parade, which for years was a small affair held on the outskirts of the city, was invited to the downtown area for 2011 and Mayor Betsy Price served as Grand Marshall (Nash).

All of these accomplishments in the span of just over one year brought national attention to the North Texas LGBT community and Fairness Fort Worth.  The Human Rights Campaign recognized the efforts and cooperation of Fairness Fort Worth and the city of Fort Worth along with Fort Worth Police Department for their successful undertakings of turning the city of Fort Worth into a shining example of gay rights.  On November 8, 2011 the Criminal Justice Department at the University of Texas at Arlington held a conference attended by the US Justice Department, Equality Texas, and Fairness Fort Worth to establish a model for Law Enforcement Agencies when dealing with LGBT matters focusing on the Matthew Sheperd and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

The incident at the Rainbow Lounge and the establishment of Fairness Fort Worth was covered extensively by local media and was noted by media nationwide.  Both The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times ran stories in July of 2009 describing the incident and formation of Fairness Fort Worth. A full-length documentary about the Rainbow Lounge incident was produced.

Fairness Fort Worth will continue to be the voice of the LGBT community in Fort Worth Texas and surrounding areas.  Funded only by donations, sights are set to promote equality and cooperation for LGBT communities with law enforcement agencies across North Texas.

 

2013 Black Tie Kuchling Humanitarian Award Speech – by David Taffet

Congratulations to Dallas Voice reporter and 89.3 KNON-FM Lambda Weekly host, David Taffet, on his well-deserved Black Tie Kuchling Humanitarian Award.  He has graciously given his acceptance speech to The Dallas Way:
David Taffet, 2013 Black Tie Kuchling Humanitarian Award Winner with The Hon. Wendy Davis

David Taffet, 2013 Black Tie Kuchling Humanitarian Award Winner with The Hon. Wendy Davis

I began preparing for tonight by reviewing speeches by other Black Tie speakers and I came across the best. So I decided to begin the way Ann Richards did — with a five minute standing ovation.

In addition to some of the lovely comments in the video, I’d like to thank some friends — like Sandy Horwitz who congratulated me by saying, “Oh, crap, Taffet, how are you gonna embarrass us?” Chad Mantooth works in my office. He gave me a hug and said, “That’s fantastic. It should really help my sales.”  When she sent in the Kuchling application, Cece Cox asked a number of people for letters about me. She was supposed to send in two but she sent them all. “I never did like to follow the rules,” she told me. “Thank you for teaching me that.” You’re welcome and it’s not that I don’t follow the rules. It’s that I never read the directions. I usually don’t listen so I never know what the rules are in the first place. * Continue reading

Outrageous Oral Videos now on YouTube

The Dallas Way records each of the Outrageous Oral storytelling events and we’re excited that they have all been posted on our YouTube channel.  If you missed an event or simply wish to watch a particular story again, click this link:

http://www.youtube.com/user/TDWOutrageousOral

The Dallas Way would like to thank Jimmy Bartlett of Bartech Services for his tireless efforts to record and edit these events.