Submitted by Bob McCranie, February 2012
In the early 1990’s the Dallas Gay & Lesbian Alliance (DGLA) sponsored a group for young adults between the ages of 17 and 25. The group was called Gay & Lesbian Young Adults (GLYA). DGLA was the sponsoring organization but wanted to empower the youth to organize and run their own meetings. They met every Tuesday night at 7 pm at the Gay & Lesbian Community Center (now Resource Center Dallas) at Reagan & Brown in Dallas.
GLYA usually had an attendance of 15 to 45 youth each meeting. The organization was run by a male and female co-president. Each meeting usually started with a question of the week which every attendee answered. The meeting then had a prepared topic and then a wrap up. They lasted about 45 minutes and then members were invited to go to Hunky’s (the old location) and hang out.
During my time there, we organized a thank you gift to the GLBT community in the form of a rainbow wall. We asked Caven Enterprises for permission to paint a 15 foot tall rainbow flag with pink triangle on the wall of Sue Ellen’s, which at the time was where TMC is currently. The purpose of the wall was to help instill pride in the community and to be a huge display to all the Southwest Airlines flights descending to land going over head. For several weeks we painted on the wall and finally had a small dedication ceremony which was attended by several community leaders.
Also at this time, the youth group decided to add “Bisexual” to their name. Many of the youth identified as bi, not gay or lesbian. The youth leadership felt the name change would allow new members to feel safer attending the meetings. When they requested the name change through the parent organization, the DGLA was not immediately happy with the request. They had recently added lesbian to their name and were not interested in adding bisexual as well. After much debate, DGLA allowed the name change with the best interest of the youth in mind.
GLBYA and DGLA also began participating in conferences about GLBT at risk youth. They cooperated with Hope House (Cathedral of Hope) and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. Many organizations around town had a small element of the larger services GLBT youth would need, but no one organization had it all together.
After aging past the 25 year age limit for the group, I was appointed the Assistant Vice President for Youth Issues with DGLA. I served in this capacity for several years and made the board of DGLA more aware of the needs and risks of running a youth program. After I left my volunteer position, my successors worked to bring forth Youth First Texas which integrated several community youth services under one roof.