Just don't call them nelly guys

In a town that knows cheerleading, folks are flipping for a relentlessly upbeat gay squad

Whether his efforts with the broader community will be enthusiastically embraced remains to be seen. Some Cheer Dallas members have their doubts, especially after what happened with Bryan's House.

In early December, the Cheer Dallas board was deciding who would be the beneficiaries of their annual New Year's Eve fund-raiser. A classy event held at the Dallas Garden Center in Fair Park, the party would raise about $18,000. In keeping with its goal of helping children, the board decided to donate part of the money to Bryan's House, a residential and day-care facility for children who suffer from HIV and AIDS. .

Jorns delivered the good news to the development director of Bryan's House. The offer of financial help was turned down. Jorns says he was told that Bryan's House prefers fund-raisers that are more "family-oriented," such as the annual Brian Jensen golf tournament. "'A New Year's Eve party with drinking is not something you'd take kids to,' we were told. I didn't read anything more into it," says Jorns.

Sheryl Reid, development director of Bryan's House, says Bryan's House receives "numerous requests on certain activities using our good name and reputation.

"Some we can do, some we can't," Reid says. "The development committee decided this wasn't a fit for us. We would like to work with them in other ways."

Some Cheer Dallas members think Jorns was na•ve. They believe they were rebuffed because they are primarily a gay organization. Still, true to form, even the skeptical members want to give Bryan's House the benefit of the doubt.

"We certainly wouldn't want to say anything negative about another organization," says Keith Willard, a Cheer Dallas member.

During the last year or two, Cheer Dallas has become closely aligned with the Turtle Creek Chorale. The squad cheered for a fund-raiser at the Meyerson symphony hall two years ago. Cheer Dallas' next performance, at the end of March, will be during the Miss Big Thicket pageant, a fund-raising event for the Turtle Creek Chorale AIDS fund, which benefits any volunteer member of a Dallas singing group who has been affected by AIDS.

Perhaps the most moving program the two groups collaborated on was World AIDS Day at Market Hall, where the AIDS quilt was displayed.

In honor of Cheer Dallas' signature Cheer for the Cure, a local composer named Stan Graner wrote a song by the same name for the Chorale to sing:

I felt the need to speak, so lifting up my voice
I tried to shout above the blaring horde
But standing by myself
amidst the mounting noise
I knew my single shout would be ignored.
Yet people here are dying, so how
to make it known
That now's the time for acting,
the battle lines are drawn,
won't you join me in my song? And we'll...
Cheer for the cure,
in numbers there is strength
to reach an unenlightened world
Cheer and be heard, for when
we cheer together there is
healing in the sound,
Cheer for the cure so we'll be sure
that a cure will be found.

As the Chorale sang, Cheer Dallas performed their stunts and movements in slow motion--their athleticism blurring into dance--the squad members moving toward each other and finally becoming one group by song's end, mirroring what they'd like to see in Dallas.

When the performance was over, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. The squad had cheered them to tears.

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