Americans United For Separation of Church and State: You should know that Americans United For Separation of Church and State is not a bunch of godless pinko heathen, but a group of mainstream religious organizations like the National Council of the Churches of Christ, The Episcopal Church, and the American Jewish Congress. (The godless pinko heathen quotient is well satisfied by the ACLU, a supporting organization.) What AUFSCS seeks is the continued vitality of America's freedom of religion, which is not what many religious right groups seek, regardless of how often the Christian Coalition wraps its absolutist agenda in the Constitution. Bunnie Riedel, national director of chapters and faith groups for AUFSCS, comes to Dallas to rouse the devout into taking a stand against conservative fundamentalist tampering with public education, human rights, and various matters of conscience. The evening happens at 7:30 p.m. at the Center for Community Cooperation, 2900 Live Oak St. It's free. Call (214) 821-0911.
Romantic and Erotic Poetry: The week after Valentine's Day, long after we singles have snuffed out the Make-Close-Friends-Who-Are-Couples-Have-a-Messy-Split candle we bought at our neighborhood botanica, the Dallas Poets Community gathers together for an evening of "Romantic and Erotic Poetry." Featured performer for the show is wordsmith-performance artist Dalton James, who delivered a smashing mythological exploration of gay romance called Wet Willie Loves Pyro last December. Nimble with humor as well as pathos, James is the perfect guide for an unsentimental trek through the post-Valentine's wasteland. The evening kicks off at 8 p.m. in the Mc-Kinney Avenue Contemporary, McKinney and Bowen. Like love, it's free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Call (214) 953-1212.
22nd Annual Tri Delta Charity Antiques Show: For all you genuine antique collectors out there, here's the venerable Dallas show that for once really does traffic in rare and expensive old items, not the nostalgia stuff people pull out from underneath couch cushions and peddle at flea markets. This year's 22nd annual Tri Delta Charity Antiques Show features as its big attraction "British Regional Furniture of the 18th and 19th Centuries," a loan exhibition that elucidates the leg and back styles of furniture for those of us who have trouble telling a Louis from a La-Z (Boy, that is). The show runs February 20-23 in the East Hall of the Dallas Convention Center. For info call (214) 443-040.
Exhibits at 5501: Dallas historian-curator Alan Govenar's 5501 Columbia has packed four simultaneous exhibitions into one ambitious opening night. Art historian and bookmaker Judith Golden indulges her love of illustrated medieval and original manuscripts in a show called "Books," which features a retrospective of her own stuff created over the last 25 years. Nic Nicosia's "Life" is a first for that renowned photographer, a mixed media installation of life-size puppets that all feature plaster caps of Nicosia's head and hands on a series that illustrates the journey from birth to death. "Recent Acquisitions: Alonzo Jordan and Eugene Roquemore" spotlights the recent addition of Jordan and Roquemore's Texas black community photos to the Texas African American Photography Archives. New York University teacher and artist Ann Chwatsky investigates the blurring of gender identity and appearance with her photo show dubbed "The Androgyny Series." All exhibits open with a reception February 21, 6-8 p.m. All shows close June 7 at 5501 Columbia. For info call 823-8955.
13th Annual Dallas County RV Show: "Ma, load up the RV!" is a call for adventure from a subculture of Americans whose destiny is manifest in keeping those big wheels turning. The 13th Annual Dallas County RV Show is both mecca and affirmation for the hundreds of thousands of recreational vehicle owners who want to take advantage of the winter/spring series. Scintillating features of the new RVs include kitchen and entertainment center slide-outs as well as rain-sensored roof vents and gray hair for Baby Boomers, who've caused a 20 percent growth spurt in RV sales over the last couple years. The show runs daily February 20-23 at Market Hall on Stemmons Freeway.
Soul Food and Gospel: It's all well and good to peruse items of black history displayed behind glass cases, but Dallas public libraries offer you a pair of Black History Month celebrations you can taste and swing your hips to. MLK Jr. Library hosts a Soul Food Contest that invites everyone to bring a favorite dish to enter and be judged (please include a copy of the recipe). The Soul Food Contest starts at noon at the Martin Luther King Jr. Branch Library, 2922 MLK Jr. Blvd. It's free. Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Hamilton Park United Methodist Church, and Friendship West Baptist Church pool their choirs for a family program of gospel music entitled Lift Every Voice. The gospel fest happens at 2 p.m. at Walnut Hill Branch Library, 9495 Marsh Ln. Call (214) 670-6376.
Saluting Ourselves: African-American Lesbian and Gay History: The recently published One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America is an unsparing, clear-eyed investigation into the no-man's land of being African-American and homosexual, an austere cultural place between the cracks that finds you being shunned by the conservative-minded black community for your sexuality and by the non-black community for your sexuality and skin color. One More River author Keith Boykin is the keynote speaker at "Saluting Ourselves," a program that offers dance, music, poetry, and historical tidbits about gay and lesbian African-Americans. The evening kicks off at 6 p.m. at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Rd. Tickets are $5-$10. Call (972) 504-6790.