Eleven Dallas LGBT Movers and Shakers
Update, July 18: After this post went up a couple weeks back, several people pointed that it was a little -- OK, a lot -- one-dimensional, omitting various demographics of Dallas' vast LGBT rainbow of a community.
So we've added to it. Not every mover or shaker or mover-shaker is included, and you're welcome to suggest the names of people who move and who shake in the comments. But we think it's a better reflection of the community's diversity, which should have been present the first time around.
Koch with husband Todd and their two children in last year's JCPenney Father's Day ad
Cooper Smith Koch An SMU graduate, Koch founded Cooper Smith Agency, a high-end PR firm in 2002. He's also the founder of the Gay List Daily, a daily email blast -- sort of like the gay version of Daily Candy. As the website explains, "Our topics aren't necessarily 'gay,' but our commentary is always a little drunken, a little naughty and a lot queer."
The website, which has a Dallas version and a national version, won Koch the North Texas GLBT Chamber's Community Service award this year for his support of local businesses. Cooper and his husband, Todd Koch, were also the gay dads featured with their two kids in the controversial JCPenney Father's Day advertisement last summer. Despite everything he has accomplished, Cooper is most proud of his 14-year relationship with Todd and the family they have made for themselves. Can you blame him? Just look at them.
Stephen Sprinkle A gay man and a Baptist minister walk into a room ... You can stop waiting for the punchline because it's only the Reverend Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, director of field education and supervised ministry and professor of practical theology at the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth. The tenured professor is the first openly gay scholar in the history of the school and makes it a mission to prove that as an out gay man and clergyman, he is not a contradiction.
With a foot in both the LGBT community and the church, he builds bridges on both sides to strengthen acceptance. Sprinkle gained national attention with his "It Gets Better" video after one of his students told him about the project. He addresses the lonely time of his life when he was still a closeted gay man in the church setting. Out for 20 years now and an ordained minister, he implores, "It does get better."
It Gets Better Program founder and sex advice columnist Dan Savage featured the video on his own website and included it in the book version of It Gets Better. Sprinkle's blog, Unfinished Lives, continues where his book of the same name (now being translated into Korean) left off -- remembering hate crimes against the LGBTQ community.
Craig Lynch & Jeff Rane Lynch and Rane founded their theater company, Uptown Players, in 2001, and it now occupies the historic Kalita Humphreys Theater. Their company specializes in plays and musicals with gay themes, treating their audiences to both camp as well as a more serious awareness to social issues such as homophobia, self-hatred and alienation. Their version of Songs for a New World closes on July 7. The duo's next project, the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman, opens on August 2, at which time they will also announce the the schedule for the 2013 Pride Performing Arts Festival, which will take place nine days before Dallas Gay Pride in September.
Richard Neal Neal owns Dallas' National Eisner winning and 15-time local award winning comic book store Zeus Comics. Always stocked with the latest comic and graphic novel releases, Zeus Comics has been a go-to destination for Dallas' comic book geekery for years. He also plays himself in the YouTube-labeled "funny gay comic shop web series" The Variants, which is set in Zeus Comics.
The openly gay owner gained national attention earlier this year when he became one of the first retailers in the country to refuse to sell DC Comics Adventures of Superman anthology, to which outspoken anti-gay activist and science fiction author Orson Scott Card contributed.
"The Orson Scott Card situation was only one moment in the march," Neal says. In 1989, he co-founded and co-chaired SMU's Gay and Lesbian Student Organization, and in 1991 it won a ruling adding protection for gays and lesbians to the school's anti-discrimination policy.
Jack Evans & George Harris When Harris suggested to Evans, his partner of more than 50 years, that there was a strong need to collect and commemorate the stories and history of the strong LGBT community of North Texas, Evans could not agree more. In spring of 2011, the couple founded The Dallas Way, whose mission is to "gather, store and present the complete GLBT history of Dallas."
Collecting personal stories of the LGBT community plays an integral role in the preservation of its history. You can support and learn more about The Dallas Way by attending their Outrageous Oral storytelling evenings, visiting The Dallas Way YouTube channel or submitting your own stories to add to Dallas' rich LGBT history.
Oliver Blumer Dr. Oliver Blumer, a local chiropractor for over 30 years, is the chair and regional coordinator of D-FW for the Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) and active member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF). TENT is dedicated to furthering the cause of gender diverse people of Texas through education. The NGLTF works to build the grassroots power of the LGBT community by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to defeat anti-gay mandates and advance pro-LGBT legislation. Blumer counsels transgender people and their loved ones through every stage of the transitioning process.
Individuals making the transition from one gender to another need help and education on legal documents, changing your name, protecting themselves, health and surgical resources, insurance and avoiding the traps of the shadow economy. While Blumer works with mostly female to male transgender individuals both one-on-one and in group settings, his wife mentors the significant others of those who are considering, in the process of or already transitioned. Education and visibility are most important to Blumer, who is anything but in-your-face. "I may not change minds," he says, "but I change hearts through one-on-one situations and experiences."
Joretta Marshall Joretta Marshall is an openly lesbian methodist minister and the executive vice president and dean of the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, as well as professor of pastoral theology and pastoral care and counseling. Marshall was hired as dean of Brite a year ago, after six years with the institution, but it's not her first stint as dean of a divinity school. She was previously dean of Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis.
Marshall has been active in church her entire life, and when she decided to dedicate her life to ministry, it was important to her to help the church in undoing and avoiding further damage toward LGBT people. While Brite is not the only open and affirming divinity school in Texas, it is certainly one of the most progressive. Students engage in proactive and pro-affirming training in order to be open to all people who show up in their church. Marshall has written numerous books, journal articles and book essays on pastoral counseling for gay and lesbian couples and individuals and the differences between the dynamics in those relationships.
Resource Center Dallas
Cece Cox Cece Cox is CEO of Resource Center Dallas, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The Resource Center was created in 1983 to fight discrimination against the LGBT community. A year after its inception, some of the first known cases of HIV became known, and the Resource Center stepped up to support that community.
Thirty years later it continues to be a safe place for HIV-positive people to receive support, guidance and refuge. For the past two years, Cox has also been a major player in the successful fight against DART for fair and equitable treatment to include LGBT individuals on their non-discrimination statement. Although Cox acknowledges there is still a long uphill battle on many LGBT fronts, her messages to the community are hopeful and uplifting.
Texas Two Spirit Society
Barry Layton Raised in an assimilated American household, Barry Layton was always aware of his Cherokee, Chickasaw and Choctaw roots. But it wasn't until he came out in 2008 that he began to immerse himself more thoroughly into traditional tribal culture.
His sister encouraged him to research the traditional role of "two spirit" individuals in Native American culture. Those with two spirits -- the spirit of both man and woman -- were highly revered in traditional culture, often placed in high positions as leaders and shamans. Two Spirit Societies still exist throughout the country, and Layton reached out to them eventually organizing his own gathering in 2011. In 2012, they were recognized as the Texas Two Spirit Society. Layton and company are in the process of applying for tax-exempt status, with the goal of providing advocacy and education for all toward the Two Spirit culture. Layton hopes to provide emergency shelter for those kicked out of their homes, HIV testing and a place for people with nowhere else to go. Texas Two Spirit Society currently has over 150 members made up of LGBT individuals, straight allies, Native Americans and non-Native Americans.
Carmarion D. Anderson A preacher's kid on both sides, the Reverend Carmarion D. Anderson felt her own calling to ministry as early as 12 years of age. As a 14-year-old boy, he came out as gay, sheltered and unaware of the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity.
She began her male-to-female transition at the young age of 16. By 19, she was legally female. Today, Anderson is an anointed minister and mother who puts the "active" in activist. By not committing herself to any one particular non-profit, she is able to have a hand in all of them. Anderson says there are not a lot of black role models in non-profit leadership roles around town, so it is important for her to be visible and be heard. And that, she feels, is her true calling: having her voice heard to bridge advocacy of all entities and spirituality in the LGBT and trans community.
Feleshia Porter After establishing a career for herself as an accountant, Feleshia Porter made the life-changing decision to go back to school to become a licensed professional counselor. Porter, who's gay, had always been interested in gender and sexual identities. She soon realized that the majority of research and work being done in her field was almost strictly focused on the gay and lesbian population.
With that in mind, she decided to focus on helping the transgender population be understood. Fifteen years later, she is one of the most sought-after counselors in D-FW for gender identity, gender transition and sexual identity. She works with individuals from adolescence to the elderly in every stage of transition and self-discovery, both one-on-one and with their families. The most important thing, says Porter, is finding yourself, being true to yourself and loving yourself first.
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