The Stonewall Democrats of Dallas group has endorsed Venton Jones in the race for Texas House District 100. Now, they’ve issued a warning to voters about his opponent, former Dallas City Council member Sandra Crenshaw, over comments in which she targeted Jones during a public meeting on Tuesday.
As Dallas Voice reported that day, Stonewall Democrats felt Crenshaw’s remarks during the open speaker session at this week’s Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting constituted an anti-LGBTQ attack against Jones, who is running as an openly gay, HIV positive candidate.
“What I find deceptive is the fact that my opponent, Venton Jones, announced to The Dallas Morning News that he wants to be the first Black, gay legislator living with HIV,” Crenshaw said during the meeting. “We have officials who are both drug addicts, alcoholics, [have] gambling disorders, but HIV does not have to be disclosed unless you want it to be.”
She claimed none of Jones’ campaign literature mentioned he was an openly gay man living with HIV. “Blacks have an opinion also. They have an opinion and they deserve transparency,” Crenshaw said. Crenshaw then went on to mention an unrelated news story from April about a transgender New Jersey prison inmate who apparently impregnated two other prisoners. Jones was profiled by Dallas Voice after he made the runoff for the District 100 race. The headline read “The District 100 candidate would become the first Black Texas legislator with HIV." The same week, The Dallas Morning News ran a story in which it said Jones would be the first openly LGBTQ Black legislator, and “the first known to be openly living with HIV.”
All this to say, his status as an openly gay candidate living with HIV isn’t a secret.
“I am running because I want to make a difference in House District 100, a community that I care deeply about and the community that raised me,” Jones said in a written statement to the Observer.
“It’s unfortunate that Ms. Crenshaw continues her attacks on my sexual orientation and HIV status as a political tool to promote fear mongering and hate," Jones continued. "I will continue to focus my energy on what is important right now, the people and earning their trust, support, and vote over this week of early voting and election day next Tuesday, May 24th."
Crenshaw told the Observer over the phone that she sees the situation differently. “I said nothing that was untrue,” she said. “I wasn’t ridiculing him. I wasn’t attacking. Do not get it twisted. I am not against gays.” On the fact that Jones disclosed his sexual orientation and that he’s living with HIV in The Dallas Morning News, Crenshaw said, “First of all, that’s a major newspaper that is rarely read by Black people.”
She added, “I feel the gays should be offended that he didn’t own up to it to the Black community about it. I didn’t say anything wrong, and I stand by what I said.”
She finished first out of four other candidates in the March 4 primary. She beat Jones by 728 votes, sending the two into a runoff election. Whoever wins this race will be up against Libertarian Joe Roberts in November.
Annise Parker, President and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, put out a statement Wednesday condemning Crenshaw's "homophobic attack” against Jones.
The LGBTQ Victory Fund is a political action committee dedicated to increasing the number of openly LGBTQ public officials in the U.S. Parker is the former mayor of Houston.
“Crenshaw’s uninformed remarks — rooted in her own ignorance and homophobia — reveal a candidate shamefully unaware of priorities in this district and clearly unfit for the challenges of the office,” Parker said in the statement. “She, astonishingly, attacks Venton Jones for not revealing his sexual orientation and HIV status by referencing his remarks in The Dallas Morning News discussing exactly those things. Thinly veiled anti-gay and transphobic insults reveal the character of this perennial candidate.”
Parker added, “Politicizing someone’s sexual orientation and HIV status is unacceptable, particularly from a person who wants to be a public official. Crenshaw should immediately apologize.”
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Jacob Vaughn, a former Brookhaven College journalism student, has written for the Observer since 2018, first as clubs editor. More recently, he's been in the news section as a staff writer covering City Hall, the Dallas Police Department and whatever else editors throw his way.