Storytellers at GLBT History Project event will include Monica Greene, George Harris, Penny Pickle Crispin, Michael Doughman, Lori Masters
A year after a small group of longtime Dallas LGBT residents began piecing together the community’s history, The Dallas Way: The Dallas GLBT History Project will present its first public program, Outrageous Oral.
Restaurateur Monica Greene, The Dallas Way co-founder George Harris and HIV nurse Penny Pickle Crispin are among the storytellers.
Harris and his partner Jack Evans began the project last year after pulling together information for a story about their 50th anniversary.
“Jack had read that there were other cities that had done this project,” Harris said. “So Jack sent out a mass email and asked, ‘Will it fly?’”
But Harris’ own reaction was a little different.
“Lord, not another organization,” he said repeatedly to anyone Evans approached about the project.
Nevertheless, a group of about 20 people began meeting last summer, writing one-page histories of Dallas groups and events.
Bruce Monroe served as president of Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Resource Center Dallas in the early ’90s and is now on the board of The Dallas Way. His goal has been to collect oral history. Outrageous Oral is the beginning of that effort.
“It adds color to the dry facts,” he said.
For his story, Monroe will talk about “AIDS is a Drag,” one of the early fundraisers that brought together groups from Oak Lawn Counseling Center and the Resource Center who had never worked together before then. After the fundraiser in Dallas, 11 of them headed to Love Field and flew to Austin together for a fundraiser there.
“All of us had big hair with tons of hairspray and the only seats available were in the smoking section,” Monroe said.
Monroe said he sat between two businessmen who tried to bury themselves in their newspapers. But before the flight landed, one of those businessmen was helping him with his nails.
“It added some levity to the seriousness of the times,” he said.
And they raised about $25,000.
Harris plans to talk about Downtown Dallas in the 1950s with its active nightlife that included a variety of gay bars.
Crispin ran the Pentamidine mist program that Dallas Gay Alliance offered when Parkland Hospital refused. The inhalant was used to fight a form of pneumonia that killed many people with AIDS in the ’80s.
“I was on the board of Razzle Dazzle Dallas and my brother had AIDS,” she said. “And one of my first patients was Terry Tebedo.”
That program was the beginning of what became the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic.
Although Outrageous Oral is free, sponsors have contributed money that will go toward an archiving project. The Dallas Way is partnering with University of North Texas to archive Dallas LGBT history. Copies of every Dallas Voice since the newspaper’s founding in 1983 have been moved to climate-controlled storage at the university and will be microfilmed and put online in searchable format once funds are raised through grants and fundraising events.
Monroe said that The Dallas Way is beginning to work with the One Archive in Los Angeles that has a similar arrangement with University of Southern California. That project has been ongoing for about 50 years.
He said he hoped to review contracts that One Archive has with USC and gain ideas from them to maximize the relationship between The Dallas Way and UNT.
Real estate veteran and Women’s Motorcycle Club founder Lori Masters and Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman are the other storytellers.
Two more storytelling events are planned for Sept. 18 and Jan. 17.
‘Outrageous Oral’ will take place in the Vixen Lounge at Sue Ellen’s on June 28 at 7:30 p.m. It is free and open to the public.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 22, 2012.