by Tammye Nash
(Tammye Nash is managing editor for Dallas Voice. The following column ran in the May 13, 2022, issue of the newspaper. It appears here with permission.)
This week, we here at Dallas Voice are celebrating the 38th anniversary of our company, and as you tend to do when you celebrate a milestone, we are looking back at how far we have come over the last 38 years, and we are looking ahead at how far we have yet to go. That is true both for our company and for the community we serve.
Dallas Voice was founded by three men: Robert Moore, Don Ritz and William Marberry. It was, I think, about a year later that William sold his stake in the Voice to Robert and Don. The two of them ran the Voice together until early in 2001 when Don died of complications from AIDS.
Robert continued on as sole owner until early 2013 when he sold the company to longtime employees Leo Cusimano and Terry Thompson. Leo has been sole owner and publisher since Terry retired in December 2017.
I guess I’m talking about Leo and Terry and Robert and Don as if they are friends rather than bosses. That’s because they are … Ok, friends AND bosses. Even family. See, I first went to work for Dallas Voice in June 1988. I have come and gone a couple of times since then; the last time I returned was in June 2014. I feel pretty confident I am going to stick around here until I retire — you know, when I’m about 80.
I could go on and on about the colleagues — family — I worked with here over the years. There’s Leo, of course, and David Taffet, who started back in the late 1980s or early 1990s (can’t remember for sure) as a freelance travel writer and is now our senior staff writer. And I could talk about all those we’ve lost through the years.
I could, but I won’t.
Instead, as I said, I want to look back at where we’ve been and ahead to where we’re going. In case you didn’t know this, you can find most of the Dallas Voice newspapers ever published online in the University of North Texas in Denton’s digital archives. I went back today and looked through the first issue ever published: Volume 1, No. 1, published on Friday, May 11, 1984. It was interesting to see how much the headlines of that issue mirrored our headlines today.
The top headline on page one of that first issue said, “Dallas Gay Community Pulls Together for Election.” Check page 12 in this issue — Volume 39, Issue 1 — and you will see a story on primary runoffs, early voting for which starts on Monday, and results from local city and school elections. That story in 1984 talked about how the gay community could “flex its muscle” in elections by uniting behind one council candidate. This week’s election round-up talks about the openly LGBTQ candidates running for office at every level of government, including Ileana Garza-Rojas, the first openly LGBTQ person elected to the Carrollton/Farmers Branch school board.
Sit down sometime and start looking through those old copies of Dallas Voice stored in the UNT archives, and you’ll get a trip through the last 38 years of the LGBTQ community’s history — the battles we fought, the ones we won and the ones where we came up short. You’ll see the highs and lows, the joys and the heartbreaks.
Go back to the 1980s and 1990s, when AIDS was wreaking havoc on our community, with people dying day by day, and we were locked in a desperate, determined fight to overcome not only HIV/AIDS but the government and the society that turned their backs on us and let us die.
Read about the horrific hate crimes that left so many LGBTQ people dead or broken and about judges like Jack Hampton, who gave a convicted killer a lighter sentence because his victims were only gay men.
You can relive the exhilaration of groundbreaking court cases that overturned sodomy laws, legalized same-sex marriages, prohibited anti-LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace. Celebrate again the breakthroughs in treatment for HIV/AIDS, celebrate the pioneers who refused to back down and insisted on taking their rightful place, whether that was in elected office, in a job or in a family.
We’ve been through so much in the last 38 years. We’ve survived so much.
And yet, we have so far left to go.
Today our transgender brothers and sisters are being targeted from all sides. At least 12 transgender or gender-queer people have been murdered this year in the U.S. And our own government is targeting trans people, too — especially our trans youth.
In February, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered investigations into parents and health care professionals providing gender-affirming care to trans youth, claiming such care is “child abuse.”
And just last week, someone leaked a draft of a possible Supreme Court ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade. Overturning Roe sees this country take one step closer to overturning marriage equality and workplace nondiscrimination protections.
Our LGBTQ community has come so far in the last 38 years. We’ve made so much progress. But every day we see the evidence of just how far we have yet to go, and just how easily we can see our victories taken from us.
It’s overwhelming sometimes. It can be exhausting. I am sure that there are plenty of you out there who sometimes just want to sit down, hide your face and cry because you just aren’t sure you can keep going.
But you can keep on. We can. We will. Together. And Dallas Voice will be right here, recording our history, just like we have been for the last 38 years.