Edge Publication Story by Renee Baker, Aug. 1, 2008.
Many of my ancestral grandfathers were lumberjacks. They migrated to the woodlands of New Brunswick and worked in the forests, sending rough-cut lumber back to Scotland to build ships for the royal navy. These men were hairy, not very clean or well built, and had to deal with the harshness of nature, including encounters
with bears in the wild.
In our rainbow community today, we associate our “Bears” with these lumberjacks of yesteryears, though today we call them loggers. We assume our Bears are all stout, strong and particularly hirsute men. But Mack
Williamson, president of Dallas Bears, says it is more than that. And it is more than a dominant/sub-dominant culture too. He says being a Bear really “comes from within” and is about being part of a brotherhood of
those who identify as such. It’s about bonding and fellowship, not so much how well one fits the stereotypical physical traits.
The Dallas Bears are no doubt givers, and they care about the community and each other. When they greet each other, they offer a bear hug and maybe a bear call too. In a roomful of Bears, you can definitely feel the love. The
Dallas Bears recently celebrated their 15th Annual Membership and Awards Banquet, a night of celebration held at an appropriate venue, Celebration Restaurant in Dallas.
Their celebration was not just about honoring the changing of the board of directors, but also to honor several nonprofit organizations in the Dallas community. The Dallas Bears raised over $25,000 this past year, and distributed it between four worthy organizations: AIDS Services of Dallas ($6,000), AIDS Interfaith Network ($6,000), The Turtle Creek Chorale AIDS Fund ($1,000) and
Youth First Texas ($13,000).
The 60+ members of the Bear organization vote on which organizations receive the funding. Youth First Texas received funding, Williams says, because “it is very important to the Bears that we help bring up the next generation.” The Dallas Bears feel close to Youth First Texas and meet at their center once a month on third Saturdays. AIDS organizations are also of great importance to the Dallas Bears. “We do have members that are positive and we all have lost friends and relatives to AIDS.” The Bears feel that they are able to help fill a void where the government is not able to help. “We take care of our
own of course,” Williamson says, “but it is important for us to help the greater community.”
The Turtle Creek Chorale itself has lost about 150 members thus far to AIDS. In the greater community, more than 34,000 people are living with AIDS in Texas today and over half of those cases are due to male-to-male sexual
contact, according to the Center for Disease Control.
With all that the Dallas Bears do, they have chosen their motto for the year to be “Brothers Making Memories.” Williamson says, “It is not just memories for us, but memories for others too.”
The Dallas Bears largely raise their donation fund through the Texas Bear Round Up, the third largest bear run in the country. The next gathering is not until March of 2009, but the Bears will hold a fundraiser September 27th at Illusions, on Maple Avenue in Dallas. This will be a
turnabout show featuring Bears in DRAG, a show sure to tickle your funny bone and raise a smile at the good cause. So do mark your calendars!
This weekend many of the Dallas Bears will head to the Round-Up Saloon for the Man Candy party. Even Bears have a sweet tooth!
On August 16 they will have their monthly membership meeting at Youth First Texas.
For more information on the Dallas Bears and their social activities, visit their website at www.dallasbears.org or join them for each weekend for coffee at the Crossroads Market at 3930 Cedar Springs Rd in Dallas from 10:00 a.m. to noon on Sunday mornings. Just look for the table full of lumberjacks!
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