MAY 26, 2006
Picture of success
Dr. Dalton DeHart
honored with Minnie
By NANCY FORD
SAY YOU'RE OUT SOME SATURDAY
night at one of the myriad social functions offered to Houston's gay community. Or perhaps you're attending a
Wednesday afternoon political luncheon.
Or a Thursday happy hour birthday celebration. Or a wee-hours-of-Sunday-morn-
ing after-hours bash.
Chances are better than good that you'll
spot the familiar face of Dalton DeHart He's
highly recognizable, a taU, lanky blonde, gentleman who works the room gracefully and
easily He knows everyone and everyone
knows him, it appears, from the smiles and
hugs he elicits from the crowd.
Another easy way to recognize DeHart
is by his equipment. He's the man with at
least one professional-grade camera
slung around his neck, which he aims
and shoots with effortless accuracy
If ever there were a chronicler of
Houston's gay history it is DeHart His work
has been in the Houston Voice and other gay
publications since he began snapping images
more than 20 years ago, making him an irreplaceable part of Houston's gay community
"Very seldom a week passes that I don't
do eight or 10 events, generally," he says.
"I tell people that I don't take pictures of
just certain kinds of people — I love all of
it. It doesn't matter if it's an after-hours
party or the transgender Unity Banquet or
Human Rights Campaign function or
Black Tie Dinner. Just whatever — I'm an
equal opportunity photographer!"
WHAT MANY OF HIS PHOTOGRAPHIC
subjects may not know is that DeHart has
a whole other career.
After graduating from Buna High
School in east Texas, DeHart entered San
Houston State University in Huntsville.
His camera accompanied him through a
hitch in the U.S. Army and as he entered
ft MORE INFO
Dalton DeHart Photography
his teaching career.
In the fall of 1983, DeHart began teaching
at San Jacinto College's central campus in
Pasadena, Texas. In 1986, he became a permanent professor of English at San Jacinto
College, and in 1989 he became chairman of
the Language Skills Department.
"The teaching and the photography go
so well together," Dehart says. "They
compliment each other."
Later this summer DeHart says he will
retire from teaching. But as a perfect
example of "going out with a bang,"
DeHart was recently chosen to receive
the highest honor Texas' educational system has to bestow on one of its own, the
Minnie Stevens Piper Award.
The award represents "sort of the zenith
of all of the educational endeavors that we
undertake," DeHart says. "It represents the
highest honor that a person in a college or a
university can achieve. It's kind of the
Oscar of the education business."
Each year, San Jacinto College Central
and other Texas college faculty nominate
a faculty member as the outstanding educator on that campus, voted on by faculty
itself. The winner of that honor is then
eligible to be one of 15 statewide recipients of the Minnie Stevens Piper professorship, DeHart explains.
"We always think that we try to do the
very best job that we can, but it's wonderful to be validated," DeHart says.
"I believe that the teachers in the
Language Skills Department have contributed much to my success," DeHart
continues. "In addition, my close friends
in the English Department with whom I
have taught for so many years are certainly responsible in part for my being selected for the award."
Another of the reasons Dehart is considered a model educator is reflected in how he
views his relationship to his students.
"I really believe that much of the job
that we do in the developmental course is
to encourage them, sort of nurture them,
tell them that, yes, they can do it,"
DeHart says. "Some of them sort of consider themselves as failures, and part of
our job is to assure them that they can do
it if they just put forth the effort."
THOUGH HE IS LEAVING TEACHING.
DeHart has no intention of retiring from
his photographic career. He will continue
to be seen behind the lens as he has every
week since he started focusing on
Houston's gay community in the late '80s.
Among the first events DeHart attended
was Executive Professionals of Houston, a
social group made up of predominantly
Dalton DeHart, longtime Houston Voice photographer and San Jacinto College Central's 2006 Teacher of
the Year and recipient of the Minnie Stevens Piper Professorship award. (Photo by Alfred Padroni
gay and lesbian business people.
"I ended up joining and after being a
member for six months. I was asked to be
the chair of the directory committee
because I did photos. Then I started doing
other events and various fundraisers and
that sort of thing. I did all sorts of
The greatest difference between then
and now, DeHart says, is the visibility the
gay community has come to know.
Seldom did a gay or lesbian-specific event
carry the words "gay" or "lesbian."
Specifically, DeHart marvels at the
evolution of the city's Pride Parade.
"That's one of the most amazing
things I've seen," he says. "It's just mind-
"When I first started doing this, the
meetings I attended were not public
events," Dehart says. "Over the years,
almost all of the events have become pub
lic and people know about them. Now we
have so many GLBTs and so many
straight people who are also so supportive of events because of the worthwhile
causes the community is involved in."
With a catalogue of more than 450,000
photos chronicling so many of those
worthwhile causes, as well as the people
who make them possible, DeHart shows
no signs of slowing down.
"People ask me all the time where I get
my energy — 'What are you on?'" DeHart
"I say 'OK, look in the mirror.' I am high
on life and on... the people that I photograph. That's what motivates me. I get
incredible joy out of taking pictures of
these people because I feel like it makes
them feel good, and it certainly does make
me feel like my life is worthwhile.
"The people and the joy I hope I bring
to them is what motivates me."