4 APRIL 23, 2004
www.houstonvoice.com HOUSTON VOICE
Waco chapter opens first PFLAG center in U.S.
Chapter names center
after Baptist minister
and wife active in the
family support group
By BINNIE FISHER
WACO, Texas — An ordained Baptist
minister and retired religion professor at
Baylor University and his wife were on
hand recently when Parents, Families and
Friends of Lesbians and Gays dedicated the
new PFLAG Community Center in Waco.
Eddie and Velma Dwyer were there
because PFLAG named the center after them.
Yes, it's true, out of 501 PFLAG chapters nationwide, the first one in the country to open a community center has
named the facility after a Baptist minister and his wife.
"They are just totally non-judgmental and
open minded," noted Daniel Hollingsworth,
vice president of the Waco PFLAG chapter.
As people began arriving for the dedication on April 17, Hollingsworth said, he
realized that the Baylor faculty was well
"People came in honor and support of
Eddie and Velma," he said. "I was overwhelmed that they came."
The Dwyers, whose son, Paul, is gay and a
graduate of Baylor, said they are honored that
the PFLAG chapter, of which they are members, chose to put their names on the buildin--
"It makes me extremely proud," Velma
Paul Dwyer said he had come out in the late
1960s, but took the advice of a faculty advisor
at Baylor and said nothing to his parents.
There were moments when he mourned
the fact that he wasn't truthful with his
parents, people he knew to be loving and
"I never heard anything from them that
was negative about any minority group,"
Still, he kept quiet and moved to
Washington. D.C. where he now works for
the Congressional Research Service. "I
wanted to be totally out with everyone," he
said, everyone but his parents, that is.
Unknown to Paul Dwyer, along the way
his father had come to suspect that he and
Velma were the parents of a gay son. An
academician and a Biblical scholar, Eddie
Dwyer, now 92, knew just where to turn for
answers to the questions that were beginning to nag him: books written about
homosexuality and to the Bible.
Eddie said the first question in his
mind was, "Is there some reason for peo-
Ordained Baptist minister Eddie Dwyer and his wife
Velma say they are honored to have Waco's new
PFLAG Community Center named after them,
pie to be gay other than choosing it? I
came to the conclusion that it's part of a
person's inherent nature. It's not something they choose."
Though many of his fellow Baptist theologians claim the Bible to be the infallible
word of God, Dwyer accepted that it was a
work open to interpretation. It had to be
taken in the context and light of the times
in which it was written.
A thorough search of the document convinced him that there is no condemnation
of gays and lesbians in the Bible.
Dwyer, who eventually penned a paper
using the research he had done, wrote: "I
am convinced that gays and lesbians are
born with their respective natures. I long
for the time when homosexuals will be
treated as equals, respected for who they
are, and allowed the freedom they deserve."
Velma Dwyer, 87, said Paul eventually
came out to her and her husband.
"It was Easter weekend of 1992," she
said. "Eddie had done a lot of research by
then, and we were prepared to accept it. It
was a beautiful experience that Easter
Paul said that Easter morning talk with
his parents confirmed what he knew in his
heart. "I just knew they would be there for
me. They are so loving and so nurturing."
Eddie said he hopes the Eddie & Velma
Dwyer Community Center, housed in a
former bar, will bridge a gap between
PFLAG and Baylor. The school has been
in the news recently for condemning a pro
gay marriage editorial in the campus
newspaper for canceling the scholarship
of a gay student.
"Having been in the religion department, and with this coming out, I hope it
will open the way to help parents and students," he said.
Billboards used to solicit clues in Allyn murder
Friends and family of
murdered gay lobbyist
hope new signs solve case
By BINNIE FISHER
Nixon Wheat, longtime friend of Ross
Allyn. gazed up at a billboard bearing the
slain gay lobbyist's photo and surmised,
"He'd say it was great, but he'd wonder
why it wasn't full length."
Other friends agreed that Allyn would
be gratified to know that efforts to solve
his murder included billboards with his
Clear Channel Outdoor donated the billboard, installed Monday morning at the
intersection of Dallas Street and Montrose
Boulevard. The company is installing a
total of fifteen billboards in Houston in an
effort to help solve the murder.
Allyn was found early on the morning
of November 20, 2003 inside his burning
home at 919 Worthshire. Firefighters
called the Houston Police Department to
the scene after confirming that Allyn had
The Harris County Medical Examiner
ruled the death a homicide and confirmed
that Allyn died of a bullet wound in the
back of his neck at the base of his skull.
ft MORE INFO
HPD Homicide Division
Mary Lym Miller, Ross Allyn's sister, addresses the
media beneath one of 15 billboards donated by
Clear Channel-Outdoor to solicit clues in the murder of the gay lobbyist. (Photo by Dalton DeHart)
Allyn's sister, Mary Lynn Miller of
Philadelphia, flew to Houston for the
Monday billboard installation and for a
weekend of events staged to recognize
National Crime Victims Rights Week.
Surrounded by friends of Allyn at the
base of the billboard. Miller called on anyone with information regarding the murder to come forward.
"We're all suffering," she said. "This is
a horrible nightmare that never gets bet
ter. Please, help Ross find some justice."
Kim Ogg, executive director of Crime
Stoppers, said billboards have proven to be
an effective tool in solving crimes.
"We hope these billboards will remind
everybody that Mr. Allyn's case is still
unsolved," she said. "Somebody knows
what happened. We hope they will look at
this billboard, look at this family and give
us a call."
She added, "I can think of numerous cases
where bill boards have been the catalyst that
resulted in new information coming in."
Ogg stressed that even though months
have passed, the person with the right information can solve the case quickly. She
pointed to the recent case of Coral Eugene
Watts, a violent offender and confessed serial murderer who was due to be released
within two years from prison in Texas.
As news of the case spread across the
country, and law enforcement officials in
Texas voiced their concern, a tip was
called in by someone with knowledge of a
murder committed by Watts in 1979 in
The witness to the Michigan murder
came forward after learning that authorities in Texas would be unable to keep Watts
behind bars once he completed his prison
term. The woman, who had worked with
the victim, called the office of the
Michigan attorney general to report what
"Even 20 years later, a witness sees a
story in the national media and responds
to it," Ogg said. "Because of that witness,
Watts will be extradited to Michigan."
More recently, she said, a citizen
responding to information regarding the
murder of artist and teacher Helen
Orman was a major player in solving
The woman, who spotted a vehicle
resembling the one that sped away from
the murder scene and a driver resembling
an artist sketch of the suspect, jotted
down a license number. It was that number that led to the arrest of Beau John
"Sometimes you can just stimulate
somebody into action," Ogg said.
Lee Vela, public affairs director for
Clear Channel, said the company often
donates billboards to enhance the efforts of
Crime Stoppers in specific cases.
"We'll probably reach nearly 100,000 a
day when all the signs go up." he said.
In addition to the Montrose location,
billboards are being installed in the
neartown and downtown areas.