Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dancing with the Stars, PFLAG Style

We never said that we were talented, or that we were skilled in competitive dance, or that we’d even make it through a routine without falling over our own feet, but on Saturday night, Elizabeth Brown (PFLAG’s director of policy and programs) and I took to the stage of the Dayton Convention Center to compete in When the Stars Come Out, a joint fundraiser hosted by PFLAG Dayton and the Miami Valley LGBT Center.

It was a night that no one is going to forget anytime soon.

For those who have not had the incredibly good fortune to meet our Ohio PFLAGers, they are a wonderful, welcoming, and dedicated group of people. After participating in a Safe Schools training last week, they came out again to make this event a huge success.

Led by Dayton chapter president Jan Couchman, the second annual When the Stars Come Out featured eleven couples competing for the top title, but mostly there to just have a great time and raise funds to support the host organizations’ work. It was hard to go anywhere in Dayton without seeing something about the show – even the marquis at the Convention Center boasted ads for PFLAG!

With the full knowledge that our skills were not in our feet, we resolved that if we used enough sequins on our costumes, we might be able to distract the audience from our less-than-stellar dance moves. (My mother echoed our strategy, commenting, “I’m sure you two will do great…well…you’ll be ok…at least you’ve got great personalities” and promptly noted that she’d be praying the rosary for us.)

Elizabeth and I took to the stage, performing More Than a Woman from Saturday Night Fever. While I’d like to say that our jazz hands and smooth moves mesmerized the crowd, I think that it might have been the bribe bags that we gave to the judges as part of our routine that marked our success. In the end, we placed second – defeated by a PFLAG mom who hold will hold her first place title for the second consecutive year!

The event wasn’t just about winning (although we might have behaved as though that was the case as we handed out bribe candy to the audience during the intermission). It was about finding another great way for PFLAG to gain visibility in the community for more than just their support work. Attendees got to get great information about the chapter while they were at the event, meet leaders and supporters, get to know some of their sponsors (including the great MetLife associates in the area), and demonstrate that they have support from all over the Dayton area.

Congratulations to everyone who participated, and many thanks for including us in the event. And now I’m going to go investigate when the next tryout for Dancing with the Stars will be.

Does anyone need a dance partner? I’m available.


Kim Peters said...

October 2008 will go into the record books for PFLAG Dayton as one of the most exciting, entertaining, satisfying and exhausting months in our chapter’s history.

Suzanne Greenfield was in town. We knocked the socks off CASA volunteers at a very lengthy training. We “sold” a school system on two fabulous new initiatives that will go a long way towards making that district a safer, more compassionate environment for our kids. Finally, Suzanne held a day long certification seminar for all Ohio PFLAG chapters.

The very next weekend we were full swing into “When the Stars Come Out.” I remember the board meeting when it was but a glimmer in the eye of Jan Couchman, our president. Two years later it has grown into one of the jewels in the crown of the Dayton community. I didn’t think the second year could be much better but then…..

….the dancing queens came to town….and PFLAG Dayton’s own answer to “Dancing with the Stars” will never be the same again.

Jean-Marie and Elizabeth have seriously undersold what they brought to the table. Yes, they did attempt to bribe the judges with gift bags but it really didn’t stop there. They inserted special “campaign” slides into Suzanne’s power point presentation for Ohio trainers the weekend before. They gave audience members chocolate in exchange for votes and, in perhaps the cleverest move, created a bio for the event program promoting the “fact” that they were finalists in last season’s real “Dancing with the Stars” television program! Finally who can forget the “guess who the lesbian is” challenge!

Jean-Marie and Elizabeth were a hoot. They brought style, grace, few dancing skills, and a great sense of fun and humor. Also cash – it was a fundraiser. Not sorry we kept the trophy in the local chapter. Our very own Judy and Tim are a force to be reckoned with. We’ll see about next year.

Generally speaking I’m not seeing much unity in the world these days…folks banded together for a common cause – really together. But in Dayton this October, every meeting, every word, every dance was about taking care of the people we love.

Thanks to everyone. See you next year.

Kim Peters
Chair, Safe Schools
PFLAG Dayton

Anonymous said...

Jean-Marie and Elizabeth were the toast of Dayton, Ohio! We are so grateful they came to compete in our second annual "When the Stars Come Out!" Everyone in Dayton, OH fell in love with these two ladies!

To say Jean-Marie and Elizabeth are competitive is a vast understatement! They were determined to win. Jean-Marie and Elizabeth underestimated their skills, both in dancing and in bribing the crowds. Many members of the audience said they couldn't resist their bribes. (The chocolate worked very well.)

John and Char Cepek drove in from Chicago, IL to attend the event. John was one of the judges for the competition, but showed no favoritism to the ladies from National. That is until they handed the judges their bribe bags.

We in Dayton were honored John, Char, Jean-Marie and Elizabeth came to our fair city to participate in this fun and exciting event.

Thank you all for your support.

Jan Couchman