About Antonia Articles and Publications Interviews and Publications Events Calendar Contact Antonia Links and Resources News Updates Take Action Sitemap

printer friendly email

Exxon's Gay Shame.

by Antonia JuhaszThe Advocate Magazine (cover article)
September 5th, 2013

By Antonia Juhasz

Originally published on Advocate.com September 03 2013 6:00 AM ET


For 22 years, the annual AIDS Walk has been the premier fundraising event of Fort Worth’s AIDS Outreach Center — the only nonprofit HIV/AIDS organization in the city. It supports seven surrounding rural counties and provides a full host of services — mostly free of charge. The majority of its clients are black or Hispanic and range in age from children under 12 to seniors over 64.

The AIDS Walk regularly brings in some $50,000 annually. For years, XTO Energy was among its many key local corporate sponsors. In both 2009 and 2010, XTO donated $10,000 to the march. But in 2011, XTO’s contributions abruptly stopped.

“It hurt us. It definitely hurt us,” says Penny Rowell, the Center’s special events coordinator. “It is a very, very large loss for us. A very large and very unexpected loss, too.”

What changed? “The Exxon Corporation bought XTO out,” Center Development Associate Randall Gentry explains. “We have tried since then to regain their support, but they will not support us at all whatsoever. Exxon is much more skeptical of writing a check to an AIDS organization.”

“The Death Star”: Exxon Mobil
Exxon Mobil’s world headquarters in Irving, a Dallas suburb, are hidden behind a locked, guarded steel gate and an impenetrable enclosure of fences. Towering trees permit only rare glimpses of the top of a looming black building. Some employees call it “The Death Star.”

When a group from Resource Center Dallas, the area’s leading LGBT advocacy organization, approached the building for a rare meeting 15 months ago, it felt as if they were entering a military fortress. “The Mission Impossible theme was rolling through our heads,” recounts Rafael McDonnell.....