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The John Thomas Collection contains the papers of John Thomas prior to, during, and after his time as the first Executive Director of the AIDS Resource Center. The collection includes correspondences with William Waybourn, Mike Anglin, Don Baker and others in the gay community, as well as articles published in local papers and magazines.

Biographical Note

John David Thomas (1946-1999) was born on June 20th, 1946 in Bucyrus, Ohio, the son of a Baptist minister and a nurse. John’s faith played a significant role in his life, even though certain denominations were not often accepting of gay lifestyles. In college, the Campus Crusade for Christ International (CCC) removed him from their organization due to his sexual preference. He later wrote a letter to the group along with a list of his current accomplishments for humanitarian causes that he pursued while he lived and worked in Dallas, Texas.

Prior to moving to Texas, John Thomas worked for the Miami Herald, where he was widely respected. He worked for the Dallas Times Herald afterward where he became increasingly involved in gay rights activism along with his colleagues Bill Nelson, Terry Tebedo, William Waybourn and others.

Nelson, Tebedo and Thomas were also part of the Gay Urban Truth Squad, a sub-group of the Dallas Gay Alliance that informed the public on various gay and AIDS-related issues in a way very similar to the modern day anti-smoking television ads. John Thomas was involved with many of the core LGBT organizations in north Texas, such as the Dallas Gay Alliance (now known as the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance), the Foundation for Human Understanding, Black Tie Dinner, Cathedral of Hope (Metropolitan Community Church of Dallas), Turtle Creek Chorale (a men’s chorus group which he performed with), Razzle Dazzle Dallas, Log Cabin Republicans, and most importantly, the AIDS Resource Center (now called the Resource Center Dallas).

John Thomas was the first executive director of the AIDS Resource Center, where he championed causes for HIV/AIDS patients and other issues specific to the LGBT community. During his time at the center, Thomas was one of the plaintiffs in Morales vs. the State of Texas, a case that challenged Texas Penal Code 21.06. Deemed unconstitutional by Lawrence v. Texas, 123 S.Ct. 2472, the law illegalized deviant sexual intercourse.

John Thomas continued to work at the AIDS Resource Center until 1996 when he retired due to AIDS-related illness. Never one to quit, John Thomas continued to support his favorite causes even in retirement.

John Thomas died on January 22nd, 1999 of AIDS-related complications. In his honor, the Cathedral of Hope constructed the John Thomas Memorial Bell Wall, which is a national AIDS memorial. The Gay and Lesbian Center at the Resource Center Dallas was renamed the John Thomas Gay and Lesbian Center in his honor. For his extensive work within the community and his commitment to equal rights, Mr. Thomas is considered to be a hero to many in the LGBT community and its allies. He was one of many who succeeded in bringing attention to the AIDS outbreak in Dallas in the early 1980s, influencing public opinion on the issue, and bringing together many individuals from varying backgrounds to work for a singular cause.

At a Glance

Cite This Collection

Here is our suggested citation. Consult an appropriate style guide for conformance to specific guidelines.

John Thomas Papers (The Dallas Way) in UNT Digital Library. University of North Texas Libraries. accessed July 24, 2024.

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