John Thomas Papers (The Dallas Way), 1976-2016Add to your cart.

By S. Ivie

Collection Overview

Title: John Thomas Papers (The Dallas Way), 1976-2016Add to your cart.
Predominant Dates: 1976-1999
ID: 01/ AR0889
Extent: 1.0 Boxes
Date Acquired: 09/00/2017. More info below under Accruals.


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.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

This collection contains the papers of John David Thomas. 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. Copies of the John Thomas memorial card, personal documentation of his health as someone living with HIV/AIDS, his activism, letters dealing with his time with the Campus Crusade for Christ, time at the Miami Herald, his thoughts on gay rights and AIDS issues, meeting minutes, as well as letters to his family are part of this collection.

Collection Historical 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.

Access Information

Use Restrictions:

Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: University of North Texas Special Collections
Accruals: 2017-042
Acquisition Source: William Waybourn/The Dallas Way
Acquisition Method: Gift.
Related Materials:

Resource Center LGBT Collection of the UNT Libraries

William H. "Bill" Nelson, Jr. and Jean Nelson Collection (The Dallas Way)

Donald F. Baker Collection (The Dallas Way)

Linda Jebavy Mitchell Collection (The Dallas Way)

Bruce Monroe Collection (The Dallas Way)

Preferred Citation: John Thomas Papers (The Dallas Way), University of North Texas Special Collections


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