David Mack Henderson traces his activism to a seminal moment in 1980. A sixth generation Texan, he’d been elected the UT Arlington mascot “Sam Maverick” but was asked to resign specifically because he was gay. That same day three close friends who worked at an Arlington gay bar lost everything they owned to arson, a hate-crime before it had a name. His friends couldn’t fight back, but David could – and did.
When the ACLU agreed to back him in federal court, suddenly UTA acquiesced. His story became a centralrallying cry throughout Texas during Gay Pride that summer. Family learned he was gay from newspaper articles. Feeling a bit emboldened Henderson founded the Gay/Lesbian Association of UTA. Only eleven years post-Stonewall these brave students pioneered one of the first school sanctioned GSA’s in mid-America. It continues to thrive today, older than pride celebrations in both Fort Worth and Dallas.
Henderson led a similar LGBT group after transferring to UNT and helped start a state-wide coalition for the growing number of campus groups. In 1984 he was elected to the Board of Directors of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance. He managed daily operations at their fledgling community center and, when the pandemic hit, was part of the original board creating the AIDS Resource Center, now Resource Center Dallas. Active in Democratic causes, he served as delegate or staff to several state conventions.
Later, Henderson earned a Master’s Degree from New England Conservatory of Music and took on doctoral studies at Boston Univ. He directed operas at Harvard Univ., performing and recording with Boston Lyric Opera, Emmanuel Music and singing in hundreds of Boston Symphony and Pops concerts worldwide for ten years including several dozen dates in the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall.
Retired from performing, Henderson is now a Realtor and tax accountant, with clients that have included one of the original same-sex plaintiff couples in the 2003 Massachusetts Supreme Court decision first legalizing marriage equality. Within hours of the 2009 Rainbow Lounge Raid he was part of the core group organizing a protest and two days later a founding member of Fairness Fort Worth, serving several years as treasurer. In a few short years FFW has moved Fort Worth from international outcry to partner benefits for city employees, creating a proactive new model for mid-size cities throughout the US. He also served a recent term on the board of Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats.
Henderson has facilitated LGBT diversity training classes for the City of Fort Worth, FWISD counselors, Tarrant County College, TCU and others. At the invitation of The White House he is currently working on LGBT inclusion as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. An HIV positive stakeholder, Henderson also serves on the team allocating $5mill in federal Ryan White HIV/AIDS funds annually for 38 counties in North Central Texas.