337: Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis

April 23, 2012
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The grandson of Greek immigrants, Jim Dabakis moved to Utah when he was 17 to attend school at Brigham Young University. After college, Jim worked for 13 years as a Radio and TV talk-show host. He became known as the “Voice of Utah Democrats” as he defended the Party’s values against the continual onslaught of the Ronald Reagan-era Republicans.

Jim also began his own company in the art dealership world, and has worked primarily with Russia for the past 20 years. During that time he also founded the Jim Dabakis Educational Foundation which has helped bright students from all over the world continue their education in the United States. He is also one of the original founders of both Equality Utah and The Utah Pride Center.

Never one to stay uninvolved, before becoming Chair, he had been active in helping many of our Elected Democrats in this state achieve office.  This is his Mormon story.

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12 Responses to 337: Utah Democratic Party Chair Jim Dabakis

  1. Refugee
    April 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Can’t wait to listen to this interview – when I was a student at BYU, I was huge fan of Jim’s back in his talk radio days.  I well remember the “how long can Jim stay awake” shows, his descriptions of his trips to Moscow, and the entertaining way of dealing with absurdity.   A class act, by any definition . . .

  2. CliffB
    April 23, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Awesome interview!  Thanks John and Jim.  

  3. April 23, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    Never believe anyone who says, “I have a lot of people whispering to me…” Or anyone who throws around ad hominem instead of arguing the issues on their merits. Dabakis states the “values” of the Democrat Party are more in line with the LDS Church than the Republicans, but the LDS Church teaches self-reliance, the Dems espouse redistribution of wealth. Jesus taught “render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s…”, but the Dems promote replacing God with government. Jesus admonishes us to care for the poor. Each of us. The individual, not the government. The Constitution calls on government to “promote” the general welfare, not to “provide” it (like it does the common defense). If you believe in God and believe that you will be accountable for your actions before God, abdicating your personal responsibility to care for the poor to the government isn’t going to fare well with you in God’s eyes.

    Dabakis is a little too concerned about pointing out the so-called “crazies” in the Republican Party than looking at the occupants under his own tent. I would have liked to have heard his specific political views and defending those views instead of listening to ten minutes of calling Republicans crazy, whack jobs. Dabakis plays a single note the whole time and it gets very boring very quickly.

    Why is this a “Mormon Stories” feature instead of a “Gay Mormon Stories” feature? For those of us who are interested in hard political issues rather than social issues, this was a big waste of time. John, you had a chance to interview the chair of the Utah Democrat Party and give a voice to the distinctions between Utah Dems and Utah Republicans and you blew it. You are such a shill for the LGBT community that you let the interview drift. You need to rename this podcast “337: Mormon LGBT Advocate Jim Dabakis”

    • Caitlin
      May 18, 2012 at 1:13 pm

      Maybe you should think of “Gay Mormon Stories” as just more “Mormon Stories.” Why does it need to be separated out? Mormon stories are about people’s personal experiences–their stories!–and being gay has clearly been a defining part of the experience for Dabakis. Neither he nor John are under some sort of mandate to talk about any specific political issues during a discussion about his experience being Mormon. Judging from the response of the audience, who clearly enjoyed Dabakis very much, (not surprisingly, since he was entertaining, human, and intelligent), lots of listeners did not find he was “boring very quickly.” I certainly didn’t.
      Also I think calling John a shill for the LGBT community is pretty dang insulting. A shill is someone who tries to sell something covertly. John makes no bones about his support for LGBT Mormons–he is their open advocate.

    • Stan
      May 29, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Good grief…loosen the girdle there Alice. It was a great interview and who cares if he’s Gay or Straight or Whatever. He shared his story and was both entertaining and informative.

      I’m not LDS, not Gay, and not a Dem….just a fan of the podcasts and thought this was one of the most enjoyable I’ve listened to.

  4. Rick
    April 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    That was one of the best podcasts ever!  It might be a little more meaningful and entertaining to me since I have known “Jim,” James Dabakis, for a few decades from back in the K-Talk days of the 80′s (and as his eye doctor…).  Make no mistake, he is very humble in his speech, but he IS a rockstar in this community for bringing positive change.  As his story demonstrates, change is possible when you can be respectful, empathetic, and have a good amount of understanding and patience.  Thanks John for doing this interview; and thanks Jim for your great work!

  5. Liz
    April 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Thanks for this interview! As a fifth generation Mormon and a fourth generation democrat, I don’t understand why it is a stretch to be a mormon democrat. It’s about taking care of the least of these…….

  6. chuck2
    April 27, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    RE: Patriarcal Blessing ‘prediction’ that he would teach or minister back amongst his people.

    Evidently he didn’t understand what the god was on about. He didn’t say that he would go to Greece for his mission but to his people ie his people were now Americans, as he clearly is in every way. His parents may have been Greek at one point in their lives but after a few decades in Mass they would or should also say they are American. Isn’t that the deal?

    Obviously he was a bit confused about his identity, was he Greek or american?, but the patriarcal blessing cleared that up by directly telling him that were he would serve his mission , which would be amongst “his people” ie Americans in San Fransisco….ie gay center of the country in the ’70

  7. Penny Nrewer61
    April 27, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    BRAVO!!

  8. Muscogean
    April 30, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    My timeline and Jim’s are about the same. How I wish I could have been the “Steve” in his relationship, as opposed to LDS married, then divorced and laboring for decades as a second class citizen in the church, be it one with wonderful children and grandchildren (and soon to have a great grandchild). I regret not being supportive for Friends of Aids victims, Gay Pride, Equality, those things which Jim has contributed so much for.  I did thankfully join the Los Angeles Chapter of Affirmation for a few years and found fellowship/love there.  Still my own personal path has been lonely, and the LDS church still demands said road for its GLBT members. It ruins lives my friends. I believed “to much” when I should have walked away.
    Thanks John and Jim for this podcast. I am recommending it to my gay son in Amsterdam who as Jim suggests, has found a passion to build his life around (Rugby and Saloon gatherings!).

    Shalom again Mr. Dabakis. 

  9. SacKIngsFan
    April 30, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    None of the Mormon stories u tube videos will load. :(

  10. Jill
    June 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    What a great interview, and so good to see it posted here on Mormon Stories. I was in attendance earlier that evening with my awesome gay son. We enjoyed the Q and A session, but weren’t able to stay to the Jim Dabakis interview. Now I wish we would have abandoned those commitments, because this was infinitely more important.

    What an optimistic, charismatic individual. We Democrats are fortunate to have Jim Dabakis, and the LGBT community is equally as fortunate. Thank you, Mr. Dabakis. I’m one of your newest fans and grateful for your successful efforts and positive outlook! Thank you!

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