By strange design, many local bears have made Carrollton their hirsute home
By Rich Lopez
Lesbians love East Dallas. Fixer-upper gays nest in Oak Cliff. So where is a bear to hibernate with like-minded homeowners? Dallas’ girth-friendly gayborhood is decidedly Carrollton — so much so, that some locals even nickname it “Bearollton.”
Where some neighborhoods have certain vintage appeal, a select group of bears forgo all that remodel stuff in lieu of convenience, friends and most importantly for summers in Dallas … a pool.
As it turns out, head north to the ‘burb on any summertime Sunday and a pool party is happening somewhere among the growing sleuth of bears there. But don’t mistake that for the reason that the city is a furry Mecca.
“It happened to be a midway point for our jobs, and the same distance to Downtown,” says Howard Perlman, one of the gays who calls the city home. “Plus, we realized it was a real nice neighborhood and the city keeps itself up quite well.”
“A lot of our friends lived here and that was one of the major factors of our decision,” adds Mike Goldberg, Perlman’s partner of 22 years (they were married last year in Provincetown, Mass.).
The couple moved to Dallas from New York in 2007 and bought their Nob Hill neighborhood home a year later. Not only did they find the house of their dreams, they found a community that thrived alongside each other — something they didn’t have in New York.
“The bears fell apart there years ago,” says Goldberg. “When we came here, we discovered the community was absolutely awesome. We didn’t have any history here or family here, but the bears here have become family.”
Graham Garrison came to Carrollton in 2011 because his job moved to a new location. Knowing that several of his friends lived there reassured him it would be a good place to live. And there were other perks.
“You can get really great Internet [access] here,” Garrison laughs. “I was looking for a place that had a decent commute and more bang for my buck. My house was affordable, it was what I wanted and it had a pool.”
Garrison’s partner, Michael Lovejoy, recently moved in and the Oak Lawn transplant found Carrollton to be much more in line with the pace he craved.
“I wanted to get out of Oak Lawn, and as soon as I did, I found it’s a good area and not too far a drive,” Lovejoy says. “North was more my climate — it’s just 20 minutes from everything: the airport, Downtown, even for the guys north of us to visit because it’s closer than Oak Lawn.”
Andy Stark, who lives in Garrison’s house, sees the concentration of bears as a casual network of friends who all form a sort of haven. On any given day, a group will come together for a movie or dinner through no more effort than a mere group text.
“One of us may text another and then it just grows,” he says. “Somebody will join. And in the summer, we don’t need to go out anywhere because we just go to somebody’s house. We have Sunday Fundays, whether it’s just having brunch or volleyball in the pool or having drinks.”
As founders of the Denton County Bears, Tommy Howell and Harry Winn thought they’d be losing their status as proper members moving south, but they discovered Carrollton was within the limits. They continued their house parties complete with (surprise!) a pool. Having friends close by surprised the couple, because both already had good feelings when moving there from Denton three years ago.
“This was the first house we saw here and just loved it,” Howell says.
What really stuck out was location. After living in Denton and Oak Cliff, they find their Rosemeade-area neighborhood efficient and convenient to both their lifestyle and careers.
“Carrollton is so central and we’re right in the middle of four major thoroughfares,” Winn says. “We were always leaving Oak Cliff to go do whatever, but here, no. We just love it here.”
Despite the city being dry for alcohol, none of the gentlemen expressed a need for a nightlife outlet within Carrollton. A Hidden Door up north? No way.
“I haven’t really heard that anybody would want that here,” Howell says. “And there’s plenty to do already.”
“There are a lot of eateries around here and in Addison, which is really close,” adds Stark. “Food is kind of important to bears.”
And one particular restaurant has become iconic among the suburban gents.
“You’re always gonna find a bear at Babe’s,” Perlman says. “Babe’s is just awesome and I love living close to it.”
Needless to say, everyone agreed.
This article appeared in Defining Homes Magazine, October 4, 2013.