Parade kicks off FW’s weeklong celebration on Oct. 4, with picnic the following weekend
Fort Worth City Council members Joel Burns and Kathleen Hicks will be the honorary grand Marshals of Fort Worth’s 28th annual Pride parade on Sunday, Oct. 4.
The city’s biggest LGBT event, the Pride picnic, takes place the following Saturday. Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association coordinates the events that predate the Dallas parade by two years.
"South Jennings at Broadway is our line-up point for the parade," said Tony Coronado, sponsorship chair for Tarrant County Pride. That area is a few blocks north of Rainbow Lounge.
Coronado explained, "The route is very short because we don’t have an area with gay businesses. Rainbow Lounge and Crossroads Lounge are the only two on the route. The Copa is 5 miles down the road." Another club, Stampede, was within a block but is closed after being heavily damaged by fire earlier this month.
Coronado said the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Committee is expecting "more entries than normal" in this year’s parade.
In recent years, the parade has included about 45 groups. He said this year there is more interest, and he credits the Rainbow Lounge raid for some of the additional entries.
He also expects a boost in attendance from Dallas this year, with some coming to support the Fort Worth LGBT community. Many others from Dallas became familiar with Fort Worth for the first time this summer when they came to protest or to visit Rainbow Lounge and he expects a number of them to return for Pride events.
Despite the expected increase in participation and attendance, he said he has fielded a few calls questioning whether attending Pride in Fort Worth would be safe.
Coronado said, "We have always had a good rapport with the city. We use Fort Worth police as our security for the parade and picnic. Our organization has given awards to officers."
After prizes for best parade entries are awarded at Rainbow Lounge, Gayfest begins.
Raymond Gill, director of the event, said "Gayfest is returning. Bigger and better."
Gayfest had been held at the previous bar in the Rainbow Lounge’s current location, but the property had been vacant for several years before reopening this summer.
Vendor booths, a wet T-shirt contest and entertainment will be part of Gayfest, Gill said. Jonny McGovern, "the Gay Pimp," star of Logo’s "Big Gay Sketch Show," will appear.
Before the parade, McGovern will also give a paid concert at noon in the Rainbow Lounge. People who attend the concert will be entered into a drawing for a Harley Davidson.
Whitney Paige and the Best of Texas will also perform at Gayfest, which runs until 9 p.m.
And while Gayfest activities are taking place in the parking lot and patio of the Rainbow Lounge, Best Friends hosts family-friendly activities from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Pride picnic, to be held in Trinity Park in the arts pavilion from noon to 6 p.m. on Oct. 10, will also feature new events.
This year, a health and wellness area will be added. A new main stage was made possible by beer distributor Ben E. Keith’s sponsorship. Local talent will be appearing on the main stage. Auditions took place this week.
AIDS service organizations from Tarrant County along with several other vendors new to the picnic will distribute health and wellness information. The county health department will conduct HIV testing.
Pride Pets at the picnic begins with a parade with dogs divided into small, medium and large categories. Many parade in costume. A separate category includes exotic pets, which have included a ferret and a potbelly pig in the past.
Prizes are awarded in all categories and samples will be given to pet owners from the sponsors Premium Pet Products of Houston and Natura pet food brands. A Pride kids area for LGBTQ families will have activities for children featuring games and contests with prizes.
Coronado said, "And we’ll have bouncy houses," the colorful, inflatable playrooms that children climb and jump in.
Groups such as Q Cinema, the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington and the Fort Worth chapter of Texas Gay Rodeo Association will sponsor a number of events to round out Pride week.
While TCGPWA is busily coordinating this year’s events, they are also looking to the future. Coronado said that they are in talks with the city to move the parade from Jennings Street to downtown Fort Worth for its 30th anniversary in 2011.
For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 18, 2009.