Tarrant County Gay Pride Week activities include Saturday parade, Sunday picnic
Kathryn Omarkhail already had a lot to do ahead of the 34th Annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association festivities, taking place now through Oct. 11. Aside from her duties as media director for and member of the TCGPWA board, the Fort Worth resident is the artistic director of QCinema.
And she is president of her neighborhood association.
And she also has a full-time job with Tarrant County.
With all her duties, she sometimes just can’t make a meeting.
Even if she missed a TCGPWA meeting or two, her fellow board members evidently weren’t offended. She was named grand marshal, along with the Rev. Curtis Smith and Terry Covington.
She knew she was nominated. The thing is, she didn’t find out she won until putting the Pride guide together.
“I was shocked and surprised,” she said.
She couldn’t afford to be surprised for long: the Pride guide needed to get to the printer and the schedule needed to be finalized for the well-known LGBT international film festival.
Omarkhail isn’t the only grand marshal who needs to get some sleep.
Smith has been the pastor of Trinity MCC for the past 14 years and worked for AIDS Outreach Center for the past nine years. He’s also a member of QCinema’s board.
Covington’s been an active participant with the Texas Gay Rodeo Association for two decades. If it says TGRA, he’s been involved, serving as TGRA’s state president, Fort Worth chapter president, secretary and more. He’s also been previously honored for his efforts by the organization, including twice as Mr. TGRA, in both 2015 and 1997.
“The Fort Worth, Tarrant and surrounding communities have been great to be a part of, and I humbly accept this opportunity to represent them in our celebration of gay Pride,” he said.
But Omarkhail, Smith and Covington will find plenty of time this weekend to celebrate, and a few other familiar faces will be joining in. This year, former grand marshal and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price kicked off the celebration with one of her “rolling town halls” on Thursday, Sept. 30, at the Trinity Park Pavilion. The popular sessions promote exercise and civic responsibility, with the mayor guiding citizens across various neighborhoods.
It’s the first time one of the events has been dedicated to the Pride parade.
Joining her were Raina Lea Award nominees Ben Smith, Madison Deveroux and the Voice’s own David Taffet. The award winner, named for the drag queen who founded the Tarrant County Pride celebration, will be announced Sunday, Oct. 4.
But to give real meaning to this year’s “Color the World with Family Pride” theme, couple David Apolonio Hernandez and Joshua Adam Rogers was chosen to carry the TCGPWA banner, with their parents proudly walking behind them. The couple was the first to have their same-sex marriage announced in the Star-Telegram. This year, they are carrying the banner for the second time, having carried it first in 2006.
The TCGPWA is an all-volunteer committee tasked with choosing grand marshals and honorees, arranging the schedule, raising funds and choosing a theme. Choosing to focus on families corresponds with more recent shifts in the parade’s overall focus.
This past fall, organizers held multiple educational and entertainment sessions exploring what “family” means in the LGBT community. The Family Connections Series highlighted issues facing LGBT people of all ages, but emphasized youth in particular.
The series was initially a grassroots effort to bring the disparate LGBT community in Tarrant County together, said Tony Coronado, treasurer of the TCGPWA board.
“We wanted to bring together folks who didn’t even know we exist,” he said. “We wanted to be ahead of the curve, too, asking ‘What do our families need?’”
If any group knows what it means to be a family, it’s the thriving Fort Worth chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. The 25-year old PFLAG Fort Worth chapter and its host church, First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist, serve as this year’s honorary marshals.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Ruby Harse, vice president of PFLAG-Fort Worth.
The honor is important, but so is the opportunity.
“Our goal is to get people to know about PFLAG. We want people to see we’re regular folks,” Harse said. “We also want the LGBT community to see us and not just our name. It’s important for them to see us, and it’s amazing how they respond when they do.”
Another group who wants to make sure they’re seen is the Tarrant County Libertarian Party. Family may not be their overriding theme, but acceptance certainly is.
The fiscally conservative and socially accepting political group is a parade mainstay, said John Spivey, an active member and former president.
“Tarrant County Gay Pride Week is one of our ‘must attend’ events of the year. We want the thousands of attendees to know that there’s an option for their vote. Our parade float slogan is ‘Equality Through Liberty’ and we’re promoting Outright Libertarians — a Libertarian group that focuses on LGBT policy issues,” he said.
It’s worth pointing out, Spivey added, that the Libertarian Party has long embraced LGBT equality, too.
“[We were] the first political party to support LGBT rights back in 1971 and remain steadfast in protecting the rights of all individuals,” he said.
By “Coloring Our World with Pride,” organizers wanted to celebrate diversity and give a sense of what’s to come next year as well. The TCGPWA celebrates its 35th anniversary next year. And organizers want to be ahead of the curb with promoting what they’re calling a family reunion.
But for now, the focus is on the 34th parade, which includes the celebration’s other crown jewel: QCinema.
With a “new, vintage look” and new venue, 15 of the festival’s 16 movies this year are premieres. A free screening of The Case Against 8 takes places in partnership with Movies That Matter, a film series highlighting social justice issues sponsored by the Fort Worth Human Relations Commission.
Each will be screened at the historic Ridglea Theater on Fort Worth’s west side.
The branding may be new, but the strategy behind choosing the movies remained the same. Each festival tends to have a personality that mimics the times and society. Movies making the circuit this year include more transgender visibility overall. One of those movies is Game Face, a feature about a transgender MMA fighter. (More Q Cinema coverage starts on Page 28.)
“This year’s films reach a broader audience but are less educational and more entertaining,” Omarkhail said. “This festival is important because we’re seeing our lives portrayed on the big screen,”
Both QCinema and TCGPWA are excited to be reaching a broader audience this year for fun, celebration and civic awareness, Omarkhail said.
Certainly if there’s ever been a year to bring together LGBT people and allies, it’s 2015, the year marriage equality was legalized nationwide with the historic Supreme Court Obergefell ruling.
The feeling of jubilation and freedom is certainly no different in Tarrant County even five months later.
TC Pride Schedule
• Oct. 2: Rhonda Mae’s Wall of Food show
8 p.m. at Club Changes, 2637 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth. Hosted by Wall of Food Committee.
For more information contact RhondaMae1@aol.com.
• Oct. 2: Fort Worth Teen Pride
6-10 p.m. at Agape MCC, 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth.
For more information contact info@RLC365.org or LGBTQSaves@gmail.com.
• Oct. 3: Pride Parade: “Color Our World with Family Pride”
Line up at 10 a.m. Parade begins at noon in downtown Fort Worth.
• Oct 3: Pride Street Festival
When the parade ends, head to the street festival with food, entertainment, vendors and more from
noon-6 p.m. in General Worth Square (in front of the convention center) in downtown Fort Worth.
• Oct 4: Pride Picnic
Family-friendly entertainment and winner of the Raina Lea Awards for community service from
noon-6 p.m. at Trinity Park Arts Pavilion, 2401 University Dr., Fort Worth.
• Oct. 4: LVLPWA Camp Outs Fundraiser
Trinity River Bears host benefit for campouts for gay men living with or affected by HIV and AIDS at 6 p.m.
at Club Reflection, 604 S. Jennings Ave. For more information contact Michaelkaye2003@yahoo.com.
• Oct. 8-10: QCinema’s 17th Annual Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival
Annual film festival showcasing the best of LGBT movies features 16 movies, including 15 premieres,
receptions and an awards ceremony at Ridglea Theater, 6052 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth.
For tickets and more information at QCinema.org.
• Oct. 11: Pirates of Steampunk: Plundering for Charities Turn About Pageant
Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington crown Mr. and Ms. Turn About at 6 p.m. at Club Reflection,
604 S. Jennings Ave. Line up begins at 5 p.m. For more information e-mail Jerika Tailar at
• Oct. 11: National Coming Out Day
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 2, 2015.