Organizers say Phil Dyer’s decision to attend 3rd annual event shows they’re making political progress in conservative Collin County
PLANO — In a milestone for the LGBT community in Collin County, outgoing Plano Mayor Phil Dyer has agreed to attend the North Texas Pride event this June.
It’s believed to be the first time a Collin County mayor has attended an LGBT Pride Month celebration since then-Carrollton Mayor Becky Miller sparked a major controversy by appearing at Dallas Pride in 2006.
Morris Garcia, co-chair of North Texas Pride, said the group wanted to reach out to Dyer because he’s been supportive of the LGBT community since taking office in 2009.
“Mayor Dyer has been a good friend to the community,” Garcia said. “He’s very open and welcoming to sit down and listen to concerns of the community.”
Dyer, who has been named honorary co-chair of North Texas Pride, said he’s glad to be a part of this year’s event.
“As I retire as mayor, it is kind of this event to recognize me for my service to Plano,” he told Dallas Voice this week.
The two candidates to replace Dyer as mayor of Plano, Harry LaRosiliere and Fred Moses, were invited to the event’s launch in March. LaRosiliere attended, but Moses did not.
LaRosiliere is a former Plano councilman, and Moses is chair of the Collin County Republican Party.
Garcia said he doubts Moses would attend the June event if elected, adding that LaRosiliere has already proven to be more supportive of the LGBT community and would likely attend as mayor.
“It remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful,” Garcia said. “It’s open to everyone.”
Garcia’s co-chair, J.J. McCormick, said he “absolutely” thinks LaRosiliere is an ally after speaking to him.
“He is supportive of us,” he said, adding that he hasn’t spoken to Moses.
This is the first year organizers have reached out to the mayor of the city where the event is being held. Garcia said Dyer has come around during his time in office to understand the LGBT community.
He said the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance met with Dyer when he took office and told him that Plano has the fifth-most same-sex families raising children of any Texas city. That conversation “kind of opened his eyes” to the LGBT community in the city, Garcia said.
From that point to Dyer’s involvement in North Texas Pride, Garcia said it’s helped Plano change and become more welcoming of its LGBT citizens.
“I think it’s added to the city becoming more and more progressive and that’s what we’ve always been about,” he said. “We’re not making great strides, but we’re taking baby steps.
It all helps our community.”
This year’s theme of modern community also ties into the group’s efforts of inviting the entire community to support them. They’ve invited Plano City Council members.
“We’re trying to establish the fact that our community is integrating with the straight and conservative community as a whole, and we’re trying to educate and make people aware that we’re just like them,” Garcia said.
The Pride event started two years ago in McKinney as a way for the Collin County LGBT community to celebrate and educate people about LGBT issues. Last year’s event was much larger, drawing hundreds of people to the Lewisville venue and helping raise $1,700 — three times the amount raised the first year — for C.U.R.E., a Plano-based HIV/AIDS agency.
“It was a huge success,” Garcia said of the first year. “From that point, we had people from surrounding areas that wanted to be involved and decided to hold it in different cities.”
Organizers hope this year is even bigger than last year.
The festival is on the grounds of the American Legion in Downtown Plano during the afternoon and will feature family-friendly activities and vendors. That evening a dance party will be at Urban Rio’s Rooftop Event Spot with DJ Fierce, door prizes and party favors.
McCormick said he’s excited to have the festival and party in Downtown Plano, as well as have the support of several Plano businesses that are involved in the planning. He said he wants people who would often shy away from a Pride event to come to North Texas Pride because it is geared toward LGBT families and allies.
“A lot of people are afraid of gay Pride because of what they see in the media or on the news,” McCormick said. “It’s a welcoming event. It’s a wholesome event.”
3rd annual North Texas Pride
The third annual North Texas Pride
festival will be from 2-6 p.m. June 1 on the grounds of American Legion, 1236 J Ave., Plano.
A dance party follows until 11 p.m. at Urban Rio’s Rooftop Event Spot, 1000 E. 14th St., Ste. 400 in Plano.
Tickets for the evening event are $15 before the event and $20 at the door. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to TinyURL.com/NTPride13.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 5, 2013.