Tavern Guild ED explains the need for corporate sponsorships in staging Pride parade while QueerBomb plans alternative Pride dedicated to inclusion and self expression
Before the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, it cost the Dallas Tavern Guild about $25,000 to $30,000 a year to stage the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade every fall. The parade was free; the Festival in Lee Park following the parade was free, and the Tavern Guild usually had money left over after all was said and done to donate to nonprofit organizations designated as parade beneficiaries.
But after 9/11, thanks to new security measures and new city requirements, costs surrounding the parade began to skyrocket, Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said this week. The price tag for this year’s parade and festival, in fact, hovers around $130,000.
Most of the funds to cover those costs, Doughman added, are coming from corporate sponsors, and the largest chunk is coming from a single source — Andrews Distributing, which has donated $100,000 in cash and in-kind donations.
For the Tavern Guild, Andrews’ financial support has been a godsend that has kept the parade afloat. But for others, like QueerBomb Dallas’ Daniel Cates, Andrews’ Distributing is more — much more — than a little problematic.
QueerBomb has called on the LGBT community to boycott the Pride parade on Sunday, the 22 bars that are Tavern Guild members and Andrews Distributing. The activist group has also organized an alternative Pride event for Sunday, “Dirty Shame,” taking place.
As reported in the Sept. 5 issue of Dallas Voice, Andrews Distributing founder, Chairman and CEO Barry Andrews was holding a fundraising event in their home to benefit Dan Patrick, the Republican candidate for Texas lieutenant governor this year. A member of the Texas Senate since 2007, representing northwest Houston and suburban Harris County, Patrick is a former sports broadcaster and conservative radio talk show host.
Never one who was likely to be mistaken for an LGBT ally, Patrick cemented his anti-gay credentials recently by signing onto — along with 62 other Texas Republican legislators — an amicus brief to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in a marriage equality case out of Texas. The brief links same-sex marriage to bigamy, incest and pedophilia.
Andrews President Mike McGuire told Dallas Voice that Barry Andrews’ personal financial support for Patrick revolved around Patrick’s stance on issues in the Texas Legislature involving the liquor industry and had nothing to do with Patrick’s position on LGBT rights.
“In the last Legislature alone, there were 92 alcohol-related bills introduced and 95 others that could have impacted the beer business and its customers,” McGuire said. “Candidates must understand and be willing to listen to the views of the beer industry, its importance to Texas, and have a commitment to protect beer consumers, a highly diverse community in Texas.”
That “highly diverse community,” he added, spans the spectrum from NASCAR and football fans to LGBTs at the Pride parade.
McGuire said that the Pride parade is one of the “myriad causes” that Andrews Distributing supports, and that the company has a long-term partnership with the Tavern Guild “characterized by an open line of communication and a joint commitment to build an even stronger future for events such as the Pride parade. … our work together has been extraordinarily successful.”
Doughman agreed. The Tavern Guild director said that Andrews’ support of the annual parade and other events “has always been strong and solid. They’re always first to the table.”
“The cost of putting on the parade goes up each year,” Doughman said. “Since 9/11, the city requires us to pay for more security. We have had to start paying for the barricades to keep people out of the streets. There are permits we have to have, and many, many other expenses. There’s no way we could afford to have a parade without the support of our sponsors, especially Andrews Distributing.”
But for Cates and the other activists with QueerBomb Dallas, if having a parade means taking money form Andrews, then there shouldn’t be a parade.
“To continue a partnership with a business that is raising funds for politicians who fight tooth and nail to deny our community basic dignity is completely obscene and highlights the true values of Andrews Distributing and the Dallas Tavern Guild,” Cates said in a press release this week. “The time has come for the community to take back the power and image of Pride from the rainbow-washed, money-grubbing clutches of corporations and the Dallas Tavern Guild.”
But QueerBombs problems with the Pride parade and the Tavern Guild don’t stop with Andrews. Cates also criticized the Tavern Guild for allowing entries by Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and JPMOrgan Chase and Heineken to participate in the parade.
Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, he said, “create weapons that kill thousands of innocent civilians each year,” while “JPMorgan Chase’s unethical financial practices caused the 2008 U.S. financial collapse.” Heineken, Cates said, excludes transgender people from its employment protections.
These companies, he said, participate in activities and enact policies that “affect real queer lives ever day.”
Cates said that Pride events organized by the Tavern Guild fail to include the full diversity of the LGBT community, pointing out that there has never been an African-American nor a transgender person elected as parade grand marshal.
“The very fact that we have so many different and separate Pride celebrations here [such as Black Pride events planned later this month] should be the first warning sign that something is wrong, that the Pride parade is not accepting and inclusive,” he said. “The Pride parade is all about making a profit for certain sponsors and for the Dallas Tavern Guild bars and about presenting a specific image to the rest of the world.
We’ve been rainbow-washed.
“It’s all about military, matrimony and money,” Cates said of the parade. “It’s put on by a group of well-off white men who exclude and alienate the rest of us. And we plan on taking them to task for it.”
To do that, QueerBomb Dallas, in the last week, organized an event they call “Dirty Shame,” taking place Sunday evening at Main Street Garden in downtown Dallas. This alternative “Pride promenade” will include “performers, speakers, fun and heart-stirring queer fuckery,” according to information the group released earlier this week. And in response to ongoing controversy regarding rules of dress and behavior for Pride parade participants, Cates stressed that QueerBomb’s event will be open to everyone and that all manner of dress and self expression are encouraged.
Cates said that the alternative Pride event will be “completely free,” and that any costs will be paid for through public donations rather than corporate sponsorships. He said that gathering and planned march down Main Street sidewalks require no city permits because they are covered under the umbrellas of free speech activities, and that officials with Downtown Dallas Inc., the nonprofit that manages Main Street Garden, is aware of QueerBomb’s plans.
Downtown Dallas Inc. representatives did not return Dallas Voice’s calls seeking comment.
Doughman said this week that grand marshals for the Pride parade are chosen by public ballot, and have been “for the last several years,” and that no African-Americans or trans people have been chosen because none have ever been nominated. He said that parade organizers decided “several years ago” to take the nominations and voting out of the hands of the Tavern Guild members specifically because that was limiting diversity.
“The title of grand marshal is to honor those who have made significant contributions to the LGBT community, and I know of many people, including African-Americans and transgenders, who meet that requirement. But I am not free to just put whatever names I see fit on the ballots,” Doughman said. “But when someone is nominated, we will certainly put them on the ballot.”
Doughman also said he wholeheartedly supports the idea of an alternative Pride celebration, even one planned for the same day as the Pride parade.
“I absolutely believe in entrepreneurship, creativity and independence,” he said. “If that’s how they feel Pride should be celebrated, then I certainly encourage them to do that. I think it’s a great idea. Pride should be about everybody celebrating in the way they think is best.”
PRIDE EVENTS ON SUNDAY
• 31st annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade
Line-up starts along Wycliff Avenue at 10 a.m. Streets close at 11 a.m. Parade steps off at 2 p.m., moving down Cedar Springs Road from Wycliff Avenue to Turtle Creek Boulevard, ending at Lee Park. Free and open to the public.
• Festival in Lee Park
The park is fenced-in, per city of Dallas requirements, for the festival which begins at noon and closes at 7 p.m. The festival includes entertainment, food, drinks, vendors, games, arts and crafts, and more. No coolers, backpacks or glass containers allowed in the park. Admission is $5.
• Dirty Shame Pride Promenade
Dirty Shame rally begins at 5 p.m. at Main Street Garden, 1902 Main St. in downtown Dallas, and includes performers, speakers, performance art and more. The Queer Pride Promenade down the Main Street sidewalks begins at 6:30 p.m. Those attending are encouraged to bring blankets, picnics, signs, banners, flags, noise makers, musical instruments and their friends. QueerBomb is a safe and affirming space promoting body positivity and self expression, and attendees are encouraged to “wear anything you have ever wanted to wear or as little as the law allows.” The event is free and open to the public.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 19, 2014.