About 50 people attended Dallas’ first-ever official LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall on Monday afternoon.
Mayor Mike Rawlings was among six council members who appeared at the event, organized by Councilwoman Delia Jasso and her LGBT task force.
Standing before a Pride flag draped from the wall of the Flag Room on the sixth floor, Rawlings spoke briefly at the start of the reception and drew cheers when he pledged to have “open doors” to the community.
“I met many of you during the campaign,” Rawlings said. “Some of you were supporting me, others were not. But I’ll tell you this: I knew that this was a fabulous community that I wanted to partner with when I became mayor. Thank you for what you have done for this city.”
Prior to the reception, Rawlings told Instant Tea he has no hard feelings about the fact that both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance endorsed his opponents in the election — with DGLA even issuing a rare warning against him.
“Not at all,” Rawlings said. “We must all have a spirit of understanding. I don’t have anything like that [hard feelings].”
Rawlings didn’t specifically mention the LGBT community during his inauguration address at the Meyerson Symphony Center earlier in the day. But at the Pride reception, he told attendees that the community fits with the major themes he outlined in the speech: becoming a city of diversity, opportunity and excellence.
“As far as I’m concerned, you are right on with my plan, and I want to be right on with yours, and so we will continue to talk, and I am just pleased that we are here to honor gay and lesbian Pride Month in the city of Dallas,” Rawlings said.
Monday’s reception was hosted by Jasso, Councilwoman Angela Hunt and newly appointed Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano. In addition to Rawlings, other council members who attended were Scott Griggs and Linda Koop.
“This is my first official action as a Dallas city councilman,” said Griggs, who replaced Dave Neumann in heavily gay District 3. “It couldn’t be for a better community.”
Jasso and Hunt said later they weren’t disappointed that only six of 15 council members attended the reception. They said it was a long day that began with the swearing-in ceremony, and many council members likely had family in from out of town.
“This is an overwhelmingly supportive council for the LGBT community, so I wouldn’t take that as a slight in any way, shape or form,” Hunt told Instant Tea.
Others who spoke during the Pride reception were Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, City Manager Mary Suhm, assistant fire chief Debra Carlin and assistant police chief Vince Golbeck.
Jasso and members of the LGBT task force took turns reading portions of an LGBT Pride Month Proclamation. Two members of the task force, Stonewall Democrats President Omar Narvaez and DGLA President Patti Fink, also spoke.
Audience members included openly gay former Councilman John Loza, who said he was unsure why no one had ever organized a Pride Month reception previously. Loza noted that Dallas celebrates Pride in September, and the focus has always been on getting council members to ride in the parade.
“No one ever brought it up before. I guess it was an oversight on all our parts,” Loza said, adding he was pleased that it was finally done. “I’m looking forward to having the flag raised next year.”
Loza was referring to Jasso’s stated goal of flying the Pride flag outside City Hall next year. But after the reception, Suhm indicated that may not be as easy as it sounds.
It’s doubtful the city would replace one of the three flags that fly from pointed white poles in the City Hall Plaza, Suhm said. And flying the Pride flag below one of the other flags, even if logistically possible, likely would be poor flag etiquette.
Suhm suggested the best way to accomplish the goal would be to convince Rawlings to hang the Pride flag from the balcony of the mayor’s office.