A decade of remembrance

RIDERLESS CARRIAGE | Ten years after 9/11, the American landscape looks far different — for gay rights as well.

What a difference a decade makes. In September of 2001, days after the loss of lives on 9/11 scarred America, the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade had a first: Instead of a grand marshal riding in the parade, a horse-drawn carriage remained empty, save for a sign reading “Dedicated to the victims lost in the tragedy of Sept. 11.”

Dallas Tavern Guild’s Michael Doughman remembers that moment as clearly as if it were yesterday, but for him, the carriage was a symbol beyond its intentions. Or at least, it became one.

“It was a sobering but very powerful moment when that carriage went by,” he recalls. “I’ve often thought about it and when I reflect that it’s been 10 years, I give thought to the progress that we’ve made as a country.”

That progress transcends into the LGBT community, as hot-button issues like “don’t ask, don’t tell” and same-sex marriages have developed in positive ways since 9/11 — whether directly or not. The empty carriage symbolized not only the loss of that fateful day, but also those lost in other battles.

“I saw that empty carriage and thought all the people that I had lost to AIDS, to cancer,” Doughman says. “I think it also represented a loss and absence in general. It was significant of more loss in other arenas, whether it was illness, or hate crimes or something else.”

Doughman say there are plans for a 9/11 acknowledgement at the beginning of this year’s parade. While details have not been finalized, he doesn’t want what happened then to disappear into history books. As time passes, he says, it serves as much more than just a memory.

“We’re aware that even 10 years later, commemorating helps us to keep vigilant,” he says, “for our rights, for everyone and for this country.”

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

No place like home

Linze Serell began her Miss Charity America reign nine years ago, just not like you think.

“I was first runner-up for nine years,” Bill Lindsey says. “This year, I thought I’d give it another try.”

Serell is the alter ego of Lindsey and this year, he took the title for the first time after 11 total tries. But winning or not, this pageant is more than sparkles and makeup.

For 20 years, Miss Charity America has been the main fundraiser for Home for the Holidays, which sends people living with AIDS home during the season.

“It’s been a blessing to stick around this long,” he says. “I think we’re the only organization of our kind in the country.”

Last year, the organization provided travel for 23 people, including sending some home to South Africa. Although Lindsey says Home for the Holidays has lingered on the bottom of the list for AIDS funding, it has received help and acknowledgement from the likes of

American Airlines and Black Tie. This could be a new start for the organization, but that makes Miss Charity America no less important.

“Oh yes, this event is the life source of our organization,” Lindsey says.

— R.L.

Best Friends Club, 2620 E. Lancaster Ave., Fort Worth. 7 p.m. $5. All proceeds benefit the organization. HomeForTheHolidaysTexas.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 15, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas