Activists with QueerBomb Dallas are organizing a last-minute alternative Pride celebration on Sunday in Dallas in response to reports that Barry Andrews, the founder and CEO of Andrews Distributing Co., the largest corporate sponsor of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, is holding a fundraisers for Dan Patrick the anti-gay Republican candidate for Texas lieutenant governor.
QueerBomb activists have also called parade organizers to task for the event’s lack of diversity in terms of racial and economic minorities and transgender people. They are calling on people to boycott the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, the Festival in Lee Park and all Dallas Tavern Guild bars. (DTG puts on the parade each year, organizing the event and getting sponsors, including Andrews Distributing, to cover most of the costs.) QueerBomb is also asking people to sign this online petition calling on the parade organizers to “drop human rights abusers and anti-queer businesses” as sponsors of and participants in the parade.
Among the parade participants QueerBomb wants organizers to drop are groups from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, companies that “create weapons that kill thousands of innocent civilians every year;” JPMorgan Chase, whose “unethical financial practices caused the 2008 U.S. financial collapse;” and Heineken, which “excludes transgender people from its employment protections.”
“Dallas Pride’s organizers refuse to drop sponsorships from anti-queer and human rights abusing companies. Plus the parade itself has continually excluded racial and economic minorities from its ranks,” noted the press release announcing the “Dirty Shame” event, “an alternative pride promenade” set for 5 p.m. Sunday in Main Street Garden, 1902 Main St. in downtown Dallas.
“QueerBomb Dallas is assembling a flash force of LGBTQIA individuals who find Dallas Pride to be non-inclusive, capitalist, hetero-normative, needlessly safe and unchallenging,” according to the press release. “We’ve organized ‘DIRTY SHAME’ with boisterous urgency to create an alternative ‘Pride Promenade’ that carries a strong Queer message through the heart of Downtown Dallas. Let’s reclaim the radical, carnal and transgressive lineage of our ever-changing community, while celebrating every [one of] the unique individuals that make us a vibrant whole.”
The QueerBomb rally begins at 5 p.m. at the Main Street Garden and will feature performers, speakers, fun and “heart-stirring queer-fuckery.” Open mic slots are available and anyone who is interested can email QueerBombDallas@gmail.com for information.
The Queer Pride Promenade starts at 6:30 p.m., with participants encouraged to “strap on your cha-cha heels and get ready to stomp the sidewalks of Main Street in a festive display of undiluted queerness.”
Those attending Dirty Shame are encouraged to bring blankets, picnics, signs and banners, flags, noisemakers, musical instruments and “your friends.” Organizers also stressed that there are no rules regarding what manner of dress is allowed: “QueerBomb is a safe and affirming space. We promote body positivity and self expression. So wear what represents you. Wear anything you have ever wanted to wear or as little as the law will allow. Let is united and celebrate Pride without beer ads or exclusion.”
Loni wowed the audience and the judges in her three appearances — two solos, finishing up with a powerful version of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” and in a duet with fellow finalist Lauren Shafer on Adele’s “Someone Like You” — to take the 11th annual title. In fact, Loni was so good, she and Lauren jointly won the “best duet” award, voted on by the audience, meaning she took home $3,850 — not bad for one evening’s work!
First runner up was Alvaro Ramalho, followed by Vanessa Guzman, Carlos Saenz and Steve Patterson. Congrats, Loni and all the contestants on a great show. And look for Loni, Alvaro and Vanessa in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and festival next month.
You can see a slide show of the event by clicking here.
Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman has announced that the Family Pride Zone will not return to the Festival in Lee Park this year. The Tavern Guild is the organization that produces the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade — Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride parade — each year and the festival held immediately following the parade.
“The Family Pride Zone at the Festival in Lee Park last year was an absolute social success and the community responded very positively to its presence as a part of Dallas Pride. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great financial success,” Doughman said in a letter to sponsors who had already signed up for the Family Pride Zone this year. “Due to that fact and the lack of sponsorship dollars for 2014, we have had to cancel all plans for a Family Pride Zone at the 2014 Festival in Lee Park.”
Doughman went on to say DTG officials considered the Family Pride Zone “a valuable and exciting new growth piece to Dallas Pride,” and added that organizers “are not abandoning the concept and plan an aggressive sponsorship campaign for next year to garner funding to produce the Family Pride Zone in 2015.”
He said that any sponsorship fees for Family Pride Zone 2014 that have already been paid will be refunded.
The Family Pride Zone, held last year for the first time, was a section of Lee Park set aside as an alcohol-free, family-friendly area designated specifically for families with younger children. Doughman noted that Dallas Pride was the first Pride celebration in Texas to establish such a space.
For information on being part of Family Pride Zone 2015, email Doughman at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 214-358-4006.
Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston collected the signatures of the mayor and the rest of the council to congratulate the Dallas Tavern Guild on the 30th anniversary of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, which will be held on Sept. 15.
“I worked very hard to get the right wording to get the maximum participation and am proud of the success it had,” Kingston said.
“This annual event celebrates our shared commitment to equality in Dallas and all of Texas,” the letter reads in part. “Our city is honored to have the Dallas Tavern Guild and its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness and the rights of all people.”
The lone, missing council member is Vonciel Hill, whose district now includes one of the largest LGBT neighborhoods in the city.
Last night at the Round-Up Saloon, the contestants who have been vying all summer to be crowned the 2013 Voice of Pride got whittled down to a final 10. These 10 will compete on Aug. 11 at the Rose Room in the final showdown of the year; the winner gets bragging rights and the chance to sing at the festival in Lee Park following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, plus $3,500 in cash and two round-trip airline tickets and a hotel stay at a luxury Hilton.
Congratulations to all the finalists, listed here in alphabetical below:
The Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope and Dr. Gene Voskuhl of AIDS Arms were chosen as Grand Marshals of the 2012 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.
Voskuhl just returned from the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. He said that recent studies show that being disenfranchised and stigmatized leads to greater incidents of HIV infection.
That’s why this year’s parade theme, “Pride Links Us Together” is meaningful to him.
“Be proud,” he said. “You’ll be happier and healthier.”
Voskuhl, who moved to Dallas five years ago, became the medical director of AIDS Arms last August. Gilead transferred him to Dallas from Oklahoma City. Before taking the position at AIDS Arms, he was in private practice with Uptown Physicians.
What he likes best about the Dallas LGBT community is how diverse and integrated it is throughout the DFW area. He said the community reaches into all professions and businesses and the variety of LGBT organizations that cover everything from social to health to religious activities.
Voskuhl is proud of the growth AIDS Arms has seen since he came on board a year ago. The agency’s two clinics now see 1,300 people and the goal is 2,500 by 2015.
“We’re looking to grow,” he said. “We’re only using half of our exam space.”
He said Trinity Clinic was expanding its labs and adding new equipment to provide results quicker and even offer services to other local medical offices. In addition, Metro Care has begun providing on-site mental health and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.
New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.
The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.
Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.
Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.
Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.
The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.
But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.
“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”
The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.
“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”
She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.
“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”
Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.
AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.
Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.
Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.
The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.
Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.
Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.
But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.
AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.
LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.
LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.
That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.
Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.
“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”
He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.
“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.
Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”
Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.
“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.
Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.
Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.
Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.
“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”
Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.
LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.
Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”
There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.
She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.
“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.
Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.
Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.
Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.
Eleven of 15 councilmembers appeared on the city float.
Dallas City Councilmembers Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway were absent from Sunday’s Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, despite having RSVP’d affirmatively for the gay Pride celebration.
Eleven of 15 councilmembers, including Mayor Mike Rawlings, rode in the parade, sources at City Hall confirmed this week.
“He enjoyed it and looks forward to next year,” said Paula Blackmon, chief of staff for Rawlings, who became the third mayor in Dallas history to ride in the parade.
Councilmembers Sandy Greyson and Vonciel Jones Hill were the only two who indicated in advance they wouldn’t make the parade — Hill due to religious objections and Greyson because of a scheduling conflict.