Tarrant Pride parade a rousing success, organizers say

Spectators largely ignore anti-gay protestors; police arrest, ticket Kingdom Baptist members for disorderly conduct

FW-parade

ON MAIN STREET | The float carrying members of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association makes its way down Main Street in downtown Fort Worth. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com
FORT WORTH — Organizers of the 30th annual Tarrant County Gay Pride celebration said this week that the events were a rousing success, despite the presence of a relatively small but loud contingent anti-gay protestors at the Oct. 1 Pride parade.

This year the parade was moved from its traditional three block route down South Jennings Street to a seven block stretch of Main Street in downtown Fort Worth. And Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association President Daune Littlefield said she was pleased by the number of spectators who turned out.

“I saw people lining both sides of the street for all seven blocks of the parade route,” Littlefield said. “I know there were definitely more people there than in previous years. I’d say we had maybe three times as many people at the parade as last year. We will definitely be bringing the parade back downtown again next year.”

Littlefield acknowledged that “there were a few glitches” in the parade and the street festival that followed on Main Street near the Fort Worth Convention Center. But she said, “I guess that was to be expected since this was our first year to hold the parade downtown. Next year, it will go even more smoothly.”

Although the Pride Week association had to raise more money to cover the higher costs of moving the parade downtown this year, Littlefield said organizers still came out ahead.

“Money-wise, it was a real success,” she said. “We paid for everything, and we still have money left over, seed money for next year’s event and money for the scholarship fund.

We made a commitment to the community in moving the parade and expanding our celebration that we would create this scholarship to give back to the community. And we will follow through on that commitment no matter what,” Littlefield said.

Littlefield also said that the annual Pride Picnic in Trinity Park — Tarrant County’s original Pride event and long considered its most popular and most successful Pride event — also went off “without a hitch.”

“We had more people there than last year. We usually have around 2,500 people at the parade and this year, I’d say we had at least 3,000,” Littlefield said. “The weather was fantastic and the event was just phenomenal. There was no ruckus, no problem anywhere.”

Littlefield said that she was pleased that spectators there for the parade for the most part ignored the anti-gay protestors, at least some of whom were reportedly with Kingdom Baptist Church, a small congregation out of Venus led by Pastor Joey Faust.

“I was on a float at the end of the parade, and as we moved down the parade route, the protestors kind of moved along with us, shouting nasty things through their bullhorn,” Littlefield said. “But we would just start cheering and yelling, and the crowd would cheer and yell with us to drown them out. I was really glad to see that everybody just ignored them and didn’t engage with them, for the most part.”

Faust and other Kingdom Baptist members also staged protests outside Fort Worth City Hall two years ago during a meeting  in which the City Council approved the addition of transgender protections to the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Faust and his followers also confronted activists during demonstrations staged in Fort Worth by Queer LiberAction in the wake of the Rainbow Lounge raid.

And prior to the Pride parade, Faust sent an open letter, addressed to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, to area media outlets castigating Price for participating in the parade as one of three grand marshals.

At the end of the parade, the protestors — who had started out standing on Main Street near the Weatherford Street intersection where the parade started — moved down Main

Street to position themselves near the Convention Center in the area near where the street festival was being held. Using a bullhorn, the protestors continued to harangue festival attendees, at one point calling those attending the parade “wild dogs” and “wild animals” who were “parading their perversions in the street,” until Fort Worth police officers ordered them to leave.

Littlefield said she was told that three of the protestors were arrested and another 10 ticketed. But FWPD’s LGBT Liaison Officer Kellie Whitehead said that only two of the protestors were “cash bonded” for disorderly conduct because they were using offensive language over the bullhorns.

Being “cash bonded,” Whitehead explained, means that person arrested on a Class C misdemeanor offense has to pay a set fine, or a portion of that fine, before they are released.

She said her superiors instructed her not to release the names of those arrested, but Whitehead did say she believes those arrested were members of Kingdom Baptist.

Littlefield said she had heard complaints from several people who were upset that the protestors were allowed to stand at the edge of the street festival after the parade for so long — about an hour and a half, she estimated — and harass those attending the event before police forced them to move.

“That’s something we will talk to the police about for next year,” Littlefield said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 7, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Utility work on Cedar Springs not expected to hurt business

CSMA announces schedule of fall events, including annual Christmas tree lighting in December

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STRONG SALES | Matthew Evans, the newest employee at Union Jack on Cedar Springs Road, saw his busiest day at the store during Pride weekend. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Utility work is scheduled to begin on Cedar Springs Road on Monday, Sept. 26, but should create minimal interruption to business on the street, business owners said this week.

When Atmos Energy first announced the work, all parking on the street was going to be affected for about two weeks. The original start date would have had the street torn up during the Pride parade.

After City Councilwoman Angela Hunt intervened, the work was postponed until after Pride, and the company agreed to do one section at a time.

Cedar Springs Merchants Association President Scott Whittall said this week that he doesn’t expect the work to interfere with business. Only a few parking spaces at a time should be disrupted, he said.

“They’re checking connections, not doing repairs,” he said, adding that it will be a “dig, check, fill back in” situation.

Work will begin on the Oak Lawn Avenue end of the street and proceed toward Douglas Avenue. All construction should be completed in time for fall events planned for the street.

Merchants this week reported strong business during Pride weekend, and they said they are looking for fall events to continue boosting sales.

Whittall.Scott
CSMA President Scott Whittall

“We really had a good weekend,” said Macho Nacho Assistant General Manager Brandi Knutzen. “We had fun and saw a lot of new faces.”

She said it was their biggest weekend since the restaurant opened in April, and she hopes many of the people who came in for the first time during Pride will return.

OutLines Manager David Lester said that business in his shop is up over last year. He said that in addition to events the Cedar Springs Merchants Association has planned, his store will decorate for Texas-OU weekend and will do a tent sale once a month.

“Overall, business is good,” he said.

Union Jack Manager Kim Johnson reported a similar boost in business over the Pride weekend. “It was one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”

Matthew Evans, the store’s newest employee, said it was the busiest weekend he’s seen.

Johnson said that rather than special promotions, he’s relying on new lines of jackets, shoes, accessories and “the works” that are scheduled to arrive for the fall.

One that hit the store recently is a line of Pan Am logo wallets, bags and related merchandise. The items are tied to the premiere of a new TV show about the airline set in the 1960s, and Johnson said sales of those items are especially strong.

Johnson also suggested that new stores opening on the street will help keep shoppers on Cedar Springs.

A hair care supply store is set to open in the old Shades of Gray space behind Hunky’s. And across from there, construction is close to complete on the new Thai-rrific restaurant that should open in October.

However, a coffee shop that had begun construction in the space between Thai-rrific and Macho Nacho abandoned its lease because of permit issues related to parking.

Events drive traffic to the gay strip, and CSMA announced a fall schedule of events through Christmas.

On Oct. 29, Cedar Springs Road will be closed to traffic for the annual Halloween street party, which, Whittall said, is traditionally one of the biggest times for sales along the street.

He said the best time to shop is after the street closes around 4 p.m.

The next sidewalk sale and mini art show is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 19, with artists  showing their work along the strip in conjunction with sales by many of the merchants. A lineup of local vendors in booths is planned as well.

DFW Rescue will be there looking for new homes for pets. Music on the street will add to the day’s festivities.

“That event kicks off the Christmas season on Cedar Springs,” Whittall said.

Two events are scheduled for the first week in December.

On Dec. 2, a holiday dinner theater at the Rose Room will benefit the Cedar Springs Beautification Project. Whittall said the lineup should be announced soon.

On Dec. 7, the DFW Sisters will light the Christmas tree on the patio of TMC: The Mining Company at 7 p.m. Whittall said they plan to have a bigger tree this year. And he hoped to have an announcement soon about additional lighting.

The Oak Lawn Band is slated to perform. The lighting will be followed by a cider and wine stroll. Sexy Santa will be on the street handing out gifts and carolers will perform.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

New block party added to Tarrant Pride celebration

Parade, picnic highlight week of gay, lesbian Pride events in Fort Worth

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Tarrant County Pride
MARCHING THROUGH | Celebration Community Church celebrated the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion with a float in a previous Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade depicting a high-heeled shoe kicking down a wall.

Dallas isn’t alone in holding Pride in a month other than June. Fort Worth’s 29th Pride parade will take place two weeks after the Dallas event, on Oct. 3.

A week of Pride events begins with a Sunday afternoon parade on South Jennings Avenue that steps off at 2 p.m.

“The parade is going to change directions,” said Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association President Jody Wasson.

The route will be reversed from previous years, heading toward downtown. Line-up will be on South Jennings Avenue at Rosedale, where the parade traditionally has ended.
“What’s new this year is the block party,” said Wasson.

The intersection of South Jennings and Pennsylvania avenues near the new end of the parade route will be blocked off for a street party starting at noon. He said the block party will include entertainment through the afternoon and food, soft drinks, beer and wine will be available.

“There will be an area for the kids and for pets,” he said. “Even your pets have Pride.”

Tony Coronado of the TCGPWA committee said that anyone can enter their dogs in the parade. They will compete in small, medium and large categories. From the winners, a king and queen will be chosen who will preside over next year’s Pride Pets competition.

Although it rained last year, that parade was the largest in Fort Worth history, coming just months after the Rainbow Lounge raid.

Wasson said he couldn’t predict participation in this year’s parade and that applications are just now coming in.

To participate, applications with payment must be postmarked by Friday, Sept. 24. Forms are available online. A $100 late fee must accompany applications received later than that.

But Sept. 30 is the absolute cutoff date since recent changes in Fort Worth’s outdoor events ordinance require organizers to notify the city of expected attendance by the end of this month.

The standard entry fee is $50 but groups that meet certain eco-friendly standards qualify for a discounted fee of $35. Those groups must be in a hybrid vehicle or be a walking group and not distribute any items.

TCGPWA is sharing the national “One Heart, One World, One Pride” theme that Dallas is also using this year. One of the awards that will be presented after the parade is for the entry with the “best interpretation of the national theme.”

Other awards will be given for best performance, a “brothers and sisters” award for the best out-of-town entry and “vivaciously vivid” for best costume.

Pride Week ends on Oct. 10 with the Pride Picnic. Traditionally, that is the largest LGBT community event in Fort Worth.

Wasson said TCGPWA plans a bigger main stage with entertainment continuing non-stop from noon to 6 p.m. He said he expects everything from church choirs to a stomp group to perform.

“We’re adding a new area this year,” Coronado said. “In addition to the health and wellness area and family-friendly area we’ll have an arts and cultural area.”
Applications are available on the website.

The picnic takes place at Trinity Park near the 7th Street Pavilion.

The following day is National Coming Out Day.

QCinema plans to screen “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride” at Four Day Weekend Theater on Oct. 4. Other Pride Week events are scheduled at Fort Worth’s bars.

For more information, visit TCGPWA.org

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens