Out & Equal to hold 2011 convention in Dallas

Out & Equal, the national organization that champions safe and equitable workplaces for LGBT people, will hold its annual convention at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas in 2011, according to an e-mail we received Tuesday from the Dallas Convention & Visitors Bureau.

“I am happy to officially announce that the contract is in and it’s official. Dallas will be hosting one of the largest GLBT conventions in the country and one of the first in Dallas!!!” wrote Veronica L. Torres, directory of diversity & community relations at the CVB. ”This convention will bring over 8 MILLION dollars in economic impact to Dallas!!! This is INCREDIBLE! We are so excited to see all of our community come together to make this happen. This convention will continue to build a platform for Dallas to stand on and show that we ARE a great city for GLBT business and conventions with a strong community to support it!!!”

According to Out & Equal’s website, the annual convention “boasts more than 2,300 attendees who participate in over 125 workshops and caucuses all designed to create an inclusive workplace. The abundance of activities and nationally celebrated keynote speakers result in an experience that has been described as ‘an enlightening watershed of information.’”

This year’s Out & Equal convention, known as the Workplace Summit, will be held in Los Angeles in October.

—  John Wright

At Winspear, Dallas CVB reaches out to gay leaders

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Phillip Jones speaks to leaders of the gay community at the Winspear this morning (photo by Armando Gonzales)

Journos don’t like to get up early, but this morning I slapped on a tie and trekked over to the Winspear Opera House for an 8 a.m. “LGBT Leadership Breakfast” with about 40 others from the community. The event, hosted by Dallas’ Conventions and Visitors Bureau, sought to reach out and enlist the local gay community in pressing for more business in Big D.

Ever since the opening the new Arts District,  Dallas as a city has been big on promoting itself as a world-class destination, but apparently that’s harder than we thought — especially in light of something that happened in another city.

“There are still challenges — the Rainbow Lounge incident did not help us, it hurt us a lot,” said Chris Heinbaugh, the gay chief of staff for Mayor Tom Leppert, noting that several conventions that had been booked canceled as a result of the raid and its aftermath.

CVB chief Phillip Jones echoed that observation (often, he said, people from out of town assume Dallas-Fort Worth is one big city), but also touted the 32 LGBT conventions that had been here in the past few years, generating $37 million in economic impact. CeCe Cox, one of the attendees, also brought up the Creating Change conference that starts next week, and is the largest of its kind yet.

Other factors are harder to control than the response to the Rainbow Lounge, such as the GALA Choruses using the excuse “Dallas is too hot in the summer” for not bringing their event here, and going instead to Denver. And Heinbaugh probably got the best line of the morning when he mentioned that The Advocate had recently listed the top 20 gay cities, and Dallas wasn’t on the list… but Austin was.

“Austin? Really?! It’s a great city,” he said, “but we’re WAY gayer than them.”

Gayer indeed.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones