SLIDESHOW: Fort Worth Pride parade is city’s largest

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Participants say parade, in 2nd year on Main Street, presents positive image of LGBT community

LOGAN CARVER  |  Contributing Writer

FORT WORTH — Perry Anable wiped tears from his eyes Saturday as he watched throngs of gays, lesbians, allies and passersby mingle on Main Street in Fort Worth after the largest gay Pride parade in the city’s history.

Anable, brother of the late activist Thomas Anable — who was named grand marshal before his August death and who was honored during the parade with a riderless car — said the large turnout showed that gay people finally have a voice in the city of Fort Worth and are no longer afraid to live their lives openly.

Thomas Anable helped formed Fairness Fort Worth after the Rainbow Lounge raid and was instrumental in the parade’s move from Jennings Street to Downtown.

“That’s what I believe I fought for is this right here,” said Perry Anable, a Vietnam veteran. “Whether you agree with the choice isn’t important; it’s that you have the freedom to choose, and that’s what this is about.”

The first bite of autumn couldn’t chill the spirits of parade-goers as floats made their way from the Tarrant County Courthouse to the Fort Worth Convention Center.

And while there was no shortage of shirtless dancers gyrating to thumping bass, the Fort Worth parade was markedly different than its Dallas cousin.

If Dallas Pride is your flashiest pair of pumps, Fort Worth Pride is your favorite pair of Tom’s. It doesn’t have the glitz and the glamour, but it exudes a feeling of community that doesn’t go unnoticed.

The Fort Worth parade was started 31 years ago by a drag queen who wanted a place for gays to congregate that wasn’t between the four walls of a bar, said parade director Tina Harvey.

For nearly three decades, the parade took place on Jennings Street — celebrating gay Pride in front of nothing but bars, dilapidated storefronts and homeless people. Last year, with the help of Thomas Anable, the parade moved to downtown and marked a new era in the Fort Worth LGBT community.

Harvey said it gives credibility to people who have been treated as second-class citizens their entire lives; and the Main Street presence helps break down stereotypes.

“Other people can see our event going on and see ‘hey, they’re just a loving, tight-knit community and having a great time and this is a great thing,’” Harvey said. “If we’re down on Jennings, nobody comes except the gay community.”

Dana Curtis has participated in both the Dallas and Fort Worth parades and said the Fort Worth celebration is more personal.

“Everybody is on the same team in Fort Worth,” she said.

And for her, being able to ride a float down Main Street is liberating after years of oppression.

“(It’s an) absolute victory for those of us who have been marginalized for so long,” Curtis said. “We haven’t had a voice. Now we do.”

Craig McNeil, who marched with QCinema, said the parade’s downtown location — away from the bar district — makes families feel more comfortable.

“It’s good for them to see there aren’t naked people running around,” McNeil said. “It really is a great community event, and I think that’s great.”

On Saturday, the streets along the parade route were lined with elderly couples — gay and straight, families with children and allies who simply wanted to support equality in their community.

Sheldon Berry twirled a baton with the Fort Worth Pride Steppers and said it was important for non-gays in the city to see gay people who weren’t running around getting drunk.

“It’s not all like you see in the movies,” Berry said. “I just try to represent something really good and positive.”

Apparently Berry’s message was well received.

Kim Mixson was in town for a wedding, staying at a downtown hotel, and heard about the parade. She wore beads around her neck as she watched the floats roll down Main Street.

“I love it. I think it’s great. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it,” Mixson said. “People are people and to each their own.”

Rachel Tillay is a seminary student at Southern Methodist University and went to the Fort Worth parade to show support for the LGBT community and to serve as a counter balance to any anti-gay protestors.

To Tillay, anyone who claims to be Christian and uses scripture to support his or her hate speech doesn’t understand the Bible. She said the verses they take out of context and use to condemn homosexuality actually condemn a lack of hospitality, and when placed in the correct context have nothing to do with same-sex love.

“I’ve learned from my studies that we really need to be pro-gay if we want to be Christians,” Tillay said.

As expected, there were some purportedly Christian protestors quoting cherry-picked Bible verses in their vitriolic diatribe, but the Fort Worth Police Department kept them from interfering with parade viewers and participants and even straight people saw them as misguided afterthoughts.

“I think they should spend their time doing other positive things in the community instead of being out here worrying about how other people live,” said LeAnne Koonsman, who came to support the LGBT people she works with.

Fort Worth police said Monday that two anti-gay protesters were arrested. The arrested protesters are members of Kingdom Baptist Church in Johnson County, which has regularly staged anti-gay demonstrations in North Texas over the last few years. Joey Faust, 46, and Ramon Marroquin, 33, were charged with interfering with public duties, a class-B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Faust is the pastor for Kingdom Baptist Church.

After the parade and the ensuing street festival, Harvey said this year’s event was a huge success.

“It was a beautiful day of celebration on Main Street,” she said.

—  John Wright

Mary Gonzalez to speak at Fort Worth Latino voter symposium Saturday

Just because queer state representative-elect Mary Gonzalez doesn’t have an opponent in November, doesn’t mean she’s not staying busy.

Gonzalez, who came out as pansexual in today’s edition of Dallas Voice, has recently accepted the role of Latino outreach coordinator for the Texas Democratic Party. The job will include planning events like Saturday’s Latino Voter Engagement Symposium in Fort Worth in an effort to help Latino voters get engaged in politics.

“The numbers are there so if we encourage more Latino voters to vote, then we could win more Democratic races,” Gonzalez said.

Saturday’s event is planned in conjunction with state Democratic Executive Committee meeting, but Gonzalez said the response has been so positive that she’s in the process of planning more symposiums in San Antonio, Houston and El Paso in the next few months.

Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa will give a welcome Saturday, followed by the Democratic strategist and MSNBC contributor Chuck Rocha for the keynote. Attendees will also hear from state Rep. Armando Walle on how to motivate the Latino community, and Gonzalez will also speak at the event.

The event is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at the Hilton Hotel, at 815 Main Street in Fort Worth. About 100 people are expected to attend the event. There is no registration or fee to attend.

For questions or more information, contact Gonzalez via email at mgonzalez@txdemocrats.org or call 512-478-9800.

—  Anna Waugh

Visit Genghis Grill today to help AOC

As lunchtime rolls around, think about how tasty stir fry is when the proceeds go toward a good cause.

If you’re in Fort Worth today or feel like taking a long lunch, head over to the Genghis Grill at 4469 Bryant Irvin Road in Cowtown.

Orders for dine-in and take out from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. will have 20 percent of the proceeds donated to AIDS Outreach Center.

Just mention AOC when you check out and the percentage will be donated to the organization. You can also order online.

 

—  Anna Waugh

Percussions Lounge closed until further notice

We’re sorry to hear that Fort Worth club Percussions Lounge closed its doors last Wednesday. This was posted on the club’s Facebook page. However, owner Randy Norman says that it really was just a matter of location.

“People didn’t really want to walk that far out and it never has really taken off,” Norman said.

Instead, Norman is focusing on his two more popular spots — Rainbow Lounge and Best Friends. That was part of the deal when he took over most of the gay bar scene in Fort Worth.

“I wanna get those built up, but we are also looking for another location for Percussions and we’re trying to see what we can find, but yeah, the focus now will be on Rainbow and Best Friends.”

—  Rich Lopez

Vasquez-Burnam race heats up

Vasquez-Burnam

Carlos Vasquez, left, and Lon Burnam

The race between state Rep. Lon Burnam and openly gay Fort Worth school board member Carlos Vasquez in House District 90 is heating up, according to the Star-Telegram.

According to the report, Vasquez called fellow school board members traitors after the board replaced its first Hispanic president with its first black president.

Burnam said that Vasquez “cannot behave well in public” and would not work well in the Legislature.

Vasquez accused Burnam of talking too much about environmental issues and not about the issues constituents care about. He also said that Burnam is targeting the district’s black community with robocalls.

The district was redrawn to be majority Hispanic.

The insults continued with Vasquez accusing Burnam of not campaigning hard enough for President Barack Obama in 2008. But Vasquez then revealed that he first supported Hillary Clinton while Burnam said he was always an Obama supporter.

Early voting began today and runs 12 days through May 25. Early voting locations are listed here on the Dallas County Elections website. Tarrant County locations are available here.

Primary day is May 29.

—  David Taffet

Owner of Cherries acquires 3 Fort Worth clubs

Former Rainbow Lounge manager and owner of Randy’s Club Cherries, Randy Norman has made his big move in Fort Worth. He is reportedly the new owner of the Rainbow Lounge, Best Friends Club and Percussions Lounge all in Cowtown. This comes from the Dallas Gay Bars website. We spoke with Norman this afternoon and his sights are set on getting Fort Worth clubs to a high standard. Sensing some decline in the clubs’ upkeep, Norman took action.

—  Rich Lopez

Black Tie kicks off season with FW reception

FORT WORTH — Black Tie Dinner kicked off the season with a reception at the T&P railroad building in Fort Worth on Thursday night.

BTD Co-Chairs Mitzi Lemons and Chris Kouvelis announced the theme for this year’s dinner — “An Affair of the Heart.”

“‘An Affair of the Heart’ is exactly what Black Tie Dinner is,” Kouvelis said. “Thousands of people coming together solely to make a difference in the lives of so many.”

Holding the event in Fort Worth was a first for the dinner committee. The location was the lobby of the restored train station that has been renovated into lofts and is the western terminus for the Trinity Railway Express that originates at Union Station in Dallas.

About 250 people attended.

The 31st Black Tie Dinner will be held on Nov. 3 at the Sheraton Dallas.

—  David Taffet

‘Rainbow Lounge’ doc premieres in Fort Worth

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For the first half hour of Thursday night’s premiere in Fort Worth of Robert Camina’s documentary Raid of the Rainbow Lounge, the audience sat completely still and silent. Many were in tears as they relived the horror of the raid. Among those in the audience was Chad Gibson, who was injured in the raid and later settled with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission and the city of Fort Worth for more than $600,000.

Not until attorney Jon Nelson rebutted Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead’s assertion that it wasn’t a raid with the comment, “If it walks like a raid and quacks like a raid, it’s a raid,” did the audience break out into applause.

While Nelson was applauded the most through the film, raid witness Todd Camp got the most laughs. His first was when he described the police officers who claimed in their report that the officers were groped during the raid as having a “Village People fixation.”

Halstead is the “character” in the film that evolves most. The week of the raid, he’s seen reading from his officers’ report and defending his department. He said the comments of one woman at the first city council meeting after the raid affected him the most. She had driven from San Francisco to speak. He said he wondered what could have affected someone so much that she decided to drive halfway across the country to speak for three minutes and then turn around and drive back home. At that moment, he began to understand the frustration and anger of the community.

Mayor Mike Moncrief is the person who comes across the worst on film. He appears to have been cornered into making an apology that anyone in the city was hurt. Unlike Halstead, he did not appear in an on-camera interview in the film.

After the film, Halstead, who attended the premiere, again apologized for offending the community with his initial reaction and said that his department has changed. He said that within weeks of the raid, three male officers came out to him.

Halstead told the audience that when a similar raid happened in Atlanta 10 weeks later, he got a call from the acting chief in that city.

“Jeff, help me,” Atlanta’s chief said.

Halstead said that the atmosphere in the Fort Worth Police Department is completely different now than it was less than three years ago. When a rookie class is training, he said he enjoys introducing Sara Straten, the city’s first LGBT community liaison, by saying, “This is Sara. She’s a lesbian.” He said the reaction is always, “Did he really just say that?”

But he said that the raid has made a difference in training on a variety of issues including how officers respond to domestic violence calls.

Meredith Baxter, who narrated the film, spoke briefly at the premiere about how she became involved: A lot of nagging from Fairness Fort Worth President Tom Anable.

The film will be shown in Dallas at the Magnolia Theater on April 25. Tickets are available at RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com.

 

 

—  David Taffet

Keller teen to ask mayor to sign marriage pledge

Isaiah Smith, left, collecting signatures in Keller. (Screen grab from KDAF Channel 33)

KELLER — Sixteen-year-old Isaiah Smith wants Keller Mayor Pat McGrail to join the mayors of Houston, Austin, San Antonio and several smaller cities in Texas by signing Freedom to Marry’s pledge in support of same-sex marriage.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price have declined to sign the pledge, which now contains the signatures of more than 150 mayors nationwide.

Smith said he’ll be at Keller City Hall this afternoon to address city officials at the the regularly scheduled council meeting. Smith is a junior at Keller High School, but he said he’s not acting on behalf of his school’s Gay Straight Alliance. He said he’s going to City Hall with just one other friend and thinks his mayor should do the right thing.

“I’ll be giving a speech on why he should sign,” Smith told Instant Tea.

McGrail would become the first North Texas mayor to sign, if he listens to his young constituent.

Smith has also been collecting signatures on a petition calling for the council to pass an ordinance outlawing discrimination in restaurants in the city. He will present the petition to the City Council later this month.

Last week in a statewide day of action, callers contacted Rawlings to keep up the pressure to sign the pledge.

—  David Taffet

Club Reflection and Dallas Eagle host rodeo kick off parties

Before the ropin’ starts

 

 

—  Rich Lopez