The New Normal: Picking a fresh gay summer vacation spot

A few weeks ago, we listed a selection of places to travel this summer for getting your circuit party groove on. Well, consider this a companion piece to that one — and one that takes you off the beaten path.

You heard right. Skip Palm Springs. Forget Fire Island. Put P’town on hold. This year, you’re headed to a new LGBT-friendly destination for an unexpected getaway with all the perks to which you’re privy (though, because it’s summer after all, each is conveniently on the water). Time to get packin’.

Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico. Like playing the odds? They’re in your favor at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino, a stunning island property nestled in the middle of a bustling metropolitan city. From your home base in the heart of the trendy Condado neighborhood filled with shopping, international cuisine and nightlife, embark on adventures like ATV, horseback riding and zip lining at Haciendo Campo Rico by day, then let loose at night in Old San Juan at La Factoria. Santurce and La Placita of Santurce, the arts and culture center, is just a short taxi ride away, as is the El Yunque Rainforest. Seems like a lot to see and do, but there’ll be plenty of lazy beach time with your boo, too.

St. Maarten

St. Maarten. Although the Caribbean is breathtaking in landscape, some islands have ugly views toward the LGBT community (we’re looking at you, Jamaica!). St. Maarten, however, takes pride in its LGBT community, and several resorts, including Sonesta Ocean Point and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort, Casino & Spa are now registered with the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), the leading global resource in LGBT tourism. Both locations offer same-sex wedding ceremonies — if you want to tie the knot in flip-flops – with a Gay Wedding Institute-certified in-house wedding coordinator. Spend your first few hours as a legally bound couple canoodling in a private gazebo or partying down at an unforgettable reception at Ocean Point’s Azul Rooftop Bar.

St. Pete Beach, Fla. Not to be outdone by some of the flashier Florida cities, sunny St. Pete Beach allows for a different kind of vacay — one void of thumping techno music and throwback boardwalk body builders. The Spanish-influenced Hotel Zamora features a destination restaurant and rooftop lounge serving a locally sourced menu of creative tapas entrees; a marina; fresh-water pool; fitness center; and access to white, sandy beaches. Zamora also will offer a Beachside Pride package this summer in celebration of St. Pete Pride, June 26 to 28.

Norfolk, Va. boat Pride!

Norfolk, Va. Step out of the box this summer — and into a boat! — during the country’s only Pride boat parade, in Norfolk, Va. Part of PrideFest, June 26 and 27, the celebration by sea is open to all maritimers with access to a vessel. The Norfolk Waterside Marriott offers a PrideFest Hotel Package for the weekend, which includes a buffet breakfast for two guests daily, a $25 food and beverage credit per night at Shula’s 347, and self-parking. After you drop your bag, head out into Hampton Roads for waterfront activities, a thriving dining scene, and unique arts and culture.

— Mikey Rox

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Dallas Pride’s after-parade festival moving to Reverchon Park

Park for web

Producers of Dallas Pride — Dallas’ LGBT Pride parade and festival held each September on the third Sunday — is being moved from its long-time home at Lee Park, down the road to Reverchon Park.

Organizers made the announcement today (Friday, March 6), along with the announcement of this year’s theme, “Color Our World With Pride.”

Lonzie Hershner, president of the Dallas Tavern Guild — which produces the Pride events each fall — and owner of The Tin Room and Marty’s Live, said the move “raises our event to the next level. Reverchon Park affords us much more room to expand, create new features and add to the quality of the festival.”

The move “enable[s] a larger event that can be scaled to grow in future years,” according to a press release announcing the change. The festival will feature many local vendors, including food and beverage vendors, entertainment and the return of the Family Pride Zone, the press release noted. The festival will be fenced in, as per city requirements, and admission will again be $5, with children 12 and under admitted free.

Moving the after-parade festival will require “only a small change” in the route of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. The parade will still stage on Wycliff Avenue and then move from Wycliff Avenue down Cedar Springs Road to Turtle Creek Boulevard. Only this year, instead of turning left as in year’s past to go to Lee Park, parade participants will turn right on Turtle Creek to go to Reverchon.

Parade and festival applications will be available at DallasPride.org

—  Tammye Nash

WATCH: A history of Dallas Pride by Prosper H.S. students

A few months ago, some students from Prosper High School contacted me: They were making a video about the history of Gay Pride in Dallas, and wanted to know if they could interview me on film to discuss it? I agreed.

The student arrived well-dressed and prepared. They were very professional (especially for juniors in high school) and easy to work with. It took just a few minutes of my time.

Last week, the director, Alex Watkins — who made the film for his AV class — informed me that it had been submitted to the University Interscholastic League of Texas festival of films. The short, Pride, made it past the first stage, but not on to the next stage.

It’s an impressive student film, I thought, and since very few people got to see it anyway, I figured I’d share a link to the film so others could enjoy it. And you get to see me, though I think it sounds like I have a cold, although maybe that’s how I always sound. Enjoy.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A bit of Dallas LGBT history for you

Today, Chad Mantooth, the associate advertising director here at Dallas Voice, sent me a post he found on Reddit.com linking to a “historical photo” showing “Three supporters of Dallas’ first Gay Pride Parade — 1972.” The poster notes that written on the back on the original photo is the date June 24, 1972.

The link carries you to the website of the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History, where you see this photo:

Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 2.58.44 PM

(I lightened this in Photoshop and increased the contrast, just so you can see the women and their signs better.)

Read the signs they carry: “Tired of hiding — Want to be free” and “Don’t laugh — I may be happier than you.”

It makes you realize how very far we’ve come, even though we still have a long way yet to go.

—  Tammye Nash

Get your collectible Dallas Voice Pride Edition — 3 covers to choose from!

Cover1Cover2Cover3

Here at Dallas Voice, we’ve done something for Pride Weekend we’ve never done before: We are offering readers three versions of the Voice to read in one week.

Now, the content inside is the same. There’s coverage of the upcoming Gay Softball World Series, a calendar of Pride events to take you through the fall, some thought-provoking opinion pieces, telling interviews with musicians Andy Butler and Jennifer Hudson as well as a piece on how Stoli is making a push into the gay market again following its Olympics disaster.

But on the outside? Three different full-color glossy covers reflecting three sides of Pride. Check them all out! Thanks for your support, and Happy Pride!

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Maybe they should call it Burger Queen?

bildeContinuing with our run-up to Friday’s Food Issue, we have this gem from San Francisco, an object lesson in gay-friendly marketing.

The Burger King corporation decided to sell a “Proud Whopper” — a “gay burger” offered only in the City by the Bay, and only for a few days. And they didn’t even change the formulation at all. But that’s not the point. In fact, it’s kind of the exact opposite of the point.

By selling the exact same burger, only with a rainbow wrapper, during S.F. Pride, Burger King sent a clear message — one they even spelled out on the wrapper itself: “We are all the same inside.” The San Francisco location can sell a pretty finite number of burgers in the time frame, but it’s funny how a wrapper — and a welcoming attitude — can raise brand awareness in a demographic.

Are you more inclined to go to Burger King now? And who wants to join me in calling it Burger Queen?

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: John Oliver does Gay Pride Week proud

LWT june 29 bI was a huge fan of John Oliver even before he took over hosting The Daily Show last summer, but his hosting duties raised the bar for snarky political satire — so much so, that HBO gave him his own show, Last Week Tonight, which airs Sundays. Last night’s episode, coming at the end of Gay Pride celebrations all around the U.S., spend the lion’s share of its time talking about gay issues, especially marriage equality and the insanity that is Ugandan anti-gay laws (and the American connection to them). If you don’t have HBO, check out the video after the jump to see it, especially his interview with Ugandan trans activist Pepe Julian Onziema. (And for more web-exclusive interview with Onziema, go here.)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Local theater company sponsors gay playwrighting competition

Uptown Players moved its Pride Play Fest from September to June this year, so it seems TeCo Theatrical Productions is stepping in to the fall spot. The Oak Cliff-based company, which is celebrating its 20th season this year, has sent out a call for scripts for its inaugural PlayPride LGBT Festival, which will run Sept. 4–14. Playwrights will compete to benefit their favorite local LGBT group with a $1,000 donation to the winner’s charity of choice.

TeCo is soliciting short (15–20 minutes) unpublished/unproduced scripts of any style, as long as they contain LGBT themes, have a maximum of four cast members (though more characters would, presumably, be OK) and not come with scene changes or blackouts. The author must be a resident of Texas.

The deadline for submission is July 1, and must be submitted in PDF format to info@tecotheater.org (no hard copies accepted). Get crackin’!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

My post-Pride lunch with Mike Rawlings

1186736_10201881308536307_1584127030_nI was at a luncheon today, celebrating the 95th anniversary of the original El Fenix restaurant, a staple of Tex-Mex here in Dallas. Also at the luncheon was Mayor Mike Rawlings, who sat at my table during lunch. One of my colleagues noted that the mayor appeared to have lost weight. A while later, the mayor and I got to chatting.

“How was the gay Pride parade yesterday?” he asked me with a smile. “I was out of town so I missed it.”

It was a lot of fun, I told him.

“When I came back, I saw there was some kind of controversy?”

“Yes, about a dress code; people didn’t react well to it.”

“Well, how were people dressed?” he asked. “Did anyone show up naked?”

“Not naked,” I said. “Though some were … well ….” I reached into my pocket, pulled out my iPhone and showed him one of the photos I took (pictured here). “That’s about as racy as it got.”

“Well, that’s nothing unusual,” Mayor Rawlings said. “And that’s just what I look like with my clothes off.”

He was joking. I think. But he has lost weight. Despite his failure to stand up for marriage equality, it’s always nice when a politician looks at pictures of men in Speedos and doesn’t recoil in horror.

Oh, and El Fenix — 95 frickin’ years. Pretty awesome.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Mayor Rawlings to miss Dallas Pride parade for 1st time in 3 years

Mike Rawlings breaks me off some beads during last year's gay Pride parade.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings throws beads from atop the Dallas Tavern Guild’s float during the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in 2011. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will miss the gay Pride parade this year for the first time since he took office.

Adam McGough, a spokesman for the mayor, said Rawlings will be in New York City this weekend at a conference of the Center for Exhibition Industry Research. Rawlings will also be visiting West Point, N.Y., as part of an initiative to bring a football game to Dallas.

McGough said Rawlings’ absence has nothing to do with the controversy involving a marriage equality resolution at City Council in June — which led some in the LGBT community to call for the mayor and certain other council members to be uninvited from the Pride parade.

“He is disappointed to miss it,” McGough said. “This has nothing to do with the controversy. This is just scheduling.”

Rawlings is only the third Dallas mayor to appear in the gay Pride parade, after Laura Miller and Tom Leppert.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, said this week that only eight of 15 city council members had RSVP’d to ride on the Tavern Guild’s float in this year’s parade — which marks the 30th anniversary of the event.

That number is lower than in recent years, but Patti Fink, president of the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, said she isn’t alarmed.

Fink noted that several council members were newly  elected in June, and the community hasn’t had a chance to build relationships with them. She also said she doesn’t put a lot of stock in RSVPs.

“We have to wait until Pride to see who’s on the float, because that’s really going to be where the proof is,” she said.

Doughman said council members who’ve RSVP’d are Scott Griggs, Adam Medrano, Rick Callahan, Monica Alonzo, Carolyn Davis, Tennell Atkins, Sheffie Kadane and Philip Kingston.

Only one sitting council member, Vonciel Hill, has publicly refused to appear in the parade because she is anti-LGBT.

—  John Wright