Mayor Rawlings joins 5 other council members at 1st-ever LGBT Pride Month Reception

Mayor Mike Rawlings speaks during Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall.

About 50 people attended Dallas’ first-ever official LGBT Pride Month Reception at City Hall on Monday afternoon.

Mayor Mike Rawlings was among six council members who appeared at the event, organized by Councilwoman Delia Jasso and her LGBT task force.

Standing before a Pride flag draped from the wall of the Flag Room on the sixth floor, Rawlings spoke briefly at the start of the reception and drew cheers when he pledged to have “open doors” to the community.

“I met many of you during the campaign,” Rawlings said. “Some of you were supporting me, others were not. But I’ll tell you this: I knew that this was a fabulous community that I wanted to partner with when I became mayor. Thank you for what you have done for this city.”

Prior to the reception, Rawlings told Instant Tea he has no hard feelings about the fact that both Stonewall Democrats and the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance endorsed his opponents in the election — with DGLA even issuing a rare warning against him.

“Not at all,” Rawlings said. “We must all have a spirit of understanding. I don’t have anything like that [hard feelings].”

Rawlings didn’t specifically mention the LGBT community during his inauguration address at the Meyerson Symphony Center earlier in the day. But at the Pride reception, he told attendees that the community fits with the major themes he outlined in the speech: becoming a city of diversity, opportunity and excellence.

“As far as I’m concerned, you are right on with my plan, and I want to be right on with yours, and so we will continue to talk, and I am just pleased that we are here to honor gay and lesbian Pride Month in the city of Dallas,” Rawlings said.

—  John Wright

Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings says he ‘will try to be there’ for Monday’s LGBT Pride Month Reception

Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings

UPDATE: Rawlings said the following in an email shortly after we posted this: “I’ll plan to be there unless [secretary] Sandy [Nelson] tells me I have a conflict. She will put it on my calendar.”

ORIGINAL POST:

It remains unclear whether Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings will attend an LGBT Pride Month Reception at Dallas City Hall on Monday afternoon.

A press release announcing the reception sent out by the city on Wednesday indicates that Rawlings will be there. However, Councilwoman Delia Jasso, who organized the reception, said this morning that Rawlings hasn’t confirmed his attendance.

“I would list him as invited,” Jasso said, adding that she’s confident he’ll attend.

On Wednesday, Rawlings said in an email to Dallas Voice that he will “try to be there.”

“It’s not on my calendar right now but I will try to be there when I find the details,” Rawlings said.

Rawlings didn’t respond to a follow-up email providing details of the Pride Reception. He also didn’t immediately respond to a voicemail left on his cell phone this morning.

The Pride Reception would be Rawlings first LGBT event as mayor, and his attendance could be an indicator that he’s willing to mend fences with the two LGBT groups that endorsed his opponents in the election. During the reception, Jasso will present a Pride Month proclamation to the LGBT task force she created, which includes leaders from the the two groups, the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Jasso said Monday’s Pride Reception, the first of its kind, will take place immediately after a post-inauguration photo session for council members in the same location, the Flag Room on the sixth floor.

“It’s as convenient as it can be for any council person to stay,” she said.

Jasso is hosting the reception along with Councilwoman Angela Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano.

Jasso said all current council members have been invited, but only Jerry Allen has confirmed he’ll be there. Jasso said she also plans to contact new council members who’ll be sworn in Monday to invite them.

Others listed on the city press release as attending are City Manager Mary Suhm, Assistant Chief of Police Vincent Golbeck and Assistant Chief of Dallas Fire Rescue Debra Carlin. Jasso said the police and fire chiefs had prior commitments.

“A special ceremony will be held at Dallas City Hall in recognition of June LGBT Pride Month,” the press release states. “The ceremony is to recognize June 28, 1969 as a historic turning point for LGBT’s struggle for equality.”

The event is open to the public and begins at 4:30 p.m. in the Flag Room, on the sixth floor of  City Hall at 1500 Marilla.

—  John Wright

Get your Pride on!

DANCING DOWN MARKET | A dancer performs for the crowds along Market Street during the annual gay Pride parade in June 2010 in San Francisco. (Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

North Texas’ largest Pride events don’t happen until September and October, but there are plenty of Pride festivities happening now, from Houston to New York to San Francisco

DRACONIS VON TRAPP  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

Break out your rainbow flags and spray-on glitter for the month of June, the official national Gay Pride Month. All over the United States folks are setting up their parade floats and getting ready for a month-long Pride celebration.

If you’re in Dallas then you’ll have to wait until September to ride along in the parade, but other major cities from coast to coast — including plenty in Texas — have already started their club parties and street festivals.

The Pride parade and celebration in Dallas was moved to September in the early 1980s to commemorate Judge Jerry Buchmeyer’s ruling that overturned Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, also known as the state’s sodomy law.

Even though Buchmeyer’s decision was overturned on appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court, Dallasites decided to keep the Pride celebration in September in part to take advantage of cooler temperatures.

Dallas’ annual parade is called The Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, named in honor of the former Dallas Tavern Guild executive parade who was a longtime activist and primary organizer of the parade from the time the Tavern Guild took it over in 1983 until his death in 1995.

This year’s parade is set for Sunday, Sept. 18, and other events on the September Pride schedule include Gay Day at Six Flags and more.

For more information, go online to DallasTavernGuild.org.

Earlier this month, Dallas’ one-time traditional June Pride party, Razzle Dazzle Dallas, was resurrected after several years, coming back as a five-day slate of events culminating with a street party Saturday, June 4, on Cedar Springs. Proceeds benefit several community organizations, and will be distributed Monday, June 20.

Tarrant County Pride Week events were moved to early October several years ago, but following the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge, enthusiasm for the celebration regenerated, making the 2011 events — including the parade, the always-popular Pride Picnic and the newly added street fair — the largest in years.

This year the parade, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, is being moved downtown, and the Pride Picnic will be held Sunday, Oct 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Trinity Park.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week 2011 begins Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 9, with the International Gay Rodeo Association bringing its international finals rodeo to Cowtown for the final weekend of Pride week.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

The Dallas Black Pride celebration — this year presented by DFW Pride Movement and called “HIS-Story and HER-Story” — is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Author Uriah Bell and adult film star and CEO Rock Rockafella are already confirmed as special guests.

For more information, go online to DFWPrideMovement.org.

June Pride in Texas

But if you are looking for a June Pride celebration close to home, don’t despair.

Collin County has become quickly burgeoning into a gay hotspot in the DFW area and they’re holding their first-ever Pride event this year with the “Come as you are Pride Party” at Aparicio’s Restaurante Mexicano and Sports Bar, 216 E. Virginia St. in McKinney, on Saturday, June 25, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

The party is a fundraiser for C.U.R.E., an organization committed to raising funds for and awareness of HIV/AIDS programs and organizations. C.U.R.E.’s next project is to bring to Dallas the largest display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt since the Quilt was displayed in Washington, D.C., in 1997.

For more information go online to CureNTx.org or look for event information on Facebook.

Texas’ largest June Pride celebration happens in Houston, and it all kicks off this weekend with Opening Ceremonies beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Jones Plaza, followed by the Gay Men’s Chorus’ “Anything Goes” Concert, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Jones Hall. The opening night of Pride winds up with Matt Alber Live at the Hard Rock Café, beginning at 10 p.m.

‘“Divas of Diversity,” the opening of a nationwide comedy show tour, begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at The Houston Club.

Midweek, on Wednesday, June 22, you can “Dine With Pride” all day at The Chelsea Grill to help support the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration. Thursday night, June 23, beginning at 10 a.m., head to Meteor Lounge to watch the finals of Pride SuperStar, and on Friday, June 24, you can “Rock the Runway,” beginning at 8 p.m. at South Beach Night Club.

But the biggest of the big Pride events in Houston start Saturday, June 25, with the Houston Pride Festival, a multi-block party in the heart of Houston’s Montrose gayborhood, taking place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and featuring a wide variety of performers on different stages.

And just as the festival is winding down, the Pride Parade will be gearing up. The parade through Montrose — Texas’ first night-time gay Pride parade, steps off at 8:15 p.m. and the parties carry on through to Sunday.

For all the details, go online to PrideHouston.org.

There’s not a lot of information available yet on Pride in Amarillo, which has been hosting a Pridefest for 20 years. But we do know that another, much smaller group — Repent Amarillo — has its Jesus Fest on the same day every year for the sole purpose of preaching loudly to the Pridefest participants.

El Paso has already held their Pride events for 2011 and have scheduled next year’s events for June 8-12. Galveston and Austin are holding their Pride events later in the year. Galveston’s

Pride is in October with a celebratory block party while Austin’s is in September, kicking off Sept. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. with a Festival in Fiesta Gardens in East Austin.

Pride around the U.S.

The majority of the U.S. still celebrates Pride in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where LGBT New Yorkers retaliated against an unjust police raid on a gay hangout in Greenwich Village. After that, resistance efforts took place all over to fight discrimination.

New York

Of course, one of the largest Pride celebrations is in New York itself, and it starts this year with the Rally Pride kickoff at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Saturday, June 18, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Well-known performers, such as cast members from Broadway’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and motivational speakers from the LGBT community will be featured.

Ross “The Intern” Matthews and comedian Christine O’Leary will be M.C.s for the rally, and headline performer is singer Oh Land.

The women-only Rapture on the River event, with DJs Susan Levine and Mary Mac, is being held on Pier 54, 13th St. at the West Side Highway, on Saturday, June 25, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

New York’s 2011 Pride March is Sunday, June 26, beginning at noon. The parade steps off at the intersection of 36th and 5th streets, and ends at the intersection of Christopher and Greenwich streets.

Grand marshals for the NYC Pride March this year are Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, creators of the It Gets Better Project, the Rev. Pat Bumgardner of MCC New York and The Imperial Court of New York.

The Pride Festival begins at 11 a.m. that day and runs through 7 p.m. It takes place on Hudson Street between Abingdon Square and West 14th Street.

The party winds up with Dance of the Pier, from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at Pier 54 in Hudson River Park, 13th Street at the West Side Highway. Wynter Gordon will be on hand for a special early performance, and DJs Lina and Vito Fun back up headliner DJ Ana Paula.

For complete details on NYC Pride, go online to NYCPride.org.

San Francisco

Another of the largest celebrations San Francisco Pride, where they have an astonishingly large number of events.

The prade along Market Street kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on June 26 at Market and Beale streets and ends at Market and 8th in Downtown.

Among the Grand Marshals this year are Chaz Bono and Olympia Dukakis.

The Trevor Project is being honored as National Organizational Grand Marshal. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will appear with the Trevor Project.

A large percentage of Pride events have been always 18- or 21-plus, due to their venues, but in San Francisco they’ve got a few youth-appropriate events, including Kidspace Chef, where LGBT families and their kids get to cook together, held at 10:30 a.m. on June 18 at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center (and it’s free).

San Francisco held a Youth Prom on June 10, for youths aged 13 to 20, which was not unlike Dallas’ Gayla Prom that happened in May.

For complete details on SF Pride, go online to SFPride.org.

International Pride

Mexico City

If you are looking to head south for the summer, the Mexico City Pride parade is on Saturday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. The parade is known as Marcha del Orgullo Lésbico, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero, Travesti, Transexual e intersexual, and this year binational activist Jesus Chairez of Dallas and Mexico City will be on hand for the celebration and will report on it for Dallas Voice.

The parade route begins at the Ángel de la independencia and proceeds to the Zocalo.

For complete details on Mexico City Pride, go online to Orgullo.com.mx

Toronto

Canada’s Pride Toronto holds its official Pride Launch Party on Thursday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with performances by bands The Clicks and Creature.

The Toronto street festival begins on Friday, July 1, with a Trans March in the evening and a Trans Verse stage amongst others, and runs through to 11 p.m. Sunday night, July 3, with entertainment on eight stages.

For complete details on Toronto Pride, go online to PrideToronto.com

So whether you’re getting your Pride on with gay happy hour or marching in a parade, there’s a Pride event somewhere in the U.S. suited just for you, beginning in June and lasting all the way through October.

—  John Wright

A long road still lies ahead in the fight for equality

Pride Month celebrates our accomplishments, but an East Texas funeral service reminds us that we have a long way to go

Rafael_McDonnellRAFAEL McDONNELL | Special Contributor

This is national Gay Pride Month. In the 40-plus years since 1969 and the Stonewall Rebellion, there have been significant changes for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and it’s important to celebrate our accomplishments.

Take a look at what has happened in the last year:

The federal government took the first steps toward repealing the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy which bans open military service by gays and lesbians. Federal officials also unveiled new guidelines on how hospitals should deal with LGBT patients and their families.

Closer to home, DFW International Airport and Dallas County added policies to protect their LGBT employees from employment discrimination, and Dallas ISD adopted a comprehensive anti-bullying policy that protects all students regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

I’m happy to say Resource Center Dallas played key roles in these local accomplishments.

In addition, public attitudes are changing. A Gallup poll released last month shows more than half the people surveyed now find gay and lesbian relationships, in the words of the survey, “morally acceptable.” The poll also showed half the people surveyed support marriage equality; up from 26 percent in 1996.

Much of this growth is attributed to people under the age of 35, and a change of attitude among men.

With all of these positive developments, we could become complacent. We could think the heavy work is done. At times, I’ve allowed myself to fall into this self-congratulatory trap.

Then I hear a story, as I did over Memorial Day weekend, which jars me back to the reality that our lives are precarious. It reminded me that there are far too many hearts and souls whose attitudes toward us have not changed.

At a funeral for a gay acquaintance of mine in East Texas, the minister delivered an anti-gay message from the pulpit, as did a relative of the deceased. In fact, the relative said he did not accept his brother’s sexual orientation in life, and wouldn’t in death.

Think about that for a minute. Can you imagine what the LGBT friends of the deceased must have felt, hearing those words in that setting?

This happened in 2011, a short drive from Dallas/Fort Worth. It stunned me, and reminded me of several recent events that together show the path for full inclusion remains bumpy.

When a state representative tries to eliminate funding for LGBT resource centers on Texas public college campuses, we have a long way to go. When a state senator attempts to restrict the rights of transgender Texans to marry, we have a long way to go.

When criminals target people because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, we have a long way to go. When LGBT people can still be fired from their jobs because of who they are or who they love, we have a long way to go.

When there are laws labeling our relationships and partnerships as less than legal and equal, we have a long way to go. When LGBT seniors face discrimination in long-term care facilities, we have a long way to go.

When we are treated unequally under federal programs like Social Security and Medicaid, we have a long way to go.

This is not meant to be a bucket of cold water on a festive, celebratory time. We’ve shown over and over again in the years since Stonewall that we have created communities, forged alliances and literally moved mountains to affect positive change for the LGBT community. We’ve rallied over the people we’ve lost and the temporary setbacks dropped in our path by lawmakers.

Rather, I think we should use Pride Month as an opportunity to look forward as well as back. Our pride in being who we are, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, isn’t limited to 30 days every year, or a parade in the early fall. It’s pride in how we live our lives and how we work to fulfill the promise of equality for those who come after us.

Remember, this promise of equality is — for us — only a theoretical promise. To achieve equality, much more needs to be done, and each one of us must play a part.

Rafael McDonnell is strategic communications and programs manager for Resource Center Dallas and a former broadcast journalist. Email him at rmcdonnell@rcdallas.org.

—  John Wright