Top 10: Celebrations saw major changes

RazzleDazzle

PARADES AND PARTIES | Razzle Dazzle Dallas returned as a five-day event with crowds filling the street for the big Saturday night extravaganza. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)

No. 7

Change was the name of the game when it came to the traditional LGBT celebrations this year, from Easter in the Park in April to the 30th anniversary Tarrant County Gay Pride Week celebrations in October.

In mid-March news broke that the Turtle Creek Association, which had for years been the sponsoring organization for the annual Easter in Lee Park celebration, had decided to move the Pooch Parade to the weekend before Easter, billing it as a “family-friendly” event called Creek Craze. That left the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s traditional Easter Sunday concert in the park without a sponsor, and many in the LGBT community angry over what they saw as a way to exclude the community.

But after the irate reaction from the LGBT community, the Turtle Creek Association teamed up with Lee Park Conservancy to hire gay event planner Dave Berryman, who quickly put together a plan to fund the usual Easter Sunday celebration by bringing in Cedar Springs Merchants Association member Kroger, along with Park Place Volvo and Metro PCS as title sponsors, allowing TCA to continue with its Creek Craze event and for the traditional Easter in Lee Park party to take place as well, complete with the Kroger Pooch Parade and the DSO concert.

In the fall of 2010 plans began percolating to bring back what had long been Dallas’ annual Gay Pride Month celebration, Razzle Dazzle Dallas. And while some questioned whether organizers would be able to coordinate their planned five-day revival of the event in time, Razzle Dazzle Dallas came back with a bang.

Many in the community reacted in anger again last summer when the Dallas Tavern Guild announced new rules for the annual Festival in Lee Park, following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in September. Under the new rules, the park was fenced in and a $5 admission fee was charged at the gate. The Tavern Guild also banned partiers from bringing their own coolers and beverages into the park for the festival.

DTG Executive Director Michael Doughman explained that the Tavern Guild was fencing the park for the festival to get ahead of new city regulations set to go into effect in 2012, and that the admission fee was intended to add to the proceeds to be distributed to parade beneficiaries. Outside liquor was banned, he said, because incidences with highly-inebriated partiers in the park had gotten out of control in recent years.

Despite complaints and some glitches, Doughman said after the event that organizers were pleased with the turnout — some 5,300 people paid the $5 admission — and in December, the Tavern Guild distributed checks totaling $18,700 to five beneficiary organizations.

Tarrant County’s annual Pride Week celebration also saw big changes in 2012. Organizers consolidated the annual picnic and parade, which previously had taken place on separate weekends, into one weekend, added several events and moved the parade downtown. Despite dire predictions from some quarters that the changes would lead to failure, the community turned out in big numbers to line Main Street in downtown Fort Worth to cheer a parade that included, for the first time ever, a Fort Worth mayor — newly-elected Betsy Price — as a participant. And the following day, the crowds returned to Trinity Park for the annual picnic.

—Tammye Nash

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

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

Taking Pride to the mainstream

A bigger parade in a new location, expanded schedule of events will help Tarrant County keep Pride going all year round

 

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — LGBT Pride celebrations aren’t new in Tarrant County. But there are definitely a few new things about this year’s 30th annual Pride celebration in Cowtown.

The biggest change is the location — and the day and time — of the annual Pride parade. Traditionally, the parade has been held on Sunday afternoons — the first weekend in October for the last couple of years, before that, at the beginning of June — and it has traditionally traveled down South Jennings Street.

This year, though, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade moves uptown, starting near the courthouse on Main Street then heading south to disperse at the convention center, just in time for the street festival on Main Street and in General Worth Square.

The annual Pride Picnic, Tarrant County’s original Pride event which has traditionally been held on the Saturday following the parade, this year will instead be held on Sunday, Oct. 2, the day after the parade, again at the Arts Pavilion in Trinity Park.

But it’s not just the days and location that are new for Tarrant County Pride this year, organizers say; there’s also a renewed enthusiasm — a renewed and strengthened spirit of pride.

“There’s a real excitement this year. People are excited about moving the parade and the festival downtown,” said Daune Littlefield, president of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association.

“Yes, there are a few who didn’t want to move the parade, who didn’t want to do anything differently. But there are more who are excited,” she added. “We should have grown more than we have in the last 30 years. We just got too comfortable with doing things the way we had always done them.”

It’s not been an easy task. The new location for the parade offered some logistical problems. And of course, the expanded event requires the Pride association to cooperate more with city officials.

…………………….

Changes

But at the same time, organizers’ big plans made that cooperation easier to come by.

“We’ve been planning this for awhile. In fact, it was about two years ago that we really started to think about moving the parade, making things bigger and better,” said Littlefield.

“One of the main reasons we changed the day and the time of the parade was because it would be easier to get the permits and close the streets downtown and manage the traffic if the parade was on a Saturday morning,” she explained. “And having the parade and picnic all in the same weekend makes it easier to draw in more people from out of town. And the idea of more people coming in from out of town made it easier to get the [Fort Worth] Convention and Visitors Bureau to work with us.”

And the idea of bringing in visitors from out of town also convinced the Sheraton Fort Worth hotel to partner with the committee to offer the Pride Weekend Package, offering visitors a discounted price to stay at the hotel and giving them easy access to the parade, the street festival and the number of educational seminars and entertainment events scheduled to be held at the hotel during the course of the weekend.

Littlefield and Tina Harvey, parade and vendor chair and long-term parade committee member, both acknowledged that the weekend package deal was not as successful this year as they had hoped. But both also believe it will be much more popular next year.

“We may have overdone it a little this year. Our expectations for that part may have been too high,” Harvey said. “But Pride weekend this year is going to be a huge success. People will see how successful it is, how much fun it is, and they are going to want to participate even more next year.”

Already, Harvey said, there are 48 entries registered for the parade on Saturday, which is 10 more than participated in last year’s parade. And 22 vendors, not counting the food and beverage vendors, have signed up for the street festival. That number also doesn’t count the activities available in the kid’s area.

Dianne Dunivan, picnic and merchandise chair and another longtime committee member, said Sunday’s picnic is also flush with vendors, entertainment and a kid’s area.

And both Dunivan and Harvey are quick to point out that they have worked diligently to keep prices as low as possible when it comes to food and drink stands at the street festival and picnic.

“Last year was the first time we charged for the food and the beer. We charged $1 for the beer, but the product cost us $1.08 and we had to pay taxes to the state on top of that. So we actually lost money on that last year. But that was OK, because we wanted to ease into actually charging for it,” Dunivan said.

“This year, the prices are a little higher. It will be $3 for a burger, a beer or wine, $2 for a polish sausage, and $1 for hot dogs or soft drinks. We are doing everything we can to keep the costs under control,” Dunivan said, adding that when it comes to the picnic in the park on Sunday, “We don’t have an exclusive. People can bring in their own stuff if they want. We are offering the food and the drinks as a convenience.

“We just want to make sure people know that everything is being upgraded this year. Everything is better. And, while we were cash-only last year, this year we’ll be able to take credit cards.”

Dunivan and Harvey also both stress that there is no admission fee to the parade, the festival or the picnic. Still, the committee wants to come out ahead in the money department, so they will have cash on hand as they start planning for 2012, and so they can add to the new TCGPW scholarship fund.

“That’s a big thing for us,” Littlefield said. “This year, we said we really wanted to step forward, to be even more family-friendly, and be even more visible, not just in the LGBT community, but in the community overall. Offering a scholarship is part of that.”

The scholarship, she explained, will be awarded to an LGBT person or to the child of an LGBT family. And while she believes that the association will definitely have enough money to cover expenses for this year’s parade and picnic, if there’s not enough left over to add to the scholarship fund, “we’ll just raise more money!”

And they aren’t waiting around to do that either.

…………………….

Pride throughout the year

Littlefield and the Pride committee this year are stressing that in Tarrant County they are no longer going to talk about Pride weekend. From now on, Littlefield said, “We are going to talk about Pride events. It won’t be just one weekend; we’re going to have Pride throughout the year.

“We want to keep up our visibility throughout the year. We want to keep the momentum going,” she said.

To do that TCGPWA is partnering with a variety of organizations and companies to help present and promote events that take the LGBT community out into the community at large, and that help put money in the Pride coffers.

The first such event on the schedule is Tarrant County Pride Day at Cowboys Stadium on Oct. 12. It includes a two-hour tour of the stadium, including the press box, the luxury suites, the Cotton Bowl offices, the Dr. Pepper Deck, the stadium clubs and the field. Plus, each person gets a free photo of themselves at the stadium, and all for just $20 a person.

A portion of each ticket sold, Littlefield said, will benefit TCGPWA.

The association has a similar arrangement worked out with Bass Hall for Joan Rivers’ performance there on Nov. 2, she added, and more such events will be added in the future.
Legacy of the raid

This level of enthusiasm and involvement is, Littlefield acknowledged, something of a new thing in Tarrant County. And it can be traced, at least in part, back to the June 29, 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

While the raid was a horrible thing, Littlefield said, plenty of good things have happened in its aftermath, including the community’s renewed sense of pride and activism.

“What happened that night at the Rainbow Lounge has made us all more aware that even though things are better than they were years ago, bad things can still happen,” she said. “But if you come together and work together, you can make good things come of it in the end.”

Harvey agreed.

“After the Rainbow Lounge raid, our community started speaking out, and the city and the mayor and the police chief really stepped up to work with us,” Harvey said. “Last year, a year after the raid, [Police Chief Jeff Halstead] was the grand marshal of our parade, and he was there for the picnic, along with about 20 Fort Worth police officers. Only about five of those officers were paid to be there, the others were just there to enjoy the day and share it with us.

“When I was younger, that never would have happened,” she continued. “Back then, the cops still raided the bars all the time. The gay people were always getting beat up. But seeing the chief and those officers at the parade and the picnic last year, it was life-changing for me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I didn’t have to worry about being who I am. And this year, the mayor [Betsy Price] is our grand marshal. That’s fantastic.

“When I was young, what I learned was to keep your head down, keep your mouth shut and stay with your own group. That’s not how it is any more. Some people are willing to keep on being second-class citizens, but not me. I want us to walk down Main Street, together. I want people to see us, to see our families.  I want the young people coming up today to see that, and say to themselves, ‘I’m gonna be OK.’ That’s what Pride is about.”

………………………

Tarrant County Pride Schedule

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30
• Noon-10 p.m. Trading Post & Arts Exhibit, Second Floor, Piney Woods Room, Sheraton FW
• 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. “Community School House” Education Sessions, Second Floor, West Room, Sheraton FW
*10:30-11:30 a.m. Samaritan House: Where there is a home, there is hope
* 1:30-2:30 p.m. Healing Wings: 30 years of HIV: Impact on the GLBT Community
* 3-4 p.m. Sessions Break
* 4:30-5:30 p.m. Outreach Addiction Services: Sex: Safety the Gay Way
* 6-7 p.m. Fairness Fort Worth: Grassroots Organizing: The creation of Fairness Fort Worth, Inc.
* 1-3 p.m. QCinema screens “March On!,” documentary screening, Second Floor, Taste of Texas Ballroom, Sheraton FW
* 7:33 p.m. “Strut your Pride” Show, hosted by Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, Best Friends Club, www.ic-fwa.org
* 8-10 p.m. Open Door Productions presents comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer, Second Floor, Taste of Texas Ballroom, Sheraton FW, limited general seating $25, for tickets visit: OpenDoorProductionstx.com
* Boot Scootin’, Club Reflection
* $300 Balloon Drop, dancers, live DJ, Rainbow Lounge
* Kick it Up Country Night, Best Friends
* 9 p.m. So You Think You Can Sing? Karaoke, Percussions

SATURDAY, OCT. 1
• 10 a.m.-noon “Ride the Rainbow” Pride Parade, Main Street at Weatherford, downtown Fort Worth
• 11 a.m.-2 p.m. AIDS Outreach Center Car Wash benefiting the 20th Anniversary AIDS Walk, Staybridge Suites, 220 Clifford Center Drive, Fort Worth. Contact Jaime Shultety at jaimes@aoc.org or 817-916-5210.
• Noon-6 p.m. Pride Street Festival, General Worth Square, Main and Ninth Streets
Coors Main Stage:
* 12 p.m. Eddy Herrera www.soundcloud.com/eustoliog
* 2 p.m. Eddy Herrera www.soundcloud.com/eustoliog
* 3 p.m. Aurora Bleu, www.AuroraBleu.com
* 4 p.m. Parade Awards
* 5 p.m. Aurora Bleu, www.AuroraBleu.com
• 5-7 p.m. It Only Makes Me Laugh Comedy Showcase, Patio @ Rainbow Lounge
• 6-9 p.m. Cowtown “Pride” Cookout, hosted by Cowtown Leathermen, Club Reflection Patio, www.cowtownleathermen.com
• 7-11 p.m. Threesome, live band, on Patio @ Rainbow Lounge
• 8-10 p.m. Burlesque Show starring Tasha Kohl, Mosaic Lounge (underground), 515 Houston St. entrance on 5th St.
• 8-10 p.m. Fall Fest Events, hosted by NTXCC, Club Reflection Patio, www.ntxcc.org
• 9 p.m. Anton Shaw live, Percussions
• Boot Scootin’, Club Reflection
• 1 a.m. Pride Night $500 balloon drop Best Friends

SUNDAY, OCT. 2
• Noon-6 p.m. Pride Picnic, Trinity Park Arts Pavilion
Bud Light Mainstage Schedule
* 1 p.m. Terry Sweeney
* 2 p.m. Valerie Stevens and Kickback
* 3 p.m. Mallorie
* 4 p.m. To be announced
* 5 p.m. Butch Country
• 2-7 p.m. Afternoon Cookout, Patio @ Rainbow Lounge
• 6-9 p.m. Family Night, Best Friends
• 8 p.m. Pride Karaoke, Club Reflection
• 9 p.m. Karaoke with Pete Day, Percussions
• 11 p.m. Whitney Paige Show, Rainbow Lounge
(For more events throughout the week, go online to TCGPWA.org.)

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Pride 2011 • 30th annual Tarrant Pride Parade moves to downtown Fort Worth

Organizers say this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever, with parade and street festival on Saturday, and popular Pride Picnic on Sunday, October 1-2

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — The Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade marks its 30th anniversary this year, and organizers with the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association said this week they are going all out to make this year’s event the biggest and best ever.

This year the parade moves from its previous Sunday afternoon time slot to Saturday morning, Oct. 1, along with the street festival that is now in it’s second year. The parade is also changing locations, moving from the traditional route down South Jennings to a more visible downtown route, moving down Main Street from Weatherford Street south to 7th Street.

The parade begins at 10 a.m., and the street festival — which will be set up in General Worth Square, on Main Street between 8th Street and 9th Street — follows immediately, from noon to 6 p.m.

TCGPWA’s popular annual Pride Picnic is doing a little moving of its own this year: It will still be held in Trinity Park, at the intersection of Crestline Road and Foch Street. But this year the picnic is moving from its traditional Saturday time slot to Sunday, Oct. 2, from noon to 6 p.m.

“I think we’re going to have a big turnout for the parade, just for the curiosity factor if nothing else,” TCGPWA Secretary Carla Parry said this week. “We’ve never had the parade downtown before. Having it downtown has never been an option before. So I think there will be a huge crowd there.”

Parry said that planning for the bigger events in the new location has been going very smoothly so far, and “Hopefully, no wrenches get thrown into our works between now and then!”

The expanded activities and downtown route this year mean higher costs for organizers, and the TCGPWA has been working diligently all year to raise the money needed to cover those costs. Parry said this week that things on the fundraising front also appear to be coming along well.

“The fundraising is right on target for where we need it to be,” Parry said. “We are giving out a scholarship this year for the first time, and we would love to bring in over and above the amount we need just to pay for the parade and festival and picnic, so that we could put that extra in the scholarship fund. But we are on par for what we need to pay for everything.

“Actually, all the money from the alcohol and food sales at the picnic on that Sunday comes back to the association, and that is money that we can add to the scholarship fund,” she added.

Parry said that city officials have been “very accommodating” in the process of planning this year’s expanded Pride events and moving the parade and street festival downtown.

She said that while the 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission was “a horrible thing that never should have happened,” she is proud that the city and its LGBT community have used that event as the impetus for improving policies and relationships.

“We’ve made huge strides forward here in Fort Worth since the raid,” Parry said, and those strides are reflected in the city’s attitude toward planning this year’s events.

One very visible sign of that improved relationship will be Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s participation this year as one of three Pride parade grand marshals.

Tony Coronado, chair of TCGPWA’s corporate partners and sponsorships committee, said that Price was nominated for grand marshal by Fairness Fort Worth President and TCGPWA member Tom Anable, who also confirmed with Price that she was available and willing to participate in the parade. Her nomination was then confirmed by a vote of the association’s general membership, Coronado said.

Also elected as grand marshals this year are Q Cinema co-founder and activist Todd Camp, and female impersonator Zoe Daniels. Honorary grand marshals are retired Fort Worth

Police Officer Mike Miller and female impersonator Tasha Kohl, aka Jerry Faulkner.

“Our grand marshals this year reflect the present and the future of our community, and our honorary grand marshals were chosen as symbols to remember and honor our past,” Coronado said.

He explained that Miller is considered “our first, unofficial LGBT liaison with the police department.” Faulkner, who brought Tasha Kohl, his longtime and very popular drag alter ego, out of retirement to perform in shows over the summer to raise money for the Pride events, has a history of fundraising for the LGBT community and organizations in Tarrant County and around the Metroplex.

“The female impersonators, the drag queens, have always played a very important role in the [LGBT] community in Fort Worth and Tarrant County,” Coronado said, explaining why the TCGPWA includes them in the grand marshal and honorary grand marshal honorees for Pride each year.

“In fact, our annual Pride Picnic is actually our foundational Pride event here, the first Pride event ever held in Fort Worth, and it was started by drag queens all those years ago who wanted to get the community to come together to relax and have fun,” he said.

Parry said the street festival this year will be larger than the inaugural event last year, with corporate sponsors Coors Light and Coors Distributing Co. of Fort Worth once again donating the Coors Light stage. Local entertainer Aurora Blue headlines the entertainment for the festival, and will be joined in the lineup by a number of other performers.

The festival will feature a kids activity area, including a booth with Fort Worth P.D.’s IdentiKid program, “plenty of vendors” and a number of food and beverage stands as well as organizational and game booths. Entertainment, vendors, informational booths, a kid’s activity area and a games area with volleyball and horseshoes will again be part of the Pride Picnic on Oct. 2, Parry said, along with, of course, food and beverage stands.

Tarrant County Gay Pride officially kicks off Thursday night, Sept. 29, with shows and parties at nightclubs in Fort Worth, and continues through the following week.

For more information about Tarrant County Pride, go online to TCGPWA.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Tarrant Pride fundraising kicks into high gear

PRIDE 2010 | The Rev. Carol West was one of the grand marshalls for the 2010 Tarrant Pride Parade.

TCGPWA still about $15,000 short of goal to pay for picnic, 30th annual parade set for downtown

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — With less than two months to go until the 30th annual Tarrant County Pride Week steps off through downtown Fort Worth on Oct. 1, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association still needs to raise more money to pay for a bigger, better parade and the Pride Picnic planned for the following Day in Trinity Park.

Since the Rainbow Lounge raid in June 2009, Fort Worth’s LGBT community has been re-energized and more active and organized. The 2010 parade, which followed the traditional route down Jennings Avenue on the city’s south side, was the largest, by far, in recent memory, and included a new feature, a street party on Jennings before and after the parade.

But this year, as the community’s presence and influence has grown, and to mark the event’s 30th anniversary, TCGPWA organizers decided the parade should be even more high profile, moving the event to downtown Cowtown.

“We’re taking it to Main Street America” this year, said Duane Littlefield, president of TCGPWA.

This year’s parade has also been moved to a Saturday morning instead of a Sunday afternoon.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, and will move down Main Street in the heart of the downtown district. The street festival will follow, beginning at noon at General Worth Square, and lasting til 6 p.m.

The Pride Picnic, previously held on the Saturday following parade Sunday, this year will be held the next day, from noon to 6 p.m.

But this bigger, better Pride celebration costs money. The budget for the parade and picnic weekend is $25,000, a significant increase from the previous budget of $6,600 according to Tony Coronado, TWGPWA corporate partner and sponsorships committee chair.

And unlike the Dallas Pride parade each September that is staged by a professional organization, the Dallas Tavern Guild, the Fort Worth events are mounted completely by a volunteer community organization.

Coronado said the committee has so far raised about $10,000 of the total needed. But is confident that upcoming fundraising events can make up the difference — as long as the community turns out to support them.

On Aug. 20, TCGPWA is holding a benefit garage sale, and on Aug. 21, “The Diva Show” starring local drag legend Tasha Kohl begins at 8 p.m. at Best Friends Club. Three additional shows are planned at Best Friends through September, including a pageant, that will all help bulk up the Pride celebration coffers.

In addition, Coronado said that most groups that will participate in the parade have not registered yet. Parade entries cost $50 for an eco-friendly or walking group, $75 for a non-profit and $125 for a standard entry which may be a car, float or a truck.

Groups have until Sept. 15 to register.

Coronado said the association has lined up some sponsors, the majority of whom are “providing in-kind services,” Coronado said. That list includes Coors, which will supply the main stage for the festival.

But, Littlefield added, “We could always use more sponsors.”

She said that another way to contribute is to purchase the weekend package available on the TCGPWA website. The Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa is the host hotel and the weekend includes lunch at Billy Bob’s in the Stockyards, a film screening at the Water Gardens and excursions to the museums in the city’s Cultural District.

“Buy into that package,” Littlefield urged. “It will help tremendously.”

She said the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau has been “gung ho supportive” in helping the association plan and promote Pride weekend.

The downtown route is about four times the length of the old parade route, and Littlefield said that requires more announcing stations and more police. And for the first time, the Fort Worth parade will use barricades to keep spectators on the sidewalks, adding another expense.

More volunteers are also needed this year for set-up, clean up and logistics, which also adds to the price.

Newly elected Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will be one of the grand marshals for this year’s parade, and Billy Moon — grand marshal of the first Pride parade in Fort Worth 30 years ago — will be one of the honorary grand marshals. Tasha Kohl has also been named honorary grand marshal.

Coronado said the Pride Week association named Kohl as an honorary grand marshal in part as a shout-out to the city’s female impersonators who are the ones who started the Pride picnic and who have always been an integral part of the fundraising efforts for the parade and other activities.

Because this year’s parade is taking place downtown, the parade will be more accessible to Dallasites making the trip across the Trinity for the parade by train.

On Saturday, the TRE leaves Union Station in downtown Dallas at 8:49 a.m. and arrives at the Fort Worth Intermodal Center (the next to last stop) at 9:44 a.m. That station is three blocks from the parade route.

The parade begins at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Weatherford Street at 10 a.m. proceeding down Main Street to 7th Street. The festival that begins at noon will be on Main Street from 8th to 9th streets near the Water Gardens. The Intermodal Center is on Jones Street at 9th Street.

Volunteers can sign up on line. Forms for parade entries are also available at TCGPWA.org

—  John Wright

Weekend package announced for Tarrant Pride

2010 Tarrant County Pride parade

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association has announced a weekend package for Fort Worth’s Pride celebration.

This year marks the 30th anniversary celebration (it’s older than Dallas’ Pride) and the parade will move downtown.

The weekend package includes a stay at the host hotel, the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa, 1701 Commerce St., in downtown Fort Worth.

The celebration begins on Thursday, Sept. 29. The highlight of the day is an outdoor film screening at the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

Friday’s activities includes a trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards with lunch at Billy Bob’s Texas, then off to Cultural District via Molley the Trolley.

The parade and street festival takes place downtown on Saturday, Oct. 1, beginning at 10 a.m.,  and the annual Pride Picnic is Sunday, Oct. 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Trinity Park.

Full details are on the TCGPWA website.

—  David Taffet

TCGPWA announces big plans for 2011

FAITH-BASED PRIDE | The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, waves to the crowd as part of the church’s entry in the 2010 Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Parade moving downtown, will include Street Fest; parade and picnic condensed into 1 weekend

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth’s LGBT community, re-energized by the June, 2009, raid on the Rainbow Lounge, has over the last 18-plus months become a much more organized, visible and active presence in the city.

Last October’s annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Week provided strong evidence of the community’s vitality.

The Pride parade was the largest in many years and included a first-time feature: a block party on South Jennings Street with vendors, entertainment and the Coors Main Stage. The following weekend, the popular Pride Week picnic pulled in a huge and diverse crowd to Trinity River Park.

This year, as TCGPW Association plans for its 30th annual Pride celebration, Fort Worth’s LGBT community can look forward to an even bigger and better event, parade chairman Tony Coronado said this week.

The biggest change, Coronado said, will be in the timing of the main Pride week events. Previously, the parade has been held on a Sunday afternoon to kick off the week, and the picnic has wound up the festivities the following Saturday. But this year, the parade and picnic are being held the same weekend — and the parade is moving downtown for the first time in its 30-year history.

The Ride the Rainbow Pride Parade and Street Festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. on Main Street. The Street Festival, Coronado said, begins after the parade and continues until 6 p.m.

ROYALTY ON PARADE | The 2010 TCGPWA titleholders were among the entries in Fort Worth’s Pride parade last October. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

The following day — Sunday, Oct. 2 — the picnic will be held from noon to 6 p.m. in Trinity Park, with the area and layout expanded to accommodate the expected increase in attendance, Coronado said.

But while the two main events will take place in one weekend, Coronado said Pride week runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9, with a variety of local events set throughout the week and the International Gay Rodeo Association’s World Gay Rodeo Finals taking place Oct. 7-9 in Fort Worth.

One reason for condensing the parade and picnic into one weekend, Coronado said, is to broaden the celebration’s appeal to out-of-towners, especially since this will be the 30th annual parade.

“We’ve been working with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau a lot. They are helping promote our celebration, and having it all in one weekend will make it easier for people to come in from out of town to attend,” Coronado said. “This way, they don’t have to decide between coming for the parade or coming for the picnic. They can come for one weekend and attend both.”

Coronado stressed that being able to coordinate these events on a larger scale than in the past and make sure they are successful requires careful planning — which is why TCGPWA laid out a two-year plan to prepare for the anniversary year, and why the organization has made a concerted effort to reach out to as many organizations and communities as possible.

“We are using social networking a lot, and we are reaching out to the LGBT individuals and organizations throughout Tarrant County, especially in the rural areas, trying to get them involved and excited,” he said.

“Whether they are officially involved or not, all the GLBT organizations in Tarrant County are a part of the pride celebration. It’s up to them as to how much they participate, but we want to make sure they know they are all invited to be a part of this.”

TCGPWA is also in the process of creating a scholarship fund through its new education committee, Coronado said. An awards panel has been established to research and develop criteria, target needs, set parameters and establish a required apprenticeship to award a scholarship to someone in the LGBT community.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Trans man Lance Reyna’s attacker has been released from jail, and he’s ‘about to lose it’

Terrance Calhoun

Back in June we told you about a brutal hate-crime attack against a transgender man inside a restroom on the campus of Houston Community College. Lance Reyna, a student-activist who’s both transgender and gay, was washing his hands when his attacker emerged from a stall and put a knife to his throat saying, “Hey queer, I need you to be quiet, cooperate, and give me all your valuables.” Reyna was knocked to the floor and beaten and kicked. His wallet and credit cards were taken. Terrance Calhoun, 22, was later arrested on campus and charged with aggravated robbery in the attack that occurred during Houston’s gay Pride week. Three months later, Calhoun has bonded out of jail as he awaits sentencing.

“I just got informed that my attacker is out of JAIL, someone please calm me down because I’m about to lose it,” Reyna wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

“I feel hopeless right now, plus all the bullying not being taken serious is something I can relate from my younger days in school,” he added Thursday night.

“Just spoke with HPD investigator, threatening text message has been documented. When number was ran it came up with a history,” Reyna wrote Friday morning.

Cristan Williams of the Houston-based Transgender Foundation for America reports on her blog that police don’t plan to pursue hate crime charges against Calhoun:

“Since the attacker won’t fess up to knowing that Lance was part of the GLBT community, he won’t be held accountable under State or Federal hate crime statutes and the case will be prosecuted as a simple assault,” Williams wrote. “As it stands now, he’s out of jail and may get off with a slap on the wrist and some community service because this is his, ‘first time offence’ (according to the DA’s office)!”

UPDATE: We spoke with Reyna on Friday afternoon, and he said Calhoun pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, a first-degree felony, earlier this month. Calhoun bonded out of jail this week while he awaits sentencing in early November, but Reyna said a prosecutor told him Calhoun could receive probation because it’s his first felony.

Reyna said the FBI investigated the case under the new federal hate crimes law that passed last year. However, because Calhoun wouldn’t admit that he targeted Reyna because he is transgender, the FBI opted not to pursue hate crimes charges. This was despite the fact that Calhoun used an anti-LGBT slur, “queer,” during the attack.

“I’m really disgusted with the way they don’t want to take things seriously,” Reyna said of authorities.

Reyna, who now attends the University of Houston, said Calhoun lives just a few blocks away from the campus, and he’s concerned for his safety. He said he hopes Calhoun is sentenced to at least 2 1/2 years behind bars, to give him a chance to finish school.

“That way, there would be less of a chance of me running into him,” Reyna said. “I had calmed down a little bit, but now I’m back to when it initially happened. I’m reliving the attack, and I don’t want to deal with the hell I went through right after it. It’s too much for me to deal with right now, just knowing he’s out on the streets.”

Reyna said it took him three weeks to recover from a concussion he sustained in the attack, and he’s currently undergoing counseling.

“They say have a lot of systems of post-traumatic stress disorder,” he said. “I have my good days and bad days, buy my level of anxiety just went up a couple of notches with him getting out of jail.”

Reyna said he also received a threatening text message a few days before Calhoun got out, but he is unsure who sent it. He has reported the message to police.

Williams, of the TFA, said she’s concerned about the standard that’s apparently being used by authorities to determine whether offenses are hate crimes. Texas’ hate crimes statute doesn’t include protections for transgender people, but the new federal law does.

“Apparently the attackers just have to come out and say, ‘Yes it’s a hate crime. I hate them, I was motivated by hate, now take me off to jail,’” Williams said. “Basically, unless they can have evidence that is beyond the pale, that is incontrovertible, they can’t prosecute it is as a hate crime.

“It would break if my heart, and it would make me lose a lot of respect for our legal system, if this guy gets off with a slap on the wrist and some community service after attacking a trans man with a deadly weapon and sending him to the hospital,” Williams said.

—  John Wright

A new direction for Tarrant Pride

Parade, block party kick off 29th Pride in Fort Worth as organizers get ready to move it downtown next year; annual picnic promises to be bigger than ever, planners say

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Tony Coronado
Tony Coronado

Officials with the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade are planning a big announcement on Sunday during the annual parade along South Jennings Street in Fort Worth: Next year’s 30th annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade will move to Downtown Fort Worth, according to parade chair Tony Coronado.

But first, Tarrant County’s LGBT community gets to party at this year’s parade and picnic. And they don’t have to wait for 2011 to start getting a taste of something new in Tarrant County Pride.

This year’s parade follows the same route as previous years, but reverses direction, marching toward downtown in anticipation of next year’s move, Coronado said. The 29th annual Pride parade begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 3.

An addition to this year’s parade is a block party. The intersection of South Jennings and Pennsylvania avenues near the end of the parade route will be closed for the day for the event.

The Rev. Carol West of Celebration Community Church and Mr. Gay Pride Week Scott Wasson Conger are the parade grand marshals. Fort Worth PD’s LGBT Liaison Officer Sara Straten and Chief of Police Jeffrey Halstead are honorary grand marshals.

Among the 50 entries in this year’s parade are several, including Resource Center Dallas and American Airlines, that marched two weeks ago in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in Dallas.

Members of Club Los Rieles saw Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association’s entry in the Dallas parade and approached Coronado about participating. They’ll be traversing the parade route on horseback in the Tarrant County Pride parade this weekend.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association President Jody Wasson said Pride Pets is the big addition to this year’s parade. Pets will be judged in three categories according to size. Prizes will be given for best-dressed pet and best-dressed pet and owner.

At 4 p.m. during the block party, pets will be judged on behavior, obedience, grooming and manner. A king and queen will be awarded rhinestone crowns and royal capes.

They will preside over next year’s pet entries and will ride their own float in the 2011 Pride Parade.

Jazz-rockabilly-blues group Aurora Bleu performs on the block party main stage at 3 p.m.

Coronado said that although it is too late to enter the parade, those who are interested can still apply vendor booths at the block party.

“We’ll fit ’em in,” Coronado said. “If you would like to do business and market to us, this is a great place to start.”

He said that because Fort Worth’s LGBT community is so spread out, this is the best place to reach this market.

Additional events are planned throughout Pride Week, culminating in the Pride Picnic on Oct. 10.

QCinema screens “Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride” at Four Day Weekend Theater in downtown Fort Worth at 8 p.m. on Monday Oct. 4.

Best Friends Club has game night on Tuesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. and Pride Karaoke on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 9:30 p.m.

Fort Worth’s Imperial Court holds its Texas Sweetheart Ball in memory of Taylor Vaughan at the club on Thursday, Oct. 7. And the Texas Gay Rodeo Association performs at the bar on Friday, Oct. 8.

Rhonda Mae presents her annual “Wall of Food Show” at Changes on Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 9 p.m.

Tarrant County Pride Week ends with the annual Pride Picnic in Trinity Park near the 7th Street Pavilion.

Dianne Dunivan is the chair of the picnic. She said this event has “expanded the area a bit” this year, and there will be two stages instead of one.

Entertainment runs on the Bud Light Main Stage from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Local singer Kylie D. Hart and country performer James Allen Clark will be featured on the main stage. A number of groups, including a local stomp troop, will also perform through the afternoon.

On the second stage, a DJ will spin music.

Vendors will be in a tent.

Sara Straten
POLICE PRIDE | Sara Straten, the Fort Worth Police Department’s LGBT liaison officer, pictured, and Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead will be honorary grand marshals for the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade this weekend. Grand marshals will be the Rev. Carol West and Scott Wasson Conger.

“We’re attracting some vendors from out of state,” said co-chair Tina Harvey. “We’ve got a couple of spots left. That’s it.”

But, she said, with enough last-minute vendors, they would rent a second tent.

Harvey said about 40 vendors scheduled include community groups, T-shirt vendors, jewelry and crafts sellers, churches and an attorney.

“The attorney has lots of information on adoption by same-sex couples and estate planning,” Harvey said.

She said the picnic setting is better for taking some time to sit down and talk about adoption or getting involved in community groups than the block party.

Harvey said that hamburgers, hot dogs and beer will each be $1 this year. At past picnics, food was free but mounting the downtown parade will cost more than this year.

“So we’re getting people used to paying a little,” Harvey said.

Dunivan added that the charge should cut down on waste as well. She said that people are also welcome to bring their own coolers and grills.

Picnic activities will include volleyball, horseshoes, tug-of-war and sack races. She said high-heel drag races and wheelbarrow races have been popular events at past Pride picnics.

About 200 children participated in the kids’ area last year. Face painters and balloon artists are this year’s addition to that section.

Harvey said that next year they’re planning events throughout the week and are hoping that people who come to town for Pride will stay for the full week.
Dunivan said the picnic is like homecoming.

“Come out and enjoy the day,” she said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

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