The parade and festival may not be till Sunday, but the Dallas Pride festivities are well under way. Via the Dallas Tavern Guild’s newly redesigned Pride website, below is a list of today’s happenings:
The tres gay town of Nice along the French Riviera is a chic playground
The French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur, ranks among Europe’s most enduring — and alluring — gay playgrounds. While this stretch of rugged Mediterranean coastline at the southeastern tip of France doesn’t generate quite as much buzz with LGBT travelers as Sitges, Ibiza or Mykonos, the sunny and sophisticated French Riviera is ideal for a romantic getaway, and the most gay-popular communities — we’re covering Nice this month, Cannes next — abound with beautiful beaches, chic shopping, exceptional art museums and atmospheric cafes and open-air markets.
The largest city in the region, with about 350,000 residents and an international airport with direct flights from North America, Nice supports an active gay organization, AGLAE, which sponsors Gay Pride each July and produces a gay guide that’s distributed free at many businesses. The city is also home to several fine museums, including the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Matisse Museum of Nice. This is also a fine town for shopping, with dozens of upscale boutiques set along Rue Pastorelli and Rue du Marechal Joffre, including the famous Galeries Lafayette department store.
For great views of the city and harbor, climb the stairs to Castle Hill and stroll among the botanical gardens and medieval ramparts, soaking up the views of the bustling port neighborhood — you can see for miles up and down the coast. At the base of the hill, bustling Old Town’s narrow streets, classic architecture, esteemed galleries and open-air flower and food markets contain a number of the city’s gay-frequented businesses.
Old Town fringes the city’s shoreline, where you can stroll along the broad, palm-shaded Promenade des Anglais, which lines the miles of pretty (but pebbly) beaches. A couple of the many beachside restaurants along here fly rainbow flags to welcome their sizable gay clienteles: the beach at Castel Club, which lies in the shadows of Castle Hill, and the beach club run by the trendy HI Hotel, a favorite see-and-sun spot of the Nice A-listers. The clothing-optional section of rocky shoreline right below Restaurant Coco Beach, a short walk beyond the Port of Nice, is another favorite gay hangout.
Continue east around Cap de Nice to reach the exclusive village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, immortalized in the Bond movie Never Say Never Again. It’s also home to St-Pierre Chapel, whose restored interior contains murals painted by famed gay novelist Jean Cocteau. Across the bay is one of the world’s wealthiest enclaves, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat — everybody from Tina Turner to Bill Gates have homes around here. Head farther toward the Italian border, and you’ll reach the ancient cliff-top village of Eze and beyond that the Principality of Monaco, with its exclusive casinos and ritzy shopping.
The French Riviera enjoys a fabled culinary reputation — you’ll find no shortage of superb restaurants in every town, plus markets and gourmet shops specializing in local olives, oils, cheeses, pastries and every other imaginable treat.
In Nice’s pedestrianized Cours Saleya district in Old Town, you’ll find dozens of sidewalk cafés, most of them specializing in local seafood and pizzas, among the flower and food markets. If you make it around the Cape to Villefrance, do not miss the wonderful seafood restaurant La Mère Germaine, which has tables right on the bay. If you’re seeking a lunch spot in Vallauris, try cozy, gay-owned Le Clos Cosette, which turns out traditional Provencal cuisine, or fashionable Cafe Marianne. The interior village of Saint-Paul de Vence is one of the country’s finest small towns for dining — it’s home to a handful of Michelin-star restaurants.
Gay nightlife in the region is relaxed and very friendly. In Nice, consider Bar Le Fard, a snug spot on Promenade des Anglais — it’s a good place to start the night. Other good bets include centrally located Le 6 Bar, which draws a stylish mix for cocktails, conversation and dancing; and Le Glam club, a small but lively spot for dancing to pop tunes. Fairly near the harbor is the Eagle, a typical leather-oriented and cruise bar, and the fetish/sex club called Le Block.
Nice also has a few very popular gay saunas, including the small but quite clean and attractive Les Bains Douches, and the large and always-crowded Sauna du Chateau.
Nice has the best variety of lodging options, which include reasonably priced gay B&Bs like Blue Angels and ThyJeff Guesthouse, both of which are close to the train station — the owners of the latter also run a cheerful gay café nearby, Le ThyJeff. Also consider the upscale four-room guest house, Mas des Oliviers, a gay-owned retreat set amid quiet gardens in the foothills above Nice — amenities include a pool, fitness room and two terraces with lovely views.
Among larger properties, the chic and artfully designed HI Hôtel — with its bold color schemes, rooftop pool and stellar sushi restaurant — is a favorite of trendy and discerning gay travelers. The hotel also operates the previously mentioned HI beach club and restaurant. Other Nice favorites include the opulent Hôtel Palais le la Méditerranée, a grand dame with a magnificent Art Deco facade overlooking the sea, and the elegant and smartly updated L’Hôtel Beau Rivage, an 1860s beauty overlooking Promenade des Anglais — it’s been a favorite accommodation of such arts and literary figures as Matisse and Chekhov.
— Andrew Collins
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.
A fundraiser for British rugby star Ben Cohen’s anti-bullying foundation has been moved from the home of a Republican Texas lawmaker, after an Instant Tea post about the event stirred controversy Thursday.
Jeff Hickey, a gay Dallas resident who’s organizing the Sept. 16 fundraiser for Cohen’s StandUp Foundation, said he chose to move the event from the Highland Park home owned by State Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie.
Cohen’s foundation is focused on combating anti-gay bullying, and two days after the fundraiser Cohen will be a special VIP guest at Dallas’ gay Pride parade. Rep. Pitts, meanwhile, has an anti-gay voting record and supported an effort to ban LGBT resource centers from college campuses in Texas earlier this year.
“It created a firestorm politically,” Hickey said of the Instant Tea post, written by Daniel Williams. “Within one day, it was diverting all the attention and resources.
“Within the course of just a couple hours, it made it’s way to London and Austin and all over the place,” Hickey added. “The entire message was lost, and that was extremely disappointing to a lot of people.”
Hickey said the post prompted Cohen’s representatives in London to contact him, and at one point the rugby star’s entire four-day visit to Dallas was in jeopardy.
“Ben’s got a very sensitive brand and a very popular international brand, and they’re not interested in that brand being messed up in Texas politics,” Hickey said.
HIckey said it was an “unfortunate situation” and he understands both sides of the issue, including Instant Tea’s desire to report on the issue. He also said he was “very honored” that Pitts offered to host the event and noted that the state representative voted in favor of two anti-bullying measures backed by Equality Texas in this year’s session.
Asked how Pitts came to host the fundraiser in the first place, Hickey said, “I was approached by some people that said we could possibly do it at his house.” But Hickey declined to say who those people were or elaborate. Pitts hasn’t returned a phone call seeking comment.
Hickey said the fundraiser will now be held at a private residence in Oak Cliff. Anyone interested in attending can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dallas’ LGBT Pride parade, the Alan Ross Freedom Parade, is Sept. 18. The parade’s “special VIP Guest” is English rugby star Ben Cohen, whose StandUp Foundation works to raise awareness of the long-term damaging effects of bullying. Cohen, who is straight, was inspired to create the foundation after hearing from LGBT friends about the difficulties they experienced. “I am passionate about standing up against bullying and homophobia in sports,” says Cohen, “and feel compelled to take action. It is time we stand up for what is right and support people who are being harmed.”
In honor of Cohen the week leading up to the parade, Sept. 12-16, has been declared “Stand Up Against Bullying Week” in Dallas. According to this Facebook event the week will culminate in a fundraiser for the StandUp Foundation on Friday night at the Highland Park home of Jim Pitts.
Rep. Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, is chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee and a 20-year Republican member of the House … which begs the question of whether the Jim Pitts who is hosting Cohen’s event is the same Jim Pitts who supported efforts this last session by Rep. Wayne Christian, R-Center, to ban LGBT resource centers from Texas college campuses.
A search of the Dallas County Central Appraisal District’s website indicates that the address given for the fundraiser is owned by Pitts 2007 Properties LTD, which is a subsidiary of Pitts Property Management LLC, which is owned by none other than Jim R. Pitts, the honorable representative from House District 10.
So it seems that Rep. Pitts is, indeed, hosting the event: for which I give him kudos. The StandUp Foundation does good work and Ben Cohen is, by all accounts, a fierce advocate for the LGBT community. Hosting the event is in keeping with Pitts’ voting record this last session, when he voted for both HB 1942 (the “super” anti-bullying bill) and HB 1386 (the teen suicide prevention bill).
I would ask, however, that Rep. Pitts consider his votes on other issues and how they affect bullying in Texas schools. It’s not enough to say that LGBT kids shouldn’t be bullied or harassed if your actions tell their tormentors that LGBT kids aren’t as deserving of respect or resources as other people. There is a direct line running through Christian’s statements on the House floor calling LGBT people disgusting and the middle school student who punches an effeminate child for being a “fag.” When Pitts fails to stand up to the former he enables the later. This inconsistency, this willful refusal to see the systemic discrimination faced by LGBT adults as the license that allows the torture of LGBT children, is, in ways both figurative and literal, killing our children — and it has to end.
Instant Tea has left a message with Pitts’ legislative office seeking to confirm that he plans to host a fundraiser for Cohen’s foundation. We’ll let you know what we find out.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings issued a proclamation this week declaring Sept. 12-16 “Stand Up Against Bullying Week.”
Rawlings’ proclamation (click to enlarge) notes that “nine out of 10 LGBT teens have reported being bullied at school within the past year because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Stand Up Against Bullying Week coincides with a visit from international rugby star Ben Cohen, who’ll be in town for gay Pride and whose StandUp Foundation is dedicated to raising awareness about anti-LGBT bullying.
“It is an important issue to our youth,” Rawlings’ chief of staff, Paula Blackmon, said Wednesday. “Bullying is a real thing, and it’s important to bring awareness to it and to say it won’t be tolerated, and if it is happening, then others shouldn’t tolerate it. They should do something about it.”
The Stand Up Against Bullying Week proclamation was issued in response to a request from Jeff Hickey, a local gay activist who led the campaign to bring Cohen to Dallas.
Hickey has formed a group called Dallas Stands Up to host Cohen and spread the word about his visit Sept. 15-18. In addition to being a special VIP guest at the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, Cohen will headline an anti-bullying forum at SMU, speak at high schools in Dallas and Fort Worth, and attend a fundraiser for the Stand Up Foundation at the home of a GOP state lawmaker.
“It’s been a pure grassroots effort,” Hickey said. “It’s actually proving to be a much more profound experience than I expected to be.”
Below is a press release from Dallas Stands Up with more details about Cohen’s visit.
1. Round-Up Saloon co-owners Gary Miller and Alan Pierce have been selected as grand marshals of the 28th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, set for Sept. 18, according to an announcement by the bar this morning on Facebook. The Round-Up celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2010.
2. A former U.S. Navy commander has been censured for allowing an ensign to receive anti-gay call signs including “Romo’s Bitch,” “Fagmeister” and “Gay Boy.” Ensign Steve Crowston, an East Texas native and avid Dallas Cowboys fan, filed a complaint against Cmdr. Liam Bruen over the incident. Bruen abruptly retired from the Navy in May. Read our previous coverage of the case here.
1. The Dallas Morning News published its first-ever same-sex wedding announcements on Sunday. Two gay couples — Mark Reed and Dante Walkup (right), and James Kreidel and Mark Pierson — had announcements appear under Weddings in Sunday’s Celebrations section of The DMN (Page 11E). Reed and Walkup, who convinced the newspaper to publish same-sex weddings after filing a discrimination complaint with the city, were married in Washington, D.C., last year. Kreidel and Pierson were married in Massachusetts last year. Congrats to both couples.
2. In another head-spinning twist over “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a federal appeals court late Friday temporarily reinstated the policy but ordered the government not to use it to investigate, penalize or discharge anyone. On July 6, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco lifted its stay of a district judge’s ruling halting enforcement of DADT. But last week the Department of Justice asked the court to reimpose the stay, saying its removal could interfere with the orderly legislative repeal of the ban on open service. The appeals court on Friday agreed to reimpose the stay but blocked the Pentagon from discharging anyone under the policy. The military can, however, refuse to accept applications from openly gay recruits. The court gave the DOJ until today to submit additional arguments as to why the stay should remain in place.
3. As the legal maneuvering over DADT repeal continues, a contingent of active-duty military servicemembers marched in a gay Pride parade Saturday for what is believed to be the first time in U.S. history. About 200 active-duty troops, wearing T-shirts representing every service branch, marched in San Diego’s Pride parade. Watch video below.
Even though there was a fence around the Pride San Antonio Block Party in Crockett Park on Saturday it could not contain the sheer size of the celebration. The entire Main Avenue strip, from the Essence Bar on the south to the Silver Dollar Saloon at the northern end, was bursting to the seams with revelers.
Crockett Park was packed to the gills. Every parking lot in the neighborhood was full and by 7:30 p.m. folks with lawn chairs were picking out the good spots along the parade route.
It seemed to this observer that this could have been the biggest Pride Block Party and Parade since the tradition was restarted five years ago. By moving the Block Party to the park, Pride organizers managed to get more people not only into the festival but into the entire neighborhood as well.
In an interview with the San Antonio Express-News, Phillip Barcena, president of Pride San Antonio, estimated that 15,000 people would witness the Pride Parade, which began at West Dewey and ended at West Cypress.
At the corner of Dewey and North Main parade participants lined up at the starting point of the seven-block parade route. Many parade participants sought refuge from the heat and waited inside the Silver Dollar Saloon which was directly across the street from the parade lineup.
Among the marchers were two city councilmen: Diego Bernal (District 1) and Ray Lopez (District 6), more than in any previous parade. Perennial participants included State Sen. Leticia Van De Putte and State Rep. Joe Farias. There too was outgoing Director of Health Dr. Fernando Guerrera along with the new Director of Health Dr. Thomas Schlenker.