There was more green at the Festival in Lee Park this year — both in terms of open space and money raised for the gay Pride beneficiaries. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)
Ultimately it might be impossible to say by how much attendance was down at Sunday’s gay Pride Festival in Lee Park.
But according to Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, we do know this: Approximately 5,300 people paid $5 each to get into the festival.
Beyond that, Doughman estimated there were 700 unpaid attendees who received complimentary wristbands through festival vendors or groups that marched in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, which would bring the total crowd to 6,000.
In previous years, about 7,500 people attended the festival, according to Doughman, which would mean a 20 percent drop — in line with what organizers predicted after they decided to fence in the park and charge admission for the first time.
But Doughman said precise attendance figures for previous years — or even this year, since we don’t know how many who received complimentary wristbands actually showed up — simply don’t exist.
And even if they did, he added, they wouldn’t really matter. In Doughman’s view, critics who predicted disaster for the festival as a result of the $5 admission charge clearly were proven wrong. And the Tavern Guild, which organizes both the Pride parade and festival, was vindicated.
“We got tons of compliments from people who were in the park, not only vendors but just from people who attended,” Doughman said. “It may have been less headcount, but we think the quality of event was highly improved.”
DV photographer Chuck Dube will be sending over about a gazillion photos from gay Pride shortly, and DVtv segment producer Brent Paxton will be along with video. We’ll post all that just as soon as we can, but for now here are a few shots I took of the parade from my vantage point — which was somewhere in front of Kroger. That’s where I went because that’s where I was told there would be an area set aside for media, which there wasn’t. So instead I got to take in the parade with the rest of the crowd, including a very friendly lesbian named Stacy, who agreed to give me a spot next to her along the barricades in exchange for posting her photo here, which I’ve done below.
Anyhow, as superficial as appearing in the Pride parade has become for politicians, it was good to see Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings riding prominently atop the city float (above). However, the overall turnout from city council members appeared to be fewer than the 13 who had RSVP’d (we’re working to get an accurate headcount). It was also good to see County Judge Clay Jenkins in the parade, riding with the Dallas Young Democrats.
After the parade I ran home to meet the BF, who had gotten off work at 3, and we headed to Lee Park. When we arrived at the festival around 5, the entrance near Rawlins Street was literally jammed with people (photo below) as the cashier apparently couldn’t keep up with the line. There was also a large crowd congregating on a sidewalk across the street — either because they didn’t want to pay to get in or they didn’t want to leave their coolers unattended. When we walked past, police officers were yelling at them not to sit on the curb.
Attendance appeared to be down significantly at the park, but as we noted last week, organizers expected this given the new $5 admission charge. Even my new friend Stacy from the parade told me in no uncertain terms that she didn’t plan to go to the park because she didn’t want to pay.
But we won’t know to what degree attendance was down — or other details about the parade and festival — till Tuesday. That’s when Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, says he’ll be available to talk.
This entrance to Lee Park at Rawlins Street was jammed with people when we arrived at about 5 p.m.
A few more of my pics are below. Check back shortly for others.
The Dallas Morning News, which typically ignores gay Pride, went to the trouble of posting an item earlier today about Sunday’s parade and festival. And not suprisingly, the commenters are already quoting the Bible:
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 email@example.com.