Don’t let yesterday’s rain get you down. The sun is out for today’s Mardi Gras Oak Cliff celebration with its fourth annual parade. But it starts off with a crawfish boil and street party in the Bishop Arts District. Live music, food and beer will get you revved up for the parade. From Davis and Montclair to the Bishop Arts District, the parade rolls on through featuring floats, live bands, bicycle rides and more. And kinda makes us jealous of Oak Cliff.
DEETS: N. Bishop Ave at Davis St., 2 p.m., parade at 4 p.m. MardiGrasOakCliff.com.
In the liturgical calendar of the Christian church twelfth night is the last day of the Christmas season. (Remember the 12 days of Christmas? They start on December 24 and end December 5) Twelfth night also kicks off the carnival season that culminates in the celebration of Mardi Gras. The Krewe of Olympus, Houston’s own predominately gay Mardi Gras Krewe, welcomes the season in style with “Pretty in Pink:” a twelfth night fundraiser benefiting the Montrose Counseling Center. The festivities are Saturday night, January 7 (’cause who wants to party on a Thursday?) starting at 7 pm at the Counseling Center (401 Branard) and include traditional king cake as well as an open bar, hors d’oevres and a Mardi Gras mask auction. In keeping with the theme guests are invited to wear their best outfits in shades of pink (be it blush or bashful).
The Krewe of Olympus started in New Orleans in 1970 before moving to Houston. According to their website:
We are one of the largest predominately gay Krewes in the United States, although our membership is open to all. Our principal aims are to present theatrical and educational events that perpetuate and continue Mardi Gras traditions and to raise money for community charities. Since moving to Texas, we’ve donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Houston and Dallas Charitable Organizations. We are a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.
Tickets for the event are $35 and are available at the door.
Despite cold temperatures and strong wind hundreds of runners participated in Dash for the Beads as Mardi Gras weekend in Oak Cliff began Saturday, March 5. Runners included groups from Oak Cliff elementary schools, “traditional” families and many members of the LGBT community.
In this week’s episode, John Wright and Rich Lopez discussed the GSA controversy in Corpus Christi, Baylor University’s decision to deny the charter for an LGBT student group, anti-bullying bills in the Texas Legislature, Rich’s interview with Clay Aiken this week, Mardi Gras celebrations this weekend in Dallas, and more.
OUT IN ARKANSAS | The Mardi Gras parade in Eureka Springs is just one of the many gay-friendly celebration in this welcoming town — the only one in Arkansas that lets gay couples register their unions.
It wouldn’t surprise most people to know that the rural community of Eureka Springs (population: 2,200) has a large evangelical Christian population. Indeed, the city’s best-known landmark — a seven-story statue of Jesus on a hill outside of town — is the third-largest statue of Christ in the world. Nightly outdoor passion plays draws Christian participants from all around the world. In another part of town, the stunning glass Thorncrown Chapel was ranked fourth on the American Institute of Architects list of 20th century structures.
Yet despite this fundamentalist bent, Eureka Springs has a huge gay community. The city’s tourist board estimates that as many as 30 percent of residents are LGBT.
The Northwest Arkansas town depends on tourism, with many visitors gay, making them an important part of the city’s economy. No wonder the city doesn’t celebrate gay Pride once a year, but three times with a trifecta of “diversity weekends.” The gay rainbow flag can be seen proudly displayed across town.
Eureka Springs began domestic partners registry three years ago and is still the only place in Arkansas where same-sex couples can register their relationships. The town also outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” says Lamont Richie, the openly gay head of the Eureka Springs Transit System. Richie moved with his partner to Eureka Springs from Houston 18 years ago and said he has never felt safer. His partner, Steve Roberson, owns the Quicksilver Art Gallery.
The city’s laid-back style offers something for anyone, though it probably appeals more to couples than singles. There are no gay bars in town, though most are gay-friendly and some have nights that are targeted toward the gay community.
Even without any gay bars to speak of, there’s no shortage of gay-friendly watering holes. Eureka Live is one of the more popular bars for LGBTs — Wednesday nights particularly.
A good example of the city’s gay-friendliness can be found in the gay hotel accommodations website, PurpleRoofs.com: It lists in excess of two dozen gay-owned or -friendly hotels and inns, more than you’d find in most major cities.
About an hour’s drive from Fayetteville, Eureka Springs sits in the heart of Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. It’s a seven-hour drive from Dallas and the closest major airport is the Northwest Arkansas Regional, itself an hour’s drive from downtown.
Eureka Springs was born in 1879 after word first got out more than a decade earlier that the city’s more than 60 springs may have medicinal healing powers. In its heyday (between 1890 and 1910), the city’s population was more than 20,000 — nine times what it is now. The medical tourism industry help fund the infrastructure that kept Eureka Springs on the tourists’ sights long after the waters’ healing properties were debunked.
Visitors often say Eureka Springs reminds them of San Francisco, from the steep hillsides to the Victorian architecture. Many homes are built directly into slopes with ground level entrances on top, bottom and middle floors (the Basin Park Hotel has street-level entrances on each of its four floors).
Named by American Style magazine as one of the top 25 arts destinations in the U.S., the area’s serene beauty attracts artists who keep Eureka Springs’ more than 30 galleries stocked with some of the finest homegrown art you will find anywhere.
Diversity Weekends usually take place in April, August and October, which include a series of parties and social events. Each weekend features a gathering in Basin Park in which couples are encouraged to gather and embrace each other in unison. Upcoming weekends are Aug. 6 and Oct. 29.
Hotel rates are generally the most expensive in October when people flock to the Ozarks to view the spectacular fall foliage. But no matter when you come, rates are very reasonable, with budget hotels starting around $39/night; you can find a nice B&B for not much more than that.
The only exclusively gay hotel, the rustic Magnetic Valley Resort, sits on three acres on the outskirts of the city and offers a heated pool and sauna. The historic Crescent Hotel and Spa is gay-friendly and very appreciative of the gay market. Even if you are not staying there, be sure to stop by for a nightly ghost tour — the hotel embraces its haunted residents almost as much as the city does its gay ones.
RIGHT AT HOME: Owner Wayne Falcone polished a gem of Oak Lawn history by rescuing and reinventing the Daisy Polk House. – DANIEL A. KUSNER/Dallas Voice
BEST BED AND BREAKFAST
Daisy Polk Inn
2917 Reagan St., Dallas.
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs.
Daisy Suite and Reagan Suite: $150 a night.
Dickason Suite: $129 a night. DaisyPolkInn.com
The Daisy Polk Inn is every bit the grand dame that its namesake was. Built in 1904 and fully restored by 2002, the home was first owned by, who else, Daisy Polk — an “up and coming” star (according to the Dallas Press) of the Dallas opera scene who also taught at Hockaday School for Girls and passed away in 1980.
She lived at the Reagan Street address for 60 years. The gorgeous arts and crafts home now belongs to local pharmacist Wayne Falcone, who purchased the property in 1996. He lovingly restored it to its natural and historically correct beauty with the help of Dallas antiques expert and interior designer Gerald Tomlin.
Once the home was granted historical status and licensure to become a bed and breakfast, Falcone decided to open its doors to the public.
Guests can rent any one of the three rooms or the whole place if they prefer. Unlike typical B&Bs. Falcone turns over the keys to his guests, and they have the place to themselves until morning, when breakfast is served. And breakfast at the Daisy Polk Inn is no simple affair. From the china to the home-baked goodies, it is a lavish meal that guests won’t soon forget.
A little more than two years ago, most of America seemed to have written off New Orleans — it was destined to become a modern-day Atlantis, swallowed up by the sea and passed away into legend.
But the residents of the Crescent City would have none of that. They persevered, rehabilitating the city as quickly as possible and welcoming back tourists — especially gay tourists — with enthusiasm. (It helps that the French Quarter, the center of gay life, is above sea-level and was largely spared when the levees broke.)
Certainly bachelor revelers into great partying and easy hookups don’t have to find a reason to frequent the Big Easy other than Mardi Gras and Southern Decadence, but the city’s old antebellum charm makes it a romantic getaway for couples, too.
For exploring together, there’s the fabulous architecture, much of it spared from the hurricane: elaborate wrought iron, ethereal churches, sprawling plantations on the outskirts (including one, Houmas House, where “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” was filmed).
So yes, New Orleans is a great party town for solos, but we love to go there as pairs. After all, even couples know how to party.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
BEST AIRLINE American Airlines
Corporate headquarters: 4333 Amon Carter Blvd., Fort Worth, Texas.
Mon.-Sat. 24 hrs. aa.com or American Airlines Rainbow
BEST NATIONAL ONLINE TRAVEL SITE Travelocity
Corporate headquarters: 3150 Sabre Drive, Southlake, Texas.
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs. Travelocity.com
BEST LOCAL ONLINE TRAVEL SITE Best Gay Cruises
P.O. Box 59994, Dallas.
Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m. BestGayCruises.com
BEST BUDGET HOTEL CHAIN La Quinta
Corporate headquarters: 909 Hidden Ridge, Suite 600, Irving, Texas.
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs. LQ.com
BEST LUXURY HOTEL CHAIN Hilton Hotels
Eight hotels in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs. Hilton.com
BEST DALLAS HOTEL W Dallas-Victory
2440 Victory Park Lane, Dallas.
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs. WHotels.com/Dallas
BEST AIRPORT SHUTTLE SERVICE SuperShuttle
SuperShuttle local office: 3010 N. Airfield Drive, Suite 100, DFW Airport, Texas.
With service to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas Love Field and Fort Worth Meacham International Airport.
Sun.-Sat. 24 hrs. SuperShuttle.com