No Family Pride Zone at Lee Park this year

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Michael Doughman

Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman has announced that the Family Pride Zone will not return to the Festival in Lee Park this year. The Tavern Guild is the organization that produces the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade — Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride parade — each year and the festival held immediately following the parade.

“The Family Pride Zone at the Festival in Lee Park last year was an absolute social success and the community responded very positively to its presence as a part of Dallas Pride. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a great financial success,” Doughman said in a letter to sponsors who had already signed up for the Family Pride Zone this year. “Due to that fact and the lack of sponsorship dollars for 2014, we have had to cancel all plans for a Family Pride Zone at the 2014 Festival in Lee Park.”

Doughman went on to say DTG officials considered the Family Pride Zone “a valuable and exciting new growth piece to Dallas Pride,” and added that organizers “are not abandoning the concept and plan an aggressive sponsorship campaign for next year to garner funding to produce the Family Pride Zone in 2015.”

He said that any sponsorship fees for Family Pride Zone 2014 that have already been paid will be refunded.

The Family Pride Zone, held last year for the first time, was a section of Lee Park set aside as an alcohol-free, family-friendly area designated specifically for families with younger children. Doughman noted that Dallas Pride was the first Pride celebration in Texas to establish such a space.

For information on being part of Family Pride Zone 2015, email Doughman at michaeldoughman@sbcglobal.net or call 214-358-4006.

—  Tammye Nash

Pride Recap: Rain hurts turnout; police make 2 arrests; Melrose may close lawn

Police respond to a disturbance in front of the Warwick Melrose Hotel during Sunday’s 29th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)

The steady rain may not have dampened spirits during Dallas’ gay Pride parade on Sunday — but it did significantly reduce attendance at the event, according to police estimates.

DISD Detective Sgt. Jeremy Liebbe, who served as co-security liaison for the Dallas Pride parade and festival, said an estimated 25,000 people attended the Pride parade, down from an average of 35,000.

Liebbe said paid admission for the ensuing Pride Festival in Lee Park was 5,800 —roughly the same as last year but well below the 8,000 organizers had hoped for in 2012.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which puts on the parade and festival, said despite the rain, he doesn’t believe revelers left disappointed.

“I think the rain was a frustration for people, but everybody seemed to be in a good mood,” he said. “I don’t think it really dampened the spirit of anybody who was there. … All in all, when you allow for the scenario when it’s going to rain, I still consider it a success.”

—  John Wright

LifeWalk steps off Sunday in Lee Park

Nobles says that park will not be fenced this year but is worried about added cost and barrier affecting next year’s event

KICKING UP THEIR HEELS | The LifeWalk organizing committee gets ready for Sunday.

 

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

New requirements by the city of Dallas could affect proceed totals from this year’s AIDS Arms LifeWalk, and at least one more new requirement is expected to be added to the list next year, according to LifeWalk organizers.

The 21st annual LifeWalk steps off from Lee Park on Oct. 2 at 1 p.m. for the 3.2-mile walk. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. Last year’s event raised $401,000 and this year’s goal is $500,000.

Although thousands of people are expected for the event, Lee Park will remain unfenced this year, even though the city has said such gatherings will require fencing in the future.

Officials with the Dallas Tavern Guild, which stages the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and the Festival in Lee Park each year as part of Dallas’ annual LGBT Pride celebration, decided to get ahead of the new requirement by fencing in Lee Park this year for the festival, although the city requirement had not yet gone into effect.

Tavern Guild officials also chose to charge a $5 admission fee to the festival this year to help offset expenses and raise extra funds that will be distributed to parade beneficiaries.

The admission fee raised the ire of some in the community, and attendance at the festival was down compared to last year. But Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said the drop was not significant, and noted that the admission fee brought in about $25,000 that will be divided among beneficiaries.

But AIDS Arms Executive Director Raeline Nobles said new city requirements have already had an impact on LifeWalk, and she is worried that the new fencing requirements could affect next year’s walk.

“There were a lot more expenses from the city this year,” she said. “It really hits the bottom line.”

The cost of fencing next year will add an additional, unwelcome expense. But Nobles said she isn’t going to worry about that until after this weekend’s event. Right now, her main concern is getting people out to participate in this year’s fundraiser.

“Anyone can participate in LifeWalk,” Nobles said. “You can walk alone or bring friends or join a team. We even have poop-out vans: In case you can’t walk the entire three-mile route, someone will pick you up and bring you back to the park to have a good time.”

She also invited people to just come to the park and cheer.

“We need cheerleaders at the start and finish and at the water stations,” Nobles said. “We have pompoms for anyone who wants to cheer the walkers on.”

Registration for LifeWalk is $40 for people and $10 for dogs participating in LifeBark. People get a T-shirt and dogs get a bandana to show their support for people with HIV.

AIDS Arms is the primary beneficiary of LifeWalk, but other organizations also receive funds from the event, including AIDS Services of Dallas, Legal Hospice of Texas, Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus, Bryan’s House, Resource Center Dallas and the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund.

Money raised goes toward programming rather than capital costs. The chorale uses funds for their HIV fund, including giving tickets to performances through the year to people with AIDS.

Nobles praised that effort, saying that socializing is an important holistic element in treating HIV.

The Women’s Chorus will present a program at AIDS Arms in March on National HIV Women’s Day. Those expenses, Nobles said, should be covered by the group’s LifeWalk proceeds.

Nobles said it would be tempting for AIDS Arms to use the money to finish paying off the agency’s new Trinity Health and Wellness Center in Oak Cliff. She said that the new facility cost more than $2 million, and AIDS Arms needs to raise just $35,000 more to pay off the facility.

Trinity Health and Wellness Center opened in September and will have its formal grand opening in two weeks.

But despite the temptation, AIDS Arms will instead use proceeds from LifeWalk to support programs for clients at Trinity as well as at AIDS Arms’ older clinic, Peabody Health Center in South Dallas.

AIDS Arms also uses the money to administer HIV tests to more than 3,500 people a year and for case management for more than 3,400 people.

LifeWalk began in 1990 as a fundraiser for Oak Lawn Community Services. When that agency closed, management of the event moved to AIDS Arms.

LifeWalk Co-chair Marvin Green noted that his Green Team will mark its 20th year of participation in LifeWalk. He said he put the team together for the first time in the second year of LifeWalk because he had already lost 20 friends to AIDS.

That first year, three team members raised $75. This year, the 32-member Green Team has collected about $22,000.

Co-chair Fred Harris said that there were quite a few new teams this year.

“We’re reaching out to new communities,” Harris said. “There’s new energy. We’re branching outside Oak Lawn.”

He said teams are using creative new ways to raise money and AIDS Arms has actively brought in new sponsors such as Chipotle.

“Stoli is coming with a first-ever LifeWalk drink,” Nobles said. Returning sponsor Caven Enterprises will serve beer and Ben E. Keith donated iced tea.

Harris said planning has gone well, and that “LifeWalk is a well-oiled machine.”

Harris said he has seen more use of social media this year than ever, reaching out to people outside the Metroplex.

“This year Facebook has become a very powerful tool,” he said, not just for fundraising but also for recruiting walkers.

Last year, about 3,500 people walked, and this year, “Registration is ahead of where we were this time last year,” Harris said.

Waterpalooza, another AIDS Arms event, was moved to Pride weekend this year, just two weeks prior to LifeWalk. Harris said they took advantage of that event to sign up teams and walkers and generate excitement for this weekend’s walk.

Among the new teams, Harris said, are the DFW Sisters.

“Their efforts have been tireless,” he said. “They raise the bar.”

Nobles said that WFAA Channel 8 morning anchor Ron Corning will serve as M.C. in Lee Park. Although he’s appeared at several events since arriving in Dallas, this is the first big public event the openly gay television host has emceed.

LifeWalk received the Human Rights Campaign family-friendly designation, and Nobles said there will be bounce houses, clowns and face-painting for children.

Harris said the event is pet-friendly as well, “because pets are our family.”

There will be games and puppy pools for dogs as well as doggie adoptions, Nobles said.

She said the day would be a lot of fun but asked people to participate because the need is greater than ever.

“With the growth in the number of newly-infected people in Dallas County who need help in this economy, we’re seeing people who never would ask but must,” she said.

Next year, Nobles said, she would like to see LifeWalk return to Oak Lawn, but new city regulations for events may change those plans. Among the events changing plans this year because of the city involved Lone Star Ride.

Last year, Lone Star Riders participated in LifeWalk on bike. This year, city regulations banned bikes from walks so LSR riders who participate will have to walk.

Green was thinking about bigger plans for future LifeWalks. Other cities that raise more money stage longer walks. He said he’d love to use the new Downtown Deck Park that should be completed next year and dreamed of seeing LifeWalkers crossing the new suspension bridge that should be open in March 2012.

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

—  Michael Stephens

Pride festival changes called a success

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.”

—  John Wright

A few scenes from Dallas Pride

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings breaks us off some beads.

UPDATE: CLICK HERE TO VIEW MORE PICS

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.

—  John Wright

FEEBACK: Thanks!

Thanks!

We want to extend a very special “thank you” to all the merchants who donated to the Round Up Saloon’s annual Easter Basket Auction this year. And thanks as well go to the generous buyers who showed up to bid on and purchase the baskets.

We especially thank our staff that worked so hard to get the baskets decorated, cataloged and presented for sale. Louis Ramos coordinated the entire event, and our auctioneer, R.D., has donated his time now for 15 years to doing our auctions.

And to all the Resource Center Dallas staff, TGRA members, The Dallas Tap Dazzlers, Michael Doughman and all our donors, buyers and entertainers: THANK YOU!

We are proud to announce that $14,400 was donated to The Nutrition Center and TGRA as a result of the Easter Basket Auction. The economy and the crowds are returning, and this charitable event is back on the way to recovery following a couple of pretty lean years.

Again, thank you to everyone.

Gary Miller,
Round-Up Saloon

—  John Wright

Moore, Lewis named 2010 parade grand marshals

Doughman says Tavern Guild is in negotiations with Houston mayor to appear as honorary grand marshal

Tammye Nash | Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com


Paul Lewis and Erin Moore

MIGHTY MIGHTY MARSHALS | Longtime Caven employee Paul Lewis and Stonewall Democrats President Erin Moore will share grand marshal duties for the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.


Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman has announced that Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Erin Moore and longtime Caven Enterprises employee Paul Lewis have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

The parade, produced each year by the Tavern Guild, will be held Sept. 19 this year.

Doughman said that parade grand marshals are chosen each year by a vote of Tavern Guild members. This year’s honorees, he said, were both chosen in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the LGBT community.

“Erin has done so much good work in the past several years with Stonewall Democrats, with the Equality March last year. We just felt that her body of work, especially on the political front, deserved this recognition,” Doughman said.

He added that Tavern Guild members also had high praise for Moore’s partner, Patti Fink, and considered naming them both as female grand marshals.

“But we didn’t want to lump them together this year and ruin the chance of possibly honoring Patti for her contributions in years to come,” he said.

Moore said being chosen as grand marshal was an amazing honor — and a big surprise.

“It hasn’t really sunk in with me yet that anybody thinks I deserve something like this. I keep expecting them to call back and say they were just joking,” Moore said.

“It really means a lot to be chosen for this. I do the work I do because I feel like it needs to be done, and because I like doing it. Getting this honor is sort of like getting paid for doing something you love doing. It’s a recognition that I am a valued member of this community,” she said.

Lewis was “a unanimous choice, immediately,” Doughman said. “In fact, it really baffled everyone to realize that Paul had never been grand marshal.”

Lewis was “always been involved in planning the parade” and with other Tavern Guild projects during his years with Caven Enterprises, and even since his retirement, Doughman said.

“He still heads up the Holiday Gift Project, and he still goes down every parade day to the intersection at Wycliff and Cedar Springs to kick off the parade,” Doughman said. “He may not be as hands-on as he once was, but he is still involved. It was an easy decision to elect him as grand marshal.”

Lewis said this week being named grand marshal is “one of the best things that has happened to me. It is truly pleasing, truly an honor.”

Lewis said he moved to Dallas in 1969. He went to work for Caven Enterprises the following year, and stayed there 27 years.

He served on the board of Oak Lawn Counseling Services and the board of Dallas Tavern Guild. He was coordinator of the annual Pride parade and still serves as coordinator of the Tavern Guild’s PWA Holiday Gift Project. He also hosts Daire Center dinners and outings at his home.

Lewis has lived with Kenneth Jones for the last 20 years.

Moore said her first real involvement with Dallas’ LGBT community came in the early 1990s when she helped organize National Coming Out Day events. She also works with the Human Rights Campaign and has served on the organization’s national board of governors, helping establish HRC’s grassroots presence in Dallas.

In 2005, Moore said, she moved into the political realm through her work with Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Other parade plans


Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker

HOPEFUL | Dallas Tavern Guild officials are in negotiations to bring Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, to town to be honorary grand marshal of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.


Doughman said that other plans for the September parade are also moving forward, and that he hopes soon to be able to announce openly lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker as the parade’s honorary grand marshal.

“We are in negotiations right now to invite Annise Parker to be honorary grand marshal. It’s looking very positive, and she would be a terrific representative for our parade,” he said. “She has been very successful as mayor of Houston and is highly popular there. Even the conservatives in Houston have conceded that she is doing a great job.”

Parker would bring “a high degree of interest” as grand marshal, and as a speaker at the VIP reception that weekend and as a speaker at the Festival in Lee Park afterward, he said.

Local government officials will also be featured, including new Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who will be appearing for the first time.

Doughman noted that the Tavern Guild is “still operating under a fairly constrained budget” in organizing the parade, due to the ongoing economic downtown.

“The costs of putting the parade on have not gone down, and sponsorships are still a little harder to come by than they were in years past,” he said. “So we are being very careful. We want to make sure at the end of the year we have enough to pay the bills, to give money to our beneficiary and to run the Tavern Guild throughout the year. The parade is the only real income the Tavern Guild has, and we have to make sure to set aside to keep it afloat.”

In 2009, a confluence of fortunate coincidences allowed the Tavern Guild to have longtime, high-profile activists Cleve Jones and Larry Kramer. There is the possibility that the Tavern Guild might be able to bring in a celebrity guest or two this year, as well. But celebrities, he said, are not what make the parade.

“And we don’t need to pay to bring in musicians or bands. We have outstanding musicians and bands already right here,” he added.
But there is one big announcement Doughman said he is ready to make: Food services during the Festival in Lee Park this year will be handled exclusively by Brinker, the parent company for restaurant chains On The Border, Chili’s and Maggiano’s.

“Brinker had a small booth at the park last year as a kind of test run, to see how it would work out. They really enjoyed the event, and they saw the potential for them in it. So they made us a proposal, saying they would like to handle all the food this year,” Doughman said.

“We really liked the idea of having these recognizable brands out there for the food. We think it is a real step up,” he said. “We think they will do very well, and on top of that, they have agreed to give us a portion of their proceeds to give back to our beneficiary.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice

Doughman: ilume won't be blocking access to sidewalk for future Tavern Guild events

Apparently you had to be dressed like this in order to get onto the sidewalk of ilume during the gay Pride parade.
Apparently you had to be dressed like this in order to get onto the sidewalk in front of ilume during the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

In today’s Dallas Voice we printed a letter to the editor from George Castro, who’s miffed that ilume blocked public access to the sidewalk in front of the development during the Pride parade, which Castro called “offensive and quite presumptuous.”

Late yesterday Castro forwarded me the response he received to his complaint from Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which puts on the parade. Here’s what Doughman said:

“I am e-mailing to let you know I am aware of the problem the closing of the sidewalk at ILUME caused and accept full responsibility for the problem. We have spoken with [ilume developer] Luke Crosland and the property management and have resolved the issue and the sidewalks in front of ILUME will remain open to the public for any future Dallas Tavern Guild events. I am sorry for the inconvenience it created and we have made the appropriate adjustments to our policies to avoid this happening again.
“Thanks so much for your response and I appreciate the feedback as we strive to make Pride a pleasant and agreeable event for all our neighbors, friends and guests.

—  John Wright