Gay Dallas officials address election challenges, shift in attitude toward gay candidates at forum

From left, Dallas police LGBT Liaison Laura Martin, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and former Dallas Councilman John Loza speak about being out officials at a Dallas Pride forum Wednesday, June 20. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

A couple of Dallas’ out officials discussed the challenges and benefits of running as an out candidate and serving as an open officeholder Wednesday at the third event in the city’s “Honor, Educate and Celebrate” Pride series.

Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez, former Councilman John Loza and Dallas police LGBT Liaison Laura Martin, who stepped in last minute for the absent 116th Civil District Court Judge Tonya Parker, were panelists. A group of about 30 sat comfortably in couches in a casual setting at the United Black Ellument Cultural Center and asked questions about campaigns and the importance of out officials.

Valdez touched on the challenges of running as an openly gay candidate. In her first election in 2004, she worried constantly that she would be outed. When her opponent eventually outed her, she said she handled it with care and focused on her experience.

In a story about self-worth, Valdez explained that she received international calls when she first won. When a Collin County woman sitting next to her on a plane recognized her, she began to tell Valdez how she and her family including her gay son watched with pride when Valdez won on election night.

At the end of the flight, she told Valdez that she was her son’s hero and her election validated her son. Valdez said her position shouldn’t validate the LGBT community, but further instill in them a sense of confidence in being who they are.

“We do not need this kind of validation to be who we are,” she said. “We just need to be who we are.”

—  Dallasvoice