Marriage Equality Decision Day in Fort Worth

Here is a gallery of photos from the Tarrant County Clerk’s office from Friday morning, June 26. Photos by Cassie Quinn.

—  Tammye Nash

Dallas LGBT Task Force celebrates Pride

Screen shot 2015-06-08 at 5.14.22 PMThe city of Dallas’ LGBT Task Force celebrates national Gay Pride Month beginning at noon Wednesday, June 10, when the Task Force chairman, Councilman Adam Medrano of District 2, presents a proclamation signed by Mayor Mike Rawlings in Room 6EN — the Flag Room — at City Hall.

Here’s a schedule of other Pride events taking place this month:

• June 10, 6 p.m.: LGBT Rainbow Book Club and discussion at the North Oak Cliff Branch Library, 302 W. 10th St. Refreshments will be served. Bring your favorite LGBT book. June is also LGBT Book Month, and the Dallas Library will be Tweeting a new book recommendation each day this month.

• June 13: Bahama Beach LGBT Day, 1895 Campfire Circle. Guests should indicate that they are attending for LGBT Day to receive reduced admission ($9, down from $15).

• June 20-21: Juneteenth Pool Party and Juneteenth Unity Barbecue, sponsored by United Black Ellument in collaboration with Dallas Southern Pride. Pool party, 5-10 p.m. June 20 at 3121 Ross Ave. Unity Barbecue, 2-7 p.m. June 21 at Stone Tables Pavilion, 650 E. Lawther Drive. For information visit UBEDallas.org/Juneteenth. The Unity picnic is also sponsored by Cosmopolitan Congregation of Dallas.

• June 26, 1-5 p.m.: Children’s Rainbow Crafts and Movie, at the Children’s Center at the J Erik Jonsson Central Library, with children and families invited to make fun rainbow crafts and relax with a family-friendly movie. Drop-in crafts start at 1 p.m., and the movie starts at 2 p.m.

• June 27, 4-7 p.m.: Rainbow Family Day at Dallas City Hall Plaza, 500 Marilla St., with activities for the whole family.

—  Tammye Nash

Allstate celebrates Pride by putting everyone in good hands

AllstateAllstate celebrates Pride month with its Safe in My Hands campaign.

In this animated video produced for Allstate, the message is “Everyone deserves to be in good hands” and “being visible should never leave you feeling vulnerable.”

—  David Taffet

Labor Secretary Tom Perez: Promoting opportunity for all Americans

Tom Perez

U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez

By Secretary Tom Perez

U.S. Labor Department

 

Pride Month gives us an opportunity to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans have had on our nation. Here at the U.S. Department of Labor, it’s also a chance for us to recommit to our efforts to ensure equal rights for LGBT workers, and to celebrate the great work we’ve done on this front.

We have a responsibility to make sure that every worker has the same opportunity to pursue and realize their dreams, and we take that responsibility very seriously — and not just because it’s the right thing to do, which it is.  It’s also the smart thing to do.

Diverse and inclusive workplaces are productive workplaces. Our economy works best when we field a full team, so we can’t afford to leave any talent on the bench.

At DOL, our agencies are doing great work to advance the rights of LGBT workers. We’ve worked to implement the president’s Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination, which prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

We’ve taken steps to make sure that all families receive the benefits and protections of our programs and services. We’ve made clear that job training and other workforce programs in the nation’s workforce development system may not discriminate against someone because of gender identity, gender expression or sex-stereotyping. We’ve worked to make workplaces more inclusive for transgender workers.

And we’ve done so much more. In fact, you can read about all of the work we’ve done to protect and empower LGBT workers in a new report here. http://1.usa.gov/1FPeKGy.

We’re proud of our accomplishments on behalf of LGBT workers and job seekers and their families. Of course, for all our progress, there remains more work to do.

As we celebrate Pride month, we also celebrate our continued commitment to building on our accomplishments going forward so that every person in our nation can realize their highest and best dreams, no matter who they are or whom they love.

—  Tammye Nash

State Department sends reps to Jamaica to discuss LGBT rights as JFLAG plans 1st Pride

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Randy Berry, special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, and USAID Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson leave for Jamaica tomorrow (Thursday, May 21), to discuss the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups with Jamaican leaders, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

Berry and Larson will spend three days in Jamaica meeting with representatives from the Jamaican government as well as religious, business, academic and civil society organization leaders.

Homosexuality remains criminalized in Jamaica, and the Caribbean Island is well-know for homophobia and violence against LGBT people. Human Rights Watch released a report last October documenting 56 cases of violence against LGBT people.

An organization called JFLAG has announced plans to stage the island’s first LGBT Pride celebrations in August this year. The theme for the celebration is “The Pride of a People: Breaking the Rules of Oppression,” and JFLAG has started a GoFundMe campaign to raise the $10,000 needed to pay for Pride.

—  Tammye Nash

Andrew Scott: The gay interview

PRIDEBy Chris Azzopardi

Editor’s note: If you’ve seen Andrew Scott in the BBC miniseries Sherlock, you already know (1) he’s a hottie; (2) he’s scary as hell as Sherlock’s insane nemesis Prof. Jim Moriarty. But you might also have seen him in the new film Pride, which, sadly, closes today after a brief run at the Angelika. Our Chris Azzopardi chatted with the recently-out 38-year-old Irishman.

Dallas Voice: For you, how does it feel being part of a movie that’s moved so many people in the gay community?  Andrew Scott: It’s extraordinary, really. We’re all completely blown over by it. The response we’re hearing from cinemas across the country, where people are standing up at the end and they’re clapping — it’s just very unusual for me. I’ve certainly never been in a film before where that happens.

People just feel very inspired by it, and they have very passionate feelings toward it. So yeah, I’m thrilled about that — thrilled [it’s being embraced] not just by the gay community, but by a lot of different audiences. We kind of really hoped that the gay community would embrace it, but we keep saying that it’s not just a gay movie. The message — the idea of solidarity — isn’t just for a gay audience. All of us are more similar to each other than we think we are.

Pride demonstrates strength in numbers, which seems especially relevant now that the gay rights movement is in full swing and more straight allies are standing up with us. As the fight for equality marches on, what do you see as the relevancy of this story right now?  Being gay isn’t something in and of itself that’s a virtue any more than being straight is, but the attributes that gay people develop as a result of being gay – mainly empathy toward other people, and compassion and tolerance — those are things to be proud of. It’s a real message that I find really heartwarming. To segregate people is very dangerous in the struggle for gay rights for people across the way. Inclusivity rather than exclusivity. We must celebrate our differences, and we must celebrate our humanity as well as our sexuality.

You recently spoke out against the notion of “playing gay,” which is obviously something you feel strongly about.  You can’t. It’s absolutely impossible to play that as an actor. If someone were to play me in a film about my life, I would hate for just gay actors to audition for the role, because I think I could potentially have attributes as much in common with a straight actor as I could with a gay actor.

You can really make a general wash of people’s sexuality [and say] that people are exactly the same. But the attributes I possess as a human being could be represented by anybody with human sexuality, really, if they have the chief attributes that an actor needs, which are empathy and imagination. So, I do think it’s very important that those things are mentioned, that a human being is made up of a whole range of things and sexuality is, of course, one of them, but it’s not the sum total.

Which straight actor would you want playing you in a film?  Oh, I have no idea! That thought terrifies me! The fact that I can’t even get an audition for that part terrifies me even more.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cowtown Pride: Annual TCGPWA Parade held Saturday in downtown Fort Worth

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association staged its annual Pride Parade Saturday in downtown Fort Worth, featuring entries ranging from LGBT bars to LGBT churches, LGBT employee affinity groups from major corporations to gay-straight alliances to Metroplex Atheists. The festival followed on Main Street in front of the FW Convention Center.Here are just a few photos from the parade and festival.

Watch for a second slide show of photos from the TCGPWA Picnic, held Sunday at Trinity Park.

Parade photos by Tammye Nash

—  Tammye Nash

PHOTOS FROM PRIDE: Scenes from the 31st annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade

Photos from the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sunday by Kat Haygood, Arnold Wayne Jones, Chad Mantooth and Stephen Mobley.

—  Tammye Nash

Our PRIDE should unite us, not divide us

By Todd Whitley  | Contributing Columnist

We have a problem.

Many have known it for a long time. Some deny it. Others — like me — who LOVE the parade are waking up to the realization that all things are not equal in the Dallas LGBT community.

A march that originated as a defiant celebration of personal expression, sexual freedom, and individuality, has turned into a parade. A parade full of rainbows, pulsating music and pelvises, and unbridled joy. A parade where straight allies and churches march along with drag queens and kings, leather daddies, go-go dancers, and all manner of lesbians and gays. A parade that people in our community celebrate with their families. A parade that now has corporations participating and giving us money to be a part of it.

And a parade that many question whether it actually reflects all LGBTQ people, whether it’s outgrown its purpose, whether it’s off-track, whether it’s even necessary.

In many ways the evolution of Pride is inspiring even as it’s troublesome.

Let’s talk about some of those trouble spots.

First off: The forebearers of the current Dallas Pride parade have maintained a legacy for the Dallas gay community for 31 years and they deserve our gratitude, especially for doing it in a time where it was nowhere near acceptable or safe to do so.

But several issues make it appear the event has lost its way — or hasn’t evolved as it should. And further, I believe Dallas is not unique in the controversy — too corporate, too exclusive, too white — surrounding other Pride celebrations.

At the predominately LGBTQ (some of us prefer “gay and straight together”) church I belong to, I would hope, in my heart, that all people of all orientations, gender expressions and races would know they are welcome. And regardless, I respect their right to organize/attend churches they might better identify with — churches that might be largely heterosexual, or mostly African-American, for example

Similarly, there is absolutely a specific need for separate events like Teen Pride, Tejano Pride, Black Pride, and in other cities, Trans Pride. These communities have specific issues to address that don’t necessarily reflect or aren’t being addressed by the at-large community. However, to drive these folks into these events specifically because they are not welcomed is a poor expression of the solidarity that should bind us.

And therein lies the problem: When we fail to acknowledge, understand or admit there’s a problem, we cannot even begin to change it.

The burden of feeling welcomed is not on the individual, it is on the group doing the welcoming or lack thereof. If someone doesn’t feel welcome, our response should be to ask why, not immediately go on the defensive and justify how we do include them. We must ask ourselves, honestly, “ Are we really actively seeking to represent everyone and do our actions reflect that?”

All lesbians, gays and transgender people are children of the Queer movement. We are counter-culture. As diverse as we are, we all want — and deserve — to be treated fairly and with equity, especially within our own community.

Some of us want to become more mainstream, while others of us want to maintain our unique queerness.

Some of us want marriage; others of us do not want to assimilate to that societal structure.

Some of us want to express ourselves with our bodies; others prefer not to.

Some of us are twinks, some are bears, some are into leather, BDSM, dressing in drag; others are not.

Some of us congregate with people who are more like us in one way or the other but I suspect most of us do not do so intentionally to exclude others.

Some of us love the spirit of a parade while others want a more vigorous march and protest.

But we are all of us QUEER. And as I’ve said before, we have far more in common than we have separating us.

Back in June, the more traditional month of Pride, Mused Magazine published an article entitled  “Gay Pride is for White People” rejecting the notion that Pride is only “synonymous with white, skinny, able-bodied, cisgender maleness.” [Preach!]

I reposted this article and asked people to comment. Hardly scientific, this survey nonetheless yielded some not-so-surprising (at least to me) results.

Of the few folks who would actually wade into the debate, the white folks were somewhat mixed in their observations while every non-white person asserted Pride is at the very least unwelcoming if not downright exclusive. (Incidentally, not a single lesbian or trans person commented on my post.)

Here are some of the responses:

• From a white person: Too often the face of gay Pride is young, white, male, slender and upper middle class. I don’t think that’s an accurate image. The reality is more of a rainbow. It includes LGBTQ people of all races, gender expressions, shapes, ages and classes.

• From an Asian person: I feel that Asians get marginalized and fetishized. You are only visible if you are white and affluent. If you are a minority, you are a sex object or accessory.

• From a black person: The black community generally has it’s own Pride events, I’m thinking mainly because of the segregation that occurs within the gay community and the difference in celebration styles.

• From a white person: I personally haven’t felt or seen marginalization in the parades here.

• From a black person: We still have a long way to go with equality but I think what we are failing to realize is it starts within our community.

• From a Latino person: Every Pride event I’ve ever been to — East Coast, West Coast, Dallas, Houston —has included diversity as far as I’m concerned. But if for example someone’s going to say that my people, Latinos, are under-represented, first of all I would question that, and also I would say it’s up to my chicos to get up there on a float, not wait to be asked.

• From a white person: I do think that this issue in the LGBT community reflects issues affecting the society at large.

• From a black person: I don’t know if it’s just my city or the because I live in the South, but I don’t feel welcomed at gay functions that are predominately white let alone feel apart of the gay community.

• From a white person: As an older member of the LGBT community, I don’t necessarily feel “celebrated” by the younger ones, but that’s just how it is. There certainly is plenty of racism, ageism, and sexism in our community, and especially discrimination among the sub-groups.

Sadly, the Dallas Pride Parade’s history of all-white grand marshals propagates the notion that “Pride” isn’t for non-whites. Their recent evolution allowing the community to submit nominations is a step in the right direction but it’s not near enough.

Also deeply problematic for us is that we allow groups to give us money with one hand while their other hand is extended to those who would oppress us and continue to marginalize us or used to marginalize their own employees. I am deeply concerned that we will just take anyone’s money to support us. Frankly, if you’re going to vote against my equality or support causes that marginalize me, you can keep your damn money. Period.

And beyond our [un]intentional exclusivity, it’s important to consider what a Pride parade is all about anyway. I believe it is first and foremost a celebration. But it is also a vigorous, counter-cultural display of solidarity and assertion of our queerness.

As much as gays and lesbians have become accepted into mainstream society (we still have much work to do on behalf of our trans sisters and brothers), there is much work to do to reach a point where we are all respected for who we are — even if we choose not to assimilate.

We all love a good parade, especially a gay one. (Wait! Aren’t they all pretty gay?) But sisters and brothers, we must MARCH!

Cathedral of Hope minister — and someone I refer to as a spiritual matriarch — the Rev. Shelley Hamilton challenged us last year in her Pride Sunday sermon: “It’s time to give up parades and start marching.” [And trust: she had a LOT of other good things to say, too! “Hallelujah and Amen,” indeed!]

So, those are the trouble spots.

Here’s what I want to know:

How do other community members get involved in the leadership of the Pride celebration?

What is the organizing group doing to make sure that every single facet of our community is represented?

Why isn’t there a purposefully diverse parade committee — diverse in every area in terms of race, gender expression, sexual identity — appointed to plan the parade?

Why do we not create a morals and ethics committee to vet every single sponsor to ensure they’re there to SUPPORT our community and not exploit us.

How can we come together to create a festival that is free to everyone who wants to attend?

The parade appears to be “owned” by a group, but PRIDE is not owned by any one organization, any one race, any one sexual identity. WE — people of every gender, every race, age, HIV status, yea every group — We have done it without corporate money before and the results were world-changing. And we can do it again.

There are some people who think the “image” of the Pride parade should be cleaned up, edited. Folks, our self-expression is not what needs to be cleaned up. Our hearts need to change and our actions need to reflect that change.

I believe there is room in Dallas Pride for all of us and yet, perhaps Dallas is a two-Pride-events city. Regardless, let’s create a community in Dallas that includes everyone, that respects everyone, that holds accountable those who would proclaim to support, and that gives each other — and our allies — room to grow.

The notion of PRIDE is to celebrate who we are. To educate the community and world around us. To march proudly for ourselves. To act up.

Let’s come to the table, all of us, and start working toward that. Together.

I leave us with this:

“Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself. We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”
― Maya Angelou

Todd Whitley is a local activist who can usually be found tweeting (@toddwhitley), holding a picket sign, thrift store shopping, or eating Tex-Mex. Read his blog at tdub68.wordpress.com.

—  Tammye Nash

Tarrant County Pride Week grand marshals announced

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Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association officials have announced that Sharon Herrera, Allan Gould and Tori Van Fleet-Kujala have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2014 Tarrant County Pride Parade.

They also announced that Todd Cooper (aka Scarlett Rayne), DeeJay Johannasen, David Mack Henderson and the Rev. Ken Ehrke have been nominated for the 2014 Raina Lea Award.

Honorary Grand Marshals are Chris McNoksy and Sven Stricker.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week 2014 will be Oct. 2-12, beginning with a Pride Kick-Off Show on Oct. 2. The website doesn’t have details on the show posted yet, but keep watching. I am sure the info will be there soon.

The Pride Parade and Street Festival will be Saturday, Oct. 4, from noon-6 p.m., and is once again being held in downtown Fort Worth. The parade begins on Weatherford Street on the north side of downtown, and ends further south on Houston Street. The Pride Street Festival — with live entertainment, vendors and food and beverage booths — will be set up at the intersection of Houston and 9th Streets.

TCGPWA’s popular Pride Picnic at Trinity Park will be held from noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5, and will feature a DJ, live entertainment, group activities, friendly competitions and a free Pride Kids Zone. Community organizations and vendors will have booths set up, and there will be beer, other beverages and food available, too.

Pride Week continues with the 15th annual Q-Cinema Film Festival at Rose Marine Theatre. See details here.

—  Tammye Nash