Tel Aviv named world’s best gay travel destination

The Jaffa section of Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv is a great gay travel destination and earlier this month, American Airlines and GayCities.com agreed voting it the world’s best gay travel destination.

The Israeli city received 43 percent of the vote. New York City came in second with 14 percent, Toronto 7 percent, Sao Paulo 6 percent, Madrid and London 5 percent each and New Orleans and Mexico City 4 per cent each.

No one voted for San Francisco, Amsterdam or Berlin?

Well, Tel Aviv is a very gay-friendly place. The city is backing their win with a big push to promote LGBT tourism called Tel Aviv Gay Vibe. And, according to the newspaper HaAretz, the Tel Aviv Pride Parade receives city funding, as does the city’s LGBT center.

While the country doesn’t have same-sex marriage, they don’t have Reform marriage or secular marriage either. So if you aren’t Orthodox, you leave the country to get married and Israel recognizes your wedding. That’s been going on since a gay member of the Knesset married his husband in Canada and came back and sued and won.

And “don’t ask, don’t tell?” Israel thought it was as dumb as we did but they did away with deferments while we were first implementing the policy. The result? Some of the hottest gay men and women in the world … and they know how to use an Uzi.

—  David Taffet

Taking Pride to the mainstream

A bigger parade in a new location, expanded schedule of events will help Tarrant County keep Pride going all year round

 

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — LGBT Pride celebrations aren’t new in Tarrant County. But there are definitely a few new things about this year’s 30th annual Pride celebration in Cowtown.

The biggest change is the location — and the day and time — of the annual Pride parade. Traditionally, the parade has been held on Sunday afternoons — the first weekend in October for the last couple of years, before that, at the beginning of June — and it has traditionally traveled down South Jennings Street.

This year, though, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade moves uptown, starting near the courthouse on Main Street then heading south to disperse at the convention center, just in time for the street festival on Main Street and in General Worth Square.

The annual Pride Picnic, Tarrant County’s original Pride event which has traditionally been held on the Saturday following the parade, this year will instead be held on Sunday, Oct. 2, the day after the parade, again at the Arts Pavilion in Trinity Park.

But it’s not just the days and location that are new for Tarrant County Pride this year, organizers say; there’s also a renewed enthusiasm — a renewed and strengthened spirit of pride.

“There’s a real excitement this year. People are excited about moving the parade and the festival downtown,” said Daune Littlefield, president of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association.

“Yes, there are a few who didn’t want to move the parade, who didn’t want to do anything differently. But there are more who are excited,” she added. “We should have grown more than we have in the last 30 years. We just got too comfortable with doing things the way we had always done them.”

It’s not been an easy task. The new location for the parade offered some logistical problems. And of course, the expanded event requires the Pride association to cooperate more with city officials.

…………………….

Changes

But at the same time, organizers’ big plans made that cooperation easier to come by.

“We’ve been planning this for awhile. In fact, it was about two years ago that we really started to think about moving the parade, making things bigger and better,” said Littlefield.

“One of the main reasons we changed the day and the time of the parade was because it would be easier to get the permits and close the streets downtown and manage the traffic if the parade was on a Saturday morning,” she explained. “And having the parade and picnic all in the same weekend makes it easier to draw in more people from out of town. And the idea of more people coming in from out of town made it easier to get the [Fort Worth] Convention and Visitors Bureau to work with us.”

And the idea of bringing in visitors from out of town also convinced the Sheraton Fort Worth hotel to partner with the committee to offer the Pride Weekend Package, offering visitors a discounted price to stay at the hotel and giving them easy access to the parade, the street festival and the number of educational seminars and entertainment events scheduled to be held at the hotel during the course of the weekend.

Littlefield and Tina Harvey, parade and vendor chair and long-term parade committee member, both acknowledged that the weekend package deal was not as successful this year as they had hoped. But both also believe it will be much more popular next year.

“We may have overdone it a little this year. Our expectations for that part may have been too high,” Harvey said. “But Pride weekend this year is going to be a huge success. People will see how successful it is, how much fun it is, and they are going to want to participate even more next year.”

Already, Harvey said, there are 48 entries registered for the parade on Saturday, which is 10 more than participated in last year’s parade. And 22 vendors, not counting the food and beverage vendors, have signed up for the street festival. That number also doesn’t count the activities available in the kid’s area.

Dianne Dunivan, picnic and merchandise chair and another longtime committee member, said Sunday’s picnic is also flush with vendors, entertainment and a kid’s area.

And both Dunivan and Harvey are quick to point out that they have worked diligently to keep prices as low as possible when it comes to food and drink stands at the street festival and picnic.

“Last year was the first time we charged for the food and the beer. We charged $1 for the beer, but the product cost us $1.08 and we had to pay taxes to the state on top of that. So we actually lost money on that last year. But that was OK, because we wanted to ease into actually charging for it,” Dunivan said.

“This year, the prices are a little higher. It will be $3 for a burger, a beer or wine, $2 for a polish sausage, and $1 for hot dogs or soft drinks. We are doing everything we can to keep the costs under control,” Dunivan said, adding that when it comes to the picnic in the park on Sunday, “We don’t have an exclusive. People can bring in their own stuff if they want. We are offering the food and the drinks as a convenience.

“We just want to make sure people know that everything is being upgraded this year. Everything is better. And, while we were cash-only last year, this year we’ll be able to take credit cards.”

Dunivan and Harvey also both stress that there is no admission fee to the parade, the festival or the picnic. Still, the committee wants to come out ahead in the money department, so they will have cash on hand as they start planning for 2012, and so they can add to the new TCGPW scholarship fund.

“That’s a big thing for us,” Littlefield said. “This year, we said we really wanted to step forward, to be even more family-friendly, and be even more visible, not just in the LGBT community, but in the community overall. Offering a scholarship is part of that.”

The scholarship, she explained, will be awarded to an LGBT person or to the child of an LGBT family. And while she believes that the association will definitely have enough money to cover expenses for this year’s parade and picnic, if there’s not enough left over to add to the scholarship fund, “we’ll just raise more money!”

And they aren’t waiting around to do that either.

…………………….

Pride throughout the year

Littlefield and the Pride committee this year are stressing that in Tarrant County they are no longer going to talk about Pride weekend. From now on, Littlefield said, “We are going to talk about Pride events. It won’t be just one weekend; we’re going to have Pride throughout the year.

“We want to keep up our visibility throughout the year. We want to keep the momentum going,” she said.

To do that TCGPWA is partnering with a variety of organizations and companies to help present and promote events that take the LGBT community out into the community at large, and that help put money in the Pride coffers.

The first such event on the schedule is Tarrant County Pride Day at Cowboys Stadium on Oct. 12. It includes a two-hour tour of the stadium, including the press box, the luxury suites, the Cotton Bowl offices, the Dr. Pepper Deck, the stadium clubs and the field. Plus, each person gets a free photo of themselves at the stadium, and all for just $20 a person.

A portion of each ticket sold, Littlefield said, will benefit TCGPWA.

The association has a similar arrangement worked out with Bass Hall for Joan Rivers’ performance there on Nov. 2, she added, and more such events will be added in the future.
Legacy of the raid

This level of enthusiasm and involvement is, Littlefield acknowledged, something of a new thing in Tarrant County. And it can be traced, at least in part, back to the June 29, 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission.

While the raid was a horrible thing, Littlefield said, plenty of good things have happened in its aftermath, including the community’s renewed sense of pride and activism.

“What happened that night at the Rainbow Lounge has made us all more aware that even though things are better than they were years ago, bad things can still happen,” she said. “But if you come together and work together, you can make good things come of it in the end.”

Harvey agreed.

“After the Rainbow Lounge raid, our community started speaking out, and the city and the mayor and the police chief really stepped up to work with us,” Harvey said. “Last year, a year after the raid, [Police Chief Jeff Halstead] was the grand marshal of our parade, and he was there for the picnic, along with about 20 Fort Worth police officers. Only about five of those officers were paid to be there, the others were just there to enjoy the day and share it with us.

“When I was younger, that never would have happened,” she continued. “Back then, the cops still raided the bars all the time. The gay people were always getting beat up. But seeing the chief and those officers at the parade and the picnic last year, it was life-changing for me. For the first time in my life, I felt like I didn’t have to worry about being who I am. And this year, the mayor [Betsy Price] is our grand marshal. That’s fantastic.

“When I was young, what I learned was to keep your head down, keep your mouth shut and stay with your own group. That’s not how it is any more. Some people are willing to keep on being second-class citizens, but not me. I want us to walk down Main Street, together. I want people to see us, to see our families.  I want the young people coming up today to see that, and say to themselves, ‘I’m gonna be OK.’ That’s what Pride is about.”

………………………

Tarrant County Pride Schedule

FRIDAY, SEPT. 30
• Noon-10 p.m. Trading Post & Arts Exhibit, Second Floor, Piney Woods Room, Sheraton FW
• 10:30 a.m.-7 p.m. “Community School House” Education Sessions, Second Floor, West Room, Sheraton FW
*10:30-11:30 a.m. Samaritan House: Where there is a home, there is hope
* 1:30-2:30 p.m. Healing Wings: 30 years of HIV: Impact on the GLBT Community
* 3-4 p.m. Sessions Break
* 4:30-5:30 p.m. Outreach Addiction Services: Sex: Safety the Gay Way
* 6-7 p.m. Fairness Fort Worth: Grassroots Organizing: The creation of Fairness Fort Worth, Inc.
* 1-3 p.m. QCinema screens “March On!,” documentary screening, Second Floor, Taste of Texas Ballroom, Sheraton FW
* 7:33 p.m. “Strut your Pride” Show, hosted by Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, Best Friends Club, www.ic-fwa.org
* 8-10 p.m. Open Door Productions presents comedian Suzanne Westenhoefer, Second Floor, Taste of Texas Ballroom, Sheraton FW, limited general seating $25, for tickets visit: OpenDoorProductionstx.com
* Boot Scootin’, Club Reflection
* $300 Balloon Drop, dancers, live DJ, Rainbow Lounge
* Kick it Up Country Night, Best Friends
* 9 p.m. So You Think You Can Sing? Karaoke, Percussions

SATURDAY, OCT. 1
• 10 a.m.-noon “Ride the Rainbow” Pride Parade, Main Street at Weatherford, downtown Fort Worth
• 11 a.m.-2 p.m. AIDS Outreach Center Car Wash benefiting the 20th Anniversary AIDS Walk, Staybridge Suites, 220 Clifford Center Drive, Fort Worth. Contact Jaime Shultety at jaimes@aoc.org or 817-916-5210.
• Noon-6 p.m. Pride Street Festival, General Worth Square, Main and Ninth Streets
Coors Main Stage:
* 12 p.m. Eddy Herrera www.soundcloud.com/eustoliog
* 2 p.m. Eddy Herrera www.soundcloud.com/eustoliog
* 3 p.m. Aurora Bleu, www.AuroraBleu.com
* 4 p.m. Parade Awards
* 5 p.m. Aurora Bleu, www.AuroraBleu.com
• 5-7 p.m. It Only Makes Me Laugh Comedy Showcase, Patio @ Rainbow Lounge
• 6-9 p.m. Cowtown “Pride” Cookout, hosted by Cowtown Leathermen, Club Reflection Patio, www.cowtownleathermen.com
• 7-11 p.m. Threesome, live band, on Patio @ Rainbow Lounge
• 8-10 p.m. Burlesque Show starring Tasha Kohl, Mosaic Lounge (underground), 515 Houston St. entrance on 5th St.
• 8-10 p.m. Fall Fest Events, hosted by NTXCC, Club Reflection Patio, www.ntxcc.org
• 9 p.m. Anton Shaw live, Percussions
• Boot Scootin’, Club Reflection
• 1 a.m. Pride Night $500 balloon drop Best Friends

SUNDAY, OCT. 2
• Noon-6 p.m. Pride Picnic, Trinity Park Arts Pavilion
Bud Light Mainstage Schedule
* 1 p.m. Terry Sweeney
* 2 p.m. Valerie Stevens and Kickback
* 3 p.m. Mallorie
* 4 p.m. To be announced
* 5 p.m. Butch Country
• 2-7 p.m. Afternoon Cookout, Patio @ Rainbow Lounge
• 6-9 p.m. Family Night, Best Friends
• 8 p.m. Pride Karaoke, Club Reflection
• 9 p.m. Karaoke with Pete Day, Percussions
• 11 p.m. Whitney Paige Show, Rainbow Lounge
(For more events throughout the week, go online to TCGPWA.org.)

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

—  Michael Stephens

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

Tarrant Pride fundraising kicks into high gear

PRIDE 2010 | The Rev. Carol West was one of the grand marshalls for the 2010 Tarrant Pride Parade.

TCGPWA still about $15,000 short of goal to pay for picnic, 30th annual parade set for downtown

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — With less than two months to go until the 30th annual Tarrant County Pride Week steps off through downtown Fort Worth on Oct. 1, the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association still needs to raise more money to pay for a bigger, better parade and the Pride Picnic planned for the following Day in Trinity Park.

Since the Rainbow Lounge raid in June 2009, Fort Worth’s LGBT community has been re-energized and more active and organized. The 2010 parade, which followed the traditional route down Jennings Avenue on the city’s south side, was the largest, by far, in recent memory, and included a new feature, a street party on Jennings before and after the parade.

But this year, as the community’s presence and influence has grown, and to mark the event’s 30th anniversary, TCGPWA organizers decided the parade should be even more high profile, moving the event to downtown Cowtown.

“We’re taking it to Main Street America” this year, said Duane Littlefield, president of TCGPWA.

This year’s parade has also been moved to a Saturday morning instead of a Sunday afternoon.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Oct. 1, and will move down Main Street in the heart of the downtown district. The street festival will follow, beginning at noon at General Worth Square, and lasting til 6 p.m.

The Pride Picnic, previously held on the Saturday following parade Sunday, this year will be held the next day, from noon to 6 p.m.

But this bigger, better Pride celebration costs money. The budget for the parade and picnic weekend is $25,000, a significant increase from the previous budget of $6,600 according to Tony Coronado, TWGPWA corporate partner and sponsorships committee chair.

And unlike the Dallas Pride parade each September that is staged by a professional organization, the Dallas Tavern Guild, the Fort Worth events are mounted completely by a volunteer community organization.

Coronado said the committee has so far raised about $10,000 of the total needed. But is confident that upcoming fundraising events can make up the difference — as long as the community turns out to support them.

On Aug. 20, TCGPWA is holding a benefit garage sale, and on Aug. 21, “The Diva Show” starring local drag legend Tasha Kohl begins at 8 p.m. at Best Friends Club. Three additional shows are planned at Best Friends through September, including a pageant, that will all help bulk up the Pride celebration coffers.

In addition, Coronado said that most groups that will participate in the parade have not registered yet. Parade entries cost $50 for an eco-friendly or walking group, $75 for a non-profit and $125 for a standard entry which may be a car, float or a truck.

Groups have until Sept. 15 to register.

Coronado said the association has lined up some sponsors, the majority of whom are “providing in-kind services,” Coronado said. That list includes Coors, which will supply the main stage for the festival.

But, Littlefield added, “We could always use more sponsors.”

She said that another way to contribute is to purchase the weekend package available on the TCGPWA website. The Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa is the host hotel and the weekend includes lunch at Billy Bob’s in the Stockyards, a film screening at the Water Gardens and excursions to the museums in the city’s Cultural District.

“Buy into that package,” Littlefield urged. “It will help tremendously.”

She said the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau has been “gung ho supportive” in helping the association plan and promote Pride weekend.

The downtown route is about four times the length of the old parade route, and Littlefield said that requires more announcing stations and more police. And for the first time, the Fort Worth parade will use barricades to keep spectators on the sidewalks, adding another expense.

More volunteers are also needed this year for set-up, clean up and logistics, which also adds to the price.

Newly elected Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price will be one of the grand marshals for this year’s parade, and Billy Moon — grand marshal of the first Pride parade in Fort Worth 30 years ago — will be one of the honorary grand marshals. Tasha Kohl has also been named honorary grand marshal.

Coronado said the Pride Week association named Kohl as an honorary grand marshal in part as a shout-out to the city’s female impersonators who are the ones who started the Pride picnic and who have always been an integral part of the fundraising efforts for the parade and other activities.

Because this year’s parade is taking place downtown, the parade will be more accessible to Dallasites making the trip across the Trinity for the parade by train.

On Saturday, the TRE leaves Union Station in downtown Dallas at 8:49 a.m. and arrives at the Fort Worth Intermodal Center (the next to last stop) at 9:44 a.m. That station is three blocks from the parade route.

The parade begins at the Tarrant County Courthouse on Weatherford Street at 10 a.m. proceeding down Main Street to 7th Street. The festival that begins at noon will be on Main Street from 8th to 9th streets near the Water Gardens. The Intermodal Center is on Jones Street at 9th Street.

Volunteers can sign up on line. Forms for parade entries are also available at TCGPWA.org

—  John Wright

Weekend package announced for Tarrant Pride

2010 Tarrant County Pride parade

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association has announced a weekend package for Fort Worth’s Pride celebration.

This year marks the 30th anniversary celebration (it’s older than Dallas’ Pride) and the parade will move downtown.

The weekend package includes a stay at the host hotel, the Sheraton Fort Worth Hotel & Spa, 1701 Commerce St., in downtown Fort Worth.

The celebration begins on Thursday, Sept. 29. The highlight of the day is an outdoor film screening at the Fort Worth Water Gardens.

Friday’s activities includes a trip to the Fort Worth Stockyards with lunch at Billy Bob’s Texas, then off to Cultural District via Molley the Trolley.

The parade and street festival takes place downtown on Saturday, Oct. 1, beginning at 10 a.m.,  and the annual Pride Picnic is Sunday, Oct. 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Trinity Park.

Full details are on the TCGPWA website.

—  David Taffet

Get your Pride on!

DANCING DOWN MARKET | A dancer performs for the crowds along Market Street during the annual gay Pride parade in June 2010 in San Francisco. (Tony Avelar/Associated Press)

North Texas’ largest Pride events don’t happen until September and October, but there are plenty of Pride festivities happening now, from Houston to New York to San Francisco

DRACONIS VON TRAPP  |  Intern
intern@dallasvoice.com

Break out your rainbow flags and spray-on glitter for the month of June, the official national Gay Pride Month. All over the United States folks are setting up their parade floats and getting ready for a month-long Pride celebration.

If you’re in Dallas then you’ll have to wait until September to ride along in the parade, but other major cities from coast to coast — including plenty in Texas — have already started their club parties and street festivals.

The Pride parade and celebration in Dallas was moved to September in the early 1980s to commemorate Judge Jerry Buchmeyer’s ruling that overturned Section 21.06 of the Texas Penal Code, also known as the state’s sodomy law.

Even though Buchmeyer’s decision was overturned on appeal by the Fifth Circuit Court, Dallasites decided to keep the Pride celebration in September in part to take advantage of cooler temperatures.

Dallas’ annual parade is called The Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, named in honor of the former Dallas Tavern Guild executive parade who was a longtime activist and primary organizer of the parade from the time the Tavern Guild took it over in 1983 until his death in 1995.

This year’s parade is set for Sunday, Sept. 18, and other events on the September Pride schedule include Gay Day at Six Flags and more.

For more information, go online to DallasTavernGuild.org.

Earlier this month, Dallas’ one-time traditional June Pride party, Razzle Dazzle Dallas, was resurrected after several years, coming back as a five-day slate of events culminating with a street party Saturday, June 4, on Cedar Springs. Proceeds benefit several community organizations, and will be distributed Monday, June 20.

Tarrant County Pride Week events were moved to early October several years ago, but following the June 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge, enthusiasm for the celebration regenerated, making the 2011 events — including the parade, the always-popular Pride Picnic and the newly added street fair — the largest in years.

This year the parade, set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, is being moved downtown, and the Pride Picnic will be held Sunday, Oct 2, from noon to 6 p.m. at Trinity Park.

Tarrant County Gay Pride Week 2011 begins Sept. 29 and runs through Oct. 9, with the International Gay Rodeo Association bringing its international finals rodeo to Cowtown for the final weekend of Pride week.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

The Dallas Black Pride celebration — this year presented by DFW Pride Movement and called “HIS-Story and HER-Story” — is scheduled for Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Author Uriah Bell and adult film star and CEO Rock Rockafella are already confirmed as special guests.

For more information, go online to DFWPrideMovement.org.

June Pride in Texas

But if you are looking for a June Pride celebration close to home, don’t despair.

Collin County has become quickly burgeoning into a gay hotspot in the DFW area and they’re holding their first-ever Pride event this year with the “Come as you are Pride Party” at Aparicio’s Restaurante Mexicano and Sports Bar, 216 E. Virginia St. in McKinney, on Saturday, June 25, from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

The party is a fundraiser for C.U.R.E., an organization committed to raising funds for and awareness of HIV/AIDS programs and organizations. C.U.R.E.’s next project is to bring to Dallas the largest display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt since the Quilt was displayed in Washington, D.C., in 1997.

For more information go online to CureNTx.org or look for event information on Facebook.

Texas’ largest June Pride celebration happens in Houston, and it all kicks off this weekend with Opening Ceremonies beginning at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, June 18, at Jones Plaza, followed by the Gay Men’s Chorus’ “Anything Goes” Concert, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at Jones Hall. The opening night of Pride winds up with Matt Alber Live at the Hard Rock Café, beginning at 10 p.m.

‘“Divas of Diversity,” the opening of a nationwide comedy show tour, begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, June 19, at The Houston Club.

Midweek, on Wednesday, June 22, you can “Dine With Pride” all day at The Chelsea Grill to help support the Houston LGBT Pride Celebration. Thursday night, June 23, beginning at 10 a.m., head to Meteor Lounge to watch the finals of Pride SuperStar, and on Friday, June 24, you can “Rock the Runway,” beginning at 8 p.m. at South Beach Night Club.

But the biggest of the big Pride events in Houston start Saturday, June 25, with the Houston Pride Festival, a multi-block party in the heart of Houston’s Montrose gayborhood, taking place from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and featuring a wide variety of performers on different stages.

And just as the festival is winding down, the Pride Parade will be gearing up. The parade through Montrose — Texas’ first night-time gay Pride parade, steps off at 8:15 p.m. and the parties carry on through to Sunday.

For all the details, go online to PrideHouston.org.

There’s not a lot of information available yet on Pride in Amarillo, which has been hosting a Pridefest for 20 years. But we do know that another, much smaller group — Repent Amarillo — has its Jesus Fest on the same day every year for the sole purpose of preaching loudly to the Pridefest participants.

El Paso has already held their Pride events for 2011 and have scheduled next year’s events for June 8-12. Galveston and Austin are holding their Pride events later in the year. Galveston’s

Pride is in October with a celebratory block party while Austin’s is in September, kicking off Sept. 10 from noon to 6 p.m. with a Festival in Fiesta Gardens in East Austin.

Pride around the U.S.

The majority of the U.S. still celebrates Pride in June to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall Riots, where LGBT New Yorkers retaliated against an unjust police raid on a gay hangout in Greenwich Village. After that, resistance efforts took place all over to fight discrimination.

New York

Of course, one of the largest Pride celebrations is in New York itself, and it starts this year with the Rally Pride kickoff at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park on Saturday, June 18, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Well-known performers, such as cast members from Broadway’s Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and motivational speakers from the LGBT community will be featured.

Ross “The Intern” Matthews and comedian Christine O’Leary will be M.C.s for the rally, and headline performer is singer Oh Land.

The women-only Rapture on the River event, with DJs Susan Levine and Mary Mac, is being held on Pier 54, 13th St. at the West Side Highway, on Saturday, June 25, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.

New York’s 2011 Pride March is Sunday, June 26, beginning at noon. The parade steps off at the intersection of 36th and 5th streets, and ends at the intersection of Christopher and Greenwich streets.

Grand marshals for the NYC Pride March this year are Dan Savage and his partner, Terry Miller, creators of the It Gets Better Project, the Rev. Pat Bumgardner of MCC New York and The Imperial Court of New York.

The Pride Festival begins at 11 a.m. that day and runs through 7 p.m. It takes place on Hudson Street between Abingdon Square and West 14th Street.

The party winds up with Dance of the Pier, from 2 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., at Pier 54 in Hudson River Park, 13th Street at the West Side Highway. Wynter Gordon will be on hand for a special early performance, and DJs Lina and Vito Fun back up headliner DJ Ana Paula.

For complete details on NYC Pride, go online to NYCPride.org.

San Francisco

Another of the largest celebrations San Francisco Pride, where they have an astonishingly large number of events.

The prade along Market Street kicks off at 10:30 a.m. on June 26 at Market and Beale streets and ends at Market and 8th in Downtown.

Among the Grand Marshals this year are Chaz Bono and Olympia Dukakis.

The Trevor Project is being honored as National Organizational Grand Marshal. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black will appear with the Trevor Project.

A large percentage of Pride events have been always 18- or 21-plus, due to their venues, but in San Francisco they’ve got a few youth-appropriate events, including Kidspace Chef, where LGBT families and their kids get to cook together, held at 10:30 a.m. on June 18 at the San Francisco LGBT Community Center (and it’s free).

San Francisco held a Youth Prom on June 10, for youths aged 13 to 20, which was not unlike Dallas’ Gayla Prom that happened in May.

For complete details on SF Pride, go online to SFPride.org.

International Pride

Mexico City

If you are looking to head south for the summer, the Mexico City Pride parade is on Saturday, June 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. The parade is known as Marcha del Orgullo Lésbico, Gay, Bisexual, Transgénero, Travesti, Transexual e intersexual, and this year binational activist Jesus Chairez of Dallas and Mexico City will be on hand for the celebration and will report on it for Dallas Voice.

The parade route begins at the Ángel de la independencia and proceeds to the Zocalo.

For complete details on Mexico City Pride, go online to Orgullo.com.mx

Toronto

Canada’s Pride Toronto holds its official Pride Launch Party on Thursday, June 23, at 8 p.m., with performances by bands The Clicks and Creature.

The Toronto street festival begins on Friday, July 1, with a Trans March in the evening and a Trans Verse stage amongst others, and runs through to 11 p.m. Sunday night, July 3, with entertainment on eight stages.

For complete details on Toronto Pride, go online to PrideToronto.com

So whether you’re getting your Pride on with gay happy hour or marching in a parade, there’s a Pride event somewhere in the U.S. suited just for you, beginning in June and lasting all the way through October.

—  John Wright

Festival no longer free: $5 admission announced for event in Lee Park following gay Pride parade

The 2010 Festival in Lee Park. This year, the park will be fenced and parade organizers will charge a $5 admission to help offset rising costs, Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman confirmed today. (Chuck Dube/Dallas Voice)

I just got off the phone with Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman, who confirmed for me rumors that there will, indeed, be an admission fee to the Pride Festival in Lee Park this year after the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in September. Admission to the parade will still be free.

Doughman said the park will be fenced in for the festival, and there will be a $5 charge to enter the park for the event that traditionally winds up Dallas’ LGBT Pride celebration. This and other changes were prompted, he said, by changes in requirements imposed by the city and by “polite warnings” from Dallas police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission that drinking during the event was getting seriously out of hand. But Doughman also acknowledged that the admission fee is intended to increase revenue, too.

“Being able to donate proceeds back to our beneficiary organizations has always been a major focus of the parade. But ever since the Homeland Security Act passed after 9/11, and the security requirements have gone up, the money we are able to donate back to our beneficiaries has been dwindling,” Doughman said. “We used to be able to donate $20,000 to $25,000, and we had three or four beneficiaries. Now, we’re lucky if we have $7,500 or $8,000 to give back to our one beneficiary [Youth First Texas].”

—  admin

TCGPWA announces big plans for 2011

FAITH-BASED PRIDE | The Rev. Carol West, pastor of Celebration Community Church in Fort Worth, waves to the crowd as part of the church’s entry in the 2010 Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

Parade moving downtown, will include Street Fest; parade and picnic condensed into 1 weekend

TAMMYE NASH | Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — Fort Worth’s LGBT community, re-energized by the June, 2009, raid on the Rainbow Lounge, has over the last 18-plus months become a much more organized, visible and active presence in the city.

Last October’s annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Week provided strong evidence of the community’s vitality.

The Pride parade was the largest in many years and included a first-time feature: a block party on South Jennings Street with vendors, entertainment and the Coors Main Stage. The following weekend, the popular Pride Week picnic pulled in a huge and diverse crowd to Trinity River Park.

This year, as TCGPW Association plans for its 30th annual Pride celebration, Fort Worth’s LGBT community can look forward to an even bigger and better event, parade chairman Tony Coronado said this week.

The biggest change, Coronado said, will be in the timing of the main Pride week events. Previously, the parade has been held on a Sunday afternoon to kick off the week, and the picnic has wound up the festivities the following Saturday. But this year, the parade and picnic are being held the same weekend — and the parade is moving downtown for the first time in its 30-year history.

The Ride the Rainbow Pride Parade and Street Festival is set for Saturday, Oct. 1, with the parade beginning at 10 a.m. on Main Street. The Street Festival, Coronado said, begins after the parade and continues until 6 p.m.

ROYALTY ON PARADE | The 2010 TCGPWA titleholders were among the entries in Fort Worth’s Pride parade last October. (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

The following day — Sunday, Oct. 2 — the picnic will be held from noon to 6 p.m. in Trinity Park, with the area and layout expanded to accommodate the expected increase in attendance, Coronado said.

But while the two main events will take place in one weekend, Coronado said Pride week runs from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9, with a variety of local events set throughout the week and the International Gay Rodeo Association’s World Gay Rodeo Finals taking place Oct. 7-9 in Fort Worth.

One reason for condensing the parade and picnic into one weekend, Coronado said, is to broaden the celebration’s appeal to out-of-towners, especially since this will be the 30th annual parade.

“We’ve been working with the Fort Worth Convention and Visitors Bureau a lot. They are helping promote our celebration, and having it all in one weekend will make it easier for people to come in from out of town to attend,” Coronado said. “This way, they don’t have to decide between coming for the parade or coming for the picnic. They can come for one weekend and attend both.”

Coronado stressed that being able to coordinate these events on a larger scale than in the past and make sure they are successful requires careful planning — which is why TCGPWA laid out a two-year plan to prepare for the anniversary year, and why the organization has made a concerted effort to reach out to as many organizations and communities as possible.

“We are using social networking a lot, and we are reaching out to the LGBT individuals and organizations throughout Tarrant County, especially in the rural areas, trying to get them involved and excited,” he said.

“Whether they are officially involved or not, all the GLBT organizations in Tarrant County are a part of the pride celebration. It’s up to them as to how much they participate, but we want to make sure they know they are all invited to be a part of this.”

TCGPWA is also in the process of creating a scholarship fund through its new education committee, Coronado said. An awards panel has been established to research and develop criteria, target needs, set parameters and establish a required apprenticeship to award a scholarship to someone in the LGBT community.

For more information, go online to TCGPWA.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 11, 2011.

—  John Wright

Razzle Dazzle a done deal for 2011

Pub crawls, a street festival, an AIDS fundraiser, party buses, more will be part of weeklong party

DAVID TAFFET  |  taffet@dallasvoice.com

Razzle-DazzleThe return of Razzle Dazzle Dallas means North Texas will have a June Pride celebration. The five-day event begins June 1.
Scott Whittall, president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association, said the June 1-5 dates were chosen, in part, to not conflict with Pride weekends in Austin and Houston.

The event begins on a Wednesday with a special edition of the Cedar Springs Wine Walk.

Thursday, June 2, will feature a pub-crawl. Shuttles and party buses will leave from Cedar Springs Road to visit different bars off the strip. The Brick and BJ’s have already committed to participate. Other bars are expected to join as planning continues through the spring.

Each stop will be about 45 minutes and feature specials and a VIP area for those who purchase special tickets for the week.

“The purpose is to introduce people to the bars off the Cedar Springs strip,” Whittall said.

The fifth annual Metro Ball held at S4 will become part of Razzle Dazzle Dallas as the Friday event. The fundraiser is staged by and benefits the Greg Dollgener Memorial AIDS Fund, which works with nine area agencies as a funding source of last resort to help individuals with emergency situations.

Tickets are expected to be $25 on line and $35 at the door. Crystal Waters headlined last year’s ball that raised $37,000. In 2011, the evening will include a silent auction and dance party.

Representatives of GDMAF, Inc., which stages Metro Ball, attended the first Razzle Dazzle organizational meeting to make sure there were no conflicts in dates.

“I expressed my concern to the committee,” said GDMAF President John Cooper-Lara. “But it made more sense to focus Metro Ball as the primary fundraiser for the weekend.”

By the end of the meeting, not only had Metro Ball become one of week’s signature events, but also Cooper-Lara signed on as co-chair of Razzle Dazzle Dallas.

“We’re excited to be part of a week-long celebration,” he said, hoping the community-wide effort will raise even more money for GDMAF this year.

When Metro Ball ends at 10 p.m., an after-party will be held at a different venue.

Saturday begins with a street festival — from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — that will highlight the Cedar Springs merchants.

whittall.scott
Scott Whittall

Participating stores will have sale tents. Booths for artists and non-profits will be part of the day’s activities.

The main event will be Saturday night from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. Cedar Springs will close from Reagan to Knight streets. Whittall said they were exploring closing even more of the street.

A main stage near Reagan Street will feature a national headliner and a variety of bands and entertainment. A stage near ilume will present a national DJ. A third stage in the middle of the block will also have a DJ keeping the party lively.

A sponsored VIP tent near Hunky’s will include a free cocktail of the evening and food provided by two area restaurants.

Sunday ends the five-day festival with a mini pub-crawl, afternoon t-dance and check presentations.

Whittall said the group plans to work with the Dallas Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and promote Razzle Dazzle nationally.

When Razzle Dazzle Dallas last took place in 2003, it was billed as the 26th annual event. That dates the first one to 1978.

Don Maison, who served on the board from about 1985-90, said he remembered it beginning as fundraiser for the Dallas Museum of Art. At the time, the museum was located in Fair Park and had just announced a new building downtown.

As AIDS took hold in Dallas in the early 1980s, Razzle Dazzle quickly changed its focus to raising funds for the first North Texas AIDS organizations, such as Oak Lawn Community Services that closed in 2000, and the AIDS Resource Center, now known as Resource Center Dallas.  One year in the 1980s Razzle Dazzle was held at the old Dallas auto pound on Inwood Road where a UT Southwestern building now stands. Searchlights directed people to the abandoned facility.

Maison recalled having to repair the roof of the shed and call Dallas Power & Light to run more electricity into the site.

Fair Park was a frequent site of the event. In different years it was held in the Hall of State, Tower Building and Centennial Building.

Maison said the year Razzle Dazzle was held downtown in the Convention Center was costly. Market Center Hall and an abandoned building in the West End and the Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum were other venues before Razzle Dazzle moved to Cedar Springs Road in the 1990s.

In its last year, Razzle Dazzle featured the Village People who performed on an outdoor stage in Caven’s paid parking lot. Although the street was blocked off, many people entered without paying. The event lost money and Razzle Dazzle Dallas disbanded.

This year’s event should be well funded as it combines resources from a number of groups. Whittall said Ben E. Keith has already signed to be the presenting sponsor and other businesses including ilume and the Melrose Hotel have already agreed to be sponsors.

The new website will be live in January.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 24, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

Emmer concedes; Target doesn’t

Target Retail StoreRepublican Tom Emmer finally conceded defeat to Democrat Mark Dayton in the Minnesota governor’s race. Although behind by 9,000 votes, the homophobic Emmer still thought he should have won.

The race gained national attention when Target and Best Buy made substantial donations to a PAC that supported Emmer. Although they claimed they supported Emmer for his position on lower taxes, LGBT groups jumped on the candidate’s extreme anti-gay views. He called one person who called for death to gays “a nice guy,” for example.

Target has refused to budge on its position, however. The Human Rights Campaign spoke to representatives of the company over the summer to encourage them to make equal donations to LGBT groups. Negotiations broke down and the company has not responded or supported LGBT groups in any significant way since then.

HRC’s rating of Target in the Corporate Equality Index was lowered from 100 percent to 85 percent in the latest listing.

—  David Taffet