Dallas kicks off Pride Month at City Hall

Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, left, holds the Pride proclamation with LGBT Task Force members Pam Gerber and Omar Narvaez. (David Taffet/DallasVoice)

Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, left, holds the Pride proclamation with LGBT Task Force members Pam Gerber and Omar Narvaez. (David Taffet/DallasVoice)

Dallas officials and LGBT leaders gathered in the Flag Room at City Hall on Wednesday to declare June LGBT Pride Month in the city and celebrate the first of many related events this month.

Pam Gerber, member of Councilwoman Delia Jasso’s LGBT Task Force, spoke briefly about the history of Dallas city Pride events. Two years ago was the first time the city held a reception marking Pride Month, followed by last year’s series of events. More events are planned this month to continue to educate and celebrate the city’s LGBT community.

“Thanks to the leadership of the Task Force and Delia Jasso, we now have a very high profile June Pride month,” Gerber said. “It certainly has become a big thing that we’re very, very proud of.”

Jasso was not among the roughly 40 people who attended, but several council members did, including Mayor ProTem Pauline Medrano, Angela Hunt, Ann Margolin, Scott Griggs, Monica Alonzo, Sheffie Kadane, Linda Koop and Councilman-elect Adam Medrano. Gay former Councilman John Loza and District 14 candidate Philip Kingston were also in attendance. Mayor Mike Rawlings was out of town and did not record a video message like last year.

—  Anna Waugh

Beth El Binah hosts Pride-themed Shabbat

Dallas’ LGBT Jewish synagogue Beth El Binah is celebrating Pride month with a family and friends Shabbat June 22.

Rabbi Steve Fisch

Rabbi Steve Fisch said the congregation has been doing the Pride-themed Shabbat for many years but it is the second year the congregation has held it at the Cathedral of Hope.

Fisch, who joined the synagogue last June, will deliver the sermon at the Pride Shabbat for the first time. Calling his first year at the synagogue “the most fulfilling experience I’ve had as a rabbi,” he said his sermon will combine the Hebrew words for friend and family, chaver and mishpacha. The two words help form the word for life, chayim, he said, so his message will focus on the vital ties our personal relationships have in impacting and enriching our lives.

Although the event is called the family and friends Shabbat, Fisch said the theme reflects pride in life and how “we are truly fulfilled and our lives are complete” when we reach out to those who are important in our lives.

“In many cases we form families not only from our families of origin but from those people who surround us with love and they become more important in some cases then our family of origin,” he said.

He said having the Pride Shabbat was important because June is LGBT Pride Month and he wants members of the congregation to embrace their religion and sexuality. He said when people pride themselves on who they are they lead “full and enriching” lives, learning to accept themselves and share their lives with others.

“We want our family and friends to know that we’re very proud of our status and very proud of our religion and that we can combine the two,” he said. “We’re very proud of being liberal Jews and we’re very proud of being gay and that the two are very much intertwined.”

Beth El Binah’s Family and Friends Shabbat is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

—  Anna Waugh

Dallas LGBT Task Force aims to expand diversity training to all city employees within 3 years

Sherry Durant, Dallas Fire-Rescue LGBT liaison, explains the goal of expanding LGBT training to all city employees at a city services event June 13. The event was the second in the city’s June Pride series. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

Dallas Fire-Rescue plans to expand its LGBT training program to its veteran employees this summer and eventually to every city employee over the next three years, according to Sherry Durant, the department’s LGBT liaison.

Durant was among six city officials who spoke and answered questions during a panel discussion at the Oak Lawn library branch on Wednesday night. The event drew about 40 people and was the second in Dallas’ “Honor, Educate and Celebrate” June Pride Month series planned by Councilwoman Delia Jasso’s LGBT Task Force.

Task Force member Pam Gerber said the group has discussed expanding LGBT training to all Dallas city employees and will work with officials to achieve the goal in the future. The only city departments that currently conduct comprehensive LGBT diversity training are police and fire.

Durant, who’s served as LGBT liaison for DFR since 2008 and is a member of the Task Force, said 1,048 new recruits have undergone LGBT training since the training program began in 2004. She said she has been working with the Dallas County Gay and Lesbian Alliance and Resource Center Dallas to create a training program for veteran Fire-Rescue employees. The veteran employee training will begin in late July or early August, she said, estimating that it would take about 36 weeks for the 1,248 employees to complete the training.

After DFR finishes its veteran employee training, Durant said she wants to help the veteran police employees undergo the training and then move onto other city departments, so all city employees will have LGBT training within the next three years.

City Manager Mary Suhm, Assistant fire Chief Joseph Vasquez and Sr. Cpl. Laura Martin, LGBT liaison for Dallas police, joined Durant on the panel and shared what their departments offer the LGBT community. Executive Assistant City Attorney Melissa Miles and Chalisa Warren, senior public information representative with the Fair Housing Office, spoke about the city’s decade-old nondiscrimination ordinance.

Martin oversees the Police Department’s sensitivity training, which helps recruits understand how to handle interactions with members of the LGBT community. She said she will also teach the current officers over the next two years about the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. She said a lot of officers are not aware of how the law works because it is a federal law and affects how departments report hate crime statistics to the FBI.

Suhm said during her 35 years working for the city she has seen a lot of improvements for the LGBT community, from training in the police department in the early ’90s to later working with City Council to pass domestic partner benefits for city employees.

Miles said her section of the city attorney’s office handles the discrimination complaints after the Fair Housing Office investigates, working with the alleged violators to inform them about the ordinance and to help educate them even if the complaint is dismissed for no cause.

Questions about the reporting hate crimes and discrimination under the ordinance came up during the meeting, as several in the audience said people do not report incidents of hate or discrimination because they want it to remain confidential.

—  Anna Waugh

The good, the bad & the ‘A-List’

These arts, cultural & sports stories defined gay Dallas in 2011

FASHIONS AND FORWARD  |  The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

FASHIONS AND FORWARD | The Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the DMA, above, was a highlight of the arts scene in 2011, while Dirk Nowitzki’s performance in the NBA playoffs gave the Mavs their first-ever — and much deserved — world title. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

A lot of eyes were focused on Dallas nationally in 2011 — for good and bad — but much of what made the city a fun place last year has specific queer appeal. CULTURE The rise of the reality TV star. 2011 was the year Dallas made a big splash across everyone’s television sets — and it had nothing to do with who shot J.R. (although that’s pending). From the culinary to the conniving, queer Dallasites were big on the small screen. On the positive side were generally good portrayals of gay Texans. Leslie Ezelle almost made it all the way in The Next Design Star, while The Cake Guys’ Chad Fitzgerald is still in contention on TLC’s The Next Great Baker. Lewisville’s Ben Starr was a standout on MasterChef. On the web, Andy Stark, Debbie Forth and Brent Paxton made strides with Internet shows Bear It All, LezBeProud and The Dallas Life,respectively.

‘A’ to Z  |  ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

‘A’ to Z | ‘The A-LIst: Dallas,’ above, had its detractors, but some reality TV stars from Big D, like Chad Fitzgerald, Leslie Ezelle and Ben Starr, represented us well.

There were downsides, though. Drew Ginsburg served as the token gay on Bravo’s teeth-clenching Most Eligible: Dallas, and the women on Big Rich Texas seemed a bit clichéd. But none were more polarizing than the cast of Logo’s The A-List: Dallas. Whether people loved or hated it, the six 20somethings (five gays, one girl) reflected stereotypes that made people cringe. Gaultier makes Dallas his runway. The Dallas Museum of Art scored a coup, thanks to couture. The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk not only featured the work of the famed designer, but was presented the designs in an innovative manner. Nothing about it was stuffy. Seeing his iconic designs in person is almost a religious experience — especially when its Madonna’s cone bra. Gaultier reminded us that art is more than paintings on a wall. (A close runner-up: The Caravaggio exhibit in Fort Worth.) The Return of Razzle Dazzle. ­­There was speculation whether Razzle Dazzle could actually renew itself after a near-decade lull, but the five-day spectacular was a hallmark during National Pride Month in June, organized by the Cedar Springs Merchant Association. The event started slowly with the wine walk but ramped up to the main event street party headlined by rapper Cazwell. Folding in the MetroBall with Deborah Cox, the dazzle had returned with high-profile entertainment and more than 10,000 in attendance on the final night. A Gathering pulled it together. TITAS executive director Charles Santos took on the daunting task of producing A Gathering, a collective of area performance arts companies, commemorating 30 years of AIDS. Groups such as the Dallas Opera, Turtle Creek Chorale and Dallas Theater Center donated their time for this one-of-a-kind show with all proceeds benefiting Dallas’ leading AIDS services organizations. And it was worth it. A stirring night of song, dance and art culminated in an approximate 1,000 in attendance and $60,000 raised for local charities. Bravo, indeed. The Bronx closed after 35 years. Cedar Springs isn’t short on its institutions, but when it lost The Bronx, the gayborhood felt a real loss. For more than three decades, the restaurant was home to many Sunday brunches and date nights in the community. We were introduced to Stephan Pyles there, and ultimately, we just always figured on it being there as part of the fabric of the Strip. A sister company to the neighboring Warwick Melrose bought the property with rumors of expansion. But as yet, the restaurant stands steadfast in its place as a reminder of all those memories that happened within its walls and on its plates.  The Omni changed the Dallas skyline. In November, The Omni Dallas hotel opened the doors to its 23-story structure and waited to fill it’s 1,000 rooms to Dallas visitors and staycationers. Connected to the Dallas Convention Center, the ultra-modern hotel is expected to increase the city’s convention business which has the Dallas Visitors and Conventions Bureau salivating — as they should. The hotel brought modern flair to a booming Downtown and inside was no different. With quality eateries and a healthy collection of art, including some by gay artists Cathey Miller and Ted Kincaid, the Omni quickly became a go-to spot for those even from Dallas. SPORTS The Super Bowl came to town. Although seeing the Cowboys make Super Bowl XLV would have been nice for locals, the event itself caused a major stir, both good and bad. Ticketing issues caused a commotion with some disgruntled buyers and Jerry Jones got a bad rap for some disorganization surrounding the game. But the world’s eyes were on North Texas as not only the game was of a galactic measure, but the celebs were too. From Kardashians to Ke$ha to Kevin Costner, parties and concerts flooded the city and the streets. The gays even got in on the action. Despite crummy weather, the Super Street Party was billed as the “world’s first ever gay Super Bowl party.” The ice and snow had cleared out and the gays came out, (and went back in to the warmer clubs) to get their football on. The XLV Party at the Cotton Bowl included a misguided gay night with acts such as Village People, Lady Bunny and Cazwell that was ultimately canceled. The Mavericks won big. The Mavs are like the boyfriend you can’t let go of because you see how much potential there is despite his shortcomings. After making the playoffs with some just-misses, the team pulled through to win against championship rivals, Miami Heat, who beat them in 2006. In June, the team cooled the Heat in six games, taking home its first NBA Championship, with Dirk Nowitzki appropriately being named MVP. The Rangers gave us faith. Pro sports ruled big in these parts. The Mavericks got us in the mood for championships and the Texas Rangers almost pulled off a victory in the World Series. With a strong and consistent showing for the season, the Rangers went on to defend their AL West Division pennant. Hopes were high as they handily defeated the Detroit Tigers in game six, but lost the in the seventh game. Although it was a crushing loss, the Texas Rangers proved why we need to stand by our men.

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition January 6, 2012.

—  Michael Stephens

Dallas officials to host 1st Pride Month reception, but flag at City Hall must wait till next year

Delia Jasso

Dallas city leaders will host what is believed to be the first-ever official LGBT Pride Month reception in the Flag Room at City Hall next week.

District 1 Councilwoman Delia Jasso organized the reception with the help of the LGBT task force she created after first being elected two years ago.

Jasso said she will read an LGBT Pride Proclamation from the city and present it to the task force during the reception, which is open to the public and will run from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Monday. Jasso is hosting the event along with District 14 Councilwoman Angela Hunt and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano, who represents District 2.

City Manager Mary Suhm, Fire-Rescue Chief Eddie Burns and Police Chief David Brown are expected to attend, Jasso said. She also plans to invite Mayor-elect Mike Rawlings. The Pride Reception will take place on the same day a new mayor and council members are sworn in, so it’s likely others will be there as well.

“I think it’s the first time,” Jasso said. “I have no idea why it’s never been done before, but the task force took it upon themselves.

“It’s an important day in the gay community, and we wanted to be sure we did something for it,” she added, referring to the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, June 28.

Jasso said a banner marking LGBT Pride Month has been on display in the lobby of City Hall since June 1.

Beginning next year, she hopes the city can fly the LGBT Pride flag outside the building for the entire month. This year, organizers didn’t have time to obtain a flag large enough and determine the necessary steps for approval.

“The next step is to see what it would take to fly the flag next year,” Jasso said.

—  John Wright

Secretary Clinton addresses State Department for Pride, saying gay rights are human rights

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed members of the State Department at an event celebrating LGBT Pride Month.

She recognized “with gratitude the contributions made by LGBT members of the State Department family every single day.”

She mentioned that 10 years ago, she was the first first lady to march in a Pride Parade.

As a senator she was a sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination and hate crimes legislation.

Addressing the dangers many LGBT people face around the world, Clinton said, “These dangers are not ‘gay’ issues. This is a human rights issue.”

Clinton said: “So here at the State Department, we will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights agenda that includes the elimination of violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

She added that in countries where Pride parades are new, members of the American Foreign Service are marching. In countries where citizens come out publicly, American officials are expressing their support.

Click here to see watch Clinton’s address.

—  David Taffet