Tarrant Country Pride Picnic today at Trinity Park

The more the merrier

Head to Trinity Park Arts Pavilion today for a good ol’ fashion picnic, but with gay people. Live entertainment, games, family and pet friendly events and even food and drink make up the annual Tarrant County Pride Picnic. Yeah, this is what a picnic should be. All that’s missing is a shirtless William Holden.

DEETS: Trinity Park Arts Pavilion at Crestline Road. Noon. TCGPWA.org

—  Rich Lopez

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

Pride 2011 • 30th annual Tarrant Pride Parade moves to downtown Fort Worth

Organizers say this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever, with parade and street festival on Saturday, and popular Pride Picnic on Sunday, October 1-2

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

FORT WORTH — The Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade marks its 30th anniversary this year, and organizers with the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association said this week they are going all out to make this year’s event the biggest and best ever.

This year the parade moves from its previous Sunday afternoon time slot to Saturday morning, Oct. 1, along with the street festival that is now in it’s second year. The parade is also changing locations, moving from the traditional route down South Jennings to a more visible downtown route, moving down Main Street from Weatherford Street south to 7th Street.

The parade begins at 10 a.m., and the street festival — which will be set up in General Worth Square, on Main Street between 8th Street and 9th Street — follows immediately, from noon to 6 p.m.

TCGPWA’s popular annual Pride Picnic is doing a little moving of its own this year: It will still be held in Trinity Park, at the intersection of Crestline Road and Foch Street. But this year the picnic is moving from its traditional Saturday time slot to Sunday, Oct. 2, from noon to 6 p.m.

“I think we’re going to have a big turnout for the parade, just for the curiosity factor if nothing else,” TCGPWA Secretary Carla Parry said this week. “We’ve never had the parade downtown before. Having it downtown has never been an option before. So I think there will be a huge crowd there.”

Parry said that planning for the bigger events in the new location has been going very smoothly so far, and “Hopefully, no wrenches get thrown into our works between now and then!”

The expanded activities and downtown route this year mean higher costs for organizers, and the TCGPWA has been working diligently all year to raise the money needed to cover those costs. Parry said this week that things on the fundraising front also appear to be coming along well.

“The fundraising is right on target for where we need it to be,” Parry said. “We are giving out a scholarship this year for the first time, and we would love to bring in over and above the amount we need just to pay for the parade and festival and picnic, so that we could put that extra in the scholarship fund. But we are on par for what we need to pay for everything.

“Actually, all the money from the alcohol and food sales at the picnic on that Sunday comes back to the association, and that is money that we can add to the scholarship fund,” she added.

Parry said that city officials have been “very accommodating” in the process of planning this year’s expanded Pride events and moving the parade and street festival downtown.

She said that while the 2009 raid on the Rainbow Lounge by Fort Worth police and agents with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission was “a horrible thing that never should have happened,” she is proud that the city and its LGBT community have used that event as the impetus for improving policies and relationships.

“We’ve made huge strides forward here in Fort Worth since the raid,” Parry said, and those strides are reflected in the city’s attitude toward planning this year’s events.

One very visible sign of that improved relationship will be Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s participation this year as one of three Pride parade grand marshals.

Tony Coronado, chair of TCGPWA’s corporate partners and sponsorships committee, said that Price was nominated for grand marshal by Fairness Fort Worth President and TCGPWA member Tom Anable, who also confirmed with Price that she was available and willing to participate in the parade. Her nomination was then confirmed by a vote of the association’s general membership, Coronado said.

Also elected as grand marshals this year are Q Cinema co-founder and activist Todd Camp, and female impersonator Zoe Daniels. Honorary grand marshals are retired Fort Worth

Police Officer Mike Miller and female impersonator Tasha Kohl, aka Jerry Faulkner.

“Our grand marshals this year reflect the present and the future of our community, and our honorary grand marshals were chosen as symbols to remember and honor our past,” Coronado said.

He explained that Miller is considered “our first, unofficial LGBT liaison with the police department.” Faulkner, who brought Tasha Kohl, his longtime and very popular drag alter ego, out of retirement to perform in shows over the summer to raise money for the Pride events, has a history of fundraising for the LGBT community and organizations in Tarrant County and around the Metroplex.

“The female impersonators, the drag queens, have always played a very important role in the [LGBT] community in Fort Worth and Tarrant County,” Coronado said, explaining why the TCGPWA includes them in the grand marshal and honorary grand marshal honorees for Pride each year.

“In fact, our annual Pride Picnic is actually our foundational Pride event here, the first Pride event ever held in Fort Worth, and it was started by drag queens all those years ago who wanted to get the community to come together to relax and have fun,” he said.

Parry said the street festival this year will be larger than the inaugural event last year, with corporate sponsors Coors Light and Coors Distributing Co. of Fort Worth once again donating the Coors Light stage. Local entertainer Aurora Blue headlines the entertainment for the festival, and will be joined in the lineup by a number of other performers.

The festival will feature a kids activity area, including a booth with Fort Worth P.D.’s IdentiKid program, “plenty of vendors” and a number of food and beverage stands as well as organizational and game booths. Entertainment, vendors, informational booths, a kid’s activity area and a games area with volleyball and horseshoes will again be part of the Pride Picnic on Oct. 2, Parry said, along with, of course, food and beverage stands.

Tarrant County Gay Pride officially kicks off Thursday night, Sept. 29, with shows and parties at nightclubs in Fort Worth, and continues through the following week.

For more information about Tarrant County Pride, go online to TCGPWA.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

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