SLIDESHOW: Fort Worth Pride parade is city’s largest

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Participants say parade, in 2nd year on Main Street, presents positive image of LGBT community

LOGAN CARVER  |  Contributing Writer

FORT WORTH — Perry Anable wiped tears from his eyes Saturday as he watched throngs of gays, lesbians, allies and passersby mingle on Main Street in Fort Worth after the largest gay Pride parade in the city’s history.

Anable, brother of the late activist Thomas Anable — who was named grand marshal before his August death and who was honored during the parade with a riderless car — said the large turnout showed that gay people finally have a voice in the city of Fort Worth and are no longer afraid to live their lives openly.

Thomas Anable helped formed Fairness Fort Worth after the Rainbow Lounge raid and was instrumental in the parade’s move from Jennings Street to Downtown.

“That’s what I believe I fought for is this right here,” said Perry Anable, a Vietnam veteran. “Whether you agree with the choice isn’t important; it’s that you have the freedom to choose, and that’s what this is about.”

The first bite of autumn couldn’t chill the spirits of parade-goers as floats made their way from the Tarrant County Courthouse to the Fort Worth Convention Center.

And while there was no shortage of shirtless dancers gyrating to thumping bass, the Fort Worth parade was markedly different than its Dallas cousin.

If Dallas Pride is your flashiest pair of pumps, Fort Worth Pride is your favorite pair of Tom’s. It doesn’t have the glitz and the glamour, but it exudes a feeling of community that doesn’t go unnoticed.

The Fort Worth parade was started 31 years ago by a drag queen who wanted a place for gays to congregate that wasn’t between the four walls of a bar, said parade director Tina Harvey.

For nearly three decades, the parade took place on Jennings Street — celebrating gay Pride in front of nothing but bars, dilapidated storefronts and homeless people. Last year, with the help of Thomas Anable, the parade moved to downtown and marked a new era in the Fort Worth LGBT community.

Harvey said it gives credibility to people who have been treated as second-class citizens their entire lives; and the Main Street presence helps break down stereotypes.

“Other people can see our event going on and see ‘hey, they’re just a loving, tight-knit community and having a great time and this is a great thing,’” Harvey said. “If we’re down on Jennings, nobody comes except the gay community.”

Dana Curtis has participated in both the Dallas and Fort Worth parades and said the Fort Worth celebration is more personal.

“Everybody is on the same team in Fort Worth,” she said.

And for her, being able to ride a float down Main Street is liberating after years of oppression.

“(It’s an) absolute victory for those of us who have been marginalized for so long,” Curtis said. “We haven’t had a voice. Now we do.”

Craig McNeil, who marched with QCinema, said the parade’s downtown location — away from the bar district — makes families feel more comfortable.

“It’s good for them to see there aren’t naked people running around,” McNeil said. “It really is a great community event, and I think that’s great.”

On Saturday, the streets along the parade route were lined with elderly couples — gay and straight, families with children and allies who simply wanted to support equality in their community.

Sheldon Berry twirled a baton with the Fort Worth Pride Steppers and said it was important for non-gays in the city to see gay people who weren’t running around getting drunk.

“It’s not all like you see in the movies,” Berry said. “I just try to represent something really good and positive.”

Apparently Berry’s message was well received.

Kim Mixson was in town for a wedding, staying at a downtown hotel, and heard about the parade. She wore beads around her neck as she watched the floats roll down Main Street.

“I love it. I think it’s great. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it,” Mixson said. “People are people and to each their own.”

Rachel Tillay is a seminary student at Southern Methodist University and went to the Fort Worth parade to show support for the LGBT community and to serve as a counter balance to any anti-gay protestors.

To Tillay, anyone who claims to be Christian and uses scripture to support his or her hate speech doesn’t understand the Bible. She said the verses they take out of context and use to condemn homosexuality actually condemn a lack of hospitality, and when placed in the correct context have nothing to do with same-sex love.

“I’ve learned from my studies that we really need to be pro-gay if we want to be Christians,” Tillay said.

As expected, there were some purportedly Christian protestors quoting cherry-picked Bible verses in their vitriolic diatribe, but the Fort Worth Police Department kept them from interfering with parade viewers and participants and even straight people saw them as misguided afterthoughts.

“I think they should spend their time doing other positive things in the community instead of being out here worrying about how other people live,” said LeAnne Koonsman, who came to support the LGBT people she works with.

Fort Worth police said Monday that two anti-gay protesters were arrested. The arrested protesters are members of Kingdom Baptist Church in Johnson County, which has regularly staged anti-gay demonstrations in North Texas over the last few years. Joey Faust, 46, and Ramon Marroquin, 33, were charged with interfering with public duties, a class-B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a maximum $2,000 fine. Faust is the pastor for Kingdom Baptist Church.

After the parade and the ensuing street festival, Harvey said this year’s event was a huge success.

“It was a beautiful day of celebration on Main Street,” she said.

—  John Wright

Possible hate crime casts shadow over Austin’s Pride weekend

Two gay men were attacked Friday night as Austin’s Pride celebrations were under way, leading them to believe they were targeted for being gay.

Nick Soret and a friend were on 4th Street getting pizza at a food truck when a man to them started asking them what they were looking at.

Soret told Austin’s KVUE when he picked up his pizza, the man beat him with it, burning him.

The man then punched his friend in the face when he tried to intervene, and attacked Soret, cutting his lip and bruising his arm before leaving the area.

His friend has a fractured jaw and will likely need surgery.

Soret said he thinks they were attacked because he and his friend are gay.

“He thought I was checking him out or he thought I was looking at him and so for that, he knocked all my friend’s teeth out, he punched me in the face,” Soret told KVUE.

Austin police are investigating the attack. The pizza trailer had a surveillance camera on it, so police expect to find the man soon.

“It was done just out of meaness and I think prejudice. It was unprovoked. We did not provoke him, we did not engage him. We didn’t do anything,” Soret said.

News of the attack spread through Austin over the weekend and cast a shadow on the Pride festivities. Soret, who has lived in Austin for 20 years, said his sense of security is now gone.

Watch KVUE’s report below.

—  Anna Waugh

Cooper Smith, Todd Koch head to N.Y. with local J.C. Penney LGBT employees for Pride parade

Dallas couple Todd Koch and Cooper Smith are seen here with their two children in the June edition of J.C. Penney’s catalog.

Gay Dallas dads Cooper Smith and Todd Koch will leave their kids in Big D this weekend as they travel to march in New York’s Pride parade on J.C. Penney’s float.

Smith told Instant Tea that he and Koch will join about 100 other friends and supporters from the DFW area.

J.C. Penney spokeswoman Kate Coultas said the Plano-based LGBT employee group PRIDE organized the trip and will have about 250 employees march on Sunday.

“As we focus on becoming America’s favorite store, we’re committed to being a store for all Americans,” Coultas wrote in an email.

She added that those attending will wear J.C. Penney’s Pride shirts, which are only available online.

Cooper said he was honored to be asked to join in the Big Apple’s Pride festivities to celebrate the company’s diversity.

“Todd and I are so proud of J.C. Penney for how they’ve made an effort to represent all families and how they’ve stood squarely by their message of inclusiveness,” Smith said. “The whole experience has been heart-warming. Being asked to walk alongside hundreds of their employees, families and friends is the ultimate cherry on top!”

Photos from the parade are below.

—  Anna Waugh

The AFA isn’t happy with corporate America

The hate group American Family Association isn’t very happy with corporate America.

Not only did J.C. Penney feature a gay Dallas couple in a recent catalog, but the Plano-based company doesn’t seem to really care what the AFA has to say about it.

On its website, the AFA says JCP is now blocking emails from its alert system and advises members to send messages from their personal accounts instead.

And now the AFA is annoyed at Target, too. For Pride month, Target is selling several Pride items and is donating 100 percent of the proceeds to the Family Equality Council up to $120,000. The AFA doesn’t want you shopping there either.

And AFA announced that they sent petitions to Home Depot for “extensive support for homosexual activism and direct the company toward neutrality in the culture war.”

AFA doesn’t specify what the beef is, but apparently some lesbians work there. And they get equal benefits.

The group is asking people to boycott Home Depot and pray for Chairman Frank Blake, then print a copy of the petition and “distribute it at Sunday school and church,” because nothing says love your neighbor like distributing petitions at church calling for hardworking people to get fired.

And look out for that radical group AARP. They’re apparently using member resources to “advocate for immoral behavior.” The AFA claims that the AARP’s LGBT resources pages links to “articles on personal finance, travel and other issues of interest.” Shocking.

Of course, AFA would like us to get back to traditional marriage as it’s existed since biblical times … as depicted in this photo released by the Israeli Defense Forces this week in honor of Pride month:

—  David Taffet

Houston one of 21 most “Lesbianish” cities according to Jezebel.com

Another day, another list of queer cities written by someone out of state who clearly doesn’t understand just how awesome Houston is. This one from Jezebel.com uses internet search results to determine the most “Lesbianish” cities in America. Two Texas cities make the grade: Austin at 10th and Houston at 18th (so Houstini’s Dallas Voice overlords can take their rainbow colored tower and stick it where the sun don’t shine).

From the Jezebel.com article:

“Houston’s the largest city in the country with an openly gay mayor, the 12th most populated-with-gays US city and it’s also just one of the largest cities in the country, period. A string of unseemly governors have no powers against Houston’s thriving community and legendarily enormous Pride parade. Chances, one of the largest lesbian bars in the world, recently shut down; but there’s still drinks to be had at places like Blur, The Usual and F Bar and additional queer activities happening at the Houston LGBT Youth Center, The Houston GLBT Political Caucus and Houston’s LGBT film festival, QFest. Houston’s Rice University has a healthy queer community as well.”

—  admin