Texas Freedom Parade steps off Sunday

Posted on 17 Sep 2009 at 10:02am
By David Taffet I Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Valdez, Garcia are grand marshals; more than 100 entries scheduled for 26th annual event


Sheriff Lupe Valdez and Jesse Garcia are grand marshals for the 26th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

They step off at 2 p.m. on Sept. 20.

The parade is part of a weekend of Pride events that include Gay Day at Six Flags and "A Sordid Affair" at the Majestic Theater, both on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The parade runs through the Cedar Springs entertainment district and ends in Lee Park. More than 100 entries include VIPs plus 87 businesses and organizations.
Up to 40,000 spectators are expected. The Festival in Lee Park follows the parade.

Valdez is serving her second term as Dallas County sheriff. She is the only known Latina lesbian sheriff in the United States.


LEADING THE WAY | Grand marshals for the 2009 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade are Jesse Garcia, above, and Sheriff Lupe Valdez, below.

Garcia has been involved in a number of LGBT organizations. He was an original board member of the gay Latino group Valiente and helped form the Dallas Rainbow Council of the League of United Latin American Citizens. He is a past president of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and is an AIDS Arms volunteer.

"This is a great honor. It doesn’t get any better than this," said Garcia. "My mother is very proud of this recognition, too. She is very big about community events and parades back in my hometown.

"When I told her about this honor, it really impressed her."Special guests
The honorary grand marshal is LGBT activist and writer Larry Kramer.

Kramer co-founded the first AIDS organization Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York and, in 1987, ACT UP to fight the Reagan’s administration’s failure to address the AIDS crisis.

He is also a writer known for the play "The Normal Heart," the novel "Faggots" and the screenplay for "Women in Love."

Kramer will be at a meet and greet on Sept. 18 at 9 p.m. at the Dallas Eagle. His partner, David Webster, is one of the bar’s owners.


Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman said, "We have a huge amount of gay history in the city for this weekend. Even in a recession year, we were able to bring them to Dallas thanks to our partners, particularly American Airlines."

The Tavern Guild is the group that organizes the parade each year.

In addition to Kramer, Cleve Jones will be honored at the Festival in Lee Park. Jones founded the AIDS Memorial Quilt in San Francisco. Now housed in Atlanta, the quilt has about 50,000 panels.

Fashion photographer Adam Bouska, known for his NOH8 campaign in response to Proposition 8 in California, and his partner Jeff Parshley are also special guests of the parade.

Bouska has taken most of his photographs in San Francisco and West Hollywood.

While in Dallas, he plans to add about 75 portraits to the 1,400 already in the collection.

City Council participation
The mayor and all but one of Dallas’ city council members are also participating, along with the police and fire chiefs.

This will be the second time Mayor Tom Leppert appears in the parade. Leppert rode his first year in office but missed last year because of a personal commitment.

Vonciel Jones-Hill, a Methodist minister who represents District 5, is the only council member refusing to participate.

"I won’t be participating [this year], and based on my present beliefs, I won’t be participating in the future. There’s no reason I should be castigated for that," Jones-Hill told Dallas Voice.

If all of the other council members show up, it will be a record for council participatiom

The route
Groups line up on Wycliff Avenue between Cedar Springs Road and Maple Avenue. Anyone marching is encouraged to arrive by 1 p.m.

As it has every year since its inception, the parade begins on Cedar Springs Road at Wycliff Avenue. The route continues through the entertainment district to Turtle Creek Boulevard, turns left and ends at Lee Park.

The Festival in Lee Park begins after the parade.

The Festival in Lee Park
In Lee Park, the grand marshals will speak and awards will be presented for best parade entries in a number of categories. Honorary guests will be recognized. Then the first and second runners-up of the Voice of Pride competition will perform.

Winner Michael Gasparro is unable to appear and has been released from performance obligations for personal reasons. But first and second runners-up Juliana Jeffrey and Gregory Castillo will perform, as will Anton Shaw and her band.
Doughman said, "We’ve expanded food and beverage service stations this year" with additional soft drink and water service areas around Lee Park.

Derek and Romaine, the evening drive time talk show hosts on Sirius Satellite Radio’s Out Q station, will emcee. On Friday, they will broadcast live from Sue Ellen’s. On Saturday, their show originates from Gay Day at Six Flags.

The beneficiary of proceeds from the parade is Youth First Texas. The organization provides services to LGBTQ youth through age 22.

The group, now in its 10th year, recently signed a lease for new space at Reagan Street at Harry Hines Boulevard. Across from the new Green Line, YFT will become accessible to youth who rely on public transportation.

The parade is dedicated to Alan Pierce and Gary Miller, the owners of the Round-Up Saloon, in recognition of the large number of events they have sponsored to benefit the community.

Parade history
The first parade in Dallas was held downtown on Main Street in 1973, just four years after Stonewall. The annual parade began 10 years later and has followed the same route through Oak Lawn.

Over the past few years, the cost of mounting the parade increased tremendously. As the Homeland Security Act has come into full effect, Doughman said the number of police officers required has doubled.

The city also required better cleanup. The Tavern Guild now employs the company that cleans the State Fair. Doughman said they are the only company with enough manpower to manage an event this large.

Saturday events
On Saturday, two additional events round out Pride weekend.
Gay Day at Six Flags is sponsored by Dallas Voice.

Tickets for the amusement park are available on the park’s Web site, sixflags.com. Enter code DALVOICE to receive the discounted $24 price. The park is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Dallas Voice is donating $2 from every ticket sold to benefit the Lone Star Ride.
The discounted tickets are good for Sept. 19 only.

Del Shores, Caroline Rhea, Leslie Jordan and Rue McClanahan each do a half hour of stand up comedy and storytelling in "A Sordid Affair" at the Majestic Theater on Sept. 19.

Shores wrote the comedy "Sordid Lives," which was adapted into a series for Logo.
The three actors performing with Shores are series regulars.

McClanahan is best known for her roles in "Golden Girls" and "Maude." Jordan played Beverly Leslie on "Will & Grace," and Rhea starred in "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" and hosted her own talk show as well as "The Biggest Loser."

Jason Dottley, Ann Walker, Newell Alexander and Rosemary Alexander also appear.
Performances are at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster. Use code VOICE for a $10 discount.

The top price ticket includes a meet and greet with the cast.

The North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce wraps up Pride weekend with a mixer on Monday at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at the Melrose Hotel.

Guests include Jones, Kramer, Bouska and Parshley, as well as Doug Spearman from the Logo series "Noah’s Arc."

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 18, 2009.

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