The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas, above, seen here at an immigration rights rally, was chosen as grand marshal along with Dallas Bears president and prolific fundraiser Wayne Davis (holding check, below)
Community votes choose Cazares-Thomas, Davis to lead the 35th annual parade
Tammye Nash | Managing Editor
Cathedral of Hope Senior Pastor the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas and Dallas Bears President Wayne A. Davis were announced this week as the grand marshals of the 35th annual Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.
The two men were chosen by an online vote of the community, from a field of six nominees, who were nominated by people in the community.
The other nominees included Chris Bengston, David Hearn, Jalenzski Brown and Rebecca Covell.
Honorary grand marshals for the 2018 Pride parade are photographer Adam Bouska and his partner, Jeff Parshley, co-founders of the NOH8 Campaign.
Cazares-Thomas, who was called as senior pastor at the Cathedral in April 2015 and started his tenure there on June 3 that year, said that he believes he was elected grand marshal not just as an individual, but even more so as a representative of Cathedral of Hope and its place in the community. It is, he said, “an honoring and humbling position, and I believe it says something about the importance of faith and all spiritual pathways, and their rebirth in our community.”
Cazares-Thomas said that he has “probably marched in every Pride parade I could since I was 16 years old,” and he even set up a local Pride celebration, called Bourne Free, in the English market town of Bourne, when he lived there.
He said he believes that Pride parades and celebrations are important to the LGBT community, and that it is important for people from all walks of life — “especially those like me” from religious communities — to participate, because there are people out there who “need to see someone represented that looks like them, they need to see that there is a place in the community for them, and that successful, happy [LGBT people] come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and all walks of life.”
Cazares-Thomas noted that Davis, his co-grand marshal, also has close ties to the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination and to the history of Cathedral of Hope. “I’ve known him for many years, and I know he is a worthy recipient” of the grand marshal title, Cazares-Thomas said of Davis.
Davis, for his part, said he is excited to be sharing the grand marshal seat with his “long-time friend. … Neil is a great man, and I count him as part of my family of choice, pastor, mentor and friend. What an extra honor to share this event with him.”
Davis, saying that he is “not a celebrity or a pillar in our community,” added that he was “shocked to be nominated, and that was a huge honor in itself. I never imagined, with all the wonderful nominees, that I would be selected.
“This is one of those ‘wow’ moments in life, and it is a humbling experience and one filled with such pride,” he said.
The Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas
Before coming to Cathedral of Hope, Cazares-Thomas spent 13 years as senior pastor of the Founders Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, founding church of Metropolitan Community Churches denomination.
He joined MCC in 1981, on his 15th birthday, and has since served in numerous positions within the denomination, including chair Board of Ordained Ministries for the European District, member, Elder’s Task Force on Education and more.
Since coming to Dallas, Cazares-Thomas has worked in the Oak Lawn community and with Dallas Hope Charities, Cathedral of Hope’s outreach effort to help create a shelter for LGBT homeless youth.
Cazares-Thomas is married to Isaiah Thomas-Cazares, and they have one daughter.
Now president of Dallas Bears, Davis has held several positions within the organization over the years, including treasurer, vice president and secretary. Each year, Dallas Bears host the Texas Bear Round-Up, moving in 2019 back to its traditional March time after being held this year and last in June to accommodate scheduling conflicts at the host hotel, the Hyatt Regency Downtown.
Davis is also moderator and producer for TBRU, which each year allows Dallas Bears to donate thousands of dollars to nonprofit organizations in the local LGBT community.
Davis is also a member of the Worship Team for the Metropolitan Community Church denomination and has for many years help coordinate the denomination’s annual conventions and other events. He said he was honored to once again coordinate participants and volunteers at MCC’s General Conference this year in Victoria, B.C.
Davis is currently secretary/treasurer at the International LeatherSIR, as well as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors. He has served as events director at the Dallas Eagle since April 2001, and said he is very proud to have been placed in sainthood by the DFW Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence as Saint B. Tim Harder.
Davis is the current vice president of the United Court of the Lone Star Empire and has been on its board for the last 10 years, serving as Emperor of Reign 32 in 2006-07. He is also secretary of International Leather Sir/boy and International Community Bootblack and has been a board member for five years. And Davis is one of the producers of the ILSB-ICBB Weekend held each year at Labor Day.
This year’s parade steps off at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16, following the traditional route from Wycliff Avenue down Cedar Springs Road to Turtle Creek Boulevard. This year, like last year, the parade will end at the Cedar Springs/Turtle Creek intersection, rather than turning west down Turtle Creek to end at Reverchon Park, as in years past. That’s because, beginning in 2017, the Festival in the Park, which had previously taken place in the park after the parade, was moved to the day before the parade (Saturday).
Now known as the Miller Lite Music Festival in the Park, the event will be held Saturday, Sept. 15, at Reverchon Park, with a $10 admission.
The festival will include a Main Stage entertainment lineup, a Community Stage entertainment lineup, food and drink booths, vendor booths and community organization booths, along with the popular Family Pride Zone and the Teen Pride area.
The Main Stage entertainers include DJ Deanne, the cast of the Rose Room (including RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 10 top four finalist Asia O’Hara), singer Thea Austin, 2018 American Idol singer Effie Passero and American Idol Season 7 singer David Hernandez, along with the 2018 Voice of Pride winners, who have yet to be chosen. For more details visit DallasPride.org.