Betty Neal

Betty Neal

Every morning when I get up, as I wait for my turn in the shower, I log on to Facebook to check in with my “friends” and see what’s trending in the world of social media.

And every morning in my timeline, there’s a post from my friend — on Facebook and, for many, many years, in real life — Betty Neal. Betty always posts something inspiring and uplifting. Even she is herself going through trying times, such as the recent death of her brother from cancer, Betty offers something positive to start the day.

And when you “like” the post, or comment on it, Betty comes back right away to say hello.

“Good morning Tammye Nash.”

“Good morning Betty Neal.”

So even though I rarely see Betty in person these days, I “talk” to her every day. And I was glad to hear that someone who always brightens my day is being recognized this weekend for her years of hard work and contributions to Dallas’ LGBT and same-gender-loving communities.

During Dallas Southern Pride weekend — Dallas’ black Pride celebration — Betty will be presented with the B/HAP Tommie Ross Pioneer Award in recognition of her “longstanding presence, her grace, her poise and her many accomplishments within both the pageant and the house/ball communities.”

“B/HAP” stands for Ball/House And Pageant communities. The award is named in honor of pioneering and iconic entertainer, and Pageant Hall of Famer, Tommie Ross. The award “recognizes and honors an individual whose work, art and achievements have demonstrated a legacy of passion, commitment, grace, style and transcendence within the pageant community.”

Betty Neal, who helped originate Dallas’ black Pride celebration back in the 1990s and who is a long-time volunteer with the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, will receive the award Saturday, Oct. 3, during the B/HAP Awards Ceremony, starting at 3:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel Dallas – Market Center. The awards ceremony is part of the Southern Regional B/HAP Communities Health Disparities and Leadership Conference, being held in conjunction with Dallas Southern Pride.

For a full schedule of conference events, visit the conference website. For a complete list of black Pride events, visit the DSP website.

In a statement on Facebook, Betty said she is “humbled to be receiving this prestigious award from the Ballroom/House And Pageant system, and to have been nominated by the legendary Tommie Ross herself. I am a huge fan and friend. What an honor! Thank you all from the depths of my heart.”

I just want to say congratulations Betty. You deserve this recognition and more. And I am proud to call you my friend.