Doughman says Tavern Guild is in negotiations with Houston mayor to appear as honorary grand marshal

Tammye Nash | Senior Editor

Paul Lewis and Erin Moore

MIGHTY MIGHTY MARSHALS | Longtime Caven employee Paul Lewis and Stonewall Democrats President Erin Moore will share grand marshal duties for the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman has announced that Stonewall Democrats of Dallas President Erin Moore and longtime Caven Enterprises employee Paul Lewis have been chosen as grand marshals of the 2010 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

The parade, produced each year by the Tavern Guild, will be held Sept. 19 this year.

Doughman said that parade grand marshals are chosen each year by a vote of Tavern Guild members. This year’s honorees, he said, were both chosen in recognition of their outstanding contributions to the LGBT community.

“Erin has done so much good work in the past several years with Stonewall Democrats, with the Equality March last year. We just felt that her body of work, especially on the political front, deserved this recognition,” Doughman said.

He added that Tavern Guild members also had high praise for Moore’s partner, Patti Fink, and considered naming them both as female grand marshals.

“But we didn’t want to lump them together this year and ruin the chance of possibly honoring Patti for her contributions in years to come,” he said.

Moore said being chosen as grand marshal was an amazing honor — and a big surprise.

“It hasn’t really sunk in with me yet that anybody thinks I deserve something like this. I keep expecting them to call back and say they were just joking,” Moore said.

“It really means a lot to be chosen for this. I do the work I do because I feel like it needs to be done, and because I like doing it. Getting this honor is sort of like getting paid for doing something you love doing. It’s a recognition that I am a valued member of this community,” she said.

Lewis was “a unanimous choice, immediately,” Doughman said. “In fact, it really baffled everyone to realize that Paul had never been grand marshal.”

Lewis was “always been involved in planning the parade” and with other Tavern Guild projects during his years with Caven Enterprises, and even since his retirement, Doughman said.

“He still heads up the Holiday Gift Project, and he still goes down every parade day to the intersection at Wycliff and Cedar Springs to kick off the parade,” Doughman said. “He may not be as hands-on as he once was, but he is still involved. It was an easy decision to elect him as grand marshal.”

Lewis said this week being named grand marshal is “one of the best things that has happened to me. It is truly pleasing, truly an honor.”

Lewis said he moved to Dallas in 1969. He went to work for Caven Enterprises the following year, and stayed there 27 years.

He served on the board of Oak Lawn Counseling Services and the board of Dallas Tavern Guild. He was coordinator of the annual Pride parade and still serves as coordinator of the Tavern Guild’s PWA Holiday Gift Project. He also hosts Daire Center dinners and outings at his home.

Lewis has lived with Kenneth Jones for the last 20 years.

Moore said her first real involvement with Dallas’ LGBT community came in the early 1990s when she helped organize National Coming Out Day events. She also works with the Human Rights Campaign and has served on the organization’s national board of governors, helping establish HRC’s grassroots presence in Dallas.

In 2005, Moore said, she moved into the political realm through her work with Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Other parade plans

Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker

HOPEFUL | Dallas Tavern Guild officials are in negotiations to bring Houston’s lesbian mayor, Annise Parker, to town to be honorary grand marshal of the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

Doughman said that other plans for the September parade are also moving forward, and that he hopes soon to be able to announce openly lesbian Houston Mayor Annise Parker as the parade’s honorary grand marshal.

“We are in negotiations right now to invite Annise Parker to be honorary grand marshal. It’s looking very positive, and she would be a terrific representative for our parade,” he said. “She has been very successful as mayor of Houston and is highly popular there. Even the conservatives in Houston have conceded that she is doing a great job.”

Parker would bring “a high degree of interest” as grand marshal, and as a speaker at the VIP reception that weekend and as a speaker at the Festival in Lee Park afterward, he said.

Local government officials will also be featured, including new Dallas Police Chief David Brown, who will be appearing for the first time.

Doughman noted that the Tavern Guild is “still operating under a fairly constrained budget” in organizing the parade, due to the ongoing economic downtown.

“The costs of putting the parade on have not gone down, and sponsorships are still a little harder to come by than they were in years past,” he said. “So we are being very careful. We want to make sure at the end of the year we have enough to pay the bills, to give money to our beneficiary and to run the Tavern Guild throughout the year. The parade is the only real income the Tavern Guild has, and we have to make sure to set aside to keep it afloat.”

In 2009, a confluence of fortunate coincidences allowed the Tavern Guild to have longtime, high-profile activists Cleve Jones and Larry Kramer. There is the possibility that the Tavern Guild might be able to bring in a celebrity guest or two this year, as well. But celebrities, he said, are not what make the parade.

“And we don’t need to pay to bring in musicians or bands. We have outstanding musicians and bands already right here,” he added.
But there is one big announcement Doughman said he is ready to make: Food services during the Festival in Lee Park this year will be handled exclusively by Brinker, the parent company for restaurant chains On The Border, Chili’s and Maggiano’s.

“Brinker had a small booth at the park last year as a kind of test run, to see how it would work out. They really enjoyed the event, and they saw the potential for them in it. So they made us a proposal, saying they would like to handle all the food this year,” Doughman said.

“We really liked the idea of having these recognizable brands out there for the food. We think it is a real step up,” he said. “We think they will do very well, and on top of that, they have agreed to give us a portion of their proceeds to give back to our beneficiary.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.