Survey: Parades as relevant as ever in today’s political climate
Many in the LGBT community are more likely to attend a Pride event this year than last, and most believe Pride is as relevant now as ever, according to CMI Community Marketing & Insights annual survey of the community nationwide.
Last year, 47 percent of survey respondents said they attended Pride. That number jumped to 63 percent this year. Whether or not they attended, 84 percent said the political climate made Pride important, and 82 percent feared a rollback of recent equality gains.
Full results of this year’s survey will be released on July 5.
Thousands of people traveled to Washington, D.C., from around the country for the June 11 Equality March. Visitors added to the crowd at D.C.’s Pride parade held the day before.
The only large parade held in Texas in June is in Houston. That parade takes place on June 24 and already attracted hundreds of thousands, even before the political climate turned sour.
Dallas Tavern Guild Executive Director Michael Doughman coordinates the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade and Festival in the Park in September.
He said organizers are “preparing for more people. The theme is Stand Up, Speak Out. In this political climate, we have to raise our voices.”
This year, the parade and festival in the park will take place on separate days — the festival on Saturday, Sept. 16 and the parade on Sunday, Sept. 17. Although he expects more people, Doughman said spreading Pride out over two days makes it logisitcally easier, especially regarding security concerns. When the parade continued from Cedar Springs Road down Turtle Creek Boulevard into Reverchon Park, police were needed along the entire parade route and additional police were positioned in the park, he explained. But this year, the parade ends at Turtle Creek Boulevard, and the shorter route will be easier to secure.
While some police presence still will be required along Maple Avenue for the Saturday festival, there won’t be the same flood of foot traffic crossing the street, since no one will be coming from the parade.
Because of recent terrorist events, Doughman said Homeland Security has required a couple of extra meetings to discuss additional security procedures.
“It’s the times and escalating anger, which leads to random acts of violence,” Doughman said. “It all blossomed out of the Trump campaign.”
He said safety for the event requires more vigilance, security and planning. In the festival, only clear bags will be allowed for safety.
“See something, say something,” Doughman said. “People have to do their part. We can’t just rely on the police.”
Doughman said they’re preparing for possible disruptions like those that happened in D.C. by protesters who said the parade was too corporate.
Without corporate participation, he said, Dallas wouldn’t be able to afford the security the city requires to stage the parade or the festival.
He said the parade doesn’t accept every company or political candidate that applies to participate. Those companies in the parade offer same-sex partner benefits and have LGBT employee organizations.
“We’ve vetted companies and candidates for years,” he said.
This year’s festival should be more inclusive with Teen Pride moving into the park with other community groups and events.
“We’re getting additional mainstream vendors at the festival,” Doughman said. Among the largest group of new booths are vendors from Puerto Vallarta and Canada plus visitor/convention bureaus and LGBT chambers of commerce from other U.S. cities and other Pride events.
A second stage will be added to this year’s festival featuring local talent. Auditions to appear on the stage take place from 1-4 p.m. on July 22 and 29 at The Rose Room.
Doughman said this year’s parade and festival will be as welcoming and inclusive as possible.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.