Panic! At the Disco was one of the iconic, gay-inclusive concerts in North Texas in 2018. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The people, events and moments that defined the year

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES| Executive Editor
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A year the life — of a person, of a city, of a community — is more than just the headlines and the holidays. What people talk about, or don’t talk about but collectively experience or are affected by, is sometimes in the margins, or more like the background noise of our daily lives. That’s the cultural Zeitgeist, and in 2018, those landmarks in the North Texas gay community ranged from big changes to how we celebrate to how we are seen at large. Here are 10 major moments.  

Dallas Pride changes, perhaps forever. The Dallas Tavern Guild appoints a new executive director, and the nature of Pride — its timing (September!), its locale, perhaps its meaning — begins to transform. We still aren’t sure what the end product will look like.

The Dallas Museum of Art’s queer summer block party is a first… and a huge hit. Late Nights at the DMA are a long-standing tradition at the gay-welcoming arts org, but the convergence of its big blockbuster June event with National Gay Pride Month led, in 2018, to its first-ever gay-themed night. It was such a hit, an encore is planned for 2019 (and hopefully forever after).

Asia O’Hara completes the trifecta… sort of. Dallas’ fashion-forward drag queen was already the titleholder of the two biggest drag pageants — Miss Gay USofA and Miss Gay America — when she landed on RuPaul’s Drag Race… and made it all the way to the finale. (And shout-outs to Texas girls Shangela and Kennedy Davenport, who made it to the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 3.)

Straight musicians play Dallas in vocal support of gay rights. Kristin Chenoweth, Brandon Urie of Panic! At the Disco (pictured), Shirley Manson of Garbage and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons all booked Dallas concerts in 2018, in which they proudly supported their gay fans (including Urie wrapping himself in a rainbow flag and Chenoweth acknowledging her gay icon status at the otherwise staid Dallas Symphony Orchestra gala). That’s a transformative evolution in vocal allies.

First bikes, then scooters, populate local sidewalks. A smartphone, a credit card and a desire to get somewhere quickly and cheaply led to the explosion of rent-by-the-hour bicycles… which were quickly replaced by scooters, and have transformed the sidewalks of North Texas.

Dancing Queen becomes probably Netflix’s first-ever series about a drag queen: Dallas’ Alyssa Edwards. Justin Johnson gets a reality show, and his life — and that of Dallas’ gay scene — was front-and-center.

Sunken Garden rises. Dallas Opera’s 3D staging of Van Der Aa’s modernist myth of a contemporary opera extends the horizon of what traditional audiences expect from the classical performing art form.

The Crow Collection of Asian Art rebrands. After 20 years, the Crow Collection of Asian Art — a boutique, specialized gallery of stunning galleries in Dallas’ acclaimed Arts District — decided to rename itself the Crow Museum of Asian Art, to better reflect its mission and breadth.

Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy make gay Olympians de rigueur. Both out athletes were hits in Winter Games in Korea, and Rippon (who won bronze) went further to wind his way into American hearts by winning Dancing with the Stars.

DFW Pride Happy Hour changes hands. For 21 years, DFW Happy Hour — which for many years was known as High Tech Happy Hour — was sponsored by the gay employe group of Texas Instruments, the TI Pride Network. That sponsorship has now ended, and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce will take over in 2019.

Kathy’s back! After being banished by tongue-clucking scolds in 2017, queermedian Kathy Griffin roars back with a successful new tour — a victory for politically incorrect defiance of the current administration.