Dallas

How to Support Dallas’ Queer Community During Pride Month

We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re finally leaving the house.

Dallas Pride has had more dramatic twists in its nearly 50-year history than all of Bridegerton, RuPaul’s Drag Race, and Ryan Murphy’s fever dreams combined. After the LGBTQ+ community’s first small-but-significant march shocked many a closed-minded local in 1972—a mere three years after the Stonewall riots in New York City—the city saw very few Pride-related festivities until the next parade in 1980. Three years later, as the parade grew in size and visibility, the traditional June celebration month was ditched in favor of a (hopefully breezier) September fest commemorating the late-summer judicial ruling, albeit brief, that overturned Texas’ sodomy law. (The law wouldn’t officially come off the books until 2003 when the Supreme Court struck them down in every state.) Then in 2019, Pride festivities and the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade moved away from the Oak Lawn entertainment district to Fair Park—a decision that split the community despite its popular return to June in honor of Stonewall's 50th anniversary. And then, of course, came 2020. Like most cities worldwide, Dallas canceled IRL Pride in favor of two days of virtual gatherings and while it was a nice gesture, things just weren’t the same. 

This weekend, however, Dallas Pride returns with a bang, featuring a full roster of in-person events around the city from Fair Park to the Oak Lawn gayborhood. It’s still going to look and feel different than years past, but, afterall, the LGBTQ+ community here (and everywhere) has never shied away from making showstopping lemonade out of lemons. Read on for all the ways you can celebrate and support Dallas-Fort Worth’s queer community this coming weekend, throughout the remainder of Pride month, and beyond.

Marsha Dimes
Marsha Dimes | Photo courtesy of Marsha Dimes

Dance, laugh, and cheer alongside the LGBTQ+ community at Dallas Pride 

With so many fabulous festivities crammed into just three days, you’ll need a spreadsheet to keep track of it all. Of course, the official Dallas Pride celebration returns to Fair Park (sans parade) with two nights of entertainment hosted by Marsha Dimes at the historic Fair Park Band Shell. Each night showcases a different lineup of performers, making a two-day pass worth considering. Over on Cedar Springs, the first-ever TRICK the Mini FEST takes over the lot next door to Woody’s for three days of music from a long list of DJs, dancing, plus contests to crown Lil’ Miss Trick and Mr. Trick.

Also this weekend: Crystal Queer Riot presents two “Reclaiming My Time” events include the Reclaiming My Time – Pride Dance Part and a Rooftop Pool Party; Viva’s Lounge Dallas hosts Release/Dallas Pride Official Dance Party; Grammy Award-nominated singer Ty Herndon kicks off Pride weekend at Cedar Springs Tap House; Bruce Wood Dance presents a beautiful display of sensual humanity over at Moody Performance Hall; and The Round-Up Saloon & Dance Hall brings Man Candy Disco to town.

Keep the Pride party going all month long 

Even though most of the local bashes go down on the first weekend of June, plenty of additional celebrations run throughout the month. Join the discussion with Grand Prairie Libraries and their Pride Squad on Tuesday, June 8. DIFFA gets back into its extravagant event prowess with Sunday Funday at Klyde Warren Park, its first-ever designer picnic complete with a picnic blanket, curated meal, and lots of high fashion on Sunday, June 13. Also that day, the town of Tyler hosts a Downtown Drag & Pride Walk in response to the recent assault of someone who asked about LGBTQ+ bars in the small East Texas town. Road trip, anyone?

Close out the last two weekends of the month with a trio of events, including a reason to (finally) don your best anti-gravity suit at the futuristic Out in Space party Saturday, June 19 at the Green Elephant. After a 16-month hiatus, the Turtle Creek Chorale men’s chorus returns to the stage on Sunday, June 27 for a live outdoor performance of holiday music in the summer heat (yep, Christmas in almost-July) to make up for last year’s crummy December. Then close out the month with LGBTQ SAVES and their CommUNITY Picnic in Fort Worth’s Trinity Park on the scenic shores of the Trinity River.

Spend your hard earned cash at queer-centric restaurants & bars

The city is rife with quality outposts owned and run by LGBTQ+ folks and their allies, most of which have set up shop along Cedar Springs Boulevard’s main strip. And even if a place isn’t specifically helmed by a queer-identified person, many of these establishments’ employees also land somewhere on the queer spectrum so patronizing these joints gives back to the community no matter how you slice it. 

Restaurants in the neighborhood include Hunky’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, Roy G’s (named in honor of the popular acronym ROYGBIV representing the colors of the rainbow), Cedar Springs Tap House, Mario’s Mexican and Salvadorian Restaurant, Ai Sushi Sake Grill, Crickles & Co Brunch + Brews, Orno, and Street’s Fine Chicken. Outside the gayborhood, Salum Restaurant offers the best in fine dining from openly gay chef Abraham Salum.

When it’s time to commune over cocktails, you’ll find a bar to fit nearly every vibe right at the crossroads of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton. A few places remain temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19, but most have reopened to welcome us back with the sound of laughter and clinking glasses. JR’s Dallas, TMC (The Mining Company), and Woody’s all offer traditional video-bar drinking experiences. Soon-to-expand Alexandre’s offers the best in live music and cocktails in a cozy setting, while the see-and-be-seen Mr. Misster cocktail lounge stands tall as the most recent addition to the mix. And when you want a little boogie with your booze, The Round-Up Saloon is still one of the top spots in the world to country-western dance while Station 4 (S4) just made its triumphant return over Memorial Day Weekend, reopening its dance floor for the first time in more than 14 months. Off the strip, Barbara’s Pavilion in Oak Cliff has long served as a friendly, laid-back neighborhood bar with killer karaoke. 

Tip your queens (and kings)

Drag queens, drag kings, and gender-bending entertainers of all varieties have played a huge role in queer history for centuries. Many full-time performers struggled enormously as a result of the past year’s pandemic lockdown, and with many thankfully returning the stage this month, it’s safe to say that we’re all ready to make up for lost time. Consider bringing along a few extra Lincolns or Hamiltons in addition to dollar bills customarily handed over in exchange for one sassy good time. 

Catch some world-class drag this weekend at the best venue in the city, The Rose Room, as host Cassie Nova and her merry band of divas take over the state-of-the-art upstairs stage inside Station 4. Elsewhere, drag brunch remains a Pride centerpiece with several spots offering the perfect mixture of hollandaise and high heels. Book your tables for Pride Weekend Drag Brunch at Blue Cenote in Oak Cliff; the Mr. Misster Drag Brunch with Jenni P in the gayborhood; the Free Man Drag Brunch in Deep Ellum; and the Glamazon Prime PRIDE Drag Brunch next weekend at Fort Worth’s Urban Cowboy Saloon.

Uplift the queer BIPOC community

The events of the last couple of years, in particular, have made it more important than ever to support all Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and that goes double for those who identify as LGBTQ+ and thus must contend with yet another layer of discrimination. Though Dallas Pride is inclusive to everyone—including non-LGBTQ+ allies—a few noteworthy events stand out for specifically shining a light on the BIPOC community.

For Juneteenth Unity Weekend (June 18 - 20), Dallas Southern Pride pays tribute to the area’s Black LGBTQ+ population by celebrating diversity and ensuring that all voices are heard. On Saturday, June 26, the 10th Annual AIDS Walk South Dallas continues its decade-long mission to empower folks living with and affected by HIV/AIDS with an emphasis on African-American men who have sex with men (MSMs). Then in September, Texas Latinx Pride Fest focuses on community and culture—the venue’s still being worked out, but it promises to be a fantastic way to celebrate Pride and Hispanic Heritage Month in one fell swoop.

Keep the good times rolling throughout 2021

Wouldn’t it be boring if every event had to be crammed into Pride Month’s paltry 30 days? Thankfully, the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has one of the most active LGBTQ+ communities in the nation and as a result, we never miss an opportunity to bust out some elaborate costumes for a theme night, support a great cause, or do both at the same time. Some of the year’s big events have already passed, but there’s still tons to look forward to including 4th of July weekend’s Daddyland Festival Dallas with four days of dance parties honoring Dallas Daddies and the men who love them.

If you’re looking for formal galas, fall is your season. On November 13, the 40th annual Black Tie Dinner is slated to return as an in-person gathering to raise funds for a variety of humanity-focused organizations, adding to its $46 million total to date. Last but least, be sure to keep your datebooks open: While an official decision has yet to be announced, House of DIFFA: Extravaganza, the annual high-fashion evening that was postponed in 2020, might make just a comeback some time this year.

Pitch in at LGBTQ+ nonprofits

Volunteering with or donating to local organizations ensures that the vital programs and services they provide continue on uninterrupted and even expand as needs grow. Here’s a little breakdown of worthy causes in need of your helping hand: Resource Center serves LGBTQ+ adults and youth as well as HIV+ folks in areas of health, community, and advocacy. The North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce promotes economic vitality for LGBTQ+ and allied businesses—support them by becoming a member and networking with other professionals with similar outlooks and goals. Prism Health North Texas provides medical and mental health services, including PrEP, HIV and STI testing, and primary care, and they’re always looking for a few good volunteers. The Coalition for Aging LGBT aims to provide programming for the nearly 200,000 estimated LGBTQ+ people aged 45 and up in North Texas. They’re currently only seeking volunteers before, during, and after the official Dallas Pride events, but they’re planning to release a host of new opportunities throughout the remainder of the year, so keep them eyes peeled.

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Steven Lindsey is a contributor for Thrillist.
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