There’s a gay revolution brewing in Texas, and it’s against an unlikely foe: the Pride Parade.
Back in June, a nod to the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, gay activists in Dallas planned a celebration of their own, the political march, QueerBomb Dallas, in response to the Pride Parade they say has become sanitized and corporatized. They were inspired by the original QueerBomb celebrations in Austin, which celebrated its fifth one, earlier that month.
“We really wanted to take that movement back to the roots and to the cause of why it started on a national level,” said Sym Coronado, one of the founders of the QueerBomb event in Austin.
The LGBT community in Dallas was inspired by the success of Austin’s alternative gay pride festival, which includes a rally, march, and after party -- all funded by donations. In its fifth event this year, they drew a crowd of more than 6,000 people.
The mainstream Pride Parade in Dallas is an annual event held in September and will be in its 31st year. In an effort to please sponsors and make the event more family friendly, drag queens have been asked to tone down their acts and fetish groups have been excluded. They’ve also gone above and beyond city nudity laws and don’t allow men to wear tight boy shorts, and women must have their breasts completely covered — no pasties.
Also, smaller groups can barely afford to cost to be a part of the parade. Throw in corporate sponsors and advertisements, and everything Pride has been washed away.
“You don’t see Martin Luther King day, brought to you by GoGurts Squirts,” Daniel Cates, an organizer of QueerBomb Dallas, said. “It really is kind of a high holy day for our community, and we find it really disrespectful and distasteful that it’s covered in advertisements.”
At a past QueerBomb in Austin, participants held up a sign that read, “Stonewall was a riot, not a trade show.”
For the last few years, some of the gay community has lashed out against the parade with the changes that were being made. Some were also unhappy that Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, blocked LGBT resolutions (http://www.dallasvoice.com/mayor-rawlings-blocks-lgbt-resolution-full-council-10167997.html_ but still was invited to participate in the parade, which he has. He has since changed his mind and voted in March to pass an equality resolution.
Cates also noted that Pride in Dallas is racially segregated, to the point that there is a separate black pride event, Southern Pride.
“What happened at Stonewall was not a bunch of folks wanting to fit in; it was a bunch of radical queens and twinks and gay men and dykes who were sick and tired of being oppressed and denied the right to be who they were,” wrote Hardy Haberman in the Dallas Voice, the city’s LGBT newspaper (http://www.dallasvoice.com/time-dallas-pride-10156809.html). “It is a travesty that the spirit of Stonewall is now completely lost in the corporate sponsorships and marketing opportunities the parade and ‘festival’ now offer….We should be wearing our leather, our feathers, our rhinestones and our skin, as far as is legal on the street.”
QueerBomb Dallas wants to take it back old school to the days of Stonewall, when gay men and women stopped dressing up in suits and dresses to “look straight” during marches and were themselves. With no sponsors, the organizers instead held fundraisers throughout the community to raise money to hold their very first QueerBomb. The day of the march, as they like to call it, groups from all over were invited to participate in what Cates says is “not a spectator sport.”
“We want you to put your feet in the streets with us, marching hand in hand, celebrating who you are, celebrating our accomplishments, celebrating the entire experience in honesty and completely unashamed,” he said.
Coronado worked with the planners of QueerBomb Dallas to give advice on hosting the event, and to also make sure that they were throwing it in the spirit of what QueerBomb is all about -- keeping sponsors out, being inclusive of everyone in the LGBT community, and for an all around good time while remembering why we celebrate Pride in June.
“It’s not really about working against other organizations, it’s not about separatism as many people have made that kind of assumption,” he said in regards to the traditional Pride events. “It’s about providing people the opportunities to embrace their own lifestyles in a way that they usually can’t even within their own community, but it’s also given a lot of opportunities to show what we’re capable of and the fact that we really want to make the changes for our community.”
Cates added, “We are different just by our very birth, by our very experiences in this life, being marginalized people. Our world view is different, our lives are different, and there’s nothing wrong with that and we should be celebrating that rather than trying to show the world how just like them we are.”
Do you think that South Florida’s Pride celebrations are going the way of those in Texas?