In terms of gay culture in Dallas, on face, it looks like we have a lot. Ask anyone where the “gayborhood” in Dallas is, and they’ll point you toward the intersection of Cedar Springs and Oak Lawn, where “The Strip” is located. Here, you’ll find almost all of the city’s sprawling, multi-level gay bars and clubs, alongside LGBT-oriented businesses. Mostly, though, you’ll just find bars, and a lot of people drinking in them.
“At first, being there is great. There’s drinks and you’re all liberated and stuff, but after a while, I just thought that this place was really goddamn boring,” says Villareal, an activist and journalist based in Dallas. “If you don’t want to eat pasta, buy underwear, or get wasted, there’s nothing for you on The Strip.” Hargis points out that the entanglement of gay culture and alcohol is especially problematic when you consider that queer people are disproportionately susceptible to issues with substance abuse.
Even at the city’s largest celebration of gay culture, the focus is largely on alcohol. “Now it’s all about beer,” says Hargis. “The Heineken logo on the banners for this year’s Pride is almost as big as the name of the parade.” Held every year in September, the Alan Ross Freedom Parade, sponsored by the Dallas Tavern Guild, is is always packed to the gills with thousands of people and consistently lauded as one of the best pride celebrations in the south.
But it isn’t the kind of pride parade that much space for activism, as Queerbomb Dallas charges. The Tavern Guild, as you may have guessed, is a group of gay bar owners that Queerbomb Dallas charges as being far too focused on profit. “The first half of the parade is basically a commercial for car insurance companies, banks, and beer,” laments Hargis. “The queer groups don’t even start marching until the parade is halfway over,” adds Villareal. As a result, the identities of queer people who don’t fit a mold that is acceptable to corporate sponsors and money-driven bar owners are often erased.
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