Spotlight On Dallas
By Matt Skallerud: Gaywired.com
This is the first of a series of articles focusing on the business and community infrastructure aspects of urban gay regions developing worldwide. Although gays and lesbians reside and work in communities large and small around the world, there are a number of larger urban communities where the gay community has really “come of age”, offering not only a large number of gay bars but also an entire community infrastructure including several regional gay publications, an active gay business chamber of commerce, a community center, an annual pride festival, perhaps an annual gay & lesbian film festival, and more.
We have found this side of a gay destination’s life to go unwritten from a national perspective, and as part of our commitment to covering the gay & lesbian market as a whole, we believe starting with Dallas, Texas tells a more complete story on how the gay community has evolved in different cities around the world.
Everything is Bigger in Texas! At least that’s how the saying goes, and in Dallas’ gay & lesbian community, they couldn’t be more right. The city has the largest gay population in the state of Texas with approximately 120,000 GLBT residents. Dallas also boasts the largest gay & lesbian church in the world, the Cathedral of Hope, with over 30,000 national members.
As a work and business center, Dallas consistently ranks as one of the top labor markets in the US, with one of the youngest and most diverse populations in the country. Nineteen Fortune 500 companies are headquartered here in Dallas, and the Dallas / Ft. Worth airport is the 3rd busiest in the world. In addition, Dallas is technologically savvy, ranked as the 2nd most wired region in the US.
On the financial side, Dallas has no personal income tax and a low cost of living, leaving more “discretionary” income for personal enjoyment and travel.
Gay life in Dallas is found all throughout the city, but the Oak Lawn neighborhood on Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue, is the definite gay hub of Dallas. Sporting a wide variety of gay clubs, bars, restaurants and retail outlets, the Oak Lawn neighborhood is quite busy during the day but extraordinarily lively by night, especially on the weekends!
Popular bars and clubs include the Round-Up Saloon for those looking for a country-western flair, the Throckmorton Mining Company (TMC) and S-4 for late night dancing and entertainment on multiple floors, Woody’s, JR’s and Mickey’s for that neighborhood bar environment, Kaliente and Bamboleo’s for the latin crowd, and Buddies II and Sue Ellen’s for the ladies.
In the print media, Dallas has two major publications, the Dallas Voice, a local 20-year old fixture in the gay & lesbian community, and the newly published TXT News Magazine covering news and entertainment all across Texas. The Dallas Voice has a readership of over 44,000 every Friday, and is distributed all throughout Dallas as well as over 80 7-Elevens throughout the city. They also publish the Lambda Pages, a local gay & lesbian business directory and one of the oldest in the state of Texas. Some of the key individuals at the Dallas Voice and the TXT News Magazine include Robert Moore (Publisher), Leo Cusimano (Advertising Director), Kris Martin (Promotions Manager) and Daniel Kusner (Lifestyles Editor).
In business, Dallas has the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce with over 200 members and corporate sponsors including American Airlines, Merrill Lynch and Deloitte and Touche. With monthly networking meetings as well as marketing and educational workshops, this organization serves as the gay & lesbian business hub of Dallas.
Larger Fortune 500 companies with strong diversity initiatives for gay & lesbian employees include:
Company CEI Rating* Fortune 500 Rating
Affiliated Computer Services 86 460
American Airlines 100 119
ConocoPhillips 64 7
EDS 86 95
Exxon Mobil Corp. 14 2
JC Penney 57 74
Kimberly Clark 71 135
Radio Shack 29 399
Southwest Airlines 43 318
Texas Instruments 86 166
CEI Rating: HRC Corporate Equality Index is a tool to measure how equitably companies are treating their gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees, consumers and investors.
The City of Dallas has enacted sexual orientation in their job discrimination civil rights laws as of 2002. They have also included a written non-discrimination policy covering sexual orientation in their employee handbook. Relationship recognition for same-sex couples or health insurance to employees’ domestic partners has not been implemented as of 2005.
Unique to Dallas is the Dallas Tavern Guild, a gay business organization bringing the various gay bars and clubs of Dallas together for fundraising and events. Founded in 1984 as resource for organizing the nightclub businesses in Dallas, the Dallas Tavern Guild is one of the key gay business leaders of Dallas. Michael Doughman, the current Executive Director of the organization, has a long and storied history with gay Dallas goes back to the early years when gay business life and fundraising here in this city was just starting. The Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade is one of the most notable events produced by the Dallas Tavern Guild and named for its founder. Each year, 20-25,000 people gather to celebrate this September Pride Event that culminates with a Rally in historic Lee Park.
The Parade is part of a weekend celebration in mid September that includes Gay Day at Six Flags, a community sponsored event spearheaded by the Dallas Voice. Each year more and more regional GLBT members and families attend this festive celebration held the day before the parade and rally at the popular Arlington theme park. Also, the day before the parade as an early-morning offering there is the Pride Run, a 5k run through the streets of Oak Lawn, coordinated by The Front Runners, a locally gay and lesbian running club.
Every year, the Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner is held. This event and organization is a non-profit that raises funds for gay & lesbian supportive organizations, and in 2004 raised over $1,000,000 for 20 local beneficiaries and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In fact, the HRC, the largest national gay and lesbian advocacy organization, recently honored the Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner as the premier fundraising event in the country. With an average attendance of over 3,000 guests during the past decade, the Dallas-Fort Worth Black Tie Dinner is the largest formal sit-down dinner of its kind in the country both in attendance and charitable contributions. Since 1982, Black Tie has distributed over $8 million to local gay and lesbian charities and the HRC.
It should be pointed out that this event is often held at the Wyndham Anatole Hotel, one of the largest hotel and conference centers in the region, offering more than 341,000 square feet of space including 6 major ballrooms, 76 meeting rooms and 128,600 square feet of exhibit and function space. Current contact for gay & lesbian business groups for this hotel is Cordey Lash at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For smaller local events, as well as to stay in the heart of the Oak Lawn district, the Melrose Hotel is an excellent venue (www.MelroseHotel.com).
As was mentioned in the beginning of this article, the largest gay & lesbian church in the world is found in Dallas, the Cathedral of Hope. Founded in 1970 by a circle of twelve friends, the Cathedral of Hope has grown into one of the most important ministries of faith for gays & lesbians of all denominations. Average weekly attendance is now over 1,500 with almost $200,000 in contributions offered monthly by parishioners. Of note is that the average age of attendees is considerably lower than that of most churches, owing to the Cathedral of Hope’s outreach to youth organizations in the region. The plans are now underway for a major expansion which will place the Cathedral of Hope on the map as one of the most influential religious organizations worldwide.
Major events held annually here in Dallas include the Dallas Purple Party, a major party on the gay circuit, held each year at the end of April. The Texas Circuit Boyz also hold a variety of events each year including Valley of the Dolls and Skeleton’s Ball held in October. The annual Gay Pride festival is also one of the larger ones in the region, held annually in September. Out Takes, the local gay & lesbian film festival, started in 1999 and has grown to become one of the leading gay & lesbian film festivals in the US. The film festival is held annually in November.
Lastly, Dallas has its own John Thomas Gay & Lesbian Community Center, offering a local focal point for the variety of gay & lesbian organizations found throughout the greater Dallas area. Offering meeting rooms to accommodate up to 150, as well as a local hotline and switchboard and an archives and research library, the John Thomas Community Center serves a vital and important purpose for Dallas gay & lesbian community. It is aptly named in memory of the gay rights activist and leader of the Dallas community for many years. The memorial bell wall at the Cathedral of Hope also bears his name.
Dallas Voice: www.DallasVoice.com
TXT News Magazine: www.TXTNewsMagazine.com
Lambda Pages: www.LambdaPages.com
Dallas Pride: www.RazzleDazzleDallas.org
Out Takes Dallas: www.OutTakesDallas.org
Texas Circuit Boyz: www.texascircuitboyz.com
Dallas Purple Party: www.dallaspurpleparty.com
Black Tie Dinner: www.blacktiedinner.org
Dallas CVB: www.VisitDallas.com/GLBT
North Texas GLBT Chamber: www.NorthTexasGLBTChamber.org
Dallas Tavern Guild: www.DallasTavernGuild.org
Cathedral of Hope: www.cathedralofhope.com
Resource Center of Dallas: www.ResourceCenterDallas.org
Crossroads Market Bookstore DIFFA/Dallas: www.DIFFADallas.org
Youth First Texas: www.YouthFirstTexas.org
PFLAG Dallas: www.PFLAGDallas.org
GLSEN Dallas: www.GLSENDallas.org
Texas Human Rights Foundation: www.thrf.org
Gay Men’s Chorus: www.TurtleCreek.org
Women’s Chorus of Dallas: www.twcd.org
Team Dallas Aquatics: www.teamdallasaquatics.com
Oak Lawn Ski & Scuba Club: www.olssc.org
Oak Lawn Tennis Association: www.oaklawntennis.org
Oak Lawn Soccer Club: www.oaklawnsoccerclub.org
Texas State Gay Rodeo: www.texasgayrodeo.org
America’s Top Gay & Lesbian Direct Mail Zip Codes: 9 (75219)
US States (Online Membership Ranking): 4 (Texas)
Gay Atlas Index Rank: 27
Gay Male Index Rank: 14
Lesbian Index Rank: 84
courtesy of GayWired.com