Take a look back at how Dallas has built the largest LGBTQ+ community in Texas.
Posted on Jun 4, 2019 By Nick Totin
Dallas is home to one of the largest LGBTQ+ populations in the country and the largest in Texas. Visitors to the Oak Lawn community now enjoy a safe space to have brunch with friends at spots like Lucky's Cafe, dance in clubs and bars such as Round Up Saloon or Sue Ellen's, and of course celebrate Dallas Pride every year. But anyone who travels to this queer haven should know the hard-fought history that made it possible for the community to prosper.
Just three years after the riots at Stonewall shed light on the discrimination of the LGBTQ+ community, Dallas' own LGBTQ+ citizens gathered in a crowd of about 300 to march through Downtown proudly proclaiming that queer was here and the community was prepared to fight for our rights. The 1972 Dallas Pride parade was nothing elaborate by today's standards but it set up the foundation for more than 40 years of progress in Dallas for the queer community.
The next Dallas Pride parade didn't happen until 1980 and was successfully pieced together by business owners and community members in Oak Lawn, what is now known as Dallas' gay neighborhood, or "gayborhood" if you will. Two years later, the Dallas Tavern Guild was established and took over the parade. They got down to business and solidified the parade as a landmark event in Dallas.
From 1983 to 2018, the Parade was held in September to commemorate Baker v. Wade – which briefly struck down Texas' sodomy law until it was later overturned – and remained in September for years to come. Our current parade gets its name from the former executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, Alan Ross, who for many years had the greatest impact on the success of Pride celebrations in Dallas. Since 1991, the parade has been called the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade in his honor.
In 2018, Dallas became the first city in Texas to be officially recognized for its gay and lesbian neighborhood in Oak Lawn. The Texas Historical Commission recognized the history of this neighborhood as being a place of community gathering marking the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton with a plaque that will stand as a marker for years to come.
Today, Dallas celebrates our LGBTQ+ community throughout the year with a varied collection of events and programming. We're home to Black Tie Dinner, the largest annual LGBTQ+ fundraising dinner of its kind in the country. Our performing arts community enjoys the hard work and dedication of the Turtle Creek Chorale a gay men's chorus that has sung for the queen and Uptown Players an LGBTQ+ theatre company. And because everything is bigger in Texas, we're even home to the largest gay church in the world, The Cathedral of Hope.
The city also hosts multiple celebrations throughout the year to highlight specific groups within our community such as Dallas Southern Pride, a group that hosts an Annual Black Gay Pride Weekend in September and an annual celebration of Texas Latino Pride in the fall.
And our landmark LGBTQ+ celebration, Dallas Pride returned once again in 2019, this time at Fair Park, to give our community the chance to connect and celebrate loving who we love and living as who we really are.