In March, 1993, I gave a major speech in Dallas opposing Clinton’s suggestion that gay and lesbian soldiers should be segregated from other troops, which was the precursor to the formal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. Hundreds of people packed the Cathedral of Hope on a week day for the speech. I was stunned that the activists associated with the Cathedral weren’t exaggerating when they promised to pack the place in support.
Even then, Dallas’ LGBT community was full of proactive and effective advocates. Often, I returned to speak at their Black Tie Dinner or to listen to the several hundred strong “Turtle Creek Chorus.” The city seemed like an oasis in the desert, and its political clout and community institutions were impressive.
Now, Dallas is totally out of the closet, and the community’s pride is highlighted in this week’s Time Magazine. Because of an article written by one of Time’s most talented and articulate reporters, John Cloud, everyone in the country will know the emergence of the powerful and thoughtful Dallas LGBT community.
Cloud writes in Time:
“But gays have played an important, less noticed role in Dallas' evolution. Over the past decade, a large and politically powerful lesbian and gay community has emerged. Both the Dallas sheriff and the county judge--an Old West title meaning chairman of the county commissioners--are openly gay. The district clerk is gay too, and Dallas is home to what is said to be the largest gay church in the world, the Cathedral of Hope, which has 3,500 members, a full choir, a violinist and long-stemmed roses in the bathroom. Dallas' fund-raising dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, the Washington-based gay group, is the largest in the nation, drawing 3,300 and raising more than $1 million for HRC and local gay organizations. And according to the gay group Lambda Legal, Dallas' is the only school district in Texas that includes teachers in its antidiscrimination policies.
Just in the past couple of weeks, in an easy-to-overread but highly poetic coincidence, DeLay's political-action committee, Americans for a Republican Majority, told the Federal Election Commission that it had closed. Days later, a Democratic group called the Texas Values in Action Coalition (TEXVAC)--founded by three gay Dallas liberals in 2005--staged a self-congratulatory dinner in once solidly Republican north Dallas. At least 500 people attended, raising $200,000 for TEXVAC, which was instrumental in last fall's Democratic victories. ("We owe it all to these three remarkable young men," former Mayor Ron Kirk said of TEXVAC's founders during the dinner.)”
As you know, I have written several posts about the current exciting race for Dallas mayor. Openly gay Ed Oakley has made the run off election for mayor. Clouds writes about the race:
“Last fall, just six years after Dick Cheney left the Dallas office of Halliburton for Washington, Democrats swept every county-wide contested race. And on May 12, Dallas sent an openly gay candidate into next month's mayoral runoff. If city councilman Ed Oakley defeats former Turner Construction CEO Tom Leppert, Dallas will become the first big U.S. city to elect a gay mayor. Dallas would join Berlin and Paris as major cities led by gays. Wait--Dallas?”
The bad news is that now that the secret is out, every candidate, charity and cause will be stopping not only in New York and Los Angeles but in Dallas. Somehow, I have no doubt that, with their usual Texas charm and pride; they will just handle it perfectly.