Kirk Myers, left, and Erykah Badu, right, at the Juneteenth Mega Party.

The gayborhood opens back up in 2021, but COVID-continues

Just as we thought we were getting back to normal, the Omicron variant popped up and within three weeks became the dominant strain of the virus. Vaccines with a booster seem to protect from Omicron, but it’s more contagious than the other strains.

But it’s the Christmas season. People are traveling in greater numbers. Events that have been canceled for almost the last two years are back on schedule. We’re anxious to get back together. And the gayborhood is open for business.

Well, open for business but maybe not business as usual.

County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a mask mandate for stores, restaurants, bars and businesses earlier this year to fight COVID. The governor sued. The attorney general pursued. But Judge Tanya Parker ruled the mandates were legal, and in Dallas’ most densely-populated zip code — 75219 — people seem to be complying.

And while people around the county are heeding the mask requirement, compliance seems to thin the farther you get from Oak Lawn. Maybe that’s because Oak Lawn has experience with pandemics, and for us, wearing a simple mask and getting an effective vaccine are little more than minor inconveniences.

In a year where the world was emerging from lockdowns, so much has happened that we decided to divide our annual year in review into two issues. Last week’s paper covered the Legislature, the pandemic and the freeze and more.

This week we look at a bar that opened after two years of dealing with racism and homophobia. Two area school districts proved they’re not very welcoming to LGBTQ students and lots happened with our local LGBTQ agencies and organizations.

Still, the gayborhood began returning to normal. Dallas’ LGBTQ community could come home.

On Cedar Springs Road, when the restaurant next to Alexandre’s closed, bar owner Lee Daugherty snapped up the space and began work on expanding his bar.

Over off Lemmon Avenue, Hidden Door President and General Manager Harvey Meisner used the time his bar was closed for a complete remodel: new interior, new outdoor space, new parking.

Area 111 opened at the end of Oak Lawn Avenue in the Design District in the last block before the levee.

Dallas Eagle owner Jeffrey Payne announced his bar will be moving and re-opening in a new location.

In Arlington, 1851 Club closed down. But then new owners resurrected the only LGBTQ Club in the mid-cities.

Pride events were scaled back in the spring and summer, but they still took place. And some September Pride events were back full force.

Black Tie Dinner held a slightly scaled down dinner — but earned a record amount that was divided among its 17 beneficiaries.

And The Women’s Chorus of Dallas and Turtle Creek Chorale returned to live performances as well as the year came to a close.

Will the choruses continue to give live performances? Will events continue into the new year? Will the bars remain open? Will restaurants have to resort to take out once again?

How well the vaccines fight off the Omicron variant and where the pandemic takes us next will be big factors in what the new year has in store for us.

— David Taffet