Teen Pride

Dallas Pride begins Saturday with the Music Festival, continues into Sunday with the festival and parade

TAMMYE NASH | Managing Editor

For some, Pride means parades, music, elaborate outfits, parties and lots and lots and lots of rainbows. But Dallas Pride Executive Director Sherrell Cross reminds us that there is a lot more to Pride than just partying. It is, as Cross said in her letter to the community in this year’s Dallas Pride Guide, a chance to “come together to celebrate our identities and our stories” and to “recognize the importance of intersectionality and allyship in our fight for equality.”
Dallas Pride, Cross wrote, “has long been a beacon of hope, resilience and celebration for the LGBTQ community and its allies. It is a vibrant tapestry of diversity, unity and unwavering strength.” And, she added, the theme for this year’s Dallas Pride — Unity in the Community — “encapsulates the spirit of empowerment, authenticity and advocacy that defines our community working together.”

Dallas Pride has gone through many phases in its 41 years. The first two Pride Parades in Dallas — held in 1972 and ’73 and not counted in this 41 years — were more like protest marches, with the community crowding into the streets of downtown to march in demand of equality. After a hiatus of some years, the third parade was held on Cedar Springs Road in June. There was a second parade in June 1982, then in August of that year, Judge Jerry Buchmeyer issued a ruling declaring the Texas sodomy law to be unconstitutional. And Dallas activists organized a September rally in celebration.

By 1983, the Dallas Tavern Guild had taken over organizing and funding the Dallas Pride celebration and chose to move the event to September, in part to celebrate Judge Buchmeyer’s ruling (which was, unfortunately, overturned on appeal) and in part to escape the brutal heat of June in Texas. And that’s where the parade stayed for 36 years — in September on Cedar Springs Road.

In 2018, though, organizers announced that by the following year, Dallas Pride would be moved again — back to June and to Fair Park. It was a decision that drew plenty of debate and controversy, but even through the controversy and through the COVID pandemic, Dallas Pride has persevered.

This year Dallas Pride covers two days, with the Music Festival, presented by Miller Lite, happening all day Saturday, June 2, and featuring an entertainment headlined by dance queen CeCe Peniston as well as the Family Pride Zone, for LGBTQ families with younger children, and Teen Pride for LGBTQ youth ages 13-19.

There will also be more than 250 vendors community organization booths and at least another 20 food vendors, most if not all of which will be taking advantage of this year’s expansion of the festival into Sunday. Then the Dallas Pride Parade steps off at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3, with more than 150 entries registered to participate.

Grand marshals, honorary grand marshal
Grand marshals for the 2024 Dallas Pride Parade are Betty Neal and Steven Pace.

Betty Neal

Betty Neal has been active in the North Texas LGBTQ community since she first moved here from Fayetteville, Ark., in 1979. She has played an integral role in organizing within the Black LGBTQ community, helping found Dallas’ annual Black Gay Pride and Black Lesbian Pride events and the annual Juneteenth celebrations and volunteering with Dallas Southern Pride as it has continued those events.

Neal has also worked tirelessly to bring HIV information and testing services into the community as well as to bring North Texas’ various LGBTQ communities together. She has volunteered with Dallas Pride for many years, currently serving on the Dallas Pride board. She also volunteers with the city’s second Pride celebration each year, Pride in Dallas.

Steven Pace retired in December 2023 after 40 years as CEO of AIN — the organization originally known as AIDS Interfaith Network and which Pace helped found — he had spent more time as the head of an HIV/AIDS organization than anyone else in this country. He has been a major force in the fight against HIV/AIDS from the beginning, starting in 1982 when he was the first clergy member to offer solace and support to Dallas’ first AIDS patient.

Pace was the first on-site house director for the PWA Coalition’s residential facility (now AIDS Services of Dallas), and he worked with the late Dr. Ron Anderson to create a clinic at Parkland Hospital devoted exclusively to HIV/AIDS healthcare services. He helped find and develop nursing home facilities for hospice care for those with HIV/AIDS; he played a central role in founding what is now the Resource Center Food Pantry, and he was a case manager at AIDS Arms Inc., now known as Prism Health North Texas. As a minister, he presided over more than 500 funerals and memorial services for those with HIV/AIDS.

Actor, singer and activist Billy Porter is Dallas Pride’s 2024 honorary grand marshal. Since his debut album, Billy Porter, in 1997, Porter has won a Grammy, an Emmy, a Tony Award as an actor, a Tony Award as a producer and a special Tony Award for his activism and advocacy around HIV/AIDS. He has released four more albums — At the Corner of Broadway and Soul, Billy’s Back on Broadway, The Soul of Richard Rodgers and, the most recent, Black Mona Lisa which came out last fall.

Steven Pace

He has also released several singles, including “Love Yourself,” “For What It’s Worth,” “Finally Ready” and, for the HIV/AIDS benefit album Red Hot + Free, “Caught in the Middle.”

It was his Tony Award-winning turn as Lola in Kinky Boots on Broadway that was Porter’s breakthrough to superstardom. But for many, Porter’s often heart-wrenching portrayal of Pray Tell in the ground-breaking hit TV series POSE has been his most impressive work to date. In October 2021, Porter added “author” to his list of accomplishments with the publication of his memoir, Unprotected, and, in 2022, he checked another accomplishment off his list as film director with the trans love story Anything’s Possible.

When he won the Primetime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series” for POSE, Porter made history as the first openly gay man to win that award. The next year, Time Magazine named him as one of the “100 Most Influential People” of that year.

The Dallas Pride Music Festival, presented by Miller Lite, offers a full day of entertainment on Saturday, June 1, with a stellar line-up planned for both the outdoor main stage and the indoor community stage.

The festival begins at 11 a.m. Saturday and runs through til 9 p.m. Tickets at will be $10 for those 13 and over in advance at FairParkDallas.com and at the gate, and $8 for seniors 65 and over at the gate only. Admission is free for those 12 and under.
CeCe Peniston tops this year’s list of festival headliners, which also includes Ha Sizzle, Loren Allred and Jordy (See page 18 for an interview with Jordy). Also in the lineup are RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Aquaria and Morphine, local recording artist Lardi B and DJ Sedrick.

Family Pride Zone
“What we create in Family Pride Zone is a place for LGBTQ parents to enjoy Pride with their kids in a comfortable, safe environment,” explained Leo Cusimano, one of the three FPZ event directors.

Family Pride Zone

Kimberly Kantor and Ashley Regalado are the other two Family Pride Zone directors. They represent Rainbow Roundup, an LGBTQ non-profit organization that provides social activities and education for LGBTQ families and connects resources to individuals and families.

This year, Family Pride Zone is expanding along with the Pride Festival to span two days: Saturday, June 1, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (when the Pride Parade starts).

Entertainment on the Family Pride Zone Stage starts at noon with The Micro Chicks, followed at 1 p.m. by Wildlife on the Move and a Magic Show at 2 p.m. The Micro Chicks are back at 3 p.m. for another performance, more Wildlife on the Move at 4 p.m., and another Magic Show winding up the day at 5 p.m.

The SPCA will be there offering opportunities to adopt new furry family members, and there will be Pickle Ball with Chicken and Pickle, a petting zoo from Cathy’s Critters, Librarian KayCee Choi from the Dallas Public Library with books and reading and DJ Bri keeping the space filled with music. There will also be Lorenzo Party Balloons, bounce houses, The Pride Train from Clown Around Party Rentals, Fun Time Entertainment offering face painting and temporary tattoos, the tech truck and a booth by The Perot Museum, and books from authors Lerone Landis, A.J. Chilson and Danii Oliver.

Teen Pride
Drag icon Kennedy Davenport headlines the entertainment planned for Teen Pride, all happening Saturday, June 1. Teen Pride’s main stage entertainment kicks off at 11 a.m. and goes through 7 p.m. Other performers include Leché Diamonté, Devin Banks Davenport, Aundra Mikyles, Daniel Dean Scott Skyy, Barbie Davenport Dupree, Bronz Dior Davenport, Glam Davenport, Kiana Lee, Loretta Armani Mack, Ruby Scott, Sapphire Davenport, Zimora Evans and I.V. Marks Skyy.

Kennedy Davenport

Also from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on June 1, Teen Pride presents the Kiki Ball, with competition in four categories competing on one runway. Xa’Pariis Nike Ebony and JRock Ebony are hosts for the Ball, with Bleu 007, Kai GZ, Kam Von Dutch, Lunari Old Navy, Prince Narco Juicy and Princess Xi Nike judging. Other activities include a roller-skating rink, a dedicated area for Trans services and organizations, a job fair hosted by Starbucks, empowerment discussions by Trust the Process, jump houses, vendors featuring merchandise for LGBTQ youth and much more.

There is no added fee for admission to Teen Pride, but admission is restricted to those ages 12-19 and those over 19 attending with a teen.