How to do the wrong thing right

Imagine, if you would, that Lady Gaga decided on a whim to toss away all her hard-won individualism within a cutthroat industry to instead become (in a fever of sheer madness!) merely one of its unsung heroes — just a backup singer, thoroughly invisible on an already overcrowded stage, 20 feet from stardom.

Well, happy Dallas gay Pride, everybody! Dallas has decided to become Darlene Love!

“Oh, Howard, you bubble-headed/bleached-blond himbo!” you say. “When are you going to finally realize that the sole function of blonds is to just shut up and suck?” But the core allure of Dallas Pride is her diva turn in arriving fashionably late every summer, after all the other major ’Merican meccas — Boston, Houston, Chicago, Seattle, Philadelphia, L.A., Miami, Atlanta — have already rainbowed-out their grayish-by-comparison, me-too appearances. Anyhow, we are all mere satellite lemmings following New York City’s June lead. Like I said, folks, may I introduce you to Darlene Love?

If something works, so chortles the cliché, why fix it? Dallas had the entire Pride Weekend field of glittery, rainbow stardust all to her shrewdly-brilliant self each third Sunday in September, and the out-of-town gays could come a-flockin’ every year by the thousands, injecting economic adrenaline into Cedar Springs Road’s businesses, the likes of which won’t be matched again ’til same time, next September — a rising, shimmery tide of sparkle lifts all pleasure flotillas!

Reiteration: If something works brilliantly, why break it? As Coca-Cola sanguinely learned back in the ’80s, so shall Dallas Pride organizers, albeit 35 years later and with more abysmal results locally. Timing is everything in advertising — when people neither demand nor expect a long-time proven success to change, then don’t expect them to be elated when it does. Plain and simple, nothing good comes from shutting out the talent in advance: Floats aren’t outfitted, costumes aren’t constructed, mascara doesn’t run in sizzling Cedar Springs asphalt vapors. Let’s face it: Pride isn’t about civil liberties; rather, it is about libertine civilities — having miraculously survived a childhood from hell and come out on top, despite it all, sans having to cower eternally behind a “moral majority” masque of fear, shame and conformity. Paper faces on parade. Regardless, by the time most of you read this, Dallas Pride 2019 will be just yesterday’s papier mache.

This year’s theme is “Stonewall Strong, Dallas Proud” — an homage to the 50th anniversary of the June 28, 1969 police raid on The Stonewall Inn (a gay bar on Greenwich Village’s Christopher Street) in New York City; and, by providence of consequence, the retroactively-designated ignition point in our continuously subsequent fight for equality in the LGBT rights’ movement. Revolutions don’t abide logarithms, consulting firms, case studies, think tanks, focus groups nor the Goodyear blimp puttering a flaccid rainbow over an empty stadium; rather, “organic spontaneity” is revolution’s calling card: Google “Rosa Parks.”

Nonetheless, the DART rail system will not be headed through Downtown making this weekend. Why should it? The Texas State Fair isn’t until September, after all — same time, too, as Dallas Pride in years past. Nor will there be free parking, should one want to pack up the rainbow boa and drive to Fair Park. Proudly peacocking your true colors will cost you $10 bucks each day (plus admission Saturday; Sunday is free entry). Disengaged management, apathetic planning and a thoroughly ridiculous change of venue — what’s the long-game here? Where’s the foresight? Even should a wildly optimistic crowd of 35,000 show up Sunday to a venue easily capable of accommodating 10 times that many, it will look like Trump’s inauguration, and be perceived as unsuccessful. So, let’s ask ourselves, Dallas, what went so suddenly wrong (this year, 2019!) with our grand old gayborhood, after hosting these same festivities quite perfectly but a mere eight months ago? Moreover, Cedar Springs has solidly served the LGBT community dazzlingly well in September all the way back to 1983! Why in the name of Trammell Crow did Dallas so murkily decide to skin alive her luminous, September-superstar face of a Gaga, to expose beneath the inspiration-free, revenue-robbing fright mask of just another Kim-Slozniak-wigged-bimbo doppelganger? Pride, here in ghastly queer Dallas this June, becomes just another word for nothing left to lose.

I was ambling the sultry aisles of the Cedar Springs Kroger just last Sunday, when out of nowhere a little cherry-cheeked minx came flailing around the corner with a large white cardboard box in her hands, joyously panting, “Daddy, Daddy, I found us a real ‘V’ dessert for supper — red velvet cake! The red’s only an adjective anyway, so may we now put back that gnarly vegemite?” Happily, most of the frosting ended up in the basket of my cats’ tins of Fancy Feast instead of on my loafers. “Mary, Mary!” sighed the shorter of her two flustered fathers. “What did we tell you about running inside public places?”

Scooping a gob of magenta frosting off my shoe, Mary deftly rearranged her cape of rainbow-dyed marabou feathers, adjusted her star-shaped Ziggy Stardust sunglasses and decreed, “Although the icing’s color is practically a flavor category all its toxic own, the bright side of it being smushed-up already is they’ll most likely just give us what’s practically the whole cake, still inside the box, for free. So, in final calculation, we’ve veal vindaloo on a nest of vermicelli pasta for our entrée course, Vienna sausages with Velveeta coulis for our appetizer, and crystalized violets for the amuse bouche; men, I do believe we’ve done even better today by ‘V’ than last Sunday’s ‘U’, which, talk about a difficult food challenge, these upcoming next four weeks — ‘W’, ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ’Z’ — are just gonna be killer.”

Suddenly, the taller of Mary’s two fawn-sized fathers let out a shrill squeal as he pointed to my feet, “Mary, the mess you’ve made of this poor man’s shoes and, oh, sweet Jesus — TOD’S? He’s wearing TOD’s!” Grabbing my wrist, he said, “I’m so, so sorry, sir… Mary Desmona Everready! I sure hope it’s the best cake you’ve ever eaten, because your one Lincoln-a-week allowance is gonna take you about two years solid, young lady, to repay this man for destroying his nice shoes.”

“Oh, guys, no, no, that’s not necessary — why, these things are so old. Your sweet daughter actually saved me the trouble of having to throw them out. I only hope she didn’t get frosting on her feelin’ groovy feather cloak — is it vintage?” Coquettishly, Mary chirped, “Daddy Walt bought me this tippet at Gay Pride last September for my birfday!” Pulling at both her fathers’ T-shirt hems, she whispered, “We’re still missing a ‘V’ dinner beverage, daddy dears.”

“Oh, don’t worry, puddin’, your daddies shall be imbibing something starting with a ‘V’ and clear as branch water, too—from Vladivostok.” A sangfroid Mary corrected him: “But water starts with a ‘W,’ and the letter dubya’s not ’til next Sunday. You could drink a V-8, though, with dinner tonight! That meets alphabetic criteria.” Short Daddy, who’d been eyeing me quizzically, nudged Tall Daddy in the ribs. “Randy, the smile, look at his teeth — it’s gotta be!” They both extended their hands. “Howard, we read your column all the time. Little Miss Tasmanian Devil here even got to read you once — that G-rated one you wrote, sometime last fall I think it was — about your two orange cats?” I nodded, “The Halloween column, yes, of course; I was pleasantly surprised at many people enjoyed that one.”
“How much longer after Halloween did Boo still live?” Mary inquired, solemnly. “Well, you know, Mary, you’ll just have to come over and ask him yourself how the heck he’s still living. I think there may even be some of his 18th birthday cake still in the freezer. Y’all should drop by on your way over to Fair Park next Sunday. I’m in a high rise just down by the creek: I’ll fix us a ‘W’ lunch, and we can all ride over to Pride together.”

Both Mary’s parents gaped at me — cryptically, perplexed — like someone searching for their glasses, only to discover them with an exasperated sigh on their head all along: “But, wait,” said Walt, ever-edgily bordering on dumbfounded stupefaction. “Now, what? Next weekend’s only the first of June. Pride’s not arriving ’til the mighty State Fair of Texas thunders in — they’re a symbiotic, September Texan team, our gays and the carnies!” Somberly, Randy placed his thumbs together, slowly ripping in-half his rhetorical gay card. “Why the hell must everything that starts out so pure, easy, honest and true, always descend into just another gutter-trawling salvation show snuff flick?”

Dear Howard: How much stock do you put in either of the hoary two adages: “You only get but one chance to make a first impression”, versus, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”? — D Love

Dear D: Darlene? Well, hey — is that you, girl? I didn’t even notice you a standin’ there, lost way back in those shadows with all that common trash! Where’s your spotlight gone to, darlin’? Are you feelin’ OK? You’re a lookin’ a wee peaked ‘round the gills. Boys, find Darlene a pilla! Here, precious, sit down. Rest your head back, nice and easy now. That’s it. You need a little somethin’ to cool off? Can I fetch ya a New Coke?”

— Howard Lewis Russell

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