Dr. Gene Voskuhl and the Rev. Jo Hudson

Dr. Gene Voskuhl and the Rev. Jo Hudson

The Rev. Jo Hudson of Cathedral of Hope and Dr. Gene Voskuhl of AIDS Arms were chosen as Grand Marshals of the 2012 Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

Voskuhl just returned from the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C. He said that recent studies show that being disenfranchised and stigmatized leads to greater incidents of HIV infection.

That’s why this year’s parade theme, “Pride Links Us Together” is meaningful to him.

“Be proud,” he said. “You’ll be happier and healthier.”

Voskuhl, who moved to Dallas five years ago, became the medical director of AIDS Arms last August. Gilead transferred him to Dallas from Oklahoma City. Before taking the position at AIDS Arms, he was in private practice with Uptown Physicians.

What he likes best about the Dallas LGBT community is how diverse and integrated it is throughout the DFW area. He said the community reaches into all professions and businesses and the variety of LGBT organizations that cover everything from social to health to religious activities.

Voskuhl is proud of the growth AIDS Arms has seen since he came on board a year ago. The agency’s two clinics now see 1,300 people and the goal is 2,500 by 2015.

“We’re looking to grow,” he said. “We’re only using half of our exam space.”

He said Trinity Clinic was expanding its labs and adding new equipment to provide results quicker and even offer services to other local medical offices. In addition, Metro Care has begun providing on-site mental health and substance abuse evaluation and treatment.

Voskuhl said he was surprised to be nominated for Grand Marshal and even more surprised that he won.

“I’m happily surprised,” he said. “I love a parade.”

But he said he always watched the parade from the sidelines and has never been in it before. This year, he’ll not only be in it. He’ll be leading the parade.

The Rev. Jo Hudson was surprised by the nomination for Grand Marshal and then overwhelmed when she was notified of her win.

Hudson, who has served Cathedral of Hope for eight years and as senior pastor for six, said she was humbled to be selected because of the great people who have served before her.

“I was deeply touched that I would even be included with all those great people,” she said. “When I think about all the people that have been grand marshal, it’s just such an honor.”

A lover of Dallas’ Pride parade, Hudson said she’s only missed one parade in the past nine years because she can’t stand to miss one.

“I love the Pride parade because the whole community is together,” Hudson said. “I think it’s a real honor to be the lead of the parade, to be recognized and it’s an honor for our church.”

Hudson said she finds joy in Pride with the unifying aspect and how members and allies of the LGBT community come together from all walks of life, all professions and nearby cities to join hands in celebration.

She added that this year’s theme was fitting since both grand marshals represent organizations that link so many people within Dallas’ community.

“The Dallas LGBT community has a great history of working together and a great history of being supportive of each other,” she said. “We all bring different things so that we can have an impact on our community and the city of Dallas.”

Proud to represent Cathedral of Hope in the parade, Hudson said she’s excited about leading the parade alongside Voskuhl, but what she’s looking forward to most is continuing to lead by example in the future like those who have led before her.

“All the people who have been before us [as grand marshals] have been inspirational people for me, and so maybe in some way I can be that for somebody else,” she said.

And while Hudson and Voskuhl were in the Dallas Voice office for photos and interviews, they were already coordinating their outfits for the parade.