Dallas Pride Executive Director Jaron Turnbow, second from left, and members of the Dallas Pride Committee
(Photo courtesy of Dallas Pride)

Dallas Pride returns in force with a weekend full of in-person celebrations

TAMMYE NASH | Managing Editor

Dallas Pride returns to a full weekend of in-person celebration at Fair Park this weekend, with the Miller Lite Music Festival kicking off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, followed at 2 p.m. on Sunday, with the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.

This year’s theme, noted Dallas Pride Executive Director Jaron Turnbow, is Live Out Proud, and it has two meanings: “We should always Live Out Proud as an LGBTQ community, but we can now also Live Out Proud by coming together again after two years of mostly isolation from each other.”

Turnbow said that he has been very encouraged by the enthusiasm he has seen building over the last few months as organizers have been putting the final touches on planning for the 39th Dallas Pride events. “I have heard so much excitement in literally every communication about how ready and happy everyone is to be able to gather for an in-person Pride again,” he said. “We need the kind of togetherness that this one weekend brings every year for every age, race, sexual orientation, gender identity and subculture — including our amazing allies.

“It’s going to be the biggest year yet.”

In 2019, Turnbow had just stepped into Michael Doughman’s enormous shoes as executive director of Dallas Pride, and the celebration had been switched not only from Oak Lawn to Fair Park but also from September to the first week in June. It was a year of huge changes, but organizers were excited about the first Pride in Fair Park and were already looking forward to 2020, armed with all the experience of 2019 and a good foundational idea of what worked best and what needed to be tweaked next time around.

And then came COVID-19. The pandemic forced the cancellation of Pride in 2020, with the committee putting together a virtual Pride party that streamed in July. In 2021, as the COVID delta variant again squashed plans, organizers offered a drastic re-imagining of Pride, holding an in-person event but replacing the traditional festival-one-day-parade-the-next format with a two-night stage show at the Fair Park Coliseum, with COVID safety protocols firmly in place.

Throughout last year, the pandemic continued to ebb and flow, with new variants popping up regularly, leaving Pride organizers up in the air as to whether Dallas could return to a traditional Pride this year. Because of the lingering uncertainty, Turnbow said, organizers have been left scrambling, trying to put a whole year’s worth of work into just a few months.

And because of that, he added, rather than evolving and expanding plans this year, the Pride committee’s top priority for 2021 has been just making sure the events happen.

“But,” Turnbow said, “having to go virtual and figure out how to stream Pride in 2020 and 2021 brought us a slew of ideas for future years. We have certainly learned some new skills over the last couple of years, and we will be implementing those in 2023, once we have regained our footing.”

The COVID pandemic has seemed to be waning over the last few months, and yet, new variants continue to pop up, and the rate of new infections has begun to rise again in some areas. Because of that, Turnbow said, organizers will absolutely “remain vigilant” in terms of COVID-19 awareness and prevention measures.

Turnbow said uncertainty over what would happen had initially slowed registrations by vendors for this year’s Miller Lite Music Festival, but as deadlines neared and people realized Pride would be happening — and soon — registrations picked up considerably.

“We already have a ton of new vendors that we’ve never had before,” Turnbow said, adding that organizers anticipated reaching or even surpassing 2019’s record high 150 entries in the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade by the time the parade steps off on Sunday.

Despite the hectic schedule — something that always happens in the last days before Pride but made even more hectic by the uncertainties and delays of the last year — Turnbow said he is excited and ready to see how this year’s events play out.

“I think people need to know how much this community is loved — how much we love each other and how much our allies love us,” he said. “It brings tears to my eyes to hear from so many of our allies about how excited they are for us as a community to be able to celebrate in-person again and to be able to stand with us side by side. It truly is inspiring.

“It reminds me,” Turnbow continued, “that the fire within our community and among our allies is spreading. People need to know that it’s going to be a great year for Pride. Let’s get out there and Live Out Proud!”

North Texas native and drag performer extraordinaire Shangela will be headlining the Live Out Proud show at the Miller Lite Music Festival on Saturday.

Shangela, who is from Paris, Texas, and last fall received Black Tie Dinner’s inaugural Vanguard Award, first came to national attention on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 2 then again on Season 3 and on Drag Race All Stars 3. She appeared in the award-winning 2018 movie A Star is Born with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper, and later went on to star in two seasons of the inspirational and award-winning HBO series We’re Here with Eureka O’Hara and Bob The Drag Queen.

This is Shangela’s first appearance at Dallas Pride since becoming one of the best known drag performers in the world.

Local drag entertainers performing in the show will be Jada Pinkett Fox, the Sisters-in-Action, Sister Helen Holy and A’keria C. Davenport, another local performer who gained national acclaim thanks to Drag Race.

Also in the entertainment lineup at the festival includes the cast of the Rose Room, Black Girl Magic, Dallasite and rising country music star Kameron Ross from America’s Got Talent, Kylee O’Hara Fatale and the finalists from The Queer Off, The Roommates,

The Saloon Girls, Mi Diva Loca, Double Trouble Does Pride with Raquel Blake and Bleach, The Etheridge Experience and performers from Uptown Players.

Also featured will be performances by Averi Burk, Cameron McCloud of Cure for Paranoia, Carley Bearden, Johnny Bee & The Leo Sun Project, Kaatii, Lorelei K and xBValentine.

American Sign Language interpreters will be present at each stage to perform live translations. Saturday evening concludes with a rainbow-themed fireworks display over Fair Park.

Teen Pride, organized each year by Real Live Connection, offers a full day of top-notch entertainment, vendors and more, all focused around this year’s theme, “We’re All In This Together.” That theme, Real Live Connection cofounders Amanda Robinson and Sherrell Cross said, was chosen to pay special tribute to the lives of youth lost to COVID-19 and to pledge support for trans youth in the face of continued exclusionary efforts in schools.

Robinson and Cross are “beyond thrilled [for the Pride weekend and Teen Pride] to be in person again for the first time since 2019,” Cross said. “These past two years were hard for our youth; even though we did things virtually, it wasn’t the same as being able to gather in person to hug and talk face to face with them.

“So many youth were in unsafe environments during the pandemic with no outlet or place to go. We are excited for them to know that we are here, and we are standing with them, especially now with the current actions that are being taken against LGBTQIA youth,” Cross continued, “We love the community support, and we need it now more than ever.”

Teen Pride is a space at Dallas Pride exclusively for LGBTQ youth, and this year, as in the past, it will feature a live DJ, local performers, arts and crafts tables, vendors and opportunities to connect with local organizations and businesses offering resources for LGBTQ youth.

“As you know, Dallas Teen Pride is known for having a crazy line-up of entertainment,” Cross said. And this year, that includes “famous RuPaul’s Drag Race girls, amazing bands from all parts of Texas, youth poets, singers and two amazing DJs who will keep everyone dancing.”

Teen Pride will also feature eight bounce houses, games, a mechanical bull, obstacle courses, photo stations and guest speakers. Some of the vendors participating include Great Wolf Lodge, Work/Shop and HOT 93.3 FM, Cross said.

On stage entertainment at Teen Pride will include some special surprise guests you don’t want to miss, Cross said. And the list of entertainers that has been announced is already exciting enough to make everyone happy.

Entertainers include Barbie Davenport Dupree, Beyondshade Lee Starr, Kiana Lee, Hakeem Davenport, Devin Bryant Banx, Ruby Scott, Glam Davenport, Ariel O’Hara, April Rition, Ivan Nolan and Suki O’Hara.

There is no additional cost for admission to Teen Pride section, which will be in the Automobile Building, but admission is restricted to teens and to older individuals attending with a teen.

Teen Pride will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Family Pride Zone returns for the in-person Pride party as well this year with games, entertainment, bounce houses, face painters, vendor booths and much more. Entertainment will include ventriloquist Dennis Lee with Nana Puddin’ and the singing group The Micro Chicks. Magician Daryl Howard will be there, and the folks from Creature Teacher will also be on hand, giving the kiddos — and the grown-ups too — a chance to get up close and personal with some fascinating animals.
Spiderman and other costumed characters are expected as well.

Family Pride Zone is a designated safe space for families will children. It will be inside the Automotive Building and will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. To ensure that the area remains a safe space for children, security professionals will staff the balloon-festooned entrance to make sure no coolers and no alcohol are taken inside and that those entering are properly dressed for a child-friendly area.

No additional admission free is required for Family Pride Zone.



• The Dallas Pride Miller Lite Music Festival begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 4, and runs through 9 p.m. at Fair Park. Tickets are $10 for adults age 20 and older, $5 for teens ages 13-19 and free for children 12 and under is free.

• Teen Pride will be in the Automobile Building and will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, June 4. There is no additional entry fee for Teen Pride.
• Family Pride Zone will be inside the Automotive Building, and will be open from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, June 4. There is no additional entry fee for Family Pride Zone.

• Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade steps off at 2 p.m. Sunday, June 5, inside Fair Park, starting at The Coliseum before circling the Cotton Bowl, passing in front of the Hall of State and concluding back at The Coliseum.



Dallas Pride returns to in-person events this weekend, with the Miller Lite Music Festival on Saturday and the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade on Sunday. But the Pride party is non-stop all weekend, starting Friday night, June 3, and going through Sunday evening, thanks to Daddy Ersin, Baker+Calagna and Purple Foundation, who are coming together to present the Dallas Pride official dance parties.

The dance parties will feature DJs Ale Lo, Calagna, Danny Verde, Isis Muretech, Jamey Boozer, Karsten Sollors, Las Bibas from Vizcaya, Nick Stracenter, Rue D and TDon.

— From Staff Reports

Friday, June 3, 9 p.m.
Release | Pride
Calagna and Karsten Sollars
Viva’s Lounge,
1350 Manufacturing St., #120
Tickets $10-$50 at EventBrite

Saturday, June 4, 3 a.m.
B.T.S. Pride AfterHours
Alex Lo and Jamey Boozer
The Space Dallas,
5214 S. Lamar BLvd.
Tickets $25-$40 at ram-gear-party

Saturday, June 4, 1 p.m.
DIRTea Pride Tea
Danny Verde and Tdon
Ferris Wheelers,
1950 Market Center Blvd.
Tickets $25-$40 at ram-gear-party

Saturday, June 4, 10 p.m.
Mega RAM Pride
Las Bibas from Vizcaya
and Nick Stracener
Gilley’s Dallas,
1135 Botham Jean Blvd.
Tier 1 tickets (sold out)
Tier 2 $40
VIP Mega Ram, Tier 1 $70

Sunday, June 5, 4 p.m.
Spectrum Tea Dance
Isis Muretech and Rue D
S4 Patio, 3911 Cedar Springs Road
Tickets $15-$40 at EventBrite