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Organizers Want This Year's Gay Pride Parade to Be Nudity-Free, Angering LGBT Activists

The Dallas Pride Parade, 2012.
The Dallas Pride Parade, 2012.
Jay Barker

In years past, the organizers of Dallas Pride have accepted the idea that the outpouring of joy and solidarity that fuels the annual gay pride parade also occasionally leads to the revealing of a bit more skin than might technically allowed under state law. This year, they won't be so accommodating.

Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild, which organizes the event, says that organizers and police will patrol the staging area to make sure all parade participants are properly clothed. If they aren't, they could be removed from the parade, or their group may be blacklisted from next year's celebration.

"Just because it's a day of celebration for our community doesn't mean we are exempt from the law," he told Unfair Park on Tuesday.

Some local LGBT activists view the crackdown on nudity as a betrayal of what the event is supposed to be about.

Daniel Cates, an organizer with GetEqual, recently sounded the alarm on Facebook that the Tavern Guild was watering down the parade to make it more family friendly and please corporate sponsors.

"No bare asses, no breasts (even with pasties) no tight underwear on dancers, nothing too political at all," he wrote. "The 'queer' is effectively being erased from our pride celebration in favor of the most polished, heteronormative representation of our community as possible."

Hardy Haberman, a fixture of Dallas' leather scene and a columnist for the Dallas Voice raised similar concerns.

"I ... am disgusted with the idea that LGBT people must conform to the 'heteronormative' model. In other words, the man-woman-kids-dog thing," he writes. "I know many of my friends fit that category, and I am happy for them, but I resent people, and specifically the parade organizers trying to tone down the parade so as not to offend the imagined families who attend."

The problem, he continues, "is the organizers who are so ashamed of who they are and what our community does that they feel we must 'fit in.'"

Doughman quibbles with the notion that the parade has undergone some fundamental philosophical shift. Nudity has always been technically prohibited, he says, but participants have continued to "press the envelope" in recent years, making it necessary to issue a reminder.

"We did this as a courtesy to everyone in the parade," Doughman says.

He likens it to the annual reminder that all floats must have fire extinguishers, which has been given since the fire marshal showed up a few years ago and wrote more than a dozen tickets.

But no amount of rationalization on the part of the Tavern Guild is likely to appease -- or keep clothed -- its critics. Cates has already coined a rallying cry/hashtag: #Prideoutwithyourhideout!


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