It's no secret that QueerBomb Dallas has been highly critical of the Alan Ross Freedom Parade that is set to kick off this Sunday afternoon. Earlier this year, QueerBomb hosted their own alternative pride parade that was free of corporate sponsorship and placed a larger focus on highlighting gender and racial diversity. Even though their parade has already been held, QueerBomb is continuing to highlight the way that Dallas Pride isn't exactly representative of the city's LGBT community.
In addition to concerns about a startling lack of racial and gender diversity among grand marshals during the parade's decades-long tenure, activists from QueerBomb are now charging that the Dallas Tavern Guild (the group that organizes the Alan Ross Freedom Parade) is partnering with companies that don't have the best interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in mind.
Because Pride is hosted on Cedar Springs Avenue, home to most of the city's gay bars, it has been long linked with drinking alcohol. As such, Heineken is the official beer of Dallas Pride, and occupies a prominent place in the event's logo. Heineken is distributed in the United States by Andrews Distributing, owned by Barry Andrews. Earlier this year, Andrews hosted a fundraiser for virulently anti-gay Texas Lieutenant Governor candidate Dan Patrick in his home. It's also worth noting that Heineken doesn't provide protections for their transgender employees.
Not surprisingly, the fundraiser angered QueerBomb and others in the LGBT community, especially when the Dallas Tavern Guild refused to drop Andrews Distributing (and the $100,000 per year donated by the company) as a sponsor. If you're not familiar with Patrick's homophobic rhetoric, he's an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, even though he accidentally endorsed it in a tweet once. Patrick also has also compared homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. But according to QueerBomb activist Daniel Scott Cates, Patrick's politics impact the LGBT community in a broader and more profound sense.
"Dan Patrick is anti-everything that is good and holy in this world," Cates says with a chuckle. "Not only is he anti-gay, anti-woman, and anti-immigrant, he's actively working against these communities." In response to QueerBomb's charges, Andrews Distributing defended their support of the gay community, citing years of involvement with Dallas Pride.
But that wasn't enough. Now, QueerBomb organizers are hosting an alternative protest event that they're calling Dirty Shame at Main Street Garden this Sunday, the same day that the Alan Ross Freedom Parade will march down Cedar Springs. "We felt like if we were going to tell people not to go to Pride, we needed to give them an alternative," Cates says. "A chance to express themselves without being shamed or excluded."
During Dirty Shame, QueerBomb hopes to "reclaim the radical, carnal and transgressive lineage of our ever-changing community," according to the group's Facebook page. "Everything happened so quickly," said Cates, "so we didn't have enough time to obtain a march permit, but we wanted everyone to have an alternative to a Pride that they couldn't support." At Dirty Shame, QueerBomb will host an open-mic where dissenters can share their perspective, and then host a "pride promenade," in which people can strut their queer stuff instead of floats representing companies like Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin go down the street.
Mostly, though, Cates and other activists with QueerBomb just want people to feel proud on a weekend that exists to celebrate their identities. The message that QueerBomb has been trying to get out from the beginning is to "be proud of who you are, own who you are, love yourself, and deliver all that to the world," Cates says. "That's what we hope people will do on Sunday regardless of whether they attend Pride or come to our event."
He also hopes that among the thousands of people that are expected to attend the Alan Ross Freedom Parade, there are some who are willing to protest what he calls "blatant racism, bigoted companies, and the rainbow washing of our community." "There's more to us than that, and I hope people don't let the Dallas Tavern Guild dampen that."