PaperCity Magazine

June 2019- Dallas

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Page 51 of 83

50 WITH THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PIVOTAL STONEWALL RIOTS, BILLY FONG LOOKS AT THE PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE OF LGBTQ CULTURE IN DALLAS. GAY DALLAS D uring the wee hours of June 28, 1969, a riot broke out during a police raid at New York City's Stonewall Inn — a gay bar in Greenwich Village. Those in the surrounding neighborhood erupted in response. Rioters threw bottles and rushed police barricades. Drag queens kicked their heels in the air like the Rockettes and sang: "We are the Stonewall girls. We wear our hair in curls … We wear our dungarees above our nelly knees ..." The riots were a rallying call. And change was in the air. Fifty years later, our zeitgeist begs a reexamination of gay culture — and not just in the United States, but also in our own city. In the five decades following the riot that sparked the gay community to stand up for equal rights, much has shifted. In Dallas, a city smack in the center of what many would call the conservative South, gay culture thrives. Our city has been credited as one of the most gay friendly in the country, alongside New York, San Francisco, and others on both coasts. Yet few know the history of its LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community and culture. Some might know that Cedar Springs is the epicenter of the gay community, while others may recall our city appointing its first openly lesbian sheriff, Lupe Valdez, in 2005. But the history runs deeper — from pre-Stonewall-era gay bars that existed off the radar to today's megawatt gay- pride parade. During the early 1900s, Dallas' LGBTQ community existed in the shadows. Scarce details are known about the city's gay history prior to World War II, says David D. Doyle Jr., a history professor at Southern Methodist University, who teaches a class on the backstory of the local LGBTQ community and is writing a book on the subject. "Most records are vague, and few exist that explicitly describe so-called sex crimes, harassment, or homophobia," says Doyle. "Same-sex relationships were often framed as friendships so are sometimes hard for us to understand from our present time." The true seismic shift began during the World War II, he says. "When troops were sent to Europe to fight, American soldiers witnessed an air of sexual freedom in the larger cities than The 1972 parade that over a decade later would be known as the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade Don Baker, right, with Dick Peeples, an attorney with the Dallas Gay Political Caucus IMAGES COURTESY SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIVERSITY OF NORTH TEXAS LIBRARIES

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