PaperCity Magazine

June 2019- Dallas

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51 what existed," he says. "Many European communities existed at the time in large cities — London, Paris, and Berlin, for example — where gays were able to be themselves in certain establishments without fear of persecution, even if official recognition was still lacking." It's not far from the world portrayed in the 1972 Bob Fosse-directed film Cabaret, which was a rather accurate snapshot of Berlin's sophisticated gay subculture that existed from 1918 to 1933. Cut to a post-war America. Former soldiers, particularly those who were questioning their sexuality, traded small towns for big cities, where there was a better chance of meeting other like- minded people. Here, they found bars and lounges that catered to a largely closeted gay community. But up until the 1970s, frequenting such establishments came with the threat of regular police raids — and patrons of these bars and lounges were sometimes arrested and brought to jail, where most pled guilty for the crime of public lewdness to avoid attention. As with other criminal reports, newspapers, including The Dallas Morning News and the now-defunct Dallas Times Herald, would publish the names of those arrested as part of the publications' crime sections. The ramifications of being outed as gay often ranged from job loss to being ostracized or disowned by one's family. The speakeasy-style establishments of the 1950s and '60s were a far cry from the gayborhood we now have on Cedar Springs Road. Theater Row in downtown Dallas was the well-known cruising spot — a place for gay men to meet other gay men. To show that one was looking for a sexual encounter, men would pose in a specific posture: leaning against a building with one leg raised, a foot planted against the wall, both thumbs hooked into his trousers. Bars from the Mad Men era were scattered throughout downtown. One of Dallas' earliest gay bars — and for a while the oldest and longest-running gay bar in the country — was Le Boeuf Sur Le Toit (translation: Beef on the Roof), which was later renamed Villa Fontana. The now- shuttered Lasso Bar and The Zoo were in close proximity to Neiman Marcus. And Elvira's had a red-and-blue light inside that was used as a warning signal. If a patron came in whom the staff feared might be an undercover police officer, the light flashed red. When the light shone blue, it meant the bar was safe, and guests could confidently continue any clandestine activities. The city's gay-bar culture has come a long way since then. And, it would be hard to paint a picture of Dallas' gay history without a brief primer of the legendary Round-Up Saloon, which many describe as Brokeback Mountain live. Originally opened in 1980 by Tom Sweeney (with a name that only lasted one year, Magnolia TP; the TP stood for Thunder Pussy), the Round-Up has been owned by Gary Miller and Alan Pierce since 1998. Today, this bar has transcended sexual orientation and social stigma. "I was cold-called one day in 2008 by a young woman who wanted to come in and sing a few songs," Miller says. "We generally didn't let just anyone off the street come in to perform, but decided to take a chance on her." That soon-to-be-massive superstar was Lady Gaga. Whenever chic foreigners come to Dallas, they want to experience the Round-Up, too. Dozens of über- glamorous fashion-world notables who came to town in 2013 for the Chanel Métiers d'Art fashion show made their way to Cedar Springs to soak in the gay-cowboy ambiance. "Staff actually panicked when guest after guest made their way to the dance floor and began piling their furs on the bar," says Pierce. Dallasite Fred Holston, an agent with the Kim Dawson Agency, remembers another wild night: "I danced one evening at the Round-Up with Jean Paul Gaultier when he was here for his exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art." Even the song "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other," originally written by Ned Sublette, entered the mainstream by way of the Round-Up, when Willie Nelson covered it in 2006 and filmed the music video at the fabled saloon. The song itself, which throws the heterosexual, hyper- masculine construct of a cowboy to the wind, is another testament to how far the LGBTQ community has come. Of course, it doesn't end at the Round- Up: Today, Dallas has LGBTQ lounges to fit almost every niche audience — and a Saturday night on Cedar Springs is often a mix of people of all sexual orientations. The Dallas Eagle has long been a go- to for the leather community. Here, one might find men in chaps or a harness perusing the bar's retail area in search of a new leather biker cap or police-inspired sunglasses. And The Hidden Door, a longtime establishment, has famously welcomed a wide section of socioeconomic groups since opening 40 years ago. The world of drag has also found mass appeal, largely due to the wild popularity of reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race. There's something compelling about these over-the-top female impersonators that have long struck a chord in pop culture. In New York City during the late 1970s and early '80s, Harlem was famous for its fierce drag competitions, which were known as the "Balls." Today, drag shows Another scene from the 1972 parade through Dallas Patti Le Plae Safe, an early pioneer and fundraiser for LGBTQ causes

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