Black Pride has been underground in America for generations. In Dallas it started as a way for Black LGBTQ individuals to gather and celebrate the football game between two Historically Black Universities held annually at the Cotton Bowl ... Grambling State vs. Prairie View A&M. Although it is debated that a few gay men were sitting around and just said, “We need to have our own Pride event,” nonetheless I and others remember using that football game as a way to unite the Black Gay community under one roof. Feeling left out of the Dallas Pride event held yearly, we felt a need to honor the Black LGBTQ residents of Dallas. We had one common factor with the other event, and that was a plethora of talent unknown to most within the DFW community. So, we used entertainment as the common denominator.
We started booking the biggest names in entertainment from Atlanta to DC, to Houston and Dallas as a way to get our message out. We are Gay, we are Black, and we are Proud.
There was no money or organizations backing us, just the will to show oride within our community. It is our music and our fashion and our verbiage that separated us from the original event in Dallas. We felt left out, not connected. It wasn’t even called "Pride" until years later.
But from that strength of unity, family and a commonality we began to organize. We formed a committee, picked a Board of Directors, and the planning was then under way.
We had the backing of two Dallas club owners, Joe Elliott and Howard Okon, who gave us a platform where we could hold our event. In the 1990’s there was only one Black Club at first, and both male and female shared the venue, which gave the impression that there would be SRO for the weekend event. Putting that many people under one roof was challenging. We sent flyers to Grambling University and Prairie View to allow the gay students an opportunity to join in a festive Dallas event, they immediately joined in the cause.
But without direction and only seeing this as a party, there was a lot of turmoil. There were excessive internal and external debating. Lacking direction, the event almost fizzled. But through perseverance, determination and hard work the event took on a new direction under the guidance of Mr. Roy Murray.
The whole point was to have a way to celebrate “US,” and to be an inclusive but separate part of the DALLAS LGBTQ Pride festivities. We accomplished that and so much more. DALLAS is now as competitive as Atlanta and Houston and DC, as the Black Pride Circuit has found DALLAS a formidable ally.
It is my hope and wish that we can share our vision with the entire LGBTQ Community. I encourage everyone to attend one of the many events we will hold this year and get to know your AALGBTQ brothers and sisters. In the end, it’s about acceptance and understanding and community. We are all Gay, it’s just that our skin has Melanin, our Music is Hip Hop, and our Fashion is termed Swag. But we only want acceptance, and to be treated like everyone else, to be a part of the LGBTQ Community in DFW.
This year’s event will be the biggest ever. I really want everyone to know that in a world where tolerance is still an issue, DALLAS is making strides to change the perception that we are different. WE ARE NOT. Please join us in Celebrating DALLAS Black Pride in September. Our roots in the Community are deep, our pride is strong and our hearts loving. The history of the Dallas Black LGBTQ Community is now solidified and continues to be a Voice for Gay people everywhere.
Betty Neal // Gay Activist // Lesbian // African American
Betty Katherine Neal was born in northwest Arkansas, in the quaint town of Fayetteville. She is a product of a biracial mother and AA dad who was a military man, and raised by grandparents from both sides. She says “I have never been in the closet; I’m designed this way”. She is 60 years old and only a decade ago figured out her purpose. She is an activist for the ENTIRE LGBTQ Community. She spent over 35 years working in night clubs. Betty is one of the original Alan Ross Pride Parade board members, one of the original Dallas Southern Pride board members (in its inception) and an avid supporter of its new leadership. She is an original member of Stud Takeover Vegas. She’s a lover of all things “Drag” (such admiration), a pageant owner, and lifetime friend to the entire LGBTQ Community. She is a tireless advocate for the homeless and is Co-CEO of THE GOOD JUDY GIRLS 'Blanket the Homeless.' Betty says: "My most cherished compliment is 'She’s my friend.'“