Hundreds find comfort, community at Dallas’ other gay pride festival, for Latinos

For the hundreds of residents who turned out for Dallas’ Texas Latino Gay Pride event, Saturday brought a sense of comfort — and plenty of cumbia.

Music was ever-present at the third-annual festival, held from 2 to 10 p.m. at Reverchon Park in Oak Lawn.

The crowd sang and danced along with cumbia, merengue and salsa music, and paid tribute to Cuban singer Celia Cruz, who died in 2003, and Mexican singer Juan Gabriel, who died in August.

The festival, organized by Dallas restaurateur Juan Contreras Jr., attracted more than 20 community groups and vendors, including Vivendo Valiente, LULAC’s Dallas Rainbow Council, Planned Parenthood and Impulse Dallas.

Contreras, who used to help organize the Pride Fiesta festival in Dallas, said he started Texas Latino Gay Pride as a way to reach a larger audience.

“Pride Fiesta was small, and I always wanted to do a larger pride” event, Contreras said. “Then I met someone who was able to help me.”

The proceeds from the event went to Legacy Counseling Center, which provides counseling and other resources to people living with HIV/AIDS, Contreras said.

Adam Lopez, 42, said he’s attended the festival since its first year in 2013. He said it’s more family-oriented than other pride events in Dallas.

“This is about being happy, comfortable, and it’s more interactive,” Lopez said. “You always see kids here and people with their dogs.”

Roger McGee has also attended all three years and said he keeps coming back because people are welcoming.

“This is more of a close, tight family,” McGee said. “It’s very welcoming, just like the Hispanic community. People will just talk to you.”

May Mendoza, 24, also said she liked the festival’s sense of community.

“You get to talk to more people because it’s smaller,” Mendoza said. “I’ve talked to people I know and people I’ve met today.”

Johnny Martinez decided to showcase his leather-working business at the festival to show solidarity with the Hispanic and Latino communities.

“We are a Latino business,” he said of Johnny Martinez Leather. “As Latinos, we want to make others feel safe in the leather communities.”

Aileen Servano first saw the event on Facebook and decided to invite her sister, Yuri Barrera. This was their first time attending, and both said they planned to return in 2017.

“It’s more cultural here,” Barrera said. “We are Latinas, and we just feel more comfortable.”

by Elvia Limón, Communities Reporter
Source – Dallas News