Scroll To Top

How Texas, And Its Resilient Queer Community, Surprised Me

How Texas, And Its Resilient Queer Community, Surprised Me

Texas state flag and rainbow fist

The Unleashed LGBTQ+ event in Dallas offered an opportunity to reflect on the importance of representation and allyship.

In the vast tapestry of American cities that I've flirted with, the South had always been a reluctant acquaintance. The seduction of Miami's beaches, Atlanta's rhythm, or New Orleans' allure never quite got under my skin. Maybe it's because this fabulous frame isn’t built for Southern heat. And trust me, it’s not a humble brag when I say I glow (read: sweat) during an Upstate New York autumn stroll with my dog. Then again, I sometimes wonder if the glowing is from the need to be on high alert.

You see, even seven years into my transition, routine activities occasionally give me the jitters. From daily strolls with my fur baby to the occasional dinner out, I get a bit uncomfortable about the lingering stares or whispered words.

But this weekend, I was Texas-bound for Unleashed LGBTQ+ — the queer business conference sprinkled with a touch of charm and dazzle. Dallas was about to light up with big-name celebrities, including Indya Moore, Antoni Porowski, and Billy Eichner. The conference also fell on the same week that Beyoncé made a stop on her tour and club icon Kevin Aviance was bringing his tour to an end.

While packing for my trip I began thinking about the evolution of LGBTQ+ representation in media, especially the representation of trans folks. My memories were mostly limited to the sporadic episodes on talk shows or the rather disconcerting narrative of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. However, 2013 heralded a seismic shift when Laverne Cox's portrayal in Orange Is the New Black rewrote the script for trans representation. It was a canvas painted with tales of triumphs, tribulations, and transformation, leading to a more inclusive and expressive narrative. Then, on shows like Transparent and Pose, the joys and pains of being transgender were laid bare for audiences to explore, understand, and — hopefully — empathize with those in their own communities.

These representations led to serious discussions about ensuring trans people had equitable access to employment, housing, healthcare, and more. Over the years, transgender and non-binary individuals became more public. We celebrated as we broke barriers, from climbing the corporate ladder to amplifying our stories in journalism and protecting our rights in the corridors of Capitol Hill.

With the plane descending into Dallas, I reflected on the interactions at the Black Queer Creative Summit in Los Angeles the week before. Interactions with trans icons like Dominique Morgan, Hope Giselle, Mariah Moore, and Angelica Ross inspired my journey.

Yet, the darker shadows of recent Texan legislation loomed large. The palpable fear of encountering a bigot, or worse, being profiled by the police, was all too real. However, Dallas was about to surprise me. The city unfurled its eclectic tapestry — from the artsy Lorenzo Hotel to the comforting camaraderie of Unleashed. Added to the mix was the grand tour of the gayborhood with my newfound friends, Zayn and Lars. Despite the media's ominous portrayal, the Oak Lawn "gayborhood" exuded vibrancy, unity and resilience.

From left: Jay Roecker, Michel Pelletier, Leo Cusimano and Marie-Adélina de la Ferrière speak at a panel about the evolving landscape of LGBTQ+ media.Photo via Unleashed LGBTQ+

Yet, within the LGBTQ+ enclave, the struggle for acceptance remains real, especially for trans people of color. It was on the second day of Unleashed that I heard from Naomi Green — a Texas professor, trans rights advocate, and beacon of joy and authenticity — who spoke on her trans journey with the help of allies. At the same time, she called for more allyship — especially in our community. While my journey brims with the unwavering support of allies, it’s equally marred by betrayals. But as they say, when one door closes, another opens. It’s the unpredictable ebb and flow of life.

On my last day, while waiting for a table at the hotel's chic cafe, I came across an evocative portrait of the indomitable Tina Turner. It was in this very city that Tina reclaimed her life from an abusive past. In fact, Hotel Lorenzo was once the Ramada Inn — the safe space that Tina found after running across the freeway with a few cents and a gas card. Or, as Zayn would rightfully put it, a ‘brave’ space — because it takes bravery to stand up for oneself in a world hostile to our identity and community. It’s poetic how Dallas, a city I approached with trepidation, turned out to be a land of revelations and resilience.

As my time in Dallas drew to a close, I realized that the city, like Tina, embodies strength, grace, and defiance in the face of adversity. As my plane took off, I left behind not just a city, but a myriad of emotions, memories, a burgeoning love for Texan BBQ, and new allies in my corner.

In the end, whether you're jet-setting to a far-off land or navigating the alleys of self-discovery, it's crucial to remember: Sometimes, it's the journey that teaches us about the destination. And perhaps, just like in love, taking a leap of faith might be all it takes.

Marie-Adélina de la Ferrière is the public relations specialist at equalpride, publisher of and a co-sponsor of the Unleashed LGBTQ+ event.

Views expressed in Pride's opinion articles are those of the writers and do not necessarily represent the views of Pride or our parent company, equalpride.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut Magazine - Fellow Travelers

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Marie-Adélina De La Ferrière