The first-ever LGBTQ historical marker in Dallas was erected last month at the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton in the Oak Lawn “gayborhood” of Dallas, Texas to the surprise and joy of many.
(DALLAS) — On October 10th, 2018, a historical plaque was placed on the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton in the Oak Lawn neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. Most people would see the plaque as just another historical marker showing the history behind another longstanding building, but it is far from just that. This brand-new historical plaque placed in front of JR’s Bar and Grill represents the major gathering place for the LGBTQ community in Dallas.
The Oak Lawn neighborhood, or the “Gayborhood” as it is lovingly referred to, has been a thriving LGBTQ community since the 1950’s and constantly entertaining Texas’s largest—and even one of America’s largest—Queer communities. Because Oak Lawn is an area that is known for its high activism, causing and acting on change, and the gathering of a major minority group the Texas Historical Commission turned its sights on preserving and teaching the rest of Texas about this significant neighborhood. The neighborhood is not as well known to people outside of the LGBTQ community, but the historical context of Oak Lawn was too rich to pass up by the Texas Historical Commission and, sub sequentially, Preservation Texas. These Commissions were looking to highlight more disenfranchised and lesser known communities because these are untold stories in Texas’s history and deserve to be emphasized for all of Texans to learn and know about.
The Commission and Preservation’s plan for the historical marker has been more than two years in the making, and with this plaque being erected it starts the movement towards commemorations of historically disenfranchised populations and communities all over Texas. And while Texas and Texans have been stubborn about their beliefs in the past, there is a substantial change within the population. Texas has always been a state of hard-working individuals who are notorious for their tenacity and spirit, and this is absolutely paralleled in the LGBTQ community of Texas.
The recognition of Oak Lawn as a historical and inspirational neighborhood in Dallas shows that the area has been standing strong and bravely in the face of heavy stigma for decades. The knowledge of this community is now there in a physical way, even if the community moves to a different area of Dallas, and young queer people will see the plaque and be proud to see their community represented so transparently, so permanently, in the historical texts of Texas.
The complete text of the Historical Marker reads:
DESPITE DALLAS’S REPUTATION AS ONE OF THE STATE’S MORE CONSERVATIVE CITIES, ITS LGBTQ (LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDER, QUEER) COMMUNITY WAS AMONG THE FIRST IN TEXAS TO ORGANIZE POLITICALLY AND SOCIALLY. IN 1947, THE CITY BECAME HOME TO ONE OF THE FIRST GAY BARS IN TEXAS, CLUB RENO, AND IN 1972 WAS THE SITE OF THE FIRST GAY PRIDE PARADE IN TEXAS. IN 1980, THE PRIDE PARADE MOVED FROM DOWNTOWN TO CEDAR SPRINGS ROAD.
THE AREA SURROUNDING THE INTERSECTION OF THROCKMORTON STREET AND CEDAR SPRINGS ROAD HAS BEEN CONSIDERED THE CENTER OF THE DALLAS LGBTQ COMMUNITY SINCE THE EARLY 1970s AND IS KNOWN AS “THE GAY CROSSROADS” OR “THE CROSSROADS.” IN THE LATE 1960s AND EARLY 1970s, THE CROSSROADS WAS A MAGNET FOR THE CITY’S COUNTERCULTURE MOVEMENTS. GAYS AND LESBIANS BEGAN MOVING TO THE AREA, DRAWN TO ITS BOHEMIAN IMAGE AND PICTURESQUE ARCHITECTURE. MORE GAY-OWNED BUSINESSES AND BARS FOLLOWED, AND BY THE END OF THE 1970s, THE MAJORITY OF BUSINESSES IN THE AREA CATERED TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY. WITH THE ONSLAUGHT OF THE AIDS CRISIS IN THE 1980s, THE CROSSROADS BECAME NOT ONLY AN ENTERTAINMENT DISTRICT, BUT ALSO A CENTER FOR POLITICAL ACTIVISM, SOCIAL SERVICES AND MEDICAL TESTING.
AS THE HISTORIC HEART OF THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY OF DALLAS, THE CROSSROADS REMAINS THE LOCATION OF THE OLDEST GAY BUSINESSES IN THE CITY AND AS THE PRIMARY GATHERING POINT FOR LGBTQ POLITICAL AND SOCIAL EVENTS, INCLUDING THE ALAN ROSS FREEDOM PARADE. THE CROSSROADS CONTINUES TO SERVE THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND THE CITY OF DALLAS AS A SYMBOL OF SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL ACTION AMONG THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY.