Wearing cotton underwear at Dallas gay pride parade this weekend may result in fines, police have said.
Dallas police announced again this week they will enforce the state and pride rules banning ‘indecent exposure’.
According to the pride parade rules: ‘In accordance with the city of Dallas public nudity ordinance,
parade participants must not expose genitalia, buttocks, or female breasts.’
Also, ‘In accordance with state of Texas obscenity law, sexual paraphernalia, real or simulated sex acts and genital or phallic representations are prohibited from the parade.’
Michael Doughman, executive director of the Dallas Tavern Guild that organises the parade, told The Dallas Voice state laws and parade rules against public nudity are nothing new. He said the first warning was issued by police in a meeting in August where representatives from all the parade entries were present.
At the meeting, Doughman used an example of how potentially-inappropriate attire could lead to an unacceptable scenario: last year on a float, a dancer’s erection was completely visible under his wet underwear. As such, Doughman says this year dancers on floats have been told to wear bathing suits.
Doughman said: ‘It was a reminder at the meeting by the police department, that they’ve looked the other way for years and years and years, but public lewdness and nudity in public is not going to continue to be tolerated.
‘It’s just a matter of discretion,’ he added.
‘You certainly can still express yourself, but unfortunately if your way of expressing yourself is to be naked or to be aroused in public, then it’s inappropriate, and I think most of the community agrees with that.’
Dallas police notified pride-goers any violations of the dress code will be stopped prior to entry and could be charged with a class-B misdemeanor of indecent exposure.
Detective Jeremy Liebbe, a gay police officer who’s overseeing security for the parade, told The Dallas Voice: ‘If there’s an erection and a child is present that could see it, it is a felony, and we don’t want to see that happen.’
‘We’ve had some issues in the past that have been brought to our attention, and our goal is to take a preventative measure.
‘These are rules and laws that have already been in place. This is just the first year we have done an overt preventative reminder on this particular issue.
‘My goal at all of these events is to have zero enforcement action taken,’ Liebbe added, ‘but there are some people over the years who’ve tried to push that line to see just how far we could go.’
Enforcement of the pride dress code has drawn criticism from some LGBT activists in Dallas.
Daniel Cates, an activist formerly associated with GetEQUAL TX, told Gay Star News: ‘This isn’t about nudity. It is about queerness being erased from pride.’
He wrote on his Facebook page in response to the police reminder the parade is being made more ‘family friendly’ in order to ‘accommodate comfort for the increasing number of attending heterosexuals and corporate sponsorship participants’.
Cates also said: ‘The "queer" is effectively being erased from our pride celebration in favor of the most polished, heteronormative representation of our community.’
‘It should be noted that the rioters at the Stonewall Inn fought to break OUT of the damn closet! Our movement was built of sex positivity and our desire to BE WHO WE ARE!,’ Cates added on the social network.
He told Gay Star News: ‘Pride started as our community telling the world we were no longer going to be ashamed of our sexuality.. Sex positivity is a strong part of LGBT pride!’
Cates, other activists and ‘people who feel excluded from the whitewashed hetero-normative, internalized homophobia-fest that Dallas Pride has become’ plan to launch their own pride June 2014.
He said Dallas Tavern Guild moved the pride to September years ago to avoid competition with other state prides.
Now in it’s 30th year, the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade, renamed in 1991 after the main organiser of the parade, will take place 15 September 2013.
Detective Jeremy Liebbe was unavailable to comment, and the Dallas Tavern Guild offices are closed until after pride this weekend.