How cold was it in Dallas during this month’s Super Bowl?
So cold that revelers at the Cedar Springs Super Street Party kept ducking into bars and clubs – even though DJs, live bands, beer booths, food vendors and to-die-for swimmer Michael Holtz (the emcee) beckoned on a long block of the Oak Lawn neighborhood that was closed to traffic.
It was so cold that all the hot bodies – belonging to Dallas residents and tourists alike – were bundled up. There was not a steely ab or bare quad in sight. The only six-packs were the liquid kind.
Still, organizers were thrilled. The Cedar Springs Merchant Association – a primarily LGBT organization, located in the heart of Dallas’ “gay mecca” – threw a Super Bowl street party, and everyone came.
Dallas’ gay sports scene was well represented. There were softball teams, rugby teams and bowling leagues. The Texas Gay Rodeo Association was there; so were groups with clever names like Different Strokes (golf) and DIVA (Dallas Independent Volleyball Association). They set up tables near the Bud Light main stage, passing out information and hoping to attract members.
Cedar Springs/Oak Lawn is 20 miles from Cowboy Stadium. Sometimes pro football and the LGBT community seem thousands of miles apart. But on Super Bowl eve, the entire Metroplex – gay and straight – wanted to strut its stuff to the world. And the weather be damned.
Though originally from New York, John Selig spent the last 25 years in Dallas. He’s proud of his adopted city’s large LGBT community – and its diversity. He mentions the 225-voice Turtle Creek Chorale, and the 4,000-member Cathedral of Hope.
Selig is not a big sports fan. But he and his partner spent the night before the Super Bowl on Cedar Springs Road, and had a great time.
“I watched one Super Bowl, and said that the guys with blue asses were cuter than the ones with red asses,” he laughs. “But I went Saturday night to support my community. I’m supportive of anything that helps the gay community, this neighborhood, or all of Dallas.”
The Super Street Party “was not necessarily a sports event,” Selig says. “It was a block party themed around the Super Bowl.” He expected more Steelers and Green Bay jerseys, but notes he might have missed them underneath so many layers of warm clothing.
Scott Whittall is president of the Cedar Springs Merchants Association. He’s also a big football fan (“I went to the University of Oklahoma!” he explains). He owns Buli Café, which sponsors a softball team that three years ago went to the Gay World Series. “Nearly every business on this road sponsors at least one sports team,” he says.
Cedar Springs Road even boasts a gay sports bar: Woody’s.
Whittall saw the Super Street Party as a way to draw sports fans together – and show off the neighborhood to out-of-towners in for the game. Many gay football fans had booked hotels nearby.
“Why should there be only straight parties out there?” Whittall wondered before the event. “We know how to throw a big old, loud crazy party. We’re going to close the street down and show everybody how the LGBT community parties.”
The event was in the works for a year – with plenty of support from straight folks. “The city wrapped their arms around us,” Whittall says. “The visitors and convention bureau said, ‘Yeah, go ahead and close the street down and have a party.’”
One party did not go as planned, however. A Thursday night shindig at the Cotton Bowl – with performances by the Village People and openly gay rapper Cazwell – was canceled due to low ticket sales.
But that was the only blip in gay Dallas’ embrace of the Super Bowl.
The Super Street Party was a great social event. But it also raised awareness of gay sports – and it got Whittall thinking.
“The next step is for the Dallas Voice” – the city’s gay newspaper – “to add a sports section,” he says. “There’s no reason they shouldn’t have one. So many people play on teams – there’s every sport you can think of. Thousands of people watch the Pegasus Slow-pitch Softball League. Sports is a very important part of the gay community. It really needs to be covered.”
The Super Street Party put a different idea in another Dallas resident’s head.
“The Super Bowl is nice,” he says. “But wouldn’t it have been great if that was the moment Troy Aikman came out?” The ex-Dallas Cowboys quarterback has long been rumored to be gay. Last month he separated from his wife, a former Cowboys publicist.
It didn’t happen, of course. And maybe it won’t until hell freezes over. Or Dallas does – again.
*Dan Woog is a journalist, educator, soccer coach, gay activist, and author of the “Jocks” series of books on gay male athletes. Visit his website at www.danwoog.com. He can be reached care of this publication or at [email protected].