Review of the year 2021: News • Return to normal?


Kirk Myers, left, and Erykah Badu, right, at the Juneteenth Mega Party.

Gay district reopens in 2021, but COVID-continues

Just as we thought we were getting back to normal, the Omicron variant appeared and within three weeks became the dominant strain of the virus. Vaccines with a booster appear to protect against Omicron, but it is more contagious than other strains.

But it’s Christmas season. People are traveling in greater numbers. Events canceled for almost two years are resuming their schedule. We can’t wait to get back together. And the gay district is open for business.

Well open for business but maybe not as usual.

County Judge Clay Jenkins issued a mask warrant for stores, restaurants, bars and businesses earlier this year to fight COVID. The governor filed a complaint. The attorney general continued. But Judge Tanya Parker ruled the warrants were legal, and in Dallas’ most densely populated zip code – 75219 – people seem to be complying with them.

And while the county folks are factoring in the mask requirement, compliance seems to clear up as you move further away from Oak Lawn. Perhaps this is because Oak Lawn has experience with pandemics, and for us, wearing a simple mask and getting an effective vaccine are little more than minor inconveniences.

In a year when the world was coming out of lockdowns, so much happened that we decided to split our annual review into two issues. Last week’s paper covered the legislature, pandemic and freeze and more.

This week we take a look at a bar that opened after two years of fighting racism and homophobia. Two school districts in the area have proven that they are not very welcoming to LGBTQ students and a lot has happened with our local LGBTQ agencies and organizations.

Still, the gay district has started to return to normal. The Dallas LGBTQ community could return home.

On Cedar Springs Road, when the restaurant next to Alexander’s closed, bar owner Lee Daugherty took over the space and began work on expanding his bar.

Off Lemmon Avenue, Hidden Door President and CEO Harvey Meisner used his bar’s closing time for a complete makeover: new interior, new outdoor space, new parking lot.

Area 111 opened at the end of Oak Lawn Avenue in the Design District in the last block before the sea wall.

Dallas Eagle owner Jeffrey Payne has announced that his bar will move and reopen in a new location.

In Arlington, 1851 Club closed its doors. But then new owners resurrected the only LGBTQ club in the city center.

The pride events were reduced in the spring and summer, but they still took place. And some September pride events were back in full force.

Black Tie Dinner hosted a slightly reduced dinner – but won a record breaking amount that was split among its 17 beneficiaries.

And the Dallas Women’s Choir and Turtle Creek Choir came back live and the year ended.

Will the choirs continue to give live performances? Will events continue into the New Year? Will the bars remain open? Will restaurateurs have to resort to take-out again?

How vaccines fight the Omicron variant and where the pandemic takes us next will be big factors in what the new year has in store.

– David Taffet

About James Almanza

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