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Arts & Culture

Photo essay: a weekend of Pride in Dallas

Lee Walter
Azul Sordo
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KERA
Dallas-based actor Lee Walter poses in front of a mural between performances at the Arts District Pride Block Party in Dallas, Texas. Walter will play the role of Lola in the upcoming production of "Kinky Boots" by Uptown Players.

Dallas Southern Pride and Dallas Arts District hosted celebrations of Juneteenth and Pride month last week. Here's a look.

The weekend festivities kicked off June 17 with the Dallas Arts District Pride Party, featuring a special performance by Tommie Ross, who's held titles such as Miss Gay USofA, Miss Black America, Miss National, Miss World, and Miss Continental.

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Azul Sordo
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KERA
Tommie Ross embraces an attendee during her performance at the Arts District Pride Block Party in Dallas, Texas. Ross is a Houston native with many national drag pageant titles under her belt.
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Azul Sordo
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KERA
Lee Walter performs during the Arts District Pride Block Party in Dallas, Texas.
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Azul Sordo
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KERA
The 2022 Mr. Dallas Southern Pride performs inside the Dallas Museum of Art as part of the Arts District Pride Block Party.

Saturday's entertainment at the Samuell Grand Aquatic Center included performances by artist Saucy Santana and hip hop duo City Girls, as part of the Dallas Southern Pride Unity Festival. The audience celebrated the convergence of Pride and Juneteenth.

As Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning, the celebration peaked at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Dallas, where the second annual Emancipation Ball was held. Participants took to the runway, competing for championship titles in categories from Virgin Vogue to Femme Queen Realness.

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KERA
A contestant with the stage name "Tonka Truck" receives their trophy after winning the All-American Runway category.
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Azul Sordo
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KERA
Taylor Namoi poses with her snake as she prepares her garments for competition during the Emancipation Ball in Dallas, Texas.

Alpha Omega Haus father Ricky Myers-Hill— stage name “Sutan” — said it's important to create safe space for events like the ball.

“It's a way to kinda just express yourself and your creativity and to be around other people who are like yourself,” Myers-Hill said.

Myers-Hill’s husband, Kirk Myers, is the CEO of Dallas Southern Pride. He created the ball because there wasn't enough being done to celebrate their community, said Myers-Hill.

“And that’s what we’re doing here, we’re all celebrating life,” Myers-Hill said.

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Azul Sordo
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KERA
Alpha Omega Haus father Ricky Myers-Hill poses before his performance at the Emancipation Ball in Dallas, Texas. He was discovered at age 17, when someone at a club suggested he walk "face"— one of the many competitive categories in the house-ballroom community.

Philadelphia resident Mbissane Diagne flew 1,300 miles from his home to attend the celebrations.

“Anytime you go to the South, there’s always that vibe of hospitality. I felt welcome from the time I landed up until the present moment,” Diagne said. “It's just been a very moving experience.”

Celebrating Juneteenth in its birthplace of Texas feels especially powerful, says Diagne.

“It’s just great to be among community during this whole weekend and really just celebrate each other, be with each other,” Diagne said. “That’s what brought me here.”

Mbissane Diagne
Azul Sordo
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KERA
Mbissane Diagne poses on the rooftop of the Crowne Plaza in downtown Dallas, Texas.