Lee Daugherty has noticed a change in recent years. The owner of Alexandre’s bar, an Oak Lawn staple, saw Facebook friends who were once “moderately liberal” now speaking openly about police oppression and the Stonewall riots.
“I think there’s a renewed energy,” he says. “More people are standing up for what is right, and with some of the recent rhetoric and legislation, I think Pride will resonate more than ever this year.”
He’s referring to legislation like Senate Bill 12, which aims to ban “sexually oriented performances” as well as the onslaught of bigotry that drag queen performances face year-round. There’s also the recent backlash against brands like Bud Light, Target and Chick-fil-A.
While he finds some humor in conservatives who are angry that the restaurant chain hired a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion: “Conservatives are after Chick-fil-A! I love this timeline? – Ultimately, he is “excited but hesitant” about hosting Pride celebrations at his famous establishment.
Excited about the great energy you are seeing from friends old and new; hesitant because Pride marchers reportedly already have plans to camp out about 100 feet from his bar.
Amid rising anti-LGBTQ+ actions and legislation, restaurateurs and business owners like Daugherty are busy making plans to celebrate Pride and keep their staff safe.
“Some of my people have been with me for 12 to 15 years, and I warn them: ‘Fascists and Christian nationalists are going to show up,’” he says. “We have internal discussions about what is happening and how to stay safe; we keep track of the invoices.”
Their goal is to strike a balance between personal comfort and a joyful celebration.
“If you drastically change your behavior, that is how terrorism wins. You cannot uproot your life with fear. That is contrary to Pride. That’s counterrevolutionary,” Daugherty says.
Reports from the Department of Homeland Security and the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED) show that threats and hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are on the rise both nationally and globally. Texas. So are the demonstrations.
In fact, the ACLED data shows only one state, California, with more anti-LGBTQ protests than Texas so far this year. The number of protests is likely to increase as Dallas formally celebrates Pride on the first weekend of June and businesses host their own festivities throughout the month.
Hamburger Mary’s opens with possible protests
The revered national chain Hamburger Mary’s, a favorite of drag fans, opens the doors of its new Oak Lawn location on Thursday, June 1 at 4 p.m. Plus, every Sunday, the Dallas location will host drag bingo, with proceeds benefiting a different charity each week. (This week’s charity is the Human Rights Campaign.)
Tanner Roberts is the director of food and beverage for Dallas Hamburger Mary’s. After the Houston location experienced hundreds of protesters and counter-protesters at its opening, he and his team are preparing for a similar possibility. Protect Texas Kids, a nonprofit organization dedicated to taking “a stand to protect children from the toxic and indoctrinating agenda of the left,” has posted plans for a protest via social media, despite the fact that the Place is restricted to people over 21 years of age.
Roberts’ approach to Pride Month is similar to Daugherty’s.
“We are very excited about this location and we are also taking a lot of precautions,” he says. “We just want everyone to be safe.”
Those precautions include contacting the Dallas Police Department and a private security company. While Roberts wants to keep the details of his security plan close to his vest, he says Hamburger Mary’s will have two armed security guards present on both Thursday and Friday.
After that, he says that they will “see what happens”, referring to ongoing security needs.
still baking with pride
Meanwhile, back in the suburbs, Haley Popp continues to handle the hate that has become a daily occurrence for her team at Hive Bakery. Award-winning Flower Mound bakery is often the target of criticism thanks to Popp’s outspoken stance on social media on civil and trans rights issues, including a photo of a cake with My Body, My Choice written in pink fondant on top. .
“Transgender people are on our minds here at Hive Bakery,” she says. “I have people ask all the time, ‘What’s going to get you posting on your social media?’ The reality is that we are defending people who do not have the platform.”
Popp will be selling Pride-themed cookies throughout June, with half of all proceeds going to organizations that support transgender rights. The baker and her team will also be prepared for any hate that comes their way during the month.
Popp says the messages usually come via social media, with some people saying things like, “I wish your whole store would burn down.” But occasionally people also make comments in person.
“People tell us some variation of, ‘If you wake up, you’ll go broke,’” Popp says. “Usually we just say, ‘Have a nice day, drop by for the cinnamon rolls whenever you feel like it!’
“They come back,” he continues, “because they can’t stay away from the product. We literally have people say the most horrible things imaginable and come back three weeks later to buy their child a cake.”
Popp is proud of her staff, including a manager she calls “fierce as fuck” and a team she calls “fearless.” Still, she stresses that she’s always there to handle the thorniest of interactions.
“I live and die in that damn bakery,” she says. “I am in that place 365 days a year. If anyone has anything to do with a client, they are always directed to come back for me. I don’t want them to get the worst of it. I’m the one taking it out, so I have to take care of that.”
On one occasion, he came face to face with a customer who began recording Popp, apparently in an attempt to embarrass the baker and goad her into a fight over the bakery’s values.
“I took out my phone too and I said, ‘I have 80,000 followers. How many do you have?'”
Like Daugherty, Popp sees the support. She knows that there are many people who share her love for the LGBTQ community, and this month, and every month, she wants them to spread that love as much as they can.
“I could live in Colorado or Oregon, but we’re living in the middle of everything,” she says. “There are so many LGBTQ people here in Dallas and not all of them can leave. They come to our bakery crying and thanking us for being a safe haven.”
“That’s why we do it,” he adds. “To let you know you’re not fucking alone.”