Wednesday Dallas will make history as the first city in the state to receive historical recognition for a longstanding gay and lesbian neighborhood.
It’s a project more than two years in the making and the start of a movement to commemorate the history of communities often overlooked.
“It’s all part of the under told stories which is part of the Texas Historical Commission’s plan. They’ve had a long history. In all 254 counties of Texas there are historic markers. But they wanted to begin to look at what are the under told stories, the more disenfranchised communities, lesser known. So they consciously went after different areas of the population,” said Robert Emery.
Emery is a co-founder for the Dallas Way, an organization focused on preserving the GLBT history of Dallas.
He says they were first approached by Dwayne Jones of Preservation Texas to assess their interest in making Oak Lawn the first neighborhood and Dallas the first Texas city to receive a historic recognition, they rushed to do so.
“When we talk about Dallas gay history, we like to remind people that the same pioneer spirit, the same bold and professional strategies that Dallas uses to succeed are the same things that are present in the gay community. We all live in the same universe, the same community, so we very much feel like it’s a Dallas thing to get out there first,” said Emery.
Two and a half years later and the framework is in place at the corner of Cedar Springs and Throckmorton in front of JR’s Bar and Grill to recognize a neighborhood that has evolved and changed in many ways but has still served as a gathering place for the LGBT community for several generations.
“I like to imagine that after the plaque’s there, it will be there long after I’m gone, long after you’re gone, long after everyone who’s watching this is gone. And even a casual passerby can look up and see that something significant happened in this location,” said Emery.
The plaque will be put into place Wednesday at 7 p.m.