Controversy has erupted in Dallas after the city's police department warned participants in this year's Dallas Pride parade that anyone with a visible erection could be charged with a misdemeanor, and if children are anywhere in the vicinity, a felony.
According to the Dallas Voice, Michael Doughman, whose Dallas Tavern Guild puts on the parade, said the DPD's warning first came during a meeting last month of representatives from all the parade entrants. Doughman noted that the guidelines are not new -- nudity and public lewdness have long been prohibited under state and local law -- and that the authorities have simply looked the other way for many years. But apparently, the boners and pasties just got out of control.
As an example of behavior that has crossed the line in past years, Doughman said a dancer on a parade float had an erection and his underwear was wet so spectators could see through it...
Doughman said parade entries featuring dancers have been told they should wear swimsuits instead of underwear this year. Also gone from parade entries this year will be women with bare breasts and only "pasties" or tape covering their nipples, according to Jeremy Liebbe, co-commander of security for the event.
Liebbe said that participants who are in violation of the indecency policy will receive a warning before the parade starts, but if they fail to comply, they will be removed from the parade and possibly face charges of indecent exposure, a class B misdemeanor. But, "If there's an [exposed] erection and a child is present that could see it, it is a felony."
Needless to say, the decision to begin enforcement of state and city anti-nudity and anti-lewdness ordinances has caused quite the stir in the Dallas LGBT community:
Daniel Cates, an independent activist formerly affiliated with GetEQUAL TX, brought the issue to many people's attention when he posted a scathing critique on Facebook of the "new rules," which he alleged were fueled by an "increasing number of attending heterosexuals and corporate sponsorship[s]."
"The 'queer' is effectively being erased from our Pride celebration in favor of the most polished, heteronormative representation of our community as possible," Cates wrote. "It should be noted that the rioters at the Stonewall Inn fought to break OUT of the damn closet! Our movement was built of sex positivity and our desire to BE WHO WE ARE! I urge you ALL to openly DEFY the Tavern Guild!"
The Dallas Voice says that debate about the nudity issue is "[raging]" in the community. I, for one, am curious as to the practicality of this new policy and the feasibility of enforcement.
Everyone knows that erections are almost always involuntary and can frequently be visible even through pants, so what's a dancer or other participant to do if he gets accidentally aroused while gyrating on a parade float or watching the procession of hot shirtless men? Grab the nearest object to cover the bulge? Reach down his pants and try to rearrange things to make it look less, ummm, conspicuous? Jump off the float entirely or duck out of sight so as not to be seen? Or keep on dancing and hope the police are looking elsewhere?
Let us know what you think. Will the newly-enforced policy create a more family-friendly atmosphere at Dallas Pride, or is it a slap in the face to the ideals of queer liberation and sex positivity? Is it even practical at all? And in 21st-century America, do we still need to be worried about children seeing breasts and erect penises, or do we really just need to get over our puritanical obsession with shaming and censoring everything that's overtly sexual?