The Lavender Heart of Texas

How once conservative Dallas has quietly become one of the nation's most gay-friendly cities

Jensen Walker for TIME

Scott Szelipajlo and Corey Fleming take part in western dance lessons at the Round-Up Saloon in Dallas, Texas.

When I was a kid in Arkansas in the 1980s, we viewed Dallas with something approaching reverence. Mine was a fairly conservative family, aspirational. We passionately golfed and occasionally visited Neiman Marcus, the Dallas clothier that taught the South how to wear Versace and an air of profligacy. I wanted to drive a Mercedes and order bourbon and branch the way J.R. Ewing did. I wanted to go out with a Cowboys cheerleader with marcelled blond hair. The summer I was 13, Ronald Reagan was renominated in Dallas, and I signed up to be a young volunteer.

I've changed quite a...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!