They say everything is outsized in Texas. Nowhere does that ring more true than in Dallas. The Big D is the boasts the third-largest concentration of Fortune 500 companies. The skyscrapers that dot the downtown business district have given it one of the most impressive skylines of any American city.
Many people know Dallas from Dallas, and the real-life city surprisingly lives up to its fictional TV soap opera equivalent in many ways.
It ranks seventh in the number of ultra-rich families, many like TV's Ewings or the families in the famous film epic Giant, made their fortunes wildcatting the black gold bubbling up from Texas soil. They don't mind showing off their wealth, either, in Texas-sized extravagances like the wildly lavish annual Christmas gifts from luxury department store Neiman Marcus — a store that could only have started in Dallas.
As much as the outsized wallets and egos of the city's boosters may dominate the public's imagination, however, the city long ago outgrew uglier stereotypes. As early as the '60s, Dallas was moving away from ultra-conservative politics, racial profiling, and GCB righteous hypocrisy. But it was the trauma of the Kennedy assassination that accelerated Dallas into adopting progressive politics.
Today, even the plutocrats whose baronial homes line the wide boulevards of the North Side have become agents of positive change. On the traditionally liberal South Side, the rising tide of Democratic voters showed its might when it got an out-lesbian Latina elected — and then re-elect, by an overwhelming majority — county sheriff.
As for its gay community, it continues to attract young, ambitious and good-looking strivers from across the Plains. You might be surprised to learn that Dallas can boast the sixth-largest LGBT population in the nation. Oak Lawn remains the major gayborhood, the epicenter of nightlife for Northern Texas. Stroll its main drag, Cedar Springs Road, to check out the many gay-owned or très gay-friendly shops, restaurants, and bars, bars and more bars.
As for the popular local dance, don't knock two-stepping until you've tried it. Not only is it as integral a part of the landscape as 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots, the popular gay two-stepping bars attract a large crowd of straight couples. And everyone has a whooping good time.
Like many such successful urban gay enclaves, Oak Lawn has gone from gay ghetto to just-plain wealthy with a lot of gay folks. This has meant an outgrowth of the gayborhood into enclaves less-expensive but promising, particularly Bishop Arts District near Downtown. As the gay population colonizes new neighborhoods, the collective might of the LGBT community continues to grow.
This sprawling metropolis is rich in cultural institutions and natural wonders, ethnic enclaves and fantasy spas, fanciful boutiques and eye-popping luxury goods. Wherever you venture, however, the one thing you can count on is being greeted with a "Hello, Darlin'!" outsized friendliness and a Texas-sized smile that seems to stretch all the way from Waco to El Paso.