Jason Huff is a popular bartender at Dallas’ Round-Up Saloon. His passion is pride, Dallas and singing. In fact, three years ago, he bested many contenders to become Voice of Pride at the Sept 20 Dallas Pride Parade, founded in 1972 and one of the oldest Pride celebrations in America. His motto: ‘Tomorrow is always fresh… with no mistakes in it.'” In that spirit, she spoke to GayCities contributor Barbara Wilcox about what to do in Dallas this time of year.
Jason, what was your first Pride like?
I came out in 2002, so that would’ve been my first Pride. I remember being overwhelmed at seeing so many LGBT people all at the same time. The whole gay scene was new to me, and it was all very exciting. I went with my best friend, Kim, who was coming out as a lesbian at the same time. We both had a great time meeting new people, having drinks, and celebrating that we had found the courage to embrace and accept who we really were. Being around all those people who were “just like us” was amazing, exciting and mind-blowing at the same time.
How did you become the Voice of Pride? Did it open doors for you romantically or career-wise?
Voice of Pride was a long journey for me. I felt like the competition’s Susan Lucci. I made it to the finals the very first year of VoP in 2004 and was second runner-up. I made it again in 2005 and won first runner-up. Against my own will and at the nagging of friends and family, I competed again in 2006 and won, with my best friend, Matt Brewer, as first runner-up. I was in a relationship at the time I won VoP with the same man I was with the year before, so I wasn’t looking for romance . . . LOL. It didn’t open any doors for me career-wise either, but it did fulfill me in many other ways. I met so many wonderful and talented people during Voice of Pride, and most importantly, made friends. Michael Doughman, the Tavern Guild, and all the volunteers that help put this event on every year deserve a standing ovation in my book.
I’ve received lots of publicity community-wide through this competition, and have been privileged to sing at many events. I sang for events at the Black Tie Dinner the years in a row. I’ve sung the national anthem in Lee Park for the AIDS Lifewalk twice and well as three years of rallies in the park after the Pride Parade. I’ve sung at private parties, charity fundraisers, and even a few shows at the Hideaway and at Phases before it became Pekers. I still sing quite a bit, but mostly at the Cathedral of Hope (America’s largest LGBT church, now affiliated with the United Churches of Christ). Our group, Voices of Hope, leads worship Wednesday evenings, so that’s where I’m doing most of my singing now. Occasionally, you’ll find me singing backup at different venues for the fabulous Anton Shaw, a dear friend of mine.
What’s the sexiest Pride float you’ve ever seen?
Not being biased or anything, but I did see the Round-Up’s float a couple years ago, which involved a bathtub. Two hot cowboys washing each other… doesn’t get much better than that!! Well, unless you’re a lesbian. My friend Kim didn’t think it was all that . . . LOL!
How do you celebrate Pride?
This year I will probably be bartending on the day of the parade. But personally, I celebrate Pride every day. It’s a part of who I am. I grew up in a very strict religious home and church. I had a lot of issues coming out — it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I don’t regret it, though, and each day I look back to where I was and how unhappy I was. I wouldn’t trade who I am now for anything! Every day is a celebration of Pride for me because I can be who I am and not ashamed of it! I have the support of wonderful friends, family and church. Who could ask for more?
What about Dallas don’t out-of-towners know that they should know?
We have some of the best bars, entertainment and food around. If the bar scene is your thing, you can come to the Cedar Springs area and there are about 10 bars that you can walk to. There are restaurants and shops, too. There’s entertainment such as the opera, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Dallas Summer Musicals, Fair Park and Six Flags over Texas in Arlington. For Sports Fans, we have the teams — Cowboys, Mavericks, and Stars. There’s always good concerts at the American Airlines Center. The restaurants/food in Dallas are huge in taste and variety. I go for sushi at Sushi Zushi and good ol’ Tex-Mex at Mia’s and Uncle Julio’s. Cuba Libre and Fireside Pies are two of my favorites also. Oh, and Buli has the best chicken salad in town!! Try their chicken salad club sandwich . . . I’M HOOKED!