Thriving in the LGBT Community

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Thriving in the LGBT CommunityMy Dallas Story

Name: J. Waylon Tate

City: Dallas

Neighborhood: Oak Lawn

Company/Title: J. Waylon & Associates, Principal

When did you move here? From Where?
2006, from Los Angeles, California

What made you decide to Say Yes to Dallas?
In essence, my public relations and advertising agency could operate from any major metropolis in the country. I chose to launch J. Waylon & Associates here – and have remained here – because Dallas is a great market for young LGBT business owners. We have thriving LGBT community members and allies that consistently support gay-owned businesses. Diverse demographics and inclusive policies enable us to do business without interference that we may experience in other locations.

How did you choose where to live in the Dallas Region?
Oak Lawn provided for me a safe, comfortable neighborhood near the amenities and entertainment venues that I frequent. With close proximity to major streets and Love Field, coupled with a five-minute drive to my downtown offices, this seemed the best choice for my needs.

What is the one thing that you could have done to make your move easier?
Considering the size of Dallas, it is a good idea to travel here and explore the numerous neighborhoods before making the move. I was lucky to find the exact area I was looking for, but it is a good idea to spend some time finding the best fit.

Tell us about your city/neighborhood. What do you like best? What makes it different?
Oak Lawn is a sea of complexity and is in the middle of much transition. Maple Avenue is providing some amazing new hot spots, and the growth on Lemmon Avenue is adding some refreshing options for entertainment and dining. I’ve become a huge fan of Paul Martin’s on Oak Lawn; incredible ambiance and a fantastic happy hour.

How has your opinion of the Dallas Region changed since moving here?
I am a native Texan with an unshakable pride for our state. I’ve lived in other cities in Texas, and while there may be some truth to the rivalry between Big D and Houston, I think we are all much more similar than we would like to believe.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to move here?
Dallas is a dynamic launchpad for young entrepreneurs. Commerce is written into our city’s DNA, and alongside numerous Fortune 500 companies, we have an abundance of thriving startups.

What is your passion, and how does Dallas help fulfill it?
My passions are many and one thing that I love about Dallas is the ability to fully realize my passions on the daily. I love the outdoors, and I have the Katy Trail for that. I love collaborating with professionals, and the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce provides me that opportunity. I’m a huge fan of the arts, and Dallas certainly has a thriving scene for those who appreciate the arts. When I have visitors from out of town, there are staples that they must see: Nasher Sculpture Center, Crow Collection of Asian Art, Dallas Museum of Art, and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science. But on the regular, I am a huge fan of a hidden art gem in the city known as ArtLoveMagic, which showcases up-and-coming local artists, musicians and poets. The gallery on South Lamar is ever-changing and each month it hosts a special series. For live theater, I regularly follow Uptown Players for its talent casts and outrageous selection of plays. I’m also a huge fan of music, so I wouldn’t be complete without a season subscription to Turtle Creek Chorale, an internationally known men’s chorus with deep ties to the LGBT community.

What would you miss most about the area if you had to leave?
The people. I travel often and encounter a lot of personalities, and when friends visit here I continually hear that we are so friendly.

What is it like to own a business in Dallas?
My offices are located downtown, which makes my commute to work negligible. We do a lot of work in politics and policy, so being close to clients and government offices makes for easy lunch and coffee meetings. When I do work in other cities, I am often reminded of how convenient it is to do business in Dallas.

Where many cities may work against someone with a dream, Dallas embraces and supports them. Opportunities here are boundless, and the city provides a spring board for growth and entrepreneurial experimentation.

I have a lot of friends that are considering moving here, and one of the first things they ask me is if it is a good location for young, successful gay men, or as it is commonly referred to as the “power gays.” At first glance, a reference to the “power gays” may come off as arrogant or elitist, but neither of those things is accurate. A power gay refers to someone who normally has acquired a laudable education or excelled in his respective business, and uses that success to promote or support goodwill to the communities at large. By way of financial or political clout, a power gay promotes the advancement of LGBT initiatives through advocacy efforts, influence, or community leadership. Dallas has the largest LGBT population in Texas, so it is no surprise that we have a significant number of power players that are dedicated to achieving the goals of our communities.

Where do you go and what do you do on the weekends or days off?
Basically anywhere they serve Equality Vodka. They are a Dallas-based company that gives a significant portion of their proceeds to LGBT causes. Numerous restaurants and bars around Oak Lawn carry the brand, as well. If I know anything about Dallasites, it is that we love to socialize, and we love philanthropy.

What is your favorite restaurant?
I’m a foodie, so I enjoy searching for new patios around town. I’m a huge fan of Taco Dinner – in particular the one in West Village. This is a perfect place to people watch and make new friends. If I am entertaining with friends, we tend to escape to the patios at The Foundry or Rodeo Goat as they both offer larger patios with great energy. Another Dallas hot spot is Katy Trail Ice House, which is probably the best for people watching, and meeting new people; I enjoy the relaxed, eclectic crowd there the most. If it’s more business related, I’ll take clients to Henry’s Majestic or Savor in Klyde Warren Park. I find myself being pulled to Klyde Warren Park often as it makes for a spectacular outdoor evening dining experience.

What is your favorite festival/event?
Black Tie Dinner is an annual fundraising celebration in Dallas that benefits 20 North Texas LGBT beneficiaries. It is the largest LGBT fundraising dinner in the country – having raised more than $21 million to-date – and the proceeds are distributed to critical nonprofits that work year-round within our communities. It is quite simply THE event on the gay calendar. This is the one night of the year when prominent leaders in LGBT communities gather, dressed to the nines, to honor the work and commitment of dedicated volunteers and nonprofits.

Where do you like to shop? Why?
Highland Park Village seems to chip away at my pocketbook often, but I’m also a fan of mom-and-pop shops, and Bishop Arts has got that covered. Not a week goes by that I don’t hop over to El Padrino on Jefferson for the most amazing tacos I’ve ever eaten. This was one of my favorite discoveries when I moved to Dallas, as it is hard to find authentic Tex-Mex. Epiphany for Men has some great causal options for weekend wear, and I normally take some time to check out Indigo 1745 while I am down there. They always have unique pieces that you can’t find in other places.

NorthPark Center has done an incredible job with promoting new artists and their creations. Outside of a great day shopping, I equally enjoy the installations that have become a part of its venue.

Where do you feel you are nearest to your “tribe” in Dallas?
As a young gay entrepreneur, I feel most comfortable when I am around other creatives. Critical Launch and PrintBurner are two places that I find myself amongst my tribe; both run by creative geniuses, I get inspired each time I visit.

How do you interact with your community?
I work a lot but value the time I get to contribute to nonprofits or any opportunity to give back to a variety of issues. I have a soft spot for education and teach a government class at Richland College to empower young men and women to stand up and take their place in the world. Fortunately, my work enables me to interact with a number of different causes that are important to me.

Photo Credit: Imani Lytle

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