Easygoing Fort Worth, with a fast-growing population nearing 815,000 (up from about 500,000 just 15 years ago), lies just 30 miles west of its glitzy cousin Dallas, to which it bears little resemblance in terms of personality and ambience. Fort Worth happily bills its as a "cow town" and disdains both formality and pretension. Famous for its restored and infectiously festive Stockyards District, whose festive neon signs advertise cavernous steak restaurants and country-western music halls, the city also claims a bounty of striking museums and world-class performance spaces throughout downtown and the impressive attractions of the Cultural District.
Fort Worth's diverse strengths and welcoming, although somewhat more conservative, attitude are big reasons a small but pronounced contingent of lesbians and gay men prefer it over more buttoned-down and image-conscious cities in the Lone Star State. The city hosts Tarrant County Gay Pride Week over 10 days in late September and early October, with the main events set for October 1 and October 2, 2016.
Note that, QCinema - Fort Worth's Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, which has typically been held around the same time as Pride, has moved to a later date this year. It will take place November 10–12, 2016.
Tarrant County Gay Pride begins with a kickoff party on Wednesday, September 28 and includes several other events. You can view a detailed Tarrant County Pride calendar here.
Then on Saturday, October 1, the Pride Parade and Street Festival takes place in the heart of downtown. In recent years, the parade has started at noon from Weatherford Street, continued down Houston Street to the festival grounds at Main and 9th streets, in General Worth Square.
There's a final event over the weekend on Sunday, October, 2: the Tarrant County Pride Picnic is held from noon until 6 pm at Trinity Park Arts Pavilion, a pretty expanse of greenery on the Clear Fork Trinity River.
In November, the 2016 QCinema takes place over three days (Nov. 10–12) at the Fort Worth Community's Arts Center, Sander's Theater (1300 Gendy St.). About about a dozen films are screened each year, and there are several related parties.
More on Visiting Fort Worth
Fort Worth has a handful of chummy bars and a stretch of gay-friendly eateries in an artsy, up-and-coming neighborhood centered around Magnolia Avenue. A short drive north you'll find the city's attractive, pedestrian-friendly downtown. To the west lies the Cultural District, and to the north the Stockyards National Historic District. Parking garages and lots abound here, and a reliable trolley serves most museums and attractions, many of which are free.
Downtown's Sundance Square comprises 14 square blocks of sleek, glass-and-steel skyscrapers, restored Victorian buildings, and dapper redbrick streets. Here you’ll find tony new shops, from superstores to boutiques, plus lively restaurants. The stately Bass Performance Hall houses an esteemed symphony, ballet, and opera. The downtown Circle Theatre presents six contemporary works per year; often they touch on gay themes. At the small Sid Richardson Museum of Western Art, you can examine an impressive permanent collection of classic western paintings and sculptors executed by legendary American artists Charles Russell and Frederic Remington.
The Cultural District is home to some of the top art museums in the nation. Don’t miss the definitive Kimbell Art Museum, an exceptional facility with a cool, light-filled interior of crisp lines and high, arched ceilings - the original section of the museum was designed by iconic architect Louis Kahn, and a stunning newer wing across the courtyard created by Renzo Piano. Its works represent a virtual who’s who of the art world. The Amon Carter Museum of American Art, whose photography collection includes works by Ansel Adams and Laura Gilpin, is a shutterbug’s dream.
Also note works by Georgia O’Keeffe, and the Thomas Eakins painting Swimming - controversial in its day for its homoerotic depiction of young nude men frolicking in a lake. Gay architect Philip Johnson, who also is responsible for the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, designed this building. The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth has one of the nation’s top contemporary collections. You’ll find major works by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Hockey, and many others. The Modern is also home to a superb restaurant, and it's had exhibits in the past with strong LGBT relevance.
The neighborhood also claims the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, with a planetarium and an Omnimax theater; and the 109-acre Fort Worth Botanic Garden, which includes a 7.5-acre Japanese Garden. A rather unexpected treasure here is the National Cowgirl Museum & Hall of Fame, which honors the lives of more than 150 female pioneers of the Old West, including not only ranchers but writers, artists, and teachers, among them Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, the first female pioneer to traverse the Rockies.
Also check out the highly acclaimed Fort Worth Zoo, which is home to the fantastic Texas Wild! experience - a fascinating 8-acre re-creation of a 19th-century Texas town and landscape, inhabited by some 300 animals indigenous to the Lone Star State. If you're in the market for a new set of Fiestaware or an Edwardian armoire, drop by the Montgomery Street Antique Mall, an outstanding multi-dealer mart with many high-quality pieces - it's just off I-30, near the zoo.
A honky-tonk tribute to country-western music and the city’s "cow town" tradition, the Stockyards District celebrates Fort Worth’s history as a cattle center on the old Chisholm Trail. The livestock railyards and meat-processing plants diminished following World War II, but many of the historic redbrick buildings were renovated and an entertainment district developed in the late 1970s. Check out the distinctive Sterquell Wagon Collection, containing some 65 vehicles from the 18th and 19th centuries, which is part of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame.
For information on what to see and do in town, as well as advice on where to stay, check the website of the official tourism office, the Fort Worth Convention & Visitors Bureau, which also has a specific section on the site welcoming LGBT visitors .