Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 29, No. 16, Ed. 1 Friday, August 31, 2012 Page: 6 of 48
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3 years after the Rainbow Lounge
raid, out lesbian Leigh Ann Wiggins
is the new LGBT face of the Texas
Alcoholic Beverage Commission
JOHN WRIGHT ] Senior Editor
ARLINGTON — The raid of the Rainbow
Lounge put Leigh Ann Wiggins in a bit of an awk-
On one hand, Wiggins is an out and proud les-
bian — and has been since prior to becoming an
agent for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commis-
sion in 2005.
On the other, Wiggins worked closely with two
TABC agents who — along with officers from the
Fort Worth Police Department — conducted the
raid of the Cowtown gay bar on the 40th anniver-
sary of the Stonewall Rebellion.
And Wiggins, then stationed with the agents in
TABC's Fort Worth office, said she'd never had is-
sues with them — or anyone else at the agency for
that matter — related to her sexual orientation.
"I don't know that I had a reaction [to the raid]
right off the bat, because I got phone calls of course
from friends saying, '1 ley, this is what we heard,'
and then I hear stuff at work," Wiggins recalls,
adding that she attempted to remain neutral. "Re-
ally I just tried to distance myself from the nega-
tivity, because it was a bad event, but there are a
lot of positive things that have come since from
that one event. ... It was a real negative time for
us [TABC], so we really tried to work hard to work
through it and move to the next phase and try to
find some things to work on to keep it from hap-
Three years later, Wiggins has become an inte-
gral part of that process for TABC, which fired the
two agents and their supervisor for their roles in
the raid — and later reached monetary settlements
with two injured Rainbow Lounge patrons.
This summer, Wiggins was named TABC's liai-
son to the LGBT community for District 2 —
which covers all of North Texas and most of East
Texas. TABC is the only state government agency
in Texas with an LGBT liaison, and District 2 is the
only area of the state that currently has one.
However, the agency's new administrator,
Sherry Cook, told Dallas Voice this week that she
plans to add LGBT liaisons in the other four TABC
districts as well.
"I was here during the Rainbow Lounge inci-
dent and the time that followed, working closely
i v !
GETTING COMMISSIONED | TABC Agent Leigh Ann Wiggins was named LGBT liaison for the region covering North Texas and most of East Texas. New TABC
Administrator Sherry Cook said this week she hopes to find LGBT liaisons soon for the other regions of the state. (John Wright/Dallas Voice)
with [then-Administrator] Alan Steen as our
agency responded to those events, making policy
changes and instituting new training," Adminis-
trator Cook said in an email responding to ques-
tions from the newspaper. "I am committed to
continuing along that path. I support an inclusive
workplace and believe in the importance of mak-
ing all employees feel safe and valued, regardless
of sexual or gender orientation....
"I applaud Major [Robert] Cloud for appointing
an LGBT liaison and appreciate Agent Wiggins
continuing TABC's outreach to the LGBT commu-
nity in North Texas," Cook add ed, "I will be seek-
ing out volunteers in the hopes that we can have
LGBT liaisons in other parts of the state as we do
in headquarters and the Arlington District."
Carolyn Beck, TABC's d irector of communica-
tions and governmental relations, said there have
been no objections to the LGBT liaison position
from those who oversee the agency, including Re-
publican Gov. Rick Perry's office. Beck, who's
straight, was named the agency's statewide LGBT
liaison in the wake of the raid, but she said she
can't have the same impact as someone like Wig-
gins who's in the field.
Maj. Cloud, who's over District 2, received a
written reprimand for failing to follow a TABC
policy in the Rainbow Lounge raid. He said he cre-
ated the LGBT liaison position for North Texas a
short time later. But the original District 2 liaison
was not a member of the LGBT community, and
after she moved to another state the position sat
vacant. That's when Cloud asked Wiggins if she
would accept the assignment.
"The fact that she's a member of the communi ty
certainly helps," Cloud said. "She will certainly be
accepted much more readily. I tl rink the dialogue's
going to be more genuine quite frankly."
Since the raid, Cloud has become an outspoken
supporter of the LGBT community.
Along with Wiggins, he recently took part in a
panel discussion on the third anniversary of the
raid following a screening of the documentary
film, Raid of the Rainbow Lounge. And just last week,
Cloud attended a candlelight vigil at the Rainbow
Lounge for Fairness Fort Worth President Thomas
"I don't want anybody to think that the Rain-
bow Lounge was typical TABC, because it was-
n't," Cloud said this week. "I've been working in
bars in the Metroplex for 25 years, and I had a
great relationship with the gay bars. In fact, the
gay establishments were some of the easiest ones
"Rainbow Lounge came along and it was like,
'Oh my God,"' Cloud added. "We got hit right in
the face with the realization that that segment of
the community, a growing segment of the commu-
nity, had been ignored. Not on my watch ever
As a sign of progress at the agency, Cloud
pointed to a promotions ceremony he attended in
Austin earlier this year. The partner of a gay TABC
sergeant who was being promoted to lieutenant
was called up for photographs, participating in the
ceremony as though he were a heterosexual
"I sat there in the audience thinking wow, 10
years ago this would never have happened —
ever," Cloud said. "We've come a long way, and
we're going to continue to grow and we're going
to continue to be inclusive and I'm very proud of
Jon Nelson, who took over for Anable last week
as president of Fairness Fort Worth, acknowl-
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Wright, John. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 29, No. 16, Ed. 1 Friday, August 31, 2012, newspaper, August 31, 2012; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth308882/m1/6/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.