On June 28, 1969, police entered the Stonewall Inn in New York City to remove all gay patrons from the bar. Although these types of raids were not uncommon in the ‘60s, police lost control of the situation this particular day and riots ensued around Greenwich Village. So marked the beginning of the gay rights movement in the U.S.
Fast-forward forty-two years and much progress has been made, albeit at a snails pace. Similar to racial and gender bias, each generation has “it” far better than the one before. Even in Texas, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community thrives in the urban areas of Dallas, Austin and Houston and has recently expanded into the suburbs. In fact, Collin County was ranked as the 5th most desirable place to live in Texas for same sex couples. More and more committed couples are settling down to raise a family and send their children to outstanding schools. For the most part, the integration of these “modern families” across North Texas has been welcomed with open arms by neighborhoods and communities.
It is in this spirit of equality, community and unity that McKinney will host the Inaugural Come As You Are gay pride event on Saturday, June 25 at Aparicio’s just off McKinney’s Historic Downtown Square (216 E. Virginia Street).
Morris Garcia and his partner Tim Phillips are the driving force behind this and other efforts to bring attention to LGBT rights and issues in North Texas.
“Our goal for this inaugural pride is to bring people together and get the community interested in doing this again on a larger scale next year and the year after and the year after,” said Phillips. “Morris and I felt this year, 2011, was the time to get something off the ground in Collin County.”
“Not only is McKinney the county seat, but it’s centrally located and easily accessible to the county’s growing gay community in Plano, Allen, Frisco, Anna and Melissa, among others.” said Phillips. “It’s the perfect backdrop to reach people in smaller towns who may not want to travel to Dallas Pride in the fall.”
Phillips noted that a number of corporations in Collin County have launched diversity programs inclusive of the LGBT community.
Organizers expect attendance to reach about 50. Phillips won’t get discouraged no matter how many come out (pun indented). “We have to start somewhere, but I hope the City of McKinney will see the economic engine behind this and get more involved in the years to come,” said Phillips.
There is huge potential to mirror other pride festivities that already are established in cities across the country from San Francisco to Atlanta.
This Saturday, Aparicio’s alley will feature a live band and cocktail tent from 5:30 – 8:00 PM and a DJ will take over from 9:00 PM – Midnight. Drink specials will be plentiful.
Requests will be made for a $5.00 donation to C.U.R.E. (Community, Unity, Respect, Education), a nonprofit committed to bringing awareness and education around HIV/AIDS through the display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the first AIDS diagnosis, C.U.R.E. 2011 will feature the largest display of the AIDS quilt in 15 years Sept. 30 – Oct. 2 in Dallas. “The entire quilt has grown so large over the years that it is impossible to display in one place,” remarked Phillips, who is a member of the C.U.R.E. board.
The U.S. has come a long way since the Stonewall riots forty-two years ago. Despite recent setbacks in marriage equality within the states, the momentum for gay rights is as strong as ever.
Did You Know? According to the Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance, the City of McKinney does not have an ordinance that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation?