Pride Parade Showcases Allies in Community, City Hall

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A rainbow crosswalk is drawn in chalk at the corner of Main and Evergreen Streets.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

A rainbow crosswalk was drawn in chalk at the corner of Main and Evergreen streets in July 2017 in support of the permanent rainbow crosswalk that will be installed in June 2018.

Rainbows and glitter covered thousands of people gathered at Crockett Park and around “The Main Strip” on North Main Avenue for the 14th annual PRIDE San Antonio Festival and Parade Saturday. This year’s theme was “Living Now – Forever Proud.”

The festival and parade marked the end of a month-long celebration of the LGBTQIA – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transexual, queer/questioning, intersexual, and asexual – community in San Antonio and across the nation.

Pride always happens around the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots,” said Michael Bobo, 60. “A lot of times we skip pride. But this year it seems particularly important given the current state of the political climate in America.”

References to this unique moment in time could be seen throughout the festival and the parade with slogans such as “Make America Gay Again” stitched on hats and printed on T-shirts. Yet City representatives eager for better community alliance are reaching out from City Hall.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg and his family served as the grand marshals of the pride parade this year. Along with City Council members Roberto Treviño (D1), Rebecca Viagran (D3) , Shirley Gonzales (D5), Ana Sandoval (D7), and John Courage (D9), the mayor showed himself as an ally for the LGBTQIA people of San Antonio riding on a flower-strewn float.

Mayor Ron Nirenberg dons his Grand Marshal 2017 sash for the PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade.

Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg dons his Grand Marshal 2017 sash for the PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade.

“We stand with you,” Nirenberg said in a video of him speaking with some of the paraders before nightfall. “No matter what is happening in D.C. and Austin, you can count on your council and you can count on your city to always stand with you. Show some pride tonight, have some fun, and everybody have a great time.”

Nirenberg’s sentiment resonates with those community members looking to their city government for representation.

“Talking about the political climate, if the election in November taught us anything it’s that we need to be active at the local level as well,” Bobo said. “I think it’s important at this particular time to be visible, to celebrate who we are, and as much as we’re celebrating, we’re also honoring the history of gay culture.”

Nirenberg, a longtime ally of the community, was not the first mayor to serve as grand marshal of the parade. Former Mayor and HUD Secretary Julián Castro was the first mayor to lead the parade during his tenure in 2009. He was grand marshal again in 2011. Former Mayor Ivy Taylor, on the other hand, did not serve as grand marshal during her years as mayor and was not seen as an ally of the LGBTQIA community.

“It’s really important to me to tell those in power to suck it if they want to repress any of the peoples that are here in any way, shape, or form,” said Jenny Aubrey, a mother of two daughters who are part of the local LGBTQIA community. 

For me [Pride] is definitely a sense of community,” said Jenny’s daughter, Kaya. “Its knowing that everyone here is loving and supportive of each other. If they’re allies, if they’re a part of the LGBT community themselves, and it’s just being able to be yourself.”

As the festival ended in Crockett Park, crowds moved to The Main Strip, known for its LGBTQIA-friendly shops, bars, and clubs. Another of the year’s novelties were newly-chalked crosswalks at the intersection of North Main Avenue and West Evergreen Street.

Four rainbow flags had been painted across four of the intersection’s walkways earlier in the day. The chalk faded as thousands of feet crossed during the day and parade, but District 1’s Treviño wants to make the crosswalks a permanent feature in the area. A vote may be brought to City Council as early as August.

A single blue line was also chalked across the intersection in commemoration of SAPD officers Miguel Moreno and Julio Cavazos. Both officers were shot on West Evergreen Street during a crime prevention patrol Thursday. Officer Moreno died from his injuries Friday, and Officer Cavazos remains in serious condition. The suspect, Andrew Bice, later shot himself in the head.

The San Antonio Police Department and Sheriff’s Department had a visible presence in the ceremony. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar marched alongside other uniformed officers.

But despite the recent neighborhood tragedy, the celebrations were bold and bright. Smiles and laughs emanated from the masses of colorful marchers and spectators situated beneath beside flashing lights, band music, and rippling flags.

“The crowd here is a lot bigger this year than it was last year,” Aubrey said. “That means that we’re working towards our goal of being accepted and not being afraid to come out.”

2 thoughts on “Pride Parade Showcases Allies in Community, City Hall

  1. Big hugs and mil gracias to every single person who came out yesterday to take part in this awesome display of love, unity and remembrance. The response to the call was and has been overwhelmingly remarkable and amazing. For anyone wondering, the extra water was donated to the team from Luther’s who handled the safety barricades and gates before and after CHALK It Up. The leftover chalk, and there was much of it, will be donated to Morgan’s Wonderland.
    Now to do whatever we chose to do on Sundays ….
    …. and, to celebrate Independence Day, the day we can all step back and reflect on all the good that comes from living and loving in the greatest country of all, the land of the free and the brave, the place that promises us that we all have inalienable rights to be who we want, say what we feel, love openly…..thank you to those who fight daily to ensure our freedoms and to those who have given their lives in these fights.
    Happy PRIDE 2017.
    Happy Independence Day this 4th of July.

  2. I was heartened to see Mayor Nirenberg at the Pride parade last weekend. I am still waiting to hear him make a statement on the recent terrible decision opposing marital benefits for same sex spouses.

    Allyship is more than going out for one night of the year at the Pride fetival. We need a leader who stands by us every day of the year. I believe the mayor when he says he is a supporter of the LGBT community, but actions speak louder than words.

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