El Paso came out and showed not only pride in who we are individually and as a community, but support to those who could be victimized because of who they love, how they dress, or who they are. Saturday was the El Paso Pride Parade and Pride Festival.
Nationally, June is National Pride Month. This year, El Paso Pride put on a show to beat all shows.
There were colors, cheers, happiness, and unity. There was talk of support, growth, and an ever-growing acceptance.
Father Justin Gibson, rector of St. Francis on the Hill Episcopal Church spoke with me about the importance of the day’s events, and why the Episcopal Church needs to be involved.
“The Episcopal Church,” said Fr. Gibson, “has made the stance that they are radically inclusive.”
In fact, St. Francis on the Hill had a split, years back, between progressive members of the church and those who were more conservative.
“It’s a way for us to say the Church loves all, welcomes all, and is united in this predicament,” Fr. Gibson said of the LGBTQ movement.
“Find a community that can love and accept you as you are. Hopefully, if you are religious, I think there are some good communities who can help you,” Fr. Gibson said as a final thought. “Even if you are not religious, there are wonderful communities out there who will accept you and support you.”
Jowe, Mr. El Paso Sun City Pride 2018 said that today’s event is important in that it allows self-expression.
“It also makes the whole community aware of our presence,” says Jowe, “but also of the importance of our presence, and who we are, and the importance of acceptance.”
“For some reason, people seem to think that pride is being flamboyant, be out there, be colorful,” he said. “It’s not just that; it’s us being able to express ourselves. But, it’s also the other end of it: being accepted. Pride wouldn’t be what it is if people were not accepting of who we are.”
Victor Garcia, the parade co-director had this to say, “It shows that we are here in the community, that we are still part of it. It also shows the backing the LBGT++ community has here in El Paso.”
That support that backing is far-reaching. There were individuals from many El Paso businesses showing their pride and support. There were members of the local community cheering everyone on as they proudly marched down Montana Street towards Mesa and Downtown.
Even members of the El Paso Police Department were there, showing their support above and beyond just crowd control.
Velo, one of the performers who traveled to El Paso to sing, and shows support was not shy in expressing why events such as Sun City Pride are important.
“It’s about unity,” he said. “It’s about family. It’s about inclusiveness, respect. It brings all different walks of life together.”
I also caught up with Journey, a past contestant on American Idol.
“I’m part of this because I’ve been part of the LGBT community for as long as I can remember,” said Journey. “Just to come out and support with music, which is the universal language, and to represent people who represent the same thing I do means the world to me. I want to show them that I have love to give, for them, always.”
Saturday was amazing.
It was a day filled with love, with acceptance of who you are, who you want to be. It was a day, a movement embraced by everyone in attendance- LGBT, straight, confused, or questioning, all were welcome and shown the same amount of love.
Photo gallery by Chantilly L. Bolgar, Photographer & Steven Cottingham, El Paso Herald-Post Photographer