June is filled with the colors of summertime and wildflowers. It's also coated in the colors of rainbow flags and decorations.
But activists say Pride Month is more than what you see in parades and on store fronts.
“Pride to me is the manifestation of self-love. It's walking life with your head held high, understanding your personal evolution to who you are today, and just really being at ease with that person, right? And celebrating loudly because that journey sometimes, for a lot of us, isn't really that easy," said Ricardo Martinez, CEO of Equality Texas, an organization that lobbies for the equality of LGBTQ Texans.
The Gay Rights Movement began in June 1969 with the uprising at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan. Today, the month of June is still used as a time for activism.
“We celebrate Pride often because when we gather, it's often within the context of defending our humanity at the Capitol, right? And we need the joy. We need to be able to show that there are moments where we are at ease, that we are around each other to find community," Martinez explained.
He says he sees a change in Texas.
“We know that 70% of Texans believe that discrimination against LGBTQ people is wrong, and when I'm in the grassroots talking to people, I see that, and that gives me hope," Martinez said. “I believe that love really can make an incredible difference in connecting with people. One-on-one can change hearts and minds. I'm always hopeful that, you know, we won't have to fight this hard ever again.”
“I think not only is it about being prideful, being, having pride in oneself and one's identity, but also recognizing the people who've come before us and made that fight possible that we can exist like this," said Brittany LaVergne, president of Gamma Alpha Upsilon.
LaVergne says she is continuing that activism by pushing for Gamma Alpha Upsilon to become a recognized student organization at Baylor University. It's a fight that's spanned a decade.
In May, the university's Board of Regents announced it is considering the possibility of creating a new, chartered student group that would cater to LGBTQ students.
"The idea is to really start with a clean slate and say, 'Let's really begin from the beginning and think about this in maybe a new way or a way that doesn't have any of the history from the university's perspective or the student group perspective,' so that we can all start on the same place, and then work together and then form a charter for a student group. So I think it'll be a collaborative process and one built on care and respect of one another," said Dr. Linda A. Livingstone, president of Baylor University, during an interview in May 2021.
“We're open to working with Baylor because we believe that we need to create a space that is part of Baylor for Baylor students, but there are a few things that need to come first with that. And that includes continuing the community and the safe space that we've already been providing for students," LaVergne stated.
LaVergne believes LGBTQ issues transcend the LGBTQ community.
“It's about finding families, about that chosen family. And I think that idea of building a family is something that transcends all sorts of identities."
Both LaVergne and Martinez say though the month of June may be over, their push for change will continue year-round.
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