Pride at Mesquite City Hall
City Hall was filled with community members and government officials attending the first Pride celebration in Mesquite, Texas
on Friday, June 21. A rainbow of pride and transgender flags filled the lobby of Mesquite City Hall, celebrating the city’s LGBT residents.
Police presence was heavy at the event due to a number of online threats. Police understood the importance of caution, but the event went smoothly, and officers enjoyed the gathering along with other revelers.
The Pride event was coordinated by Mesquite City Councilman Jeff Casper, who also enacted the city’s nondiscrimination policy. Mesquite Mayor Stan Pickett was also in attendance.
Mesquite’s Solidarity with the LGBT Community
The event began with a performance by Mesquite’s St. Stephen’s Church’s children’s choir. The church has protested the denomination’s refusal to accept LGBT members and is exploring leaving the denomination. The church covered the “United Methodist” wording on its sign in a show of solidarity.
Casper gave the welcoming remarks, noting the incremental progress the city had made in supporting its LGBT community. The Pride celebration is considered a “giant leap” for the city of Mesquite, which is still regarded as “redneck” by some outsiders.
That may be due to the city’s famous Mesquite Championship Rodeo, which opened in 1946. Yet the Mesquite Arena in which the famous rodeo is held hosted the Texas Gay Rodeo Association’s annual Texas Traditions rodeo event.
Acceptance in the City of Mesquite
Sarah Key, a third generation Mesquite resident, was the event organizer. She and family members graduated from different city high schools, and her mother was a Mesquite teacher.
“I’m the essence of a Mesquite kid,” Key said in her welcome speech as she outed herself to the crowd. “I’m a proud member of the LGBT family … and now the whole town knows.”
Key said “I feel safer,” when discussing the event’s impact.
Eastfield Community College’s Representation Efforts
Dean Katy Lanius of Eastfield College spoke for the school’s LGBT student group, Prism. The group’s advisor Chris Schlarb participated as well.
Prism members, along with Schlarb, marched in the group’s first Pride event at the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade earlier this month. Other Dallas County Community College student groups participated as well.
For some, it was the first time in their lives they felt like they belonged, according to Schlarb.
“That,” he added, “is the importance of Pride.”
Eastfield College recently opened its Center for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity to mark LGBT History Month. The center will offer emergency student aid for students facing family crises when coming out. It will also provide “identity development programming” and a “diversity leadership initiative” for Eastfield College students.
Inclusion and Equality in Mesquite
LGBTQ+ community liaison Philip Clark spoke about the work District Attorney John Creuzot has done to ensure equal treatment for community members.
County Commissioner Theresa Daniel read a proclamation recognizing Pride in Mesquite. It was signed by all five members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court. In the past, former Commissioner Mike Cantrell had declined to sign any proclamation recognizing LGBT events or organizations. Cantrell was replaced by Commissioner J.J. Koch.
Daniel referenced Marriage Equality Day in her speech, which marks the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision declaring same-sex marriages to be legal nationwide. She said that her job is to make sure the laws and policies concerning inclusion in Dallas County are enforced.
“Dallas County showed support and leadership,” Daniel said. “Many couples came to Dallas County to get their marriage licenses, because they knew they’d be welcomed here.”
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