Despite rain during the first Pride event of the month, it is “queer skies ahead” for PRIDENTON. The organization has taken on this phrase as its motto to celebrate coming back after 2020’s halt of in-person festivities.
PRIDENTON is an organization based in Denton that was started to uplift and celebrate members of the LGBTQ+ community. The group’s dream is to establish an LGBTQ+ community center in Denton by raising funds and writing grants. For 2021’s Pride Month, PRIDENTON is hosting four events, kicking it off with Pride Path, a chalk event where Dentonites created a path of positive messages and magical drawings outside of Oak St. Drafthouse.
“[PRIDENTON] is a way to channel joy,” said Enedelia Sauceda, PRIDENTON executive board member and OUTreach Denton board member.
Due to COVID-19, the organization had to halt all in-person events in 2020, but the organization’s members did not let this dampen their spirits. Kamyon Conner, vice president of PRIDENTON and executive director of Texas Equal Access Fund, said the pandemic was not a source of frustration for PRIDENTON members, but rather a way for them to become creative in their outreach efforts.
“We didn’t know what was going on just like everyone else,” Conner said. “It was more about figuring out how we adapt.”
For Pride 2020, PRIDENTON held two virtual events before beginning Pride Box, which was an initiative where PRIDENTON teamed up with local business owners to deliver merchandise and supplies to people in Denton. Pride Box allowed PRIDENTON to meet Denton community members through playing music, dancing and talking to people in their yards, during a time people could not be together.
“[Pride Box] was an intentional effort to not only bring Pride to Denton, but also for us to feel like we’re still having a nice joyous celebration around Pride,” Conner said.
This year, with the return to in-person events, PRIDENTON held Pride Path, an event intended to bring people together in a relaxed and creative environment. PRIDENTON also wanted to provide a space for artists and creatives.
“We really wanted to shine a light on the talent in our community and bring different folks together,” Conner said.
This year, Pride Path was hosted in collaboration with the Texas Equal Access Fund, an organization that works to provide access to reproductive choice and education about reproductive justice.
After several rain delays, Pride Path was able to start and attendees began to make colorful drawings and write positive messages along the pathway outside of Oak St. Drafthouse near the Denton Square.
Attendees of the event included families, college students and other community members, and some said they came out to support family members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s always been something near and dear to my heart,” said mother and Denton resident Andrea Henderson. “It’s important to come and support.”
Pride Path is now one of PRIDENTON members’ most anticipated events.
“It is one of my favorite traditions that we have,” Sauceda said. “It is so low-key — there are so many events where you have to be out and proud. This is one where we’re just creating, we’re just being together.”
The relaxed environment fosters Pride Path’s well-liked feeling among the community, as it presents the opportunity to be in a calm, encouraging environment for those who do not come from accepting families.
Ryan McLendon, an incoming freshman from Magnolia, Texas said the welcoming atmosphere is why he wanted to come to Pride Path.
“A family-friendly Pride event is very appealing,” McLendon said.
PRIDENTON will be hosting other Pride events this month, with a disability pride panel tonight at 7 p.m. and Outreach for the Stars: 10th Anniversary Celebration on June 25.
“There’s some hope despite the trepidation and anxiety about this very tumultuous year we’ve had and the challenges we still have,” Sauceda said. “I think we want to feel a little more hopeful.”
Featured Image: Love is Love chalk art drawn by Ryan McLendon, he/him on June 12, 2021. Image by Laura Nunez