Given the tenor of the times, the 36th annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade on Saturday could have been mistaken for a protest march, had it not been for the love-filled signs and colorful floats.
Recent directives from the Trump administration, including one issued Friday that could override many discrimination protections for LGBT people and others, continue to attack gay rights, advocates say.
But those participating in Saturday’s parade under sunny skies decided to take the high road and focus on the “Live Life Bold” theme.
“We are trying to get people to not live in fear,” said Tony Coronado, 57, president of the Tarrant County Gay Pride Association. “We want to be seen, we want to be visible. We want not to just blend in.”
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Even with recent setbacks — the bathroom bill movement, last year’s deadly shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and the Justice Department directive issued Friday that states religious organizations can hire workers based on religious beliefs and an employee’s willingness “ to adhere to a code of conduct — those participating in the parade focused on the positive.
Signs held by those in the parade were positive, saying “Love is all you need,” “Love is my superpower” and “I love my gay son.”
Coronado said progress has been made in the way people are treated.
In the old days, people took pictures of the cars and license plates parked at gay bars and published them. Those people would then get in trouble at their jobs, with their neighbors and with family members, Coronado said.
But while some things have improved, a deep divide is still expanding.
“People seem to have gotten bolder about expressing their hate,” Coronado said.
Veronica Penrod, another event organizer, said the number of people protesting the parade has decreased.
“There are quite a few churches that participate each year and that makes me feel good,” Penrod said. “It’s really incredible. It’s good for people to see all these groups that are supportive of the LGBT community.”
Bill Runyan, who was passing out Bibles along the parade route downtown, said he was not there to intimidate, but to lead people to God. Runyan was one of about a dozen people urging people to repent.
“I’m not judging them at all,” Runyan, a member of the Boyd Church of God, said. “I’m doing my best to be faithful to the word of Jesus Christ.”