Courtney and Sabrina Einsla said they were excited and amazed at having the chance to finally be able to celebrate their truth in the city they live at the first Pride Festival in Pflugerville.
Having been married for six years and living in a town they thought was closed-minded, they said they were surprised at the large turnout and to see how open the Pflugerville community was. “We couldn’t be happier,” Sabrina Einsla said.
“It means something to me to see the little kids walking around,” she said. “I was afraid to be myself and just seeing parents being open-minded and exposing their children just shows we’re humans.”
Despite the triple-digit temperatures, thousands of attendees were in full celebration mode.Couples, families and friends walked the streets of downtown, with many showcasing their pride with flags, shirts or dyed hair and enjoying the many available food trucks.
Marc Garcia, president of Pflugerville Pride and the organizer of the event, said he was in awe at the number of people who were at the festival, with almost 2,000 people pre-registered to attend.
“I think it shows that people want to celebrate Pride, diversity and love.” Garcia said in an email. “We had people come from all over to attend our Pfestival, including Georgia, California and throughout Texas, including Austin, Houston, and Dallas. … And of course from right here in Pflugerville. We are over the moon by the numbers. “
The festival, which featured drag shows, an LGTBQ+ panel and a teen open mic, all reached capacity, he said. Mayor Victor Gonzales and Council Member Jim McDonald spoke at the festival’s opening ceremony.
In March, the Pflugerville City Council passed a resolution in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in March.
Leah Thompson lives in Georgetown and brought her 9-year old daughter to the festival so she could be exposed to how different people and families are and that everyone needs to be loved for who they are.
“I’ve just heard this generation is so much more accepting,” Thompson said.
Pride Month is held in June to mark the anniversary of the 1969 uprising at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, which sparked the modern LGBTQ rights movement. Some of the first Pride parades were held the following year in a few large US cities. Official Pride events in Austin launched in 1990.
Long popular in major cities, Pride festivals are catching on in some surrounding suburban communities. Round Rock and Leander each had their first Pride events on June 4 and May 14, respectively, and Taylor will host its second Pride festival on Saturday.
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Garcia has said he was inspired to start a festival in Pflugerville after witnessing the community and city leadership support for the inaugural Gay Pride event last year in Taylor, in eastern Williamson County.
Garcia said he wants the Pflugerville festival to become a “destination event” during the official Pride month in June because Austin doesn’t celebrate until August.
As Pflugerville continues to grow and become more diverse, Garcia said, it’s the perfect time to celebrate that diversity not only within the LGBTQ+ community, but in Pflugerville.
“Next month we begin to plan Pflugerville Pride 2023,” Garcia said. “We have many ideas of how our Pfestival will expand next year. It will be even bigger with many more events. So, stay tuned… we’re just getting started.”
Keole Silva and Michelle, who did not want to use her last name, came from nearby Manor to attend the festival. Michelle said she thought it was fantastic that smaller cities were hosting Pride Festivals.
“Everyone should have a place they can go and just be themselves,” she said, “and especially in smaller cities (where) a lot of places aren’t as open and welcoming to people.”
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