City of Denton Officially Recognizes Pride Month, Juneteenth and Women Veteran's Day

It was an eventful night at City Hall as Denton City Council made several proclamations, including the recognition of Women Veteran’s Day, Juneteenth and, most widely anticipated, Pride Month. 

Emotions ran high as Mayor Chris Watts reached the LGBT Pride Month Proclamation on the City Council Agenda. About two dozen citizens went to the front of the room to accept the proclamation from the mayor.

George Ferrie, president of Stonewall Democrats of Denton County and owner of Wine Squared, took the mic to emphasize the importance of centering queer and trans people of color and that this was the focus of this year’s PRIDENTON events. He then introduced Lesly Gutierrez, treasurer of Stonewall Democrats. 

Gutierrez thanked the queer allies on city council for recognizing the importance of officially recognizing June as Pride Month in the city of Denton.

“We have a long way to go, though. Denton doesn’t have a non-discrimination ordinance. We’re going to be here. You’re going to see us here in this room a lot," Gutierrez said.

The significance of this moment for the LGTBQIA+ community was evident as the mic was passed around to each individual at the front of the room. People proudly proclaimed their own queer identities and spoke of how excited they were to be standing among allies and fellow queer and trans people, as well as their hopes for more tolerance and inclusiveness from the greater Denton community. 

Stonewall Democrats was joined by several queer supportive organizations including Young Democrats of Denton County, OUTReach Denton, Pride at TWU, GLAAD at UNT, College Democrats of UNT, and Denton Progressives. 

After the Proclamation was read, The Dentonite had the chance to speak with members of the steering committee for PRIDENTON.

Left to right: Kamyon Conner, Enedelia Sauceda, and Kathleen Hobson

Kathleen Hobson said, “There are a lot of non-profit and grassroots organizations that support this community in Denton, so it's important that our mayor and city council recognized the importance of awareness and visibility of the diverse and amazing queer and trans people here.”  

Enedelia Sauceda shared similar sentiments emphasizing how the community programs want to push for intersectionality.

“It was beautiful that we stressed the importance of communities of color because we would not have Pride without them. Denton has a vibrant community and I'm glad folks aren't being left out of the conversation.” Sauceda said. 

Ferrie said he was “incredibly surprised and excited” by the turnout at City Hall. Ferrie has been the only gay business owner  on the Downtown Denton Square (until Q’s Cafe opens), and he believes the faces of the LGBT community, particularly queer/trans people of color, need to be more prominent in Denton commerce.  

George Ferrie and Lesly Guiterrez accept the Pride Month Proclamation

“Words are words,” Ferrie said. “I want to see action. There are people who can't get jobs or approved for small business loans because of who they are. That's what Pride is really about; coming together through all that” 

Regardless, Ferrie believes this proclamation will bring forth betterment. 

“It's exciting, affirming, necessary step toward a larger conversation for our community and our needs," Ferrie said.

Stonewalls Democrats are also a part of planning for the Pride celebration and will be dedicated to running the kid's corner at Harvest House. In the future, the group and the rest of LGBTQ+ community will work to alleviate housing inequality, pushing for progressive results in the midterm elections, and taking an activist role in eliminating discrimination in the work place. 

Several women who served in the military showed up to hear the Mayor Watts proclaim June 12 as Women Veterans Day, which aims to recognize the unique contributions of women to the United States Armed Forces. Each woman was given the opportunity to detail which branch she served with and explain the importance of a day to specifically recognize women’s role in our military.

Willie Hudspeth, president of Denton’s chapter of the NAACP, accepted the Juneteenth Proclamation to a rousing applause. He spoke of the history of Juneteenth and exclaimed, “This isn’t just a Black festival, all of you need to come to our celebration. If you don’t know how to dance, we’ll teach you!” 

More information about the celebration of Denton’s Juneteenth Extravaganza can be found on their Facebook event.

 Photos by Tori Falcon
Header image layout designed by Mateo Granados