Recap: PRIDENTON Rally

PRIDENTON’s Rally and March began last Saturday afternoon on the courthouse lawn, shortly after the Keep Families Together March. All sects, races, abilities, and ages of the LGBTQIA+ community were represented in rainbows, carrying banners, and spritzed in glitter. This year's theme for PRIDENTON was specifically centered around queer people of color, and the organizers ensured the speakers amplified this theme.

Dr. Carmen Cruz (she/her), a psychologist and founder of PRIDENTON, began the rally by sharing that three years ago, on the courthouse steps where she stood, the first same-sex marriage in Denton County was performed on June 26, 2015.

“We are here to celebrate our community, and to celebrate all of it,” she said.

PRIDENTON purposefully chose speakers that were representative of all LGBTQIA+ members, rather than the white-washed portrayal seen far too often. “Sometimes we feel excluded from our own community,” Cruz said. “Here today, we are together.”

Cruz encouraged listeners to conquer the difficulties of living as a queer person, out or otherwise, by thinking of “how proud you can be to be you.”

Rev. Pam Wat (she/her), a minister at Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and activist with OUTreach Denton, began her time with an expression of gratitude and recognition of the history of the land on which Denton lies. She asked for a moment of silent respect, “to honor the Wichita people, whose seized land we now reside in.”

Wat shared her amazement in the work she’s been involved in over the years, specifically since the founding of OUTreach Denton in 2011.

“I have an incredible amount of pride for all we’ve been able to do in Denton the last eight years,” she said, reminding listeners of the significance of caring for one another each and every day.

“The most important thing we can do is show up,” she said.

Chola Magnolia (she/her), a Latinx, award-winning burlesque performer and fat-identifying queer femme from Austin, spoke on the frustrations of femmephobia, and how internalized misogyny is harmful for every person in the LGBTQIA+ community.

“Being anything but one hundred percent masculine is viewed as weak,” she said, adding that transwomen likely suffer the most as a result of femmephobia, and that bi-erasure — the undermining or belittling of the largest sect of the LGBTQIA+ community — is directly related to femmephobia.

“It is time for us to stop devaluing femininity,” Magnolia stated. “Femininity is beautiful, powerful, and strong.

“I’m a woman,” Magnolia said. “I am femme. I’m a stripper. I’m fat. I’m queer. And I deserve to be heard and respected.”

Speaking next was Elia Tamplin (they/them or he/him), a Texas Woman’s University doctoral candidate and teacher in women’s studies, activist, and recent winner of Spiderweb Salon’s songwriting scholarship. Tamplin shared their frustrations in knowing the nearby Confederate statue remains standing.

“Often, my blackness negates my gayness and my transness,” they said, echoing Cruz’s remarks on feeling excluded from their own community.

Tamplin also shared their joy in acknowledging a diverse leadership of PRIDENTON, stating that revolutions are always led by women and men of color, and asking for continued support of queer folk and people of color, even after Pride Month.

“Wrestle with your whiteness,” Tamplin said. “Listen, support, and believe us.”

Kamyon Conner (she/her), a social worker, committee member of PRIDENTON, activist and leader, shared the significance of showing up and participating in helping marginalized populations: “I do this work to make a difference in my community,” sharing that her upbringing in a black community in Wichita Falls taught her that "I can do anything.”

Conner and Enedelia Sauceda, a daughter of a Mexican immigrant mother and another committee member of PRIDENTON, launched the march by reminding attendees: “You belong here. You are queer enough to be here.”

PRIDENTON is the committee that organizes Denton’s Pride events; 2018 marks their second annual event. To learn more, visit their Facebook page at

Photos by Zendra Morales.
Header image layout designed by Tori Falcon.