Over 200 attend Stonewall celebration, protest against bathroom bill


Highlights

More than 200 people attended 7th Annual Stonewall Celebration and Rally at the Capitol on Wednesday night.

Participants used the occasion to protest against the state’s so-called bathroom bill.

Organizers of the seventh Annual Stonewall Celebration and Rally placed six toilets painted red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet at the steps of the Capitol on Wednesday evening, leaving no doubt what the top legislative concern is for members of the LGBT community and their supporters in Texas.

Some lawmakers are “so concerned with bathroom stalls, so we took down the walls,” said event organizer Paul Huddleston as he gestured toward the toilets, eliciting cheers from the audience. Huddleston was referring to Senate Bill 6, which would require people to use restrooms and other facilities that match the gender on their birth certificate. It will be one of the items up for consideration during a special session of the Legislature set to start next month.

RELATED: Texas governor revives ‘bathroom bill’ for special session

The display was part of a local commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations that followed a New York City police raid at a gay bar in 1969. It is widely considered as the catalyst of the modern gay rights movement.

More than 200 people attended Wednesday night’s event. Throughout the evening, guest speakers encouraged the community to make their voices heard.

“Make sure to keep this going,” Ash Hall, an event speaker who worked with Equality Texas, said to the audience. “We have to make sure (elected officials) do what they’re supposed to do and protect all of us, not just some of us.”

PHOTOS: Over 200 celebrate, stand up for LGBT rights in Stonewall Rally in front of Capitol

Jimmy Flannigan, Austin’s first openly gay man to serve as aCity Council member, urged the audience to vote, saying that while the fight began with the riots, it ends in the ballot boxes.

In addition to SB 6, The “Freedom to Serve Children Act” — which was passed in May — also affects the LGBT community members as it allows state-funded child welfare agencies to reject same-sex couples as prospective parents on the basis of the organizations’ religious beliefs.

“If we show up and don’t give up, we can change Texas for the better,” Flannigan said.

Part of the event was also dedicated to remembering the victims who died at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando last summer and 15 transgender people who have been killed this year.

ALSO READ: Businesses fear more fallout from California travel ban over LGBT rights concerns

There was also a reading of eyewitness accounts of the Stonewall Riots, which included stories of individuals fighting off police officers and rioting, which reminded the audience why the event is held on June 28, the day the riots began. This portion of the night was especially powerful for rally attendee John Bush, who said he believes it is important to remember the history.

“The young (queer) kids, they see pride as an excuse for a street party, and they need to see that it’s more than that, and that’s why this event is so important,” Bush said. “It tells them the history and gets them curious.”

After the speakers and performances, Huddleston, the event organizer, gave closing remarks calling on the community to remember that they are part of a family.

“Know you are loved, I love you, and you are not alone,” he said.

The night ended with singing and dancing in front of the Capitol to the song “We Are Family” by Sister Sledge.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Abortion providers sue to overturn Texas law
Abortion providers sue to overturn Texas law

Texas abortion providers filed a federal lawsuit Thursday seeking to overturn a new Texas law that will limit the most commonly used second-trimester procedure. The restriction, included in Senate Bill 8’s sweeping abortion regulations that were approved during the closing days of the Legislature’s regular session in May, is set to...
Texas transgender bathroom fight takes center stage
Texas transgender bathroom fight takes center stage

The fight over transgender bathroom policies took center stage Thursday, hours after an unusual midnight meeting of the Texas Senate allowed Gov. Greg Abbott to expand the special legislative session’s agenda to include a host of conservative priorities. The Texas Association of Business, a leading foe of efforts to restrict transgender-friendly...
DPS to bill law enforcement agencies for crime lab services in Sept.
DPS to bill law enforcement agencies for crime lab services in Sept.

The Texas Department of Public Safety announced on Thursday that it would begin charging law enforcement agencies for using certain crime laboratory services starting on Sept. 1. According to DPS, the Texas Legislature provided the DPS lab system with $63 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, and requires up to $11.5 million be charged and collected...
Officials to review why Hays County planned burn went awry
Officials to review why Hays County planned burn went awry

After losing control of a controlled burn in Hays County on Wednesday, the Austin Water Utility said Thursday that it won’t hold any more planned burning of brush until its process is reviewed. The planned burn in a rural area west of Buda jumped its boundaries Wednesday afternoon, burning between 200 to 250 acres in addition to the 560 acres...
Texas Digest: 2 dead, 3 wounded in apparent Houston shootout

HOUSTON 2 dead, 3 wounded in apparent shootout Authorities say two men were killed and three others wounded after an apparent shootout at a house just north of Houston. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the shooting began Wednesday night after an altercation near the front door of the home. During the dispute, gunfire erupted from multiple directions...
More Stories