Just days after a white supremacist, anti-gay organization hung fliers in downtown Fort Worth, the 37th annual Tarrant County Gay Pride Parade drew about 5,000 people to nearly the same location.
Beginning at E. Weatherford Street shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, the parade made its way down Commerce Street, passing the AMC Palace movie theater where Coppell-based Patriot Front, a hate group, posted a since-removed flier on Thursday.
“Our community is one of the biggest out there, and we’re not going anywhere,” said Chyanna Bridge, 20, who attended the event for her sixth year in a row.
Accompanied by her wife, Chelsea Bailey, she said she hoped attendees had a positive experience.
“I just want people to have the experience that everyone is equal, and we’re not here to hurt anybody,” Bridge said.
As people of all ages, many of them wearing rainbow-themed clothing or waving rainbow flags, lined Commerce Street, groups and organizations including Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, North Lake College, Celebration Community Church, First Congregational Church of Christ, Fellowship of Love Outreach, North Texas Unitarian Universalist Congregations and others took marched and rolled down the parade route.
Several of the groups blasted songs such as “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga from loudspeakers. Marchers handed out plastic beads, candy, hugs and paper fans on the muggy day. The parade went about a dozen blocks to end at the Fort Worth Water Gardens, the site of a Gay Pride Festival that runs until 6 p.m.
About a dozen protesters were on hand as well, some carrying signs that read “Homosexuality is a sin,” and others saying over loudspeakers that gay men and lesbians are going to hell as people stood in line for the festival.
Most people in attendance didn’t seem to notice the protesters, though some briefly argued with them.
A mother who brought her 15-year-old daughter to her second pride parade since she came out said the parade gives her daughter a sense of community.
“I just come because it’s fun and I get free stuff,” the girl said.