The South Texas Equality Project (STEP) announced on Thursday that the annual PRIDE in the Park, the Rio Grande Valley’s largest LGBTQ celebration, is canceled. The announcement came after STEP was notified that the venue would be shared with a gun show expo.
Here is the full statement from STEP:
“The South Texas Equality Project (STEP) has canceled the 4th annual “PRIDE in the Park” which is the Valley’s largest annual LGBT Pride celebration after board members were notified that the venue would be shared with a gun show expo. PRIDE at the Park was scheduled for November 26, 2016 at the McAllen Convention Center.
“STEP membership met on Wednesday, October 26, 2016 to further plan for their annual event which last year drew over 2,500 attendees and were informed that while Board and staff were conducting a site visit, McAllen Convention staff had informed them that a gun show expo would be occurring on the property during the same time as its Pride celebration. Board and membership thoroughly discussed the pros and cons of canceling the event and what it would mean for members of the LGBT community (still reeling from the Orlando massacre) to share a space in a state that allows individuals to openly carry weapons to and from a gun show.
“During this years Pride event, STEP planned to commemorate the Pulse Club shooting and celebrate Frank Escalante, a Rio Grande Valley native who was tragically lost during the Orlando shooting on June 12, 2016.
“With a gun show being held at the McAllen Convention Center on the same day that PRIDE was scheduled, STEP members decided it would be insensitive to the emotional needs of the LGBT community as well as to Frank Escalante’s memory to share the space with a gun show. Although guns are commonplace for many Texans, STEP membership agreed that it was not a conducive environment to host Pride.
“STEP will now begin plans to host the largest Pride celebration in June 2017 and will work to bring the first ever Pride parade to the Rio Grande Valley so that we may continue to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer community as well as our allies.”
STEP is a coalition of organizations, institutions, and individuals who support the LGBTQ community in the Rio Grande Valley. Click here to visit STEP’s Facebook page.
Note: The author of this post is a proud member of the Board of South Texas Equality Project.