The Progress Pride Flag waved proudly as a crowd made of elected officials and others dressed in rainbow-colored T-shirts, jewelry and regalia gathered to kick off June 2023 Pride month with the fourth annual flag-raising ceremony outside the Brownsville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The City of Brownsville’s LGBTQ+ Task Force held the flag ceremony where many addressed how amazing it felt to belong to a city that supported the LGBTQ+ community.
Brownsville City Commissioner District 3 Roy De los Santos, said the flag-raising ceremony was in its fourth year and that it is important that the city continues to hold such an event.
“It really is a beacon of hope to the LGBTQ community at large. When we did it that first year afterwards we saw folks posting on social media, coming at all hours of the day and night to take pictures with the flag. It was something they thought they would never see in their hometown and it just made them feel so good that they live in a community that would absolutely embrace them,” De los Santos said.
“That’s what makes this important and that’s why we continue to do it because as the next generations come up, that message needs to be clear and consistent that everybody is welcome,” De los Santos said.
The federal government first recognized the month in 1999 when President Bill Clinton declared June “Gay & Lesbian Pride Month.” In 2009, President Barack Obama declared June LGBT Pride Month. On 1 June 2021, President Joe Biden declared June LGBTQ Pride Month.
Brownsville City Commissioner District 1 Bryan L. Martinez said “this is another month that is dedicated to the LGBTQ Community of this nation and we here in the community of Brownsville are proud to have the very first LGBTQ+ Task Force south of San Antonio who has been here for the last three to four years that have done a tremendous job of putting together community events such as the one today.”
The word 'pride' is an integral cultural concept within the LGBTQ community, representing solidarity, collectivity, and identity as well as resistance to discrimination and violence.
Merrill Hammons, owner of Bar-B, said he is appreciative that the Brownsville community holds events such as the flag-raising event to show there is support in the community for the LGBTQ community. “It seems like these days a lot of negative is what shows up on the news but there’s also positive and I think we should focus on that.”
The Brownsville City Commission in 2019 created the LGBTQ+ Task Force that gives the community a voice in addressing discrimination, health concerns, and other related issues.