After over a year of COVID-19 restrictions axed last June’s in-person gay pride celebrations, local LGBT activism organization PRIDENTON kicked off a return to its typical festivities with Saturday’s Pride Path sidewalk chalk gathering.

At Saturday’s event, about 50 PRIDENTON members and local residents gathered outside Oak Street Drafthouse for the Pride Month staple, adorning sidewalk squares with messages of LGBT support and inclusivity. The event was delayed twice after a bout of heavy rain, though organizers didn’t let that stop it after a two-year wait.

“Our main focus is bringing community members together,” PRIDENTON board member Kamyon Conner said. “We’re providing an outlet for queer folks to gather in Denton.”

Pride Path is one of very few in-person events the organization has hosted since the pandemic began. Anjelica Fraga, a coordinator for PRIDENTON, said the LGBT movement has seen both internal and external progression since the event was last held two years ago.

“The pandemic had a huge effect on people’s awareness of the way our government works,” Fraga said. “We’re going to keep fundraising and we’re going to keep raising awareness. We ourselves are learning about accessibility.”

In general, Fraga said she feels LGBT acceptance has improved over the past few years, but that on a local level, there’s much work to be done. Ideally, she said, that would include displaying a pride flag outside Denton’s City Hall — an ongoing effort backed by council member Deb Armintor.

“I don’t feel like there’s been a lot of local progress,” Fraga said. “Right now, we’re just focusing on Pride. Our big goal is to raise enough money for an LGBTQ resource center.”

Saturday’s attendees came from across the area, including Pilot Point’s Katie Landaverde, who came to support the LGBT community with her two children in tow. She said she believes introducing her young children to topics like sexuality and race helps them to gain an understanding as they grow older.

“I think it’s important to show support for the community,” Landaverde said. “And for me, it helps facilitate discussion with my kids. Otherwise, they’re forced to jump to their own conclusions about everything.”

PRIDENTON also hosted a virtual poetry and storytelling event Saturday night, and will host a disability pride panel June 17 via Zoom. The organization will round out its Pride Month celebrations with its 10th annual Denton Pride celebration event June 25 at Harvest House.

More info on the month’s celebrations can be found at facebook.com/pridenton.

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