Arlington’s LGBTQ community rallied its troops on Tuesday, turning out a crowd to attend the Arlington City Council meeting after word spread that right-wing forces would be at the meeting to speak in opposition to any official recognition of LGBTQ Pride Month by the council.

DeeJay Johannesen, CEO of HELP Center for LGBT Health & Wellness Center, was among those attending the council. Here is his report on the meeting last night:

“What a great night for Arlington and the LGBT community!

“Our community and its allies turned out in force last night [Tuesday, May 24] in favor of Arlington recognizing Gay Pride Month and encouraging Pride Month-related activities. Last week, we received information that a fanatical faction would ‘flood the council chambers’ in opposition to any recognition of or support for Gay Pride Month in Arlington. The issue was not on the agenda, so anyone speaking had to do so during the Public Comment section of the meeting.

“The best initial estimates are that 120 individuals attended in support of the LGBT community and only 15 in opposition.

“Attendees had the option to sign up, speak or simply express their support by wearing a Pride sticker. Sixty people signed up, another 40 or so attended, and 21 spoke in support of the LGBT community.

“In opposition? There were seven speakers and about another eight in the audience.

“Our supporters were as diverse as our community and came from multiple social networks throughout Arlington.

“To all our allies who showed up: Your presence in support of our community and human rights was impressive, meaningful and deeply appreciated. Thank you. We are especially grateful for the UTA student groups who really mobilized, were fantastic speakers and stood proud for our community.

“So, what’s next?

“Mayor Jim Ross must decide if Arlington will issue a Gay Pride Month Proclamation in 2022. Based on his consistent support of the LGBT community and the show of support last night, I am confident that a proclamation will be forthcoming.

“Most likely, the proclamation will be presented at the June 7 city council meeting. We expect the opposition to show up to oppose the presentation of the proclamation. So, please mark your calendars and spread the word. Once again, we will need to demonstrate that the LGBT community in Arlington is well-supported, formidable and resolute.

“I will keep you informed as the date is confirmed.

“Thank you all, once again, for showing up with little notice on a rainy Tuesday night to demonstrate to the Arlington City Council that those who embrace bigotry and encourage hate are not true representatives of our great city. Progress does not come without resistance. Your presence last night proved to me that the LGBT community has broad support in Arlington and that our community and its allies will show up to fight for everyone’s right to live as their authentic selves.”

— Tammye Nash