As Carrollton Pride has grown, its founders want to seed more local events throughout suburban areas

DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer

“If we can get more local cities to do Pride events, then it’s harder for people to ignore that we’re their neighbors.”

That, said Bob McCranie, is why he and others are working to help build up Pride celebrations throughout the DFW Metroplex.

McCranie has been involved with Carrollton Pride since its founding in 2006 and serves as its co-chair. Last year’s Carrollton Pride event attracted about 600 people, McCranie said, noting that people would drive by, see what was going on and stop to participate.

Last year, Carrollton Pride organizers put together their event in just 47 days, he said, indicating every Pride event doesn’t have to be a major undertaking.

“We are trying to seed Pride events across the DFW area,” he said. Hold a picnic, he suggested. Spread the word using social media. Choose a park, a day and time, and you won’t even need a permit, he said.

Fort Worth has been doing an annual Pride picnic for more than 30 years, and former Mayor Betsy Price regularly attended. And it draws as large a crowd as the Tarrant County parade and festival.

Hold a monthly dinner, McCranie suggested. Pick a local restaurant that would welcome the business. Make it family-friendly so no babysitters are needed. Again, promote it on social media. Get to know others in your town and enjoy an evening out.

Recently, Carrollton Pride held an event they dubbed Rainbows Over Carrollton: “Buy yourself a rainbow kite and meet us on the Blue Trail, anywhere between Rosemeade & Peter’s Colony, and let’s fly some rainbows over Carrollton,” the group wrote on its website and posted to social media. “Come out, show your true colors, and paint with all the colors of the wind! Kites are available on Amazon. Diamond and Delta kites fly the best. Join us and let’s have fun.”

Carrollton Pride put its 2021 event, right, together in just 47 days. The organization recently organized “Rainbows Over Carrollton,” above, encouraging people to gather at a city park to fly rainbow kites. (Photos courtesy Bob McCranie)

About 40 people turned out to watch 25 rainbow kite fliers turn a Carrollton recreation trail a little gay for an afternoon.

McCranie said it was fun and easy to put together and did exactly what a Pride event is intended to do — make the LGBTQ community visible. And, he said, it was a perfect suburban event.

McCranie stressed that suburban Pride events aren’t in competition with Dallas Pride. Carrollton Pride will be held this year from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on June 4 at the Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church grounds. That’s the same day as the Dallas Pride festival in Fair Park, but McCranie noted that anyone who wants to attend both can visit Carrollton early and Fair Park later. And there’s no conflict with going to the parade in Dallas the next day.

If anything, McCranie said, having the two events the same day will increase attendance at both.

While McCranie preaches to fellow suburbanites to start small, Carrollton Pride has certainly grown. Food trucks and 60 booths are the main attractions so far this year. While the Dallas Pride festival features many organized groups, Carrollton will be filled with arts & crafts vendors as well as some local bakers.

Several local churches, arts organizations, other area Prides, local businesses and Democratic organizations from Collin and Denton counties will participate. And just as both mayoral candidates showed up at Rainbows Over Carrollton, local politicians may just show up at Pride, too, courting votes for any runoffs being held that day or heading into the fall election.

Carrolton isn’t the only suburban city celebrating Pride. Plano is planning an even larger event that’s been growing every year. This year it will be held Sept. 17.

Princeton held its first event last year, and McCranie said it received quite a response. There was one drag queen who made an appearance that locals felt was too risque for Collin County. But, of course, you would have seen more skin at local swimming pool.

Despite the city writing new ordinances limiting what residents may do in a city park, Princeton will try Pride again on June 26.

Grayson County Pride is set for June 11, and Erath County plans Pride in Stephenville on June 25. Frisco Pride will be held in the fall and is slated for Oct. 8.

Denton, Flower Mound and Arlington events are in the planning stages with no dates announced yet. Arlington has participated in Pride before with the Arlington Police Department, 1851 Club, the city’s only LGBTQ club, and other groups marching in the Tarrant County Parade in Fort Worth.

McCranie stressed again that Pride isn’t a competition: “We’re trying to build relationships — with the police, with the city, with our neighbors,” he said. And holding local Pride is a way to showcase each suburb’s diversity.

“If we can get more local cities to do Pride events, then it’s harder for people to ignore we’re their neighbors,” McCranie said.