Aug 11, 2023 - Culture

Austin honors Pride in "heavy year" for LGBTQ+ rights

A crowd gathers at the state Capitol in April 2023 to protest a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ and drag bills. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Austin Pride celebrations conclude this weekend with a vibrant display of inclusivity at the annual Pride parade tomorrow.

The big picture: Pride parade attendees will begin their route at the Capitol, where lawmakers just months earlier introduced a slew of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.

Between the lines: Texas has led the nation in anti-transgender legislation filed this year, with 57 bills.

  • Ultimately, four bills identified by Trans Legislation Tracker passed, including Senate Bill 14, which limits medical treatments for what it terms "transitioning a child's biological sex" or "affirming a child's perception of the child's sex."
  • A lawsuit filed last month in Texas is the latest in a string of suits nationwide attempting to stop states from banning gender-affirming care.
  • Some Austinites have said they're leaving the state over new laws that limit LGBTQ+ rights.

What they're saying: "I think this is just an opportunity for people to gather and experience joy because it's been a really heavy, heavy year," Ricardo Martinez, executive director of Equality Texas, told Fox 7 Austin.

By the numbers: About 1.8 million Texans identify as LGBT, per a 2022 analysis of census data by the Public Policy Institute of California that studied only those four identities.

Details: Austin holds its Pride parade in August each year, rather than June like many cities. Organizers say it avoids competition, allowing them to bring in more renowned entertainers and visitors from across the country.

  • An August event also brings in more student volunteers, who have returned to Austin for the school year, Austin Pride Foundation organizers say.

What to know: The Austin Pride Foundation's free festival starts at 11am at Fiesta Gardens. The parade begins at 8pm at the Capitol and continues down Congress Ave. before concluding at the Congress Avenue Bridge.

  • Organizers estimate that 400,000 people attended the event last year.

If you go: Expect road closures near the parade route beginning at 1pm Saturday. All streets will reopen no later than midnight, city officials said in a news release.

  • The city has urged attendees to take advantage of public transportation, the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail, ride-sharing and carpooling to get to the event.
  • It will be hot. Emergency officials have urged attendees to wear a hat, drink water and take frequent breaks.

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