Launch of first LGBTQ+ Pride celebration in Fort Bend County mirrors its growth

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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
First LGBTQ+ Pride festival in Fort Bend County mirrors its growth
Fort Bend County Pride's board explains why now was the perfect time to launch the county's first LGBTQ+ Pride celebration.

ROSENBERG, Texas (KTRK) -- For years, the arrival of Pride month in Fort Bend County meant preparing for a day trip if you wanted to celebrate LGBTQ+ joy and inclusion.

But for the first time, Texas' most diverse county is getting a celebration of its own.

The Fort Bend County Pride Fest is a free event taking place on Sunday, Aug. 11 from 2-8 p.m. at the Fort Bend County Fairgrounds.

The festival will feature live entertainment, food trucks, zones for children and seniors, a sensory-friendly area, in addition to a variety of exhibitors.

ABC13 recently sat down with the festival's board, which acknowledged an uncertain stigma attached to this once rural but growing community.

"There's this perception that Fort Bend County isn't kind or welcome to people of these kinds of experiences," director of community engagement Chris Pino said. "But us here at Fort Bend County Pride, we know that that's not true."

Co-founders and spouses Hunny and Tip Phillips said this first-ever Pride event is a clear reflection of the county's growing LGBTQ+ population.

"It's a place that I now call home after eight years, and I could just be unapologetically me," Hunny Phillips said. "No matter (your) gender orientation, sexual orientation, or anything like that, it's like that doesn't matter. We're all like family."

Shayla Edwards, who identifies herself as a "woman of experience," said the county's growing diversity makes the work of providing space for such a celebration possible.

"I've never had anybody misgender me, and so that's one of the great things I can say," Edwards said. "We want people to come see that as a community, we know how to give them a level of excellence beyond anything that they've ever expected."

Of course, a festival of this stature isn't possible without a little help from some friends.

Sign-up is now open for volunteers for this year's festival, in addition to sponsorship opportunities.

When the Phillipses approached County Commissioner Dexter McCoy for help, his communications director Nadia Hakim sprung into action to ensure the festival's success.

Hakim was so inspired, she's now on the organization's board.

"I know what it's like not to have that support and to feel like you're alone growing up. I never saw stories that I related to, right? The princesses always ended up with the princes, the superheroes, the male superheroes, were the ones that got the beautiful girls, things like this, and I felt very, very alone," Hakim said.

"Love comes in all forms. So I'm looking forward to seeing families out there, you know, hetero, homo, trans... whatever it may be, it's gonna be very heartwarming."

In addition to the annual festival, Fort Bend County Pride said it is working on ways to provide programming throughout the year, including expanding access to physical and mental health care to the county's LGBTQ+ community.

Fort Bend County Fairgrounds is located at 4310 TX-26 S., in Rosenberg.

ABC13 is Fort Bend County Pride's official media partner.