A group of Carrollton residents have seen change in Carrollton over the years, not just in its diversity but also in the acceptance of that diversity.
So next month they want to celebrate that.
On June 5 local organization Carrollton Pride will host the Celebration of Diversity festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Horizon Unitarian Universalist Church.
Bob McCranie, who along with Kim Payne co-chair the organization, said it’s a chance to celebrate the diverse population in Carrollton.
“Carrollton has so many diverse communities within its borders, we invite the citizens of all communities to meet, have a booth, join the celebration, and get to know each other better,” he said. “With a little glitter, good music and food.”
The event is expected to include 30-plus booths and food trucks, and the winners of a local art contest will be announced.
McCranie said this will be the first city-wide pride event Carrollton has had.
Carrollton Pride was formed in 2006, and while it has pushed for diversity acceptance and change since then it hasn’t had an event like this.
“We’ve always wanted to have an event,” McCranie said. “We want to have more presence in the city.”
This seemed like a good time to do it. On May 11 Mayor Kevin Falconer presented the organization with a proclamation declaring June 5 as Carrollton Pride Day and showing support for the equal treatment of the LGBTQ community.
“To have the mayor hand us a proclamation was great,” McCranie said. “After nearly 18 years of working in the community to create change, we've gone from open homophobia to having a proclamation from the mayor declaring Pride Day in the city.”
McCranie said the festival is designed to celebrate not only the city’s pride but also how far it’s come over the years in terms of embracing diversity.
McCranie said Carrollton wasn’t as accepting of diversity in the past. He said there was a petition that was presented to the city 15 years ago that demanded elected officials in Carrollton not participate in public events hosted by certain groups, including the LGBTQ. This came after two members of the council attended a pride parade in Dallas, McCranie said. The petition did not move forward.
McCranie said he has been referred to as “the gay volunteer” when he helped candidates in local elections.
“Now we have a proclamation and a permit,” McCranie said. “People don’t realize how much the city has changed.”
He said it’s unclear how many people the event will draw. After all, a festival was not the original plan.
“It was supposed to be ‘let’s grab a bucket of chicken and have a picnic,’” McCranie said.
But the more organizers talked about it, the more the event grew.
“My hope is that it shows the diversity of the community,” McCranie said.
He said people from all backgrounds are invited to the event.
“Whoever wants to come who is diversity-minded,” he said. “It’s not just about LGBTQ, it’s the whole city.”
While much work has been done, McCranie said there is more to do in terms of being accepted.
“There is an element of the city that is (angry) that we’re doing this,” McCranie said. “But we have a right to be here.”
He hopes the event provides a welcome mat to those who feel they need one.
“If I can get people together maybe we’ll meet someone who says, ‘I need to be represented,’” McCranie said. “And by the way, have a funnel cake.”