ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Spectators lined up along the streets in downtown Abilene Saturday afternoon to enjoy the second annual Abilene Pride Parade and explore the Rainbow Market, a showcase of local vendors and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

Previously, a festival was supposed to take place at the Expo Center to accommodate a large crowd, but was canceled due to a lack of security presence. Despite this, the community teamed up to create a Rainbow Market after the parade so that local businesses and attendees could come together to celebrate and show support. Pride Parade Chair of the Abilene Pride Alliance Monica Warn-Walker said this day was a heartwarming reminder for her.

“This has been a little trying week, I would say, for us. And so, to hear the cheers along the streets as we passed by was very heartwarming to us,” Warn-Walker said. “Just lets us know that Abilene is still full of a lot of love.”

She added that Abilene’s acceptance of the parade and LGBTQ+ community is growing and that, unlike last year, there were zero protests during this year’s event.

“Abilene, I believe, because it does have a Christian foundation, oddly enough, has mostly been supportive to us. I think because Abilenians that the mission of Christ is to spread love, and so that’s usually what they do to us. Now I feel we just got a little more support like that today with people showing up,” Warn-Walker said. “It gives us some hope for the future that someday, we won’t face so much discrimination and hatred for our community.”

People from all walks of life united together through this event. Here’s a glimpse of what some attendees and vendors said when asked about what pride means to them:

  • “Being strong in yourself and your own individuality.” – Sara Hill
  • “Mainly acceptance. Just love and acceptance.” – Janet Rygh
  • “Everyone should be embraced for their differences.” – Shaylah Conley
  • “Being free to be who you are and being celebrated and supported.” – Emily McMillan
  • “Pride means you are proud of exactly who you are.” – Christiankei Aguire