FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Pride month is underway and there have been events throughout Northwest Arkansas to celebrate, promote and empower the LGBTQ+ community.
Northwest Arkansas Pride of NWA Equality is hosting its very first Trans March. It tells us, it might be the first one in the state and it all kicks off near the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Wednesday night.
NWA Pride, Director, Richard Gathright says it was very important to include a trans march this year as part of its pride events.
Gathright says after the passage of several bills that restricted the rights of the trans community it wanted to show the trans community support. It also wanted to let them know their allies are here to fight with them.
“I was kind of thrown back by the severity and the cruelness of a lot of these bills especially 1570. That was the bill that is trying to take away healthcare for trans youth and gender-affirming treatment,” said Gathright.
He calls the bills discriminatory and says they are using this march to empower the trans community and speak out against hate and injustice.
The stage will be set off West Avenue and Spring Street near the Walton Arts Center. The march kicks off at 7 pm. The demonstration travels down Dickson street, turning onto block street to Fayetteville square. The march ends at the town center, where there will be a rally with speakers from various trans organizations as well as a speaker with the ACLU. (Map below)
This weekend the 17th annual Northwest Arkansas Pride Parade is taking place in Fayetteville.
Thousands of people, holding rainbow flags and dressed up will take over Dickson street to celebrate the LGBTQ-plus community. Last year the parade took a virtual turn because of the pandemic but it is back.
Pride originally started as a protest in New York back in 1970. Although that is still its essence, throughout the years it has grown to include panels, festivals, and demonstrations taking place all month long and across the globe.
This parade will honor aids activist Ruth Coker Burks and Washington County Justice of the Peace Evelyn Rios Stafford. She is the first openly trans person elected to office in Arkansas.
Gathright says it’s about showing support and advocating for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We want everybody to know that we are here, we matter, we are human beings as well and you know we deserve the same rights and privilege as everybody else in this country without being discriminated against,” said Gathright.
The parade and floats will roll down Dickson street starting noon Saturday, It kicks off North East Ave. and heads to North University Ave.
Folks who are not vaccinated are asked to mask up. NWA Pride will also be live streaming the parade for those supporting from home.