CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Throughout this Pride Month, you've seen us spend some time on different reports: from the history, some fast facts, and showcasing local events.
There, community members could be seen showing their support for local businesses and vendors, as well as celebrating all things Pride Month. We asked Coastal Bend residents, what exactly pride means to them.
Here's what they shared:
Samantha Chamberlain is the creator of El Local Collective. Though not originally from the Coastal Bend, she shared that seeing events throughout the city this Pride Month, makes her happy to be able to call Corpus Christi home.
"Not even being born in Corpus Christi - it definitely makes me appreciate Corpus Christi's community, welcoming environment, and just the way that we're able to give opportunity and spaces for people to express themselves," Chamberlain said.
"Pride is not only expressing yourself, but being yourself to the truest extent, and it's being proud of who you are and what it is your capable of doing."
Orlando Narvaez is a program specialist for the Coastal Bend Pride Center, which offers a wealth of helpful resources and support for members of the LGBTQIA+ community and allies. However, according to Narvaez, the center is the only one offering such resources south of San Antonio. It serves the surrounding 12 counties.
"Especially in South Texas, very conservative city, and state, it's great to see Corpus growing and hosting these great events because once upon a time, you couldn't walk down the street with your partner holding hands, or wearing whatever you feel expresses yourself without ridicule or discrimination," Narvaez said.
"For me, pride is being able to be your true authentic self with loved ones, whether they are of blood or whether they are of a chosen family. Being loved for who you are and not having to change for somebody else or changed by society’s standard."
To learn more about the resources, events and various programs offered by the Coastal Bend Pride Center, click here.
Kaili Ortiz and Giselle Marroquin are the proud owners of local shop, Sun Moon and Stars Vintage. They just opened their doors in January of this year, and they say seeing the amount of support shown for local businesses like theirs as well as the pride community as a whole, is amazing to see. Ortiz sharing with us that to her, 'pride' means freedom.
"It means to express yourself in any way that you want to, and to have the privilege to do it," Ortiz said. "We're all growing, it's all accepting, it needs to matter. It needs to be voiced."
Rochelle Lowery is also a fellow business owner in the Coastal Bend. She is the owner of Lemonade Stand Cosmetics, which sells hand-crafted makeup products that are vegan and cruelty-free. She too shared with us what pride means to her.
"Pride is pretty much being proud of yourself, not caring what other people think, just be proud of your own achievements."
All the support and each smiling face coming through the door at the event, brought a sense of hope and happiness to Dusti Laughlin. She and her husband were taking tickets at the door there at the Bay Jewel.
"It's great, it's awesome. Everybody's a person, so everyone deserves to be loved and shown respect!"
What some of the attendees and fans of host, Miss Matte, may have not realized is that as they were walking in to the event, they were actually giving their tickets to the performer's proud parents.
"It's humbling. It’s great. God teaches us you love unconditionally, you don’t judge and that’s what I try to do with my kids and with anybody," said Laughlin. "I'm very proud of him. Very proud. I wouldn't change him for anything."
A portion of the proceeds from Friday's event were raised to donate to The Trevor Project, which aims to provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth and young adults under 25. To learn more about The Trevor Project, click here.