PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — For four months, the two brothers who created the Veterans for Equality organization have been manning Pride-related events. But this weekend in Pflugerville, they faced extremism they've never encountered before.
"Our first one was the Protect Trans Kids [rally] at the Capitol," said Gen Peña, cofounder of Veterans For Equality.
Since about May, Mac and Gen Peña have been standing guard at Pride-related events to ensure protesters don't interrupt.
"We just started getting requests," Gen Peña said. "We did Pride events from Bastrop all the way to Lubbock. We've done drag bingos, drag brunches."
Texas Republicans have recently criticized family-friendly drag brunches. On Sunday, the Veterans For Equality were called to one in Pflugerville.
"Just small bits of hate just coming in and we're like, 'OK, you know, we can handle this,'" Pflugerville Pride Vice President Rochell Guerra said.
Guerra and Pflugerville Pride President Raymie Corpuel quickly found out otherwise after posting about their Pflugerville Pride all-ages drag show at Hanovers Daught Haus.
"The manager here was getting death threats received to her personal cellphone," Guerra said. "So we reached out to the vets and to the Pflugerville Police Department as well."
Guerra said they almost never call the police for extra protection for drag shows. In fact, they had one just last week with no issues. But once they arrived at their event on Sunday, it was clear the group had made the right choice.
"They opened up the Nazi flag and the SS flag. Like, at that point I was like, 'You got to be kidding me,'" Mac Peña said.
This small group showed up. Mac Peña said they stood across the street from the event for over an hour.
"There was some crazy music going on that they were playing, very vulgar, derogatory language, really aggressive and against people of color and everything like that," Gen Peña said.
"We didn't even get this much hate for the actual Pride festival that we had," Guerra said.
It's something the vets nor Pflugerville Pride had ever seen in the area or at other events. They are thankful no one was hurt.
"We are not going to stand down and we are ready to be the buffer between the hate," Gen Peña said.
Pflugerville Pride said while no children attended the event, they will continue to give the option and have police on hand.
"This event just showed us that we need to do more for our community and just really step up and have a safe place for everybody," Corpuel said.
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