Tens of thousands of people from around the country descended on Dallas for the city's annual Gay Pride Festival and Parade over the weekend.
“It's lots of people, lots of fun [and] lots of rainbows,” Jaron Turnbow said with a smile.
Turnbow, a Tarrant County native, has been a volunteer for Dallas Pride for 12 years.
“I was 21 when I first started helping with pride,” he said. “We are getting more acceptance and more people on our side because it's not just gay people who come to the event. It's our allies. It's our parents. It's our friends.”
Just thinking about the amount of love he sees at Pride brought unexpected tears to his eyes.
“Pride means to me being out and being who I am and not being scared anymore; especially with my family,” he said.
The local gay community said it’s been a tough year filled with a number of highs, lows and challenges.
The highs came with news that local Boy Scout troops were inviting transgender youth to join. The lows are still playing out with the uncertainty of the future of transgender military service. The challenges, they said, were the constant debates surrounding the Bathroom Bill.
“It's nice to see how far we have come, but also shows we have a long way to go still in acceptance and laws to protect us,” Turnbow said.
The theme this year is “Stand up, Speak Out.”
Turnbow is tasked with helping plan the annual Pride parade. The first one started as a march for gay rights.
“It's emotional when I drive down the parade route and see all these families and their kids and everybody's cheering for us,” he smiled through tears.
This year, Dallas Pride Weekend is expanding. For the first time, it will be a two day event with the festival being held on Saturday and the Alan Ross Freedom Parade being held on Sunday.