Last year, the inaugural North Texas “Come As You Are” Pride Party had 60 inquiries, but ended up with more than 220 guests. “It was a heartfelt success,” said Morris Garcia, who organized the event along with partner Tim Phillips. This year, the party has 189 confirmed guests on Facebook, and Garcia is hoping the number of attendees will again be double that number.
The family-oriented event was created to help bring unity, awareness and education to a seemingly conservative community. The Pride Party was created by Garcia, current board member and former Collin County Gay and Lesbian Alliance president, and Phillips. Last year’s inaugural Come as You Are Pride Party exceeded expectations. Garcia said he and Phillips had been sitting on the idea for a Pride Party for five years when they finally decided to put one on.
This year’s North Texas “Come as You Are” Pride party is slated for Saturday, June 23 at Tierney’s Café and Tavern in Old Town Lewisville from 6-11 p.m. There will be drink specials, face painting, door prizes and vendor booths, as well as dancing to the music styling of The Ducado Vega Band (6-8 p.m.) and ending the night with DJ Fierce.
Raffles for specialty items from TapeLenders, a $175 spa gift certificate, Mocha Bakery gift certificates, along with kid-friendly items such as iTunes and McDonald’s gift cards, are up for grabs. Tickets may by purchased for $10 online at www.NorthTexasPride.com or $15 at the door, cash only.
Garcia is again spearheading the planning along with a slew of volunteers and a committee made up of Matthew Bado, Gene Goodwin, J.J. McCormick, Belinda Carmickle and Rosemarie Odom. Odom is co-founder of Community, Unity, Respect and Education, or C.U.R.E.
Garcia said the proceeds to the “Come as You Are” pride party will benefit Health Services of North Texas and C.U.R.E., as well as help with the growth and planning of next year’s Pride Party.
The five-year-old non-profit organization, C.U.R.E., began as a way to educate the public and aid the fight against the HIV/AIDS epidemic. C.U.R.E. also brings portions of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to featured events.
“We [Rossetti and Odom] thought it was important for as many people to see the AIDS Memorial Quilt as possible,” said Rossetti.
Rossetti said a booth will be set up at the party and will be accepting additional donations. The AIDS Memorial Quilt panels will not be displayed at the party for the protection and safety of the historic quilt. This is C.U.R.E.’s second year as beneficiary.
C.U.R.E., along with Collin College at the Spring Creek campus, will be hosting free HIV/AIDS testing where quilt panels will be on view to the public Wednesday, June 27 in honor of National HIV Testing Day.
Health Services of North Texas assists in medical treatment regardless of the patient’s ability to pay. The sponsors of the party, as listed on www.NorthTexasPride.com, are Xerox, State Farm Insurance agent Don Corder, Arbonne Botanicals consultant Lucy Watkins, Town Square Buzz and the CCGLA.
Jeanne Rubin, CCGLA vice president, said they will have a booth set up selling buttons, car magnets and inviting new members to join. “Last year was a fun Pride celebration,” said Rubin. “We have high hopes it will grow bigger and better.”
Attendees are invited to stay at the newly renovated Best Western Plus in Lewisville and take advantage of free transportation to/from Tierney’s Tavern. An after-hours pool party will follow the “Come as You Are” Pride Party for those wishing to continue the festivities. Best Western Plus is offering discounted rates to Pride Party guests; however, Garcia was notified that rooms are nearly fully booked.
Garcia is planning on making next year’s “Come as Your Are” Pride Party even bigger and is working on gathering more beneficiaries and assisting with 501(c)(3) tax deductions. Garcia said the title, “Come as You Are,” was the idea of Phillips and captures the meaning of Pride in the community — inviting everyone to come out and be proud of who they are.
Also this week, CCGLA will host its third Thursday monthly mixer at Randy’s Steakhouse in Frisco on Thursday, June 21. Guests can take advantage of half-price drinks and bar menu deals. Rubin said they will be renewing memberships and welcoming new ones. Membership fees start at $10 for limited income members, $45 for family and $25 for individual.
“This will be a good kickoff for all the Pride events this weekend,” said Rubin. “It’ll be a gay old weekend.”