Pride Month is now underway across the country. Festivals, parades, and other events are being held to celebrate and fight for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Here in San Marcos, we have SMTX Pride, which is typically celebrated in September. It all got started with an event called Rainbow Night, thanks to Sylvia Sandoval.
“Rainbow Night started back in 2009,” Sandoval recalled. “A friend of ours from here in San Marcos, we all went out, a bunch of us got together and she happened to be transgender. She was caught in a little miscommunication situation with another young lady. And all I hear her yelling is, ‘we don't have anything in San Marcos for us.’ And so, after that, I took it upon myself to find a place we could have at least once a week, a LGBT night.”
Sandoval contacted a local bar owner to see if they would allow her and her friends to host an LGBT night where they could all feel safe. She promised the bar wouldn’t have to do anything, they would even bring their own DJ.
To her surprise, LGBT night was a hit.
SMTX Pride Founder, Sylvia Sandoval
“What I thought was going to be about ten, 20 people,” Sandoval said. Instead, there was a large crowd after the event turned into a fundraiser. “One of my friends, her business was trying to raise money for the AIDS Foundation, so we turned it into a fundraiser for all nonprofit organizations.”
Rainbow Night turned out be very meaningful in more than one way. Not only did it become an avenue to give back to the community, but it also provided a safe space for everyone, including Sandoval herself.
“It was pretty moving to see all the support. I didn't realize it -- it was okay to be out,” said Sandoval.
After a series of successful Rainbow nights, someone ask Sandoval if she had ever organized a Pride parade or festival. She had no experience in that type of events, but she was passionate enough to make it work.
“You can go to Austin, and you have a nightlife. You know, you can see and be a part of all that. That's only 20 minutes away. But here we're going to continue trying to make it family friendly. We try to watch our representation of San Marcos is big for me,” Sandoval said.
SMTX Pride takes place every year, usually in September, to make sure Texas State University students can also participate. At the end of the day, Sandoval says, this is a community celebration.
“It's about you showing up. Even if you show up for ten minutes and just show a little support. That's all we're asking for,” Sandoval said.