The PRIDE Rainbow Run 5K certainly earned its title Saturday morning. As participants crossed the finish line they were covered in colored powder. "I think the turnout is fantastic," says Lindsey Wright. "It's beautiful, people are smiling, having a good time."
The costumes were just as colorful. Each year, participants of the largest and longest running PRIDE 5K in Texas are encouraged to dress up and show their pride for the LGBTQ community. "I think it's good to make a statement and just come out and say we're here. I hope people just are excited about it and know we're no different than anyone else. We just like to have fun," Wright tells FOX 7.
The race kicked off a day full of PRIDE events around Austin. At Fiesta Gardens thousands showed up for the annual PRIDE festival featuring live music, activities and more than 100 booths representing organizations that support the LGBTQ community. "Our participation is up over 20%," says Paul Huddleston with the Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation which puts on the city's PRIDE events. He says this year's theme 'Love Unites' is a reminder of how far the gay and lesbian community has come in regards to equality, but that hurdles still stand in the way. "I think people are hopeful that it's happening. We saw some great leads and strides in equality this year. Texas is another story. It might take a little longer."
While same-sex marriage remains illegal in Texas, just recently, the Texas National Guard announced it will refuse to process requests for benefits filed by same-sex spouses. "We believe the Guard should do the right thing," says Chuck Smith with Equality Texas. "The right thing is to honor the spirit of the Department of Defense recognizing all families of our service members."
He adds that PRIDE events help raise awareness that there is still work to be done when it comes to equality for all. "We're talking about people that are neighbors, friends, family members, coworkers and they know that there's no rational basis to discriminate people just because of their orientation or identity."
PRIDE events continued Saturday evening with a symbolic same-sex group wedding and the annual PRIDE parade down Congress.