HRC Blog

Organizing and Marching to End DADT at NW Arkansas Pride

Arriving in Fayetteville -- population 73,372 -- and housing the headquarters of Walmart and Tyson, how was I to know that a relatively small town in the middle of conservative Arkansas would have such an active LGBT community? Not only were they active in planning a month of Pride activities, they volunteered like crazy to help us gather signatures and make calls to Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor’s offices, urging them to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell NOW! With a touch of eccentric flair, Fayetteville was, to say the least, a pleasant surprise. As a Regional Field Organizer for HRC, I was here during the new (and official) Gay Pride month of June. "Pride Month: All Out June," was hosted by the the Northwest Arkansas Center for Equality and NWA Pride. "All Out June" was a month-long chain of events that included an art walk, outdoor documentary showings, live music, fundraisers, volunteer opportunities, bowling, forums, car washes, a roller derby, workshops, and more. However, the highlight of the week was the Pride Parade, marching through Dickson Street, in the middle of downtown Fayetteville. Major organizations participated in the Pride Parade including, but not limited to, PFLAG and HRC. Much to my surprise, a great many local businesses sponsored the event and and the local Unitarian Universalist church as well as the local Public Library hosted several events. We marched and we chanted. We lifted a colossal gay flag, measuring 30 ft by 60 ft, over our heads. We stormed downtown Fayetteville, united in our support of equality for all. The Grand Marshall of the Parade was ten year old Will Phillips, the local student who refused to stand up for the Pledge of Allegiance in school due to his belief, and the hard reality, that there is not "liberty and justice for all." The parade ended with the Mayor of Fayetteville, Lioneld Jordan, speaking to the crowd, proclaiming June to be the official Gay Pride month of Fayetteville. He went on to compare his struggles as a liberal candidate claiming office in Arkansas with the challenges of fostering an accepting community with citizens who can maintain their pride as well as their dignity. I want to thank all of the volunteers who helped us gather hundreds of signatures for DADT repeal and make many calls to Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor asking them to vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Now!  Click here to contact your Senators and take action now.

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