OPINION: Upcoming Legislative Session Poses Threat for LGBTQ Texans

The Texas Legislative session for 2023 began on Jan. 10 and runs through May 29, 2023. Republicans control both chambers. Some bills on the agenda threaten LGBTQ Texans and women’s reproductive rights. 

by Foster Milburn

Every two years, Texas representatives meet for a consecutive 140-day period. The sessions include the discussion and passing of bills that affect all Texans. We, as Texans, vote for these representatives to represent us from all 150 Texas House districts across the state, but most people need to understand how these bills pass. Understanding this element is crucial as voting is more than just who is elected governor. 

After a bill is passed in both the House and Senate, it is sent to the governor for signing. The last legislative session took place in 2021 and brought much attention to itself. 

During this time, two bills passed directly affecting women and critical race theory, such as House Bill 1280 after the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the “critical race theory bill” that severely restricted the teaching of current and past events. 

History won’t be erased, but we must learn and move forward from mistakes made and committed in the past. You can track these and more bills on the Equality Texas website, the official state LGBTQ advocacy organization.  

This upcoming session will directly attack LGBTQ Texans with laws similar to the ones passed in 2021 that restrict transgender individuals and their access to essential healthcare such as hormone therapy. 

In November 2022, Texas Representative Tony Tinderholt (R-Arlington) hired 22-year-old Jake Neidort as his office’s legislative director. Jake was a UNT student who advocated against transgender equality alongside his twin sister, who was seen in a TikTok video designing fliers, stating, “Criminalize Child Transitions.” 

In 2021, videos emerged on social media showcasing the harassment of local drag queens in Dallas, Texas. One was of a man who was driven by a queen who had just left a family-friendly drag brunch held at Mr. Mister, located in Oaklawn. Protests and harassment followed suit. Protesters suggested that drag exposure to children is “abusive, pedophilic, and confuses children.” Dallas police showed up and helped those with children out of the area. A day to celebrate LGBTQ pride disrupted diversity with violence. 

Now, in 2023, a bill on the agenda opens the discussion regarding children being in the presence of drag queens and LGBTQ culture in general. House Bill 643 states that any establishment, serving alcohol or not, would have to acquire a license that would require a registration fee and annual renewal. If a venue is found to violate this would be fined $4,000 and sentenced to a year in jail. In short, no more drag brunches for the inclusion of youth to be exposed to LGBTQ culture, even if family-friendly. This bill also brings up the fear of Pride festivals/parades becoming 21 years or older. 

Pride parades are a time for all ages of the queer community and allies to celebrate diversity. It is a space where people come to feel safe to celebrate the queer community. This exposure is vital, especially for Texas youth, as being a minor can feel very isolating for younger queer people. I know this because that was me, as a native Texan. 

Rain, a gay bar on 4th St., holds drag shows throughout the week. At Rain, Tuesdays and Wednesdays are 18 and up, according to Scott Percifull, a partner and general manager of Rain. “So there’s no opportunity for anyone under that age to get in,” he said, “it would be very challenging to enforce.”

The bill states that any business classified as a sexually oriented business would have to be a certain distance from any school or church in the area. When asked his thoughts, Percifull said, “It is restrictive. It is two steps shy of getting into private businesses and saying you can’t do that because we disagree with the culture.” Restrictions similar to HB 643, alongside other enforcements, foreshadow the hypocrisy as Texas is a state that dislikes rules concerning small businesses. 

Parents assert that children should be able to make their own choices, yet when parents who do support the LGBTQ community want to expose their children to all things Pride, it’s wrong? Unfortunately, a brick wall divides the state of Texas into two sides. The side that wants to celebrate diversity and move to a more inclusive world, and the ones who want to bully the LGBTQ community out of the state.

Four ways Austin Celebrates LGBTQIA+ Pride During A Pandemic

Written by Emily Pesina

During times like these where staying indoors could potentially save your life and others; many public events, restaurants, and social gatherings have moved to a virtual platform. One of the largest annual traditions to be affected this year is Pride Month. With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the nationally recognized celebration members of the LGBTQIA+ community and others make every effort to honor the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Manhattan. Which is considered a tipping point for this movement in the United States, according to the Library of Congress. 

In previous years, you could find people celebrating in colorful pride parades, parties, and other large social gatherings. However, with more than two million people diagnosed with COVID-19 in the United States, alternative options have been made to still celebrate Pride as well as keep people safe and healthy. Here are four ways the Austinites have celebrated Pride month this year local events, nationally, and globally.

Thee Gay Agenda

Check out Thee Gay Agenda (TGA), a queer art collective based in ATX. TGA has hosted virtual events through Zoom such as “Thee Stay Homo Series”, a variety of queer creatives that call for bringing the LGBTQIA+ community closer while in quarantine. Thee Gay Agenda also focuses on uplifting LGBTQIA+ voices by sharing artwork of various local artists. TGA described this as “a culmination of expression and a celebration of queerness in the face of objection.” in order to combat hate comments sometimes left on their page.

Currently, TGA and Austin Black Pride have been working together to create “Thee Learning Factory Fund: a set of funds that are allocated to subsidize the cost of materials and classes for Black and queer individuals who wish to participate. This includes journals, tarot decks, jump rings, stained glass materials, and more.” in order to help those who want to participate in their series. If you’re interested in this unique, interactive, and knowledgeable fun group, check them out at their Instagram @thee.gay.agenda or website, https://www.theegayagenda.com/, for Pride events in June.

UT Austin Lavender Graduation and ACC LGBTQIA+ Pride Demonstrations

While many graduating students completed their final courses behind a screen rather than on campus this academic year, the University of Texas at Austin formed a Lavender Graduation ceremony. On May 20, UT Austin held this ceremony on Facebook Live to honor the achievements of graduating Longhorns who are also a part of the LGBTQIA+ community. The event included speeches from UT faculty, staff, and students, a care package that included a Lavender Graduation Certificate, a rainbow tassel, and a virtual cupcake.

“One of the ways you can celebrate pride is by owning a rainbow look. Whether that is owning a flag or wearing a pin,” said Whitney Stone, ACC dance Major. Like many others, Stone also plans on celebrating Pride Month virtually this year.


Annually, May 17 marks International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, and Intersexphobia (IDAHOBIT). Usually, a day where people come out for marches of Pride and awareness-raising events about the harassment that the LGBTQIA+ community faces, this year people stayed in while being openly-queer on social media. Connected through the hashtag #IDAHOBIT, the community united globally as people went from sharing selfies with rainbow-painted cheeks to raising awareness of discriminatory-attitude events.

“I try to celebrate the accomplishments of LGBT, but it’s more of not just in June, but throughout the year,” said ACC graduate, Margo DeAlva.

DeAlva is the creator of ACC’s LGBTeQuity, AND an award-winning LGBT star award for her courageous achievements such as her self-made documentary Transtastic

“It’s important for everybody in this time, whether for pride month or throughout the year, to reminisce over your accomplishments,” DeAlva added, “It’s not selfish to talk to your loved ones about it and just be like “Hey, how did you feel when I first told you I was this or that, and what do you think about it now?” Although many societies around the world have progressed in acceptance and inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ community, there remain battles left to fight.” DeAlva said. 

@virtualpride2k20 on Instagram

@Virtualpride2k20, an Instagram account founded by Kiara Fox, is hosting a month-long virtual event taking place in June that strives to unite the LGBTQIA+ community in providing not just community, but a youth-driven grassroots movement. 

On their Instagram page, various social media stars such as Eugene Yang from the Try Guys, Raquel Bagwell, a well-known content creator for the app Tik Tok, and many others share their experiences being a part of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as host self-care days, and history about this community. To participate in this global event you can tune in to @virtualpride2k20’s EST Instagram/Twitch live streams, and post on social media with the hashtag corresponding to the day’s activity.

5 Things to do during PRIDE Month

The Stonewall riots occurred on June June 28, 1969 in New York City. This night at the Stonewall Inn a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations erupted by members of the LGBT community against a police raid. These acts are known to have sparked the Gay revolution. Show off that special PRIDE this month!

  1. Drag Queen Bingo: Pride Edition on June 18. Bring yourself, friends and an appetite to Red’s Porch (Quarry location) starting at 8p. Make a reservation at 512-236-5436 and be ready for some shenanigans.
  2. Austin LGBT Chamber June Happy Hour on June 21. Meet and mingle with fellow LGBT business and allied business owners and professionals. At Harrison Branch – Farmers Insurance at 6:30p.
  3. Proud! Austin LGBT Awards Gala on June 23. Celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month at LINE ATX Hotel at 6p. Toast to the LGBT Chamber for turning 21 years. Keynote speaker, Sarah Weddington (argued Roe v. Wade) will be in there to celebrate with all in attendance.
  4. 8th Annual Stonewall Celebration on June 27. Rally at the Texas State Capitol on the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Pay tribute to those who have and continue to spark the modern day gay rights movement. This year marks the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.
  5. Daybreaker ATX/PRIDE Party on June 29. Celebrate all love at Native Hostel at 6a. Stretch out in the morning during yoga from 6-7a, then dance your heart out from 7-9a with Girlfriend ATX.