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'All people are welcome' | How one Williamson County LGBTQ Pride celebration inspired another

The Pride movement isn’t just thriving in the big cities, it’s also spreading throughout smaller communities in Central Texas. But it wasn't always this way.

ROUND ROCK, Texas — As part of KVUE's celebration of Pride month, we found out how one small town set the bar for acceptance in Williamson County.

Richard Parson, the founder of Round Rock Pride, was inspired to celebrate LGBTQ Pride in Round Rock this year after visiting Taylor’s first Pride event in 2021. 

"I was listening to their mayor and realized he had such support for their Pride that I stepped up to him, shook his hand and told him, 'That was so inspiring. Now I’ve got to go and do Round Rock Pride,'" Parson said.

RELATED: List: LGBTQ-owned Austin-area businesses you can support during Pride Month and beyond

With the Austin area's booming growth causing more people to move to the suburbs, Round Rock Mayor Craig Morgan knew it was only a matter of time before his town would join the Pride festivities.

"Richard approached me about it, and I said we would be supportive of helping him in any way that we could to have such an event," Morgan said.

Once Parson had the support of his mayor, he set out to make history in Round Rock. That's when KVUE’s own Tony Plohetski jumped in to lend his support.

"When the call came and this invitation came to be their very first emcee for Round Rock's very first Pride celebration, I thought it was so important to do because it really represented something so special and so hopeful," Plohetski said.

RELATED: Austin community leaders share their Pride stories

There was hesitance about how successful the event would be, but the turnout put everyone’s doubts to rest.

"I looked around and saw all of these vendors and hundreds of people. I literally could not believe my eyes," Plohetski said.

Much of the event's success can be chalked up to support from not just the LGBTQ community, but from allies all over the city – including the mayor.

"I’m a mayor for all the people. We have a message in Round Rock that we don’t tolerate hate," Morgan said. "All people are welcome. Our difference, our diversity, that’s what makes us stronger as a community."

"Between Taylor and Round Rock, now it has spread and it’s catching on," Parson said. "Everyone loves to have fun. That’s what we’re all about."

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