Pride Week comments draw responses from all angles￼
By Kyle Mooty
Following the comments regarding Pride Week events from a local pastor during the public comments’ portion of the June 7 meeting of the Lockhart City Council, several residents came forward in protest and some in support of the words during the June 21 meeting.
Pastor Pete Archinega was upset that the city had decided to show a Disney film at its outside Movie night because “Disney has sold out,” adding that he wished the Pride Events scheduled for later would be rained out.
Lockhart Mayor Lew White opened the meeting by apologizing that he had allowed Archinega to do what was in essence a “sermon” and that he had not kept a timer on the pastor.
“I did not screen comments,” White said. “Pride Week was held at private businesses and were well attended. One business owner was assaulted and hopefully the man will be identified very soon. We are one community made up of many new people that invest in our businesses, involved in the community, raising families here.”
White read a proclamation and afterwards received a lengthy applause.
The proclamation also drew praise and anger from some in the packed room at the Clark Library Annex.
Martindale Baptist Church Pastor Gary Clements was the first to speak.
“I’m here to speak against the proclamation,” Clements said. “I don’t see a reason to endorse this with a proclamation if it is a private event. This is a different style of morality that would offend some people. I’m not here to bash anybody, but I am concerned that there were events that could be considered grooming events for young people. I felt like the fellow who spoke at your meeting had a good point that it’s time to look out for our young people. There are different points of view on standards of morality and what’s right and what’s wrong. Your proclamation would offend people like me, and I think there are a lot of people like me.”
Several residents followed with opinions on the subject:
Jeff Utzinger: “Thanks for the proclamation regarding Pride Week. This is not something new in our society. This is not something new in Lockhart, Texas. The LBGTQ+ community is part of the fabric of this town. It has been for decades, probably centuries. There is a study out there that says 50 percent of all LBGTQ+ have contimplated suicide in the past year; 19 percent have reportedly attempted suicide. This is a matter of life and death.”
Jessica Rutland, co-owner of Lockhart Arts and Craft: “There were so many positive events last weekend but unfortunately hate will still seep into the town. We received a letter that said we had witchcraft here and claimed we were serving alcohol to minors. So, you need to do more.”
Wayne Walther: “That was a wonderful proclamation. I simply want to say we are a different community, and because we are different, we are stronger, we are healthier, and we are happier.”
Robert Steinbomer: “We moved here from Houston. One of the reasons was because Lockhart was welcoming. There are different opinions expressed. That’s what makes Lockhart strong.”
Jaston Williams: “We do not need a resolution to be proud. We have plenty of reasons why we should be proud. My husband and I adopted a child from China. A lot of people tried to stop us. The child has had nine major surgeries and we fed him through an eyedropper. He was not supposed to live to be 12 years old. On Saturday, he turned 25.”
Michael Laird: “Maybe someday we won’t need a Pride proclamation. I look forward to that day.”
Donna Daniels: “All the events my husband and daughter attended at Pride Week were outstanding and extremely uplifting. We were proud to show our 20-year-old daughter the diversity and love that exist in Lockhart.”
Arysta Soler: “The average age at the events was 19 to 24. Many of them graduated from Lockhart High School. Last week, for many, was the first time they came out. They have every right to be as loud and obnoxious as I am. I thank you for being a beacon of support for us.”
Even comments at the end of the meeting from councilmembers were not without dissension.
Councilmember David Bryant, who drew backlash from many following his social broadcast of a Jan. 23 sermon depicting the Jewish community as controlling the media, among other things, said he again drew the ire of some when he thanked Archinega following his comments to the council.
“Some people were upset at me when I thanked Pastor Pete last week,” Bryant said. “I remember just a few months ago when I was attacked and not being the popular one in the room. Everyone on the council wanted me to step down except me. I recall hearing false claims about me during citizens’ comments. I would like to express my disappointment in the city of Lockhart as a governmental entity for issuing a proclamation on behalf of the Pride Week events that took place. I’m disappointed that the mayor chose to honor Pride Week with his proclamation after hearing feedback from citizens on both sides of this controversial issue.
“I agree that the city of Lockhart is a welcoming community and an exceptional place to live, learn, work, play, and raise a family. I recognize the importance of equality and diversity in freedom. I do not believe that sexual identity and sexual orientation should be a topic of celebration from our local city government.”
Councilmember Brad Westmoreland said, “This community, I can’t say enough about it. We are all different. A piece of pie has to come together to eat it. It’s all good. To be a part of it is not only a challenge, but it’s fun.
Councilmember Kara McGregor added, “I was so impressed with what a positive celebration (Pride Week) was. We are such a terrific town to live in. I’m proud of our community and proud at where we’re going.”
White concluded the comments by stating, “I’m proud of our town. I’m proud of the people that live here.”