\r\n\r\nBy Jaden Edison, Texas Tribune\r\nWhen 31 members of a Texas-based white supremacist group were arrested near a Pride event in Idaho last weekend, Mandy Giles worried about what it would mean for the upcoming Pride Houston event and her two nonbinary transgender 20-year-old children.\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s still scary just for them to be part of the trans community and put them in a larger LGBTQ community,\u201d Giles, president of the LGBTQ advocacy group PFLAG Houston, said about her kids.\r\nBefore last weekend\u2019s incident, the organization was set on participating in the Houston parade. Allies of PFLAG were invited to tag along. But then Giles realized it was important to figure out how the group was feeling in the aftermath of the arrests.\r\nThe organization had to decide whether participating in the event was even safe.\r\nPFLAG Houston is just one of several LGBTQ advocacy groups this month weighing their safety and their desire to move forward with the events that commemorate the catalyst of their civil rights movement.\r\n\u201cWe just keep hearing of these far-right extremists that continue to attack and demonize the LGBTQIA community,\u201d Daniel Pacheco, co-chair of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio, told The Texas Tribune. \u201cIt\u2019s definitely concerning to us.\u201d\r\nMembers of Patriot Front were arrested Saturday in Idaho on misdemeanor conspiracy to riot charges after the Coeur d\u2019Alene police department responded to a call about \u201ca little army\u201d of people with masks and shields getting into a U-Haul van near a Pride event. Officials on the scene located a smoke grenade in the vehicle, along with \u201cabnormally large metal poles and voice amplification-type devices,\u201d according to court records obtained by KXLY News. The group members, eight of whom are Texans, have since been released on bond.\r\nThe arrests have cast worry over dozens of Pride events across Texas scheduled to take place in the coming weeks as the monthlong celebration in remembrance of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising continues. This month\u2019s Pride falls six years after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the deadliest violent incident against LGBTQ people in American history.\r\nPride celebration also arrives with a warning from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security about potential violence spurring from recent and upcoming hot-button events. And it comes on the heels of Texas officials targeting trans children\u2019s access to gender-affirming care and the LGBTQ-themed books that children can access in school libraries.\r\n\u201cThis is something that is on our community\u2019s mind,\u201d Pacheco said. \u201cWe realize that we\u2019re constantly under attack, whether it be from these movements, and I think a lot of it also stems from the words that our elected officials are utilizing. I think that\u2019s what\u2019s sparking, lighting the flame to this hate.\u201d\r\nIn June 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar, setting off six days of protests. Resistance to the violent police force was led by notable trans women of color Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Pride commemorates the uprising, which is largely considered the catalyst of the LGBTQ civil rights movement.\r\nSince Stonewall, Pride has represented the \u201cthe ability to come together in a safe place,\u201d said Ahmad Goree, director of public relations for Dallas Southern Pride.\r\n\u201cTo fellowship together and be happy and just see that there\u2019s other people out here like you,\u201d Goree said. \u201cThey come from so many different backgrounds, such as career backgrounds, educational backgrounds, various parts of the United States. For all them to see that, you know, these are the same type of people as you are. And you\u2019re able to have fun safely in this particular, one place.\u201d\r\nDallas Southern Pride, which primarily serves LGBTQ people of color, is set to host the Juneteenth Unity Festival this weekend. The events will combine both Pride and emancipation celebrations. Goree said the organization has stayed in close contact with local government officials and law enforcement to ensure the safety of members and attendees.\r\nPacheco said his organization has spoken with local law enforcement ahead of San Antonio\u2019s Pride kickoff event on Friday to make sure there is \u201cadequate security for our members, for our community.\u201d\r\nOther organizations like PFLAG Austin were initially reluctant to make contact with police given a fraught history between law enforcement and the LGBTQ community. After the extremist activity in Idaho, however, the organization is revisiting that plan, said Anna Nguyen, the chapter\u2019s president.\r\nThe Department of Homeland Security last week issued a warning that recent and upcoming events \u2014 including the mass shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo, New York; the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court decision on abortion access; and the November midterm elections \u2014 could be \u201cexploited to justify acts of violence against a range of possible targets.\u201d\r\nEarlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive instructing the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate parents who provide gender-affirming care for their trans children as possible child abuse \u2014 despite major medical associations recommending the care to treat gender dysphoria, the distress one can feel when their gender identity does not align with their biological sex. An Austin judge last week temporarily stopped those investigations for Texans who are members of PFLAG.\r\nTexas Republican officials have also recently limited how teachers discuss history and current events. And the GOP has looked to limit childrens\u2019 access to books with references to sexuality and race. In April, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he would prioritize a Texas version of the \u201cDon\u2019t Say Gay\u201d bill, Florida legislation that limits classroom discussions about LGBTQ people.\r\nAustin Davis Ruiz, communications and marketing manager of the Montrose Center in Houston, said the advocacy organization\u2019s members weren\u2019t surprised by the white supremacist incident in Idaho. The rhetoric and legislation shaped by Republican state officials, he said, has \u201cvery real-world effects,\u201d which include discrimination and violence against LGBTQ communities.\r\nRuiz said the Montrose Center is mapping out a plan for alternative meet-up locations in case extremist activity materializes in the coming weeks. The city is scheduled to host the annual Pride Houston event at the end of the month.\r\n\u201cWhen you see that kind of conservative effort and that kind of mass restriction of LGBTQ rights, specifically with trans people, that then has a ripple effect to communities across the country,\u201d Ruiz said. \u201cPeople feel emboldened and empowered to attack our communities, to shoot trans people, to rush Pride events and to try and cause disruption and violence. It all is interconnected.\u201d\r\nIn 2021, Texas introduced 124 restrictive bills aimed at LGBTQ communities, including limiting trans kids\u2019 participation in school sports and access to gender-affirming health care, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Texas was among the 22 states in the organization's lowest-rated category for achieving basic equality.\r\nAlso last year, five LGBTQ Texans were victims of fatal violence, according to the advocacy group, making Texas among the top states for such incidents. Black trans women made up 66% of all known victims across the country since 2013.\r\nTexas\u2019 hate crime law doesn\u2019t include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.\r\nViolence against LGBTQ people is nothing new, said Ricardo Martinez, executive director of Equality Texas. But given everything that has occurred recently, he said, \u201cit feels so much heavier.\u201d\r\nEarlier this month, Republican state Rep. Bryan Slaton of Royse City said he would file a bill in the next legislative session to ban drag shows from happening in front of minors. That vow came days after a Dallas bar hosted what organizers called a family-friendly event with drag performers, according to WFAA-TV. Abbott on Sunday tweeted that he was directing the Texas Education Agency to investigate a claim by a Houston Independent School District parent who said a teacher took his underaged son to a drag show at a club in 2019.\r\n\u201cGiven the boldness of people in positions of power threatening to take our rights away, it feels really severe, it feels deeply disturbing,\u201d Martinez said. \u201cWhen vigilantes are traveling hundreds of miles to terrorize queer people, Pride is an act of bravery. And when state politicians refuse to address the systemic violence that is happening and instead fixate on drag performers, Pride is an act of bravery. So we are being called to summon from an empty cup.\u201d\r\nFar-right extremists have taken the Republican-sponsored legislation and rhetoric as \u201ca cue that they\u2019re OK to exist,\u201d said Michael L. Casey, secretary of PFLAG San Marcos. They said the organization will likely discuss safety plans for future Pride events in the city.\r\n\u201cWhat I find is, with these groups, they are often consisting of people that are very misinformed. And they are consciously and intentionally misinformed,\u201d Casey said. \u201cThey are wanting to be in an echo chamber where they hear only what they think is right in the first place anyway. And I find that the state legislatures, whether they intend to or not, tend to inadvertently and indirectly endorse such extremist groups.\u201d\r\nPFLAG Houston ultimately concluded that individual members can decide if they want to attend the Pride event there or not. Giles, the group\u2019s president, personally felt that attending was the right thing to do.\r\nBecause this year, it \u201cfeels more like a statement,\u201d she said.\r\n\r\nThis article originally appeared in the Texas Tribune at texastribune.org\/2022\/06\/17\/texas-pride-events-2022-safety.