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LGBTQ+ community holds rainbow sit-in at Lubbock City Council

Around 80 supporters attended a rainbow sit-in at Lubbock's City Council meeting on June 27, 2023.
Sarah Self-Walbrick
Texas Tech Public Media
Around 80 supporters attended a rainbow sit-in at Lubbock's City Council meeting on June 27, 2023.

LGBTQ+ advocates filled the Lubbock City Council’s chamber with a rainbow of colors during a sit-in demonstration at Tuesday’s meeting.

The silent protest was organized after the council largely ignored requests for the city to make a proclamation recognizing June as Pride Month in Lubbock.

Because the issue was not on the council’s agenda, participants did not share comments during the official meeting.

“Our main goal here is to show that our representation matters,” Nick Harpster, public relations and advocacy coordinator for LubbockPRIDE, said. “And that we have enough people in the community that they do need to pay attention to us.”

Activists asked the city to show the LGBTQ+ community “that their elected officials acknowledge them, represent them, and respect them as human beings,” according to a news release from organizers.

Harpster said he has tried to engage with city leaders about supporting the local LGBTQ+ community before. He said he has received few responses - and none that satisfy him.

“It’s mostly just silence,” Harpster said. “And what we do get in response is, basically, what we see as gaslighting or something that’s completely against the community altogether.”

Two of the seven city council representatives responded to an email asking for a proclamation to be shared at a LubbockPRIDE event earlier this month, according to Harpster. Both council members responded days after the event.

District 3 Councilman Mark McBrayer wrote back to say “...our citizens will have disagreements where issues of sexual politics are involved in any event…” and claimed it would be “improper” to support the request.

After the council meeting Tuesday afternoon, McBrayer talked with members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community in the lobby of Citizens Tower.

Bethany Luna told him it hurts to have her life referred to as “sexual politics.” Her concerns are for her family’s health and safety. She said it is dehumanizing to be talked about in a way that equates those worries to a contentious council vote.

McBrayer said he has a responsibility to listen to citizens. The group encouraged him to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community.

McBrayer did not give an official comment. Mayor Tray Payne also declined to comment.

New laws that passed the Texas legislative session will affect gay and transgender Texans. That includes attempts to
ban drag performances in front of kids and restrictions on transgender healthcare for minors.

Around 7% of Americans are gay, lesbian or bisexual, a record-high number, according to the Pew Research Center.

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Have a news tip? Email Sarah Self-Walbrick at Follow her reporting on Twitter @SarahFromTTUPM.

Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.