Note: Story has been updated.
Stephens County Pride is extending an inclusive hand to their neighbors in Grady County.
The newly formed Grady County Pride will join Stephens County Pride in organizing Chickasha's first LGBTQ Pride Walk.
The event will take place from 4 to 5:30 p.m. on June 20 in front of the Grady County Courthouse in Chickasha.
Jacob, who founded Stephens County Pride, said everyone is invited. In addition to supporting local LGBTQ, the walk is also for anyone who feels different and needs support.
“There will be a chance for everyone to speak about who they are,” Jacob said.
Participants are encouraged to bring signs with positive messages—as well as water and sunscreen.
Those who need a hug can find Cheryl Browder at the event wearing a “Free Mom Hugs” shirt. Browder will be giving hugs as well as encouraging notes.
“Hugs make you feel like a better person,” Browder said. “They free you of stress, free you of anxiety.”
Jacob and his partner Bryan both have roots in Chickasha. They are proactive in supporting LGBTQ in Oklahoma.
Stephens County Pride held their first walk in Duncan in April 2019. About 15 to 20 people marched down Main Street in Duncan with signs. This has become an annual event in Duncan which has grown over the years. They also held a Pride walk at the Walters Rodeo in 2019.
Due to their success, Stephens County Pride began to receive a flood of requests from Chickasha residents who wanted a similar event in their community. Since announcing the Chickasha Pride Walk, the group has received messages of appreciation.
Browder said she has known Jacob for many years. She has cared for gay and lesbian family members, some who were mistreated due to their sexual orientation.
“It tore my heart out of my chest,” she said.
The Pride walks have received a mix of reactions, love and support as well as hate. Browder said some people have yelled hateful things out of car windows.
“Those are the ones you pray for,” she said.
Browder said the reactions and smiles from hug recipients has been rewarding.
“It makes your heart so happy, you cry happy tears,” she said.
She said she hopes this one little mustard seed will grow into a yearly event that helps Chickasha’s residents be proud of who they are.