The month of June isn’t just a time for Steven Cano to express who he is, but a chance to educate his community on LGBTQ+ acceptance.
Cano, who identifies as a gay Latino male, is the lead organizer of RGV Pride, an organization based in Harlingen that hosts an annual LGBTQ+ family-friendly event designed to celebrate pride month.
Founded in 2013, RGV Pride is known for hosting one of the first-ever pride events in the Rio Grande Valley. What started off as a much smaller event, with 400 attendees, now attracts thousands of people each year from all over the region.
But while living in a predominantly Latino and Catholic community, Cano recognizes that there is still much progress to be made in his community in regards to the public’s perception on LGBTQ issues.
“There’s so much culture, there’s so much history, but there’s still so much change and progress that needs to be made,” Cano said. “So, when celebrating Pride, it’s all about that for me, on continuing to educate our community about acceptance, awareness and overall inclusivity.”
Cano says it’s disheartening to see elected officials attack LGBTQ rights, transgender individuals and women’s health and reproductive rights. He said it was especially hard when he learned that state Rep. Bryan Slaton announced he will file a bill with the Legislature that would ban children from attending drag shows.
“We are banning children from going and seeing a creative art. We’re banning books. We are banning rhetoric. But we’re not doing anything about a problem that is a continued problem,” Cano said.
As an advocate for this community, Cano says that the more people have conversations about LGBTQ+ issues, the more likely they are to realize they have more in common with the LGBTQ+ community than they have differences.
“It’s about continuing to educate ourselves. It’s about continuing to advocate for ourselves. And above all, love is love,” Cano said.