LGBTQ Friends 

Share their Stories of 

 Pride Strength Courage Truth and Love 


Justin Sokol

"It's taken a lot of sacrifice of many before us to get us to where we are now. ...We are all human and Pride celebrates LGBTQA rights as human beings."


Lauren Babis 

"Pride is important for community acceptance, and acceptance is critical in reducing suicide."

16 2015, 04, 28 Mark & Vic on SCOTUS Steps taken by Tracy Hollister 002 copy_edited_edited

Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes

“Pride is a time for us to remind the world and ourselves that we exist, that we are proud to be gay, bi, or trans, and we’re definitely not turning back."


Justin Sokol, the current CEO (Chief Extraordinary Officer/Owner) of Marie Gregory, a downtown McKinney clothing boutique, is excited about his new venture.


Along with fellow owner (Boss Lady), Rachel, he opened Marie Gregory in October 2021 after a lifelong dream to create a fun, engaging, and unique boutique experience that makes every client feel special. They feature local artists, handcrafted goods, and independent brands. Justin, Rachel, and their shop were recently showcased in a publication of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce. 

Regarding Pride Month, Justin says, "Pride is important to me because it celebrates who I am, and lets me celebrate other LGBTQA persons in their journey to be seen as who they are.

 – Justin Sokol

Lauren Babis says, "I’m bisexual and just moved to McKinney to live with my boyfriend and his son. I’m Director of Cybersecurity for Publicis Groupe, and my boyfriend is also in IT, so we both work from home full time.

One of the main reasons I’ve gotten more vocal about my sexuality, despite being in a “straight passing” relationship, is because bisexuals have a higher suicide rate than gay people do (still lower than trans folks), and it is suggested that this may be due to “bi erasure,” (where bi people don’t feel like full LGBTQIA community members). But we are, and we should celebrate that."

– Lauren Babis 

16 2015, 04, 28 Mark & Vic on SCOTUS Steps taken by Tracy Hollister 002 copy_edited_edited

Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes, celebrating 25 years together this coming August, were one of Texas' two couples to successfully sue the State of Texas for the right to marry.

They live in Plano and have three rescued beagles: Abby (16), Chispa (almost 10) and Jake (almost 19).


When asked what Pride means to them, Mark and Vic said, "Pride is a celebration of who we are. With a Texas preacher calling for the murder of gays, our Texas legislature continually considering (and often passing) anti-LGBTQ legislation, and some states passing laws prohibiting just saying the word 'gay,' Pride is a time for us to remind the world and ourselves that we exist, that we are proud to be gay, bi, or trans, and we’re definitely not turning back.  Closets were made for clothes.”

– Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes

LGBTQ Friends 

More Stories of 

 Pride Strength Courage Truth and Love 


Marc Steib & Billy Simmons

"We believe Pride provides visibility that helps others in the LGBTQ+ community see someone just like them. Pride helps people on the outside looking in to see that we’re just people who want to live their best lives just like they do."



"Pride is extremely important to me because it allows me to live and to love freely; it allows me to celebrate overcoming my hardships and appreciate how far I’ve come.""


"Billy Simmons and Marc Steib have been together 31 years and have been married for eight. They're both retired but keep very busy in various activities.


Billy is on the Board of the Historic McKinney Neighborhood Association and also on the Board of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas.


Marc, a sports aficionado, is involved with Pride sports and the Diva Volleyball Association. 

– Billy Simmons & Marc Steib

Katelynn, an 18-year-old graduate of McKinney High School, is the former president of the school's Gay/Straight Alliance. Her activism includes speaking up in support of public education in addition to other issues. 


She plans to attend the University of Texas in the fall, majoring in anthropology to become an archeologist, and she hopes to gain a place in academia some day.

– Katelynn


Gay and Lesbian Alliance of North Texas (GALA)

GALA's mission is to celebrate diversity and enhance quality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer North Texans. During elections, they provide voter guides to highlight LGBTQ allies. They also sponsor the GALA Youth program dedicated to providing LTBTQ youth and allied youth with tools to improve self-esteem and self-acceptance. 

GALA's usual Third Thursday social on June 16th will be extra-special this month during Pride! If you RSVP on the event tab, your first drink is on GALA! Please visit GALA's website for more information or their Facebook page

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Pride 2022 Events

June 4th

11 am - 3 pm

CARROLLTON PRIDE @ Horizon Unitarian Church, Carrollton 

June 4th & 5th

39th Annual DALLAS PRIDE @ Fairpark, Dallas

June 7th 

FRISCO PRIDE Proclamation & Afterparty @ Frisco

June 12th

4 pm - 6 pm

McKinney Dems DRAG BINGO @ Tupps Brewery, McKinney

June 16th

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

GALA North Texas HAPPY HOUR @ Urban Rio Rooftop, Plano

June 24th

2 pm - 6 pm

McKINNEY PRIDE @ the Groovy Coop, McKinney

June 26th

12 pm - 6 pm

2nd Annual PRINCETON PRIDE @ J.M. Caldwell Park, Princeton