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."
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."
Mark Phariss & Vic Holmes, celebrating 25 years together last August, were one of Texas' two couples to successfully sue the State of Texas for the right to marry.
They live in Plano with their rescued beagle, Chispa.
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.”
Katelynn, a recent graduate and honor student at 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 attends the University of Texas, majoring in anthropology to become an archeologist, and she hopes to gain a place in academia some day.
Katelynn says, "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 32 years and have been married for 9. 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 says, "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."
Gordy is a former Equality Fellow and joined Equality Texas as Field Coordinator in Collin County in March 2022. They grew up all over Texas but has called Plano home for majority of their adult life.
They began their advocacy journey after joining the board of directors of GALA in 2019 as Community Chair and volunteered with Equality Texas and community partners at Advocacy Day. They are a fierce advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially when engaging trans youth. They has traveled to Austin on many occasions at a moments notice to testify at the Capitol during the 86th & 87th legislative sessions (including all three 2020 special sessions).
Gordy can usually be found volunteering with North Texas nonprofits or organizing educational panel discussions on various topics pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ community.
"Coming out as nonbinary was a really long journey. For so many of us gender-diverse people, access to knowledge is an obstacle.
Embracing my identity was like finally placing that final puzzle piece to finish a 1000-piece puzzle after struggling with the wrong piece for 34 years.
This peace that I've gained from embracing my identity has fueled the flame in my advocacy. Having the language and the tools to help advocate for the many trans, nonbinary, and gender-diverse kids across north Texas is a privilege that I do not take lightly."
Pearl Lewis' passion is working with trauma survivors to help get their lives back.
"Happy PRIDE! I support you! You are not alone. To all my LGBTQ+ family: I am your lesbian sister. Representation matters because it creates a safer place for others. This is why PRIDE is important. I am so grateful to have met openly LGBTQ people in my youth. Meeting them and their representation was life-saving for me. That is why I am out and open. It saves lives for other kids growing up LDS Mormon or a conservative home, such as I did. You are loved and valuable as you are. You are not alone. Thank you to all the allies for being welcoming and supportive by celebrating PRIDE. Your inclusion is more helpful than you realize. Thank you. I am honored to support my clients who are LGBTQ."
To contact Pearl Lewis
Find more resources at The Trevor Project
#pride #lgbtq #lesbian #support #love #lgbtqbusiness #lesbianownedbusiness #womenownedbusiness #lgbtqownedbusiness
CCSD is an official chapter of the Texas Stonewall Democratic Caucus. We would like to invite all Democratic stakeholders in the LGBTQIA2S+ Community and Allies from Collin County to become active members. We work to elect pro-LGBTQIA2S+ Democrats in federal, state, and local elections, serve as a bullhorn for LGBTQIA2S+ governmental issues, and supply LGBTQIA2S+ voters to ballot boxes. Please visit their Facebook page or their website for more information.
Equality Texas works to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. Please sign up here for more information.
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. Please visit their Facebook page for more information.
LGBTQ+ Elder Care
LGBTQ+ older Americans face tremendous challenges when it comes to health care. Please check out this "LGBTQ+ Elder Health Care Guide" that can help connect older adults in the LGBTQ+ community to the resources and information that will help them find the care they need. Please note: No purchase or sign-up is required at the linked website. MADC is providing this link in the hopes the information will be helpful to our LGBTQ+ community.