Among the new float entries slated to be featured in the city of Opelika’s downtown Christmas parade on Saturday, one will be the first entry sponsored by a local, non-profit LGBTQ group seeking inclusion in celebrating Christmas.

Founded in June 2017, Pride on the Plains is based in the Auburn and Opelika area, said Julio Yanes, secretary and a board member of the group.

In discussing the non-profit’s objective, Yanes referred to information provided in a press release, which states that the community-oriented group has “one overarching mission: celebration, education, empowerment, and inclusion among Alabama’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and allied peoples.”

The group is looking forward to being included among other local groups in celebrating Christmas as neighbors, Yanes said. The group is also hopeful that it will participate in the city of Auburn’s Dec. 10 parade as well.

Some have expressed disapproval of the group’s inclusion in the parade.

The Lee County Ministers Alliance, a group represented by more than 40 local Christian pastors, ministers and leaders, issued a statement this week highlighting how it “expresses sorrow in light of the LGBT participation in the Opelika Christmas parade on Saturday. We feel that Scripture speaks strongly against the lifestyles of this group and we feel they’re participating in a parade that recognizes the birth of our Savior is against all that He stood for. We feel it is our moral responsibility to speak out in opposition to their participation.”

“As president of the Alliance, the statement represents the views of the Alliance’s stance in opposition of the float’s being a part of the parade,” said the Rev. Clifford Jones, president of the Lee County Ministers Alliance and pastor of the Greater Peace Missionary Baptist Church in Opelika.

Pam Powers-Smith, president of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce, too, issued a statement about the group’s involvement in the parade, saying “The organization Pride on the Plains has a float entry in the parade. It will follow the theme we have set for all floats this year. We do not discriminate against groups or organizations participating in the parade.”

“There are many local groups that participate in the parade,” Yanes said while discussing Opelika’s event, “and so Pride on the Plains just looks forward to joining those local groups and celebrating the holiday season.”

The group’s float will feature local talent, including vocalists and carolers of different ages who will be featured on or around the float, Yanes said.

“And then we’re also going to have two entertainers who are from around the Auburn area,” Yanes added. “But we’ve chosen them to be representatives of the LGBT community in the parade.”

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