The “gay” in a neighborhood street will stay as-is after Pharr residents petitioned to change the name.

Maria and Mel Villarreal have lived in a quiet neighborhood in Pharr near Frontage Road and Egly Avenue for more than 40 years.

“We’re happy here. That’s why we’ve never moved,” Maria Villarreal said.

The neighbors are friendly and the location is convenient, Maria Villarreal said, but there’s one thing she and her husband don’t like about living on the street: it’s named “Gay Drive.”

“The word ‘gay’ used to be a word that the meaning was being jolly, being happy, and now they’ve added another meaning to it and they define themselves as ‘gay people'” Mel Villarreal said. “I don’t have anything against gay people, it’s just that it has that meaning.”

Mel and Maria Villarreal started a petition to change the name. They proposed the name “Los Unicos Street” after Mr. Villarreal’s former Tejano band.

Eleven residents of Gay Drive were onboard with the idea, but the Pharr City Commission wasn’t.

The petition was struck down in a 6-1 vote by commissioners during a November meeting. City staff recommended a denial of the petition because approval of street names is supposed to be determined during the development stage and the change could affect emergency services.

One resident who signed the petition said she’s had second thoughts and is happy with the city’s decision.

“Everybody might have to change all their paperwork, you know, all their documents,” said Beatriz Gonzalez, who’s lived on Gay Drive for 50 years.

As for the Villarreals, they plan to continue pursuing the name change — even offering to settle for a combination of “Gay” and “Los Unicos.”