Jamestown Pride's First Pride Fest A Grand Success

Around 1,000 Attended Headlining Performance by Pandora Boxx

Jamestown Pride's first Pride Festival held Saturday, June 12th in Downtown Jamestown has been declared a success. The Festival took place alongside the Jamestown Public Market, included a Pride flag raising ceremony with Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist, a "safe space" information and resources area, as well as a free music, dance, and drag show headlined by Drag Star and Jamestown native Pandora Box.

The day kicked off with around 100 people gathering on Tracy Plaza for the Pride Flag raising. Mayor Eddie Sundquist presented a proclamation declaring the month of June as "Pride Month" in Jamestown.

Jamestown Pride Coordinator Sheridan Smith said one of the questions he's received most over the last few weeks is "Why do we need Pride?" He said while the Queer community has made amazing strides, there is still work to do, especially with other oppressed identities in the fight for equality and equity, "The other thing is when we're fighting, we need to celebrate. We need something to bring joy. We need something to bring happiness. We need to have that celebration in our action, in our activism. We need the community around us. We need a place where we can be who we are unapologetically in a celebratory way. And the other reason is just because it's fun."

Local LGBTQ activist and transgender woman Helen Walther said Pride is the defense against the shame people try to lay on the community. She said people should stand up and feel belonging in seeing the Pride flag next to the American flag, "So I always advocate that for every Pride celebration there needs to be as many American flags as there are rainbow flags. Because we need to claim our citizenship as well as our pride in who we are. So, be proud, have fun, be safe."

Mayor Sundquist took a moment of silence to honor the memory of the 49 people killed and 53 wounded in the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida five years ago. The shooting was the single deadliest mass shooting event against the LGBTQ community in United States history.

Sundquist said the Jamestown Pride festival was one of the only major in-person Pride events in Western New York. He said while Pride is being able to celebrate one's self openly and authentically, there is so much more to do to be a truly equal society, "Across this country, we see a wave of anti-trans legislation targeting our brothers, our sisters, our fathers, our mothers, our children. We must speak out against these falsehoods pushed in legislation that is rooted in hatred, fear, and misunderstanding. My friends, hatred is a virus."

Jamestown Pride's presence at the Public Market included a Drag Queen Story Time booth, a pronoun button tent sponsored by Jamestown Trans, a "Gender Bread Person" booth, and an "Identity Flower" booth by PreventionWorks. A chalk-walk area filled the alley between the Market and the Wintergarden Plaza "safe space" that featured information and resource tables by around a dozen organizations. A free yoga and Zumba class were provided as well as a "Escape The Closet" game sponsored by Jamestown Escape Rooms.

Around 1,000 people attended the evening performance on the Wintergarden Plaza that featured local band Ion Sky, a choreographed dance "Full Blown" by SUNY Fredonia Dance Professor Anthony Altierio, vocalist Derek DeVlieger, and "Dancing With Victoria" competition dancers. Drag Star Pandora Boxx headlined the show to an ecstatic audience. The night ended with audience members participating in a "Drag U" activity where a few participants were dressed in drag before walking the catwalk with others to showcase their pride.

Jamestown Pride events were presented by Evergreen Health Services, and are also sponsored by Media One Group, The Chautauqua Center, the Mental Health Association of Chautauqua County, the Jamestown Public Market, Chautauqua Institution, and Silver Tree Seniors.

Reporting provided by WRFA News Public Affairs Director Julia Ciesla-Hanley and Jamestown Pride


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