Warren County Pride on June 17
Approximately 4,000 people participated in the fourth annual Warren County Pride Day at Betts Park on Saturday, June 17th. EmCee Logan Johnson and Erie DJ Sabine kept things moving with music, contests, games, and guest speakers. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention won the "Best Decorated Booth" contest, The North PA Ghostbusters won first place in the "Best People Costume" and Thunder, a tiny Chihuahua, retained his title of "Best Pet Costume" for the fourth consecutive year. Members of the Enchanted Mountains Roller Derby presented a skating demonstration.
Attendee Michael Mahler, editor, Erie Gay News, said, "It was heartwarming and uplifting to have seen so many families enjoying a friendly day of fun in Betts Park. Having been involved with the Erie region's LGBTQ community for over 30 years, it means a lot that people in areas outside of the traditional large urban areas are free to celebrate their joy as a part of the greater community and be with friends and family."
An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) representative spoke about the ACLU's work with law and policymakers to ensure necessary statutes exist to protect civil rights, including the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.
Over ninety regional vendors and agencies participated. PAWS Along the River brought adoptable dogs: one of those lucky dogs received an adoption application at the event. Vendor Jen Wise said, "Compared to previous years, there were more attendees from a very broad range of ages." Volunteer Cindy Thurston said, "The number of attendees and vendors was beyond my expectations."
Performers represented the New York & Pennsylvania regions: Dahlia Black and Willa DeWhisp from Buffalo, XNX and Krispy Kreme from Pittsburgh, Parker Black from Jamestown, and Miss Jessica Rabbit, Kimzie PinchWhistle, and Mister E from Warren area came together to perform all-ages music and dance sets. Two individuals, Miss Jessica Rabbit and Mister E were crowned 2023 Warren Pride Queen and King, respectively. Mister E, commented, "Warren Pride allows all of us who are in the LGBTQ+ community to have a place to celebrate who we are, to feel safe, be heard and be seen. It's a time of togetherness, love, and acceptance."
Pittsburgh-area performer XNX said, It was my first pride performing as a drag king which was truly incredible. I'm so thankful because I met so many amazing people and inspired so many people to be themselves."
"Warren Pride first reached out to me last year. I've been doing drag for five years but that was the first time I'd ever been reached to about performing. Coming back this year I had a vision and I had been counting down the days to bring my ability to expand and bring flow arts into my drag and show people the beauty of performance art. I wanted to represent the trans community, the drag kings, the flow artists. And I was able to do that."
Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall Inn Uprising in Manhattan, New York. The United States Census Bureau's 2021 data reports that 127,544,730 same-sex households exist within the USA.
Next year's Warren County Pride Day will be held Saturday June 15th, 2024 at Betts Park. Warren County Pride Day is meant to be an inclusive, all-ages event celebrating diversity and promoting equality, acceptance, and tolerance throughout Warren County, Pennsylvania. Warren County Pride Day celebrates and supports the regional LGBT+ community. Warren County Pride Day is made possible by a donations, and a team of individuals (queer and straight) who work together throughout the year to bring Warren County Pride Team into fruition.
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