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First-ever Pride Day held in Warren

Photo submitted to the Times Observer About 70 people are estimated to have taken part in the first-ever Warren Pride Day held June 26 in General Joseph Warren Park.

An estimated 70 people, including about three dozen area teens, attended the first-ever Warren Pride Day on June 26 in General Joseph Warren Park in downtown Warren.

Rainbow flags and banners flew high as community members, including parents & children, clergy, college students, and retirees, celebrated Warren Pride Day: the diversity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer culture in the Warren community. Some talked and social distanced on park benches while others sang songs.

“One of the kids thanked me for not being judgmental and being supportive,” said Cindy Thurston, who provided the event music with her cell phone and a super loud speaker. “I’m proud to be an ally.” One of the teens said, “Pride Day is important to me because I get to see so many supporters and I get to be myself.”

Another commented, “It’s important for young LBTQ+ kids to have a space where they are able to be open about who they are. Pride celebrations aren’t for everyone, but it means a lot to people in the community to have support and to see that we can have pride in who we are.”

Warren Pride Day included music, dancing, flag waving, networking, socializing, demonstrating, sign-making and meeting new friends. Attendee Shoshanna Ochocki said, “I am extremely impressed with how many people showed up to support our LGBTQ+ community. This event has given me hope for the future of Warren County. Less than a decade ago, an event like (Warren Pride Day) would have been met with hate and bigotry. This year the response was overwhelmingly positive.”

Photo submitted to the Times Observer About 70 people are estimated to have taken part in the first-ever Warren Pride Day held June 26 in General Joseph Warren Park.

“Love is love, no matter who you are or who you love,” added Jen Betts. “Everyone deserves happiness and to love freely.”

The Rev. Matthew R. Scott, Vicar of The Episcopal Mission of Warren County attended the event with his family. “The Episcopal Church as a denomination and Trinity as one of her congregations rejoices in the lives of our LGBTQI brothers and sisters, welcoming all to participate fully in Christ’s Way of Love.”

Tim Horton’s sent donations of donuts. Crone’s Gifts & Medical Supply store brought over a basketful of gift packs: rainbow Skittles packages and mini Hand Sanitizers tied together with ribbons. People dropped off pizzas and bottled water. Friends brought LGBTQ+ flag & rainbow stickers, and “I’ll Go With You” pins. The Warren Garden Club donated packages of flower and vegetable seeds. Someone donated vegetable plants which were given away for free. “I’m proud to stand as an ally with my LGBTQ+ friends because I will always believe that love wins in the end,” said event organizer Brianna Powers, as she chatted with friends. Her son, wearing a face shield, helped to set up and decorate. He spent the day playing under the trees.

“Pride matters for everyone in our community,” said event organizer Jill Sumner. “Pride events are great ways to break stereotypes. They encourage people to reflect on their behaviors and how supportive they are (or are not) of the LGBTQ+ community. As an ally, I think attending Pride is a super fun way to show respect, love, and support. If we want a stronger community, we need to support Pride Day. Warren is a lovely, small town. No member of the LGBTQ+ community should ever feel unwelcome or unwanted here.”

The very first Pride Month June was held in June, 1969 at a New York City gay bar called the Stonewall Inn. In response to a police raid on the morning of June 28, the Stonewall patrons rioted and the resulting protests were dubbed the Stonewall Riots.

These riots and protests led to reforms and global awareness of human rights for the LGBTQ+ community. A year later, the first gay pride marches took in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago.

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