Gettysburg Pride celebrated love and equity Saturday with a day of festivities for the entire community. The event was part of the annual pride weekend, which ran from Friday through Sunday.
Orchestrated by Gettysburg Community Theater’s Executive Director Chad-Alan Carr, Lincoln Square transformed into an inclusive community wide celebration with vendors, entertainment, educational resources, and more.
Saying the event was getting bigger every year, Carr added “Gettysburg Pride is always the weekend after Memorial Day, but we feel pride here year-round.”
Family First Health was on site to offer free rapid HIV testing and single doses of the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine.
A “Free Mom Hugs” booth shone as a beacon of assurance and welcomed anyone looking for validation.
“I so glad we can do this again,” exclaimed volunteer Robin Koons as she pulled a new friend in for a mama bear squeeze.
“Pride means feeling like you fit in and are accepted and don’t have anything to hide. In Gettysburg I can say I have a transgender father and it’s great,” volunteer Sarah Pearce said.
Far too often, LGBT teenagers can find themselves disowned after coming out to their biological parents and can face a detrimental spiral to follow, according to Koons.
”We try to fill in the gaps and try to be supportive,” she said.
As the summer evening closed in, ensembles of drag queens took to the stage with singing and audience improvisation. An ice cream social provided much needed relief from the June heat with a refreshing rainbow array of Popsicles at the Unitarian Universalist Gettysburg Church booth.
Hundreds gathered for Gettysburg Pride’s pièce de résistance: an afternoon parade that saw a sea of rainbows and diversity flow through the borough. The march procession concluded at the Gettysburg Borough Municipal Building “In appreciation of the borough council who unanimously passed the nondiscriminatory ordinance in December 2020,” Carr said.
Former Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress Jason Landau Goodman applauded the community turnout including staunch support from small businesses and local government.
As local municipality ordinances set the bar for the state to follow regarding citizen equity, “Gettysburg and other small-town communities are the front lines of LGBT communities,” he said.
Landau Goodman said discussion about the issue has met with supportive legislators, “but it’s the politics that sometimes holds folks back,” he said.
“It’s not a debate, it’s real life, and most people have woken up to that,” he said. “The laws and policies can seem abstract, but when you see the real impact of the work that we are a part of, it means the world to know how much an ordinance can mean to someone.”
A final headcount of marchers set the bar for future Gettysburg Pride events and parades.
“In 2019 we stopped counting at 400 people, this year we stopped counting at 505 and not everyone who was here marched,” he said.
Carr proclaimed appreciation for the community who makes up Gettysburg Pride and their ability to come together for a time of camaraderie and hope.
“Gettysburg is a place for love and equality. Hate is taught, love is natural,” Carr said.
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A.L. Grabenstein, reporter, is a graduate of Philadelphia's La Salle University with a B.A in Communication and has been a journalist since 2016. She has reported for the Gettysburg Times and the Times Herald in Norristown, PA. Grabenstein moved to Gettysburg from Montgomery County in 2019. She was born in San Antonio, TX., and previously lived in Virginia, and North Carolina. Grabenstein is actively involved in the borough of Gettysburg and loves giving voices to the local community.