JAMESTOWN – Love and self expression was on display during Jamestown’s Pride Festival, with one term rising to the top: inclusion.
For decades, those in the LGBT+ community found refuge only in private, seeking local bars and clubs as a venue to truly express themselves. Fast forward to present day, events like Jamestown Pride are a game changer for many in the queer community.
“I knew the gay community here in Jamestown was pretty strong but when I got up and I was looking at all of this, it impressed the hell out of me,” said Justin Grzegorzwski, who just moved to Jamestown a month ago.
Pridefest was open to everyone, and the community turnout was better than most expected.
“It’s literally amazing. I’ve actually never been to Pride before because I came out during COVID, so I never really got to experience anything like this. It’s literally crazy to see so many people and so much acceptance too. It’s so awesome,” said Cierra Waterman, a first time Pridefest goer.
With such a large scale event, there was bound to be some who did not agree with the festivities. However, the small protest did not last long, as it was drowned out by those in support of the LGBT+ community.
Even though Pridefest is an accepting place, there may still be some who don’t feel comfortable coming out, or expressing themselves.
“Please, come out! It’s okay, there’s nothing to be afraid of. It’s much more accepting to be who you are today than it was even 10 years ago. Don’t be afraid and don’t let other people tell you what to do. Be you, and be happy being you,” Grzegorzwski encouraged.
“Even if there are people around them who don’t support them, there is so much love and support in this community that they can feel welcome anytime they feel able to come out,” said Waterman.
In the end, those behind the event hope the weekend provided a chance to be who they are with no fear or judgment.
“Just be yourself, there’s no point in hiding,” continued Maia Suruy, the vice president of the JCC Pride Club, “It’s better to live than hide.”