June marks Pride Month with LGBTQ festival
June is LGBTQ Pride Month and what better way to celebrate it than to come to the sixth annual Fairfield County’s LGBTQ Pride festival, Pride in the Park?
Pride in the Park, a free, family-friendly festival, will be Saturday, June 8, from noon to 8 p.m., at Mathews Park, 295 West Ave. in Norwalk. It will be held rain or shine.
The event is produced by the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk.
There will be live music from R&B and disco legend Martha Wash and RuPaul’s Drag Race contestants, Morgan McMichaels and Gia Gunn.
In addition, there will be 70 vendors including food trucks selling tacos, pizza, ice cream, falafels, popcorn, and candy.
There will also be local artists and a fun zone for children with bouncy houses, face painting, and drag queen story time.
The Darien Library will be providing books, and couches for people to sit on for relaxing during the festivities.
Representatives from the Triangle Community Center will be on hand, providing information about its services.
One hundred forty volunteers — many from Darien — have been involved in putting on the event.
“It’s a team effort.”said Bridgeport resident Conor Pfeifer, development officer of Triangle Community Center.
At a cost, there is also a VIP area, which offers seating accommodations and a premium view of the stage; a meet and great with Wash, McMichaels, and Gunn; and catering from a local Mexican restaurant. VIP ticket sales are $80 in advance and $100 at the door.
Triangle Community Center (TCC)
The Triangle Community Center is a nonprofit that serves all of Fairfield County by providing programs and resources within the LGBTQ community.
It offers peer support, recovery, older adult daytime programming, crafts, social events, and youth groups, as well as helps with social service, health care and housing.
The TCC was founded "in 1990 as the LGBTQ center for Fairfield County, Pfeifer said.
It is almost exclusively privately funded, according to Pfeifer.
“We didn’t have full-time staff until 2013,” Pfeifer said. “When we hired our first executive director, we took things to the next level.”
The TCC has events year-round. Its largest fundraiser is its missionary gala, which will be in October.
One of the reasons for Pride in the Park and other events hosted by TCC is for the LGBTQ community “to see that they are not alone,” said Darien resident Justine Stewart, who is on the Triangle Community Center’s board of directors.
“Those in the LGBTQ community get visibility of the community around them,” she added.
Since June is Pride Month, Pride in the Park celebrates LGBTQ pride, she said.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which is “a landmark turning point in LGBTQ history,” Stewart said.
The Stonewall riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBTQ community against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City.
“This event is what brought the modern LGBTQ rights movement into high gear,” Stewart added.
Stewart, an ABC (A Better Chance) host mother and a former social worker, leads a monthly Proud Parents group made up of parents of LGBTQ children, in her Darien home.
“Every month, I have new people coming,” Stewart said.
According to Pfeifer, despite all of the progress made over the decades in regard to the treatment of those in the LGBTQ community, there is still a lot more to go.
“The LGBTQ community still faces higher rates of homelessness, substance use, and discrimination,” he said. “We like to think that in well-educated towns, people are more accepting, but discrimination doesn’t observe socioeconomic boundaries.”
At the TCC, “We do what we do to provide a truly affirming space for everyone where they might not have it somewhere else,” Pfeifer said. “Your community is here for you.”
The goal of TCC is to welcome those who “might not have the most supportive families to go back home to,” he added. “There are lots of trials that people have to undergo in life, and it’s our job to get you set up with the kind of services you would like.”
Pride in the Park has grown. In its first year, about 500 people attended, who were mostly local to the area. Last year, there were about 5,000 people, coming from all across the tri-state area.
“This is our largest social event, to bring the community together,” he said.
“We encourage people to come to Pride,” Stewart said. “It’s about letting people know that they are unconditionally loved and supported by a broader community. We use Pride as a platform that the TCC is here. It is a wonderful day of love and community.”