Shenandoah Valley gears up for pride events in October
HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Pride Month is in June, but two local organizations are getting ready for pride events next month.
Staunton Pride is Sunday, Oct. 23 starting at noon at Gypsy Hill Park at the bandstand. Shenandoah Valley Pride is on Saturday, Oct. 8, starting at 1 p.m.
“We’re coming back from a two-year hiatus, I would say, cautiously optimistic as far as COVID goes. Numbers are down, hopefully they’re going to stay that way. Now that it’s become a way of life, it’s time for us to bring pride back as a way of life,” said one board member for Shenandoah Valley Pride, Michele Sullivan.
Both organizations are planning their first in-person pride event since before the pandemic struck.
“It’s feeling very real now. We’ve been having these discussions for so long, and it’s looking like it’s going to happen finally in-person,” said AnhThu Nguyen, leader for Staunton Pride and Executive Director of the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center.
The years-long hiatus is one reason organizers are eager to get going again, but recent policy rollbacks are another reason they’re excited to gather for pride. Nguyen said Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin’s recent change to transgender student protections is very impactful to the LGBTQ community.
Many in the community worry other protections may be at risk.
“Pride will always be this space where we can be unapologetically us, but also find support and connection to each other so we can address a lot of what is going on around us,” said Nguyen.
In response to recent events, like those policy changes and Monkeypox, Staunton Pride will address overall health.
“This, I think, speaks to the radical history of pride and we have always needed to center our community’s collective health. So that’s mental health, that’s physical health, that’s sexual health, that’s holistic health. We thought that was really important to address this year,” Nguyen said.
There will be safer sex materials, STI testing, information about things like Monkeypox, and healthcare providers will be available to answer questions.
It’s a time to gather, celebrate and share in what makes people alike. Sullivan said everyone is welcome including the LGBTQ community, allies and people with questions.
“We do our best to create a safe space for anyone who wants to come out. The whole idea is to celebrate our heritage, have a good time. Everyone is welcome. We would turn no one away,” said Sullivan.
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