The skies cleared on Sunday for a joyful Pride event outside Greenwich Town Hall that included a proclamation from First Selectman Fred Camillo declaring June 2022 as Pride month, a flag raising and remarks from elected officials.
The event was organized by Allison Kahn, who thanked Camillo for “putting sweat and tears” into the event.
“I appreciate everybody for being here on the weekend, and coming with rain clouds in the sky, together to celebrate one another, to celebrate community, to celebrate inclusion, diversity, equity and LGBTQ+,” Kahn said.
Elected officials who spoke included were US Congressman from Connecticut Jim Himes, State Rep Steve Meskers (D-150), Republican Selectwoman Lauren Rabin, and Democratic Selectwoman Janet Stone McGuigan.
Congressman Himes said he was delighted to see federal, state and municipal officials from both parties attend the event.
Himes saluted Republicans Camillo and Rabin for attending the event.
“Let’s be real about this,” he said. “It’s a little easier for people in my party to celebrate Pride and be out there saying we will support you. I really want to salute Fred and Lauren for being here. It’s a little harder for folks in their party. This is courage. This is principle. I’m proud to call you both my friends.”
Himes said attending high school in the 1980s, the idea that there might have been an LGBTQ club would have been foreign and exotic.
“And now there’s not a high school out there where young people don’t celebrate the LGBTQ community, and obviously Connecticut is one of the first states to adopt marriage equality,” Himes said to cheers. “We have so much to be proud of here in Connecticut.”
Selectwoman Rabin talked about respect and inclusion.
“Regardless of party affiliation. Regardless of our gender, the gender we identify as. Regardless of who we love,” she said.
State Rep Meskers (D-150) started with a reference to the United States Declaration of Independence.
“All men are created equal. Those are sacred words to us, but it took us a civil war 165 years ago to begin to march towards equality there,” he said. “And it took 100 years for women to be given the right to vote.”
He noted that marriage equality didn’t begin in this country until 2005.
“The progress we make is incremental, but at some level, glacial,” Meskers said. “Just as equality is something that we are here to celebrate today – celebrations of Pride that all people are created equal – not all men, but all people.”
“The most important message for all of us today is that love is love, and we all deserve that respect,” Meskers said.
Selectwoman McGuigan said equality and inclusivity are not to be defended just one day of the year, and pride is not something to celebrate just one month of the year.
“Let’s make today the biggest super spreader we can, and get out there and spread the love and pride,” McGuigan said.
Allison Kahn introduced Colin Hosten from the Triangle Community Center, which is based in Norwalk but serves all of Fairfield County as an LGBTQ community resource center offering programming, clinical services including mental health services, case management services for people needing help with housing, employment and food.
“We have a great education program that spreads the word about gender and sexual identity to anybody who will have us,” Hosten said. “We really cannot do that work without events like today. A lot of folks say raising a flag is symbolic. But symbols matter. Having the town of Greenwich raise the flag and proclaim June as Pride Month is going to make a huge difference in the life of at least one LGBTQ person.”
Gabriela Marcus was another featured speaker. She thanked Camillo for “opening the sea for us.”
She said her goal was to be a strong advocate and identify ways to weave diversity, equity and inclusion into everything that Greenwich Public Schools do.
“How we treat one another defines who we are as a community and as a society,” she said. “One of the best ways to get there is to start learning and informing ourselves. Lack of knowledge leads to fear. And fear leads to hate.”
Ms Marcus brought up the Board of Education vote in January down party lines to codify Title IX for students, meaning the policy failed to pass. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
“They made the choice to omit necessary language from our student policy: Title IX. Unbeknown to them, the decision makers, they have exacerbated language that is so hard to have validated today.”
Marcus discarded her prepared remarks and shared a personal story. She said at the playground with her son, she’d overheard little boys taunting another little boy, saying, ‘Hey you, gay. Ha ha you’re gay.’
“If you were or weren’t gay, so what,” she said. “The fact that they were using that word to taunt him means they didn’t know the significance of that word. Language is crucial. To be informed and know how we are using that word is meaningful.”
She said she hoped to see more pride flags. “We need to stand up for each other and have each other’s back.”
Trevor Crow, a candidate for State Senate in the 26th district said she was thrilled at the large turnout for the event. “We all deserve to be loved and honored. I like to see that in our district.”
She said it was unfortunate that State Senator Fazio (R-36) and State Fiorello (R-149) had conflicts preventing them from attending the event. “But I’m happy to be here with so many beautiful souls.”
Democratic BET member Miriam Kreuzer attended with her daughter, Mara, a 4th grader.
“It is so important to show up, especially in these times, when hard fought rights appear to be in danger,” Kreuzer said. “We have to show our support, our love and most importantly, our respect.”
Camillo read a proclamation declaring June 2022 as Pride Month in Greenwich:
Whereas the town of Greenwich proudly supports the rights of every citizen to experience equality and freedom from discrimination, and whereas all people, regardless of age, gender identity, race, color religion, marital status, national original sexual orientation or physical challenges have the right to be treated on the basis of their intrinsic value as human beings.
Whereas the Town of greenwich accepts and welcomes people of diverse backgrounds, and believes a diverse population leads to a more vibrant community, and whereas the the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer – LGTBQ communities contributes to the cultural, civic and economic successes of our town of Greenwich.
Whereas we as a society acknowledge the need for education and awareness of the need to end discrimination and prejudice.