‘Today we are proud’
LGBT community spreads message of diversity at Allentown celebration
For the second year in a row, rainbow flags adorned the Jewish Community Center in Allentown, their colors matched by the clothes and glitter-covered faces of the crowds that gathered Sunday to celebrate Lehigh Valley Pride.
People applauded as local drag entertainers Sharron Ann and Carol Ann Husbands opened the drag stage with a performance of “Happy Together” by the Turtles. The crowd laughed and sang along as the duo danced down the aisle. Later, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” stars Silky Ganache and A’Keria Davenport took the stage.
Children played with crafts and enjoyed a Drag Story Hour, while adults played Drag Bingo to support FACT Lehigh Valley, a nonprofit fighting against AIDS and HIV.
That was a reminder of the more serious aspects of the annual event, which celebrates the Lehigh Valley’s LGBT community.
Following speeches from state Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who is transgender, and Shawn Bauscher, the former president of Pride of the Greater Lehigh Valley, Corinne Goodwin of Lehigh Valley Transgender Renaissance reminded the audience of the importance of equal rights for all people, and commended the persistence the LGBT community demonstrated in times of adversity.
“We honor everyone who stands with us — and most of all we celebrate our accomplishments,” she said. “Today is the day we should be reveling in our culture and in our diversity. Today we are proud.”
She encouraged the community to “go back to work” after the festivities ended and continue pushing past resistance.
“We are here, we are queer, and we are never, ever giving up,” she said.
For the festivities, equality didn’t stop with the LGBT movement. Adrian Shanker, executive director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, which puts on Pride, said he was dedicated to making the festival as inclusive as possible. Every stage included an American Sign Language interpreter, and the first row of seats was reserved for people with disabilities.
The acoustic stage was designated alcohol-free to offer those in recovery a comfortable spot to enjoy.
“Pride is for everyone,” Shanker said.
While the festival is in its 26th year, this year’s celebration featured some newcomers.
Esther Samson of Palmer Township, who was painting faces, said she was ecstatic to see the vibrant setup and was eager to take pictures with masqueraded characters walking the fairgrounds.
“It’s my first time here, but it’s an awesome event. I am so excited to be here,” she said.
Bauscher said he was proud to see how the event has changed.
“Lehigh Valley Pride has grown every year and I am in awe at the progress it has made,” he said. “Every day is a proud day.”
Hannah McMullan is a freelance writer for The Morning Call.
Andre Walk, of Emmaus, shows his pride at the 26th annual Lehigh Valley Pride Festival on Sunday on the grounds of the Jewish Community Center in Allentown.
Katherine Noll, of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, welcomed kids and adults to the children’s storytelling area at the Lehigh Valley Pride Festival on Sunday.
Ruth Feliz, of Allentown, shows her pride at the 26th annual Lehigh Valley Pride Festival on Sunday on the grounds of the Jewish Community Center in Allentown.
Michael Cell, left and Jack Pulcher, both of Philadelphia, wear rainbow colors at the festival.