ERIE, Colo. — June kicks off a celebration of Pride, a whole month dedicated to honoring the LGBTQ+ community. The federal government first observed June as Pride Month in 2000. However, an organization will be hosting the first Pride celebration for one Colorado town this year.
Being Better Neighbors (BBN) is an Erie non-profit organization dedicated to making sure the town is welcoming and inclusive. On Sunday, June 5, the group will host its first Pride event on Briggs Street.
9NEWS spoke to Christiaan van Woudenberg, a BBN board member and organizer for the event, to get details on the upcoming celebration.
(Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for context and clarity.)
Q: What will the Pride event entail?
van Woudenberg: It’s going to be a great event. We’ve got a full entertainment schedule on our main stage. We’ve got a beer tent, food trucks, sales and non-profit vendors, and it’s just going to be a great afternoon of celebration from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Q: Will the Parasol Patrol be in attendance?
van Woudenberg: Yes. They’ll provide amazing colorful parasols and volunteers that will protect children as they enter these kinds of events, whether it’s a pride event, a drag queen storytime event or any other kind of LGBTQ event. They’ll provide, not security, but just that amazing, positive and comfortable environment for anyone that wants to attend.
We’re actually doing a drag queen storytime event. So at 4:00 p.m., Shirley Delta Blow will be taking the stage to do some reading for the children. But yes, I think that speaks to the intersectionality of these efforts. It really speaks to the incredible efforts of the community and the need for this. That we really do need folks to step up and to speak to their stories so that we can teach our kids that it’s OK to be different it’s OK to embrace your true self.
Q: Why is it important to host an event like this right now?
van Woudenberg: Really, one of my biggest motivating factors in all of this is that LGBTQ+ children are up to a four-times higher risk for depression and suicide attempts. So really, our goal here is allowing LGBTQ+ youth here to embrace their identity and who they are, just like straight kids get to do every day. It’s to make sure that queer kids turn into queer adults.
I think it’s just a message for inclusivity and celebrating our differences. That everybody has a unique experience that we bring to the community, and we really just celebrate and embrace those differences. We also want to show kids, adults and everybody else that Erie is an amazing place to be, we are welcoming and we invite you to come join us and have some fun.
Q: How many people are you expecting?
van Woudenberg: Because it’s our first time doing this we really don’t have a great idea, but we’re expecting somewhere between 500 and 1,000 people to attend the event.
Q: Why does this event mean to you?
van Woudenberg: First and foremost I’m a member of the LGBTQ+ community, so that’s important for me personally. I have a fair number of friends and acquaintances that identify as LGBTQ+. It’s really an important part of my identity and I want to make sure that others can be safe and comfortable, and feel heard and appreciated.
It’s so important and part of it makes me really sad that we still have to fight these battles in 2022. Looking at the origins of Pride in the Stonewall riots and the progress that has been made over the years, not only for women and people of color but queer people in all areas of life, representation matters. It’s so important that we’ve elected transgender representatives to our State House of Representatives in Colorado and that we have elected municipal people in Broomfield and Lafayette that are out and queer.
It’s so important to show queer kids today that they grow up and be successful while embracing their identity and who they truly are.
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