As Pride Month began June 1, hundreds gathered in Doylestown Borough to raise flags and celebrate how far the LGBTQ+ community has come in its journey for justice.
Holding signs and holding hands, a crowd of all ages walked from the former Bucks County Courthouse in the center of town, where they raised a Pride flag, to the borough’s new Broad Commons Park at North Broad and Doyle streets to gather and raise another flag to mark the beginning of a week of local activities.
The display of solidarity and happiness was evident, as the crowd listened closely to Doylestown’s mayor, Noni West, read a proclamation calling on the community to “stand up for individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically.
“Pride is a communal celebration of visibility and a personal celebration of self-worth and dignity,” said West. “Pride Month is the time to recall the barriers the LGBTQ community has endured and to rejoice in the triumphs of individuals who have bravely fought and continue to fight for full equality.”
For Reese Grasso, a student at Central Bucks High School West and a member of the Rainbow Room, Pride Month holds much meaning.
“It’s so important to be recognized because it honors those who have had to stay silent, not being accepted by society at that time,” they said in an email. “It also honors those who have fought for our rights. We can’t forget how far we have come…Pride Month is a time to celebrate queer history and queer people.”
Observed across the country throughout June, Pride Month recognizes the 1969 Stonewall Uprising in Greenwich Village, a police raid that sparked five days of spontaneous rioting by the gay community. The watershed event is credited with launching the gay rights movement.
Marlene Pray, director and founder of Planned Parenthood’s Keystone Rainbow Room, called the Pride flag raisings an “immense honor for the Rainbow Room youth.
“Watching LGBTQ+ adults hand over the flag to dozens of queer youth was a powerful metaphor and moment for many of us,” said Pray, in an email. “The Pride flag is a message of inclusion, love, support and hope for so many young people, as well as for many adults and families who are part of the LGBT+ community.”
Pray said the Pride celebration is especially meaningful at a time when “local schools are directing staff and teachers to remove Pride flags…and dozens of laws and policies continue to attack LGBTQ+ youth, rights and spaces.”
Doylestown’s third Pride Festival is June 12 to 19. It is sponsored by Doylestown Pride and the Rainbow Room.