The first-ever Loudoun Pride Festival on Sunday filled Claude Moore Park with music, dancing, and strong demonstrations of support for the county’s LGBTQ community.
“People keep asking: What is pride about?” Equality Loudoun President Cris Candice Tuck said during the event’s formal opening ceremonies. “Pride is a lot of things to a lot of people and I never know how to answer that question. Pride was a riot. Pride is a day to celebrate our heritage. It is a day to celebrate our accomplishments, to celebrate our fraternity, or sorority of brothers and sisters and everyone who is part of this amazing rainbow family.”
“They call us the rainbow mafia because they know that we would give anything for each other without a second thought. That is why this day is here so you can find each other—find friends, find help, find resources. Find people who will love you unapologetically for who you are,” Tuck said.
More than 100 businesses and nonprofits set up demonstration booths around the park to show support for the event and Tuck said it was important to support them back.
“Throughout this event, our number one concern has been safety and security. I don’t think it will surprise anybody here to know that we have had people emailing our vendors and threatening them for deciding to sponsor this, for deciding to be part of this. It takes bravery,” he said. “These are our allies, and this is our community and they are standing up for us.”
County supervisors also spoke, presenting a proclamation supporting the event.
Supervisor Michael Turner (D-Ashburn), sporting rainbow suspenders, reflected on his service as an Air Force fighter pilot, recalling that he started each day asking why he and his colleagues were putting themselves at risk in a dangerous profession.
“The reason we were doing that is exactly why we are here today. So that every American—man, woman and child—can go about their lives and pursue their dreams without fear of hatred, fear, anger, discrimination. They can stand up and be who they are any time they want to be that to feel the pride of being together with all other Americans in our society,” Turner said.
County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) said the board stands ready to provide support as needed.
“All of us on this stage will follow your community, and you tell us what is important. If you tell us it is important to you for us to talk about the fact that 50% of trans kids either consider suicide or attempt suicide, that is what we will talk about. If it is important to you that we talk about the fact that yesterday Clarence Thomas actually said we may want to discuss whether gay marriage—oh by the way also just called marriage—is something that they will roll back the rights of, that’s what we will talk about. If it is important to you to talk about whether or not we should have a sister city on the continent of Africa when their LGBTQ polices are so horrible, that’s what we will talk about. We will follow your lead and talk about the things that are important to you. We are here to support you in every single way possible.”
Equality Loudoun also presented scholarships to four students and its second annual Pride in Our Community Award to Connie Rice.
“Connie has been a representative of our community for over a decade. She has been killing it. She has been helping the corporate world rewrite the rules around LTBQ+ inclusivity and this is our most honorable award for her years of service and activism,” Tuck said in presenting the award.