‘Pups and Pride’ parade, a dragfest and nearly a thousand rainbow signs mean Pride Month in the Farmington Valley

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People walked with their dogs in a Pups & Pride parade in Canton last weekend, a Pride family picnic in Avon brought out more than 100 people and West Hartford is preparing for a dragfest June 26 at Blue Back Square.

This year’s Pride Month might be the busiest yet in the Farmington Valley, and in several towns there’s a special backdrop: Hundreds of rainbow lawn signs.

Avon High School freshman Julia Gordon created the design earlier this year for Avon, featuring the words “Avon cares” with a rainbow backgrounds. In recent weeks she created customized versions for nearby towns where residents wanted them, said Dan Polhamus, organizer of the campaign.

“We’re around 540 in Avon, 160 in Farmington and around 150 in Canton,” Polhamus reported this week. “Simsbury is around 100, but picking up steam.”

The signs have become the centerpiece for a new community group in Farmington that has been selling them for $20 apiece to benefit the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club at Farmington High School and the Equity Leadership Group at the Irving Robbins Middle School.

“The response has been great so far. You can put them in the front lawn of your house or in the window of your apartment. It’s just a great way for people to see the pride Farmington has,” said Suzanne Truong Hoyer, an organizer of the new group.

“We want to show that Farmington welcomes and supports LGBTQIA+ community members, and we want all residents to feel recognized and accepted,” said Lisa Arenivaz-Humbarger, another coordinator of Farmington Cares.

At Farmington High School, the GSA sponsored a Spirit Week where staff and students wore different colors of the rainbow each day.

“Along with the Spirit Week, they hosted a fundraiser that raised over $500 that will go towards The Trevor Project,” Principal Scott Hurwitz said. “Outside of our library, the GSA decorated a bulletin board that included positive messages and recommendations for books to support Pride month that were available for checkout at the FHS library.”

Pride activities have been taking place elsewhere around the Farmington Valley this month, and more are planned.

In Avon, resident Dana Barcellos-Allen organized a family picnic at the Congregational Church on Sunday; more than 100 people showed up to hear speakers promote the values of inclusion and diversity.

Earlier in June, Avon’s town council proclaimed LGBTQ+ Pride Month, with Chairwoman Heather Maguire saying “It is imperative that all members of our community, but most especially our young people, feel valued, safe, empowered and supported by their peers an community leaders, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.”

The town’s library raised a Pride flag June 7, and the Teen Book Talk program this month featured LGBTQ titles, Library Director Glenn Grube said.

The Shops at Farmington Valley hosted the first Pups & Pride parade on Saturday; participants walked with their dogs from the Canton Dog Park to the shopping center.

Simsbury scheduled a flag raising at town hall this week, and has put Pride Simsbury banners along Iron Horse Boulevard.

“There will also be a Pride picnic on Saturday, June 26, at Shultz Park from noon to 3 p.m. Participants will proceed to our Rotary Park, and tie ribbons on the fence there,” Town Manager Maria Capriola said.

“A section of our trail in front of Rotary Park is home to our Pride Art display we did in fall 2019,” she added.

West Hartford Pride held a flag raising June 1, and invited residents for a hike at the MDC Reservoir 6.

A children’s art exhibit is scheduled later in the month, along with a mini film festival, a comedy night, a story-telling evening and a talk entitled “Fighting Stigma Through Personal Action.”

The public schools are flying Pride flags all month, and a Pride festival and dragfest are scheduled for June 26. Full details on West Hartford Pride’s events are at westhartfordpride.org.

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