West Hartford’s third annual PrideFest was a celebration of diversity and love, as more than 60 vendors, dozens of entertainers, and hundreds of visitors filled the streets of Blue Back Square.
“We had an all-volunteer committee and work force on festival day,” said PrideFest Co-Chair Johanna Schubert. “The reaction from attendees, especially the youth, has been that the festival felt safe, fun, and a place to show up authentically as themselves and be celebrated.”
The day started off with rally on the steps of West Hartford’s Town Hall Auditorium, with speakers celebrating the day, but also expressing their thoughts on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which took place the day before.
“Last night’s decision... took my breath away,” said Schubert. “The inability to access safe abortion not only affects cis-gender women, but also trans men and non-binary people, pushing a vulnerable community further to the fringes of an already fraught healthcare system.”
West Hartford Mayor Shari Cantor said it was hard for her not to cry, but she was also happy to be at the event.
“I also know how intentional, and how hard, and how really committed we all have to be to protect each other’s rights,” Cantor said, also thanking the organizers for the event, and town staff for their help in coordinating the day.
“It’s very easy to feel devastated, angry, heartbroken,” said State Rep. Kate Farrar, “but we have shown, here in Connecticut, what is possible... when we celebrate love, when we celebrate human rights.”
Styx Hatch, a non-binary student at Hall High School, spoke about the struggles they have faced, including a recent encounter with a man who was formerly a transgender woman, but criticized Hatch for being non-binary and queer. Hatch said they asked the man if he was happy when he was a woman, but he refused to respond.
“After more growth and work than I would like to admit, I am proud to say, that as a queer person, I am happy,” Hatch said. “Part of that is in thanks to the support and sense of community that I have been lucky enough to feel here in the Town of West Hartford. But, I know that there is a lot of work to do, in this town, this state, this country and in the world. We have to take a moment and look at how far we’ve come. We fought to be here.”
“It is always such a great feeling to see the work you have put into something come together and be successful,” said PrideFest Co-Chair Barry Walters. “The smiles, laughter, and sense of community was apparent everywhere you turned.”
Walters also thanked the many sponsors who supported the effort.
“The Town of West Hartford, Gilead Sciences, Pink Flamingo Party Co., and beMindfulWeb all provided resources and support that enabled us to expand the event,” he said, adding that plans for the fourth annual PrideFest are already under way.”
“The 2023 festival event is June 24th!” he said.
For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/PrideWeHa.