On a sweltering hot day more akin to weather in June rather than the last Saturday of September, people from different backgrounds congregated into one colorful, lively mass to celebrate pride. The air was full of love and acceptance; the energy radiating from the crowds was energizing. There was something for everyone and anyone to do.
“It’s a welcoming environment for young queer kids that didn’t have an accepting parental or church figure… it’s one of the only environments where we can guarantee safety and happiness for the entire community,” said senior Regina Bonomonte.
The event itself, PrideFest, was held on September 28 by VA Pride. The event was free and family friendly, with performances by famous LGBT+ figures and vendors selling pride items. There were also many vendors with prizes that could be won, such as pride flags or tote bags. “I liked the free stuff,” said senior Jada Smith.
Performances boomed throughout Brown’s Island as drag queens and singers like Betty Who engaged audiences. “I liked the joyful mood the performances and the aura of the event created, since currently it’s still a very hostile world for any queer individual,” according to Regina.
“I went to learn about a community that I am now a part of. I [feel] happy and excited to go to more events like this in the future,” said Jada.
Around every corner there were individuals wearing shirts or holding colorful signs that ranged from “free mom hugs” to “free rabbi hugs,” which Regina cited as “allow[ing] kids that didn’t have a [positive] coming out experience feel loved.”
“I came out this year and I was really excited to see the rest of the Richmond community…there was a positive vibe and everyone was accepting” said Jada.