Under a flawless blue sky on a late summer day, hundreds of people gathered at IX Art Park to celebrate Pride on Sunday afternoon.
It was the first Pride celebration in Charlottesville since COVID-19 shutdowns.
The joy, for many, seemed hard to contain.
“This community is so freaking cool!” said Elliot Taphanel. “It’s just amazing.”
One of the things that amazed Taphanel, she said, was that families with young children attended, as well as LGBTQ+ community members, activists, businesspeople and drag queens. She was also thrilled to see religious organizations set up tables as part of outreach to the LGBTQ+ community, whose members have long been criticized by and ostracized from mainstream religions.
“In the religion I grew up in, I couldn’t be myself,” said Taphanel. “It feels so good to be here where I can be, and to see that some religions are changing.”
“It’s really great,” said Jiji Tobar, from Arlington. “I loved just coming here and being able to make connections.”
She was particularly encouraged to see several booths set up by LGBTQ+ business owners, which had been an important goal of this year’s organizers. Artists, florists and farmers were among those selling goods. David Naylor and Tess Dunlap, owners of Treehug Trading Co., came down from Pittsburgh with an array of Pride merchandise, including bumper stickers that read “I (heart, with rainbow colors) my gay parents,” and “Born straight, refuse to hate.” Rainbow-colored flags, T-shirts, socks and boxer shirts were also for sale.
“We love being here,” said Naylor. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.” Many of the company’s products have unique designs, he said, pointing to stickers of rainbow-colored turtles and salamanders with rainbow colors on their backs.
That said, his favorite is the boxer shorts, he said.
Some said they took the presence of so many families as a sign that times are changing and that many families want to teach their children to be inclusive.
And nearly all talked about the blissfully beautiful day, taking it not only as opportunity to enjoy the some of the last few rays of summer sunshine but also as a blessing.
“It’s just really nice to have a day like this, a place like this to feel safe and inclusive,” said Raquel Ficca.
Among those having booths were the Legal Aid Justice Center, LGBT+ Democrats of Virginia, Moms Demand Action, Blue Ridge Abortion Fund, Cville Democrats, PFLAG, The Women’s Initiative, UVa Health, UVa LGBTQ Center, Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA), Ana’s Goodies, Chalant, Over the Moon Farm & Blooms, Treehug Trading Co., Mountain Trout Treasures, Philosophers Tea, The Pie Guy, and Cocoa and Spice.