Car Caravan, Party Highlight State College's First Pride Celebration … –

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A decorated car caravan kicked off State College’s 2021 Pride Month celebration on Saturday, June 12
A year after the COVID-19 pandemic derailed plans for State College’s first Pride parade, hundreds of people joined together on Saturday afternoon for a decorated car caravan and a party in Sidney Friedman Park to celebrate the LGBTQA community.
Sponsored by the borough and the Centre LGBTQA Support Network, it was the first official public Pride month celebration in State College and one of the first opportunities for the local community to gather in larger numbers since the onset of the pandemic.
“We started working on it mid-March, because we had no idea what we would be allowed to do,” Tamar London, co-chair of the Centre LGBTQA Support Network, said. “Other cities have had to cancel Pride altogether this year because they couldn’t plan anything. We are just blown away that we managed to pull this off and we’re blown away by the response. We didn’t expect this kind of turnout for the car caravan or the number of spectators we had for the party here.”
About 50 vehicles participated in the “Pride Ride” caravan, which started at State College Area High School and traveled through part of the borough before ending at the park on South Fraser Street. Registration fees benefited the support network and prizes will be handed out in the coming days to the best decorated vehicles.
After the caravan, community members gathered in the park for a party that included a performance by Anchor&Arrow, a Pride art installation by Leo Wang that proved to be a popular photo spot and brief remarks by several speakers.
The event drew both declared Democratic candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat in the 2022 election: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Philadelphia state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, both of whom have made a number of visits to Centre County in the past.
Both noted that Saturday marked the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 49 people at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
“It’s reflective of some of the hate that’s still out there,” Fetterman said. “I’ll never understand it. I never could.”
Kenyatta, the first openly gay person of color elected to state government in Pennsylvania, said “we have work to do,” but also paid tribute to those whose efforts have paved the way for progress in LGBTQ rights.
“Every time I see these beautiful flags and I see all these faces, I’m reminded that these flags are paid for with the blood, sweat and tears of activists, particularly Black trans women, who, for decades, stood up in the face of not crowds cheering them on, but crowds trying to shut them down and silence them and not allow them to be who they are,” Kenyatta said.
“We’re here being able to celebrate, having a caravan of people celebrating our diversity, celebrating people for being exactly who they are. There are folks who did work to make that possible. And so in Pride, we remember them.”
Kenyatta also encouraged LGBTQ individuals to run for public office.
“Every time I come to a Pride event and I see these little faces, young, gay Malcolm is somewhere not believing it, not believing that I could just be who I am,” he said. “And I’m so happy that because of you these kids get to grow up in a world where they know that it’s fine for them to be exactly who they are, that you are perfect just like you are. I can’t wait for you to grow up and change the world.”
Fetterman, who while mayor of Braddock in 2013 defied state law to marry two gay men, said it is past time for Pennsylvania to adopt a non-discrimination law protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“[Equal protection under the law] is something that Pennsylvania currently lacks,” said Fetterman, who also participated in the caravan with his wife, Gisele Barreto Fetterman. “We’re the only state in the northeast that doesn’t offer the kind of basic protections that the rest of us enjoy, and we won’t stop pushing until that is a fact here in Pennsylvania. It’s my absolute pleasure to be here in State College to celebrate Pride this month.”
State Rep. Scott Conklin, D-Rush Township, praised the work of those who paved the way for progress.
“Nothing happens by accident,” Conklin said. “The reason I’m here today, the reason you’re here today, the reason this organization is happening today is because we believe that every individual has the same rights, the same places to be wherever they want, love whoever they want, have what they want because we believe that we can do better.”
Having a Pride event in central Pennsylvania is important to celebrate the LGBTQ community and call attention to the work that still needs to be done, London said.
“It’s huge… Within some of the smaller communities there aren’t the same kind of advances as we see in places like New York City or Los Angeles or other big cities,” London said. “It’s very important. State College seems like a very safe place for the most part, not that there isn’t work to be done. But even just in the broader Centre County, there’s a lot of work to be done. So having something like this means a ton for the youngest kids, for the oldest people. I think you can see it on people’s faces what it means to them.”
London expects State College’s Pride celebration to grow and was heartened by the number of people who participated this year on relatively short notice.
“We’re just blown away and it definitely gives us the sign that State College is more than ready for something even bigger and better next year,” London said.

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