Katie Duringham couldn’t believe her eyes.
Duringham, who spent a portion of her childhood living in Erie, returned to the area for the weekend to visit some friends when she tagged along to the Pride Celebration taking place downtown.
“I almost didn’t recognize Briggs Street!” exclaimed Duringham, looking around at the sea of people wearing rainbows and glitter in downtown Erie. “There are so many people here today. I never thought I would see such a giant turnout celebrating LGBTQIA+ people in Erie, but here we are. It’s a sight for sore eyes.”
On Sunday,thousands of people flocked to Briggs Street to celebrate Erie’s first-ever Pride Festival. The event was organized by Being Better Neighbors, a nonprofit organization in Erie focused on promoting diversity and inclusion within the town, with added support from the Town of Erie.
The four-hour festival showcased live music from local artists, including Mile High Freedom Band, DJ Drake and Erie-based Vertigo Road, as well as performances from Colorado-based drag queens and Colorado Cheer.
Jeannine Dyche, who has lived with her partner in Erie for 23 years, said that she has lived in the community long enough to see it come full circle when it comes to inclusion.
“Me and my partner bought our first house together here. We adopted our daughter, and now she’s heading into high school. I’m pretty sure that we were one of the first gay families to ever live in Erie,” Dyche said.
“When we first moved here, people wouldn’t even serve us pizza because of who we were. Now, Erie is one of the largest growing towns in the United States, and it’s crazy to be celebrating our first Pride festival and to feel like we belong. I feel very proud and stunned to see how many people came out today,” Dyche added.
The turnout was also overwhelming for Being Better Neighbors member and event co-organizer Samantha Hosmer.
“It is beyond anything we ever imagined. When we were planning this event, we were planning on around 500 or 600 people attending. I’m not great at counting, but our turnout has definitely been closer to 1,500 people,” Hosmer said.
Hosmer, who also works as the Gay-Straight Alliance coordinator at Erie Middle School, said that seeing some of her own students at the event was particularly moving.
“For me, this event is especially important for the youth in our community, and seeing that our town is coming together to make these kids feel seen, and loved, and safe … it’s just huge,” Hosmer said.
Christina Pisano, who works as the events committee coordinator for Being Better Neighbors, said that the nonprofit was inspired to organize this event to make the community feel safer for LGBTQIA+ residents.
“I came from a diverse and inclusive upbringing, and I wanted to be able to bring that to this town. We wanted to make people feel safe, seen and celebrated,” Pisano said.
“My heart is 25 times bigger from seeing this incredible turnout. There are no words. I’m just so happy for our little town,” added Pisano.
Boulder Daily Camera
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