Contributing Author: Katelyn Owens
Published: June 30, 2015
As the season to celebrate LGBTQ Pride continues across the country, organizations from around the country like Triangle Community Center have sought to continue the work of activists who put together some of the first Pride celebrations more than 45 years ago. The LGBTQ community and our allies in Fairfield County returned to Mathews Park this year on Saturday, June 13th to celebrate what became Fairfield County’s largest ever Pride celebration, which also marked Triangle Community Center’s 25th anniversary year.
To help celebrate with TCC was Norwalk Mayor Rilling and Connecticut State Senator Bob Duff among other representatives who explored different nonprofit vendors and spent time on stage with TCC Executive Director, Anthony Crisci, to speak to the significance of TCC and the growing support for LGBTQ rights and acceptance in Connecticut and in Congress.
Triangle Community Center (TCC) has made trail-blazing strides this year through the support of its community members, volunteers, and the dedicated staff of TCC. TCC hired Jacki Alessio, an in-house social worker dedicated to case management, who has since helped over one hundred clients, made countless referrals, engages with local communities, and can often be found at Wednesday Movie Nights at the center. TCC recently joined MFAP and World Health Clinicians in the opening of Moore Place, a housing program that offers case management and LGBTQ-competent services through TCC.
Our community deserved a big celebration in light of these accomplishments, and TCC was determined to deliver. With planning for Pride in the Park 2015 kicking off months ago with Joe Federici, TCC’s Pride Coordinator, at the helm, this year’s event was an unprecedented success. The main headliners, The Haus of Edwards from RuPaul’s Drag Race, drew a huge audience of all ages including many families with young children with whom the drag queens interacted on stage between performances. The Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut represented the local drag scene with many performances throughout the day. Other performances included the all-female, commercial-pop band Run Jenny out of New Haven and Brooklyn-native, electronic and soul artist SHIRA.
Two Roads Brewing Company served a selection of their signature summer brews in the BFWC Beer Garden, sponsored by Mark Henson, and Ketel One provided refreshments in a VIP area where visitors could spend time with the Haus of Edwards and other performers. Food trucks in attendance included Grab Your Meatballs, El Azteca, Mamoun’s Falafel, G&G Pizza Bus, One Bro Pizza Co, and Pierogies on Wheels.
Close to forty vendors engaged with attendees including local LGBTQ artists selling handmade goods and nonprofit organizations like Hillary for America, HRC, True Colors, and PFLAG. Local open and affirming congregations like St. Paul’s on the Green were also present showing support for the LGBTQ community.
With more people having RSVP’ed via social media a month out from the event than attended in 2014, this year’s LGBTQ Pride festival had the largest turn-out in the history of Fairfield County with over 1500 people throughout the day stopping by to celebrate, enjoy the food trucks, have their faces painted, or enjoy the live entertainment. Executive Director, Anthony Crisci, said the best thing about Pride in the Park this year was definitely the big community that showed up:
“Hosting the largest gathering of Fairfield County’s LGBTQ community ever is important for a number of reasons. First, it demonstrates to the greater public that there is indeed a large and vibrant LGBTQ community in Fairfield County. Secondly, it sends the message that the greater Norwalk area is a welcoming place where LGBTQ people can gather en masse without fear or harassment. Finally, it brings together folks in our community to build new relationships and find support from their peers whether they are reconnecting with old friends or making new ones that day.”
A celebration this large has the potential to make a statement to the Northeast that Connecticut is a growing hub for LGBTQ-friendly businesses and events. Acknowledging this growth, Programs Coordinator, Conor Pfeifer, said he could,
“see our community engaging on so many levels, from Greenwich to Stratford, and from Sherman to the coast. Our community has built welcoming and inclusive houses of worship, like St. Paul’s on the Green in Norwalk, or the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Westport.”
Bringing LGBTQ Pride to Connecticut is something Triangle Community Center works to do year-round. TCC has been organizing Pride events since its inception in 1990, but Pride in the Park 2015 was only the second event of its kind. Already the rainbow bench has begun to signify LGBTQ Pride in Connecticut, highlighting TCC’s and the community’s dedication to families and future generations.
TCC, World Health Clinicians, and HIV Equal made this possible through connecting with major sponsors including TD, GE, Shoff Darby Insurance Agency, Hotel Zero Degrees Norwalk, Gay Parents to Be in partnership with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, Two Roads Brewing Company, Prudential, and Pepperidge Farm.