Eagle County local organizes first LGTBQ Pride event at Nottingham Park
Just over a week ago, Britny Rose and I sat outside at Bonfire Brewing, plastic cups in hand. We’d unfortunately blown a tight lead in the last inning of our co-ed softball game, and the team decided some post-game beers were necessary.
Rose, who’s also a comedian, started performing some of her bits for our team, some of which stem from the fact that she’s a transgender woman. And that’s where conversation got deeper.
On Saturday, June 21, Rose decided to post the point of that conversation in Eagle County Classifieds. She had a “fire in (her) belly,” and she wrote:
“I’ve lived here for three years now, and I know there is a LGBT+ community in this valley, but with all the beauty we have to offer we don’t host anything.”
She proposed gathering in Nottingham Park on Saturday, June 27 for a day of fun, with social distancing and a candlelight vigil to honor the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. And Facebook exploded with support for Eagle County Pride in the Park.
“I’ve been officially nominated Queen of the Queers… I’ll take it,” she said. “The community wanted to do something, but they needed someone to start it.”
By most accounts, Pride in the Park would be the first Pride event in Eagle County. June is Pride Month in the United States, so it means even more to have the event this month.
“What sparked it was our conversation on Wednesday,” she said to me. “‘Why don’t we want a Pride here?’ And the answer I’ve been getting from people is, ‘Well, it’s never been done. Nobody’s tried.’ I really didn’t think that me saying something was going to spark what happened, but I’m glad it has.”
Rose contacted the Avon Police Department once she realized interest in Pride in the Park was far greater than she had anticipated. Police assured her that there would be an increased officer presence in the park to protect against anyone attempting to disrupt the gathering, which will be family-friendly and peaceful. Rose and Avon PD highly encourage guests to social distance, bring masks and wear them.
“I’ve had nothing but support from Avon PD, nothing but support from Avon council members,” she said. “Eagle Sherriff has also been supportive. It’s a family event.”
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Rose also has lots of experience working with LGBTQ youth: she hosted a transyouth support group in Missouri, where she’s from. She is a parent herself, and has worked as a coach, teacher and at Disney World. She hopes that LGBTQ youth will have an important place in Eagle County Pride, and that some volunteers can work together to continue supporting the community well after this Saturday.
“I’ve spoken to over 50 parents in the last 48 hours, who are like, ‘I have an LGBT child. I don’t know what to do,’” she said. “That’s because (the kids) have no community to look to. I’m hoping that this sparks something and we can build something.”
Rose envisions hosting youth and parent support groups, and maybe even a youth barbecue. She hopes that a group of volunteers will come together to keep the momentum going forward.
“If we had a committee, we could start planning in December, January. It could be a two-day ordeal where we have drag shows on Friday night, all day in the park Saturday, a 5k race, a hike … there’s so much,” she said, spitballing ideas.
The type of Pride events those not directly engaged with the LGBTQ community are likely familiar with are large parades, where thousands turn up in rainbow costumes and Pride flags. Rose recognizes that not every LGBTQ person identifies with that loud mantra. She decided to work with what Eagle County is comfortable with – the outdoors – to create a safe space for LGBTQ individuals to meet and connect, or do their own thing without pressure to fit into a certain mold.
“You don’t have to be here all day, you don’t have to come for the parade, you don’t have to come for the vigil. Just know that you can come at any point, and it’s a safe day for you because there are more of us coming,” she said. “It’s just a day in the park. Go out, have fun, do your own thing.”
With only a week to plan, Rose crowdsourced many of the things you’d need to stage an event – a sound system, a DJ and a tent. The day starts at noon, though guests can come earlier if they desire. Sundae Artisan Ice Cream said they would like to participate, and at the time of writing, Rose was working with the town of Avon to make sure they’d be able to pull an ice cream truck into the park.
After a day of chilling, the group will parade around the lake at 5:30 p.m. with masks and social distancing along with any pride props. Then, closer to sundown, everyone will meet around the stage, where anyone who wants to speak about how to keep Eagle County Pride going throughout the year can step up.
The culmination of Pride in the Park will honor the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots with a candlelight vigil. On June 28, 1969, the New York police invaded the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. They harassed bar patrons and arrested 13 people, but riots ensued in the neighborhood for five days following. While Stonewall didn’t start the Gay Rights Movement of the 1970s, it’s commonly cited as a triggering force for widespread LGBTQ activism across the United States.
“The LGBT community here seems to forget why we need to have Pride,” she said. “There’s a purpose for why we have to do it. Kids now are focused on the future. They don’t necessarily know the struggles that had to happen. In Eagle County, they’ve been sheltered from what the world is really like and they don’t realize that in the 1980s, the LGBT community alone lost 800,000 people to the AIDS virus. That’s a huge reason why we have to have a vigil.”
She also referenced the Lavender Scare during the Red Scare, where the government hunted down gay people as well as suspected communists, and the continued violence against transpeople, particularly transwomen of color.
Rose will only have a limited number of candles for the vigil, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own. She also reminds guests that parking around Nottingham is limited, so a good bet is to park in Beaver Creek’s Elk and Bear Lots and take the short walk over. The Avon bus is also available, but masks are required to ride.
At the end of the day, Rose doesn’t care if half the county or 45 people show up. She’s going to use what she started here to continue giving back to the LGBTQ community in Eagle County.
“I did not realize what I got myself into. I am doing my best to take the support that everybody’s given me and put something together that we can all enjoy, with the hopes that once we get to meet each other in the park, we can find a small group of people who want to work together to continue doing these things,” she said.
“This is only the beginning.”
If you go …
What: Eagle County Pride in the Park
Where: Nottinghman Park, Avon
When: Saturday, June 27, noon-sundown.
More information: Everyone is welcome to attend the family-friendly event. Suggested parking in Elk and Bear Lots at Beaver Creek. Bring masks and social distance.