Out and proud: Pride in the Park brings visibility and awareness to Eagle County’s LBGTQ community
Second annual event in Avon brings together community organizations, LGBTQ residents, youth and allies to celebrate love and acceptance
AVON — Following a year where many people felt cut off from community and connection, Eagle County Pride gave everyone a reason to celebrate and reengage at Saturday’s Pride in the Park event at Harry A. Nottingham Park.
“Everyone is so excited to get out and make connections and do things,” said Madison Partridge, one of five Pride in the Park committee members. “[Pride] helps the health of the LGBTQI community; it creates friendships that are hard to find, especially in this valley.”
While last year’s event consisted of a Pride parade around the park, this year’s event had a full schedule of events meant to engage everyone in the celebration.
“Pride is for everyone,” Partridge said. “It’s for our queer community, it’s for our allies, it’s just for people to come and have a good time.”
Throughout the day’s events — which included yoga, a youth LGTBQ-themed fashion show, a drag show, a Pride parade and a number of community speakers — allies and members of the LGBTQ community preached the power of visibility, representation and acceptance.
“This event means the world to me,” said Jonathan Royse Windham, whose drag queen persona, Dee Lusion, made her debut at the Pride in the Park drag show. “It’s so wonderful and overdue to see so much support, representation and culture involving the queer community. The rainbow flags all over the valley fill my heart. It’s invaluable to make everyone feel powerful in who they are, want to be and will become.”
Many of the speakers, including those from Eagle Valley Behavioral Health and Speak up Reach Out, spoke about the importance of this visibility as it shows LGBTQ youth that they are not alone and that it’s OK to be who you are.
“I often think about the huge difference it would have made for me to have just one gay role model growing up, that’s why I strive to be proud and visible as much as I can,” said Amy Vogt, who spoke alongside her wife, Megan Vogt.
The power of having a Pride event in small communities, like Eagle County, was something that stuck out to speakers, attendees and organizers.
“Ultimately, we have made a lot of progress, especially in our small community,” said Megan Vogt, owner of Megan Vogt Counseling. “Look at the people here, for allies and queers alike, this is a foundation of change to create a more inclusive spectrum of being.”
“It’s just a day to bring people together,” Partridge said. “This is a great, safe space for you to come and be who you are and have people celebrate you.”
The event did indeed bring people together, from all across the state. Shemsa Fazliji and Jared Carter traveled to Avon from Denver just for Eagle County’s Pride in the Park. While Carter and Fazliji were both surprised that the Vail area had a Pride event, they felt it was incredibly important to support these events in smaller communities.
“It brings visibility and it lets youth have a platform to be themselves,” Fazliji said. “I think everyone should come out and learn to support each other and show love to each other.”
For many, the event was an opportunity to feel connected to a larger community and feel less alone.
“I’m trans and it’s nice to be out because I’ve felt isolated up here, but something like this shows I’m not alone,” said a young Eagle County resident who requested to remain unnamed.
The event also highlighted the work to be done — work in creating a bigger more accepting community, work in creating resources for mental health, work in pursuing equality and more.
“Pride is an opportunity to celebrate our community, our history and our culture,” Amy Vogt said. “It’s also a time to recommit to be done to establish full justice and equality for all. Visibility and representation are the cornerstones of equality.”
In keeping up the momentum of this weekend’s event, Partridge said that Eagle County Pride will begin to host more regular events and activities for the county’s LGBTQ community. This includes the launch of a support group in partnership with Eagle Valley Behavioral Health as well as a slew of events from additional yoga in the park events, educational opportunities, regular get-togethers, drag shows and more.
“Pride should be really every day of your life,” said Britny Rose, who founded Eagle County Pride in 2020. “You should not be afraid to show people who you are, every day of your life.”
Reporter Ali Longwell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.