‘You are not alone’: 2nd annual Eagle County Pride in the Park returns to Avon in June
When Britny Rose launched the first-ever Eagle County Pride in the Park parade last year, she did it to provide an opportunity for locals of all ages in the LGBTQ community to feel included.
“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 last summer. “That’s because (the kids) have no community to look to. I’m hoping that this sparks something and we can build something.”
“This is only the beginning,” Rose said before last year’s event.
While Rose is no longer a full-time resident of the valley, she’s still the “Queen of Queers,” Eagle County Pride organizing member Orlando Ortiz said.
“I can think back to our Pride in the Park last year, and I was impressed by all of the children and youth that were present,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t expecting that, and then to hear their parents be so grateful because now their children could look up to others, that was very meaningful. … I wish I had something like this back in El Paso, Texas.”
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Led by a team of five members — all taking on different tasks — Eagle County Pride will be presenting the second annual Pride in the Park at Avon’s Nottingham Park on Saturday, June 12. The schedule of events, starting at noon, includes a yoga session, fashion show (themed around the pride flag); local speakers; a parade around the park; and a drag show to close.
“That was a lot of fun last year just to go around the park,” Ortiz said of the colorful parade around Nottingham Lake. “And we’re really excited about having the first drag show in Eagle County.”
New this year: Food trucks will be available on site.
Eagle County Pride is still looking for sponsors for the event, already building strong relationships with Mountain Youth, Red Ribbon Project of Eagle County, Town of Avon and others in the community. If interested in supporting Eagle County Pride and Pride in the Park, email email@example.com.
“Our goal is just to make this event happen,” Ortiz said. “But we still need the community’s help. Everyone is invited to the second annual Pride in the Park.”
Eagle County Pride had hopes of putting on monthly events after last year’s event, but due to the pandemic they were not able to host too many gatherings. They are hoping to get more events and gatherings in 2021 after the Pride in the Park.
A safe space to feel included
Pride in the Park is promoted as a safe space for people to be themselves.
“I’m hoping that we’re able to create support programs and peer groups and find support within our community here,” Ortiz said. “That’s a huge part of our goal.”
For Ortiz, he knows the power a group like Eagle County Pride can have. While attending a Catholic college in Massachusetts, he started an allies club as the only gay member.
“It was a culture shock to say the least, to be walking around the campus where not only was I the only Hispanic, but the only openly gay as well,” Ortiz said. “That was challenging. After my first break I cried so much to my parents, but I knew it was part of the challenge, so I did it.”
After completing college, he met back up with his family who had moved here to the valley. In nearly two decades here, Ortiz has always wondered why the LGBTQ community isn’t more visible in Eagle County. And while he feels thankful for his family and friends, he knows what many kids may be experiencing locally.
“I think the biggest step is to be able to talk to someone about it — a friend, family member, teacher or whatever, or even a hotline,” Ortiz said of finding support. “We are not alone — you are not alone. I think that’s one of the main reasons we’re doing this is because the [Eagle County Pride] committee is older so we’ve been through it, and we want the youth in the community to know that we’re here for them. We’ve gone through that. They can lean on us for any conversation or peer support.”
Ortiz added that his team is happy to talk to any parents or community members as well.
“They are not alone — we are here for our youth,” he said.
For more information about Pride in the Park, follow Eagle County Pride on Facebook.