Haunted Pride closes first-year event


AppalAction hosted its first ever Haunted Pride event last weekend, welcoming around 100 people to celebrate the LGBTQ community in an October-themed event that showcased performances, a live band, a DJ, vendors, and more. Many were dressed in costume and ready to celebrate the first year event and the group is looking forward to bigger and better pride events in the future as interest grows.

Thousands have enjoyed and participated in the Portsmouth Pride events, which celebrate the LGBTQ+ community through music, performance, speeches, and more.

According to the group, the acronym stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, which groups together a minority populous in solidarity, as they work to eradicate prejudice and misconception about their identities.

“Portsmouth Pride 2023 was a success. The pride committee originally planned a Haunted Pride close to Halloween to change things up. However, we recognized the expectation and excitement of our annual event in June and felt it was important to continue that tradition,” co-organizer of Portsmouth Pride Justin Delong said after the last event. “It is always great to see familiar and new faces each year to celebrate the diversity in our community. Events like Portsmouth Pride create a safe, welcoming family friendly environment that seeks to share love with all in our community.”

The pride event has been ongoing since 2018 and has welcomed thousands over its time to march in the parade and gather at the park to listen to music, hear from speakers, and get a glimpse into the local LGBTQ+ community.

“Portsmouth Pride was expected to be a small event to show visibility in the community. Attendance was beyond expectations and created a space for queer people to come and feel loved and embraced by their community,” DeLong said. “Pride seems to have evolved from a simple gathering and celebration of support to creating a culture of inclusivity within the city itself. People and businesses within the city are beginning to display support during pride month. The city nondiscrimination ordinance was sparked by

The event at Spartan Stadium featured live music by Mikey Mike and the Big Unit, a costume contest, drag show, and light show. DJ services were provided by BJ Cantrell. Community organizations and food vendors were also be present. The group suggested an 18 and older crowd but allowed those under 18 if accompanied by an adult.

While AppalAction is hosting the event, it was founded by DeLong and Portsmouth Welcoming Community.

“Portsmouth Pride was created by the local Community of Christ congregation in Portsmouth. One of the Enduring Principles of Community of Christ is the ‘Worth of All Persons.’ Our congregation developed out of that principle to create a safe, welcoming and loving space for worship for queer folks in our community. It was important for us to take that message publicly through the Portsmouth Pride Festival,” DeLong said. “As a Community of Christ minister and member of the queer community, it’s important to me that faith leaders publicly embrace all of God’s children and show them the love they deserve. Throughout scripture we are counseled to love our neighbor. That love comes with no restrictions.”

Portsmouth Pride has grown over the years and has become something DeLong says he fiercely protects, because of what it means to people who often feel like they have nowhere else to turn.

“We host pride because it is important to ensure that all within our community are valued, loved and supported,” DeLong claimed. “Queer people often face much difficulty as they try to navigate life in their communities. This burden often causes feelings of shame, worthlessness and isolation. We want to honor every queer person in our community and ensure they feel heard and welcomed just as they are.”

One of the guests was Charlie Nick, a photojournalist graduate student from Ohio University.

“I am, originally, a native of Southeast Michigan. Lately, I have been working on a photography project exploring queer identities through the horror genre, and this event intrigued me due to its haunted theme. In today’s landscape, queer individuals are given the month of June to be able to celebrate their pride and their identities; however, pride needs to be a part of our everyday lives,” Nick claimed. “Some individuals live their entire lives without experiencing pride in themselves and often feel isolated within their communities when there is no direct visibility around them. Having pride events throughout the course of the year enables LGBTQ+ individuals to embrace their community and expand their world to help them realize that they are seen.”

Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

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