There was a time when Cristina Michaels , of Westminster, said she would have felt a little too shy to march down Main Street in Longmont waving a pink, blue and white flag representing the transgender spectrum — Saturday was not one of those times.
Holding her flag high, Michaels joined roughly 300 people in lining up downtown to take part in a Visibility March.
“I wanted to” march, Michaels said. “I have to.”
The march was one of many events that was part of Longmont Pride Week, which wrapped up Saturday. The festivities drew thousands of people to celebrate and show their support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities. Up and down Main Street, rainbow flags poked from mediums. Hundreds strolled the downtown displaying the rainbow colors in the form of T-shirts, sequined hats, colorful skirts and feathered boas. For many who attended, Longmont Pride showed local support for the LGBTQ community, encouraging people to feel loved and accepted in the place they call home.
Out Boulder County, an advocacy group with the aim to educate, empower and support, Boulder County’s LGBTQ communities, helped to host and promote the event. A number of local and corporate businesses served as sponsors, including Seagate, Left Hand Church, and the Boulder County Bombers roller derby league. This year, those who attended Longmont Pride could take part in a Rainbow Storytime, a 50 and up LGBTQ mixer and a number of musical and dance performances.
Nearly 20 years ago, Longmont’s first Pride event was a gathering of 40 to 50 people in Thompson Park. Juan Moreno , corporate sponsorship and special events manager for Out Boulder County, said the event has grown a lot in the four years since the advocacy group took over promotional responsibilities.
“The very first year, we were expecting 800 people,” Moreno said. “Now we expect more than 3,000.”
With a focus on being a sober and tobacco-free environment, Moreno said the event was created to be family friendly. A number of crafts, as well as a youth and family area were other elements that could be seen at the event.
“There is a lot of reputation with pride events that it is a booze fest with adult themes,” he said. “We showcase that pride can be for everybody.”
As Moreno had hoped, Longmont Pride inspired people across all ages to attend. Holding a bright pink sign that read: “Allies Always Speak Up,” Clela Rorex , of Longmont, was among those who sought to show her support for Pride.
Rorex is a volunteer with Out Boulder County and said she has long been an “ally” to the LGBTQ community. In 1975, she served as a Boulder County clerk. While the Supreme Court would not legalize same-sex marriage nationwide until 2015, Rorex sought to dole out licenses to same-sex couples anyways. She issued six licenses before her efforts were halted.
For Rorex, Saturday’s event indicated that local support for the LGBTQ community was continuing to grow.
“I’m so excited to see how Longmont is growing and accepting members of the LGBTQ communities as their families move in and artists move in,” Rorex said. “A lot has changed in the last few years and it is wonderful.”
Preparing to take part in the Visibility March, Kristin Goodman and her daughter Sarah Goodman walked toward Main Street. Sarah wore a rainbow flag as a cape. Kristin said this is their second year attending Longmont Pride.
“(The importance) is to show all the people locally that they are supported and loved, no matter what,” Kristin said. “They deserve to be recognized in their own home, rather than to have to go somewhere else.”
As the Visibility March proceeded down Main Street, some cars honked in apparent support and people lined the streets to watch. With her sign proudly displayed, Rorex said she hoped to share an important message.
“I want people to know that allies are important for every civil rights effort,” Rorex said.