Payne County Pride Hosts Family Pride Festival in the Park | New
At the end of Couch Park, people of all ages gathered under a pavilion filled with rainbow-themed merchandise and outdoor activities.
At one of the craft tables is Trisha Iyonsi with her two children Toju and Esha. She and her children see themselves as allies of the LGBTQ + community.
â€œFor me, it’s really important that my kids are inclusive of everyone and accept everyone from a young age,â€ said Iyonsi. â€œWe’re a different ethnic groupâ€¦ so we kind of know what it’s like to feel different or not to be included. “
Payne County Pride hosted Pride in the Park on Tuesday night to celebrate the area’s LGBTQ + community. It was a free family event for people of all ages.
Kristy Self is the Secretary of Payne County Pride and helped plan this event. While the organization couldn’t host a big parade for the month of June, she said the organization still wanted to host an event to celebrate the LGBTQ + community in Stillwater for Pride Month.
â€œAs a committee we decided to do something in the park so we decided to rent the lodge and make it more family friendly,â€ Self said. â€œWe wanted it to be very open, very inclusive for anyone who wanted to go out. “
Dozens of people gathered at the park to socialize and play games around the pavilion. Children could color and make their own rainbow flags and wind chimes at the arts and crafts table.
Irissa Baxter-Luper is a member of the board of directors of Payne County Pride and has helped orchestrate the arts and crafts section. She said the decision to make the event family-friendly was intentionally welcoming to people of all ages.
“This is vitally important because organizing events where children can come means that there is nothing wrong or wrong with us,” said Baxter-Luper. â€œWe are not dangerous people. We are just human beings who love each other and who love people that some people don’t necessarily find acceptable.
Those in attendance could also play games like the cornhole and have their face makeup done by Anjali Sweetman, a volunteer at the event. Sweetman, who had typically attended Pride events in the past as a participant, had never been part of the activities of a Pride event as a volunteer.
â€œI am really happy to be a part of this event,â€ said Sweetman. “It’s something I never thought I could do and I’m so happy I can do it.”
The organization sold their Pride 2020 t-shirts that could not be used with other merchandise last year to raise funds for their next event. Payne Country Pride is planning to host a larger event in October, consisting of a Main Street parade and festival booths.
Self said anyone who missed the event and would like to contribute to the cause can visit the Payne County Pride website or Facebook page for more information.
Baxter-Luper said the event was a success because it allowed the organization to show that people are there to support all who are different.
â€œWe’re not going anywhere,â€ Baxter-Luper said. “We absolutely love our LGBTQ community and are still part of the Stillwater family.”