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HUNTINGTON — Pride month has begun and local celebrations are underway.

Huntington Pride will have several events throughout June to celebrate the LGBTQ community. These events will be the first in-person events the organization has held in over a year, said Huntington Pride President Ally Layman.

“It’s a long time coming to have a sense of belonging again within our community,” Layman said.

A Huntington Pride Festival was first held in June 2019. Last year, a drive-thru-style parade was held because of coronavirus restrictions and to put a spotlight on the BIPOC, or Black, Indigenous and People of Color, community and the Black Lives Matter movement in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, Layman said.

“The Pride movement started in 1969 with the Stonewall riots with Marsha P. Johnson. We wouldn’t have what we have as a community without our Black trans women fighting for us and our community,” Layman said. “We felt it was very important to show our allyship.”

Throughout this year’s events, health and support resources for LGBTQ individuals will be highlighted. The first hour of the Drag Me to Brunch Picnic Edition on June 13 will be dedicated to LGBTQ health and safety resources from Huntington Pride, Branches Domestic Violence Shelter and Cabell County Stop Team. At intermission, Huntington Art in the Park will perform a couple of numbers from “Addams Family.” The event starts at 11 a.m. at the Ritter Park Amphitheater. During Drag Me to Brunch, Huntington Pride will make an announcement about something to come in the fall.

A few local restaurants will have to-go specials so attendees can take food to the park, Layman said. These restaurants are Black Sheep Burrito and Brews, Nomada Bakery, Le Bistro, The Peddler and Bahnhof WVrsthaus and Biergarten.

“We’re trying to have something for everybody, our allies and our community. It’s going to be really fun. I’m excited to do events again and also at the same time help our community with resources,” Layman said.

Admission for Drag Me to Brunch is $10 and can be bought online at Eventbrite. Four tickets will be given away on the Branches Domestic Violence Shelter podcast Root For Each other. To enter, listen to the episode “Mapping Resources for the LGBTQ+ Community,” take a screenshot of the episode and tag Branches on Facebook with the photo. The winner will be drawn Monday, June 7.

On June 12, breakfast will be served — Pride Pancakes with Harmony House — starting at 8 a.m. at 1202 5th Ave. Layman said LGBTQ resources on topics such as navigating homelessness and domestic violence will be discussed here.

Layman said Pride is still looking for volunteers for this event to serve pancakes, clean up and ensure health guidelines are followed. To volunteer, show up 30 minutes before the event or email huntingtonwvpride@gmail.com.

A kickoff party will be held at The Stonewall on June 12. On June 5, Huntington Pride will face Charleston-based Rainbow Pride of West Virginia in a kickball game at the Shawnee Sports Complex in Dunbar at 2:30 p.m.

Layman, who grew up in Huntington, said she did not always feel accepted, but “Huntington has come leaps and bounds with being more inclusive.” In 2013, the city of Huntington adopted a nondiscrimination ordinance, and Huntington has an Open to All campaign.

“It’s like Huntington has this inclusive bubble,” she said. “It’s so important to have a Pride organization and an LGBTQ organization because we are a part of the community. We are as much a part of the community as anybody else.”

McKenna Horsley is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Follow her on Twitter @Mckennahorsley.

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