MIDDLETOWN -- Thousands attended the inaugural pride parade and festival in Middletown. It was the first pride parade in the state.
“Today means everything,” said Dr. Richard Stillson who is also known in drag as “Mucha Mucha Placer.”
The turnout had some festival goers overwhelmed with emotion.
“It really makes us feel special and loved and accepted,” said Zuzanna Bartina.
The community came together waving pride flags and banners filling the streets, green and shops. Eric Elong, the owner of Forbidden City Bistro, was proud to see his clientele joining in the celebration. He felt the day was good for the town and his fellow business owners.
“I think it’s proof that Middletown is very diverse and we’re an open town,” said Elong.
The event was another milestone of acceptance.
Stillson came out 37-years-ago at the very first pride celebration in Hartford held on the Old State House green. He said on that day about 200 people were there. Some wore paper bags over their heads in fear to hide their identity.
To see today’s celebration was something special.
“I hope it says that we don’t have to be afraid of who we are. We don’t have to stay in the closet anymore. We can be who we are,” said Stillson.
“But it isn’t everywhere. It’s not every state that’s like this in this country and it’s not every country that’s like America.
The Pride Parade was organized by the City of Middletown, Middlesex Chamber of Commerce and Wesleyan University in collaboration with the Triangle Community Center.