Rain was steady, but that didn’t stop attendees from showing up and jumping in at Pride on the Mountain on September 8, 2018.
This year’s Pride, organized by the NEPA Rainbow Alliance, had a wonderful turnout despite less-then-ideal weather. The family-friendly event was set at Mountain Mountain’s water park with music provided by M80, a local cover band. While many Pride-goers tended to stick to tents and under awnings, some still donned their bathing suits and jumped in the lazy river, full of Rainbow Alliance beach balls, enjoying a relaxing day on the mountain.
Mid-afternoon was set aside for a drag show. Queens and Kings huddled just off stage, excited to share their performances with the eager crowd. First up was Buster Highman, who also had the honor of passing on the title of Mr. Pride to this year’s winner, Victor Ian Love, a newcomer to the drag world, but full of talent and exploding with passion. Miss Pride 2018, Estella Sweet, was unable to attend, but came out later that night at Heat Bar & Nightclub for a comedy-filled roast of her.
Other local drag kings performed, including Jaque MeHoff and Pete Sweet. Caring Communities’ own Andrew Oddgenus and Trixy Valentine gave rave performances with their own renditions of Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” and Donna Summer’s “Last Dance,” respectively. The pair donated all their $200+ in tips to Caring Communities, which will be put toward our client services.
Caring Communities had tents set up inside. On a rainy day, it was the perfect spot to take some cover and get one of our free HIV/STD screenings. With candy, photo booth frames, and plenty of knowledgeable staff, it’s easy to understand why we never really had an empty line.
When lines grew, Trixy and Andrew entertained our crowd and put them at ease, making sure the visit for an STD or HIV test was never daunting and always supportive. A group of friends, initially hesitant, melted into giggles and squeals when approached by Trixy, excited to see a drag queen in person.
“I’ve never met a drag queen before,” one exclaimed.
“We love RuPaul’s Drag Race,” swooned another, lamenting that they were not yet old enough to attend drag performances at the local bars, but still wanted to be part of all the fun. Pride is celebrated as a family-friendly event for just this reason: to remove barriers and ensure everyone in the community can participate, regardless of age.
Trixy and Andrew took turns circling outside, stopping for photo ops and always sure to recommend an STD test. Guests asked about Andrew’s shirt (emblazoned with a large, rainbow Caring Communities logo) and Trixy’s tiara (handmade to display a Caring Communities button as its crown jewel). They answered any question with finesse and kindness, directing those interested toward the Caring Communities testing tents.
Attendees repeatedly thanked our testers for their help and information. Many left our table walking a little taller, a little more confident, with their new-found knowledge.
Appreciation wasn’t only shown from those getting tested. Members from the Victim’s Resource Center approached the table, commenting on how thrilled they were with Caring Communities’ work and specifically complimenting our Community Education team for their thorough and informative trainings.
The entire Caring Communities crew came out to promote our services and their boosts in confidence to attendees led us to conducting 70 tests! That breaks down to:
33 HIV tests
21 Gonorrhea and Chlamydia tests
15 Syphilis tests
1 Hepatitis C test
It was a great Pride for all—we continued in our mission to make NEPA an educated and stigma-free environment, and our community in Scranton felt a little more self-assured as they moved forward.