Hampton Roads Pride Week about mourning, celebrating, pushing for change

Posted at 9:04 PM, Jun 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-15 22:13:53-04

HAMPTON, Va. - While the victims of the Orlando massacre are on the minds of everyone, pride week events have been on-going this week without a hitch, according to organizers.

They are remembering the lives lost, but focusing on doing exactly what many were doing at Pulse nightclub early Sunday morning -- celebrating.

"I think it's good we are able to come out and have a fun celebration," says Gabrielle Mueller.

The Hampton Convention and Visitor Bureau hosted a two-hour pride party in downtown Hampton on Wednesday night.

"I think the LGBT community, specifically in Hampton Roads, has been focused in one area in Norfolk for a long time, and it's time for them to see there's other areas that want them and love them and want to see them here," says Jimmy Cerracchio, executive director of the Downtown Hampton Development Partnership.

Earlier in the day, Hampton CVB hosted a family expo. On Thursday, they will have the first LGBT Family Conference ever in the state of Virginia.

The event is a way to educate and teach how to be an advocate for the LGBT community, according to organizers.

"That's what this is all about, to bring people together for camaraderie for sharing information and resources," says Charles Waddell, group sales manager.

It's something that could not have come at a better time.

"We feel it's really important to broadcast the fact that we have counseling services available for people who may be having a hard time processing everything that happened," says Andrew Roberts, marketing event manager for Access Aids Care and the LGBT Center of Hampton Roads.

The party paused for a moment of silence for the Orlando massacre victims.

Hampton Roads Pride officials say security will be a constant focus throughout the weekend, not only from Norfolk Police but from state and federal agencies. Hampton Police were also visible at Wednesday's events.

However, pride is another big focus, along with the next steps to take in light of a horrific hate crime.

"Anti-bullying efforts, counseling, gun control," says Roberts. "People are energized."

The Virginia LGBT Family Conference will be held at m2 Pictures on 132 E Queen Street in Hampton. Those who register for a room at the Crowne Plaza Hampton Marina Hotel will receive access for two adults and two children to attend the conference for free. Those who do not want to book a room but do want to attend can pay $25 per person on-site, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch.