PORTSMOUTH, Va. - Something special is about to bloom in an empty field on the edge of Olde Towne Portsmouth. It's the city's first ever Pride festival, celebrating the LGTBQ+ community and its allies.
"After two years with COVID, after the violence that's occurred in our communities, both in the LGBT community and Hampton Roads, we want to do something positive for Portsmouth," says Bracey Parr, one of the festival's organizers.
"We are just so ecstatic for Saturday," Parr adds.
Families, food trucks and drag queens will fill the spot adjacent to the Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion Saturday. The event, which is free and open to all, runs from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The message: Pride belongs to all of us.
"We are here in our community to enhance wellness, extend kindness, and bring healing into our community," adds Lateacia Sessoms, an event organizer and President of Community of Change, a non-profit group based in Portsmouth.
After years of pandemic-related cancellations, look for Pride celebrations across Hampton Roads to return in 2022. The coming weeks promise events in Hampton, Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Suffolk, including:
- June 4: Pride Month Kickoff Party (Norfolk)
- June 12: Pride in the Vibe (Virginia Beach)
- June 15: Pride Night at Harbor Park (Norfolk)
- June 18: City of Hampton Pride (Hampton)
- June 24: Block Party Pride at Scope Arena (Norfolk)
- June 25: Hampton Roads Pridefest (Norfolk)
- July 23: Suffolk Pride Festival (Suffolk)
Back in Portsmouth, a group of volunteers is working to make Saturday's event a party with a purpose.
"We will have resources. We're gonna have businesses here providing opportunities for employment," promises Kimberly Wimbish, one of the event's organizers.
Proceeds will benefit several non-profit groups in the area, with a focus on mental health and wellness in the LGBTQ+ and wider Portsmouth Community, according to the event's website.