Greenbrier Valley Pride is an up-and-coming group dedicated to inclusivity and the celebration of the LGBTQIA+ community throughout the region. The organization is currently fundraising and planning for the inaugural Greenbrier Valley Pride event to be held on Saturday, June 26.
Festivities will begin with a parade in downtown Lewisburg. Lineup will begin on Lee Street at 2 p.m. From there, people will start walking, marching, parading, and celebrating down Washington Street at 3 p.m.
The parade will come to a close in front of the Greenbrier County Courthouse and Blue Skies Ahead headquarters on Court Street. This is not the end of the event, however – this is where the block party will begin, running from 4 to 7 p.m.
A photo booth, drag makeup, face painting, sidewalk chalk, tarot readings, performances, speakers, food, and good company await those celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community!
“Greenbrier Valley Pride means so much to me as a queer woman having grown up in Southern West Virginia,” said Greenbrier Valley Pride President Kelsie Tyson. “I am so excited to get decked out in rainbow-gear and watch local queens perform. I cannot wait to connect with my community! My hope is that this event serves as a safe space and celebration for our local LGBTQIA+ folks and allies.”
Booths from both Seneca Health Services and the Family Refuge Center will be offering resources for suicide prevention, intimate partner and sexual violence, comprehensive sexual education, and more. Seneca Health’s own Batman will give out free emergency doses of the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan and teach people how to use the life-saving tool.
Information for those questioning their gender identity will be available at both the transgender health booth and discretely with both Seneca and FRC. Those with kids, family, or friends in the transgender community are also encouraged to come, to learn how show local support and be the best ally they can be during a time when transgender lives are being politically attacked.
American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia (ACLU), fresh on a recent Department of Justice memo filed in support of a lawsuit against West Virginia’s transgender athlete ban for being unconstitutional, will have an information booth available to do outreach. The Greenbrier Valley Democrats will also be engaging in outreach and providing information to unregistered voters.
The 30 pole banners of downtown Lewisburg honor the city’s inclusive values and often raise awareness of key issues in an effort to improve the lives of victims of violence and oppression, such as the Black History Month banners that are displayed in February shortly after the Martin Luther King Jr. Day banners fly in January. GVP is adding their own to the list, designed by Tamarack Emerging Artist Fellow and Ronceverte-raised Kelsie Tyson. Thanks to community support and the work of Greenbrier Printing, the banners are fully funded and will hopefully hang throughout town during the event.
In addition to Tyson and Vice President Matt Parsley, the group is currently structuring themselves to prepare and plan future events. Until this process is complete, the leadership positions are not official, but a group vote approved the interim leadership for Greenbrier Valley Pride:
- Secretary Hannah Bell
- Treasurer Kayla M. McCoy
- Communications Director Jorge Rodriguez-Stanley
- Events Coordinator Kiersten White
- Safety Officer/Volunteer Coordinator Jamie Johans Crosier
- Board members Molly Arbogast, Lyra Bordelon, Sarah Ream Driggers, Rebekah Danielle Fallin, Courtney Hereford, Cici McLay, Brian Perdue, and Damie Spencer.
“Spending my summer being a part of this amazing group of people has been incredibly inspirational,” said Parsley. “From the second the idea was mentioned, I have witnessed the hard work and dedication of an incredible team who has gone above and beyond to make this event come to fruition. Being a native of southern West Virginia, the implementation of the event speaks volumes about the progress and growth our state has exhibited; the mere visibility has the potential to help so many people become comfortable in their identities, and it is an honor to be able to make any contributions I can.”
The community is also joined by the many, many volunteers and members of Greenbrier Valley Pride. For more information on how to help or join, please visit Facebook.com/gbvpride
Although many victories remain to be won for the right to live honestly, Greenbrier Valley Pride also celebrates the protections provided by the Supreme Court to members of the LGBTQIA+ community, such as in Obergefell v. Hodges in which guaranteed the fundamental right to marry to same-sex couples, and the Equality Act passed by the House of Representatives.
This also includes a 6-3 decision in three cases from the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020, finally bringing both sexual orientation and gender identity into the umbrella protections provided for sex in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
“An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote in a majority opinion for Bostock v. Clayton County. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”