The co-founders of the Portsmouth Pride organization say their goal is to value the worth of all people.
Co-founder Justin DeLong, pastor of Portsmouth Welcoming Community, says that back in 2018, two members of his congregation brought up the idea of hosting a pride event. Around 400 people and 20 vendors attended in 2019. In 2019, those numbers doubled.
Bennie Blevins, co-pastor of PWC says, “Our goal for organizing and holding Portsmouth Pride is to promote, in short, Love. Pride is about celebrating dignity, equality, and increased visibility of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, non-binary, and others in the LGBTQ+ community as sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, friends, cousins…as people worthy of dignity, life, and of love.”
Blevins said the most satisfying part of the celebration is hearing from members of the LGBTQ community who say they feel and safe and don’t need to hide anymore.
He says negative responses to the celebration normally fall into two categories: ‘Why isn’t there a straight pride celebration?’ and religious objections.
In response, Pastor Blevins says, Have heterosexual people ever been thrown in jail for being attracted to the opposite sex? Have heterosexual folks ever been physically attacked for holding the hand of the person that they love?”
Blevins addressed religious objections by quoting the Bible. “Jesus said that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So, my question has always been. If you love yourself, would you call yourself a vile name that is rooted in fear and hate? I am called by my God to love everyone regardless of our differences.”
Portsmouth Pride will be held on Saturday, June 27 from 11 am to 2 pm at Tracy Park.