For the past few years, Alaeta Fiocchi would have to make the one-hour journey out of Athens each year in order to celebrate Pride Month.
Fiocchi, who is a recent graduate of Athens High School and uses they/them pronouns, said they’re always proud of their identity, “but it’s really not fun to travel to Columbus just to be like, ‘hey, I’m proud.’”
However, this year was different. The City of Athens held its first Athens Pride Fest over the weekend with rainbow-filled festivities in town. The rainbow finale took place Sunday with a rally and picnic at College Green.
In celebration of the event, College Green was filled with rainbow flags representing different LGBT identities hung up around lamp posts and around people’s shoulders.
The event was Isaac Stern’s first Pride Fest. Stern, a recent graduate from Athens High School, said having the event here in Athens was good as it allowed LGBT-identifying individuals to feel represented among their peers.
“(The event is) a recognition of progress for the city and just progress in general for the LGBT movement,” Stern said. “Even though Athens is a liberal area, the county isn’t. So it’s good that we can actually have (Pride Fest) here.”
Following the activities from the weekend, the Athens City Council will hold a hearing to propose banning the practice of conversion therapy on minors, delfin bautista, the director of Ohio University’s LGBT Center, said.
In the state of Ohio, three other cities — Columbus, Cincinnati and Toledo — have already passed bans on the practice of conversion therapy on minors.
bautista, who uses they/them pronouns and the lowercase spelling of their name, along with several other LGBT-identifying individuals, will be sharing their stories and experiences regarding conversion therapy and said the proposal was the next step in re-enacting pride.
“(Monday) is when we get to live our pride and be the pride in our lives, but also in the lives of others,” they said. “It’s not just a hashtag, it’s not just a little cutesy thing you can do on Facebook. You said pride, now be pride.”
To Athens resident ShaVaughn Peterson, Pride is about “what you do for everyone else.” Peterson, who uses they/them pronouns, said their pride meant being true to themselves and living that truth every day to ensure the future generation “doesn’t have to struggle as much as we do.”
“To anyone who’s struggling (and) discovering themselves right now, it’s OK you’ll figure it out and it’s OK to not have it figured out right now,” Peterson said. “We’re all spinning on this rock together, and life is not a destination — it’s a journey.”