WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A huge local celebration on a weekend when abortion rights protests and counter-protests are happening across the country.

The celebration centers on the LGBTQ+ community. But there’s concern amid the celebration, might LGBTQ+ rights be in jeopardy?

On a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon, hundreds of people filled downtown Wilkes-Barre for a pride parade.

“We drove a good hour and some to come to a parade. We’ve never been to a parade before for pride,” said Remy, parade-goer.

“I definitely shed a few tears. We’ve only ever had a pride march before so this being a full pride parade is, like, a super big deal,” said Andrew Oddgenus, parade participant.

The inaugural pride parade is part of this year’s Pridefest sponsored by NEPA Rainbow Alliance. The event also had the backing of the City of Wilkes-Barre which closed streets and allowed dozens of vendors on Public Square.

“I just think that sends a really important message, especially at a time when a lot of our protections are under attack,” added Andrew Oddgenus.

The festivities come in the midst of a potential nationwide plight. Following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas who voted in favor to overturn, wrote an opinion stating the high court should also reconsider its 2015 decision which legalized same-sex marriage.

“Love is love and there’s nothing wrong with who you’re attracted to, how you want to present, you know, how you want to identify,” said James Lamar, parade participant.

Lamar and his friends believe it’s important to make a statement with this celebration and protect the rights they’ve struggled to get. They also want to debunk what they call a myth.

James Lamar says, “People thinking that there’s a queer agenda, that we want to turn the kids queer. No, it’s just, we just want to embrace them if they happen to be queer and it’s not like we can make them be queer. We can’t.” Andrew Oddgenus says, “We just want queer kids to stay alive.”

More than a dozen states have recently enacted laws that go against the interests of lgbtq+ communities.
The non-profit NEPA Rainbow Alliance works to advance fairness and equality for those communities.