WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – 2019 marks a milestone anniversary within the LGBTQ community.
In the summer of 1969, the Stonewall riots in New York City served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement. As Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller explains, people gathered in Wilkes-Barre on Saturday some 50 years later for a series of events with one major theme: acceptance.
It’s not every day you see strangers giving hugs in Kirby Park. But that’s exactly why the organization Free Mom Hugs was on hand. Free Mom Hugs Co-Chair Vanessa White Fernandes said, “It seems like a really great opportunity to join with people and show what our similarities rather than our differences are.”
The group joined forces with NEPA Rainbow Alliance for NEPA Pride Fest. It’s the third straight year The Wright Center for Community Health has gotten on board for an event that’s become a more than decade-long tradition. The Wright Center for Community Health’s Medical Case Manager Aliah Roseman said, “It’s just important to support all communities. Everybody should feel like they’re included.”
They delivered a message of inclusion with a first: the inaugural NEPA Pride March that took participants from Public Square to Kirby Park. And for a second year, this day featured a Pride 5K Walk/Run that’s about much more than trying to win a medal.
First-place finisher Alex Byrnes said, “It was a lot of fun. I just sort of came out and felt like running.” After registering the top time, the Tunkhannock man said, “It’s always good to come out and help in any way you can. Raise awareness. Happy Pride.”
Happiness is what many in this crowd feel as the LGBTQ community makes greater social strides. NEPA Rainbow Alliance Vice-Chair Anthony Melf said, “We really just want to create more visibility and work toward the equality and fairness for all members in our neighborhood, in our backyard.”
Mr. Melf said money raised from the 5K registration fees will be put to good use. It goes to NEPA Rainbow Alliance’s goal of providing educational services, advocacy efforts, and resource development