Spy Survey: Do You Support Chestertown’s Decision to Permit a Gay Pride Celebration?


Chestertown residents were caught off guard last week when the Chestertown Town Council barely approved a measure that would permit a gay pride celebration to take place in Fountain Park in May. The typically progressive college town community was surprised to learn that two out of five council members (Ellsworth Tolliver and Marty Stetson) had voted against issuing the special event permit after expressing concerns over the impact the event might have on children or the “showcasing” of their lifestyle.

The Spy was as surprised as much of the community to hear of this kind of divide and thought it would be beneficial to get a sample of what Chestertown and the region feel about these events.

Please participate with our three question Spy poll on the subject.

Create your own user feedback survey


Letters to Editor

  1. I’m a little gobsmacked that the Spy is putting it to a vote. Step into the shoes of a member of our LGBT community for a moment. How would you like to see that a % of the population does not feel you should have the right to congregate? Would you put up a poll such as this for any other group of people? Probably not.

    Uncool, Spy. The quotes from the meeting were enough. Let folks enjoy the wonderful weekend that is to come.

    Jenn Baker

    • Linda DonAhue says

      I am happy to read the comments before mine. The authors may have different ideas of the survey itself but it’s clear that most people have grown past the old fear and bigotries. I hope those still on the dark side are able to move to the light very soon . It’s a wonderful thing to be able to enjoy the benefits from life’s diversity. Enjoy our differences…it’s what makes life interesting

  2. Charlie Vincent says

    I have to say that this is nothing more then inflammatory garabage that you know very well creates division. And for you to highlight this with your “poll” has only given a platform to bigotry, ignorance and hate. By conducting your “poll” you have instilled the fact that homosexuals are still only seen as second class citizens. “Let’s see how the straight people feel about this?” is basically the question you are asking. I appreciate the support of many members in the community, but we don’t need anyone’s approval to be who we are and we choose to celebrate our culture openly instead of in secrecy.

  3. Gren Whitman says

    Oh, come on, Ms. Baker and Mr. Vincent!
    Most Americans support LGBTQ rights, but too many still don’t.
    And those who don’t often still attempt to discriminate. They vote against a gay pride festival in Chestertown. Or they refuse to issue a marriage license in Kentucky. Or refuse to bake a wedding cake in California. Or refuse employment or housing. Or refuse to provide other public services we heteros take for granted.
    They sometimes even assault or murder because of a person’s gender identity.
    Me? I very much want to know the extent to which my community supports the rights, health, safety, respect, etc. of LGBTQs and other minorities.
    It’s a major reason why I live in Maryland and not in Mississippi.
    Looking forward to the Spy poll’s finding … and can kinda guess already which way the majority will tend.

    • Charlie Vincent says

      Mr. Whitman, I don’t know you personally and what your life is like, but understand as a gay man that grew up and has worked in this very town, a poll that is being taken by the largely vast majority of straight people in yours and my community to find out wether or not you are solidly accepted as a human being is a little unsettling.

      • Gren Whitman says

        Mr. Vincent, “unsettling” to you, perhaps, but not to me, and possibly not to you, if you step out of your shoes and think about it.
        “Polls” on various social, economic, and political questions are conducted all the time.
        We call them “elections.”
        Consider the Spy’s (very timely) poll as just a local election.
        I’m sure you’re reassured that common-sense won!
        By a mile!

  4. Justin A. Harris says

    Dear Editor,

    I am a KCMD native, and part of one of the more prominent families in town, and strongly believe the future of our township depends on tolerance, and acceptance. The days of queer bashing should be buried next to racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Time is linear, as a community we MUST move forward with it.

    • Doc Bridges says

      Thank you, Justin. I appreciate your comments. I’m relatively new to this community and prior to moving here, I was hesitant in moving to a small town with all that is implied in living in small conservative rural areas.

  5. Caroline Gabel says

    I don’t really understand what the fuss is abut. Everyone has a right to bye themselves, celebrate what they are. Ease up, people!

    My brother was gay, died in 1972, possibly of hating himself to death. No one has the right to inflict that on anyone!

  6. Civil rights are not decided by popular votes.
    Maybe I missed it, were there votes on discriminating against other minorities?
    So vote is now seems 3 to (2 + Spy).

  7. Joanne Ghio says

    My initial thought was that the survey was another way to express support for the Pride events planned for March. But then I read Jen and Charlies’ comments and realized that there were things I hadn’t considered at first glance. I’m confident that the Spy meant no harm, but I hope that you take these reactions into consideration and cancel the survey right away.The heartfelt comments that you are getting from your readership are saying what needs to be said.

  8. Todd Hughes says

    If they are want to give them a permit to march In a gay pride parade , OK, …I’m sure they will also give a permit for a Straight Pride parade also, Right?


    • Charlie Vincent says

      Let me know when you’ve had to live in fear of being denied, beaten or killed for your sexuality. Then parade on.

    • Doc Bridges says

      Every day on television, media in general, and everyday life is a straight pride parade. It’s a very ignorant comment on your side. Please educate yourself about the history of Pride parade, before stating what you think is an argument. Yes, there is a theme and directed towards a specific audience, but anyone can march, just like anyone can go and support St. Patrick’s Day parade without actually being Irish.

  9. William Hollingsworth says

    I was embarrassed to read the Kent County News report on the town council’s vote regarding the Pride Event. But I was encouraged as well. Encouraged that the majority voted in favor of the Event. And also encouraged that the issue made the Front Page of the Kent County News above the fold. The discussion has revealed the abilities (or lack thereof) of some of our elected officials to understand basic concepts of common decency, concepts backed by law. Mr. Stetson asserted his sexuality several times but then asked if the Pride Event intended to recruit….really Marty? Nervous? Pastor Tolliver wondered how he might explain the event to his son. What a wonderful opportunity for a Pastor or a father to have a meaningful discussion with his child, or his congregation about one of the six pillars of character, Respect. It is time for all of us to have that discussion with our children, or our neighbors, or co-workers, our elected officials, and in some cases, ourselves. Its time. Marty and Ellsworth, thanks for the soapbox.

  10. I come to chester town from wv quite often. No i dont want to see or pass by this kind of a parafe. Ellen smith. .

    • Ellen Conner says

      Then ,Please, by all means, feel free to stay home that week!

      • Ellen Smith………….perhaps you can stay home with your West Virginia Delegate (Porterfield) and watch to see if his children can swim (if he found out they were gay). ‘

    • Doc Bridges says

      So stay home on that day, Ellen. You don’t have to participate in everything that members of this community have decided to organize.

  11. Lewis Meadows says

    Acceptance of differences is a good thing. However, despite the new way of the world, there still is a right and wrong, morality and immorality. There is a reason they used to be called “queer”. This means strange, abnormal. This is the case, no matter how many people claim otherwise. They have the right to be how they are, but that does not make it right. I do not want my grandchildren exposed to this and will not apologize for it to anyone.

    • Doc Bridges says

      Lewis, thank you for the history on the term queer (with sarcasm). What is it that you don’t want your grandchildren to see? What do you think is going to happen during the parade? I am sure your grandchildren will remember you more by your openness and having taken them to a day of celebrations, rather than finding out their grandma chose to shield them from reality, based on some weak moral lesson you think you are teaching.

  12. Stacy Kendall says

    My favorite quote of all time:

    “Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated.”
    Martin Luther King Jr.

    • Doc Bridges says

      Very wise words Stacy. In the particular case with the two councilmen, they chose to speak out of ignorance and their own prejudices. Rather than inform themselves on the issue, granting a permit for a celebration, they turn it into a “lifestyle” issue leading them to tell that community how they should live and present themselves. Their actions were LGBTQI phobic and ignorant.

  13. Diana Kunkel says

    I completed the survey because, although I don’t live in Chestertown yet, I do own a house in town and plan to move there when I retire. I see this survey as a chance to advocate for the future of my chosen home town.

  14. Steve Prentice says

    Tolliver and Stetson seem to be under the impression that homosexuality is contagious and that children witnessing such a demonstration could be “converted”. This “showcasing of their lifestyle”, I wonder what Tolliver and Stetson think that means. They must assume it could have a siren-like effect on all who view it.
    I must say, I came on here because I was eager to place my vote in this poll to show support for the demonstration, but after reading the comments by Jenn Baker and Charlie Vincent, I see this poll in a different light.

  15. Tammy Sheppard says

    I without a Doubt support the gay pride celebration. 🏳️‍🌈 I believe everyone has a right to celebrate their love with one another. We are a small town however we do not need to be small minded. I would love to attend the celebration with my family.

    Thank you,
    Tammy Sheppard

  16. Darby Holden says

    Hi, former Ctown native now Californian and I may just “fly home” to celebrate this massive move forward, so happy to hear this! Ctown is a beautiful place that has long been devastated by drug and alcohol addictions and what a better way to brighten up this spring, positive changes. With all the recent tragic deaths of the young from fetenol laced heroine I am surprised you see “gays” as any kind of threat. Maybe focus should be shifted to true abomination in the community.(opiate epidemic, no hospital??) Shame on the spy for the poll it is kinda inhumane… here is to healthy progress… and to bringing some color to a much needed needed corner of the world.

  17. Stuart Cawley says

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it’s my understanding that in MD it’s illegal to discriminate upon the basis of sexual orientation. Given that Councilmembers Tolliver & Stetson voiced their opposition to the proposed Pride parade based solely on discriminatory personal opinions rather than upon some other logistical grounds, it seems to me that had the town rejected this proposal on those grounds it’d have been acting illegally.

    I’d like to give the Spy the benefit of the doubt re. its reasons for conducting this poll, but, if it would have been illegal for the Town Council to reject the proposed event on a purely discriminatory basis, why are you conducting a poll about matters that are already legally settled? Should we next expect polls such as “Women Voters: Is This a Good or Bad Thing?” & “Should Blacks be Allowed to Ride in the Front of the Bus?” I suspect you thought the poll would generate a lot of support for the LGBTQ population & a lot of attention, but I don’t think you considered how demeaning it’d be to a segment of your readership. Please think about your editorial decision here, resolve to be more thoughtful in the future, & address it publicly.

  18. Heide Fabiano says

    I fully support the planned gay pride celebration, for one it is time to fully accept this community and two, freedom of speech is a right under the Constitution. I am shocked that legislators don’t seem to know that .

  19. Shireen Pasha says

    Celebrating our PRIDE is for me, a Muslim American, woman of Bangladeshi origin is essential in letting my children, community, family, friends feel that there is respect and celebration in our freedom to choose who we love and honor as a partner, husband, wife. Therefore, please have the most wonderful PRIDE celebration – the best of history, the best of our presence, the best of existence is with you.

Write a Letter to the Editor on this Article

We encourage readers to offer their point of view on this article by submitting the following form. Editing is sometimes necessary and is done at the discretion of the editorial staff.
We're glad you're enjoying The Chestertown Spy.

Sign up for the the free email blast to see what's new in the Spy. It's delivered right to your inbox at 3PM sharp.

Sign up here.