Letter to the Editor: LGBTQ Community Shaken but Resilient

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I write in my capacity as President of PFLAG Mid-Shore MD, as a member of the LGBTQ community, and as a resident of Chestertown, to clarify a few issues that were brought up at the February 19 Chestertown Town Council Meeting surrounding our Mid-Shore Pride event on May 3rd-5th, 2019.

Members of the Mid-Shore LGBTQ community, especially in Chestertown, remain shaken following Council Members Tolliver and Stetson’s remarks. The remarks are particularly distressing, given that as Council Members, Stetson and Tolliver have sworn to represent the interests of the members of their community, not to state their own biases. The expectation exists that they would take seriously the job of representing all constituents with dignity and respect, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religious affiliation, socio-economic status, age, or other factors. Ironically, the harmful statements made by the Councilmen highlight exactly why this community so desperately needs a Pride event on the Eastern Shore. It is important that we teach tolerance and acceptance, not hatred, fear, and discrimination.

Our plans for Mid-Shore Pride are now stronger than ever after receiving the Council’s approval to go forward with the event. Thank you to the community members, educators, and business owners who have voiced their support of our event and the work that we are doing. Thank you to Council Members Kuiper and Foster and Mayor Cerino for voting in favor of letting the event go forward. Not only will Mid-Shore Pride economically benefit our area with the added visitors that it will bring, but it will help showcase our community as the supportive and inviting place that we believe it to be.

Our family-friendly series of activities during this event are intended to help often disconnected LGBTQ members of the public within the mid-shore region see that there are not only resources available to them, but that they have allies here as well. We are excited to have events in Easton, Chestertown, and Cambridge. Mid-Shore Pride will begin on Friday, May 3rd with First Friday celebrations in downtown Chestertown and a comedy night in Easton. Saturday morning, our members will be in Easton at the Multi-cultural festival before coming back into Chestertown for a music festival in Fountain Park from 1:00pm-4:00pm. Saturday night will feature a drag performance at Washington College with local celebrity Marti Cummings. Mid-Shore Pride festivities will conclude with a drag brunch in Cambridge. Contrary to what has been reported and circulating on social media, there will not be a parade – simply a series of celebrations around the mid shore for LGBTQ families and their allies to enjoy together.

PFLAG of the Mid-Shore believes that now more than ever a Pride festival is essential for our community to increase acceptance of those who are different. We look forward to celebrating the first-ever Mid-Shore Pride and invite you to join us. You can find more information on our website http://pflagchestertown.com/pride-planning/ or at our Facebook Page

Claire Hansen
PFLAG Mid-Shore MD
And the PRIDE Planning Committee

 

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Letters to Editor

  1. Gren Whitman says:

    As the poet Maya Angelou wrote: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

  2. Carla Massoni says:

    Whether Mr. Stetson or Rev. Tolliver choose to resign, I certainly hope they are engaged in a personal dialogue about their ability to represent our community. Years ago a much admired member of the school community who served as liaison to adolescents dealing with suicidal thoughts was approached by students who were concerned about his status as a minister in a faith opposing homosexuality. Often the student struggling with their sexual identity was also at risk for suicide. He choose to resign. I respected his decision.

  3. Stephen Fisher says:

    Ms. Hansen
    You and your committee should be applauded for moving forward with the celebration of diversity. Yes they have their opinions, which I am sure come from different life experiences and values. With that said it doesn’t make you and your committee wrong nor what you all stand for. As quoted in Bob Dylans song, “The Times They Are A Changing”, if you can’t lend a hand, get out of the way, might just apply to these two men.
    The Methodist Church took a major step backwards this week, Kent County should push to make their steps go forward. Maybe the time has come to change the face of our local government and have one that is more reflective of who we all are. As I have told my children and grand children, ” if you don’t stand for what is right, what do you stand for”?

  4. Charles Taylor says:

    To his credit, Council Member Tolliver has initiated a dialogue with members of the LBGT community. For that, I thank him. We’re all trying to understand each other.

  5. Yay, Claire! Thank you for your leadership!

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