While the official Frederick Pride Parade isn’t until October due to the pandemic, members of the LBGTQ+ community came together and celebrated their pride on a smaller scale Saturday during “Kings, Queens and Vaccines” festivities.
The courtyard behind the Evangelical United Reformed Church of Christ served as the backdrop for dozens of smiling faces and colorful garb at the Frederick Center-organized event. Behind the Frederick church, people waved little rainbow flags and used rainbow fans to keep cool. There were vendors selling food, rainbow beads and giving people rainbow henna.
The nonprofit Frederick Center serves as an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization.
Kris Fair, the program coordinator, said his group obtained Johnson & Johnson vaccines for the event, which means people who got the shot Saturday won’t have to worry about a second dose. The vaccines were being administered by LGBTQ+ nurses in an effort to break down the distrust in the medical field, the organizer said.
Clare Madrigal, a member of the Board of the Directors at the Frederick Center and nurse at Frederick Health, was among those administering the vaccine.
“I’m here today because my two favorite things are coming together: health care and [the] LGBTQ community,” she said.
With rainbow hair and eye makeup, Madrigal was happy to report that they vaccinated 16 people at the event.
Emma Mauer, Jenny Bell and Emily Bell came to the Pride event from Mercersburg, Pennsylvania. The trio was decked out: Mauer with a lesbian pride flag wrapped around her shoulders, Jenny Bell sporting the non-binary flag over her arm and Emily Bell flashing her knee-high rainbow socks and pigtails with rainbow scrunchies. All three had gems on their faces in a variety of colors.
With few Pride events in Mercersburg, the three friends said this was the closest — and safest — LGBTQ+ celebration for them. They considered going somewhere in Pittsburgh or New York, but they didn’t feel comfortable with the crowds there.
“It’s nice to be in a place where people agree that they should be safe in all kinds of cascades — like be safe in your sexuality and gender identity and also be safe in terms of, ‘Don’t get this deadly virus,’” Emily Bell said.
The three were looking forward to the drag show at the event. Four drag queens — Shaunda Leer, Madison St. Lawrence, Araya Sparxx and Ivanna Rights — added their energy to the festivities.
Shaunda Leer opened the show in a pink satin leotard and knee-high laced boots, doing the splits and rallying the crowd to “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” by Whitney Houston.
Araya Sparxx closed strong with “Bang Bang” by Ariana Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, with a red, gem-encrusted jumpsuit and wig to match.
Sparxx has helped with Pride events in Frederick in the past, and she was happy to be a part of a celebration that promoted both unity among LGBTQ+ people and the broader population and COVID-19 vaccinations.
“It was a beautiful day, beautiful faces out and about. It was just great to see everybody come together once again as a community to support one another, and not just the pride of it, but the community itself as Frederick,” Sparxx said.