Charlottesville community gathers at IX Park for Pride Week Thursday night market – The Cavalier Daily


There was an intimate and friendly atmosphere at IX Park on Thursday evening, as the Charlottesville Pride Community Network – a local non-profit organization that provides support and engagement through programming resources and events throughout the year for the local LGBTQ community – hosted a Thursday Night Market Pride Takeover as part of their Pride Celebration Week. Music played in the background as community members of all ages purchased food and other goodies, socialized and explored local vendors and nonprofits under a myriad of colorful tents – with l occasional sighting of a dog or two.

The event ran from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. with a few hundred people coming and going throughout the evening. While the event was held in an outdoor space, attendees were asked to carry a mask with them when approaching vendors or other parties.

In a non-pandemic context, Pride Week consists of a series of events throughout the week, culminating with an annual Pride Festival at the Ting Pavilion in the Downtown Mall. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, this week is the first Pride Week since 2019 and the second year for the Pride Festival to be canceled.

“2019 was our last Pride Week and our last festival,” said Elena Michaels, vice president and events coordinator for the Charlottesville Pride Community Network. “We just wanted to make sure we could do something this year, even if it wasn’t like our party at full speed. People just want to connect with their community. ”

Thus, the night market was an opportunity to “give people a part of the festival experience that they would not have at other events of the week”.

Community members interacted with nonprofit providers – like Planned Parenthood, the Blue Ridge Abortion Fund, and the Sexual Assault Resource Agency – who were typically in attendance at the festival. Participants could also purchase Pride merchandise (merchandise is not sold throughout the year at other events) and connect with local businesses and food trucks. The evening ended at Looking Glass, an immersive art museum, with a drag show that started at 9 p.m. for those 18 and over to support drag artists in Central Virginia.

Pride Week kicked off earlier in the week on Saturday with an annual picnic for youth and families in Washington Park. Next, the network hosted an LGBTQ Business & Professionals Happy Hour at the Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen Patio on Monday and an LGBTQ Trivia Night on Wednesday at the Firefly Restaurant & Game Room. The network also hosted its weekly Thursday Pride Night tasting in the Vitae Spirits Tasting Room for attendees to have a drink between the Night Market and the Drag Show – this event will continue every Thursday night for the foreseeable future. . Sunday, Pride Week ends with a free screening of the comedy-drama “To Wong Foo, Thank You for Everything!” Love, Julie Newmar ”from 2 pm to 4 pm at the Dickinson Theater at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

Michaels noted that a distinct aspect of Pride Week is its appearance in September rather than June, the nationally recognized Pride Month. One of the reasons for the September date is that Charlottesville Pride Week can have its moment without being overshadowed by the pride festivities in big cities like Washington, DC and New York in June. The network also wants to ensure that university students can come since most students tend to be absent during the summer.

“U.Va. is such an important part of the Charlottesville community that we want to make sure students can participate as well, ”Michaels said.

Class of 2015 and participant Sam Rasnic also commented on the sense of community creating a welcoming and affirming space at the night market.

“I think it’s important that people are seen as part of the community where they live because we know we are here,” Rasnic said. “I remember the first Pride I went to, I was smiling all the time. I was giddy as a kid to be able to go to people you identify with and to feel welcome, seen, heard and loved.

Participant AJ Cohn expressed similar feelings about the sense of belonging cultivated by the Charlottesville Pride events. Cohn moved to Charlottesville about a year ago and praised the work done to create healthy spaces for LGBTQ people here.

“Before I moved here, I was definitely not as familiar with the community here,” Cohn said. “But I felt really welcome and I was very happy with the various resources and groups that great people in the community are trying to create and share.”

For those who have never been to a Pride event, Rasnic recommends going – saying “there is nothing like it” – with an open, respectful and welcoming attitude. All human beings are different, which is why pride is meant to embrace and celebrate this individual versatility and self-expression.

“Pride is a space of mutual respect, respect, love and compassion,” said Rasnic. “So [come] in the Pride space …. in this perspective of being open and welcoming to everyone.


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