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Jamestown prepares for inaugural LGBTQ Pride Festival

The city will finally celebrate with a day of events after canceling its 2020 Pride Festival due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — The City of Jamestown is finally getting its first LGBTQ Pride Festival.

The June 12 event will feature several in person events, including a Pride flag raising, interactive themed booths, and a performance by "RuPaul's Drag Race" star and Jamestown native Pandora Boxx.

The inaugural festival was supposed to happen in 2020 but was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now organizers are ready to bring together Chautauqua County's LGBTQ community.

"We have scaled down what we we're going to do significantly, which is a shame, but it's safer. And also, you know, it's our first Pride, so it's not bad to get our feet wet with something a little smaller," said Sheridan A. Smith, the Jamestown Pride Coordinator.

Smith said support from organizations such as the Jamestown Public Market and the Pride centers in Buffalo and Erie, Pennsylvania, really helped get this year's festival off the ground. He added that it's important that Jamestown gets the chance to celebrate locally, in a way that reflects the community.

"We're the biggest city in our county, but we're still pretty small compared to Buffalo and compared to Erie, so Pride [here] is going to look different. Pride is going to be more intimate. Pride is going to be more focused on family and community. It's about being able to show the different versions of Pride, the different versions of queerness, and how it can exist in your community," Smith said.

He also says that he wants to focus on Pride as a celebration:

"Pride is important, because celebrating is fun. We're celebrating people's differences and celebrating what makes people unique and happy."

Even if you do not identify as LGBTQ, you are still invited to attend one of the day's many events.

"There are two communities," Smith said. "There's the queer community who identify as queer, and then there's the larger community of all those who support Pride. You can be part of the queer community as some that have helped us out in this in this enormous effort. ... There's no reason to stay away from Pride."

For contact information, and a full lineup of events happening at the Jamestown Pride Festival, visit their Facebook event page.

Note: The word "queer" is historically complicated. In 2016, the Human Rights Campaign voted to adopt the use of "LGBTQ," with the 'Q' standing for queer. This is because many people consider it to be a sexual and gender identity. You can read more about this here.

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