DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Pride Festival was held at Legislative Hall here on Aug. 11. The venue was full of sound from music from the performances. People could be seen dancing throughout the festival, both under the performance tent and around the vendor booths. Booths for Sen. Tom Carper, his opponent Kerri Evelyn Harris in the upcoming U.S. Senate election for the state of Delaware, the Human Rights Campaign and PFLAG of Rehoboth were among those seen at the festival.
“I have a lot of friends who are a part of the LGBT community, and I’m also bi,” said Kailey Blevins, an attendee. “I have a friend in Massachusetts who is a drag queen. I have a friend from Ohio who’s bi as well.”
Attendees not only showed up to celebrate their own LGBTQ identity, but also to show support for the entire LGBTQ community.
“I’m bisexual, and this is my first Pride, and she is here to support me and everyone else,” said Brooke Bowman, another Delaware Pride Festival attendee who was there with her friend, Kira Czerwinski. “I like it. I think it’s fun. I enjoy the music.”
Kathy Carpenter Brown, who is transgender, was at the festival with the United Church of Christ in Milton and was working the Rehoboth PFLAG desk. Carpenter Brown is also one of the creators of Rehoboth TransLiance, which was founded in June 2016 and serves as a supportive social group for the trans community.
“I’m loving it. It’s great. I’m transgender, and I’m seeing more and more transgender people coming out of the woodwork,” said Carpenter Brown on the festival. “Pride is an indicator of what’s going on in society.”
Carpenter Brown was also there promoting the Butterfly Project, which seeks to create a future in which societies are more aware and accepting of the gender spectrum as a whole. The Butterfly Project was founded by Jessica Lynn, a world-renowned transgender advocate and activist, whose experiences as a transgender woman and parent led her to travel the world, sharing her story for the awareness and acceptance of gender non-conforming communities. She has met people of identities all across the gender spectrum who have shared their experiences with her. Lynn promotes the belief that friendly, non-judgmental discussion about the gender spectrum are necessary for awareness and acceptance. She will speak at the D.C. Ladies Conference in Washington, D.C. on Aug. 18 and at CAMP Rehoboth on Aug. 20.
Brandi Muehlethaler, who was working the Moms Demand Action booth, said it was her first year there. Muehlethaler explained that the group holds meetings and attends events like the Delaware Pride Festival in an effort to gain more membership. She also said that she was glad she came to the festival with Moms Demand Action and that she would come back again, even if it was just by herself.
“We are hoping to do whatever we can to get common sense gun legislation passed,” said Muehlethaler.
L. L. Shelton, author of “Our Glass: Falling Sand” was at the festival promoting the book. She said her book is based around the LGBTQ community. It is about two women, one who is hiding from her past and the other hiding from her present, who become attracted to each other and are looking for relief from the pain in their lives. The official product description of the book asks the questions of whether the past will be too much for the future to handle and will the future be able to heal the past for the two women.
Kelsea Johnson, Earth Radio, Derek Deleqúa, SongBird the Goddess, the Manhattan Prairie Dogs and emcee Josh Schonewolf were among the list of entertainers at the festival.
Johnson was on Season 14 of “The Voice” as part of Team Alicia. Johnson is a Delaware native with Newark being her hometown. At the festival, she sang “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys, “Queen” by Jessie J, “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse’s “You Know I’m No Good,” which she also sang on “The Voice.”
Jani Duerr said that he was excited to perform at Delaware Pride with his band, Earth Radio. Earth Radio is based in Wilmington, Del., and Duerr provides vocals and plays guitar for the band. He has performed at the festival for a couple years now, but this year was his favorite.
“I have been playing at the festivals for the past several years because I love being able to spread a message of inclusiveness and love through the music I write,” Duerr said. “And it’s always a blast – each year gets better and better!”
Deleqúa was thrilled to perform for the first time at the festival, saying the crowd was amazing, which made the experience even better. Deleqúa’s EP “All in One” is currently available on iTunes and all other digital services.
“Pride is about love, that’s what I came to do,” Deleqúa told the Blade. “Delaware will forever be a special place to me. I have so many memories there.”
Delaware Pride is already looking for logo themes for next year’s festival. Theme ideas can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 9.