GRAFTON—Downtown Grafton was abuzz with allies and supporters as the community officially celebrated Pride Month.
After noticing that the LGBTQ+ community had little to no representation, Grafton native Matteo Martines sought to make a difference with the creation of a group designed specifically for those who wanted to celebrate the special community.
The 21-year-old began conversations with some family and friends, and before long, a group was created on Facebook to discuss options for celebrations locally, as communities across the nation celebrated Pride Month this month.
“I always had a desire and drive to start a movement where everyone could feel included. In high school I felt so alienated because there were so many kids who were unsupportive,” Martines voiced. “I built up the courage and decided now was the time! My mom surprised me one morning and told me she had created the group to get us going.”
In no time, the group, Pride Month For Grafton, which was created on June 1, gained momentum, and is now up to nearly 300 members. It is designated as a safe place for LGBTQ+ community members and their allies to openly discuss amongst themselves, sharing stories and ideas.
After seeing videos of larger scale gatherings, Martines wondered why there couldn’t eventually be something similar right here in small town Grafton.
“I began talking with some other people, and we decided to start small with a picnic-like gathering,” he revealed. “From there, we decided to host a smaller parade.”
The Taylor County Arts Council graciously opened the doors to Gallery 62 West, as the site of the area’s first-ever Pride celebration, the Meet Your Colorful Neighbors Get Together.
LGBTQ+ community members and allies each brought a different dish to the potluck, sharing food, conversations, stories and support with one another.
During the event, Martines read aloud a proclamation declaring the observance of Pride Month within the community. Attendees also took to the sidewalk with chalk to bring a little color to Main Street, and the event wrapped up with a drag king story time.
Then, on Saturday, community members took to the streets for the Care-A-Van Pride Parade, a vehicle parade showing their Pride. Participants decorated their cars, trucks and motorcycles and traveled from Grafton High School through town, ending at the Grafton Walmart.
And while both events were held without support from the city, Martines said that efforts will not stop to ensure everyone feels welcome and included in the community.
Those LGBTQ+ community members and allies wishing to become part of Pride Month for Grafton may do so by contacting Martines by sending a private message on Facebook.
“We are gaining support each day and have already made connections with some of the larger cities surrounding us,” he explained. “It is my hopes to one day have a full-blown Pride parade. I want to make history here in Grafton. It is time for a change.”