“Love is love” is the message many people sent across Maryland on Sunday, June 25 2023 as they filled Veterans Plaza in Montgomery County together to celebrate the annual MoCo pride festival.

The event began with many passionate tablers, including large national groups such as Moms Demand Action and Planned Parenthood as well as smaller groups such as Endo Queer. The celebrations also began with talented performers, cheers, and people expressing themselves freely, even though it took place during a hard time for many LGBTQ individuals given the climate of anti-gay legislation.

This hard time didn’t stop MoCo from keeping safety as a top priority. At MoCo Pride, they had volunteers checking on attendees and ensuring everything was alright. They also offered water to make sure that guests stayed hydrated while enjoying the day–it’s easy when you’re having fun in the summer to get dehydrated quickly.

For our group, Queer Youth Assemble, we began our tabling with an activity where people of all ages could come together to create beautiful handwritten messages for trans people. Even those who weren’t super artistic were able to spread joy. Some cards featured handwritten messages like “You are always enough,” and “I am the proud father of a trans son… My son is so brave and he is strong and he is himself!” Another volunteer at the table said, “I have a friend who is closeted and trans that came out to me and is pretty insecure about it, so I was trying to write the card like I would be supporting her.” We ended the tabling with 215 cards which surprised all of us, some with long messages and some with short messages.

“I know how scary it is to be yourself and how important it can be to have just a little support.”

Apollo (he/they/neos)

Regardless of the message, each card still means a lot and has a big impact. “I know how scary it is to be yourself and how important it can be to have just a little support,” said Apollo (he/they/neos), a Queer Youth Assemble volunteer. “Especially for younger trans people who may be struggling.” The messages will be sent to Point Of Pride. If you want to get involved in spreading joy to trans individuals, details can be found here. Everyone can get involved; it’s super easy–you just need paper and something to write with.

We also offered a way for people who may not be very educated on queer issues to learn how to become a better ally by handing out an Ally Zine. We had small ones, big ones, and some featuring open dyslexic fonts. They were handmade by Xander (he/him),  our QYA Head Of Programs.

Another booth that was right next to ours was called Endo Queer. It is women-, black-, and queer-led and is a space for LGBTQ people with endometriosis and similar illnesses. It was founded by Les Henderson. It is really encouraging to see this organization and numerous other organizations working together for a variety of causes since they can have an impact and help individuals feel less alone.

Overall, Pride in the Plaza is definitely a great event to visit if you can next year because you get to see people freely expressing themselves, many unique groups, and amazing performances. You can also get free pride stuff. “I thought it was awesome. It was so fun and the community felt amazing. Even the way everyone reacted to the protestors. Really reminded me that love will always be stronger than hate,” remarked Apollo.

  • Edie (she/her) is a high schooler who hopes to join the fight for human rights and support those who are queer and disabled, and she likes helping others in her community. She also loves supporting artists as well as doing art herself. She runs her own organization called We Are Artistic.