(WKBN) — Saturday is the third annual Pride in the Valley put on by Full Spectrum Community Outreach.
The parade starts at noon at Courthouse Square in Warren and the festival follows from 12:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. Club Switch in Youngstown will host the official after-party starting at 7 p.m.
A standard flatbed trailer is an art project in the works. Come Saturday, it will be filled with rainbow decorations and at least a dozen people ready to celebrate Pride.
“I was raised in a very conservative family by a lot of straight people and I grew up gay,” said Club Switch show director Robert Dennick Joki.
Joki planned this year’s drag performances for Pride and says visibility for the community is what this day is about.
“I think we should have a Pride celebration in every city, in every town until the day we don’t have to have them anymore because it’s not strange to be gay. It’s just like having brown hair,” said Joki.
But that kind of normalization is still a work in progress.
“I have been out since the late 90s. I think when the Supreme Court decided in favor of marriage equality, a lot of people in the LGBTQ+ community thought, ‘Our work is done.’ Then we had four years under an administration that was not particularly kind to the community and I think a lot of us had a rude awakening,” said Joki.
Just last week, police foiled the plans of a far-right group who they say planned to riot at a Pride event in Idaho. Saturday, Pride in the Valley organizers say they are taking precautions and will have police at the square.
“City of Warren will be providing security. We have an evacuation plan, just in case anything should go wrong,” said CEO and founder of Full Spectrum Community Tim Bortner.