Fayette County, Ohio, has been a politically conservative county since before the Civil War.
But on June 11, after a two year COVID interruption, the Fayette will hold its second annual LGBTQ+ Pride festival, organized by the Fayette County PRIDE Foundation.
The Buckeye Flame sat down with organizer Molli Muñoz to talk about Fayette County PRIDE 2022, and why showing up for LGBTQ+ youth in rural and conservative communities is especially important — even when it’s difficult.
For folks who don’t know, where is Fayette County, Ohio?
We’re about 45 minutes south of Columbus and about an hour north of Cincinnati. So we’re smack-dab in the middle of everything.
You would kind of think that would make us a more open-minded community, but it’s very, very conservative. That’s why it’s so important for us to have events like these. Without them, gay, queer and LGBTQ+ communities really have no support here.
So this is Fayette County’s second Pride event?
I had a team that threw together the first Fayette County Pride in 2019. It was, like, the very last weekend in June and we threw it together in three weeks. And it was a massive success. We had probably a thousand people in total throughout the day.
I think my only regret about it is not doing it sooner than 2019. I guess I didn’t realize how necessary it was.
So how did you become involved? What made you decide to make a Pride event happen in this pretty conservative county?
The community was really overwhelmingly accepting in 2019. I think it was mainly because it was like the first time something like this had happened. So everyone was really excited, right? So that was very, very fun. It was a massive success, with tons of support from the entire community. We didn’t really receive any push back at all in 2019.
Are you receiving backlash now? What changed?
I couldn’t tell you what the difference is. I don’t really understand why things changed either. But this year, there has not been…I’ve actually received a lot of phone calls from angry people. People will roll down their windows and yell at me if I’m out on a walk with my daughter.
Oh, wow. I’m so sorry to hear that you’re dealing with that type of harassment.
I know. It’s very intense out here this year. But I think that’s why it’s so important that we have [Pride] anyway.
My daughter is three and half and I hope to set a really good example. So it sucks and it hurts, but I’m doing it for her and for everybody that needs it.
What can people expect to see this year when they show up to Fayette County Pride?
We are going to have a few different vendors, exclusively small and local businesses. We have people from all over Fayette County, vendors that will be selling a lot of handmade stuff. I believe we’re going to have face painting as well.
Main Street Fayette is also involved, so a lot of the stores on Main Street will be setting up and celebrating.
Even the fire department — which is right behind the venue where we’re having Pride — they are opening up for the celebration as well.
The fire chief is very passionate about Pride and these events. He was actually one of the very first people to reach out to me in 2019. They are super, super supportive and wonderful.
This event will be smaller scale than in 2019, just because we’re still in a pandemic. A lot of things have changed over the past two years that have put a pretty big damper on what we’ve been able to accomplish this year. But still fully expect it to be fun!
This is a big deal for your community. What are you most excited about and what is most important to you?
I really do see Fayette County Pride as a positive thing for the whole community.
What is most important to me is not how much money we’re able to rake in. What’s most important is the fact that we’re creating a safe space for people to come out and be themselves.
LGBTQ+ youth [in Fayette County]need to know that there are people on their side, and that there are people here that love you for being you and not in spite of it. 🔥