What a tremendous gem we have in the MOV! The Mid-Ohio Valley Multi-Cultural Festival provides such diversity in music, vendors and audience. It truly reaches out to the whole community.
We at Fairness in Parkersburg would like to thank the event managers for allowing us to participate this year. While we were apprehensive at first, that apprehension quickly subsided. The reception our booth received was overwhelmingly positive. People were very welcoming and willing to discuss the Non-Discrimination Ordinance with us. So many were happy that there was representation of the LGBT community at a public event.
We heard from people of all ages and orientations. We met families and couples and singles. Many people told us that they could not understand why this issue was still being debated, that they felt it is simply the right thing to do, that they support equality for all. A number told us that they have family, friends or other loved ones who are LGBT and that the NDO personally matters to them. Just as many were part of the LGBT community themselves and were quite happy to see a booth that represented them.
Truthfully, many seemed apprehensive about coming in to the booth and made several passes by before stopping and talking. They shared stories of discrimination. Through tears, some told us they no longer feel they can live openly in Parkersburg since the City Council meeting on March 14th when so much vitriol was expressed. Other members of the LGBT community thanked us for our efforts, because they feel they cannot speak themselves in the current environment. The most heart-breaking stories we heard were those of the young people who felt that their city does not want them, does not respect them. It was our privilege to be there at the Festival and it remains our privilege to keep working for passage of the NDO.
Thank you to the organizers of the Festival who ran a welcoming and well-organized event! And thank you to everyone who stopped by the booth to ask questions, share stories, and tell us why equality matters to you!