For years Chris Kapp thought her dream of seeing a message celebrating gay pride on the marquee of the Carlisle Theatre was just a pipe dream.
Then, she went to Gettysburg during its recent Gettysburg Pride celebration. In addition to hundreds of rainbow flags on display, she saw the message she dreamed about on the marquee of the Majestic Theater.
“You think of Gettysburg as this extremely historic, very conservative town, and they have this fabulous pride event. I got sort of sad, and then I got sort of angry and I thought, ‘Why not here?’” she said.
A few phone calls and a breakfast meeting later, she and some friends set up a Facebook event for something small. Those friends included Max Donnelly, Pat LaMarche, Sarah Taby, Ashleigh Sharland, Jennifer Bernecker, Michael Lucas and Anya Godiva.
Within 72 hours, their small event blew up into nine days of events for Carlisle’s inaugural pride event.
“I didn’t intend to have a nine-day pride event in Carlisle. I set out for a 15-minute rally at borough hall hoping that maybe 10 people would show up,” Kapp said.
The events run from June 22 to 30, starting Saturday with a showing of the movie, “Before Stonewall,” at the Carlisle Theatre. Tickets are $8 for general admission, $7 for senior citizens and $6 for those holding the theater’s Hollywood on High movie card.
The movie, which looks at the life of gays and lesbians before the 1969 riots at New York’s Stonewall Inn that sparked the gay rights movement, is an appropriate place to start pride week activities, Kapp said.
“We have to remember our history. We’ve come so far and we’re so lucky in Carlisle because we do have our anti-discrimination ordinance,” she said.
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A pride rally will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday on the steps of Carlisle Borough Hall, after which the Community Pride Potluck will be held at Miss Ruth’s Time Bomb, 24 N. Hanover St.
Mike Lucas, who will cook for the event, brought up the idea that many in the LGBTQ community have missed out on things like family cookouts, so he said he would host one, Kapp said.
Sarah Taby, owner of Miss Ruth’s Time Bomb, also offered to host the movie, “Pride,” at the store at 7 p.m. on June 27.
The Penny Gallery, 32 W. Pomfret St., will host Drag Queen Story Hour with Anya Godiva and Friends, an event Kapp said will be family-friendly and geared for children with storybooks focusing on creativity and diversity.
Kapp said Janelle Crossley reached out to offer to host a coffee hour for people who are transgender, love someone who is transgender or are exploring their gender identity. That led to Crossley and Pat Craig Studios hosting the Gender Identity Support and Education Coffee Hour on the Garden at Pat Craig Studios, 30 W. Pomfret St., at 10 a.m. on June 30.
The week closes out with the “End of the Rainbow Sunday Social” at Market Cross Pub’s beer garden, 113 N. Hanover St., from 7 to 9 p.m. June 30.
Kapp said she hopes the festival will help people see that Carlisle is diverse and that diversity can be celebrated in a positive, peaceful way that provides a solid start for a supportive LGBT community in town.
“We’re already here. It’s time that we live into the fullness of that. The equality ordinance was a great start,” Kapp said.
Carlisle Borough Councilman Sean Crampsie, who advocated for the ordinance and is expected to read a proclamation at the pride rally, said he believes the pride week events continues the progress the borough has made and speaks to the character of everyone being welcome in the community.
“This will be a great week of events to join with our LGBTQ neighbors, friends, and allies to celebrate pride. The hard work of our community members who organized this great week shows what an amazing place Carlisle is,” he said.
Kapp knows some residents will disagree with the pride events, but she’s OK with that.
“There’s always going to be somebody who protests, and that’s fine. That’s their right. As long as they leave us alone and don’t get violent with us, that’s fine. Everybody is entitled to that,” she said.