(ABC 6 NEWS) – As Pride Month comes to a close, we want to take a look at what this means for our LGBT+ Community.
Pride means so much to so many people, and this story is personal for me. There are so many people that do good work on a daily basis to create a welcoming environment for the LGBT+ Community.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve traveled to different cities in our area and met with different people about what Pride means for them.
"I think that being seen is being heard," Sidonia Dudval, a local drag queen said.
No matter where you look in Sidonia Dudval’s makeup room, memories of drag are everywhere.
The Rochester Girls got their start in the late ’90s at a time when there were little to no LGBT+ events in our area. Sidonia with the help of her friends Celeste and Savannah, hoped to change that.
"The Rochester Girls keep rolling. I keep pursuing through it," Dudval said.
But, after the group got their start, Celeste passed away.
"She had so much pizazz. She had a spark, charisma, and was not afraid of anything," Dudval said.
And in the makeup room, Sidonia has a pair of Celeste’s shoes. They serve as a reminder for what started the Rochester girls and what’s to come.
"You don’t want to stay stagnate, you have to evolve and try new things," Dudval said. That’s one thing in drag you never forget, where you have to get ready. The only dressing room I had was the bathroom."
One of the first moments Sidonia tried drag was in a bathroom, and she’s been obsessed with drag ever since. Her mom is a source of inspiration for why she wanted to try drag.
"I would sneak in and try on her makeup, try on her lipstick, and run around in her heels. She’s the beauty queen in my eyes," Dudval said.
From that moment to now, Sidonia is feeling the best she ever has.
"I’ll say it, I feel pretty. When I’m done I’m sending out pictures, and Facebook. So I know I feel like the queen that I am," Dudval said.
And this queen is sashaying it all the time. She performs with the Rochester Girls at Crave Restaurant in Downtown Rochester once a month, and at the International Events Center in Rochester.
"It’s all about the audience, the fans, when I see them cheering going crazy, and I love that! It fuels me. It fuels them," Dudval said.
And when she hears the crowd, that’s what performing is all about.
And with more events lined up in the future, the sky is the limit! But it’s also a time to reflect on Pride month, something that means a lot to queens like Sidonia.
"Pride month to me is just to be quote on quote out there like a normal person, quote on quote, I just want to hold hands and I just want people not to afraid that I’m up to something. I’m not, I just want to live life like everybody else," Dudval said.
And Sidonia’s husband Richard supports this queen to the moon and back.
Seems like things are normal.
"It doesn’t matter if You’re gay straight, bi, any color of the skin, we should move forward. That’s what visibility and just being seen is all about, what America is all about. Now I’m going to run for a pageant," Dudval said.
And she does, that’s Sidona’s story. She is making a difference in the Med City and is a mover and shaker in the LGBT+ community. All because The Rochester Girls took a chance on her, and she can now pay it forward to the next generation.
After talking to Sidonia I hit the road to Austin. This community is no stranger to helping the LGBT+ community.
"We try to help. We try to make sure everything has good diversity and everyone has equal rights," Sarah Hartman, chair of the Austin Human Rights Commission said.
This was the first year the city of Austin hosted a pride event. And for the Sarah, seeing the community come together was something special.
She was talking as many photos as she could, trying to soak in how beautiful of a moment Pride was. It was something that she was looking forward to!
"It’s important because the city could use some change. We need to make everyone’s voices heard, not just those that feel it’s traditional or correct. We need to make everything as welcoming and equal as possible and I think Pride is a good start to that," Hartman said.
And Pride was busy! Sarah says a few thousand people showed up. It meant a lot to people in the LGBT+ Community.
"We had people walking by in the morning when we were setting up to help. They were randomly stopping by and saying hey, I’m a part of the LGBT+ Community and I want to help, what can I do?" Hartman said.
And throughout all of this, Sarah says Pride will come back next year!
"This will be the first of many standalone events that will happen," Hartman said.
Rochester Pride also took place early June and over 1,500 people showed up.
"Pride is a very important month for the LGBTQ community, we’re a community that still faces discrimination and oppression so it’s good to be visible so that you know LGBTQ people know that they have a safe and welcoming community," Jennifer Winter, Chair of Rochester Pride said.
So if it’s one thing I want you to take away from this story it’s this.
Pride Month is not just about a month about people coming together and having fun.
It’s so much more than that. These are your community members, your neighbors, your loved ones, being themselves with the people that they love.
And that is what Pride Month is all about.