Communities continue to celebrate Pride Month with LGBTQ-focused events in Delaware. But some in New Castle County say there aren’t enough LGBTQ social spaces.
To celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month, a small theater in Wilmington hosted a “pride show” last week featuring local LGBTQ musicians and area drag queen Miss Troy.
Theater N’s creative director, Daniel Lord, organized the event. He says when he came on board at Theater N, his goal was to host “queer space” events.
“I don’t want to brand Theater N necessarily as a queer space, because I want it to be more inclusive than that,” he said. “But I do want it to be a community space where anyone who might be struggling to find a place to be themselves or show their art can come to and experience a welcoming environment.”
Danielle “Sug” Johnson sings in the band Hoochi Coochi, which played at Theater N’s pride show. She moved to Wilmington from Dover several months ago, and feels positive about Wilmington’s LGBTQ social scene.
“It's definitely, for sure, a lot friendlier than coming from where we — you know, southern Delaware and stuff like that,” she said. “There actually is a gay club, the Crimson Moon.”
Johnson says the City’s pride flag raising event on Rodney Square last week made an impact. “You see the little Rainbow Delaware stickers in the windows of the store and stuff like that. It means a lot, it does. It makes you feel like, you know— I’m safe here.”
But Wilmington native Michele Washington is less satisfied.
“I want ... more social spaces for queers, because when me and my girlfriend go to hang out, it’s like when you show affection, people look at you like you’re crazy,” she said.
Washington says the fact that her girlfriend has not yet turned 21 makes finding social spaces even harder.
Middle schooler Emma Pegram and her mother Megan Pegram agree there are not enough social spaces for younger LGBTQ people in New Castle County.
“You almost feel awkward just being out there,” said Emma Pegram. “I wear this [rainbow bracelet] on a daily basis. It feels strange to do that in a place where it’s generally accepted—okay, you should like boys.”
Pegram and her mother say dances geared toward LGBTQ youth or LGBTQ gaming groups would benefit the community.
Kris Johnson of Pike Creek says she remembers a time when there was a more robust LGBTQ social scene in Wilmington. “Not anymore. There used to be bars that we could go to. And they’ve all closed. And it’s sad.”
Johnson says LGBTQ-centric social spaces are important. She paints them as havens that impact the overall well-being of the LGBTQ community.
“I think it gives us a sense of belonging that we don’t have elsewhere,” she said. “And a sense of safety. I’ve gone through years of seeing friends be abused and harassed, and I’ve experienced it myself. And now it’s not as common, thank God, but I still am cautious. And I think it’s a family — it’s an extended family.”
The City of Wilmington has officially recognized June as Pride Month in the city, and is promoting the monthly meeting of the LGBTQ happy hour group “Our Night Out” on Thursday at Kid Shelleen’s.