Downtown Middletown businesses organizing first gay Pride event Friday

Less than two weeks ago, a local bicycle shop owner texted another downtown Middletown business to see if there was any interest in having a Pride city ride.

That question has ballooned into several downtown businesses along Central Avenue organizing the city’s first gay Pride event starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

Mel Kutzera, co-owner of West Central Wine, one of the organizers, said through word of mouth and social media, more than 1,100 people have indicated an interest in attending the first Pride event in the city.

Pride month began as a commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City. Today, the celebrations around the world each June include parades, picnics, parties, workshops, memorials, and concert events that attract millions of participants.

The purpose of the LGBT Pride month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally.

“We live in a conservative area, but as a lesbian, I’ve lived in the area most of my life and I’ve always felt welcomed and a part of this community and proud to be from Middletown,” Kutzera said. “I’m doing this to show my pride for the local LGBT community … We’re a much more diverse community than we’re given credit for.”

Kutzera said there is a diverse community of downtown business owners who are working together to organize the event.

“We’ll see what works and what doesn’t, but we hope to make it an annual event,” she said. “We’re trying to get the LGBT community in Middletown to show their pride.”

Friday’s event includes a yoga class, music, entertainment, discounts and other promotions from local shops, specialty cocktails, and a pride dog bandana raffle. A Pride bike ride is planned to depart at 7 p.m. from Spoken Bicycles, 1201 Central Ave.

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