JACKSONVILLE, NC (WNCT) — As pride celebrations continue across Eastern North Carolina during Pride Month in June, the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center hosted its first Ride for Pride event.
“Today is our Ride for Pride,” said Director of the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center Dennis Biancuzzo of Saturday’s event. “We started organizing several months ago. We have about 30-35 participants. We’ll be driving through Jacksonville.”
More than 35 cars met up in Jacksonville on Saturday to celebrate pride in a way that’s not been done in the city before.
“We’re really excited about the support that we’ve seen today,” said Director of Communications for Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center Samuel Johnson. “Everyone coming out today. We’re excited to see how far in how just under a year the community center has come and how much we have to go.”
With flags, balloons and even cute dogs, they geared up for the route that took them through the streets of Jacksonville. They drove through Western Boulevard, Gum Branch Road and Marine Boulevard.
“People don’t know we’re here,” said Johnson. “And when we show that we’re here, and we show the visibility, people understand that and people are more willing to come out to events, you know, get to know each other.”
The route took them to Jacksonville Commons Recreational Park, where they got to end the celebration with food and drinks. Former NC Sen. Erica Smith was also at the event to show support for the community center.
“I think it’s so important for communities all across North Carolina, all across this nation to understand that in solidarity we need to affirm the humanity and the dignity of everyone,” said Smith.
Overall, they all agree that events like this help spread the word about the organization.
“What this event specifically means to the community, it shows visibility,” said Johnson. “It shows people here who are like us, in case there are people who don’t know we’re here. That’s what I’ve heard a lot through what we’ve done in the last year or two.”