Warren marks its historic first pride festival for the local LGBTQIA+ community

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jun 29, 2024

Michigan's third-largest city, Warren, welcomed its first-ever pride festival on Saturday at city hall. The event was filled with colors, celebration, entertainment, and togetherness, all to rally behind the local LGBTQIA+ community.

"Over here, we have our facepaint stuff, loads of brushes, and my wonderful, so many different face paint styles," said 15-year-old Abigail Reardon.

Reardon was one of the 50 vendors at the event.

"My family and I are going to be doing free face paintings and temporary hand tattoos," she said.

"Is this event extra special for you?" I asked.

"It's very nice. Because I always hear stories about when they were younger, they weren't able to be their true selves, not being able to go to events like this," said Reardon.

She was one of them. At school, the Warren native struggled with her identity.

"There were a lot of things that you would hear walking through the hallways of school or the looks you would get at a supermarket, stuff like that. And I would always avoid wearing pride stuff out and about because I would be scared... what if the wrong person sees me wearing this," said Reardon.

"And that's another reason why such events are so important, so people are finding themselves; they can come here and find that support," I said.

"Exactly!" said Reardon.

However, for Abigail, her biggest support came from her family.

"When I first came out to my parents, all they really said was... 'oh that's cool.' Also my aunts and uncles are coming to help us with the booth, which means a lot to me that they are will to be here and be with me. That's what really made me be able to be as open and proud as I am now," said Reardon.

For Reardon's mom, Amanda Mateo, nothing is more important than her two kids.

"I'm very open to everything now, knowing that she feels this way. I've lost a lot of friends with it, knowing that my daughter is gay, but that's their choice," said Mateo.

"If there is something you could say to them, what would you say?" I asked.

"Just be supportive, don't be hateful," said Mateo.

And that's why event organizer Monica Papasian is proud of bringing the historic event to Warren, showing how much the city is progressing.

"I want my community to be for everybody to live their authentic lives and be celebrated and accepted for who they are," said Papasian.

The Warren City Pride event is all set to become an annual affair. Organizers are looking for vendors, volunteers, and performers. Click here to learn more: