On Saturday, June 4, ABAR Suffield held its second annual Suffield Pride event, organized by Jill Adams and Brian Skorski. ABAR stands for anti-bias, anti-racist. It was a fun, family event, with outstanding speakers, captivating performances, incredible vendors and lots of fun and love.
The event began with a warm welcome and interfaith blessing from Rev. Diann Bailey, senior minister of the First Congregational Church of Suffield. Rev. Bailey then introduced my husband Jack Henrie and me, who are among the founding members of ABAR Suffield, before we sang a spirited rendition of If We Only Have Love, by Jacques Brel.
Next up was Dr. Kristina Hallett, the MC for the event, who is one of the co-founders of ABAR Suffield, Inc., 501(c)(3), and is on its Board of Directors. Dr. Hallett introduced the local Lady Gaga tribute artist, “Lady Niki,” for her return performance. Lady Niki performed with spirit and love, with many in the audience joining in with clapping, cheering and singing.
Kamora Le’Ella Herrington followed. Kamora is a mother of five and the owner/operator of Kamora’s Cultural Corner. She was recently the recipient of the New Haven Pride Center’s Dorothy Award. Kamora spoke of her journey in finding her true self. Her personal life mission includes “creating spaces where families are free to love their children.” She has said, “I’ve lived a life that has placed me in a position where I could either uphold the status quo, or share the truths that may not be pleasant, but are necessary…We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, humans willing to step in when necessary and step out when it’s time.”
Mateo Philip Arnold spoke next. Mateo works as an actor in Boston and New York, and he is a member of the Screen Actors’ Guild. He is also a REALTOR ®. Mateo shared his experiences growing up and becoming his true self, with the difficulties that he faced from family and friends.
Sophia Mormina, a junior at Suffield High School and the treasurer of SHS’s Gay-Straight Alliance, was next. She is also the junior class representative to the Board of Education. Sophia spoke about her experiences and those of her friends navigating the waters of SHS and about the importance of having a group where you can be free to be yourself.
Nate Morrin, a rising senior at Suffield Academy, spoke about his experiences in becoming aware that he is a queer man. Because of those experiences, Nate learned how important Pride is, and he was happy to share that with all of us.
In addition to performers and speakers, there was also a variety of booths: Jess Shanti, BFA, sold her amazingly creative tie-dyed shirts, knitted wear, and plant hangers (with plants); The Network, which assists families and individuals who have experienced domestic and intimate partner violence; Kamora’s Cultural Corner, which creates and navigates brave spaces with the intention of supporting organic community connections; PowerUp Windsor Locks, giving a voice to the unheard, educating the community, and representing the oppressed; Longmeadow Pride Alliance, a supportive community-focused non-profit serving the local LGBTQIA+ community; Kids/Teens Activities; Suffield Domestic Violence and Suicide Prevention; Youth Services/LPC – Town of Suffield; an ice-cream truck from Adam Ice Cream, and even a Pride photo booth.