Fairfield: Rainbow flag raised over town hall for Pride Month
FAIRFIELD — As a show of support for Pride Month, First Selectwoman Brenda Kupchick and students from Fairfield’s two high schools raised a rainbow flag over the Old Town Hall Wednesday afternoon.
In a ceremony before the event, several elected and community leaders spoke to the importance of supporting people regardless of sexuality, gender or race. Two leaders from local churches also led people in prayer for strength to continue fighting for justice and equality.
The event came after a Monday ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that LGBTQ employees are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
The Rev. Sarah Smith-Scott, senior minister of the United Congregational Church in Bridgeport, said that while raising the flag in Fairfield was significant, the work to secure justice for all people is not yet done.
“So, where do we get our strength to carry on?” Smith-Scott said, adding that she identifies as LGBTQ. “As a proud member of progressive minded clergy, I would suggest that we ask the spirit of the universe, however you understand that reality... to bless the symbolic act we witness today, even as it continues to call us to justice.”
Kupchick said the town of Fairfield, and she as its leader, will stand against discrimination of any kind. In the Pledge of Allegiance, she pointed out, Americans are guaranteed “liberty and justice for all.”
“That is what we all stand for,” Kupchick said. “This is what our town stands for. And this is what our nation stands for, and should stand for.”
State Sen. Tony Hwang said that after the landmark Supreme Court case, he got feedback from residents who questioned the necessity of the ruling, given that Connecticut already had those protections in place.
“We do in the state of Connecticut,” Hwang said. “But, unfortunately, nearly half of this country did not. So I think it’s a powerful lesson that we will take — that there’s so much more work to do.”
Hwang also said it was important to discuss awareness, education and appreciation that occurs in people’s hearts. He said people need to fully embrace the diversity and uniqueness of each individual.
“We need to, in our hearts, believe that each person should be judged by what they bring to the table,” he said. “Not what we think they are.”
As a self-described closeted queer person who grew up in Fairfield, Anna Burns said raising the flag was an important thing for the town to do.
Currently the community educator for Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, Burns said the Supreme Court ruling comes in the wake of a decision by the federal Department of Education that threatens to withhold federal funds over a Connecticut policy allowing transgender girls to compete against non-transgender girls in high school sports.
Burns mentioned the Trump administration finalizing a rule that overturns Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. She said the LGBTQ people also have to address racism within their own community and outside it.
“I’m really grateful to be here,” Burns said. “This is awesome — to see all your faces. We’re all on the same team. But we have a lot more work to do. I can’t wait to continue the hard work with you all.”
This is the second year the town has raised the pride flag over municipal property. Fairfield resident John Brannelly, who organized the ceremony, said the town signifying its support for Pride Month makes him feel more comfortable openly identifying as an LGBTQ community member.
Brannelly said the day on which the event happened is also significant. He said Wednesday was the 11 year anniversary of the suicide of Emma Von Euhler — a Southport resident, Fairfield Ludlowe High School student and person who identified as LGBTQ.
“The risk (of suicide) is five times greater if you are gay... for attempting suicide,” Brannelly said. “That’s why it’s so important to do these things. To remind people that it’s okay to be gay and that they are welcome here. There are people who will love and support them.”