FAIRFIELD — A rainbow symbol of acceptance and inclusion is flying above the Town Green this weekend.

In celebration of Pride Month and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, First Selectman Michael Tetreau hosted a historic LGBTQ flag-raising event on Friday, June 28. Surrounded by elected officials and a large gathering of community members, Tetreau and local activist John Brannelly invited LGBTQ citizens of Fairfield to join them in raising the pride flag.

Before the flag-raising, attendees gathered for a ceremony for the local LGBTQ community. After an invocation, Paul DiMauro from the Connecticut Gay Men’s Chorus performed the national anthem, and local business owners led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Fairfield native Connor Pfeiffer also spoke on behalf of Triangle Community Center, Fairfield County’s LGBTQ organization. Pfeiffer highlighted Fairfield’s rich history of LGBTQ activism and support, while also recognizing the effort that remains.

“We’ve got work to do,” Pfeiffer said. “Let’s do it under the rainbow flag.”

Brannelly, the flag-raising’s primary organizer, then introduced Tetreau and lauded his enthusiasm for the event. Raising new flags is under the first selectman’s jurisdiction, meaning Tetreau’s support was imperative to making this historic occasion happen.

“Mike is not just a guy who will come to a flag-raising ceremony,” Brannelly said of the first selectman. “He will appoint someone like me, an openly gay man, to the Fairfield Fire Commission.”

As Tetreau prepares to run for re-election against State Rep. Brenda Kupchick this fall, Brannelly’s praise certainly struck a chord. Brannelly later told the Citizen that, as a friend and appointee of the first selectman, he continually supports Tetreau. That said, he’s thankful for the embrace of LGBTQ rights from both sides of the aisle in Fairfield.

“There’s bi-partisan support for the issue of LGBTQ rights in this town, which is so important,” Brannelly explained.

In his own remarks, Teatreau called attention to the important role of diversity and acceptance in Fairfield’s history. He affirmed the community’s commitment to welcoming and embracing all people.

“Love has a home here,” Tetreau said. “That’s what this is really all about; this is about love. This is about our community. This is about all the different people that are part of that community.”

Many elected officials joined Tetreau on stage, including Congressman Jim Himes, State Rep. Cristin McCarthy Vahey, State Rep. Laura Devlin, State Rep. Brenda Kupchick, State Sen. Will Haskell, Town Clerk Betsy Browne, Probate Judge Kathleen Maxham, Board of Education member Jennifer Jacobsen and Representative Town Meeting members Alex Durrell and Erin Lopez. U.S. Senators Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal also sent aides to represent them.

Himes delivered remarks at the ceremony, emphasizing the need to move beyond tolerance in support of LGBTQ citizens.

“We can do better,” Himes said. “Tolerance can’t be the goal. It has to be support and love and a recognition that our diversity is our strength.”

After the pride flag was flying high thanks to the combined pulling efforts of Tetreau, Brannelly and LGBTQ-identifying Fairfield citizens, the crowd celebrated and reflected on the occasion. For Brannelly, who grew up in Fairfield, this event was deeply meaningful as a recognition of the town’s inclusivity.

“Never did I think as a young, confused teenager that, many years later, we would be putting up a flag,” he said.

The rainbow flag will remain above Town Hall until the end of Pride Month on Monday.

rscharf@hearstmediact.com