Over 100 vendors came to Delaware Pride – resource organizations, artists, church groups, and more like Free Mom Hugs, a nationwide nonprofit organization.
Danielle Mercante is a Free Mom Hugs Delaware leader and says the organization’s mission is to let people of all ages in the community know they are loved and accepted, even if not by their own family.
“There are people out there that love them, and that the negativity that’s in the world is not as strong as the love that this community has for each other and that people like myself and other allies have for them,” Mercante says.
Mercante says Free Mom Hugs often stand in at weddings and other celebrations for LGBTQ people whose families don’t accept them. She adds that for every kid she hugs that has a supportive family, there are 11 or 12 that don’t.
Delaware Pride President Jenn Kutney-Soper says it’s important for the community to celebrate Pride, especially as anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments increase nationwide.
“For our organization to be able to provide that space for people to just have fun and be authentically themselves, that’s really the goal of the whole thing,” Kutney-Soper says.
Delaware is one of only four states that has not introduced any anti-LGBTQ+ bills in this year’s legislative session, according to the ACLU.
But Kutney-Soper says they still have safety concerns, and typically hire a private security team to patrol the grounds with Delaware State Police.
And Erika Taylor from Clayton says she feels at-home at Delaware Pride.
“I feel like Delaware is safe, I feel like there’s still that small percentage of people that have their own little opinions but, this is my home, it will always be my home, and I just love the small-town-ness of it,” Taylor says.
Delaware Pride is a family friendly event, and the single largest LGBTQ+ gathering in the state.