Love for trans son inspires first known LGBTQ+ Pride event in Guilford, CT
Hundreds came out in support the first known formal LGBTQ+ Pride event hosted on the Guilford Green on Sunday.
The event was organized by Sarah Celotto. She founded a nonprofit called ALEX, Inc. that raises funds to organize LGBTQ+ events in Guilford and the surrounding area. Celotto started the nonprofit after her son, Cameron Celotto, came out as transgender.
“I was scared,” Sarah said. “I grew up in a straight world. I grew up in an Irish Catholic, conservative, traditional family. And it was an amazing family. But we didn't know anybody in the LGBTQ community, so I didn't know anything about them.”
Her husband and Cameron’s father, Joe Celotto, said he felt unsure of how to handle the news.
“A year ago, if you told me that I would be going to a pride event, I would have asked you, ‘What is a pride event?’” Joe said.
Cameron Celotto, 16, said that his mother was determined to educate herself about LGBTQ+ issues, and took him to several pride events last summer, which made her realize that Guilford didn’t have any pride events of its own.
“First of all, it’s a lot [of work] to get this all together,” Cameron said. “And although there is, like, an infinite amount of love and support, there are also a few that are negative about it. And I think that worries a lot of people.”
“I think it's because we are such a liberal community that nobody really felt the need for [a Pride event],” Sarah added. “[The LGBTQ+] community is welcome everywhere. I didn't really see [any discrimination] until I had a child that was immersed in the [LGBTQ+] community. And some of the things that began to be said to him and how lonely he was over at certain times.”
Sarah said the recent politicization of transgender issues opened her eyes to how some people in her community actually felt.
“Some of the awful things that our politicians have said, I would see some of the [Guilford] community, our own community, agreeing with these things on social media,” Sarah said. “The more I looked, I was like, ‘I can't make the assumption that everybody's feeling loved and accepted here, because maybe they're not.’”
Cameron said that after the pride event was announced, there was some pushback from Guilford locals online, including threats to protest.
“They were saying things like, ‘Why can’t we have a heterosexual parade?’” Cameron said. “People were saying that it would be a sexual event, and that is the farthest [thing] from the truth. [Some people said] they were going to bring and hand out bibles.”
Organizers said there was nobody protesting the event in-person, but that police estimated at least 2,000 attendees.
ALEX, Inc. said they are already planning next year’s Pride event, and a “Queer Prom” for local high school students.