WILKES-BARRE – Wearing a strapless, animal-print dress with a fierce cat-eye liner, Trixy Valentine mingled with guests and took some photos underneath the Martz Pavilion at Kirby Park.
Valentine was just one of dozens of attendees who partook in the second annual Wilkes-Barre Pride Picnic on Sunday.
Known also as Jacob Kelly, the Berwick resident said she created the persona Trixy Valentine when she began doing drag about five years ago. A strong believer in the event, she said she doesn’t mind traveling to attend an event that brings smaller communities together.
“I got into (drag) because of my gender fluidity. I wanted to extend more into who I wanted to be and who I am,” she said.
Arriving fashionably late, event organizer and Heat Bar and Nightclub owner Estella Sweet welcomed guests upon arrival as she assisted in the picnic setup.
Since taking over Heat in 2015, Sweet, who has long been a pillar in the LGBTQ community within the Wyoming Valley, said she decided to create the event because she felt the community needed something that provided visibility and was easily accessible.
While many attendees interviewed said they were more than happy to answer questions and ease misconceptions, Sweet wanted to clear the air on a single question she often hears.
“I think a big misconception, and one thing I do hear from some people that don’t understand pride is that they don’t have a straight pride, so why do we need a gay pride,” she explained.
“If you are not part of a marginalized community you don’t need a pride. You already have privilege, you already have the rights that everybody else has.”
For Vivica Von Peters, the annual picnic is all about having fun and educating the public.
The Courtdale resident said she came to the park to show her support while showing the Wyoming Valley that the LGBTQ community is nothing to be afraid of.
“I’m here to educate those that aren’t educated on homosexuality or other beliefs other than their own,” she said. “We are just here to live our lives the same as everybody else.”
As she prepared for the afternoon’s drag show, Sweet had one message to give to all people – regardless of gender, race, political orientation or otherwise.
“Love another. Accept one another. It’s okay to disagree and it’s okay to have different opinions, it’s not okay to hate,” she said. “Whether or not you agree with somebody doesn’t mean you can’t sit down at the end of the day and have a picnic.”
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