York County Pride is still set for Saturday — despite protest and pushback

Meredith Willse
York Dispatch

York County Pride will continue Saturday despite last-minute efforts by opponents to have the event's permit revoked — and changes to the lineup and security.

“We’re looking forward to celebrating our performers with [the] dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Tesla Taliaferro, president of the Rainbow Rose Center, which organized the celebration of LGBTQ+ people at Cousler Park.

Taliaferro said the center has been in dialogue with Manchester Township officials after a contingent of opponents raised objections and threatened to protest the event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

"We do know there is specific members in the community that are against diversity, against inclusion and are against equity,” he said.

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The York Dispatch was not able to reach any individuals who organized the opposition against the festival. Nor did local officials respond to requests for comment Friday.

As of Friday, Taliaferro said he wasn't aware of any specific protests planned at the event — but the center is prepared for anything. Private security was hired for the event, which will be in regular contact with Northern York County Regional police.

Any protestors will have a special area set aside some distance away from the event, Taliaferro said. Their right to protest will be protected.

“That’s a part of [all] our guaranteed first-amendment right,” he said. 

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Taliaferro said the center first learned about the opposition Wednesday night about someone who posted on Facebook claiming they successfully got the permit for the Pride event pulled.

But Manchester officials confirmed Thursday that no such revocation had happened, he added.

"As part of our special events permit, we did say that there would be live dance and musical entertainment as all Pride events should have,” Taliaferro said.

Township officials recently requested the center change some parts of the event, he said, specifically canceling a drag show and a vendor geared more toward adults.

“We have accommodated some of those requests," he said. "However, there are others in which we have taken a firm stance against."

Taliaferro said one vendor, which creates customized molds of body parts, was asked not to come the festival. But the drag show will continue as planned.

“[Municipal officials] are very keen on making sure that our event and our performances are very family-oriented and rated for all children to be viewing and participating in it,” he said. 

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Taliaferro said the township has been very understanding and he expects the “event should go on without restrictions that would come across as discriminatory toward our community.” 

One thing is clear, he said: Everyone is welcome at the Pride event.

“As I have said before," he said, "we exist to counter this type of discrimination and to make sure everyone in York County feels included and we will continue to do this work for as long as it is needed."

The public can attend York County Pride on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Cousler Park, 1060 Church Road, York.

— Reach Meredith Willse at mwillse@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @MeredithWillse.

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