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Love for trans son inspires first known LGBTQ+ Pride event in Guilford, CT

Guilford, CT - Cameron Celotto, 16, (left) marches with his friends, (L to R) Koda Patton, 15, and Lyric Albo, 16, in the Town of Guilford's first ever Pride Festival and Parade. The festival was organized by Cameron's mom, Sarah Cellotto. The festival included show tunes performed by cabaret performer Schuyler Beeman as well as food trucks, speakers and other entertainment.
Greg Miller
/
Connecticut Public
Cameron Celotto, 16, (left) marches with his friends, (L to R) Koda Patton, 15, and Lyric Albo, 16, in the Town of Guilford's first ever Pride Festival and Parade. The festival was organized by Cameron's mom, Sarah Cellotto. The festival included show tunes performed by cabaret performer Schuyler Beeman as well as food trucks, speakers and other entertainment.

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.

Guilford mom, Sarah Celotto and her son, Cameron, embrace at the town of Guilford's first ever Pride Festival and Parade which was organized by Celotto for Cameron who is 16 years old and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The parade featured a 100-foot section of the historic Rainbow 25 Sea-to-Sea Flag. The festival included show tunes performed by cabaret performer Schuyler Beeman as well as food trucks, speakers, entertainment.
Greg Miller
/
Connecticut Public
Guilford mom, Sarah Celotto and her son, Cameron, embrace at the town of Guilford's first ever Pride Festival and Parade which was organized by Celotto for Cameron who is 16 years old and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. The parade featured a 100-foot section of the historic Rainbow 25 Sea-to-Sea Flag. The festival included show tunes performed by cabaret performer Schuyler Beeman as well as food trucks, speakers, entertainment.

“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.”

Karl Minges plays with his son Tyler, 3, under a 100-foot section of the historic Rainbow 25 Sea-to-Sea Flag. Minges and his husband have adopted 4 children through the CT foster care program. The Town of Guilford held its first ever Pride Festival and Parade. The festival included show tunes performed by cabaret performer Schuyler Beeman as well as food trucks, speakers and entertainment. The festival was organized by local mom, Sarah Celotto, whose 16-year-old son, Cameron, is part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Greg Miller
/
Connecticut Public
Karl Minges plays with his son Tyler, 3, under a 100-foot section of the historic Rainbow 25 Sea-to-Sea Flag. Minges and his husband have adopted 4 children through the CT foster care program. The Town of Guilford held its first ever Pride Festival and Parade. The festival included show tunes performed by cabaret performer Schuyler Beeman as well as food trucks, speakers and entertainment. The festival was organized by local mom, Sarah Celotto, whose 16-year-old son, Cameron, is part of the LGBTQ+ community.

“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.’”

Guilford native and caberet performer, Schuyler Beeman, performs for the roughly 2000 people that gathered for the town of Guilford's first ever Pride Festival and Parade which featured a 100-foot section of the historic Rainbow 25 Sea-to-Sea Flag. The festival also included food trucks, speakers and other entertainment. The event was organized by Sarah Celotto for her 16-year-old son, Cameron, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community.
Greg Miller
/
Connecticut Public
Guilford native and caberet performer, Schuyler Beeman, performs for the roughly 2000 people that gathered for the town of Guilford's first ever Pride Festival and Parade which featured a 100-foot section of the historic Rainbow 25 Sea-to-Sea Flag. The festival also included food trucks, speakers and other entertainment. The event was organized by Sarah Celotto for her 16-year-old son, Cameron, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community.

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.

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