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Schuylkill County News

First LGBTQ+ Festival in Pottsville Draws Capacity Crowd

performer lgbtq festival pottsville
(Photos: Coal Region Canary)

The first-ever LGBTQ+ Festival in Pottsville was as fully attended on Saturday as the Governor allows right now.

Those 250 people who scattered around the Pottsville Lions Club Amphitheater dodged a few raindrops and saw a range of drag performances and speakers through the afternoon.

performer lgbtq festival pottsville

(Photos: Coal Region Canary)

The festival was organized by Mikaela Gavaletz, of Pottsville, who only started on the project about 2 weeks ago. Through a locally viral social media following, Gavaletz was able to bring together performers and members of the local LGBTQ+ community in a short amount of time.

dani kilcullen lgbtq festival pottsville

Dani Kilcullen discusses the struggles of trans youth at the LGBTQ+ Festival in Pottsville on June 27. (Photo: Coal Region Canary)

June is traditionally celebrated as LGBTQ Pride Month.

The event concludes a busy month of social justice activity in Schuylkill County.

First LGBTQ+ Festival in Pottsville Draws Capacity Crowd

Security working the gate at the amphitheater on Pottsville’s East Side assured us they were limiting the crowd to 250 people. And as The Canary left the area, another spectator was let in to the festival. (For the mask police: About half the people wore masks.)

lgbtq festival pottsville spectators

Gavaletz appeared relieved the event went off without a hitch, saying “This is remarkable.”

She told The Canary it only took “very little sleep and a lot of phone calls” to pull the event together in 2 weeks.

lgbtq festival pottsville performer

But, Gavaletz says, it came with plenty of help. The performers basically came together on their own and hailed from areas surrounding Schuylkill County like Harrisburg, Allentown and communities in Berks and Lackawanna counties, too.

What surprised Gavaletz the most though, was the help from the City of Pottsville.

lgbtq festival pottsville crowd shot

“City Hall jumped through hoops of fire to get this done,” she said. “Couldn’t have done it without them.”

Gavaletz personally thanked Pottsville Administrator Tom Palamar, who rallied the ranks of city employees, including members of the Streets Dept. and others, to get the amphitheater shipshape in time for the festival Saturday.

amphitheater lgbtq festival pottsville

Community Inclusion

Gavaletz told The Canary that when she moved back to Schuylkill County after some time away, she wasn’t sure how her identity would be accepted back home.

There’s definitely a perception that Schuylkill County, as some kind of whole entity, is not open to any of the people included by Saturday’s festival. That’s definitely true of some people. To say that of the entire county, as if it were one person, however, seems unfair.

lgbtq festival pottsville performance

When you start looking, you eventually find a supportive community no matter what causes you support or lifestyle you live. That happened with this event. Gavaletz tells us she expected a big crowd once word started spreading.

It happened when she raised money with a Facebook fundraiser, too. It reached its $2,000 goal pretty quickly.

lgbtq festival performer blue

And Gavaletz tells The Canary that 90% of the money came from “allies” of the LGBTQ+ community. That means it came from people who support the cause, even if they’re not members of that community, per se.

“We’re talking about inclusion,” she said. “Let’s learn about each other.”

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  1. George Patton

    June 28, 2020 at 1:15 am

    At a loss for words

  2. jmjtusa

    June 28, 2020 at 9:07 am

    … skooks finest… 🍿

  3. Susan Cantwell

    June 28, 2020 at 11:42 am

    Glad to see Pottsville is making an effort to encourage tolerance and acceptance for all genders! Welcome news in this awful time of civil uprising! Change is difficult, and we must all embrace and listen to the new generation….we are being educated by our own granddaughters to be open to new and different concepts of society….listen and learn!

    • Canary Commenter

      June 28, 2020 at 11:54 am

      We could do without the lectures from the younger generations. But it’s important to be inclusive. Probably the best point to get from this is that people learn they’re not alone. No matter who you are or what you are, there are others just like you out there and yes, even here in Schuylkill County.

    • Daniel

      June 28, 2020 at 1:50 pm

      ” all genders ” ? Science says only 2 genders, with a possible 3rd but that is all !

      • AJ Chevalier

        June 29, 2020 at 12:43 pm

        Gender and sex are 2 different things. You are referring to sex, which relates only to anatomy. That is the science. The third gender is a term coined mostly by historical depictions from cultures like Japan and India, and doesn’t literally refer to a “third gender”. It is referring to historical depictions of trans people before that name existed. We now know that there is a very broad spectrum of gender identities caused by a variety of things including hormone fluctuations in utero. Gender is self expression, and therefore you can’t police it for other people. Everyone’s own gender is 100% self defined.

        • PTFloridians

          June 29, 2020 at 3:05 pm

          Wow…spoken like a true Frenchman.

  4. Daniel

    June 28, 2020 at 1:55 pm

    This is what happens when you baby your children, and give participation trophies to everyone ! If we listen more to the younger new generation, this country will no longer have any freedoms as everything will be taken offensively and nobody will be allowed their own opinion.

    • Erin

      June 28, 2020 at 7:41 pm

      Yet your mouth is still running w the freedom and ignorance it has

      • Jessie

        June 30, 2020 at 6:33 am

        You got that right Erin!

  5. PTFloridians

    June 28, 2020 at 6:04 pm

    …there’s nothing new under the sun…
    Yeah…science, that’s another one…all that came outta our Libbos’ pieholes for the last few months was “science”…i guess it only applies to what crisis is ripe for hijacking.
    …liberalism is a mental disorder, as well as some other things.
    We can just “hope” that our young folks mature and figure stuff out…it takes time, and willingness to change.

    • Erin

      June 28, 2020 at 7:42 pm

      Why you havent hater

      • PTFloridians

        June 28, 2020 at 9:51 pm

        I don’t hate the player, i hate the game…
        …I’ve learned alot, and changed alot, through the years youngin’…i hope the best for you.

  6. Erin

    June 28, 2020 at 7:46 pm

    There is a reason for the limit of 250 because we need the masks and for your mask police comment ironic
    Schuylkill county and it’s never changing never improving attitudes, situations seems as it may 1 day good for everyone not hating

    • Canary Commenter

      June 28, 2020 at 9:19 pm

      Let’s not conflate the mask issue with the festival held yesterday. Our comment on the mask ratio is more sarcastic than anything. We think the media constantly talking about who’s wearing masks and not is silly and superficial. We’re aware of the 250-people limit rule, hence why the “capacity crowd” portion of the story was included in the title.

    • PTFloridians

      June 28, 2020 at 9:56 pm

      Just to check yourself, before you wreck yourself…if someone comments, or even disagrees with you about anything at all in life, it’s not called “hating”…it’s simply having an opposing view or opinion. Words are being hijacked and weaponized to push agendas and silence opposing views, in case you haven’t noticed.

      • Frank

        June 29, 2020 at 8:22 pm

        Excellent point. It seems nowadays you are only entitled to certain opinions, or else you are silenced,lest someone gets offended. China’s leaders are just loving what they are seeing here.

  7. John

    June 28, 2020 at 10:11 pm

    To Daniel its nice to know that you have the answer to homosexuality. There where gays before we had trophies. Do not judge until you walk in someones shoes. Every one has trials and tribulations.

  8. Bob Canfield

    June 29, 2020 at 12:09 am

    A disgrace to the city of Pottsville and to the legacy of General George Joulwan.

    • Canary Commenter

      June 29, 2020 at 12:18 am

      Pretty sure the General can call his own shots and he hasn’t said a word.

  9. JimG

    June 29, 2020 at 7:26 am

    You mean ” He ” transgender is mental illness. Just like that man in charge of Pennsylvania health system. Rachel Lavine. Just because you identify as something doesn’t really mean you are what you say you are.

  10. Rev. Edward B Connolly

    July 7, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Human beings have two arms and two legs.
    Some human beings do not have two arms and two legs.
    God bless those who, for whatever reason, do not have all four limbs.
    They deserve whatever assistance we can give them.
    However, their condition is always an unfortunate deviation from the norm. They do not constitute a variant form of human being.
    They can be rightly honored for overcoming their condition, but the condition itself is not to be honored or emulated.
    All of the above is meant to be an analogy to the PRIDE movement.

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