Cars lined the street for Columbiana County Pride held at the Wellsville Alumni Center. Across the street, members of three different area churches protested the event.
“Even with whatever is happening out here, we’re still in there and we’re still celebrating us and who we are and just collecting as one unit and being together as one community,” said Joey Shilot, event organizer and drag performer.
Shilot says they hired security out of an abundance of caution.
Across the street, The Living Well Church Pastor Dirk Hall was one of about a dozen protesting. He said his concern was that the event, which included what Shilot says is a family-friendly drag show, was not appropriate for children.
“Our worry is that it’s going to corrupt their minds and they accept this as OK. Our identities are in Jesus and once we accept him as our Lord and Savior, he changes our life and the born-again experience. That’s what we want for these children, and we don’t want this corruption in our town,” Hall said.
Columbiana County native Emily Scott was one of the drag performers. She says to her, Pride is all about creating a safe and accepting community.
“If we could just have one person come and feel welcome and feel accepted, then we succeeded. I can confidently say that we accomplished that goal maybe 100 times over,” Scott said.
Hall says his goal was to have those attending the Pride event accept God, noting his church does not condone being LGBTQ.
Members of Christ Our Life Church and Sovereign Grace Chapel Church were also present.
“We stand in love for the village. Judgment will come down on this village, and we don’t want that for Wellsville,” Hall said.
Shilot says he wants to do the event again next year.