Crowd of people standing in front of rainbow ballons
Attendees at Gwinnett County’s Pride event listen to Chairwoman Hendrickson’s remarks regarding the occasion at the Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Ga. (Simona Lucchi/Fresh Take Georgia)

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners alongside Gwinnett’s Community Outreach Program held the county’s first ever government-organized Pride event Monday at the Justice and Administration Center.

The event, which took place on National Pride Day, saw the declaration of a proclamation by the board recognizing Pride Month and Pride Day in Gwinnett County.

“We want you to know that this is a government that welcomes everyone, regardless of your sexual orientation,” said County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson, introducing the proclamation. “It is imperative that every member of our community … feels valued, safe, empowered and supported by their peers, educators and their community leaders.”

Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson presents the proclamation recognizing Pride Month and Pride Day in Gwinnett County at the county’s inaugural Pride event at the Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Ga. on Monday, Jun. 28, 2021. Hendrickson said the board is making an effort to be inclusive and show it embraces its community.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Gwinnett County residents filled the plaza in front of the Justice and Administration Center donning rainbow flags and enjoying the music and food while stopping by at booths set up by groups such as the Positive Impact Health Center and the Gwinnett County Police Department’s community affairs unit.

   “I’m glad to see that Gwinnett and the government of Gwinnett is aware of the LGBT community.”

Gwinnett County resident Nancy Smith.

Nancy Smith, who’s part of the LGBTQ community herself, said that it felt nice to be recognized by Gwinnett’s government since often her community isn’t treated well or acknowledged at all. Like other attendees, Smith spent some time chatting with the police officers present, which many people were surprised to see there.

“[The event] has been great, it’s been a conversation starter,” said Officer Michael Parker. “We want to … show that we support everyone and that we’re here for everyone.”

Officer Michael Parker (left) and a fellow officer play one of the many games available at Gwinnett County’s inaugural Pride event at the Justice and Administration Center in Lawrenceville, Ga. on Monday, Jun. 28, 2021. Parker said he was glad to attend the event with the police department’s community affairs unit to show Gwinnett residents that the department supports all members of its community.

The impetus for holding the event, Hendrickson said, came from the lack of such public declarations of support regarding the LGBTQ community in the past.

“While [the board] has done things like changing some of our nondiscrimination policies, and we’ve done a proclamation in the past, we’ve never done anything public like this,” Hendrickson said. “As the chair, I wanted to send a message because my commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion extends to all communities. We hope to continue to offer this event and that it continues to grow.”

Overall, for being the first of its kind in Gwinnett, the event seemed to be a success. While attendees, such as Dianne Meuse, thought it was about time such an event was held, she was happy nonetheless that it happened.

“This is really cool, [how] everyone’s open about it,” Meuse said. “We couldn’t talk about [Pride] like five years ago … [that’s] progress.”

Community Outreach Director Shaunieka Taylor said, despite being the first time the county hosted such an event, they exceeded their initial RSVP number, which she found really exciting.

“This presents an opportunity for us to find more ways that we can continue to celebrate the many aspects of our community,” Taylor said. “I’m excited about the outpouring and the interest.”

For more from Fresh Take Georgia and the latest updates, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.