MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — It's the first weekend of Pride Month and one Silver Spring neighborhood marked the occasion with a Sunday morning march.
Scores of people waving Pride flags and homemade signs marched through about five blocks of the Woodmoor neighborhood in Montgomery County. It is the first time that the Woodmoor neighborhood has hosted a Pride Month parade and march.
The organization Inclusive Woodmoor spearheaded the event.
"We have lots of young people in this neighborhood who identify as LGBTQ+ and they weren't always sure what their place was here because we had not come out and made it clear," said march organizer Bonnie Friedman. "The events of this past week are sending them a really strong and really important message: 'we love you, we accept you, we want you here, and we're here for you.'"
"The message to the neighbors who identify as LGBTQ+ [is] that they're supported and we stand by them," added Kelissa Orsin, another organizer.
A slate of speakers addressed the crowd before marchers hit the street. Laton Pfeifer-Hicks, who uses the pronouns they/them, was one of them.
"We're here today for two things: to celebrate everyone's diversity and to celebrate and support each other," they said to loud applause from the crowd.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) was also in attendance.
"I likened it to the Black Lives Matter protests because it was one thing to have a big protest downtown somewhere, it's another when they start cropping up in every little community and neighborhood," said the Maryland Democrat. "This is an amazing thing for the people of Woodmoor to get together to say to the LGBTQ community: 'you're welcome here.'"
The neighborhood holds memories of Raskin's son Tommy, who died suddenly in 2020.
"Our son Tommy went to Pine Crest and he went to Eastern and he went to Blair so those were all the neighborhood schools for Woodmoor ... a lot of people here have known him," said Raskin. "Tommy used to come and campaign with me in Woodmoor and knock on doors."
Montgomery County Councilmember Evan Glass has championed the LGBTQ+ cause for years.
"I have the honor of being the first LGBTQ+ member of the Montgomery Council and with that, I've made sure that we celebrate Pride here," he said.
Some have been more welcoming of his efforts than others. After raising the Pride flag on a County flagpole for the first time in 2019, Glass says his office got enough brushback that they "stopped answering [the] phones for three days because [they] were receiving hateful messages not only from residents here in Montgomery County but from across the country thanks to social media."
Despite that, Glass says "the reality is we have 1.1 million people here in Montgomery County, we have a beautifully diverse community and, you know, we need to continue showing solidarity for everybody who chooses to live here."