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Reading kicks off LGBT History Month with Out in the Park event

Thirty years ago, a day like Saturday would have been unimaginable for Keeb Cruz.

Back then Cruz was a 21-year-old who had just become part of the LGBTQ community. And the idea of being able to take part in a large-scale event celebrating that community held inside a baseball stadium wasn’t one Cruz thought would ever come to fruition.

But that’s exactly what happened Saturday. Wearing a bright smile and a camera around his neck, the Laureldale resident joyfully walked down the rows of vendors set up inside of FirstEnergy Stadium as part of Out in the Park.

“This is such a great opportunity to share the things we couldn’t share years ago, when things were under the carpet,” Cruz said. “We can share different points of view and different culture. I hope people come here with an open mind and give themselves an opportunity to bring themselves some love.”

The event, held by the LGBT Center of Greater Reading, is designed to promote LGBTQ culture and history. It coincides with LGBT History Month.

Michelle Dech, executive director of the LGBT center, said the event is a great opportunity to bring together members of the local LGBTQ+ communities and allies.

“It’s community, a sense of community,” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The LGBT Center of Greater Reading held its Out in the Park event on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium. (DAVID MEKEEL - READING EAGLE)
The LGBT Center of Greater Reading held its Out in the Park event on Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium. (DAVID MEKEEL – READING EAGLE)

And, Dech said, Out in the Park is the perfect chance to teach the younger generation about the history of the community.

“As I get older, I realize a lot of youth are not aware. You say the word ‘Stonewall’ and they don’t know what Stonewall is,” she said, referring to 1969 protests at New York’s Stonewall Inn that marked a key moment in the gay rights movement.

“I feel an entire generation of people have been lost, their triumphs and their struggles aren’t celebrated like they should be,” she added. “Kids don’t know, it’s not celebrated and it needs to be, it needs to be recognized.”

Those history lessons were interspersed with lots of other attractions on Saturday. The event featured about 100 vendors, with food, crafts, activities and information booths for local organizations.

“It’s really fun,” said Oliver Houck of Wyomissing. “There’s a lot of different vendors and they’re all really creative.”

One of the stands that Houck visited was hosted by the YMCA. There he got a chance to make some spin art on a device powered by a stationary bike.

While Houck had done spin art before, a bike was never part of the equation.

“It’s way more fun,” Houck said of the experience.

Source: Berkshire mont

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