Dormont has a Spark for Pride

Dormont Spark/Pride is this Saturday, June 25

Pride month may be coming to an end soon, but the celebrations are still going. Dormont Spark/Pride will take place on Saturday, June 25 in the “busy Potomac Avenue business district and will close the street from Belrose to West Liberty Avenue,” according to Dormont Spark/Pride co-chairs Amy Kline and Tina Watson. 

Kline and Watson provided all the details in an interview this week. 

Can you give us a rundown of Dormont Pride 2022? 

Dormont Spark/Pride is the largest Pride and arts event ever planned for Dormont. We’ve moved out of Hillsdale Park to the busy Potomac Avenue business district and will close the street from Belrose to West Liberty Avenue. We have two stages with comedy and drag and a variety of styles of music plus artists-at-large. Comedian Gab BOnesso will open the main stage. Music features Royce (rock), TrailHeads (progressive funk), Halloway Williams (pop), and HellYinz (bluegrass). Drag queen Krystal Klear will do two sessions of Drag Queen Story Hour. The Junior Chamber of Commerce Players, Pittsburgh’s Rocky Horror Shadowcast, will perform throughout the festival during the day. 

Spark/Pride also features over 50 vendors including food from local restaurants, beer from Back Alley Brewing, cider from Arsenal Cider House, numerous artists selling their works, and many social service organizations sharing information about their work. 

What is the main goal and purpose of Dormont Pride this year? 

Kline and Watson: The event focuses on serving the Dormont and South Hills community by providing a fun and exciting afternoon full of music and art and providing information on how to access the many services available to the community. It wasn’t that long ago that LGBTQ events were turned down by local leaders and had to take place in secret. We are still a group that is threatened and marginalized to this day. We hope with Dormont Pride we can continue to build a stronger community with our neighbors and with our amazing Council. This is a great opportunity for all of us to come together and celebrate those that came before. We still need to remember the reasons why the first pride was a riot. 

What can guests expect in terms of entertainment and vendors? 

Kline and Watson: Spark/Pride will kick off at 2 pm with a ribbon-cutting and presentation from Mayor Jason Walsh, followed by Drag Queen Story Hour. Starting at 3 pm, the Glenmore Stage kicks off with Gab Bonesso, and then the music doesn’t stop until 8 pm. Look for two community-participation arts events including a chalk mural with artist Dane Gearhart and help us plant a pallet of herbs with the Dormont Community Garden. There are quite a few family activities where kids can get in on the fun with arts & crafts and face painting. 

Were there any surprises while planning Dormont Pride? 

Kline and Watson: Just how big it became! So many sponsors, volunteers, and supporters reached out to Dormont Arts and the LGBTQ Community Committee, unsolicited. Everyone wanted to be a part of this event and it just shows how ready we all were for an event of this magnitude. The supporters were what made Spark/Pride grow into this huge festival. We started with a plan for a little Pride and arts event, and now we have dozens of visual and performing artists and vendors and 20+ sponsors! 

When Tina Watson, co-chair, initially said “I’d like to take this year’s Pride event out of the park so it could grow”, we figured we’d maybe need a block. We are really a small grassroots-led event, run by a tight committee from the neighborhood. Now, have an entire street and we have had to turn vendors away because we’re sold out. It has grown beyond what anyone was thinking. And to add to that, Tina said “I’ve been to other pride events across the city and actually had people talking about Dormont Pride. It’s not just a South Hills event, it’s become a Pittsburgh Event.” 

What do you want guests to know about Dormont Pride? 

Kline and Watson: Overall, this is an event for everyone. For those in the LGBTQ Community, it’s a safe space to get information on resources you may not know about and to connect with others. For straight and cis-gendered people it’s a chance to meet some amazing neighbors, hear great music from some of the best Pittsburgh-based bands, see amazing performing arts performances and visual art, and to show their allyship with the LGBTQ community. For everyone, it’s a chance to find some joy and a sense of community and belonging. As a Dormont residents, we’d like people to see how welcoming and supportive we are. 

What are you most looking forward to for Dormont Pride? 

Kline and Watson: We really want to see this event help people and build a stronger community. Maybe some youth can find a safe place where they can get tested, or someone sees themselves in one of the short films ReelQ is going to be showing. Wouldn’t it be great if some young gay kid approached a QBurgh reporter and said I want to do what you are doing one day? Or were moved by a particular artist and realized that they can use their talent in a productive way? We want everyone in the community to be inspired, healthy, safe, and happy.

Dormont Spark/Pride is a free event and will run from 2:00 – 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 25.

Tia (she/her) is a recent Point Park grad who majored in journalism. She loves all things movies, music, and Pittsburgh! As the summer 2022 QBurgh intern, she’s looking forward to writing about Pittsburgh’s LGBTQIA+ community and highlighting all the cool people doing cool things in the community.