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Sturgeon Bay's Open Door Pride festival brings acceptance in small community

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Posted at 8:40 PM, Jun 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-25 23:37:46-04

STURGEON BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Pride month is starting to wind down, but communities big and small are continuing to celebrate people in the LGBTQ+ community, including Sturgeon Bay.

It's a day where inclusivity is welcome, and people can be proud of who they are.

"I'm really just trying to educate people," Bianca De Larwelle said, who is bisexual.

De Larwelle came out in eighth grade.

"It was really scary for me," De Larwelle said. "I wasn't really sure how people were going to react."

She says family, her friends and teachers were supportive of her, but says not everyone in her small school — Sevastopol School District — grasped her decision.

"A lot of my classmates were really weird about it," De Larwelle said. "They would ask me really uncomfortable questions."

But instead of remaining quiet, those moments made her take action.

"I think that hate comes with ignorance," De Larwelle said.

De Larwelle started and leads her school's GSA club, the Sexuality and Gender Alliance, and is bringing attention to her cause at Sturgeon Bay's pride festival, Open Door Pride.

"I really wanted to raise awareness, teach other kids that they can have this in their school," De Larwelle said. "It is a possibility. They can take a stand and make a difference."

"When you show pride in a small town, it allows allies and friends alike to come out and show that we are an inclusive and diverse country, and especially town," Open Door Pride chair & founder Cathy Grier said.

This city of less than 10,000 people has held this event for six years, and Grier says it draws in at least hundreds of people.

"We're just having a good 'ol time," Grier said. "The music is great. And we're just celebrating ourselves."

And if you are someone struggling with your identity, take De Larwelle's advice.

"People are going to be there for you," De Larwelle said.

Especially in an environment where you're not alone.