Abigail’s Pride | The citizen
By Shelby Stewart
Ortonville- Abigail Rowe wins her Girl Scout Gold Award in a big way.
Rowe, 15, founder of the nonprofit Abigail’s Pride, recently spoke to the Lincoln Park Middle School Prism Club about her organization, how to deal with bullying and why she started her organization.
“They work on passion projects, and their club is about acceptance and love,” she said. “I prepared a presentation on what I’m working on, why I’m doing it for my Gold Award, and I talked about the pushback I’ve had and the resistance to what I’m doing. They asked me what it was like to face the hate, and if talking about these issues made it easier. The kids were so nice, it was an amazing experience for me.
Rowe, who came out as bisexual in 2020, said the idea for her organization came from her mother.
“I was coming home around Christmas with my mom, and I was watching YouTube videos of pride festivals, and I said I wish someone would do a pride festival in Ortonville because I wanted to go” , she said. “And my mom turned to me and said ‘so you do’.”
And Rowe took his mother’s advice and started his nonprofit. Its goal is to show members of the LGBTQ+ community that there is a space that accepts everyone, especially in Ortonville.
“Ortonville is an area where I know a lot of young people don’t feel safe or loved in our community because they are part of the LGBTQ+ community,” she said. “There are people who look just like you, even in a city or community where that’s not the most accepted thing.”
She said that although the municipalities have agreed to approve her event permit for the Pride Festival, scheduled for June 4, there has been some pushback.
“Most of the backlash I get comes from the kids at my school,” she said. “I’m often bullied at school and have come to the attention of angry parents, but it’s mostly high school kids who don’t get it.”
Rowe said at first she would just ignore the bullying, but said that depended on the day.
“I would walk down the hall, and I have pride pins on my backpack, and there have been a few times where the pins have been ripped out of my backpack,” she said. “I’m just asking what their problem is with rainbows.”
This year, Abigail’s Pride will host a Pride Festival on June 4th in downtown Ortonville. The event took a year to prepare.
“My goal is to make young people and teenagers feel like they have a safe space to go and that our community, our city is a safe place,” she said. “And just educating people about the LGBTQ+ community and making this a better place to be. I hope one day Abigail’s Pride can be in all the different communities and work with counselors and provide services to people in the LGBTQ+ community.
Rowe also said that while she didn’t face much hate after coming out as bisexual, at first she knew other people who were, including young children who didn’t understand why they were being victimized. bullying.
“I want to create an environment where things like this don’t happen,” she said. “Bullying mostly happens because people don’t understand.”
The June 4 festival will start with a parade, and the rest of the day there will be vendors, speakers, food trucks and plenty of games and activities for children.
“There’s a stigma that events like this aren’t places you should take your kids to, so we wanted to make sure the event was family friendly,” she said.
One thing Rowe says he’s heard the most is that people don’t understand why it’s such a big deal or why it matters.
“I think Ortonville being such a small town, I think that’s why we need something like this,” she said. “One of my teachers, he said, ‘Well, doesn’t that mean it works? If everyone agreed, we wouldn’t need it and it kind of became my motto for the whole thing.
Anyone looking to volunteer with Abigail’s Pride, or find more information about the organization or the festival, can find Abigail’s Pride on Facebook or Instagram.