A community of Pride

Abby Rowe wants to give people a space where they can be themselves and feel safe, and that is what she has accomplished through her nonprofit Abigail’s Pride. I had the opportunity to sit down with her prior to the third annual Abigail’s Pride festival.
“I wanted to go to a Pride festival when I was 13, that was what started this whole thing, and it turned into something so much bigger than that,” said Rowe. “Now I have parents coming up to me, thanking me for giving their kids a space to be loved. That’s what I want to do for the rest of my life.”
Rowe, who is bisexual, is a senior in high school, and heading off to college next year. She said she see’s Abigail’s Pride as a huge part of her time in high school.
“I think Abigail’s Pride is so entwined with my high school experience,” she said. “Everyone has their thing that they do in high school, this is my thing. And it’s huge to me.”
I’ve had the joy of seeing Rowe operate Abigail’s Pride for the last three years, and I’m proud of all that she has accomplished. She has been a positive role model for other students in the LGBTQ+ community, and I’ve said before I wish I had someone like her when I was in high school.
But she had to learn it from somewhere, and she credits her mom as her biggest supporter in all of her endeavors.
“My mom is the biggest rock,” she said. “She has been there since day one, she encouraged me to do this. I’m a senior in high school, and it’s important to me to just be a kid, and she made sure I had balance. She protects me from everything I shouldn’t see, and she shows me everything I should see.”
While the nonprofit comes with its challenges, Rowe says all of it is worth it to her.
“Even if just one person showed up and felt comfortable for four hours, that’s worth it,” she said.
Throughout our whole conversation, I heard parts of my own story in Rowe’s story. I’ve mentioned before that I struggled in school with bullying, with feeling outcast. Later in life, I realized part of my struggles were that I am demisexual. All that means is that I don’t feel attraction unless I have a strong emotional connection with a person, but back in high school, I felt I was wrong or was teased for not being interested in dating like my peers.
And Rowe had similar issues, like not feeling supported by people she thought were her friends.
“The first year and a half of planning, I did not have friends, not in like a homophobic way, they just weren’t very supportive,” she said. “So the morning of the first event, I was running around in the morning, lining up for the parade. I had asked the choir and theater to show up, and when I saw them there, I bolted to them and they gave me the best hug I’ve had in my life. These were my friends, and they’re still my best friends to this day.”
Rowe said that while she started Abigail’s Pride to give people a safe space, she never thought about having that for herself. But that first day, she realized that she had the community for herself as well.
To help continue the mission of Abigail’s Pride, she is hosting an eight-week session at the Brandon Township Public Library. Pride and Joy is a group for LGBTQ+ students and student allies. There are two groups, one for middle school students, one for high school students.
“Eight weeks of fun, that’s what I’ve been calling it,” she said. “Each week, we’ll have a topic, like how to be an ally, navigating relationships, homophobia, coming out. And we’ll just get to know each other, and then we’ll do an activity. I wanted the two different groups, so we can be more age appropriate for each group. Like in middle school, navigating relationships is mostly about friendships, but it might look different in high school. And the library has been so wonderful and supportive. I’m really excited, I have some really good ideas.”
Register for Pride and Joy at brandonlibrary.org, and follow Abigail’s Pride on Facebook for updates and future events.

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