Friday, April 12, 2024

‘I Am What I Am’ Pride Festival Comes to Hampton Roads

(Hampton Roads Pride)

HAMPTON ROADS — Tradition Brewing Company, Hampton Roads Pride and Marriott at City Center are joining forces to throw the first-ever regional pride festival in Newport News — the “I Am What I Am Pride Festival.”

This LGBTQIA+ and allied community event invites citizens from across the Hampton Roads region to join together on Sunday, June 4 from noon until 7 p.m at Tradition Brewing Company in Oyster Point, Newport News.

“I Am What I Am” (IAWIA) aims to bring the community together and increase awareness, support, and the love of diversity by providing an inclusive safe space and empowering the LGBTQIA+ community.

The festival is the brainchild of Cory Moreno, who runs events for Tradition Brewing Company and also serves on the board of Hampton Roads Pride.

“I noticed there were not many pride-related events in this area, or any guaranteed safe space such as a gay bar, and I felt it was important that people not have to travel to either Norfolk or Richmond to find that. To have a protected and safe space, here in our own backyard, to be our true selves,” Moreno explained.

Event Liason Cory Moreno and Taproom and Events Manager Michele Hanson in front of Tradition Brewing (Cory Moreno)

Moreno says Tradition Brewing Company agreed to host as soon as asked and has been supportive of the endeavor. The event has also gained sponsorship and support from a host of regional businesses.

“We are just regular people that want to be seen as who we are. Events like this are important to myself and my other LGBTQIA+ friends,” Moreno continues, “but, it is equally important to our allies…friends, parents, etc. They also want to show their pride, love and support.”

The “I Am What I Am Pride Festival” is family and pet friendly. The event will feature more than 40 craft vendors, food trucks, live music, a drag show and a foam dance party.

In addition to its normal tap lineup, Tradition Brewing Company beer will release I AM WHAT I AM, a special commemorative Lemon Drop Kolsch made in collaboration with nine other local breweries: Billsburg Brewery, Thin Brew Line Brewing Company, Post Secondary Brewing, Gloucester Brewing Company, Capstan Bar Brewing Company, Gloucester Brewing Company, Studly Brewing Company, MoMac Brewing Company and Nansemond Brewing Station.

IAWIA Beer collaboration Team (Cory Moreno)

Each brewery listed will have I AM WHAT I AM on draft or in four-packs at their locations throughout the month of June. A portion of proceeds from each beer sold will go toward Hampton Roads Pride.

“I want to see an expansion of safe spaces. I want people to put away any judgment or expectation of what they think it means to be LBGTQ. I want ALL communities to come together, listen to some good music, have fun and see there is nothing wrong,” Moreno said when discussing the goal of the festival. “The word is pride. It is something every human shares, to be openly proud of who they are and to be loved for that.”

For a full schedule and list of events, visit the “I Am What I Am” festival page.

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