When Brian McGunagle and his family moved from Rye, New York 4 years ago, they looked at places like Greenwich, Darien and Norwalk.
But it was Westport that most attracted them. McGunagle and his husband Stephen Gustafson liked the town’s progressive, artistic history. The fact that the Brook Cafe opened as a gay bar around 1931, and flourished here for 7 decades, was particularly intriguing.
McGunagle and Gustafson have been happy here. Their 21-month-old son Henry is flourishing in daycare.
Still, when they joined a “new parents” group through Willows Pediatrics, they wondered if they’d be the the only same-sex couple.
They met 2 families in which the husbands were transgender. They learned about a Facebook group for LGBTQ parents that facilitated playdates. Through that, they met several same-sex partners.
But McGunagle — who works in the energy sector, while studying to become an Episcopal priest — wants more than a quiet, open suburb.
“As one of Westport’s growing same-sex couple families,” he says, “I want to ensure that our community is visible.” He also hopes to provide models to people who are “questioning or awakening to their own sexuality.”
For 30 years, the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk has served the Fairfield County LGBTQ community. There’s a center in New Haven too, and of course plenty of resources in New York City.
Closer to home, Westport’s Unitarian Church has long supported LGBTQ causes, including meetings and programming.
McGunagle’s idea is to complement what exists, with a uniquely Westport spin.
Among his ideas:
- Celebrating Pride Month in June with a parade and festivities on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge, and at the Levitt Pavilion
- Honoring our LGBTQ history and famous community members through the Westport Museum for History & Culture
- Designing a rainbow crosswalk downtown
- Creating programs and resources for people coming out at any age, singles, same-sex families, families with LGBTQ members, those who are transgender or gender fluid, seniors.=
- Rallying allies
- Partnering with Staples High School’s Gender Sexuality Alliance
- Providing mentor opportunities.
“Do those ideas resonate? Is anyone interested?” McGunagle asks.
He hopes to hear feedback. He particularly hopes it is cross-generational.
McGunagle knows there are many individuals like him, and families like his, living quietly in Westport. Now he wants to find them, and bring them together for support, education and excitement.
To learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org.