Last weekend’s LGBT Pride celebration on Jesup Green was a fantastic community event.
Singers sang upbeat, positive songs. Staples students held signs, held hands, and spoke with strength and clarity about how it feels to be openly gay. Young kids had their faces and nails painted. Same-sex couples embraced. A gay father held his 2-year-old son, as First Selectman Jim Marpe read a ringing proclamation.
Meanwhile – for the first time ever – a rainbow flag flew over Westport’s old, venerable and very beautiful Jesup Green.
None of it would have been possible without Brian McGunagle.
From a germ of an idea last fall — what would it mean to have an LGBTQ organization in Westport? — he created, in less time than it takes to birth a baby, a townwide celebration of pride and joy.
But that’s not all.
Brian’s vision, leadership and boots-on-the-ground work were the impetus for the lighting of the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge this entire month. Lawn signs that are sprouting everywhere. The summer-long “Merchants of Pride” promotions.
And much more.
Brian did not do it all alone, of course. Dozens of folks helped: his friends, oldtime Westporters and newcomers, straight and gay parents, and an astonishingly creative, active, visionary and fun crew of Staples High School students (inspired by biology teacher and Gender Sexuality Alliance advisor Kayla Iannetta).
But Brian was the driving force. He brought everyone together, oversaw countless Zoom meetings, did the grunt work, and moved mountains to make it happen.
He did it all too while holding down a fulltime job. And studying for the Episcopal priesthood.
John F. Kennedy said that victory has a thousand fathers (and defeat is an orphan). Brian McGunagle — proud gay father of 2-year-old Henry — is this week’s Unsung Hero.
And — hey, why not, since this is June — let’s call him Father of the Year too!
(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email firstname.lastname@example.org)