LYNCHBURG, Va. (WFXR) — On Sunday afternoon in Lynchburg, Riverside Park was a bit more colorful than usual.

A non-violent protest was held to advocate for justice not only for black lives, but also for the lives recognized in the month of June: the LGBTQ community.

“It’s also pride month,” said protest organizer Stacey O’Hara. “And so we were wanting remember the queer black lives that also matter.”

O’Hara said she was only expecting around 50 people at the event on Sunday, June 7, but instead, hundreds showed up.

“It makes me feel very encouraged, very loved, and I hope… my goal is that the black queer community feels that love and the inspiration and the joy and the acceptance,” O’Hara said.

“I was nervous,” said local activist Jackie Canada. “I was scared. I was like ‘ You don’t know what’s going to happen.'”

Canada and O’Hara both emphasized their appreciation from the white community in this protest.

“Back in the day, you didn’t see, you know, a lot of white people standing with us. Today, they outnumbered us,” Canada said. “I mean, they showed us love. They rooted for us. They’ve been out here in the streets, and it’s hot out here! Today showed that we really do have people for us and by out side, and that made me happy.”

Canada started her own LGBTQ family — or support group for LGBTQ members — in 2018 known as the House of Flavaaz. Canada knows how much support means to the LGBTQ community.

“It’s important because I’ve seen, you know, transgenders lose their life,” Canada said, wiping tears from her eyes. “I’ve witnessed, you know, people in the gay community, as far as, you know, lesbians and gay, you know. They had no one.”

“People of color and the queer community, when they’re mixed together, they very very rarely see any justice or peace,” O’Hara added.

The fight for justice doesn’t end here, according to Canada. In fact, it goes beyond her generation, to her children when it comes time for them to take up the mantle.

“Don’t teach them to hate,” Canada said. “It’s okay to love. It’s okay to see people in the world for who they area. You don’t have to teach them to look at someone funny or ask ‘are you a boy?’ or ‘are you a girl?’ Just treat us equally.”

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