The Burlington Select Board on Monday acknowledged June, 2023 as Pride Month in Burlington, and named June 15 “Leo Day” in honor of LGBTQ Pride organizer Leo Abramov, who passed away this March.
“To have this town, my hometown, celebrate who I am, the community I’m a part of, is outstanding,” said Burlington resident Chris Rose, who showed up to support the proclamations. “And for the recognition for Leo, I couldn’t be more proud. He was an advocate. He was an outspoken, fierce defender of the LGBTQIA community, and no one deserves this honor more than he does.”
Abramov, who was transgender, along with his wife Kerrylynne, founded and organized Burlington’s annual LGBTQ Pride celebration. Abramov was diagnosed with stomach cancer shortly before his 36th birthday. June 15 would have been his 37th birthday.
More than a dozen friends and supporters attended the Select Board meeting to accept the proclamations.
“I didn’t know Leo, but I’ve learned in the last couple weeks that he sounds like somebody quite special,” said Select Board Chair Mike Runyan.
“I didn’t know Leo personally either,” said Select Board Member Nick Priest, “But anyone who can step into a community and do what he did is somebody special.”
Priest choked up reading the proclamation, which said in part, “Leo set a positive example for queer and trans youth in the community by living as his true self and being open and answering questions from community members. He showed strength in the face of discrimination and adversity… The Town of Burlington Select Board does hereby proclaim the day of June 15, 2023, Leo Day, because of his dedication to help to make Burlington a welcoming place for members of the LGBTQIA+ community, and encourage all residents to celebrate his valuable contributions to our community.”
A separate proclamation recognizing Pride Month read in part, “All people regardless of age, color, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation or socio-economic background have the right to be treated on the basis of their intrinsic value as human beings.”
“The LGBTQ community here in Burlington has experienced a lot of hardship,” said community member Nicci Kadilak, who attended the Select Board meeting, citing the controversial removal of a rainbow flag from the Town Common in 2022. “I think it’s really important symbolically for the town to make the proclamation for Pride Month, and I also think it’s going to do a lot helping people, especially kids in the LGBTQ community, feel more welcome and seen in the town.”
Burlington acknowledged Pride Month for the first time in 2022.
Organizers are planning an LGBTQ Pride festival in Burlington for Saturday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Common.