SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to celebrate and support our local LGBTQ+ community here in western Massachusetts.

Just days away from the 2nd Annual Pride Parade in the city of Springfield, the highly anticipated event on Saturday, June 3. Thursday night, Springfield Pride held a gala to kick of this very special month.

The ARIA Ballroom, at MGM Springfield, becoming a spot for all that is glitzy and glamourous, for Springfield Pride Parade’s first ever inaugural “You Ball” fundraising gala.

Springfield Pride Parade Founder Taurean Bethea emphasizing the importance of their fundraising efforts, “All the proceeds go to support our safe space programming, to make sure our youth is safe, feeling protected, and feeling welcomed.”

This gala, also of importance to many in attendance, as the event fell on the first day of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, a time to ‘be proud, be true, and be you.’ Dita Daly of Mass Mutual Pride Business Resource Group tells 22News, “If it wasn’t for a trans women of color, to throw that first brick, no of us could be here enjoying ourselves, being out and proud. We want to be present, we want to show people that we’ve been here, we are here today, and we are here tomorrow.”

The event also highlighting the need for LGBTQ+ safe spaces within Massachusetts and nationwide, and promoting visibility of the community through events like Springfield Pride Parade, “We are a world, of all walks of life, and I think we really need to understand that a safe space are what will really help us thrive as a community,” says Nayoby Jimenez of MGM Springfield, one of the parades sponsors.

Local leaders within the LGBTQ+ community say, take this time to educate yourself. Executive Director of Mass. LGBT Chamber of Commerce Grace Moreno says, “There’s somebody LGBTQ in your community, take the time to talk to them, build that space of connection so you can ask questions that you might not be able to ask other people so you can be educated on stuff.”

The 2nd Springfield Pride Parade is this Saturday, June 3.