WARRENTON, Va. (DC News Now) — Thursday marks the beginning of Pride Month and for one Virginia town, the beginning of a new era.

Warrenton Pride and Fauquier Pride led the first official flag raising in the town — ‘official’ because of a proclamation presented by Mayor Carter Nevill declaring June 2023 the first-ever Pride Month in Warrenton.

“Though for too long we have fallen short on that promise, we have made and indeed continue to make great strides,” he said.

The celebration brought out dozens of people to the Warrenton Horse Show Grounds, where people ate rainbow cake, danced, and watched James Cornwell, the founder of Warrenton Pride, raise the flag.

“Today means so much,” he said. “Listening to parents whose kids have gone off to college and hearing their stories about how they don’t feel 100% comfortable to come back home? Today means a step in the right direction.”

That experience was shared by Trae X, who said he’s lived in Warrenton for more than 30 years.

“It makes me wonder, where was something like this 20 years ago when I was a teenager?” he told DC News Now. “[I was] very closeted, very unhappy. To see this now, it gives me hope for the future.

The celebration continued despite a couple of people silently demonstrating across the street from where members of the LGBTQ+ community, and their allies, absorbed the severity of the symbol.

“We’re all a little bit of a shade different,” Courtney Stone said. “But we can all come together and make a gorgeous piece of art, which is our rainbow flag.”

Cornwell added a message for his younger self, with the hopes that it will reach people who are growing up in the community now.

“I would want to not be afraid and just know that I wasn’t alone,” he said.