Twelve-year-old Molly Pinta attended her first gay pride event last month when she and her mom proudly marched in the inaugural Aurora Pride Parade in the Chicago suburbs.
“We … felt so amazed and wowed,” Molly told NBC News. “I imagined having that in my hometown would be so cool and seeing the town supporting the community.”
Instead of leaving that idea to her imagination, Molly got to work. With the support of her parents, Carolyn and Bob Pinta, the seventh-grader is planning the first pride event for her hometown, Buffalo Grove, Illinois, about an hour’s drive from Aurora.
One of the first things the Pintas did was reach out to Indivisible Aurora, the community advocacy group that organized the Aurora Pride Parade. The organization immediately threw its support behind the Buffalo Grove residents.
“We all couldn’t help but be impressed and supportive; we’re certainly rooting for her!"
Chuck Adams, founder and executive director of Indivisible Aurora, told NBC News. "Molly has such a self awareness for her age and we’re just thrilled to be a part of it in any role we can play."
As a first step, Indivisible Aurora recommended that Molly start raising funds for the event, which is tentatively scheduled for June 2, 2019. Molly and her mom started a fundraising page on GoFundMe, which as of Wednesday afternoon had raised nearly $6,000. They also posted a video to Facebook asking family and friends to contribute to their effort.
“I would love to see a pride celebration in my town," Molly said in the video. "I recently went to Aurora’s parade, and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. It was inspiring to see a parade that’s main focus was acceptance and equality.”
In addition to their fundraising efforts, the Pintas have already received the support of town officials and have set up meetings with the Buffalo Grove Police Department to work on a parade route.
"Molly Pinta wants to make a difference and have a parade with a purpose," Beverly Sussman, a Buffalo Grove elected official, told NBC News via email. "Molly wants everyone to respect and accept each other. She hopes this 2019 Pride Parade will educate and bring awareness to the community. This is amazing coming from a twelve year old girl.”
This is not the first time Molly was inspired to make a difference in the LGBTQ community. After attending her uncle’s same-sex wedding in July 2017, she created the Gay-Straight Alliance at her middle school. The club now has more than a dozen members and meets weekly.
“The club gave students a space to be themselves,” Molly said. “A lot of students ended up coming out at the club, which we didn’t expect.”
In fact, Molly was one of those students. Shortly after attending the Aurora Pride Parade, Molly said she gathered the courage to come out as a lesbian to fellow members of the club and her parents.
“People at the parade were so open and showing their true colors. I felt like I didn’t want to hide anymore, I wanted to show my true self,” said Molly, who now sports rainbow-colored hair.
Molly’s mom, Carolyn, is a teacher at her daughter’s school and is the faculty sponsor for the Gay-Straight Alliance. Carolyn now has a rainbow pride flag outside her classroom and has made pride flags available to other teachers at the school as well.
The Pintas said they want to use their newfound platform to educate their family, friends and community about LGBTQ issues leading up to next year’s inaugural Buffalo Grove Family Pride.
Carolyn has already posted several videos on Facebook of Molly talking about her coming-out journey and answering common questions people have about the LGBTQ community.
Molly said she hopes to gain the attention of her role model, Ellen Degeneres, and be on her show to help inspire other people to start their own pride parades in their communities.