A vandal tried to stop her Pride fund-raiser, so she’s making it even bigger and better

Community rallies behind organizer after signs stolen, graffiti painted on bridge

By Jim McGaw
Posted 6/7/23

PORTSMOUTH — Samantha Younger is not one to back down over some stolen signs or hateful graffiti.  

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A vandal tried to stop her Pride fund-raiser, so she’s making it even bigger and better

Community rallies behind organizer after signs stolen, graffiti painted on bridge

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Samantha Younger is not one to back down over some stolen signs or hateful graffiti. 

In celebration of Pride Month, the Island Park mother of five decided that her 18th and latest Rockin’ Mama’s Market — a traveling series of fund-raising pop-up events featuring local vendors and fun activities — would benefit Newport Pride. The nonprofit is opening its new Pride Center on Spring Street in that city on Friday, June 9, and Younger wanted to help out with that effort.

“As soon as I said we were working with Newport Pride to help collect funds for their LGBTQ center on Spring Street, it seemed to have really upset somebody,” she said.

With permission from property owners, Younger had placed close to a dozen signs all around town notifying the community of the event, which was held Saturday at the VFW hall in Common Fence Point. One by one, the placards all went missing, said Younger, who contacted police.

Then sometime between late Friday night and early Saturday morning, someone defaced the railroad bridge entrance to Common Fence Point with spray-painted graffiti: “PRIDE IS SIN SAY GOD.”

But if the vandal(s) goal was to disrupt or put the brakes on the Pride Market, they failed miserably. 

“By about 11:30, the community started showing up,” Younger said. “They had already heard the signs were gone and police were here. Word traveled quickly, and as soon as they found out, they were like, ‘That is not what we want to represent. We want you here. Our community needs this.’”

The Pride Market was a big success. 

“We had 13 vendors, face-painting, sponsorships, corn hole — all sorts of fun stuff,” she said. “We brought lots of people in, and there were lots of smiles, which is all we wanted. We thought the graffiti would really shy people away, but it seemed to (tick) people off enough to have people come in and beg me to do it again.”

So she is. Another Pride Market will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Sunday, June 11, at the VFW. There will be crafts, vendors, corn hole, cotton candy, food trucks, kettle corn, fresh lobster from Sakonnet Lobster and more.

“Let’s raise double the amount of money for Pride and let’s show this one person that, ‘Your opinion doesn’t matter.’ These people matter, and that’s what we’re trying to show,” Younger said.

‘Evil people out there’

She expects an even bigger crowd on Sunday, and is grateful to have the support of both the community and the vendors who participate. 

“I think Common Fence Point was just as angry as I was at that vandalism. It shows that there are still some evil people out there, and we have to show them that we’re bigger than that,” Younger said. “All of these vendors are all supporters. They all make a donation to Newport Pride. They all accept everybody.”

As for the bridge graffiti, Younger was ready to help paint over it along with Common Fence Point resident Karyn Jimenez-Elliott and others, but the railroad company beat them to it.  Jimenez-Elliott led efforts to paint over different graffiti that appeared on the bridge last September, shortly after vandals targeted a Democratic fund-raiser inside the neighborhood. 

Younger, who makes jewelry out of clay, starting crafting for her own “mental health clarity” during COVID. Then she started teaming up with other moms and organizing events such as a  blood drive, book drive, backpack drive — all fund-raisers. 

“We are markets with a mission,” she explained. “I have all different people come from all over New England, with all different varieties of products. We do everything from live seafood to home decor.”

She chose to support the Pride mission, she said, because as a mother of five children, she’s watching LGBTQ kids suffer. 

“They are struggling with the bullying — everything, you know?” she said. “So, I wanted to create a place where they could come and be themselves, and just be accepted and loved. We were giving out free mom hugs. It was just for fun, encouragement: ‘Come on out and be yourself. Do what ever you want, because we all love you.’

“It’s 2023. You love whoever you freakin’ want. You want to wear a dress? Put a dress on. Who cares?”

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