Being in the blazing 90-degree sunshine for hours can zap the most effervescent, but Bartsch wasn’t complaining. The office of tourism in New York’s neighboring state recruited the nightlife specialist to create a mobile version of the Bartschland “On Top” party. She was joined on the bus float by fashion designer Christian Siriano, who has a home in Connecticut. Artist Joey Arias was also on board with “RuPaul Drag Race” alum Milk and Connecticut Office of Tourism’s director Noelle Stevenson.
The office’s participation and investment in this year’s NYC Pride March is part of its more than $3 million “Find Your Vibe” media campaign that plays up the state’s upsides, including its LGBTQ community, businesses and events, a spokesperson said Monday.
Once the word was out that Bartsch was curating, the tourism office was flooded with more than 100 volunteers offering their support and services. To rev up interest, Bartschland and Connecticut Office of Tourism promoted the event via its combined 300,000-plus social media followers.
CTVisit wanted to play up its leadership in LGBTQ issues like same-sex marriage and parenting rights. The double-decker bus was also meant to be a reminder that The Constitution State is proactive about welcoming LGBTQ travelers. The state recently became the first to join the International LGBTQ Travel Association as a global partner.
Earlier this year Connecticut lawmakers passed a law providing health care protections for transgender people. And at the start of this year, the Connecticut Parentage Act went into effect, ensuring equal treatment regardless of parents’ marital status.
Connecticut-based corporations like Xerox, Gartner, The Hartford and Pitney Bowes, among others, have earned scores of 100 in this year’s Corporate Equality Index. Darien is one of the smaller towns in the state to have held its first significant Pride party this year.
“The way things are now, things are really difficult,” Bartsch said. “The more that corporations and big organizations get behind inclusivity, LGBTQ+ issues and Black Lives Matter, [the better]. We’re regressing. I am glad to support anyone that will help with the big picture to be more inclusive and get the word out that everyone is welcome. They are getting behind what a lot of people are against. This really was my motivation.”
The opportunity to bring together different communities to march Sunday in support of the LGBTQ community was another incentive. Bartsch said she has been a longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community, though she does not identify as LGBTQ. “Very happy” that CTVisit had recognized her work and asked her to get involved, Bartsch said, “I’m very interested in working with corporations that further the cause. We need a lot of action and a lot of people to get behind everything. It’s devastating how we are regressing.”
Of Sunday’s NYC march, which Bartsch said she hadn’t attended for years prior to this weekend, she said, “It was more welcoming than ever. There are a lot of corporations that are doing things to embrace the whole movement and the community, which is good. The more that we can be one, the better. Getting that message out there is very important.
“We just need to embrace people of all walks of life. It was great. It was beautiful.”
Siriano also had a hand in CTVisit’s “#FindYourVibe” summer campaign, which encourages Connecticut visitors to discover their own fun or relaxation. A clip of the designer’s most recent New York Fashion Week show, which was held over the border in his Westport, Connecticut house, is featured.