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Christopher Forte, who serves as the City of Middletown’s Assistant General Counsel, has won the first-ever Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Award from the International Municipal Lawyers Association. This international award recognizes the outstanding individual or organization who has championed diversity at the municipal level. He will be honored at a virtual ceremony on September 24.
Christopher spearheaded the inaugural Middletown Pride, a wildly successful city-run pride event that drew approximately 15,000 people to the City of Middletown in its very first year, which is no small feat for a town of 48,000. The event was one of the largest prides in Connecticut and brought in people from all over New England. It drew praise and drove headlines throughout the region.
Mayor Ben Florsheim said, “I am so proud of Christopher and this amazing accomplishment, not only for what it says about him, but for what it says about our city. It’s one thing to receive recognition locally; it’s quite another to do so internationally. Christopher represents what is best and brightest about our team at city hall and the incredible community it serves.”
Beyond the impact Middletown Pride had at the communal level, it had an even stronger one at the individual level. In one case, someone had been considering suicide after being rejected by his family when he revealed his sexuality to them. On the day of Middletown Pride, after he marched in the parade with his partner, he told then Mayor Dan Drew that he was ecstatic to feel loved, embraced, and protected by his own community. It was a feeling, he said, that he could not have imagined without the event.
Christopher said, “It is so empowering to see yourself, and others like you, represented and celebrated on a large scale—and my hope is that Middletown Pride can help foster an environment where marginalized people can feel accepted and loved.”
To ensure that Middletown Pride stands the test of time, Christopher also secured passage of an ordinance creating the city’s first LGBTQIA committee. Not only will Middletown Pride itself endure, but awareness and inclusion within the community will as well.
The International Municipal Lawyers Association is an international clearinghouse of legal information and cooperation on municipal legal matters and the preeminent professional organization for local government lawyers. It has been advancing the cause of municipalities from the local level all the way up to the United States Supreme Court since 1935.