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Gay influencer Chris Stanley’s new doc explores West Virginia Pride parade ‘so small, it’s almost a secret’

Gay social media star Chris Stanley new documentary explores West Virginia Pride parade
youtube @StanChris

The content creator popularly known as stanchris made a film about a Pride parade in small-town West Virginia.

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A new 22-minute film premiered on Friday, highlighting the courage of LGBTQ+ people in a smallWest Virginia town. In an evocative and deeply personal documentary, social media influencer Chris Stanley, 24, ventures into Morgantown — population 30,000 — to capture one of the smallerPride celebrations in America. The film, now available onYouTube, is a masterful blend of heartwarming resilience and heartbreaking challenges faced by theLGBTQ+ community in a conservative town.

“Imagine a Pride celebration so small, it’s almost a secret,” Stanley muses in the opening scene, setting the tone for an exploration of Morgantown’s intimate yet meaningful Pride parade. Conducted in mid-June, Stanley’s journey was driven by a desire to illuminate the often-overlooked experiences of LGBTQ+ people in small-town America.

The project’s inception was almost serendipitous. Stanley shared a call on social media, seeking the smallest Pride event in the country. “I thought that maybe I can try making a documentary,” he recounted in an interview with The Advocate. “I’ve had this idea for a while and wanted to go to the smallest Pride in the country.”

After receiving numerous suggestions, he chose Morgantown and completed filming the project in a single day.

Gay social media star Chris StanleyCourtesy Chris Stanley

The documentary’s strength lies in its intimate interviews with residents. Dustin Blankenship, from nearby Granville, provides a candid look at the region’s conservative nature. “Everyone in West Virginia has a gay neighbor, but not everyone in West Virginia wants to talk about the fact that they have a gay neighbor,” Blankenship remarks.

Another key figure in the film, Ash Orr, offers a nuanced view of Morgantown’s inclusivity. “The city itself is very inclusive of the queer and trans community. We have a lot of ordinances in place, such as the non-discrimination ordinance,” Orr explains. However, Orr’s account of undergoing conversion therapy reveals the persistent undercurrent of intolerance. “Conversion therapy is still a very cruel practice that is happening in the state of West Virginia as well as other states throughout the country,” Orr shares.

The Pride parade, modest with just 12 cars, is depicted with admiration and melancholy. Stanley’s narration underscores the small but significant nature of the event: “This is pretty much the entire Pride parade here. Right down to the end of the block there.”

Stanley’s transition from light-hearted content to more serious projects marks a significant evolution in his career. Known for his humorous and sometimes risqué videos on social media, Stanley often documents his travels with his boyfriend, Bret LaBelle, who is 27 years his senior. Their relationship, which began during the pandemic, has been a subject of public fascination and scrutiny.

Gay social media star Chris StanleyMaxwell Poth

“Sometimes people think he’s actually my dad,” Stanleypreviously toldThe Advocate. “Other people think I’m just with him for money.”

Stanley has been making content for over five years. Now, he's taking what he makes in a different direction. “I definitely want to do more slightly serious things like this,” he shared. Balancing his comedic content with more impactful projects is a direction he is eager to explore. “It’s impactful stories like this that really excite me, and when the editing isn’t work and you look forward to what you’re doing, I fell you know you’re on the right track.”

Looking ahead, Stanley plans to enter his documentary into various film festivals and awards, including theGLAAD Media Awards.

“I would love to submit it for GLAAD Awards, the Queerties—everything,” he said. “Maybe even just like some random other film festivals, especially the queer ones.”

Watch the documentary I Went to the Smallest Pride in America below.

I Went to the Smallest Pride in America! | LGBTQ+ Documentarywww.youtube.com

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Christopher Wiggins

Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).
Christopher Wiggins is a senior national reporter for The Advocate. He has a rich career in storytelling and highlighting underrepresented voices. Growing up in a bilingual household in Germany, his German mother and U.S. Army father exposed him to diverse cultures early on, influencing his appreciation for varied perspectives and communication. His work in Washington, D.C., primarily covers the nexus of public policy, politics, law, and LGBTQ+ issues. Wiggins' reporting focuses on revealing lesser-known stories within the LGBTQ+ community. Key moments in his career include traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris and interviewing her in the West Wing about LGBTQ+ support. In addition to his national and political reporting, Wiggins represents The Advocate in the White House Press Pool and is a member of several professional journalistic organizations, including the White House Correspondents’ Association, Association of LGBTQ+ Journalists, and Society of Professional Journalists. His involvement in these groups highlights his commitment to ethical journalism and excellence in the field. Follow him on X/Twitter @CWNewser (https://twitter.com/CWNewser) and Threads @CWNewserDC (https://www.threads.net/@cwnewserdc).