A Very Happy "HoliGAY" in Colorado

When the doors to the Unitarian Universalist Church in Weld County, Colorado opened on December 9, 2023, to welcome people to the Happy HoliGAYS Health Fair, it marked a proud moment of community outreach for LGBTQ+ advocacy organization Out Boulder County (OBC).  

“This was the first event that Out Boulder has done of any kind in this county,” said OBC’s Vaccine Equity Advocate Kaia Ball.  The inaugural health fair was held in the town of Greeley, the county seat of Weld County. Weld is a largely rural and agricultural region, and the event was part of OBC’s efforts to expand their services to areas outside of the state’s urban centers. 

The event was also the organization’s first joint venture with the Weld County Department of Public Health and Environment—a partnership that developed from OBC’s ongoing work to increase vaccine confidence and acceptance among the LGBTQ+ community.   

With support from the CDC Foundation, OBC offered essential information on COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the health fair. The health department also provided free vaccinations to the public regardless of insurance coverage, in addition to a variety of other free services including cholesterol and blood sugar screenings, educational resources on tobacco cessation and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP). The population of Weld County is 40 percent Hispanic, so translators were on hand to help Spanish-speaking community members navigate health services and information. In keeping with the holiday theme, there was plenty of glitter glue and rainbow-colored ribbon for those who wanted to get crafty and make ornaments.   

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Greeley provided a safe and welcoming location for the event. “It was an affirming space to receive healthcare for the LGBTQ+ and our allied communities,” Ball said. “People could enjoy some food and a warm place to be.”  

OBC’s successful launch of vaccine outreach in Weld County highlights the importance of building new community connections to improve public health. “People came together and spent a Saturday distributing services to our community and just having a cute holiday afternoon,” Ball said. “At the end of the day, the common goal is that everyone is safe, and everyone is healthy.” 


Photo credit: GritzArts LLC/ CDC Foundation

This program is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of a financial assistance award totaling $21,007,444 with 100 percent funded by CDC/HHS. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by, CDC/HHS or the U.S. Government. 

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Annabelle Hester is a health communications specialist for the Partnering for Vaccine Equity Program in the CDC Foundation’s infectious diseases department.