Pride Season in New England: The Biggest, Boldest & Best to Come

A 900-foot pride flag made and donated by Bishop from Merkaba Sol at last year’s Pride Portland.  Photo: Steven Bridges  Main Feature Credit: Marilyn Humphries

A 900-foot pride flag made and donated by Bishop from Merkaba Sol at last year’s Pride Portland.
Photo: Steven Bridges
Main Photo Credit: Marilyn Humphries

[Updated Story, including RI PrideFest, originally ran on TRT’s April 2, ’15 issue]

By: Lauren Walleser/TRT Assistant Editor—

BOSTON, Mass.—After a winter for the record books, Boston and New England residents have begun preparing for a spring and summer filled with outdoor activities, including the many Pride parades and festivals taking place around the state.

Boston Pride

The season kicked off with Northampton Pride in early May. Boston Pride will follow next with its 45th anniversary Pride Week running June 5-14. This year’s theme is #WickedProud, which Boston Pride President Sylvain Bruni said commemorates the history of the organization, which began in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riots in New York City.

“From a small march with speeches between Jacque’s Cabaret and City Hall, to over 40 events including a four-hour parade illustrating our community’s diversity and richness, Boston Pride Week has grown immensely and is now the largest annual public event in New England,” said Bruni. “Boston Pride continues the tradition of public demonstration in the streets of Boston, as well as to offer numerous other events intended for everyone to enjoy and to celebrate who they are, in a safe and fun environment.” [pullquote]This year’s theme is #WickedProud, which Boston Pride President Sylvain Bruni said commemorates the history of the organization, which began in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riots in New York City.[/pullquote]

This year’s events will include the annual flag raising at City Hall Plaza on June 5, Pride Day at Faneuil Hall on June 6, Pride Human Rights Forum on June 8, Pride Night at Fenway Park on June 12, and the Pride Parade and Festival on June 13. Additionally, the annual AIDS Walk, a program of the AIDS Action Committee, will take place during Pride Week on June 7. Other events include a conversation with Pussy Riot on June 5, comedian Fortune Feimster at The Wilbur on June 13, and the annual Back Bay and JP Block Parties on June 14. Boston Pride will also celebrate its 45th anniversary with a brand new event, the Boston Pride Gala, to be held on the first night of Pride Week, June 5.

Several events will be held specifically to celebrate Black and Latin@ Pride, including roller skating parties, dance nights, socials, a panel on artificial insemination, and much more, held both in Boston and in other locations throughout the state.

“Boston Pride Week’s 45th anniversary is a time to celebrate the history of the organization, pay tribute to those who fought for LGBT rights, and to energize the next generation to carry on the important work,” said Boston Pride Parade Chair Martha Plaza in a press release. “Boston Pride represents everyone in our community whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, and our straight allies and friends.”

The entertainment lineup will include comedian Kevin Yee as host, country music star Billy Gilman, Boston’s own Johnny Blazes and The Pretty Boys, Grammy-nominated artist Mary Lambert, local band Jack Romanov, and R&B/Jazz vocalist Nhojj.

“Boston Pride is thrilled to host these talented artists as part of our monumental celebration,” said Staci Stift, entertainment director of Boston Pride, in a press release. “Each of these individuals harbor a personal story that highlights the purpose and mission of Pride- to serve as voice to promote love, equality, support change and embrace diversity.”

The headlining act, Grammy Award-winning British songstress Estelle, was announced live on MIX 104.1 FM earlier this year. Estelle will also host a “Meet and Greet” with fans at the festival.  There will be a limited number of tickets for this event available on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more information about entertainers and a full calendar of events, visit www.bostonpride.org.

Pride Portland

Pride Portland! will continue the New England pride season line-up, taking place June 12-20 in Portland, Maine. According to co-chair Jill Barkley, the event is a collaborative, community led effort in Maine’s largest city.

“Our 10 days of events incorporate a wide range of activities for elders, families, people who love to be outside, and people who want to dance!” said Barkley. “We strive to make our events accessible to every member of our diverse LGBTQA community by partnering with other local organizations like EqualityMaine, Maine Transnet, Outright, and SAGE. At the core of everything we do is a desire to serve our community and have fun while doing it.” [pullquote]“We strive to make our events accessible to every member of our diverse LGBTQA community by partnering with other local organizations like EqualityMaine, Maine Transnet, Outright, and SAGE. At the core of everything we do is a desire to serve our community and have fun while doing it.” —Jill Barkley[/pullquote]

This will be the second year the organization has hosted Pride, for which Barkley said they’ve had more time to plan and raise funds.

“We are feeling more prepared to meet the standards we set for ourselves last year in our first year of planning and expand on those successes,” said Barkley.

For more information on Pride Portland! and their full schedule of events, visit www.prideportland.org.

North Shore Pride

This year’s North Shore Pride Week will be held June 15-21, with the theme “Standing Proud Together.”

“North Shore Pride is a true representation of our North Shore community,” said Hope Watt-Bucci, founder and president of North Shore Pride, Inc. “We are an organization with events that are a true reflection of our mission, to provide education to our community and advocacy for LGBT persons on the North Shore. To that end we try to provide a minimum of 50 percent of our vendors at our festival who are available to provide information and outreach to those in need of services. North Shore Pride also ensures that we highlight the talents of our local entertainers, artisans and businesses during our festival and events. Finally, North Shore Pride wants to ensure that we are always reachable and in touch with our community.”

The schedule of events will kick-off with a “Lunch and Learn” conference at a local North Shore college or university with the theme “How to make your North Shore city or town more inclusive for the LGBT community.” Next, a movie and art exhibit will be held at the Salem Theatre, followed by a screening of “The Normal Heart” and an interfaith worship service. The Fourth Annual North Shore Pride Parade and Festival will be held in Salem, Mass. on June 20. [pullquote]“We are an organization with events that are a true reflection of our mission, to provide education to our community and advocacy for LGBT persons on the North Shore. To that end we try to provide a minimum of 50 percent of our vendors at our festival who are available to provide information and outreach to those in need of services. …”—Hope Watt-Bucci, founder and president of North Shore Pride, Inc.[/pullquote]

Entertainment for this year’s festivities will include headliners XELLE, Adrienne Mack Davis, and local favorites The DeJas, Rolla, Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket, Sarah & The Wild Versatile, Jenn Lombari and Lucky United.

“We started this organization in 2012 with a few people sitting around my dining room table,” said Watt-Bucci. “We established the North Shore Pride Parade and Festival as a means to let the general public know that we are established, available and working towards a goal of true ‘Unity in our North shore Community.’ Having been gratefully successful in providing our event for the last three years, we are now able to branch out and work diligently on the educational component of our mission.”

For the full schedule, visit www.northshorepride.org.

Rhode Island PrideFest

Rhode Island PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade will take place Saturday, June 20.

“This year’s PrideFest theme, chosen by our members during our annual planning retreat is ‘IndiVISIBLE,’ reflecting that it’s essential for our community to not be divided as we pursue equality, and also that individuals being out and visible is vital in our efforts to continue to effect positive change in our state, our nation, and our world,” said Kurt Bagley, president of Rhode Island Pride.

Scheduled performers for the daytime festival include Sir Ari Gold, Shannel from RuPaul’s Drag Race, folk trio Pearl and the Beard, and headliner Crystal Bowersox, first runner up from American Idol Season 9. [pullquote]Scheduled performers for the daytime festival include Sir Ari Gold, Shannel from RuPaul’s Drag Race, folk trio Pearl and the Beard, and headliner Crystal Bowersox, first runner up from American Idol Season 9. [/pullquote]

“Rhode Island’s Pride Weekend is a true community celebration,” said Bagley. “PrideFest offers great information and outreach from our fellow community non-profits, arts and crafts and other great items to purchase, activities for children at our Kids Zone, programming for teens at our Youth Pride Zone, an Interfaith service, and of course a fantastic show on our Entertainment Mainstage as well as a great Beer Garden right on the Providence River. The Festival leads into New England’s only Illuminated Night Parade which turns the streets of downtown Providence into one of the biggest celebrations the City sees all year, complete with a fantastic marching band, the Lesbian and Gay Big Apple Corps from New York City. The celebration continues in the night with some amazing block parties sponsored by our local LGBT clubs and bars who are great supporters of our Pride organization. They invest a lot into their entertainment and help keep the atmosphere charged into the wee hours of the morning. Everything is within easy walking distance—park for the day or get a hotel room and enjoy a full 16 hours plus of true community togetherness and celebration.”

For more information, visit www.prideri.com.

PRIDE Vermont

Later in the season, PRIDE Vermont will continue the pride tradition with their LGBT PRIDE Week running September 6-13 in Burlington. This year’s theme is “SHINE,” which celebrates the personal and collective triumphs of the LGBT Community.

PRIDE Vermont is Northern New England’s premier Pride festival. Vermont’s PRIDE Festival includes the Northern Decadence Food & Travel Expo, making it the tastiest Pride in the country. They also include a large activity tent, called Gender Fun, for the transgender community.

PRIDE Vermont will also include the Annual High Heel Race on Church Street, and the Parade and Festival featuring music and entertainment by local performers, including the aerial performance group Fierce Circus and special guests The Glamazons, a girl group made famous on “America’s Got Talent.” [pullquote]PRIDE Vermont is Northern New England’s premier Pride festival. Vermont’s PRIDE Festival includes the Northern Decadence Food & Travel Expo, making it the tastiest Pride in the country. They also include a large activity tent, called Gender Fun, for the transgender community.  [/pullquote]

Additionally, the second annual Gender PRIDE Speaker Event will present transgender activist, writer and musician Julia Serano on September 9. Serano’s first book, “Whipping Girl,” has been used in gender studies classrooms and as required reading for the cast of Amazon Prime’s TV series “Transparent.”

“Our PRIDE festival continues to grow and attract people from everywhere. We’re truly becoming a regional PRIDE event,” said Randy Violette, chair of the PRIDE Vermont Committee, in a press release. “I invite everyone from Vermont and throughout New England, New York and Quebec to celebrate with us.”

For more information, visit www.PRIDEvermont.com.

Worcester Pride

Gladys Rodriguez, representing Jim McGovern’s Office and Mr. Worcester Pride 2014.  Photo: Mike Hendrickson “Unity Mike” Photography

Gladys Rodriguez, representing Jim McGovern’s Office and Mr. Worcester Pride 2014.
Photo: Mike Hendrickson “Unity Mike” Photography

Worcester Pride will take place in September as well, held September 9-12 in Worcester, Mass. This year’s theme, “Love Will Keep Us Together!” was chosen based on public feedback from a variety of submissions, according to Worcester Pride President John Trobaugh.

“The theme is nice because it harkens back to the year that Worcester Pride had its first celebration. This is the name of the song that was number one on the charts and it really fits where we are as a community,” said Trobaugh. “With public acceptance here in Massachusetts, many thought the need for Pride would go away. Indeed, many LGBT-owned businesses have gone out of business. However, we are finding more of a need to build community. We hear people ask for more of a sense of community at every event. The fact is that people come out in a variety of ways throughout their lives. It is never a discrete event, nor is it the same for everyone.”

The week will kick-off September 9 with the first ever flag raising at City Hall, followed by a Pride Dinner on September 10 and the annual Ms. and Mr. Worcester Pride and Miss Gay Worcester Pageant on September 11.

“This is the second year our pageant is gender neutral,” said Trobaugh. “Last year was a great success in that we had no gender requirements for any of these titles. The Miss Gay Worcester Title is a drag category, but it is up to the participants to self declare their interest in a particular title.” [pullquote]“With public acceptance here in Massachusetts, many thought the need for Pride would go away. Indeed, many LGBT-owned businesses have gone out of business. However, we are finding more of a need to build community. We hear people ask for more of a sense of community at every event. …”—Worcester Pride President John Trobaugh[/pullquote]

The week will also include the parade and festival, Youth Pride Dance, and Water Fire – Pride Block Party. Local performers will include Joslyn Fox, Glenn Steward and host and emcee Cindy Foster.

“We believe diversity and creativity are two of the biggest gemstones of Central Mass. and we love to show that off here!” said Trobaugh. “We also have a Political Ally where we invite politicians from the region to get a table and communicate with their LGBTQ constituents. If they get a table, we introduce them from the stages so that they can continue a dialogue at their tables and as they walk through the area. We are not party-specific. Last year we had representation from Democrats, Republicans and Independents. This year there are many municipal elections, which traditionally are nonpartisan. We look forward to interacting with them.”

According to Trobaugh, Worcester hosts “the most family-friendly Pride in the region,” with The Woo Church sponsoring a kids area with bounce houses, an art center and various games.

For more information, visit www.worcesterpride.org.

Springfield Pride

Springfield Pride 2015 will be held September 17-22 in Springfield, Mass. The public will vote on the theme during the summer months via the group’s Facebook page, but the line-up of events is already taking shape with a flag raising ceremony, LGBT Hall of Fame Reception, and festival included among the activities. [pullquote]“The Springfield Mass Pride committee works hard to ensure that events are accessible for the young and the mature, for the politically active and the simply curious, with activities to stimulate the intellect and move the feet.” —Nelson Rafael Roman[/pullquote]

“The Springfield Mass Pride committee works hard to ensure that events are accessible for the young and the mature, for the politically active and the simply curious, with activities to stimulate the intellect and move the feet,” said Nelson Rafael Roman, board president of the Imperial Court of Western Mass, fiscal agent for Springfield Mass Pride 2015, and Springfield Mass Pride board member. “A huge component of Springfield Pride is that we are committed to providing a majority of our events free of charge, although some events do require an entrance/cover charge. Our events are open to all members of the public and are reflective of Springfield’s rich diversity.”

Other events will include the Third Annual Triple Corona Pageant, held by the Imperial Court of Western Mass; the Fourth Annual “Love Unites-Springfield PRIDE” Interfaith Service; an open mic night and an LGBT film night.

The Springfield Mass PRIDE committee is made up of members from Tapestry Health, Oz/XRoom/Pure Nightclubs, the Imperial Court of Western Mass, Bearhampton, area youth, and community supporters and leaders.

For more information, visit www.facebook.com/SpringfieldMassPride.

 

 

 

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