Participants look to the future and “Love Forward” throughout festivities
By: Lauren Walleser/TRT Reporter—
Rhode Island Pride celebrated its annual PrideFest with the theme “Love Forward” on Saturday, June 15 in downtown Providence, bringing together members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities and their allies for a day that many participants noted was special due to the state’s recent passage of marriage equality.
“This year’s Pride is very exciting because it’s a celebration,” said Dawn Euer, deputy campaign director for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage. “We’ve all been working so long and so hard to achieve marriage equality, and so it’s definitely very celebratory this year and we’re all very excited and looking forward to seeing what we’re all going to be up to next to make sure we’re harnessing this momentum for furthering the good of our community.”
The event featured a day-long program of entertainment, a free photo booth, vendors and nonprofit organizations spanning from youth services to elder care and social justice causes. [pullquote]“We think Pride is important because it puts a public spotlight on injustice and celebrates victories that have been made, and we kind of see all oppression as interconnected, and that’s why we’re here advocating for animals as well as being allies,” said David Coman-Hidy, director of campaigns at the Humane League.[/pullquote]
“We’re all big supporters and allies of the LGBT movement,” said David Coman-Hidy, director of campaigns at the Humane League. “We think Pride is important because it puts a public spotlight on injustice and celebrates victories that have been made, and we kind of see all oppression as interconnected, and that’s why we’re here advocating for animals as well as being allies.”
Many churches also participated in the event. Dan Blackford of Providence Presbyterian Church and Presbyterian Promise shared why his group got involved.
“It’s just so important to let people know that there are churches that are welcoming and inclusive and really try to extend the hospitality of God to everybody,” Blackford said.
Rekha Rosha, co-advisor of Triangle Alliance at the Community College of Rhode Island—an LGBTQ student and staff group—shared how Pride helps the student population.
“Pride is important, particularly for our students, to get a broader, more dynamic view of the community to which they belong,” Rosha said. “I think a lot of our students feel like there’s a community but they don’t always get the opportunity to participate in it, really feel it, and I think this is a fantastic time and opportunity for them to do that, especially as a commuter campus.”
Trevor Beard, president of the board of TGI Network of Rhode Island—the only state-wide resource for transgender people—said Pride is important for their group because it is their main opportunity to reach out to the community beyond the support groups they provide.
“It’s one of the few times that I know of that someone might dress in clothing that’s comfortable for them, where they can kind of get lost in the crowd and it’s not as nerve-wracking,” Beard said. “There’s a little bit less judgment, I think, at Pride because people expect to see things that they don’t normally see every day. So, for someone’s first time out in clothing that makes them comfortable, it’s a little less stressful.”
Beard also shared why he thinks Pride is particularly important for transgender people.
“It’s not just GLB,” Beard said. “A lot of times and in a lot of scenarios, the T, the transpeople, are left out, sometimes intentionally sometimes not intentionally, so I think that’s why it’s even more important that we’re here and visible.”
Brian Gay, a new board member for the Rhode Island LGBT Center, said they are currently working to getting their non-profit status and a space to provide youth and other LGBT people with an alternative location to gather for meetings and social events.
“What we are looking to do is provide some sort of a queer space that people in the community can come together that’s not alcohol-focused,” Gay said. “So it can be a dry space, some place that can be used by all different age groups, because a lot of the queer spaces right now are 21 plus or 18 plus. It’s usually the clubs.” [pullquote]”I think it’s really beautiful for us to come out and to celebrate our identity and our values with one another in a way that’s positive and open and a lot of fun,” said Brian Gay, Rhode Island LGBT Center board member.[/pullquote]
Gay went on to share why he believes Pride is important.
“As a community who has historically been oppressed and has been told that we are not valuable and that we are something bad or there’s something wrong with us, I think it’s really beautiful for us to come out and to celebrate our identity and our values with one another in a way that’s positive and open and a lot of fun,” Gay said.