By: Tynan Power/TRT Reporter—
On May 4th, more than a hundred colorful contingents paraded through Northampton in the city’s 32nd annual LGBTQ pride march.
“It was the biggest crowd that I have seen,” said Sgt. Anne McMahon of the Northampton Police Department. “I’d estimate eight to ten thousand [attendees.]”
Noho Pride officials put the number much higher.
“We estimate that 25,000 people, all in all, participated in the parade and events,” said J.M. Sorrell, media liaison for Noho Pride, Inc. [pullquote]“It was the biggest crowd that I have seen,” said Sgt. Anne McMahon of the Northampton Police Department. “I’d estimate eight to ten thousand [attendees.]” [/pullquote]
“The highlight,” said Sorrell, “was our coming together as community—LGBT people of all ages, allies from many places—all celebrating our identities and our shared struggles. One of my ally friends always says, ‘This annual event is to Northampton what the 4th of July parades are in other places.’ It is a signature day.”
For many, Noho Pride is indeed a signature annual tradition. Others marched for the first time—or returned after an absence.
“I trekked out to NoHo to march in the parade with a few local members of my Nichiren Buddhist Association, the Soka Gakkai International,” said Adrienne Landau, who came from the Boston area. “We have a Chapter in western Mass and decided it was time to reconnect with NoHo Pride! It had been several years since we last represented ourselves there.”
“My favorite part was being able to connect with other GLBTQ youth,” said Thouheen Alam, a 20-year-old from Somerville, MA. “It was nice and different than Boston pride—since it was smaller, it was easier to network with people.”
“I met a girl from Texas, who was overwhelmed by the presence of so many religious groups in support.” said Joshua Berkowtiz of Easton, MA, who carried the banner of Beit Ahavah, the Reform Synagogue of Northampton, wearing heels and a long pink wig.
“I feel there are still some boundaries that need pushing in the Jewish community. Representing a synagogue in the parade—in drag—allows me to do that,” he said. [pullquote]“My favorite part was being able to connect with other GLBTQ youth,” said Thouheen Alam, a 20-year-old from Somerville, MA. “It was nice and different than Boston pride—since it was smaller, it was easier to network with people.”[/pullquote]
For sponsors, supporting Noho Pride is a way of showing support for the entire LGBTQ community—while getting their message out.
“The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a very large part of our clientele,” said Bob Walker, of Construct Associates. “We have been a supporter [of Pride] virtually since the beginning.”
“When people see our RV,” said Bob Reardon, Director of Health Services at Tapestry Health, “it puts that thought into their heads: When was the last time that I got tested? Should I get tested?” explained Reardon. “All of those questions increase awareness of HIV.”
For attendees like Berkowitz, who traveled hours to be there, the day was about more than Pride—it was about place.
“Northampton is my Promised Land,” said Berkowitz. “My husband and I feel more of a connection to it than anywhere else on Earth. Here, we feel we can be openly affectionate without fear of nasty looks or worse. This is not the case everywhere in Massachusetts. Participating in Pride seems like a natural extension of our love for the place.”