By Alan Tran
The last of this year’s New England LGBT Pride festivities are in Worcester on Saturday, September 15, in Vermont on September 22, and for the New England Latina and Latino community from September 21 through 29.
It’s been a year of record-breaking Pride participation across the country, but the season is finally winding down. The last of this year’s New England LGBT Pride parades and festivals is Pride Vermont — which is the creative name Vermonters don for their gay Pride festivities — which will be held on Saturday, September 22, at Battery Park in Burlington.
The annual Vermont Pride cruise on Lake Champlain will be held Friday the 21st. During the festival there will be a NOH8 Campaign photoshoot, turning everyday citizens and celebrities alike into icons of equality, and the Northern Decadance Food & Travel Expo, showcasing LGBT-friendly businesses that encourage Vermonters to have their equal rights cake and eat it too, among other culinary delights.
In the past, Vermont Pride has held its festival and parade in the summer. This year, the committee, along with VT Cares, Outright Vermont, and RU12, community support and advocacy organizations which also help to fund and coordinate VT Pride, decided to move the event to the early fall for a number of reasons.
The heat was a concern, said RU12 Executive Director Kim Fountain. “It’s been very hot these past few summers, so it makes it difficult for a range of people, whether it’s people with small children, the elderly,” and others to attend. Also, moving the event to the fall might attract the “leaf keepers,” as the foliage tourists are called in Vermont.
Another reason for the change was to allow university students to attend the Pride events. “We have a bunch of colleges in the area and we wanted to give them a chance to participate. Especially knowing that we have a lot of young people in school who are just coming out … it’s nice to have an LGBTQ community that supports students.”
While this is Vermont Pride’s first September celebration, it isn’t the first Pride organization in New England to hold its celebrations in the fall. Last year Connecticut Pride did so as well. This year, Connecticut Pride chose to forgo holding a Pride parade in favor of fundraising for a large event next year.
Worcester Pride, on the other hand, has been holding its Pride festival in September for several years, though it was only last year that the festival was moved to the Worcester Commons to represent a more fully integrated Pride community, said Laura Farnsworth, Worcester Pride’s public relations director. This year the celebration — including a parade — falls on Saturday, September 15.
“Our Worcester Pride was switched to September several years ago,” said Farnsworth, “in an attempt to reach a broader community base whom might otherwise be a little Prided by the end of June.”
“By having [our Pride festival] in the early fall, it allows the GLBT community to stand out from the other festivals, where we are not lost in the crowd of the larger, more prominent Pride events held in other cities,” explained Worcester Pride Co-Chair Greg Gustafson in a 2011 article in WorcesterMag.
Differentiating themselves from other Pride events was not what the Vermont Pride Committee and collaborating organizations had in mind, though, said Fountain. “It was really more about inclusion. We really like the idea of keeping things in June because of the Stonewall Riots and the history, but [we moved the date] because we wanted to be more inclusive for geographic reasons.”
For some idea of what to expect from this change, Boston Spirit spoke with North Carolina Pride Parade and Festival Director John Short. The North Carolina Pride Committee moved their Pride Event to September back in 2000, and they haven’t looked back since.
“We changed because in North Carolina, in the middle of June in which we had traditionally held [the Pride parade and festival], it was just so warm,” said Short. “In 2000, we had people collapsing in the street, and we thought there must be a better way to do this.”
So the committee moved the event to the fall, “and our attendance has definitely increased since the change. We have since been copied by many, many Prides in the surrounding area and states,” continued Short. “When we moved, we were the first.”
Time will tell whether or not other Pride celebrations in New England follow Worcester, Vermont, and Connecticut in moving to the fall. But working to create a more inclusive Pride is a hopeful step forward with which to end our New England Pride season.
Also noteworthy is Boston’s Latin@ Pride, which will be held September 23 to 29 and which hosts a number of events supporting the LGBT Latino population in Boston, but does not include a major festival or parade.
Also, keep in mind that InterPride, an global coalition of Pride organizations, will hold its annual world conference in Boston this year, October 3 through 7.
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