Photo by Gary Gill
The "Go Out Loud" gay pride group will be at Victoria's Station in Salem Friday night for the Go Out Loud Pride Kickoff Party in celebration of the Salem City Council's recent decision to officially designate the month of June as Gay Pride Month in the Witch City.
"This will certainly be the biggest [event yet] with the gay pride kickoff, and gay pride month," said Kevin Letourneau, president of Go Out Loud. "Eveyone is just coming out of the woodwork to support this."
Congressmen Barney Frank and John Tierney will speak at the event, which will include an open patio area, dance floor and music by DJ Flex. Mayor Kim Driscoll, State Senate candidate Joan Lovely, as well as a handful of city councilors, school committee members, and other local politicians are also expected to be in attendance.
"We are truly honored to have both congressmen as our guests," Letourneau said. "Barney Frank is a true pioneer for the LBGT community and John Tierney has supported equal rights long before it was hip to do so. To have them both come out and continue their support for the growing momentum for marriage equality is a tremendous opportunity for the gay community and entire North Shore at large."
Go Out Loud has been holding social gathering events for the LBGT community throughout Salem since last December - at establishments such as the Red LuLu, Greenland Café and Cinema Salem - successfully bringing together members of the gay community from the North Shore, as well places as far away as Manchester, N. H., and Providence.
This will be the fourth time Victoria's Station has hosted an event. Go Out Loud hopes to expand into other communities on the North Shore later this summer on the heels of President Obama's endorsement of equal marriage rights.
In an interview on Monday, Letourneau talked about the momentum that the gay pride movement has gained in Salem recently, and the importance of taking the level of equality and acceptance seen in big cities into the smaller communities. He credits businesses in Salem with welcoming the community into their establishments for events such as the Kickoff Party Friday night, and creating a welcoming atmosphere for a minority of citizens who are still pushing for basic rights throughout the nation.
"If you walk around Salem you'll see many, many pride flags waving," Letourneau said. "The momentum has been incredible, it's just been a tsunami of support. From the government, from the city government, business owners...you walk around town and there are flags waving everywhere...our mission is to specifically target those smaller communities with strength in numbers and awareness.
"Some people call this initiative a gay takeover...but we don't want it to be perceived as a takeover, it's really just an opportunity for people to get together. And it's really for everybody, it's not exclusive at all...what we aim to do is normalize it even more so and to support and make people feel comfortable."