Out+About: June is Pride Month

It has been more than 40 years since the first group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks got together in Crystal Park to celebrate what was called “Gay Pride.” By all accounts, it was a small group determined to make a difference in their community like they had seen in Boston and New York a few years earlier.

Pride moved from Crystal Park to Institute Park to Water Street. At one point, Water Street was home to five businesses that were gay-owned or had a large gay clientele. By all accounts, it was a great party on Water Street. We have seen gay clubs, bookstores and coffee shops come and go over the years. Many people attribute the decline of LGBT business to the Internet, since it is much easier to meet and communicate online.

About eight years ago, people began to talk about moving Pride from the Canal District back to a park. Eventually, we decided that the best park would be in the center of the city! It seemed like the best move symbolically. Our community had become mainstream and matured, so we needed a larger place for kids and family. Once we moved to the Worcester Common, we asked the Woo Church to help us create the best Kid’s Zone of any regional Pride!

Pride has been celebrated in September for as long as most can recall, since that is when the vast majority of college students could celebrate with us, and it doesn’t hurt to have our Pride celebration at a different time than Boston and Providence, which historically have been in the month of June. June is, however, National Pride Month, so this column commemorates it. We don’t have many records of the various Pride events, nor LGBT history in general.

The Worcester Historical Museum is creating an LGBTQ archive of documents, posters, personal photos, stories and other memorabilia related to LGBTQ history, including the celebration of Pride in our region. On Tuesday, June 12, and Saturday, June 16, the museum will host LGBTQ History Capture Days. Volunteers like myself and others will join the museum staff to help record your story and scan your photos, documents and memorabilia related to LGBTQ history in our region. The museum is at 30 Elm St., Worcester. You can find out more details at worcesterhistory.org or by calling (508) 753-8278.

Other Prides this month in our area of New England include Boston and Rhode Island.

Boston Pride will begin on Friday, June 1, with daily events extending over two weeks. The Marquee Parade and Festival will take place on Saturday, June 9, followed by the ever-popular Back Bay and JP block parties on Sunday, June 10. For more details, visit bostonpride.org.

The 42nd annual Rhode Island PrideFest and Illuminated Night Parade will be held in Downtown Providence (South Water Street) from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday, June 16. For more details, visit prideri.org.

If you have ideas for Out & About, please email John@JohnArt.com.

John Trobaugh