Rainbow-colored flags and balloon arches filled the streets of New Haven on Saturday for the city’s 20th annual pride celebration.
Sixteen events over seven days were dedicated to celebrating the LGBTQ community in the Greater New Haven area. On Saturday, Empire Entertainment Group and the New Haven Pride Center organized a pride march in the Elm City. The festivities continued throughout the weekend, concluding with a Pride Tea Dance on Sunday.
Executive Director of the New Haven Pride Center Patrick Dunn said he was happy with turnout, especially at the Saturday Block Party on Center Street. He said that the Pride Center wanted to incorporate the spirit of resistance in advance of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, a series of violent demonstrations that took place in 1969 outside of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City.
“How did pride begin? It began with a protest,” Dunn said. “We wanted to launch this year’s pride event … with that kind of same energy — we’re here, we’re queer, see us, and now let’s have a good time for the rest of the day.”
The march started at the New Haven Pride Center and continued to the Green and down Chapel Street before heading back toward the Pride Center from Park Street.
Following the march, community members gathered again for the Block Party, which featured over 80 different artists, from bands to drag queen performers, at different points throughout the day. Food vendors and booths from organizations such as the New Haven LGBTQ Bowlers, Elm City Artists and Yale School of Medicine were also at the block party, which ran seven hours, according to Dunn.
Members of the Yale community joined in on the festivities. Students said that they supported the mission of the Pride Center, adding that it is important for Yalies to leave campus and stand together with the broader New Haven and LGBTQ communities.
“I think it’s important for all communities to have pride marches because it does help foster a sense of community,” said SGH Gavis-Hughson ’19, a member of the LGBTQ center at Yale.
The parade was followed by events that highlighted arts and culture in the LGBTQ community. At the evening’s closing event, Pride Tea Dance, local artists Sinthea, Carrie Ashton, Evangeline Durst and Suzanne Sheridan performed at the 168 York Street Cafe.
Sinthea played a set that included covers of songs such as Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” and John Mellencamp’s “Hurt So Good” and was followed by Durst, Sheridan and Ashton, who performed their own pieces as well as covers.
Ashton said she enjoyed getting to be a part of the community during these events.
“It feels good to be in a place with people of all walks of life and all beliefs and just be accepting and be free and be who we are and respect each other for that,” Ashton said. “And that needs to be celebrated more, not just at pride, but that is a huge part of pride for me.”
At the conclusion of pride week, Dunn estimated that about 3,000 people had attended the week’s festivities. But he also said that while the visibility of Pride may have increased, the community has always been here.
“It’s not so much that we have changed; our visibility has changed as more folks take an interest in pride from a non-LGBTQ perspective,” he said. “Pride New Haven has always been a community-led event, by the community and for the community.”
The New Haven Pride Center was founded in 1996.
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