A chanting mass of rainbow-clad people descended upon the New Haven Green on Saturday for the annual New Haven PRIDE march.
Starting at 1 p.m., participants in the march made their way down Chapel, George and Church streets, before they ended at Center Street for a block party bustling with booths and music that continued until 10 p.m. For many residents, the march paid homage to New Haven’s rich history of protest and the progress of the Elm City’s LGBTQ+ community. Attendees also stressed an ongoing need for more advancements and acceptance, particularly in underrepresented groups.
“This is the fifth year we’ve done a march,” Joshua O’Connell, co-president of the New Haven Pride Center and co-chair of PRIDE New Haven, told the News in an interview. “Pride itself has been going on since 1998 in New Haven, and is connected back to our history where we used to have a protest rally here on the Green. Our march is a way of respecting the protest as a part of pride history.”
O’Connell and the event’s organizers described the primary purpose of the march as increasing visibility for New Haven’s LGBTQ+ community. Historically, that community has been welcome in New Haven, even before similar movements swept the nation. In 1996, when the Pride Center opened, John DeStefano, then-mayor of the city, helped the center find a space and funding. DeStefano and other community members also ensured that the center did not have to pay rent in its inaugural year.
People of all ages attended this year’s Pride march and subsequent block party — toddlers, college students and retirees mingled together at the event. A group of approximately 15 Yale students gathered on the Green to march. Other colleges and universities, including Albertus Magnus College, also had students present.
Melissa Wang ’23 cited her belief in Yale’s responsibility to LGBTQ+ students as the reason for her attendance. She told the News that, although Yale “has wholeheartedly embraced its reputation as the gay Ivy,” more work is needed to make Yale “a safe space for everyone.”
Many attendees cited the importance of LGBTQ+ visibility across intersectional communities.
Religious groups, including the Episcopal Church at Yale, showed up to reaffirm their commitment to making religious communities at Yale and beyond more inclusive. Others told the News that particular sub-issues were also top priorities. Protesters from nearby cities and towns came into New Haven to march, citing various personal attachments. A young nonbinary teenager from Hamden who asked the News to withhold their name for privacy reasons said that they felt a personal connection to the march.
“I grew up in a very welcoming environment,” they said. “But a lot of my friends did not.”
A West Haven resident — who also wished not to be named for the sake of privacy — emphasized the need for intersectionality at Pride gatherings, again highlighting trans visibility.
He hoped that observers at Pride celebrations know that “trans people are just regular people trying to live their lives.”
“We gotta represent all the branches of LGBTQ, and as a trans man, I am representing,” he told the News.
Though the march was relatively peaceful, a few protesters handed out coins with the Ten Commandments printed on them. Others used megaphones to profess anti-gay views, which marchers drowned out with chants of “Love, love, love is love.”
The New Haven Pride Center is located at 84 Orange Street.