The annual New Haven Pride Fest took place on the Green on Sept. 17 with music, performances and food. New Haven residents, Yale students, performers and speakers all joined in celebrating the city’s LGBTQ community and drawing attention to the issues that affect it. 

The celebration was part of New Haven Pride Week, which was celebrated from Sept. 11 to Sept. 17. It was organized by the New Haven Pride Center, a nonprofit offering various programming and services for the LGBTQ community. During the event, participants danced, listened to live music, watched drag performances and ate various fair foods. Attendees also had a chance to become familiar with Connecticut advocacy and community organizations, listen to speeches from city, state and national representatives and receive vaccinations against monkeypox. 

“[We have been organizing Pride Fest] in September for 10 or 15 years, if not longer,” Patrick J. Dunn, executive director of the New Haven Pride Center, told the News. “We wanted it to be during the school semester so that … all of our incredible students from around the city could participate.”

Dunn said the organization started planning the event in early spring of 2022. While the majority of the staff working on the event were employed by the Pride Center, some professionals were also hired to help organize the festivities. Dunn said that the Pride Center is particularly proud that they contributed and gave back to the community. Among the performers at the Fest were many local queer artists, including musician Erycka Ortiz and drag performers like ChibiCon and Rory Roux Lay. Local businesses were also able to work at the Fest without any fee. 

This year, for the first time since 2004, Pride Fest was held on the New Haven Green. In previous years, the festival has typically been held in North Haven. 

“It is a lot more expensive,” Dunn said. “But it was nice to have a big space for us, to really enjoy being in the heart of the city.”

He added that the organization plans to organize the next annual Pride Fest on the New Haven Green as well. 

Many volunteers at the event were available to help visitors with all their needs. Linda Young, one of the volunteers, told the News she wanted to support her daughter, who came out as transgender last year. 

“I like the diversity of people ― not only of cultures, but of age and personality,” Young told the News. “[There are] both allies and those on a whole spectrum. It is good to see the whole city come together.”

Different community organizations, like Stonewall Speakers, Anchor Health, Triangle Community Center and others had their tents at the Fest, where visitors could learn more about support and resources available to the LGBTQ community in New Haven and Connecticut.  

“Today, [at the Pride Fest] we share the resources and information about HIV, ask people to fill out questionnaires about their experiences of HIV,” Michael DeWolfe, head of communications and events at Anchor Health, Connecticut’s health center for the LGBTQ, told the News. “I love the Fest. It is always amazing. There are so many amazing organizations and volunteers here.” 

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker also came to the Fest to express his solidarity with the LGBTQ community. 

“The most important thing is making absolutely clear that our values in New Haven are to welcome everyone because we recognize their humanity,” Elicker told the News. “On a practical front, so many city departments help make these types of events happen.”

Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont and Rep. Rosa DeLauro also spoke at the Fest about Connecticut’s leading role in ensuring LGBTQ rights and were applauded by the audience. 

“It is a great effort that deals with equality, tolerance, respect, contributing to people and I am a strong supporter of it,” DeLauro told the News about the Pride Fest. “I always try to go [to the Fest] when I can.”

Many Yale students visited the Pride Fest as well. 

“I especially appreciated the energy and openness that was palpable in the air,” Graham Litz ’26 told the News. “Everyone really seemed to be enjoying themselves with no care in the world, and it was really amazing to witness that sense of community and dedication.”

According to the Movement Advanced Project, as of 2020, there were 133,000 LGBTQ community members in Connecticut.

YURII STASIUK