Greenfield to host Franklin County Pride celebration

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Recorder Staff
Published: 6/6/2017 11:38:36 PM

GREENFIELD — We’re proud, and we’re stronger together.

That’s the message the LGBTQA community will celebrate during Franklin County Pride on June 24. Organized by volunteers, the event will begin at 1 p.m. with a march from the middle school to the Energy Park. A pride rally will follow at the park from 2 to 4 p.m., featuring inspirational speakers, community leaders, singers, songwriters, spoken word artists and a few local bands.

The theme of the event is “Stronger Together,” which is also being used by pride events around the country this year.

Elizabeth Bridgewater of Greenfield, one of the event’s organizers, said the celebration is to build and expand upon the successful pride event that the town hosted two years ago. She said organizers have reached out to people all over the county and are expecting a strong turnout.

The event will kick off a march that will feature familiar trappings of pride events, including beads and flags.

“The whole purpose of that portion of the event is visibility, solidarity — to show that we’re here and to show the diversity of the community,” she said.

As the participants walk into the Energy Park, Bridgewater said, they’ll be greeted by Offbeat Womyn’s Drumming Ensemble. She said speakers and entertainers during the rally represent the many different faces of the community. They include At-Large Town Councilor Karen “Rudy” Renaud; the Rev. Marguerite Sheehan of Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls; The Sad Bastards, an all-queer sad song country cover band; Dr. Kathryn Rohr, a transgender orthopedic surgeon who transitioned at age 67; a belly dance group and others.

“We expect it to be kind of a celebration and a party,” Bridgewater said.

She hopes Franklin County Pride will include a strong intergenerational aspect, as well.

Students from Generation Q, an educational and social/support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth and straight allies run by Community Action, will present on stage. They also attended several planning sessions and plan to build a balloon arch for the front of the march.

“Really to embrace this next generation and sort of have intergenerational dialogue I think is really exciting,” Bridgewater said. “They’ve got some new ways of looking at gender and sexuality, and I think it’s a really exciting conversation to have.”

She said support from local businesses has also been strong.

“We weren’t sure how big this event would be, and I guess we still don’t know until it happens, but we’ve gotten a lot of positive responses. We feel like there’s a buzz happening,” she said.

The idea for the event started with a group of friends, according to Bridgewater, and has grown to include about 30 organizers.

“We are excited to come together and celebrate our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer community in Franklin County,” said Pam Parmakian, one of the core volunteers coordinating the event, said in a news release. “Pride events are so inspiring because you get to experience the diversity of our community and this event is no different.”

Bridgewater said events like this help support the local community in a broader sense.

“It can be a part of positioning this area as progressive and active, and I think all of us are really interested in that. I think we’re all really passionate about this region and revitalizing it, and events like this can play a role in that.”

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