Berkshire County to celebrate Pride Month with parade festival

Berkshire County to celebrate Pride Month with parade festival

Berkshire County to Celebrate Pride Month with Parade Festival

Berkshire County is gearing up for a vibrant celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month with a series of events that promise to bring the community together in a spirit of inclusivity and joy. The festivities will kick off with a Flag Raising Ceremony at City Hall on June 1st at noon, followed by a Youth Pride Celebration at Common Park from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. The excitement continues on June 2nd with the Berkshire Pride Rainbow 5K and 1-Mile Walk.

This year marks the 7th annual Berkshire Pride festival, set to take place at The Common on North Street in downtown Pittsfield. “We have a theme this year, ‘Every Day is Pride,’ which reflects our ongoing efforts to create and maintain safe spaces for our LGBTQ+ community members and allies,” said Berkshire Pride Vice President Michael Taylor. “We aim to make Berkshire County a more inclusive place for everyone.”

The festival will feature nearly 150 vendors, including more food vendors than ever before. Entertainment on the main stage will run from noon to 4:00 pm, showcasing drag kings and queens, musicians, and a performance from the Barrington Stage Company. Erin Furey, an American Idol finalist, will also perform. “We have a little bit of everything,” Taylor added.

The event will also see the return of the Berkshire Pride parade, which debuted successfully last year. “There was a lot of excitement last year, and there’s even more this year,” Taylor said. “We had so many community organizations, agencies, and school students come out to support us. It really showed how this community can come together and celebrate in a safe and inclusive environment.”

Recently, Berkshire Pride took steps to officially register as a nonprofit organization. Taylor mentioned that the group is looking to expand its mission beyond Pride Month festivities. “We are offering an LGBTQ+ certification that individuals can register for. The courses are taught by Emma Lenski, a licensed mental health clinician, and cover topics like LGBTQ+ terminology, pronouns, and mental health,” Taylor explained. “This is part of our broader goal to be a resource for the community and promote education and inclusivity.”

While Berkshire County has largely embraced Pride, Taylor noted that challenges still exist. “In Central Mass, in North Brookfield, the board of selectmen pulled a permit for a Pride event because it included drag performances,” he said. “So, it’s definitely something we can’t ignore.”

Pride events will continue beyond Saturday’s festival with a drag brunch at Dottie’s and a tea party dance at Naumkeag in Stockbridge on Sunday. One of the groups participating in Berkshire Pride is North Adams Pride, which is also focused on year-round activities. “We have an LGBTQIA+ drop-in every Tuesday from 4 to 6 at the Roots Teen Center in North Adams,” said Andrew Fitch, one of the group’s organizers. “It’s open to any youth up to age 19, and we involve them in projects related to our June 23rd Pride celebration.”

Before heading to Pittsfield on Saturday, North Adams Pride will contribute to the city’s First Friday event by painting a rainbow mural on Eagle Street. “Mayor Jennifer Macksey has approved the street to be closed to car traffic, and we’ll have various activities, including painting a rainbow mural featuring Massachusetts native wildflowers,” Fitch said.

On the same night, the Adams Theater will host the Majesty of the Berkshires 2023 Pride Pageant. In Pittsfield, a Downtown Pittsfield Pride Art Walk featuring local LGBTQIA+ artists will kick off at 5 p.m. The main North Adams Pride celebration on June 23rd will take place on the campus of the art museum MASS MoCA. “We’ll have live music, family activities, face painting, and dance lessons,” Fitch said.

Conversations about important issues will precede the evening’s music and dance. “Pride isn’t just about partying; it started as a protest and still needs to be one,” Fitch emphasized. Topics will include making North Adams more inclusive and addressing anti-LGBTQIA+ legislation. “We want to acknowledge the challenges we face and get everyone involved in finding solutions. But it’s also important to celebrate our queerness and enjoy the night together,” Fitch concluded.

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