1st Bellingham Pride Fest June 24th
By David Dunbar
Bellingham’s first Pride Festival will premier in town on Saturday, June 24 for four hours at the Town Common.
The planning committee is chaired by Senior Center Director Josie Dutil. “This family-friendly event will feature artisans, crafters, vendors, food trucks, information and activities.” She continues, “We’re hoping to bring together different generations of the LGBTQ+ community and friends of the community.”
Students at Bellingham High School are helping with the planning. The art club was tasked with coming up with a logo for the event, voted on the submissions, and the one from Gwen Todd was chosen (and you can see it above).
“There are few things in life,” says Dutil, “that bring various generations together like the overwhelming desire for equal human rights. This effort has brought together high school students, elders of the LGBTQ+ community and allies like nothing else I’ve witnessed at the Senior Center.”
“Elders in the LGBTQ+ community have lived a lifetime of shame and trauma,” observes Dutil, “and have been on the receiving end of hateful comments directed at who they are. Having the Senior Center be part of the efforts to pull this event together hopefully helps those members of our community feel the love and respect they spent many years only dreaming about.”
PrideFest will begin at 2 p.m. and end at 6 p.m. on June 24 at the Bellingham Town Common. What can you expect to see?
As of this writing, there are nine sponsors and 13 vendors. There will be (available for purchase) handmade greeting cards, unique jewelry, painted beach stones, sewn and crocheted items, art and photography, antiques, pine needle baskets, and caricature portraits. Sponsors include Dean Bank, Town of Bellingham, Senior Center, Lovely Party, Inc., Briggs Property Management, State Rep Mike Soter, Randy Shore and Jack Murphrey, Anne Marie Genereux and James Ehwa, and New Hope, Inc.
Cindy McNulty, a member of the PrideFest Planning Committee and the town’s Select Board, adds, “Our friends at Devlin’s Tavern will be offering a Drag Brunch starting at 11 a.m. to help us kick off this event.”
Committee member John Murphrey invited folks to come and “meet people they may or may not be aware of in their community and learn what they bring to the community.”
McNulty continues, “We are looking to create an event that brings people together to celebrate and embrace their own uniqueness and differences in a positive, informative, engaging, and all-inclusive way.”
You may also find at PrideFest a bouncy house provided by the YMCA, children’s activities including painting and coloring of community flags, a dance troupe and karate demonstrations, perhaps the high school choir, a “balloon person,” and tee shirts for sale with the PrideFest logo on them. There will be a shuttle bus for the vendors and Micky G’s will be cooking and serving all kinds of food.
A special Facebook page has been designed to help get the word out. You can check it out, just search for Be You Bellingham.
“And personally,” says Dutil, “I want to be part of this effort to thank those who travelled before me, making it possible for me to be married to the person of my choice, in a part of the world where fear has not been a factor when it comes to my sexuality. If it were not for their sacrifices, my life would not be possible. I want to be part of a celebratory event that encourages members of my community that living peacefully with all human beings is possible.”