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Out & About: Rural Pride events re-emerge after the pandemic

  • Rebecca Fagga, of Lempster, N.H., is dressed for the occasion wearing an LGBTQ flag as a cape at Claremont's first ever Rural Pride Event at the Claremont Visitor Green Center on Saturday, June 16, 2018. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photo

  • Skylar Ford, of Claremont, N.H., right, embraces Lana Burt, of Prattsburgh, N.Y. at Claremont's first ever Rural Pride Event at the Claremont Visitor Green Center on Saturday, June 16, 2018. Ford conceived the idea of a pride event in the area, and contacted TLC Family Resource Center to make the idea a reality. (Valley News - August Frank) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News file photo

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 6/12/2021 9:47:55 PM
Modified: 6/12/2021 9:47:55 PM

Next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., two Progress Pride Flags will be raised simultaneously at the municipal building in Windsor and Broad Street Park in Claremont.

The ceremonies are two of many events — both virtual and in-person — that are part of this year’s Rural Pride week, which begins with Wednesday’s flag raisings and concludes with a Saturday picnic in Claremont.

This is the second year organizers from Claremont and Windsor will join together for LGBTQIA+ Pride, to support and celebrate people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and allies.

An in-person celebration had been planned for last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic caused organizers to switch to all-virtual events. While it was disappointing that people could not gather in person like in years past, Rural Pride drew a wider and new audience last year, said Matt Mooshian, chair of Rural Outright, which is based at the TLC Family Resource Center in Claremont. Mooshian is organizing the event alongside Amanda Smith, of Windsor.

People who might have struggled to find transportation to in-person celebrations could still participate, for example.

“Even though Zoom can be a pain and we’re over it, it makes things more accessible,” he said. “There are people who messaged us and said, ‘I’m not even out yet but because the events are virtual this year I can (go) on my phone in my room and join it.’ ”

Virtual events for this year include an open mic night, a game night and a “Know Your Rights” panel discussion led by members of the ACLU-NH & the Vermont Lawyers Guild. The Windsor Public Library is hosting an in-person story time featuring the book When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff. The schedule of events and more information can be found at tlcfamilyrc.org/rural-pride-2021.html. They are also posted on the Facebook events page “Rural PRIDE 2021.”

“It’s always been more than just coming together to celebrate, but also to provide community networking and resources,” Smith said. “(It’s) also to elevate the voices of marginalized communities and galvanize people into action to help support legislation that supports human rights and dignity.”

That is the theme of the Pride Roots Rally which is co-hosted by Black Lives Matter-Windsor, VT and takes place from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at The Windsor Exchange, 30 Depot Road.

“That’s our way of connecting with the roots of pride again and kind of renewing our efforts but also coming together to celebrate and learn about the origins and originators of pride,” Mooshian said.

Pride was started after the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 in New York City in response to a police raid of a bar frequented by people who identified as LGBTQ. Pride events continued to take place in June year after year. Activists worked to raise awareness during the AIDS epidemic and pressure lawmakers to address the health crisis that killed many people in the 1980s through the early 1990s.

“And now even today, this past year, there’s been an onslaught of really harmful legislation that’s been presented that especially targets trans people and specifically trans youth and especially young trans girls,” Mooshian said. “It’s about celebrating, but it’s also about our collective power as queer people.”

The rally will also be an opportunity to acknowledge people whose activism has been overlooked by the history books.

“I felt it was incredibly important to remember the origin and originators of Pride,” said Smith, who is a member of the Windsor Selectboard. “Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter and without black trans activism against white supremacy and police brutality around the country, we would not have an LGBTQIA+ Pride Month to celebrate this June.

“As we’re celebrating this month it’s important that we commit to learning about the common origins of the civil rights movement and the LGBTQIA+ rights movement in the United States.”

The Pride Roots Rally will be followed by The Pride Picnic, which takes place from 3 to 6 p.m. at Claremont’s Visitors Center Green at 14 North St. While the picnic will include vendors, music and lawn games, it’s mostly intended as a chance to be together.

“It’s really just going to be us holding space for members of the community to come out and reconnect after being apart this past year and it’s kind of like another coming out of sorts as people have been all in their own parts of the state and everyone’s been home,” Mooshian said.

Another aspect of this year’s event focuses on health care access and equity. From June 16 through June 30, people can participate in the 5K Race to Health Equity, which is being co-hosted by Windsor Food Shelf, Black Lives Matter Windsor VT and the Windsor Recreation Department. While there is a designated route people can take on their own in Windsor, they can also participate wherever they choose. To sign up or learn more, visit sites.google.com/view/2021-windsor-5k.

There will also be a virtual panel discussion titled “How Will We Heal Our Communities: Health Outcomes and Disparities in the Upper Valley and Beyond” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Rural Pride took place for the first time in Claremont in 2018, and Windsor held its first celebration in 2019. (Rutland is hosting its first Pride this year, and White River Junction, which held its first “Queer Caravan” car parade last July, is planning a Pride celebration for July 24.) Plans are already in the works for next year’s event, including a parade.

“We are already thinking about Pride 2022 and we are super-excited and we hope to come back next year and be bigger and better than ever,” Mooshian said.

Liz Sauchelli can be reached at esauchelli@vnews.com or 603-727-3221.




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