North Worcester County Pride Week is back – and with more events than ever.
For the first time since its debut in 2019, Pride Week will not be held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, it will take place in person July 13-17, primarily in Fitchburg, but also in communities across the region, from Gardner to Lunenburg.
Founded in 2019, on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall protests in New York City, NoWoCo Pride’s mission is to “recognize, promote and unify the LGBTQIA+ community, allies and supporters of North Worcester County”.
The community in NoWoCo Pride’s mission statement includes people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer (who have non-binary or gender fluid identities), intersex (who, according to the Human Rights Campaign, “were born with a variety of differences in their sexual traits and reproductive anatomy”) and asexual (who feel a lack of sexual attraction to others or have a lack of interest in sexual activity).
“NoWoCo Pride produces events and activities to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect and awareness in North Worcester County and beyond,” the mission statement continues. “By promoting diversity, unity, visibility, equity and dignity, we educate, communicate and advocate by creating and strengthening community bonds.
Anthony Bovenzi, who helped form NoWoCo Pride three years ago, told the Worcester Telegram and Gazette there was “a need and desire for Pride in the area” – an area that was inadvertently left out of major Pride celebrations in Worcester, Boston and Springfield.
After:North Worcester County Pride is hosting an in-person event July 13-17 for those in North Worcester County
Bovenzi said the first Pride Week in 2019 was a clear rebuke to people who think the United States has outgrown the need for Pride celebrations and that LGBTQIA+ Americans no longer face serious discrimination.
This year’s Pride Week begins Wednesday, July 13 with the raising of the multicolored Pride Flag at Monument Square in Leominster at 10:30 a.m., at Riverfront Park in Fitchburg at 1 p.m. and in downtown Lunenburg at 3 p.m. . Gardner City Hall will be lit up in rainbow colors at 7 p.m.
Minorities “are very isolated and the community does not feel heard or seen,” Bovenzi told the Telegram and gazette. “With us raising the flags (in the city centers), we’re bringing this community out and feeling safe.”
The first new event for 2022 is Paws Up for Pride, from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, July 14 at Coolidge Park in Fitchburg. The festival will include a dog parade, with the best dressed dog winning a prize sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
Friday, July 15 will feature two events: Drag Queen Storytime with Nikita Le Femme at 3 p.m. at Strong Style Coffee in Fitchburg and a Pride Reception from 6 p.m. of works, a signature cocktail open bar sponsored by Tito’s Handmade Vodka and the MB Lounge, and special musical performances. Tickets for the Pride reception, which cost between $10 and $20, are available online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/310914984087.
On Saturday, July 16, Pride Fest 2022 will be held from noon to 7 p.m. at Riverfront Park in Fitchburg. There will be vendors, food trucks and entertainment from Drag Legend of Boston Mizery, Mama Killsmith, Snow Day, Merrick Brandon Henry, QWAM, Ella Rose Demars, Porscha R Maxx, Freddie Xowie, Coco Valentine, Electra Qute, Tee Sparks , Chase Endreamz, Loo D’Flyest Priestly, Leo Crayz and more.
The final day of Pride Week, Sunday, July 17, will feature two new events. At 1 p.m., the High Heel Dash, featuring men rushing in high heels to raise money for the NoWoCo Pride Community Fund, at 168 Boulder Drive (next to Putnam Place) in Fitchburg. To register online, go to https://bit.ly/3OXwc4o.
Then the Higher Love Tea Dance wraps up the week from 3-6 p.m. at the River Styx Brewing in Fitchburg. A suggested donation of $5 at the door will benefit the new NoWoCo Pride Community Fund. Donations to the fund can be made online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/327059121637.
More information about NoWoCo Pride 2022 can be found on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/NoWoCoPrideOfficial, or on its website, www.nowocopride.org.