Springfield’s first Pride Parade celebrated community, acceptance

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Watching the crowd gathered in Court Square for the Springfield, Massachusetts, inaugural Pride Parade, Angela D. Mack knew she was part of something special.

“It’s monumental,” said Mack, who served as grand marshal for the parade held in downtown Springfield on Saturday.

Organizers said they pitched the idea to the city two years ago, but because of the pandemic, it took that long to come to fruition.

Several Pride parades in other cities did not take place this year. Northampton’s parade – historically one of the largest in the state – has been cancelled. Organizers said they need to rebuild their squad and regroup for next year. The Boston Pride Parade was not scheduled for this year after the organizing group disbanded.

Andres Villada, who works for Holyoke Public Schools, stepped out of the Feeding Hills section of Agawam to celebrate in Springfield.

“Not being proud of Northampton or anywhere else, I think it was very important for us to come out and show that many of us in the LGBTQ community would want a space to celebrate,” he said. declared. that Springfield is one of the only places I’ve come here to celebrate my gayness and support our community.

Taurean Bethea, Springfield Pride parade organizer, said parade organizers were motivated by the hardships faced by many members of the LGBTQ+ community during COVID-19.

For many in the crowd, it was their first Pride parade – including many teenagers.

Aubri Drake said they were thrilled to see young adults proudly waving their pride, trans and non-binary flags. Drake, who identifies as non-binary transgender, was marching with colleagues from Baystate Health.

“It’s meaningful to show them an example of what it can be like to be an adult and to be an adult and go through what they’re going through right now and actually have a complex, happy life that doesn’t is not necessarily focused solely on their gender,” they said.

Drake does ultrarunning, which is a longer race than the traditional marathon, and long-distance hiking. They want other trans and non-binary people to know that these activities aren’t just for cisgender and straight people.

“On the 100 miles I just did two weeks ago, there were at least four other queer or trans people running that I knew in the group and some more than others. But it’s different not to be the one,” he said.

Drake’s friend Toby Davis said he remembered going to the Northampton Pride Parade when he was in high school in the 1990s.

“At the time, there were Springfield youth groups that we connect with, but they didn’t have a city-wide event or anything. So it’s pretty exciting to me to just watch the expansion of homosexuality in the valley,” he said.

Mack, a Springfield native, took the time to put together an outfit that would be “fit for the grand marshal.”

Sporting a red and white striped hat inspired by Dr. Seuss “The Cat in the Hat”, large rainbow-colored butterfly wings and wedge heels, Mack said the parade was a day of celebration and of acceptance.

“To see more importantly, young people come out in color and can express themselves in a way that when I was young I didn’t dream was possible,” she said. “It is a very important day. We are writing history.”

Organizers said they plan to hold the parade again next year.

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