This past June 2011 Out Now was a part of the Springfield Pride Organizing Committee, which worked to bring Pride back into our city. It had been 8 long years since the last Pride event in Springfield. We held a series of 4 events over the course of one week to celebrate the diversity and beauty of our community.
We organized the following 4 Pride events:
• A film showing of, “Out In The Silence,” featuring a discussion with its filmmaker, Joe Wilson. Out In The Silence shows Wilson being drawn back to his small Pennsylvania hometown to share the story of a teenager tormented at school because he is gay, and the struggle the teen’s mother goes through to get school authorities to do something about it. In the film, Wilson also strikes up an unexpected friendship with a conservative evangelical pastor and his wife, and follows the trials and tribulations of a local lesbian couple who can catalyze the rust-belt town’s economic revitalization if they find community acceptance. Intertwined with these heartfelt stories is Wilson’s exploration of the role that a local ‘family values’ group plays in stoking anti-gay bigotry in the town. At once wrenching, entertaining, and inspiring, the film ultimately shows the individual and community transformations that are possible when people on all sides of these challenging issues speak out and take the time to get to know one another.
• A flag raising event at the Springfield City Hall, where the Mayor and City Councilor President read proclamations from the city in support of Pride Month activities. Other community leaders and organization representatives spoke as well, and then a very large rainbow flag was raised up, and flown in front of the City Hall.
• A Town Hall speak out was next, where a staff from Oiste, MassEquality, an‘out’ lesbian minister, and 2 Out Now youth among others spoke of the state of our LGBT community.
• The final event was a 2-part party/celebration, the first open to all, but focused on youth, which was held at Out Now’s new office headquarters. The second that same evening was for the 18+ community and took place at Springfield’s LGBT club.
Overall we were quite pleased with Springfield Pride Week. We are certain the attendance could have even been better, though, since our events were scheduled only one week after the tornado hit our community quite hard. In spite of it all, we held the events, made some new contacts, offered the community a variety of experiences, and ended in a celebratory fashion.