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A Pride month to be proud of in New Bedford

Two years ago for the Groundwork blog, in 2017, I wrote a post entitled, “New Bedford gets its Pride back.”

It was about the tremendous effort by the South Coast LGBTQ Network, an umbrella organization of non-profit groups led by Traci Welch, to hold a public Pride event in the city again after an absence of a couple of years.

What a difference a couple of years have made since 2017. Because in 2019, New Bedford is leading the way in the entire region not only with another public Pride celebration on Saturday, June 1, but also other special events recognizing the contribution of LGBTQ residents to its civic life.

A photo shoot to publicize AHA! Pride in Custom House Square Park

Foremost among those other special events is AHA! New Bedford’s first ever Pride-themed evening, on Thursday, July 13. It will effectively be a whole other Pride celebration in the city, with a block party downtown and a whole lot more.

I’m also proud to report that this coworking facility, Groundwork, is one of the sponsors of Pride this year. It has indeed all come full circle.

Back in 2017, I wrote the following: While New Bedford is certainly home to a wonderful LGBT community, it hasn’t been a particularly visible or vibrant one – but that may finally be beginning to change for the better and to the city’s benefit.”

We are certainly seeing that come to fruition in 2019.

When I wrote “…for the better and to the city’s benefit,” the meaning may not have been apparent. This June Pride month, it will be.

Because beyond acknowledging the meaning and value of New Bedford’s LGBTQ residents, a robust Pride celebration is yet another opportunity to build stronger bonds of community and deeper attachments between all who share this public space and special place.

That impulse and social dynamic is what makes a city – any city – truly great in practice.

I don’t believe it is an accident that we see this and more happening in New Bedford at this particular time. Through thick and thin, it’s often been said that the city’s hard-working, authentic people have always been its best asset – a cliche that happens to be true.

So, during a national moment in time that’s largely defined by division, you see all of New Bedford coming together to lift each other – and itself – up to new heights.

You saw it in 2017 after the national disgrace that was Charlottesville. In this city, 3rd EyE Open brought a diverse community together instead when it, too returned after a hiatus.

In 2018, we witnessed the birth of a new festival celebrating the heritage of New Bedford’s Guatemalan population. The success of Festival Tipico de Guatemala de New Bedford was a rebuke to the toxic language surrounding immigration nationally.

For the past few years and again in January 2019, the Women’s March took to the streets to counter the existential threat women’s rights face in many regions throughout the United States.

Now, June Pride month is about to be celebrated in this city as it never has before.

The sum of all these parts create a stronger whole – and together say something about New Bedford now that can no longer be ignored:

It’s functioning as one of America’s great cities should. And that’s a real moment of Pride for all of us.


FRIDAY, MAY 31 – A Stonewall 50th Anniversary special event takes place at the New Bedford Harbor Hotel, 222 Union Street, beginning at 6:00 p.m. David Velasco Bermudez is a veteran of the Stonewall riot which sparked the modern gay rights movement and he will be on hand to share his experience. Tickets are $25; appetizers cash bar available.

FRIDAY, MAY 31 – PRE-PRIDE Party at Incognito at 1606 Acushnet Avenue. 21+

SATURDAY, JUNE 1 – PRIDE IN THE PARK: New Bedford’s Pride celebration returns to Buttonwood Park for the third, um, straight (!) year. Once again, Jeff Costa begins the day with Pride Yoga at 9:30 a.m. From then through 4:00 p.m., expect music, vendors, children’s activities and more music – with premier drag performances.

SATURDAY, JUNE 1 – AFTER-PRIDE Party at LePLace, New Bedford’s north end LGBTQ bar at 20 Kenyon Street, from 4:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. Sunday morning. 21+

THURSDAY, JUNE 13 – AHA! PRIDE – As always, a full line-up of AHA! activities can be found on their website here.

Highlights of AHA! Pride include…

AHA! Pride Block Party with Emcee Captain Gayhab in Custom House Park featuring:

– Stonewall Story with Stonewall Vet David Velasco Bermudez

– Drag Royalty Power Hour

– 3rd EyE Performers including Chan with the Plan, J. Johnson and TradeMark Dance Crew

– New Moon Dance Party

Steven Froias