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What a difference a year makes…

File photo from the 2017 South Coast Pride – which returns to Buttonwood Park this Sat. June 2, 2018.

Last year at this time, I wrote a blog post entitled, “New Bedford gets its PRIDE back.” It was about the return of the city’s LGBTQ Pride Festival after taking a few years hiatus.

I wrote then, “While New Bedford is certainly home to a wonderful LGBTQ 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.”

On the eve of tomorrow’s LGTBQ Pride Festival – Saturday, June 2, once again in Buttonwood Park – it’s fair to say those words no longer apply.

For, in the past year, the LGBTQ community has indeed been visible and is achieving a level of vibrancy it’s probably never enjoyed in New Bedford before.

During the past year, the organization South Coast LGBTQ Network has led the way under the amazing leadership of Traci Welch.

It launched a weekly Facebook Live show via New Bedford Guide that provides a great forum for discussion of issues pertaining to or affecting the gay community.

The group NB AGLY, which offers support to at-risk LGTBQ youth, launched a weekly Pride Cafe at its downtown headquarters, which supporters got to visit during an AHA! New Bedford open house evening.

And numerous other events have succeeded in creating an ongoing platform for the LGBTQ community – which includes just plain fun events, too. Like the monthly Drag Brunches at Incognito Bar & Grill on Acushnet Avenue. And, more happenings at LePlace, New Bedford’s LGBTQ bar in the Hicks-Logan gateway neighborhood.

That’s not only a good thing for the gay community, but for the city. It underscores the fact that New Bedford is a fully-functional city that embraces, values and empowers the diversity within it.

A Pride Festival showcases that – and Groundwork! is proud to be one of the sponsors of this year’s festival.

South Coast Pride begins at 9:30 a.m. in Buttonwood Park and continues until 4:00 p.m. On the day’s list of activities is Yoga in the Park with Jeff Costa – right at 9:30 – followed by a wellness walk and then entertainment (like Sister Funk), vendors, family friendly activities, food and more.

A pre-Pride party happens Friday night at Incognito (1606 Acushnet Avenue) and an after-Pride party happens at LePlace (20 Kenyon Street), both 21+

There’s certainly more to be done to ensure equality for everyone, regardless of sexual preference or gender, in New Bedford and society.

But on Saturday, we can all take pride in the knowledge that the city has come a long way recently in a short amount of time – mirroring the positive direction New Bedford is going in generally.

That’s no coincidence – it’s the rainbow after the rain.

Steven Froias