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Taking New Bedford’s LGTBQ community to the next level

By Steven Froias

If ever there was a person on a mission, it would be Traci Welch. As the events director and secretary of South Coast LGBTQ Network, Welch is blazing a new trail through the city and elevating the entire community in the process. An engaged, vibrant gay citizenry speaks volumes about a place – and it’s all good for all of New Bedford in addition to its LGBTQ citizens.

After the successful re-launch of the city’s Pride festival back in June, the Network led by Welch is keeping busy with a slate of special events and new offerings during October. Here’s what’s happening:

On Wednesday, October 11, the South Coast LGBTQ Network will be holding a Diversity event at Slainte Irish Pub (34 Union Street, NB). It coincides with National Coming Out Day and proceeds from the evening will help support the next South Coast Pride day. Diversity happens from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

The very next night, on Thursday, October 12, downtown’s New Bedford Alliance of Gay and Lesbian Youth (NB-AGLY) will host an Open House during AHA! New Bedford at their youth center, 484 Pleasant Street, NB. The center helps LGBTQ youth ages 14-24 in our community – and the greater community is invited to check out what they’re all about and learn about their goals for the future on this evening.

On Friday, October 20, Traci helped facilitate a meet and greet at South Coast’s only LGBTQ bar, LePlace, for New Bedford School Committee candidate Colleen Dawicki. (The time wasn’t available as we went to post, but follow Dawicki on her campaign’s Facebook page and look for further information there.) LePlace is located at 20 Kenyon Street, behind the popular Endzone eatery a couple of blocks south of Coggeshall Street.

And, on Saturday, October 21, NB-AGLY will hold a Halloween dance at the First Unitarian Church (71 8th Street, NB) from 7:00-10:00 p.m.

Importantly, between these special events, NB-AGLY is now hosting a Pride Cafe for 18+ every Monday evening from 7:00-9:00 p.m. They call it a Perfect Place where younger members of the LGBTQ community can find social support, advice and acceptance.

Finally, Welch recently was a guest on New England Pride TV, discussing all the efforts above and the LGBTQ community’s role in New Bedford. (It should be posted soon; follow New England Pride TV on Facebook for details.)

Back in May, I wrote “New Bedford gets its Pride back,” a post about the return of the city’s Pride Festival, held in Buttonwood Park. As noted above, it’s back to stay and the 2018 edition is already on the calendar for Saturday, June 2, 2018. I wrote back then, “While the city has generally always been a relatively accepting place, it hasn’t exactly been at the forefront of sexual politics.”

Already, that’s changing for the better and it’s in no small part due to the hard of work of Traci Welch and a profound shift in attitude throughout the city – mirroring it’s resurgence from urban also-ran to New Bedford Renewal.

Celebrating diversity, looking after vulnerable youth and entering the political dialogue moves not only the LGBTQ community boldly into the future but the entire City of New Bedford.

That’s something to find Pride in.


Open House on Wednesday, Oct. 25; click image for details.

Steven Froias