MANCHESTER, N.H. – Despite being knocked from June to September due to the COVID-19 pandemic, those at Arms Park on Saturday were treated to pleasant weather at the Second Annual Queen City Pride Festival.
According to Queen City Pride co-founder Kyle Davis, approximately 1,000 people came to watch entertainment, listen to speakers, eat food and look at booths over the six-hour event, with those people frequently urged to wear masks and practice social distancing.
The event occurred with the assistance of several Black Lives Matter chapters in New Hampshire, with Queen City Pride also in turn helping the Black Lives Matter chapters with Juneteenth events earlier in the year.
Some members of the Manchester Board of Aldermen felt it was inappropriate to hold any event this year after safety concerns cancelled events earlier this year such as Fourth of July festivities. However, Davis felt that it was important enough to move the event from June to whenever the event could be safely held in Manchester given its importance to the LGBTQ+ community and its role in helping the Manchester LGBTQ+ community reach out to the city as a whole.
“We in the community knew that something had to happen, people were going out, they’re enjoying restaurants, but every Pride event in New England, Massachusetts, Maine, was cancelled this year. We wanted to postpone it and still have it,” said Davis. “To (anyone) who thought a car show was important, then we should have done it.”
For Manchester resident Natasha Tortorelli, the Arms Park location was better than last year’s event on Hanover Street due to its less compact nature, adding that she was glad the crowd acted respectfully in regard to safety guidelines.
“It’s different from last year, but I think it’s bigger. This year it’s more spread out and I think it’s safer,” she said. “Everyone’s acting cautiously like they’re supposed to.”
One of the speakers at the event was Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH), New Hampshire’s first LGBTQ+ member of Congress.
When it came to the safety of the event, Pappas felt that outdoor events such as this one and a memorial service he attended in Portsmouth earlier in the day can now be done safely given current COVID-19 statistics as long as mask wearing and proper social distancing is followed.
In regard to the LGBTQ+ movement exemplified by the event, Pappas reported that he is seeing more tolerance during his travels on the campaign trail.
“I think if you talk to younger people, it’s a non-issue. They wonder what the big deal about is in ensuring equality, marriage equality and making sure that people are equal in all aspects of their lives. I think generationally, things are changing pretty rapidly,” he said. “New Hampshire has seen a lot of changes over the last few decades and we’ve led the nation in those changes. I think people are hungry for a future that includes everyone no matter who you are or who you love, and that’s a message we can send to the rest of the country.”