West High School Pride Day: A celebration of inclusion

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Manchester West High School vice principals Laura Lord and Mary Ann Wood got into the spirit of the PRIDE celebration Friday at the school, donning rainbow-colored tutus. Photo/Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH – Loud festive music, colors of the rainbow and drag queens were all part of West High School’s Pride Day celebration Friday afternoon in the school’s courtyard.

More than 100 people turned out for the event honoring the school’s LGBTQ community, the first PRIDE celebration in more than two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlighting the event were performances by drag queens.

Chi Chi Marvel, a 2012 graduate of Manchester West High School, explained that men dressing as women began in Shakespearean times – dating back to the 1500s and 1600s.

Women were barred from appearing on stage resulting in men playing the women’s roles and thus, drag queens were born.

The performers danced and lip-synched to rousing tunes and then collected fake dollar bills from appreciative spectators.  They then promptly tossed the bills into the air. 

Grayson Iannuzo, 17, and Aurora Tassi, 18, both seniors, helped art teacher Richella Simard in staging the event.

Iannuzo said he was shocked at the turnout which included members of the LGBTQ community and its “straight allies.”

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West High School grads Chi Chi Marvel and Glamme Chowdah entertained a crowd of more than 100 at a West High School celebration of its LGBTQ community. Photo/Pat Grossmith

“The school has been genuinely great about equality,” he said.

Both students have attended West since they were freshmen.  They said as freshmen, they found it to be less inclusive, but Iannuzo said that was probably because people were not “out” as much.

As the years went by, however, they said more and more students came out.

The administration and teachers, they said, go out of their way to make everything inclusive.  What was especially helpful, Tassi said, was that two of their teachers were “lesbians, which was great.”

“A lot of teachers we’ve dealt with have genuinely connected with the students and gone out of their way to make sure everyone is safe,” said Iannuzo.  They said they know of no incident at the school in which a LBGTQ student was victimized.

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Aurora Tassi, left, and Grayson Iannuzzo , both seniors, helped put together a celebration of the LGBTQ community at West High School. Photo/Pat Grossmith


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Pat Grossmith

Pat Grossmith is a freelance reporter.