‘With rain comes rainbows’: Pridefest a celebration of diversity, acceptance, and inclusion

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Rainbows were the theme of the day – including the entrance to Pridefest, which drew a record crowd despite the weather. Photo/Winter Trabex

MANCHESTER, NH – “With the rain comes rainbows.”

This saying was repeated in Veterans Park Saturday as organizers and community members congregated in what proved to be Manchester’s largest Pridefest to date. Dozens of stalls were set up at various points in the park while a DJ performed on stage.

Rainbow umbrellas were in evidence everywhere as rain continued coming down. Despite this, attendees were not deterred from participating in the event, even while traffic congested on Elm Street due to various graduation ceremonies close by at the SNHU Arena. Many pride-goers walked across town, some without umbrellas, letting themselves get soaked just to enjoy the event.

Among the attendees were Keith Marcoux Sr. and Jr. from Keke’s Dream LGBT+, a store formerly in the Mall of New Hampshire now looking for a new location; socialist groups of various kinds; local news organizations; non-profit organizations such as the YWCA, as well as Queerlective, which is focused on supporting the creative community.

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Father and son Keith Marcoux Sr. left, and Jr. from Keke’s Dream LGBT+. Photo/Winter Trabex

Also among the attendees were the Grace Episcopal Church and the First Congregational Church, both of whom presented themselves as open and accepting. They both wished to welcome all members of the community regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.

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All smiles from the “Dunk a Drag Queen” tank.

“We believe very strongly in inclusion for everyone,” Justin May of the First Congregational Church said. “We try to always make sure that our messaging is of love and inclusion no matter who you are, where you come from, your socio-economic situation, what path of life you may be on – we want to be welcoming and we want to help everyone on that path. We participate in pride because it’s important for the LGTBQ+ community to know that there is always a safe space for them where they are not only welcome and accepted but wanted.”


His sentiments were echoed by Rev. Dr. Marjorie Gerbracht of Grace Episcopal Church.

“Our church has been in Manchester for over 180 years. We’re the church with the red doors. I’m just so proud of all my people because my people are the energy of this community – just like here in this park –  you can feel the pulse and energy of Manchester,” Gerbracht said. “I think right now in our nation’s history, it’s a really important time for us to not be so divided by politics or pressures of society but just to remember that we’re all under one rainbow umbrella of love.”

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Rev. Dr. Majorie Gerbracht and fellow member of Grace Episcopal.

Part of Queerlective’s mission has been to highlight artists in the community who may otherwise have gone overlooked, like ustin Frederickson, who made a sprawling full-sized painting depicting all manner of people gathered before the state capitol building at the top of which flew an American flag and a transgender flag.

“It’s my love letter to New Hampshire,” Frederickson said. “I wanted to really show that even though sometimes it feels invisible, there’s a lot of us present here and that it doesn’t always have to be the same five big-name artists we all keep hearing about. We can also highlight the people around us who are doing really important work. I just love seeing people smile and enjoy themselves.”

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Artist Austin Frederickson and his “love letter to New Hampshire.” Photo/Winter Trabex

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Affirmation wall at Pridefest 2023. Photo/Winter Trabex

Queerlective founder and director Randall Neilsen believes a collaborative approach is the best way to reach inclusion.

“Our work is focused on uplifting queer, BIPOC, and other under-served parts of the community,” said Nielsen. “Today we are at the Queer Art Extravaganza at Manchester Pride, which we organized in collaboration with Manchester True Collaborative. It’s a really fantastic celebration of queer art. We have over thirty artists participating. We have a number of artists that we hired to do some interactive art activities for us. My goal with pride is to celebrate the queer community, their diversity, and the contributions they make to society. Everything that is here is just really beautiful and a love celebration of how sometimes just being on the outskirts of a community, you can find strength in connecting with others and embracing your diversity.”


 

About this Author

Winter Trabex

Winter Trabex is a freelance writer from Manchester and regular contributor to Community Voices.