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Concord’s first-ever Pride festival slated for Saturday

By Christine M. Quirk —

Concord, the town where the first shot of the American Revolution was fired, is introducing another first on Saturday: its inaugural Pride festival.

“I’m happy it’s finally happening, but shocked it took this long,” said James St. Vincent, a Pride Committee member who works at the Robbins House. “Why did Concord wait until it was a huge political statement?” 

The federal government first recognized June as “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999. Since then, Pride has expanded to include anyone who identifies as non-straight. 

“Being Concord, it’s historical,” said Andrea Foncerrada, co-chair of Concord’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee.

“There was research — so it’s not just the Pride celebration, which would be enough, but we also want to visualize the history of LGBTQ in Concord. … Some stories don’t get told, and we’re trying to tell everyone’s story.”

First in the nation

Though this is Concord’s first formal Pride event, in 1988, Concord Academy became the nation’s first high school with a gay-straight alliance. 

Pride Committee member Robert Munro is the academy’s assistant head for Academic Program and Equity. He says his work at the academy ties into Pridefest’s mission: If this has been done at the school for decades, he said, there’s no reason it can’t be done in the town itself. 

“My action item was, ‘Let’s amplify queer voices in town and try to develop a series of events that the town will promote,’” he said. 

A Concord Pride t-shirt on display at the Visitors Center. Courtesy photo

The festival will begin with a flag raising in Monument Square at 10:30 a.m., followed by a rally and march beginning at First Parish and activities at the library, TriCon Church, Hunt Recreation Center, and Umbrella Arts Center. A Pride Train will leave Concord Station at 3:15 p.m., and there will be crafts at the Fowler Library at 3:30 p.m. Festivities at Rideout Park run from 4 to 7 p.m. 

Rev. Amy Freedman of First Parish said she wants it to be “obvious” that Concord is a place where queer young people have support. 

“I feel youth understand the spectrum of gender, and they love who they love, and yet the laws are in a very tenuous place,” she said.

Inclusivity matters

West Concord resident Leanne Bateman grew up in a small town in Maine. She knew she was gay since middle school but didn’t tell anyone. 

“I went to college in New York because I wanted to be accepted, and that’s what I find in Concord,” she said. “As a gay person and as a progressive, it was the feeling of this town that attracted me from my first visit in 2005.”  

Committee members said with the current climate, it’s important to cultivate that inclusivity. “It’s more than important,” St. Vincent said. “We have a duty. People don’t feel safe in the face of potential rollbacks.” 

Bateman agreed. 

“It matters to me when I see a pride flag hanging on a flagpole,” she said. “Everyone loves someone who’s gay, whether or not they know it. This is about community, acceptance, and freedom.”