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Pride at 39

One year shy of middle age, Boston Pride Week has the times on its side
By CAITLIN E. CURRAN  |  June 1, 2009

Between Us Bois

Not to downplay this year's Pride Week or anything, but the annual weeklong mélange of events geared toward New England's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is just one year shy of its 40th anniversary. Which makes it sort of like the night before Christmas, or the last regular-season game before the playoffs.

That's not to say that this year will be more toned down than past years, or lacking new and exciting events. On the contrary, there's a smattering of shiny new happenings, like rainbow-confetti icing on a cake of old favorites (the parade and two massive block parties, to name a few), and a theme meant to expand Pride Week 2009's focus: "Trans-forming Our Community."

This year's theme — which was submitted and voted on by an online community at the Boston Pride Committee's Web site — is, according to the site, a platform for "supporting and advocating for our transgender families, friends, and colleagues." (And it's a timely one, given recent news).

"It's long overdue," says Keri Aulita, vice-president of the Pride Week board of directors. Aulita says that Pride Week is meant to be about socializing and celebrating the LGBT community with parties, music, and other cultural events, but it's also a vehicle for promoting awareness. "We've always been committed to trying to get people to think. We want people to come out and really think about what it's like to be out, and how lucky we are to live in a place like Massachusetts."

The level of positivity at Pride Week may be up this year as well, due to the recent domino-effect-like passage of laws legalizing same-sex marriage in Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, and Maine, with New Hampshire and New York at work on following as of this writing. "We've reached out to those states, and they've sent us their state flags" to use during the parade, Aulita says. "We'll have a banner thanking those states."

Pride Week kicks off at noon on June 5 with a flag raising at City Hall Plaza (though unofficial events, such as Youth Pride and the Boston LGBT Film Festival, have been ongoing since early May). Below is a list a few other notable happenings.

Pride Day
In 1988, a group of guys and gals who call themselves Gays for Patsy brought their country/western-dance fever to the Pride Week parade. Since then, the group has become a Patsy Cline–adoring powerhouse, offering workshops, lessons, and a 15-member performance troupe. They'll cap off the celebration on Saturday, June 6, the annual day-long Pride Day, which runs from 10 am to 5 pm at Faneuil Hall. This outdoor party — which will be happening in and around Quincy Market (rain or shine, apparently, so pack an umbrella just in case) — will also feature live DJ sets by Harry Fullerton, kicked-up Latin dance performances by Salsa Y Control, and "size-positive" ones by the ladies of Big Moves, plus a show by the Salem-based drag king troupe Between Us Bois.

Unity at Sea Boat Cruise
Boat parties have their drawbacks: potential seasickness, total lack of an escape (unless you're an Olympic-grade swimmer) should an ex-lover show up, high probability that you'll get a sunburn confined non-adorably to your nose, forehead, and shoulders. Still, SNL's Lonely Island dudes might have a point when they say — quite eloquently — "Fuck land. I'm on a boat, motherfucker." In that spirit, Kristen Porter's Dyke Night Productions — in collaboration with a plethora of other Boston-based event groups — will host a Unity at Sea sunset boat cruise on Sunday, June 7, from 3:30 to 7 pm. The 100-foot boat will feature two full bars and a dance floor, with boat-dancin' tunes provided by DJ Kristin Korpos (who also spins Pride Week's Jamaica Plain block party each year). "Pride is one of the funnest weeks to DJ," says Korpos. "Everyone's just so into celebrating. It's like Christmas or Hanukkah — everyone's just so happy. To be gay."

King and Queen of Boston Pride Pageant
"It's like senior prom, when you pick the queen or king," says Wilfred Labiosa, who organized this year's first-ever King and Queen of Boston Pride Pageant, which will take place Thursday, June 11, at the Estate (One Boylston Place, Boston). Make that senior-prom-meets–Miss America (talent and eveningwear portions included), with a huge helping of Pride Week–style open-mindedness, diversity, and role-reversing — there's a swimwear category for the men, for example, but not for the ladies. "The theme [of Pride Week] is transforming our community, so we wanted to develop an event in accordance with theme," says Labiosa, co-founder of Somos Latin@s LGBT Coalition of Massachusetts and Latino Pride Week, who has been organizing pageants since 1997, when he created one to promote HIV awareness. The contestants in this year's pageant, he says, "can be male or female, transgender or not, they can be gay or lesbian" — the "king" and "queen" titles will be used loosely. Winners will ride past their adoring fans during the Pride Week parade (June 13, beginning at noon).

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Related: I'm coming out!, Trans fact, Review: The L Word, More more >
  Topics: Lifestyle Features , bisexual, Boston Pride Committee, gay,  More more >
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