2012 was a banner year for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities in Maine – most notably for the fact that Maine voters voted in favor of marriage equality, after the same measure was struck down by those same voters a mere three years earlier. So for the first Bangor Pride Festival after that big day last November, organizers decided to pull out all the stops for the five-day event, which is bigger and longer than any previous Bangor Pride event, held for nearly 20 years in and around downtown Bangor.
Organizer Cara Pelletier cautions, however, that their fight is far from over.
“It’s interesting; people assume that since we won the freedom to marry that the fight for equality is over,” said Pelletier. “It’s definitely not. We have a lot of work to do, from making sure it’s safe for LGBT people in rural communities, to making sure we have safe schools, to making sure we have culturally competent care for our LGBT seniors. We have a lot to celebrate, but a lot more to do as well.”
Pride this year mixes celebration with education, starting with a film screening set for 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 26 at Nocturnem Drafthaus in downtown Bangor, of the film “Gen Silent,” about the older generation of LGBT people that originally fought for equality, who are now receiving sub-standard health care and remain isolated from society, because of their sexuality. The screening is sponsored by EqualityMaine, in partnership with SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders), River City Cinema and Nocturnem.
On Thursday, the first-ever Pride Art Walk and Spoken Word Event, which is free and open to the public, is set for 6 to 9 p.m. in venues throughout downtown Bangor, including 170 Vivid, Zanji Studio, the Pigeon Studio, the Rock & Art Shop, the Charles Inn and Coespace. More than 25 visual artists, dancers, poets and other creative people will perform and show their works around town.
“The response was incredible from the art community in the Bangor area,” said Pelletier. “We have a spoken word event, we have a same-sex tango demonstration from Noh Way Tango and Tai Chi School, we have fire dancing demonstrations from Flo Nation. It’s going to be a ton of fun.”
On Friday night, EqualityMaine sponsors the first-ever Pride Dance, set for 7:30 p.m. to midnight at Jeff’s Catering in Brewer. The 21-plus DJ dance is $10, and half of the money goes to benefit the Bridge Alliance, a Bangor-area LGBT support group. Then, on Saturday morning, there’s the annual Pride Parade, sponsored by Queen City Pride and starting at 11 a.m., with floats leaving from Railroad Street and ending up at Exchange Street. The afternoon-long festival begins directly after the parade at noon in West Market Square, with a kickoff address given by Bangor mayor Nelson Durgin, performances from four local bands including When Particles Collide, Rotating Taps, The Rest The South and the West, and One Shot Nothing, and other talks and speakers interspersed. A youth LGBT mixer is set for 4 to 6 p.m. at the Union Street Brick Church, and starting at 8 p.m., a 21 plus after party is set for Tantrum nightclub on Broad Street.
The festival closes on Sunday with Pride Spirituality, set for 10 a.m. at churches throughout the Bangor area, including the Unitarian Universalist Church and Hammond Street Congregational Church in Bangor, the Hampden Congregational Church, the Church of Universal Fellowship in Orono, and at the Bangor YMCA, a morning Organic Dance is set for 10:30 to 11:45.
For information about all Bangor Pride events, visit their Facebook page.