By Jordyn Haime
Music, food and spirited advocacy will take over Lowell’s Utopia Park tomorrow for the city’s second annual Lowell Pride Celebration.
Hosted by the Greater Lowell Health Alliance (GLHA), the LGBTQ subcommittee, and volunteers, the family-friendly event from 1 to 5 p.m. at 110 Canal St., is expected to draw hundreds in support of the LGBTQ community.
“This group of people felt that Lowell is a pretty big city, and that Lowell should have our own pride event as well to show our support.” said Kerrie D’Entremont, executive director of the GLHA and member of the LGBTQ subcommittee.
Expect to find a more family-oriented focus, added D’Entremont, because last year’s event was packed with families. Kids activities will include a face-painting station and a bouncy house.
History UnErased, a non-profit based in Lowell that works to bring LGBTQ-inclusive academic content into K-12 schools around the country, also played a large role in organizing this year’s Lowell Pride. Co-founders Debra Fowler and Miriam Morgenstern were teachers at Lowell High School before they left to work at UnErased full-time.
“Lowell receives a large population of refugees from a lot of native countries that criminalize ‘quote-unquote’ homosexuality, so when we introduced this content to them … I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say it has global implications,” Fowler said.
The volunteers who assisted UnErased in promoting Lowell Pride were interns from Middlesex Community College, as well as students from UnErased’s LGBTQ Studies Institute, a leadership program that taught LGBTQ content to high school students that they then presented to their own communities and teachers.
The student volunteers began a major campaign for the month of June, in which they asked local businesses in downtown Lowell to hang a rainbow flag to show support for the LGBTQ community.
“Our goal is to really, not just have a pride event from 1 to 5 on Saturday, but engage the community in a whole pride weekend in hopes that it will lead to a greater Lowell Pride month celebration,” D’Entremont said.
The response from the community has been nothing but positive and supportive.
“I gave the youth [volunteers of UnErased] 25 flags, and by the next day, they said ‘we’re gonna need some more flags’, so I was thrilled,” D’Entremont added.
Some local businesses plan to offer special promotions to celebrate Lowell Pride, such as Life Alive, which will serve a special signature drink, and Coffee and Cotton in Mill No. 5, which will give 20 percent off to any person sporting rainbow paraphernalia on Saturday—and donate proceeds from the sale of shortbread cookies back to the GLHA.
“We have people on staff and customers who fall into the LGBT community, so it makes perfect sense to support them and show that this is a safe space for them,” said Addie Provost, general manager of Coffee and Cotton.
The youth of UnErased will be opening Saturday’s program with a talk about their involvement and experience with History UnErased, and “what they see is a future focus for the LGBTQ community, which is education and the process of K-12 education,” Fowler said.
“We’re doing whatever we can to get the youth involved in this as much as possible.”
The second annual Lowell Pride Day Celebration takes place Sat., June 24, at Utopia Park, 110 Canal St., Lowell.