On Sunday afternoon, a vibrant crowd of about 250 people of all ages gathered behind Hopkinton High School for the town’s second LGBTQIA+ Pride Parade.
The Hopkinton Freedom Team, the Hopkinton Youth Commission and Hopkinton Youth & Family Services hosted the event. Freya Proudman, a 2018 HHS graduate pursuing her master’s degree in London, served as the primary organizer.
“I could never have imagined something like this when I was in high school in Hopkinton,” said Proudman, who identifies as queer. “It means a lot to me to be able to provide for kids that are in those schools now [the knowledge] that there is a community here that you can be part of and that there’s a community here that supports you.”
Added Proudman: “I think it’s really important for young queer people to see queer adults living their open authentic selves.”
Residents from Hopkinton and surrounding towns joined Hopkinton Select Board members and representatives from 26 local organizations. The group, led by a black Ford Mustang convertible, walked around Loop Road and then convened for a celebration on a field behind the school.
Among the attendees were School Committee members, who also walked last year.
“I think it is really important that there is visibility of the School Committee being supportive and inclusive to all of our students, and in particular LGBTQIA kids, so they know that we are here,” said Chair Nancy Cavanaugh. “In everything that we do, it is important to make sure that everybody feels included and that everybody is represented.”
Newly elected School Committee Member Holly Morand said she hopes that “every student knows that they can come to us and say something.”
The celebration began with Proudman thanking the organizations that made the event possible, including the Hopkinton Public Schools, the Police Department and the Fire Department. Proudman also took time to recognize the Juneteenth holiday.
“Intersectionality is key to equality,” she said.
HHS student Salem Bradley, one of the presidents of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, acknowledged those who are closeted and not able to express pride for themselves.
“Even if you’re here as an ally or if you are part of the LGBT community, your face being at a pride event is so important for closeted kids and people who can’t have that experience,” said Bradley.
Town Manager Norman Khumalo discussed how returning to a pre-pandemic normal should not mean sacrificing social and civil strides. He also spoke about how Juneteenth and the pride movement are setting a foundation for more justice.
“Juneteenth and the pride movement provide the playbook about matters of struggle, social justice, freedom and new forms of solidarity,” said Khumalo. “They articulate a sense of commitment, demonstrate ways and give meaning to civic courage, compassion, willingness to listen to others and to being a moral compass for the common good.”
The event’s keynote speaker, Al Green, works at the Hadwen Park Congregational Church United Church of Christ in Worcester as the ministry director for the LGBT asylum task force. Green spoke about the progress that already has been achieved and the collective effort it takes for more to occur.
“The struggle of the LGBTQ community is like a relay,” said Green. “Previous generations took the baton and fought to get us to this point where we have equal marriage, and some of us enjoy relative safety.”
Added Green: “Take a look around at the people who are here with you. You have a community alongside you, and you have a movement behind you, so go out there and walk boldly in your authentic selves.”
The event ended with a performance by the Dance on Dance Center, based in Hudson. The group, wearing pride flags, danced to the song “Unruly Heart” from the musical “The Prom.”
The song appropriately ends with the line, “Nobody out there ever gets to define the life I’m meant to lead with this unruly heart of mine.”
How wonderful to see our community celebrate diversity and embrace the rights of all people to be their authentic selves! Love is Love!