By Keith Spencer
SALEM – Local officials, community groups, and a crowd that exceeded 100 supporters gathered for vibrant Pride Flag Raising Ceremony held at Salem’s Riley Plaza in the hot hours of Friday evening. The event officially kicked off Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month in the community.
“I’m really pleased at how far Salem has come,” noted Mayor Kimberley Driscoll. “To be such an inclusive community, to be a place everyone can call home, and really feel safe about it. I do know we’re a community that stands up. and we have a Congressman who stands up.”
Driscoll would go on to introduce Congressman John Tierney, the Salem Democrat who represents the Massachusetts Sixth District including his hometown.
“This country is moving glacially, but moving still towards equal rights. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is ahead of the rest of the country. The sixth district is ahead of most people in Massachusetts, and Salem is in the lead,” said Congressman Tierney pointing at the soon to be raised flags.
“The sixth district is ahead of most people in Massachusetts, and Salem is in the lead.” – Congressman John Tierney
Mayor Driscoll would go on to echo those remarks. “Despite what we see happening here, I know we still have a lot to do not only in Salem, but also around the country,” echoed Mayor Driscoll.
Both Driscoll and Tierney are Salem State University alumni which was a college at the time of their respective graduations as noted by the Mayor who would introduce the University’s President.
“Is there a better city to have a university,” asked President Patricia Meservey. “I love looking out at this group today and see so many members of my faculty and students participating and the wonderful alum. We’re proud to be a part of this community and to be participating with you.”
Click here to view a photo gallery of this event!
Driscoll would go on to offer a proclamation at the ceremony for organizer Gary “Gigi” Gill, hailing her for continued efforts on behalf of the LGBT community of the NoBo region. Gigi not only provided the flags for the City of Salem in 2012 & 2013, but has also spread her influence to Danvers, Beverly, & Gloucester.
Following the flag raising, Gigi introduced singer songwriter Karen Grenier who performed her original LGBT track It Gets Better.
“Singing songs of strength and courage and of hope to understand that it gets better, so much better when reach out and take out a hand,” sang Grenier, a well-known singer-songwriter who performs from Provincetown to Ogunquit. The track is available on iTunes.
Members of Go Out Loud, North Shore Pride, NAGLY, the Over the Rainbow Coalition, & other LGBT initiatives were on hand for the event. The openly transgender Reverend David Weekley offered an interfaith prayer as well.
“Salem literally translates into ‘peace’ in the Hebrew language, and with ceremonies like today’s flag raising, it continues to earn its name,” remarked Go Out Loud CEO Kevin Letourneau following the event. “As one of the oldest cities in the nation, we hope our City of Peace can set an example of how any community can shed past trials and tribulations to embrace diversity and equality for all.”
“Go Out Loud is proud to partner with the City of Salem by raising a flag in celebration of Pride Month,” an enthusiastic Chris Sicuranza, VP & Chief Marketing Officer of GOL. “We remain committed to offering more opportunities that showcase the passions and pursuits of all those who make our community a more exciting and rewarding place to be.”
There are a number of pride events planned across the NoBo region, including the marquee event in Salem: the 2nd Annual North Shore Pride Parade & Festival to be held on Saturday, June 29, 2013.
Click here for a full list of events sponsored by the group Go Out Loud.
Click here to check out photos from NoBo Magazine Editor-in-Chief Keith Spencer who attended the event