BANGOR, Maine — Members and allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in eastern Maine showed up in colorful, loud force this weekend for the annual Bangor Pride parade and festival, which kicked off bright and early at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Pride organizers said they believe it was the largest turnout ever for the parade, which boasted several hundred people from a number of area organizations, businesses, churches and causes.
“We’re so thrilled with the turnout. I’ve never seen the parade this big before,” said Ambureen Rana, who with her colleagues at Health Equity Alliance in Bangor were the main organizers of this year’s week-long slate of programming.
Representatives from a wide array of groups were on hand — from major area employers such as Hannaford, Bangor Savings Bank and Wayfair to churches and synagogues to organizations such as SAGE Maine, which advocates for LGBT elders in the state, and MaineTransNet, which provides support for transgender people living in Maine.
Trisha Smith, Chad Raymond and a group of their friends drove down from Dover-Foxcroft to walk in the parade to support MaineTransNet, cruising along in what they dubbed the “Big Gay Buick.”
“It’s a 1977 Buick LeSabre, and we drive in the parade for MaineTransNet, who sponsor our LGBT group in Dover,” said Smith, who has attended a number of Bangor Pride events over the years. “For me, the best part of Pride is getting to see so many people we know. It’s really great for everybody to come together.”
After the parade, a festival was held in West Market Square and Pickering Square for the rest of the afternoon, featuring vendors, speakers, live music, food trucks and a children’s area.
A diverse array of people were at the festival, including Leah Barteaux, her daughter, Paige Marden, and Marden’s young son, Max, all of Hampden. The family has long attended Pride events in Bangor to show support for the community.
“We love going to Pride. We believe everybody should be equal. Love is love,” Barteaux said. “The energy is just so good. It’s so positive. And just to see the support that’s out there. The community hasn’t always been that way, so to see how far we’ve come and how accepting people are now is just really awesome to see.”
City councilors including Clare Davitt and Laura Supica were on hand, walking through the crowd greeting people.
“This is the first year I’ve been here as a councilor. The city needs to be here to show support for every part of our community,” Supica said. “I’m really proud of the proclamation the city issued to officially name June as Pride Month in Bangor. It really means a lot.”
Pride week in Bangor will wrap up with several dance parties across the city on Saturday night, and with a Pride worship service at 10 a.m. Sunday at the Hammond Street Congregational Church, a MaineTransNet brunch at the Sea Dog Brewing Company at 11 a.m. Sunday, the annual Charlie Howard Memorial at 1 p.m. at the State Street Bridge in Bangor, and a wrap-up party from 1 to 5 p.m. at Mason’s Brewing Company in Brewer.
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