As Pride Month continues, Newport Pride is gearing up for its annual celebration on the weekend of June 24-26. We caught up with event organizer and Managing Director of Newport Pride Sean O’Connor, to learn more about the festivities.
“The signature event happens on Saturday, June 25,” says O’Connor. “We’ve got the Newport Pride Festival and Marketplace (11AM-4PM), which is going to be held outside on the lawn of the Great Friends Meeting House this year. It’s kind of new for us because in past years we’ve done it at Equality Park, but Equality Park is pretty small and we were kind of bursting at the seams. So we’re happy that we have a bigger space to spread out a little bit more this year. We’re grateful to the Newport Historical Society who offered the lawn.”
“We’ve got about 40 different resource organizations there sharing what they do. That includes many nonprofits, some vendors who are artists selling their work, Clementine’s Ice Cream, Empire Coffee, some food and drink, and a whole lineup of performances as well,” adds O’Connor.
Another highlight of the weekend is the Pride bike ride (Noon, Saturday) through the streets of downtown Newport. Held in partnership with Bike Newport, it’s open to all riders.
“It’s a two-mile loop that starts and ends at the Great Friends Meeting House, it’s really fun, this is the 5th time we’re doing the Pride Ride,” explains O’Connor. “The Newport police help us coordinate traffic so we can all ride safely. It’s just a really special experience. A lot of Pride events around the country have traditional parades with floats and people walking, we kind of do it a little differently here with the Pride Ride. We just love it, it’s a super fun component.”
“Other events include a Friday night kickoff at the Newport Harbor Hotel and a party at The Parlor Saturday night with DJ Collective partner, NPP Haus, and a closing event with three different live acts at Newport Craft Brewing on Sunday. It’s a jam-packed and fun weekend that we are in the thick of planning for,” says O’Connor.
Newport Out, the parent organization that sponsors Newport Pride is busy throughout the year. “We do travel and tourism marketing to the LGBTQ community and work with the hospitality industry to make Newport a more welcoming, inclusive place and we do events,” explains O’Connor.
The Newport community has embraced Pride Month with numerous events happening around the city. Year-round events promote the goals of the organization, “to celebrate the community and promote love, acceptance, inclusivity, and diversity of LGBTQ+ identities.”
Newport Out hosts a queer book/creative club, social events, and fundraisers. They also provide outreach to support local youth groups at area schools. “We are a part of an LGBTQ working group that is run out of Newport’s health equity zone with different partners who are thinking about more equitable health outcomes for LGBTQ populations in Newport and the surrounding area,” adds O’Connor.
Military families are among those who participate in programs. “We meet many couples in Newport who are here for one or two years on Naval or armed services assignments, where one of the spouses is in the service,” says O’Connor. “We love that we can provide a resource for them and provide a welcoming community for them. It wasn’t that long ago that it was impossible, it wasn’t that long ago that my marriage wasn’t possible, there’s a lot to celebrate for sure.”