Celebrating ‘being out and being proud’: Attendees fill Greenfield for Franklin County Pride Parade and Festival

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield.

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PAM PARMAKIAN

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield.

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PAM PARMAKIAN

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield.

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PAM PARMAKIAN

Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade featuring drag performer Mz. October MayLay makes its way down Miles Street in Greenfield under a rainbow balloon trellis.

Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade featuring drag performer Mz. October MayLay makes its way down Miles Street in Greenfield under a rainbow balloon trellis. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield.

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PAM PARMAKIAN

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield.

Participants in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade line up at the start in Greenfield. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/PAM PARMAKIAN

State legislators march in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade in Greenfield.

State legislators march in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Bikers from the Moving Violations Motorcycle Club prepare to lead Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade outside Greenfield Middle School.

Bikers from the Moving Violations Motorcycle Club prepare to lead Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade outside Greenfield Middle School. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

LGBTQ activists walk through Energy Park at Saturday’s Franklin County Pride Parade and Festival in Greenfield.

LGBTQ activists walk through Energy Park at Saturday’s Franklin County Pride Parade and Festival in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Activists carrying a sign that reads “Queers for a Free Palestine” march into Energy Park at Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade, chanting “No pride in genocide.”

Activists carrying a sign that reads “Queers for a Free Palestine” march into Energy Park at Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade, chanting “No pride in genocide.” STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

City officials with Mayor Ginny Desorgher’s Task Force Against Domestic Violence march in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade in Greenfield.

City officials with Mayor Ginny Desorgher’s Task Force Against Domestic Violence march in Saturday’s Franklin County Pride parade in Greenfield. STAFF PHOTO/ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

By ANTHONY CAMMALLERI

Staff Writer

Published: 06-16-2024 3:12 PM

GREENFIELD — Smiling community members donning rainbow attire lined the sidewalks from Federal Street down Main Street and Miles Street to Energy Park on Saturday afternoon in celebration of the Franklin County Pride Parade and Festival.

The level of support and enthusiasm displayed in this year’s Pride festivities, like the event’s size and scale, has grown significantly since the inaugural 2016 parade, according to Franklin County Pride President Heather Mahoney.

“It’s really heartening to see,” Mahoney said as the parade made its way down Miles Street into Energy Park. “We went and gave some flags to businesses in the area yesterday, and it was really nice to see people being open — even people who we maybe shouldn’t approach, we did, and they were so warm and welcoming.”

The four-hour celebration featured a variety of musical acts such as The B-52.0s, Crys Matthews and the Northampton Pride Chorus, along with drag dance performances by Mz. October MayLay and Angel. Opening the live entertainment, Master of Ceremonies Kaliis Smith encouraged any queer or questioning audience members to come out of the closet.

“It takes courage and community to come out, but we are always here for those who may have taken a little bit longer to discover who they are. We are incredibly lucky to have an array of queer identities, queer bodies, queer art and queer community here in Franklin County,” Smith said. “A big round of applause to yourselves for being out and being proud.”

This year’s theme, “Be Seen, Be Heard,” was echoed throughout the festival, with speakers such as Ethan Rivera, a youth leader with the youth-led Springfield LGBTQ organization Out Now, noting the sense of isolation that can come with being queer and the importance of connection and support within the LGBTQ community.

“Everyone here at one point has felt that loneliness that comes with being queer and not knowing where or who to go to,” Rivera said. “I’m here to let you all know that here is the time and the place for your queerness. Pride, to me, is getting comfortable in my skin and being comfortable with my peers. So reach out and talk with one another.”

Numerous state and local officials, such as Mayor Ginny Desorgher, At-Large City Councilor Penny Ricketts, Reps. Natalie Blais and Susannah Whipps, and Sen. Jo Comerford walked alongside roughly 1,000 marchers.

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Desorgher said she enjoys seeing the community come together over Pride and acceptance each year.

“This is one of the happiest days in Greenfield. Marching in this parade, people are waving, cheering, shouting. It’s just a joyful day all around. I know it’s a wonderful day also for downtown businesses. I guess there’s more people that come to this in the center of town than any other event that we have,” Desorgher said. “I’m always overwhelmed by that feeling of love and inclusion. ... It’s just a beautiful day.”

Anthony Cammalleri can be reached at acammalleri@recorder.com or 413-930-4429.