Student-run Winchester PRIDEfest Well-attended
Special to Winchester News, by Elena Varipatis Baker
The Network for Social Justice—along with event co-sponsors the Winchester Cooperative Bank and Crawford United Methodist Church—hosted PRIDEfest 2023 on the Winchester Town Common. On Tuesday, June 6. Now in its third year, PRIDEfest draws hundreds of people from Winchester, Woburn, Arlington, Lexington, and surrounding towns for an educational, inclusive, safe, joy-filled, family-friendly celebration. As in years past, the event was largely student run by members of the McCall Social Justice Club, McCall Queer Straight Alliance, WHS Spectrum Club, and Network for Social Justice interns. Featuring educational and advocacy-focused booths organized by students, activity tables set up by local businesses and nonprofits, giveaways, a raffle, and speeches, the event promised something for everyone.
Leading up to PRIDEfest, the Winchester Select Board unanimously endorsed a Town Pride proclamation on May 22, formally recognizing the month of June as Pride Month. Pride Month coincides with the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in June 1969, a monumental event for the gay rights movement. The proclamation is an important step to ensuring that Winchester’s LGBTQIA+ community feels “safe, supported, and included,” according to a statement of support for the proclamation.
PRIDEfest 2023 kicked off with a re-raising of the Pride flag over the Winchester Town Common, featuring remarks by Select Board Vice Chair Anthea Brady and Network for Social Justice Executive Director Liora Norwich. “I’m so energized by the ongoing work this town is doing, connecting nonprofits, faith communities, local businesses, town authorities, students and families in the ongoing and hard work of advancing equity, inclusion and belonging in Winchester,” said Liora Norwich, Executive Director of the Network for Social Justice.
Following the flag raising, Network for Social Justice Board Member Timothy Matthews addressed the crowd before turning over the microphone to event emcee Miz Diamond Wigfall, along with her DJ Maxine Harrison. Miz Diamond entertained the crowd by dancing, singing, and bantering with the audience. Also taking a turn at the mainstage were three brave McCall QSA students who read a poem and sang for the crowd.
While the weather looked questionable all through the morning, by the afternoon the skies cleared and the sun shone down (and maybe even the Canadian wildfire haze dissipated?) on another fabulous PRIDEfest. With more than 20 faith communities, businesses, organizations, and student groups; drag queens MCing and DJing the event; and upwards of 500 community members, it was exactly the safe and inclusive space its organizers hoped it would be.