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Updated: September 4, 2023 Opinion

Viewpoint: Pride means business: the economics of inclusivity

In 1975, the Worcester Telegram reported “a film Saturday night and a parade Sunday will highlight the first ‘Gay Pride Week’ in Worcester.” Organized by the Metropolitan Community Church and the “Worcester Homophile Organization, formerly known as the Worcester Gay Union,” supporters arrived from Boston, Providence, and Connecticut. Approximately 100 people marched from City Hall down Main Street to University Park, across from Clark University, bearing signs proclaiming “Gay Pride”, “Gay Love”, and “Gay Power.”

A photo of David Conner
David Conner

From that very first Pride march led by the brave citizens who were stoned and taunted by onlookers, to September 2023, where we will welcome an anticipated 20,000 festival-goers, we have all come a long way. Pride Worcester has evolved from a one-day march into an all-encompassing celebration, with events and activities spanning several weeks and for all ages. The growth of Pride hasn’t come easily. Through intentional conversations and years of hard work, the local community has seen the importance of Pride, and the good it does for our city. Worcester has bought in!

A photo of Ariana Dello Stritto
Ariana Dello Stritto

For the first time in Worcester’s LGBTQ+ history, the City of Worcester has given its full support to Pride; this year the City will be Pride Worceter’s presenting sponsor, a victory for Worcester’s LGBTQ+ community and allies. Not only is the City supporting in meaningful ways, companies in Worcester’s business community are all hands on deck. AIDS Project Worcester, a local nonprofit incorporated in 1987, stepped up majorly this year to serve as Pride Worcester’s fiscal sponsor. We’ve received generous sponsorships from some of Worcester’s leading organizations, who have made it a point to include their employee groups in the celebrations. Expect to see some out and proud inclusive businesses at the main Pride festival on Sept. 9 across downtown Worcester!

While the Worcester festival is known as the last Pride Stop of New England, our fundraising is a year-round initiative. With the funds required to host a Pride of this caliber, it is important to Pride Worcester to make it back into the community, helping support local artists, vendors, makers, and small businesses. Pushing the needle beyond acceptance, Pride Worcester has helped ensure inclusivity for the historically marginalized LGBTQ+ community by growing the Pride Festival into a highly anticipated, economically beneficial, tourist attraction.

After 50 years, the city’s Pride festival has evolved into beautiful displays of love, joy, and community. This September, Worcester will see what it means to be a truly inclusive city. Pride Worcester hopes to see you there.

Ariana Dello Stritto is the marketing officer at Bay State Savings Bank in Worcester. David Conner is the executive director of OutstandingLife, a statewide virtual senior center for LGBTQ+ elders.

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