North Shore Pride, a non-profit Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender advocacy group will hold its inaugural gay pride celebration and parade in Salem on June 30.
The event, aimed at spreading awareness of LGBT issues, will be an all day celebration of equality under the tagline "unity in our community." Much like Boston Pride, the event will include guest speakers, live music from local bands, vendors on Salem Common, and city officials and guests from all over the North Shore.
The Hawthorne Hotel will also host an after-party free to the public at 5 p.m., and there will be a 10 a.m. public church service on the common prior to the parade.
"For our first event we've done quite well, we're very, very pleased," said Hope Watt-Bucci, president of North Shore Pride. "We've got a great group of volunteers, we have an amazing community."
North Shore Pride will honor state Representative Barney Frank for his work in Congress promoting equality and tolerance. Speakers will include Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, Boston Herald sportswriter Steve Buckley and WCVB-TV anchor Randy Price.
Price has also been tagged as the Grand Marshall of the parade, which will begin at noon in front of the post office on Margin Street, follow a route along New Derby and Derby streets, up Hawthorne Boulevard, and culminate at the Salem Commons.
"It's a fairly long parade," Watt-Bucci said. "A short distance but a long parade."
The Salem City Council passed a resolution to designate June 30 as Gay Pride Day in Salem at its regular meeting last week.
"I am looking forward personally to a day down the road...when my own son, who will by that time be an adult, will be able to look back with his friends and his family and say 'what was all the fuss about back then,'" said Ward 5 Councillor Josh Turiel. "And just be able to look back and say 'what were they thinking in those days, when people actually had to fight to be equal, and they weren't just thought of as equal?'"
Watt-Bucci believes that the suburbs are behind the eight ball in terms of acceptance of the gay community when compared with major cities. She hopes that the event can help to prevent situations like that of Justin Goodwin, an openly gay Gloucester resident who committed suicide after being beaten and mocked outside of a bar in 2009.
"I thought it was a good time for us to start working on the suburbs on having some unity, and working together so that we can really get rid of discrimination," Watt-Bucci said. "I think we've done a really good job in the urban areas...we're still having issues here on the North Shore."
Interested vendors have until June 1 to register for a booth on the common. Registration forms for vendors, as well as a complete list of speakers and entertainers, can be found at northshorepride.org.