Celebrating its 40th year, Worcester Pride has become one of the region’s most beloved community events offering entertainment, resources, and a sense of belonging for the city’s richly diverse residents.

“Over the years, I think our (LGBTQ) community has matured,” says John Trobaugh, Worcester Pride president. “When I moved to Massachusetts six years ago, Pride was not kid-friendly at all. As I became involved and talked to other members, there was a general sentiment to really change the focus as our community has become more mainstream.”

Two years ago, the event moved to the more family-friendly Worcester City Common and away from areas of the city that were more geared towards adults.

“We really pride ourselves on the diversity of Worcester and how we capture that in (the events offered through) Pride,” Trobaugh says.

Organizers are preparing to host thousands of attendees over the four-day event, beginning with a kick-off dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 9 and concluding with the Pride Parade and Festival on the Common on Saturday, Sept. 12.

The Woo Church, located on Main Street and one of the event sponsors, hosts a gated kid-friendly area with activities, a bouncy house, and games.

“That has become a draw in and of itself,” says Trobaugh, who has a 10-year-old son. “It drew people to the event who may have not planned on attending. It really broadened who we attract.”

Joseph W. Sandagato III, president of the state Department of Children & Families’ Worcester West Area Advisory Board (WWAAB), says Worcester Pride has done a great job in leading the fight for families, but communication and education about LGBTQ topics must continue.

“It’s great that we live in such a progressive state where gay marriage has been mainstreamed and gay adoption is common, but if we’re not continuing the conversation, (the larger populations) won’t know how it works,” he notes. “Worcester Pride is not a club-based group of adults. They are families and kids and represent the diversity in our city. They have filled a gap and have tied together a lot of pieces.”

The WWAAB, in conjunction with the DCF West and East Area Offices, will be participating in the 2015 Worcester Pride Parade and Worcester Common Pride Festival on Sept. 12. Representatives from DCF will be available to answer questions about foster care and adoption at the free festival.

“Some people have said, since gay marriage is now legal and gay couples can adopt, maybe there won’t be a need for such events,” Trobaugh says. “We’ll always need Pride because it doesn’t matter what the laws are, people come out at different times and need support and community and resources, especially young people.”

 

For more information, visit worcesterpride.org