TEWKSBURY — On Saturday, Oct. 2, members of the Tewksbury community gathered in support of LGBTQ friends and neighbors at the first “Show Your Pride, Tewksbury” event, hosted by the Tewksbury Democratic Town Committee, and Indivisible Billerica, Tewksbury, Wilmington.
The event featured speeches from local elected officials, including Tram Nguyen, David Robertson, Barry Finegold, Jayne Wellman and Eileen Duff. Mason Dunn, a member of the newly formed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee, also spoke.
Within the speeches, common themes centered around combating discrimination within society, in order to inspire further progress and equality in society. In her speech, Select Board member Jayne Wellman emphasized the importance of embracing those in the community to create a more equitable, united town environment for all.
“Stand up to fight discrimination, so that our children, our neighbors, our friends, and our descendants will better experience equality and equity,” said Wellman. “We are one town with many kinds of folks. We are many communities coming together. We are One Tewksbury.”
In addition to speeches, the event also featured a performance by drag performer Harlow Havoc, also known as 2016 TMHS graduate Justin Petrie.
Tewksbury Democratic Town Committee Chair Cathy Dwyer considered the event a success, citing that the event attracted an enthusiastic, diverse crowd.
“Show Your Pride Tewksbury was the first LGBTQ+ event of its kind ever held in this town. Our gathering may be considered small with 50 or so folks, but our participants were diverse, enthusiastic, and sincere,” said Dwyer. “We had young children and great-grandmothers and all waved their Pride flags high. All comments received at the conclusion were positive and the most common was... ‘I hope we will do this again next year.’”
Other attendees and organizers shared similar sentiments, with many noting these types of advocacy events serve as a source of community pride.
“As a mom of two school aged kids, I think messages of inclusion and diversity are crucial lessons for our kids,” said Nicole Burgett-Yandow, a cofounder of Indivisible Billerica, Tewksbury, Wilmington. “Our family had a great time and we hope it’s the first of an annual Pride tradition. Events like these and those that participated make us proud to live here.”