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North Attleborough Pride Festival returns this weekend

max.bowen@northstarreporer.com

When Sarah Cenedella helped organize North Attleborough’s first Pride Festival, she knew it was just the beginning.

This weekend, a celebration that drew hundreds of people from North Attleborough and surrounding towns will return to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning, along with intersex, and asexual or allies. The + stands for those who do not identify under those terms). Cenedella said the work done by her and the many volunteers has been a challenge, but also extremely rewarding.

“It’s a really fun day filled with a lot of support from our community,” she said. “That’s a feeling that you can’t bottle. I mean, that’s terrific.”

Pride Month is celebrated annually in June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots, and works to achieve equal justice and equal opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) Americans. Cenedella said that while Pride Month is important, people being able to be themselves authentically is something that should be celebrated all the time.

“I’m still doing this. We’re still doing it,” she said of the event. “We’re gonna keep on doing it. Every day, not just in June.”

The event will take place on Saturday, June 24, from 2-6 p.m. in Veterans Park outside Town Hall. As with last year, it will be an assortment of games, speakers, and live performances. Cenedella said there will be performances of the North Attleborough High School marching band and show band from the School of Rock. There will be a DJ and music from the local band Phenidate. Public speakers are also planned and there will be a ‘selfie scavenger hunt.’ The Pride Festival is done in partnership with the Downtown North Attleborough Collaborative and Cenedella spoke with the NAHS Advocacy Club to get guidance as to the kind of event they’d like to see.

“So, there’ll be a lot of fun,” said Cenedella.

In addition, around 20 community vendors will be on hand, plus artisans and crafters. Groups such as Safe Schools, GLAAD, the Girl Scouts and others will also be in attendance. Cenedella said that last year’s Pride Festival offered a number of lessons on how to make things run more smoothly. Word of mouth has proven particularly effective at promoting the event. In addition to raising awareness, the festival will serve as a fundraiser for the ACLU to help those in the LGBTQ community seeking legal help.

“That will help to get them the legal support that they need,” she said.

In the current political climate, the rights of the LGBTQ community are coming under constant attack, with laws being proposed to limit gender affirming care or banning transgender health care. Cenedella said it’s important to recognize that many different groups make up a community and a Pride Festival is about celebrating having equal rights—rights which are now being jeopardized. She stressed that this weekend’s festival is not a political event.

“We are celebrating the ability for people of the LGBTQIA+ community and all communities to have the right to live as they’d like and thrive,” she said. “Just like any other of their peers would.”

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