Boston Pride: Celebrating at Emerson and Beyond

A panoramic view of an Emerson building downtown with a banner reading "Happy Pride" hanging.
Emerson College buildings with a “Happy Pride” banner

June is LGBTQ+ Pride month, and every year, festivities are held around the world. For graduate students at Emerson, there is no shortage of Pride events around the city of Boston. Emerson has long held a spot in the Princeton Review’s list of Top 10 Most LGBTQ+ Friendly Colleges, making it a welcoming place for students of all identities and expressions. Boston, as the capital of the first state to recognize gay marriage and the home to several bustling LGBTQ+ neighborhoods, has a strong history of LGBTQ+ struggle and celebration.

The first Boston Pride March was held on June 26, 1971. This was two years after Black and Brown trans women fought for their rights during the Stonewall Riots. A political event first and foremost, this inaugural Pride included stops at the Boston Police Headquarters and the State House. Here marchers presented a series of demands to establish permanent rights for LGBTQ+ people. Since then, Pride has been a fixture in the city, with a wide range of events to serve the diverse LGBTQ+ community. However you celebrate Pride, there’s a place for you – here are some of our favorites!

Attend an Emerson Pride Event

Throughout June, Emerson provides its students and alumni with several opportunities to celebrate Pride with their fellow Emersonians. Events have included in-person meetups at both the Boston and LA campuses, film screenings, and virtual panels. We’ve also had presentations about different aspects of queerness. Of course, we can’t forget to mention the drag bingo event hosted by Emerson alum and drag queen Patty Bourrée! Plus, every June, the College opens donations to the Emerson Pride Fund. This fund “aids the people, programs, and organizations that support Emerson’s LGBTQIA+ community.” To learn more about Pride at Emerson, check out the Iwasaki Library’s Pride page.

Drag queens perform at Carrie Nation's Sunday "Drag Me to Brunch" event during Boston Pride
Drag queens perform at Carrie Nation’s Sunday Drag Brunch

Grab a Drag Brunch at the Carrie Nation Cocktail Club

The downtown restaurant and bar Carrie Nation Cocktail Club holds its Sunday “Drag Me to Brunch” event year-round. However, June is an especially great time to get in on the fun. This interactive drag show is hosted by local queens Destiny Boston and Dee Dee de Ray. Each week features a slew of guest performances, along with the added bonus of a delicious brunch buffet. You’ll experience a Boston staple while getting to know the area’s best drag performers.

Celebrate LGBTQ+ Women and Gender Expansive People at the Boston Dyke March

The Boston Dyke March holds a yearly festival in June. The march focuses on the experiences of LGBTQ+ women and gender expansive folks. The organization is rooted in anti-capitalist, intersectional gender liberation and prioritizes accessibility in its events. Along with a march around the Boston Common, the program includes performances and speeches by local bands, poets, and activists. Notable performers at the 2023 march were the all non-binary, Black-fronted band The Dead Friends Club and spoken word artist Nnenna Loveth

Take the Ferry to Provincetown

Attendees celebrate at the Provincetown Pride festival, just a short ferry ride from Boston Pride
Attendees celebrate at the Provincetown Pride festival

Provincetown, or P-Town for short, is a Cape Cod resort town and artist hub. It’s also known as a vacation destination for the LGBTQ+ community. You’ll find streets lined with rainbow flags and advertisements for drag shows year-round, but June is when Provincetown really comes to life. 

The town’s Pride Weekend is a must-visit event, with events, parties, and programming over the three-day celebration. Provincetown also hosts themed weekends throughout the summer for different members of the LGBTQ+ community, including women and people of color. And the best part? No need to worry about the long drive to the tip of Cape Cod. A 90-minute ferry ride will take you from Boston Harbor to Provincetown every day of the week!

Get Back to the Roots of Pride with the Trans Resistance March

For Boston Pride in 2020, many chose to attend the Trans Resistance March. In this photo, Marchers pass the Roxbury Police Department during the Trans Resistance March in 2020
Marchers pass the Roxbury Police Department during the Trans Resistance March in 2020

Over the past few years, attacks on queer and trans rights have increased. In response, many LGBTQ+ activists have called on Pride to return to its political roots. Founded in June 2020 by Athena Vaughn, Chastity Bowick, and others, the Trans Resistance March set out to achieve exactly that. Their work builds on a long history of activism by Black and Brown trans people in Boston, including the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a now-global commemoration. The Transgender Day of Remembrance happens every November and is inspired by protests by the Boston LGBTQ+ community in 1998 after the murder of Black trans woman Rita Hester

The Trans Resistance March holds its yearly Pride event in June. After a chant-filled march through the diverse Boston neighborhoods of Roxbury and Dorchester, attendees end up in Franklin Park for a festival featuring speakers, performances, and booths by local non-profit organizations.

Attend a Boston Public Library Event

The Boston Public Library hosts community events year-round. During June, they are offering several events centering around LGBTQ+ folks

If you’re a fan of documentaries, the Mattapan branch is holding a showing of Little Richard: I am Everything on June 4. The documentary explores the Black and queer roots of rock and roll, focusing on icon Richard Penniman. If you’re looking for ways to get creative this Pride month, you might be interested in the library’s Queer Zine Making Workshop on Thursday, June 6.  

Regardless which events strike your fancy, the Pride month events at the Boston Public Library are a great way to celebrate and make new friends.

Make Some New Friends at a Block Party

If you’ve been trying to build a community of queer friends in Boston, Pride month is a great time to meet people. Boston neighborhoods often have block parties to build community in the area, and June is no exception. In Jamaica Plain, LesbianNightLife is hosting a block party for pride on Sunday June 9 this year. If you live closer to downtown, there will also be a block party in Back Bay, also on June 9. While these two events are ticketed, you can always keep an eye out for free community block parties in your neighborhood this Pride month.

As a graduate student at Emerson, there are many ways to celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride at the College and in the vibrant city of Boston. Whether you want to march, dance, or enjoy a drag performance, you’re sure to find the perfect event for you. At Emerson, we’re proud to celebrate our LGBTQ+ students, alumni, and the greater Boston community. All of us at the GradLife Blog wish you a Happy Pride in June and all year long!

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