Cape-wide Pride

Zoe Lewis

Second Annual Shindig Spreads the LOVE from Falmouth to P’town

Big change starts with small steps. 

That’s something the gay community knows well. And it’s an outlook held by the organizers of Cape Cod Pride, one of our region’s fledgling LGBT celebrations. Approaching its second installment on Saturday, June 24, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Cape Cod Pride is poised to grow from the approximately 300 attendees who turned out for last year’s debut. Word of mouth is spreading, and the Cape’s underserved LGBT community—dispersed across the peninsula, not just in the known enclave of P’town—is proving eager for a Pride option of its very own. 

“Last year, we had no idea what the result would be. It was a modest crowd with great energy,” says Rabbi Elias Lieberman of the Falmouth Jewish Congregation. Lieberman serves on the steering committee of the Falmouth chapter of No Place for Hate, a social justice-oriented community organization, and for years he has opened his synagogue to monthly meetings of PFLAG of Cape Cod. Last year the organizations came together to jointly launch Cape Cod Pride, the first Pride celebration on the Cape in about 10 years. Lieberman is bullish on its future. 

Going into it this year with more time and more resources, we wanted to make it larger and more exciting. And once the election came and went, there was a tremendous feeling that it was more important than ever.

“Going into it this year with more time and more resources, we wanted to make it larger and more exciting,” says Lieberman. “And once the election came and went, there was a tremendous feeling that it was more important than ever.” For this year’s event, the organizing committee more than doubled to about 25 people, says Lieberman. And Cape Cod Pride was able to secure financial support from Eastern Bank and the Rockland Trust Charitable Foundation, among others. 

The event, which will take place on June 24, 2017 from 12–3 p.m. at the Morse Pond School in Falmouth, will feature live music by Provincetown-based folkie troubadour Zoë Lewis, tunes by DJ David Frye, food, games, giveaways and vendor tables. Last year Congressman Bill Keating appeared as a guest speaker, and he has been invited to return in June, says Lieberman. 

Cape Cod has a strong LGBT community, but outside of Provincetown, relatively few organizations, regular events and venues that can allow for members of the community to connect. Cape Cod Pride is a way to foster those networks, says Lieberman, and show support to wary LGBT folks in a post-Trump age of emboldened bigots. 

Ironically, neither of the two sponsoring organizations’ main representatives are LGBT. Lieberman is a longtime ally who has supported LGBT and AIDS organizations since the 1980s and was quietly officiating symbolic same-sex weddings in the 1990s. He credits his parents’ progressivism, and his faith, for imparting his own conviction in inclusivity. “It’s absolutely wrapped up in my identity as a Jew, and that heightened sensitivity for marginalized communities,” says Lieberman. 

Leading the charge for PFLAG of Cape Cod is the organization’s new co-president, Denise LaBarre. Though LaBarre is not LGBT, she has a transgender son and lesbian daughter, and is sensitive to the struggles they’ve faced. She’s watched as the parents of her son’s longtime friends have become less accepting of him since he came out as trans. She feels such responses underscore the need for new Pride celebrations even in a true blue state like Massachusetts. “In light of the current political environment, people feel less appreciated, less safe and less welcome,” says LaBarre. “People feel like their equality is being threatened.”

“A lot of LGBTQ people feel very isolated on the Cape,” she adds. “There are no gay bars, less places to go than in the Boston area. Plus some of the youth cannot drive to places.” 

What they will have now is their very own Pride event. And expect these early steps to yield results that grow in leaps and bounds. “If we’re in the black, we’ll set aside some seed money for next year’s celebration so we can hit the ground running,” says Lieberman, who also hopes Cape Cod Pride will be able to commit some funds to Freedom Massachusetts, a transgender rights organization that will be fighting to retain the state’s public accommodations protections, up for a repeal vote on the 2018 state ballot.  

Such a step backwards is anathema to Cape Cod Pride, an organization focused on progress. “Though we’re holding it in Falmouth again, we hope it can eventually become something for all of Southern Mass,” says Lieberman. He adds with a laugh: “As long as people will brave the bridge traffic.” [x]