For the first time in decades, New Haven Pride Week festivities return to the Green
This week marks New Haven’s 24th annual Pride Week and this year, the New Haven Pride Center (NHPC) is again hosting PRIDEfest on the New Haven Green for the first time in nearly two decades.
Hosting on the New Haven Green grew too expensive in 2005, said NHPC executive director Patrick Dunn. So local nightclub Gotham Citi took on the responsibility of keeping PRIDEfest alive for over a decade. In 2020 and 2021, the New Haven queer community held the events at the North Haven fairgrounds to ensure there was enough space to social distance.
“The Green is the heartbeat of New Haven,” Dunn said. “And so by having it accessible by basically every form of public transit you can think of really sets a tone."
Dunn also pointed to the Green’s status as a historical landmark -- he said the first known recorded instance of someone sentenced to death in Connecticut for consensual same-sex relations took place on the New Haven Green. A man named William Plaine was hanged there in 1646.
“I think really makes a bold statement,” Dunn said of holding PRIDEfest on the city's central gathering space, "to be able to, in his memory, and the memory of so many other people who have been persecuted in Connecticut for being LGBTQ+, to say, ‘We’re here, we’re queer, we’re on the biggest stage New Haven has to offer.' "
Dunn said they’ve also been able to expand programming this year to include a keynote speaker – Pedro Julio Serrano, the first openly gay and HIV-positive person to run for elected office in Puerto Rico.
Other events include a pageant, a drag brunch, a burlesque show and culinary events at queer-owned restaurants. The festivities will culminate in the main event on Saturday.
Dunn said he sees this year’s return to the Green partly as preparation for the 25th annual PRIDEfest next year.
“[We’re taking] a leap of faith,” Dunn said. “It’s going to be a bumpy ride. But it will be a great learning opportunity for all of us. So that next year, when we have our 25th anniversary of Pride New Haven, we can do it exactly as we envisioned it.”