Pride Parade celebration is approved

Flag raising is contingent on select board vote.

President of the NAACP Martha's Vineyard Branch, Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, has been collaborating with the Oak Bluffs Association to hold Martha's Vineyard Pride Week.

On Monday, Oak Bluffs Parks Commission voted 2-1 to allow an LGBTQ+ Pride Flag Raising Ceremony at  Ocean Park on Wednesday, June 1, the first day of National Pride Month. The specifics of the actual flag raising are contingent on Tuesday’s select board decision whether to allow the Progress Pride flag to be raised on town property. The Parks Commission agreed to allow the ceremony to be held at Ocean Park, regardless of whether the flag will be allowed to be displayed on the flagpole.

The select board will discuss a new flag policy ahead of the requests by the Oak Bluffs Business Association and NAACP. Jennelle Gadowski, executive committee member of the Martha’s Vineyard’s branch of the NAACP and the organization’s LGBTQ+ community chair, made the request at Monday’s parks commission meeting. “We, the NAACP Martha’s Vineyard Branch, along with the support of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Council, Oak Bluffs Business Association, Martha’s Vineyard Museum, and the hundreds of community members who have signed a petition of support, are requesting the opportunity to raise the Progress Flag at Ocean Park, specifically on the flagpole.” The request was made for June 1 for the duration of National Pride Month. 

Additionally, Gadowski requested approval of an “accompanying flag raising ceremony” which would consist of a small gathering of LGBTQ+ elders and youth members and straight allies, to “kick off Pride month.”

In 2021, the event was canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but all of the Island towns, with the exception of Chilmark, agreed to fly the Pride flag.

“Flying the Progress Pride flag proudly, on this specific flagpole,” she continued, referring to the one at Ocean Park, “would show everyone who sees it, whether they’re a member of our queer community or a straight ally, that this Island, this community, this town, is a safe and welcoming space for them.”

Noting that the parks commission can only make the decision about park space use, and not the use of the flagpole, commission chair Antone Lima stated that although Ocean Park is not often designated to host requested special events, “there’s nothing saying that we can’t [allow the event at Ocean Park],” adding that he feels “personally, this is a good use of town public space.” 

Parks commissioner Richard Combra Jr., noted that there is a precedent for allowing requested special events in the park, and in consideration of the details of the event, said “to just have a ceremony, [pending] success with the board of selectmen to raise the flag, I’m in support of that.”

Parks commissioner Amy Billings, who voted against approving the ceremony, said: “Normally we don’t allow people to speak on causes.” She then adjusted her comment, “I don’t want to call this a cause.” Billings then referred to how there have been “bands that play in the bandstand that wanted to give little pep talk speeches about little things that we’ve said no to.”

Billings said she would “prefer” that one of the other locations, such as the Oak Bluffs Fire Station or Police Station, would hold the ceremony. “I would also prefer that the flag be flown at one of those locations.”

“I would hope that we can approve this, as applied for,” Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, president of the NAACP, said. He added the event will not have alcohol, food or amplified music. “This is simply about a flag raising on June 1 at Ocean Park,” he said. “We want it at Ocean Park because that is a gateway to a community that is the definition of inclusivity on the Island.”

Additionally, the commission voted 2-1 to approve the request to hold an event to mark the end of the Martha’s Vineyard Pride Parade, also at Ocean Park, on Saturday, June 11, at 3 pm. 

“Again we’re back to using Ocean Park for promotion of something,” said Billings, noting that the application request for the event involves “signs, balloons, banners, yard cards,” adding “none of that stuff we’d normally appreciate in Ocean Park … It’s not the way we use Ocean Park.”

Responding to concerns raised by Billings, Sofie Green, OBA vice president and Larkin Stallings, OBA president, offered to negotiate particulars in order to hold the event.

Green, stating her willingness to make adjustments to the event in order to move along with the approval, which was met with various objections in the planning, specifically concerning minute decoration details, added “it’s not about decorations, it’s about the parade. It’s about the community.” Nevertheless, Green agreed to meet with Mark Crossland of Crossland Landscape, who maintains Ocean Park for the town, to go over the plan as recommended by the commission. 

After most of the T’s were crossed, Hardy-Doubleday took a moment to express praise for the OBA. “They are complementing the efforts of the NAACP… We could not be more proud of the OBA, and I want to publicly thank them.”

Despite Billings’ concerns, the end-of-parade event will be held on the planned date, and involve announcements and live music as requested. 


  1. How does raising a flag mean that people are ” safe and welcoming”? What nonsense. This is a heart issue. If you have hate in your heart a flag isn’t going to change that. At the same time why would any group call their flag “pride” or their month “pride month”. You are identifying with a sin or in other terms a VERY unappealing trait. No one likes pride in people.

    • George, do you ever listen to the words of the national anthem? After a long night of rockets flying and bombs bursting, the new day breaks “and our flag was still there.” It’s like that. The Pride flag says that despite adversity we’re still here, we’re doing our best, and we welcome you. And in general I prefer pride to groveling or hiding in closets. YMMV of course.

      • According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Many secularists would agree. Pride in our country and flag is one thing. Pride in yourself is another.

        • Do you think #individual1 has a lot of pride in himself? Would that make him a person of utmost evil?

    • George–A “sin” ? According to our good buddy Andy, who hasn’t chimed in on this topic in a while, we are all sinners. So what difference does it make if you sin while loving someone, or sin while hating someone ?
      No one likes bigotry in people.

      • Keller. Simul Justus Et Peccator. When you are justified you are free from the penalty of sin but not the power of sin. Doesn’t Pastafarianism have similar edicts in Latin?

        • Andy– Thank you for showing up ( I knew you would) and bringing the Flying Spaghetti Monster into this.
          To answer your question, Pastafarians do not speak gobbiltygook and twist themselves into curly ques’ to confuse themselves and others by trotting out an ancient language and redundantly speaking in speaking gobbledygook .
          Pastafarians express their beliefs in clear terms,
          There is no “power” in any of it, and no penalty for not adhering to the 8 “I’d really would rather you didn’ts”
          Except of course when you violate any of them, everyone knows you’re just being a jerk, since any respectful person would abide by these simple suggestions.
          I think # 3 is most appropriate for this discussion :


    • George, who gets to decide what is sin?
      What is unappealing?
      Oak Bluffs is proud of having an openly Lesbian Selectman over forty years ago.
      You must be a wash a shore.

    • A sin? Dawg “Jesus” died for yours over 2000 years ago, this is called progress. Being a person means letting other people live, the paper is called the Times, get with them.

    • Pride is a counterpoint to the shame that some try to foist on members of this community.

      People express their pride in all sorts of things on the daily, yet I never see anyone invoke the deadly sins in response. Unsurprising that the idea of sin surfaces once the topic becomes LGBTQ+. Never fails.

      There should be no question as to why this group chooses to unite in support of one another.

  2. Okay, I’m just a little confused. Flying kites in the park is okay, but flying balloons isn’t? And as not to confuse, I’m totally in favor of both activities …

  3. Hopefully if they do use balloons, they will make sure they are not left to sail away into the waters…. please – if anything, be responsible for the balloons…. and clean up….

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