Oak Bluffs’ first official Pride Weekend, hosted by the Oak Bluffs Business Association in collaboration with the NAACP Martha’s Vineyard Branch, is set to kick off June 10.
Ahead of the celebration, a ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday, June 1, to raise the Progress Pride flag at Ocean Park at 6 pm.
The Pride weekend will feature an array of events, including a 3 pm Pride Parade on June 11 consisting of a DJ, marching band, and live music for a “celebratory dance party” at Ocean Park. In addition, there is a Queer Dance Party scheduled at the Ritz the night before, and a Drag Queen Brunch at Oyster Bar on June 12 from 11 am to 2 pm.
On hosting the first official Pride weekend, OBA vice president Sofie Green told The Times she was excited, although “it feels like it shouldn’t be the case.” Green added that many LGBTQ members believe an event like this should have happened already. “But it’s exciting that we’re here.”
“It’s a step forward,” said Green. “All we can do is just keep moving forward. I’m just really grateful that the OBA and NAACP have been behind it all.”
“First and foremost,” she said, “I do want to have a Pride Weekend,” and secondly, she added, to bring business to the town. As an O.B. business owner herself, Green said generating more revenue in the town is essential for “the town businesses who have worked so, so hard,” particularly in the past few years, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and construction of the town’s new streetscape.
Green said she joined the OBA because she wanted the town to thrive, not just in the peak of the summer, but in the shoulder seasons.
Overall, the town has been supportive of the Pride events, with the exception of a recent tumultuous back-and-forth between the Oak Bluffs select board and the MV NAACP concerning a request to raise the Progress Pride flag on town property, Green said. Ultimately, an agreement was made by the select board to raise the flag for half of June instead of the full month, which is National Pride Month.
“As for the flag, that’s the only pushback that I’ve really seen,” Green said of the town’s support for Pride Weekend, noting that the pushback is concerning, particularly because some other Island towns seem to have put forth more effort in creating an inclusive environment.
Few Island towns have expressed resistance to outwardly supporting their LGBTQ communities, with Oak Bluffs and Chilmark being the only towns that denied the request to raise the Progress Pride flag on town flagpoles in 2021. This year, Oak Bluffs reluctantly agreed; however, an upcoming agenda item for Tuesday’s Chilmark select board meeting shows a proposal regarding flag policy stating, “Flags on town buildings shall be limited to U.S., commonwealth, and town flags (including departmental) only.”