IN ITS 31-year history, Boston Pride has gone from a ragtag band of marchers to a weeklong extravaganza of dances, rallies, and forums, with nearly 200,000 participants expected for Saturday's festivities. There's even a 150-page glossy Pride guide for this year's Mardi Gras-themed celebration.
The Boston Pride Committee hopes to extend the official festivities by hosting its first-ever Sunday block party on June 10. Rain, which washed out Pride in 1998, poses the only potential trouble on the horizon. " They send me out every morning to do a rain dance, " jokes Aandre Davis, director of operations for the Boston Pride Committee. " But basically we plan for rain or shine - if it's not a hurricane, we're going to go anyway. " Below is a partial listing of Pride Week highlights.
Thursday, June 7
Men of Color Against AIDS (MOCAA) forum. In an all-day forum at the Harvard School of Public Health, MOCAA takes on sexual orientation, race, and safer sex. " Behind the Mask: An Exploration of Black Men Who Have Sex with Men " features expert panels, group discussions, and a talk by State Representative Byron Rushing. The free event begins at 9 a.m. For more information, contact MOCAA at (617) 442-8020.
Film screening. Local Greek-American filmmaker Zack Stratis screens his musical comedy Could Be Worse!, which features his real-life family dealing with his homosexuality - and breaking out into song. Drag queens and performance artists provide pre-show entertainment. At the Kendall Square Cinemas in Cambridge at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $9, and are available in advance by calling (617) 824-8000 or online at www.maj.org. For more information, visit www.couldbeworsethemovie.com.
Dyke Night. The weekly Thursday " Dyke Night at the Midway " usually draws a sexy crowd to the local JP dive bar - and in honor of Pride, the evening's theme is " Dress Burlesque " (boas, wigs, and anything else you can imagine). There's a performance by the Burlesque Revival Association at 9:30 p.m., and dancing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. You must be 21 to attend. Admission costs $5, with proceeds benefiting the Lesbian AIDS Project of Massachusetts. The Midway Café is located at 3496 Washington Street, in Jamaica Plain.
Friday, June 8
Queer youth boat cruise. Pride - in all its beer-soaked glory - doesn't always cater to the under-21 set. " There's a lot of events that aren't geared toward them, and a lot of events where they're excluded completely, " says Marty Martinez of the Latino Health Institute. That's why his organization, in collaboration with the Home for Little Wanderers, is hosting the sixth annual boat cruise for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth (under 21) and their allies. The cruise features music, food, dancing, and a drag show - but smoking, alcohol, drugs, and sex are verboten onboard. It takes off from Rowes Wharf (directly behind the Boston Harbor Hotel), and lasts from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The event costs $5, though no one will be turned away for inability to pay.
Dyke March. For the seventh year in a row, Boston's queer women and their allies take to the streets the night before Pride. The event, whose theme this year is " Celebrating Our Bodies, " is known for its " political and woman-focused agenda, " according to march co-organizer Nina Selvaggio. " We feel there's a lot of backlash that's inevitably going to hit women in the queer community with this [Bush] administration, " she says. " We wanted women to know that their bodies are their own to do what they want [with] - how they choose to express their sexuality, their gender, whether or not they want to have children, loving themselves for who they are. " Featured speakers include poet Letta Neely, bisexual activist Robyn Ochs, erotica writer Hanne Blank, and transgender activist Stacey Montgomery-Scott. Not to mention what organizers dub " the biggest dyke puppet Boston has ever seen! " The march meets at 7 p.m. in front of the Boston Public Library in Copley Square, and proceeds to Boston Common.
Dykes, Bitches, and Goddesses. The National Organization for Women's Greater Boston chapter is sponsoring a post-Dyke March celebration at the Paradise Rock Club (969 Comm Ave, Boston) titled " Dykes, Bitches, and Goddesses: A Celebration of Women's Pride. " The benefit features slam poet Alix Olsen from New York City, and bands Bitch and Animal and Antigone Rising. The women-targeted event is intended to match the Dyke March's outspoken feminism. " Part of it is purely about fun and celebration, " says Greater Boston NOW president Andrea Lee, " but it's also to remember that Pride is inherently a political event. " NOW's all-ages show begins at 9 p.m.; doors open at 8. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, and can be obtained by calling (617) 423-NEXT or online at www.nextticketing.com.
MOCAA midnight boat cruise. At 11:30 p.m., climb aboard the Nantasket for a trip around Boston Harbor featuring a fashion show and DJ Ron Steele spinning hip-hop, reggae, and R&B. The boat leaves Rowes Wharf promptly at midnight and cruises until 3:30 a.m. Tickets are $20 in advance (available by calling MOCAA at 617-442-8020) or $25 at the boat. The event is 21-plus.
Saturday, June 9
Somerville Pride flag-raising. Pride morning begins bright and early in Somerville, where for the second year in a row, Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay hosts a Pride flag-raising ceremony at 9 a.m. in Davis Square Plaza. The event is co-sponsored by the city's Human Rights and Women's Commissions, the GLBT youth group Project 10 East, and the GLBT political organization OutSomerville. OutSomerville also plans to launch a community survey at the event. " We're trying to learn about the lives, experiences, and concerns of the Somerville GLBT community, " says sociologist and survey designer Paula Frederick, so the organization can better serve the GLBT population and convey its needs to public officials. The survey, which takes three to five minutes to complete, is confidential (participants don't need to give their names). Results will be made available to all who participate.
Pre-Pride brunches in Somerville and Cambridge. Take your pick of delicious repasts north of the Charles. The third annual Somerville/Medford Pride Brunch takes place at 9:30 a.m. at the College Avenue United Methodist Church in Davis Square. Co-organizer Beth Dietz of Project 10 East promises food and music, and notes, " We're trying to organize a Somerville/Medford Pride March in 2002. " There'll be a sign-up sheet for anyone who'd like to help plan it. In the People's Republic, the Cambridge Lavender Alliance is hosting the 11th annual Pride Brunch, running from 9:30 to 11 a.m. at Cambridge City Hall. Awards for exemplary activism will be given to Cathy Hoffman of the Cambridge Peace Commission, outgoing city councilor Kathy Born, and local straight allies Kathy and John Roberts. Both events are free, but donations are welcome.
The Boston Pride March and Festival. The 31st annual Boston Pride March begins at noon at Copley Square. The Pride Festival along Boston Common - replete with booths from local nonprofits, tchotchke dealers, and food carts (not to mention attractive people to scope) - runs from noon to 6 p.m. Entertainment on the main stage includes singer-songwriter Pamela Means, a number from the musical film Could Be Worse!, and speeches from local luminaries ranging from State Senator Cheryl Jacques, the parade's grand marshal, to Melissa Korpacz, the owner of the New England Storm women's football team.
Post-parade street dances. Immediately after the march, ladies can stream over to Esmé for the seventh annual Pride women's block party across from Boston Common (on Boylston Place, next to the Colonial Theatre). On Chandler Street, the Grassroots Gay Rights Fund sponsors its 14th annual block party, which draws a primarily male crowd.
Evening action. The Pride Committee wants to make sure everyone has a good time Saturday night - it's sponsoring both a women's dance at Faneuil Hall and a men's party at the nightclub Machine. The women's event (21-plus) takes place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. on the second-floor rotunda of Faneuil Hall, next to the Comedy Connection. Admission is $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Members of the New England Storm are expected to sign autographs. The men's dance (also 21-plus) runs from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. Admission is $10 in advance and $12 at the door. The campy Imperial Court of Massachusetts organization sponsors the " Royal Pride Gala 2001, " a ball to benefit the Boston Pride Committee and the legal group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, which will take place in the Carver Ballroom of the Radisson Boston Hotel, located at 200 Stuart Street in the Theater District. The event starts at 8 p.m. and costs $75. To order tickets, call (617) 733-6243. Traditional gay and lesbian haunts - Club Café, Lava Bar, and Ramrod, just for starters - are also likely to draw heavy Pride crowds.
Sunday, June 10
Gospel brunch. MOCAA is sponsoring a gospel brunch at the Cambridge House of Blues, complete with down-home food, music, and a talk by famed activist Bishop Rainey Cheeks. Tickets are $30; for more information, call (617) 442-8020.
Block party. The Boston Pride Committee closes out Pride Week with the first-ever Sunday block party, featuring DJ Darrin Friedman and DJ She-Bang, on Montgomery Street (between Clarendon and Dartmouth) in the South End. The party runs from noon until 6 p.m.
Evening action, part 2. The Network for Battered Lesbian and Bisexual Women is sponsoring a " Queer Cabaret " at Jacques, featuring comedian Karen " Mal " Malme, singer Steve Lawrence, and drag kings Butch Daddy and Leo. Doors open at 7 p.m. (the show begins at 7:30), and admission is $7; to order in advance, call (617) 426-8902. Jacques is located at 79 Broadway Street, Bay Village, Boston. The nightclub Avalon, located at 15 Lansdowne Street in Boston, hosts the official Pride Week closing party, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission for the 21-plus event is $15.
If you can't get enough of Pride, the following events should keep you happy and gay the rest of the month.
Wednesday, June 13
Provincetown International Film Festival. As if you needed more of an excuse to head beachward, the third annual film festival is showing Sing-A-Long Sound of Music and other queer-themed pics, including Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Scout's Honor, which deals with a gay Boy Scout leader. The festival runs through Sunday, June 17. For information, go to www.ptownfilmfest.com, or call (508) 487-FILM.
Thursday, June 14, and Friday, June 15
Drag-king show. Dyke Night at the Midway presents two evenings of drag kings. The shows are 21-plus, and the $10 tickets include dancing until 2 a.m. Pre-purchase is strongly advised. Tickets are available at the Midway Café on Thursday nights. Those interested in performing should e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, June 16
Vermont Pride in Burlington. The parade kicks off at One Main Street at noon, and is followed by a festival at Waterfront Park from 1:30 to 5 p.m. For more information, visit www.pridevermont.org/festival.htm.
Providence Pride. The event takes place from noon until 8 p.m. at Station Park, across from the State House. Then a nighttime parade steps off at 8:30 p.m. from the State House. For information, visit www.PrideRI.com.
Southern Maine Pride in Portland. The march begins at noon, and ends at a festival in Deering Oaks Park. For information, call (207) 774-7800.
Friday, June 22
Project 10 East's " Breaking the Silence " awards banquet. The fourth annual banquet will celebrate activism on behalf of gay youth. The event - with food donated from 25 area restaurants - takes place from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Dante Alighieri Center in Kendall Square. Tickets are $30; $25 for 10 East members; $10 for youth (22 and under). You can register online at www.project10east.org. For more information, call (617) 864-GLBT.
Sunday, June 24
New York Pride. The march begins at noon at Fifth Avenue and 52nd Street and ends in the West Village at Christopher and Greenwich Streets. New York's Pride Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. It will be held on Washington Street, from Christopher Street to Spring Street.