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First North Country Pride event draws massive support



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Several North Country Pride participants wore rainbow colors to celebrate diversity at the organization's first event. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
September 16, 2020
BETHLEHEM — A year after its formation North Country Pride hosted its inaugural event, "Pride Ride" last Saturday. The day's activities included a motorcade that traveled through Littleton, Franconia and Bethlehem, followed by an outdoor celebration at Rek-Lis Brewing in Bethlehem.

According to the non-profit's Co-Chair Kerri Harrington, approximately 50 cars participated in the three-town parade and roughly a hundred people gathered for the after-party.

She said, "This is such a great thing for our community and it makes me proud to live here in the North Country."

Co-Chair Jill Kimball kicked off the after-party with a brief presentation to the sold-out crowd.

She said, "Your presence here is a testament to the inclusivity of the North Country. This idea of forming North Country Pride was to show the community around us, especially the young people, that they were not alone. We wanted to show gay, lesbian, trans and queer people that they could fit in up here and be part of the community."

Kimball continued, "According to statistics, LGBTQ+ youth are five times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual peers. We needed to tell them that they have community and support, that they could look around and know that they were not alone. We wanted to let these kids know that queer people were successfully living and participating in the area despite being in a rural community."

"LGBTQ+ people are a vital piece of the community. We contribute to the economy and the culture in incredibly important ways. We are store owners and parents, educators, shoppers, voters and leaders," added Kimball.

According to Kimball, several politicians participated in the bipartisan event, including NH Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff. Other familiar faces included Representatives Erin Hennessey, Sue Ford and Elaine French.

The Pride Ride event was sponsored by Mascoma Bank, Ammonoosuc Community Health Services, Little Village Toys and Books, AHEAD Inc., the Littleton Food Co-Op, North Country Community Radio and the Littleton Coin Company.

Kimball said, "These businesses did not turn their backs. They welcomed us with open arms and embraced our culture and supported this mission."

According to organizers, their biggest challenge was to execute the event safely within COVID guidelines. Actions included holding it at an outdoor venue, limiting ticket sales and provided hand sanitizing stations. The group hopes to get back on track next summer for a larger-scale gay pride festival next June.

AVH
Klumb Environmenta;
Varney Smith
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