On the Sunday a week after Juneteenth, some of the same folks and many more gathered by the bandstand at the Center Green to recognize Pride Month., not a formal holiday, but these days an increasingly popular recognition of the LGBTQIA community finding acceptance in the world. Organized by Suffield ABAR (Anti-Bias, Anti-Racism) and introduced by well-known actor and TV journalist Mateo Arnold, the afternoon event featured entertainment and education by speakers, singers, and musicians, — visitors and Suffieldians alike. Dr. Kristina Hallett stepped to the mike to add her welcome. Dr. Hallett had co-founded Suffield ABAR along with Liz Warren and Amy Hawkins, just one year earlier in June 2020.
In this ABAR event, there was a good deal of music, starting with professional entertainer Lady Niki twirling her sash in a Lady Gaga performance of “Born This Way.”
Notable among the several interesting and uplifting speakers was Professor Andrea Hickson-Martin of Bay Path University, an active promoter of equity and inclusion, who spoke of the frustrating history over the years of the Fourteenth Amendment (due process and equal protection), especially its effect on Defense of Marriage laws and LGBTQ generally. She also reviewed her own coming out and gay marriage.
First Selectman Melissa Mack spoke about her friendship in Suffield with a neighboring gay couple, whose departure had left her emotionally involved in protecting civil rights and encouraging equity.
Partway through the event’s program, Dr. Kristina Hallett asked everyone to leave their portable chairs and blankets and gather in an open part of the Green. She asked that they organize into a broad arc according to the color of their attire, in rainbow color order. The process was something like herding cats, but in a few minutes was at least partly achieved. The group was happy to smile and wave for the drone they saw positioned overhead for the picture.
Several more participants followed, including Robin Henrie of Suffield reading “Still I Rise,” the poem by Maya Angelou that focuses on perseverance in the face of prejudice and injustice. Closing the event was a professional duo: guitarist Jeffrey Howard and singer-songwriter Julia Autumn Ford, both from Connecticut, with a number of Julia’s creations — all excellent pieces to bring the afternoon’s event to an optimistic and satisfying end.