PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The sun rose high on Wednesday afternoon for the city's Pride Month proclamation and progress flag raising at City Hall.
The city of Pittsfield in partnership with Berkshire Pride raised the LGBTQ-plus flag with this year's theme being every day is pride.
The LGBTQIA community needs help from everyone to "stand in the breach, to fight against the unwinding of their rights, against the violence perpetrated upon them against the bullying experienced by children and young adults, who strive mightily to grow into their full and authentic selves," Mayor Linda Tyer said.
"And here in Pittsfield, as we prepare to raise the pride flag all are welcome. All are respected. Everyone is entitled to and supported in achieving their highest potential. Simply put, love wins."
For the last seven years, Tyer has been "shoulder to shoulder" with the LGBTQIA-plus community providing the community and allies opportunities to express themselves with festivals and parades, said Berkshire Pride Vice President Michael Taylor.
Most recently, the mayor requested that a Pride organization and drag queens from another small town in Massachusetts be invited to the Pittsfield Pride Festival after their pride festival permit was rescinded when their local elected officials found out there was going to be drag, Taylor said.
Now that she is not seeking re-election, the LGBTQIA-plus community wanted to show its gratitude for her "support to Berkshire Pride, advocacy for equality, and shining brightly as an ally to the LGBTQIA community," he said.
The shouts from a disgruntled passer-by ushered away by security did not stop Taylor from speaking on the strength and resilience the pride flag represents.
"It's wonderful to see you all here for the seventh year in a row. Our flag is a vibrant representation of the strength, resilience and diversity of our community. It embodies the struggles and the triumphs of the LGBTQIA community throughout history," Taylor said.
"It reminds us of the activists who fought tirelessly for the rights and freedoms we enjoy today. It is a powerful testament to the progress we have made in embracing equality and inclusivity."
The progress flag was designed to represent and be more inclusive to the transgender community and communities of color by a non-binary artist in 2018.
It is important to recognize that this is not a symbolic act but rather a statement of support and solidarity with the community, Taylor said.
He noted that the crowd included local elected officials, city employees and individuals representing their businesses.
"And when I see this flag flying here at City Hall, as it has for the past seven years, it's a statement that our city is welcoming and that people can walk into our buildings and be their authentic selves without fear of prejudice or discrimination," Taylor said.
"It is a reminder that every person, regardless of their identity, deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and equality."
The LGBTQIA-plus community recognizes that this welcoming atmosphere is not something to take for granted, he said.
"We recognize this is a privilege living here in Massachusetts, especially as we see everything what's happening in our country today," Taylor said.
"So we know our work is not done. And we must continue to reject hate, and foster an inclusive society where everyone can thrive and be proud of who they are."
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