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A rainbow after the storm

New Hope Celebrates shares ways to support LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month in midst of COVID-19

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Safely celebrating: Despite not being able to celebrate on a large scale, Pride Month is still upon us, and New Hope Celebrates President Matt Hanson shared ways people can proudly show their colors during COVID-19. Source: New Hope Celebrates
Safely celebrating: Despite not being able to celebrate on a large scale, Pride Month is still upon us, and New Hope Celebrates President Matt Hanson shared ways people can proudly show their colors during COVID-19. Source: New Hope Celebrates

The streets of New Hope were supposed to be flooded on May 16 with more than 10,000 excited individuals, each one covered head to toe in the vibrant colors of the rainbow.

This would have been the annual PrideFest – Bucks County’s official event to recognize the LGBTQ+ community – that welcomes guests from Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C., and serves as a kickoff to Pride Month in June.

However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hope Celebrates – the nonprofit organization that launched Bucks County’s first Pride parade and festival in 2003 – was forced to postpone to Oct. 10.

Despite not being able to gather on a large scale, Pride Month is still upon us, and NHC President Matt Hanson shared ways people can proudly show their colors, all while staying safe.

“People can show Pride in their own ways, however they want. That might be wearing a rainbow flag or posting online or sharing through social media, putting a rainbow flag in your window, or even just telling yourself that I’m proud of who I am,” Hanson said. “That’s what’s great about Pride. You should be proud of however you express that for yourself.”

Save the date: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, New Hope Celebrates – the nonprofit organization that launched Bucks County’s first Pride parade and festival in 2003 – was forced to postpone to Oct. 10. Source: New Hope Celebrates

Last week, as crowds gathered around the world to protest the death of George Floyd, countless non-black people took to social media, asking how they can be a better ally of the black community. During Pride Month, Hanson outlined ways to be an ally of the LGBTQ+ population.

“I think that anyone can be an ally, a supporter, and try to understand more about another person or people’s issues. That’s really important. That’s the first step for everyone – to learn more about LGBT history, what has happened with our rights movements, what rights LGBT people have right now and what fights are happening. What is Pride? Why do we have Pride? Research is so important to find out where and why,” Hanson explained. “They may make mistakes and they may not do it the exact way that we would expect or hope, but it’s about trying. And that’s the best part. If someone’s trying to be an ally, we can always help them be a better ally.”

According to Hanson, making a mistake is better than staying silent.

“It speaks volumes when people don’t become an ally. So, that’s what’s so important, is people try their best,” he said.

As NHC looks ahead to PrideFest, which is slated to include local and nationally known performers, an information expo, DJ dance parties, softball games and family fun, the organization continues to provide virtual entertainment in the meantime.

“We have done drag queen story hour events for families. We’re doing ‘Cocktails at Home,’ where we have local bartenders as a happy hour on Fridays, and we’re looking at some other virtual events to start very soon,” said Hanson.

Additionally, NHC unveiled a 25-foot rainbow flag along the building that houses Starbucks, located in the center of town.

“We did that to just remind people that although we’re not celebrating together, there’s still opportunities in the New Hope area,” Hanson said. “Pride is important, but we want people to come all year because New Hope is an LGBT destination spot for many people in the Northeast.”

A number of businesses are also deemed “LGBT-friendly,” and have a rainbow flag in the front window. This is a testament to NHC’s growth over the years, and transformation of the town into a haven for LGBTQ+ individuals.

“We were the first Pride in Bucks County. We started in 2003, about 17 years ago. We started as a small, very little parade and program,” said Hanson. “There were four or five people on the board at first, friends who got together and said, ‘We need something to celebrate LGBTQ Pride.’”

Visit newhopecelebrates.com for more information and updates.

Samantha Bambino can be reached at sbambino@newspapermediagroup.com

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