Rainbows could be seen nearly everywhere downtown on Saturday as the city celebrated Bangor Pride 2017.
A parade down Main Street featuring members of the LGBT community as well as organizations and businesses kicked off around 10 a.m., after occasionally heavy rain slowed down to a sporadic drizzle.
The parade and the festival that followed were the culmination of a week of events and activities for the region’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents and their allies.
Bangor Pride Week began on Monday, with a yoga event and children’s story time and continued with panel discussions, a game night on Tuesday, a group outing to see “The Full Monty” at the Penobscot Theater on Wednesday, a film screening on Thursday and a potluck, meet and greet and drag show on Friday.
Among the hundreds who came on Saturday was Morgan McGraw of Bangor.
“I’m gay and it’s just nice to support the community,” McGraw said after the parade disbanded and the festival got underway.
“I came for the party,” added Torelin Jager, also of Bangor.
Rebecca Schwartz-Mette, a University of Maine assistant professor of psychology, brought her daughter Ellie, 7, and son Jack, 3, to Saturday’s events as a lesson on love.
“It’s important for me to have my kids here because their hearts are so open right now. Their eyes are open, their hearts are open and it’s a wonderful time to have that openness grow,” she said.
“We had an awesome conversation as a family today about what is pride, what does that mean and why do we have to do things like this. It was really neat to hear my kids say ‘Well, of course you should be able to be who you are and love who you want’ and all that stuff.”
Seven members of the Mansion Church of Bangor turned up to protest. They were followed, however, around West Market and Pickering squares by several members of the LGBT community and their allies, who held up signs and banners and formed a circle around them, serving as a human shield between them and other festival goers.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, pride festivals aim to celebrate the LGBTQ culture, identities and life while working to fight the stigma that often harms the community.
The pride movement was born in 1970 in New York a year after the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village. The riots, which spanned over three days, were in protest over a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay tavern.
This year’s pride events in Bangor were organized by the Health Equity Alliance, which took over planning for the event from the Bridge Alliance.
For the first time since Bangor began celebrating pride in 1992, an American sign language interpreter was provided. Paula Matlins signed while speakers were on the stage but also was available for those needing help while visiting the four food trucks and the nearly 50 booths set up by vendors and a wide range of service, health, social and educational groups.