Thousands took to the streets of downtown Bangor on Saturday adorned in rainbow flags and clothing for the return of a normal Bangor Pride parade.
Spirits were high during the events honoring the LGBTQ community in West Market Square and Norumbega Park, but many parade-goers said they had the recent Supreme Court decision in the back of their mind the day after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
In a concurring opinion released on Friday, Justice Clarence Thomas of the court’s conservative majority wrote the court should reconsider other precedents, singling out past rulings that granted rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage.
When she read the Supreme Court ruling and Thomas’ opinion, Susan Guare, who marched in the parade for the first time, said she feared for her children, some of whom are LGBTQ. She especially worried what the future could hold for her daughter in a same-sex marriage.
“We’re angry and we’re going to speak up and speak out, but it’s important to not let it overshadow what is supposed to be a joyous occasion,” Guare said. “Pride means equal rights for my children and my friends.”
Many other parade goers echoed Guare, but they were determined to not let it taint the day.
“It’s a rough day for a lot of people, but today is a day to be together and celebrate,” said Dana Cassidy of Bangor.
Though the Supreme Court’s ruling will have ripple effects across the country, as people living in states enshrining new restrictions may seek abortion care in states like Maine where abortion is protected by state law, Aislinn Canarr, the board president of the Mabel Wadsworth Center, a clinic provides abortions and reproductive health services said she was “compartmentalizing.”
“It’s my nephew’s first Pride, who’s trans, so there’s so much joy today and I’m not taking that away from them,” Canarr said.
Lorne Harlan, 14, of Bangor said they were excited to both witness and participate in their first Pride celebration in person.
“I’m just happy to be here instead of watching it through a screen,” they said. “It’s one thing to know there are people like you on the internet, but it’s another to see them in person.”
The celebration is the first near-normal Bangor Pride parade since 2019. Last year’s iteration featured a stationary parade where bystanders drove around the Bangor Raceway to look at floats and parked to watch performers. The 2020 version was held virtually during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A handful of Bangor businesses are also holding Pride-themed events. Bangor Arts Exchange hosted a drag show on Friday, and West Market Square Artisan Coffeehouse will host one on Saturday afternoon. Seasons Restaurant on Main Street will host a Saturday Pride party, and Queen City Cinema Club in downtown Bangor will host a Pride comedy show that day.
Bangor’s Pride celebration is also one of the largest, and latest, in the area.
Bucksport held its own celebration last week, and Belfast held one earlier this month after high school students stepped in to revitalize it after it went dormant due to the pandemic.
BDN writer Lia Russell contributed to this report.