The first Lincoln County Pride and Unity walk, held in 2022, drew about 150 people. (Courtesy of Kelli Whitlock Burton)

DAMARISCOTTA – The second annual Pride and Unity walk and rally to celebrate Pride Month will be held Saturday, June 24. The event, “Just Be in 2023,” kicks off at 10 a.m. at Veterans Park in Newcastle with a walk through Newcastle and Damariscotta, ending with a rally at Rising Tide Co-op.

According to the 2021 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, conducted by the Maine Departments of Education and Health and Human Services, more than 40 percent of LGBTQ+ students in grades 5-12 contemplated suicide in the previous 12 months. Among high school students, LGBTQ+ individuals were significantly more likely to report feeling unsafe and be bullied at school compared to other students. They were also more likely to experience violence in school, at home and in the community. 

“The theme of ‘Just Be in 2023’ is to celebrate, embrace, accept and lift up each other and simply ‘be,’” said Dona Lane, founder and chief executive officer of Untapped Resources and lead organizer of the June 24 event. “This is simple to say but living it in today’s world may not always be so simple.” 

The event will include several guest speakers, a unity walk, tshirt painting, tabling by local and regional organizations and other activities. Co-sponsors include Healthy Lincoln County, Rising Tide Co-op, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and the Lincoln County Democratic Committee. The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department and Damariscotta Police Department will provide traffic control for the event. 

“Healthy Lincoln County is thrilled to be a collaborator in this year’s Pride Event: Just Be in 2023,” said Larissa Hannan, director of Healthy Lincoln County, a co-sponsor of the event. “It is incredibly important to support our entire community, and we look forward to a day of celebration that fosters togetherness and uplifts our neighbors, friends and loved ones!”

“Rising Tide is so excited to be a part of this event,” said Shannon Bailey, outreach coordinator for Rising Tide Co-op, another co-sponsor. “We are proud to see our community come together to celebrate diversity and inclusion.”

This year marks the second anniversary of the Pride & Unity event. Last year’s walk and rally, the first in Lincoln County for Pride Month, drew a crowd of around 150 people. Organizers expect this year’s event to be even larger. 

“Coming together to recognize Pride Month in our community shows our LGBTQ+ friends, family and neighbors that we value and love them for who they are,” said Kelli Whitlock Burton, chair of the Lincoln County Democratic Committee. “That has never been more important than it is today, especially for our community’s young people.”

For more information or to sign up to have a float in the parade, contact Dona Lane at 480-516-3859.