Pride, Joy, and Community at The Beach in New London

New London, CT - All Photos by Randy Stern
New London, CT - All Photos by Randy Stern

Somehow, wherever I go, a Pride event suddenly pops up on my radar. It’s just like finding a car meet somewhere.

This year, there were 30-plus Pride events and festivals hosted across the state of Minnesota. I attended several of them from Alexandria to Northfield, Marshall to West St. Paul. You’d think I had my run of small town Pride events earlier this year. However, we still have several more events to come this year.

When I was doing this travel story out in Connecticut, my hosts at the state’s Office of Tourism pointed me to a Pride event in New London – on the same day as the Pride events in Stockholm, Wisconsin; Fargo, North Dakota; and Virginia, Minnesota. To the organizers of those Pride events, please accept my apologies for not being there to support you and your celebration.

Chevelle Moss-Savage, Vice President of OutCT

New London’s Pride at The Beach is produced by OutCT as part of an extended weekend of events for the LGBTQ+ community in Southeastern Connecticut. They just celebrated its tenth year. Pride is not the only event OutCT produces for this region, as they have several forms of programming throughout the year for its LGBTQ+ residents – and visitors. As Chevelle Moss-Savage, Vice President of OutCT explains, “We have education forums. We have advocacy programs. We have a youth group. We have so many things that we use to give back to the community.”

New London Prides celebration is not just a one-day event. As Moss-Savage explains, “there is so much joy and so much pride, and we always like to highlight that every year. And this year, I think we’ve gone above and beyond. We had our Queer Karaoke, which was on a Wednesday. On Thursday, we had the educational meeting. And then on Friday, we had drag [event], which we’ve never had that before, and then today we have Pride at the Beach.”

At the Pride’s venue, Ocean Beach Park, the festival simply took over the boardwalk. Vendor booths stretch the entire boardwalk, ranging from local businesses – large and small – community organizations, and so forth. A stage is set up for local acts to perform facing out to the sea and a small group of city-provided grandstands. These performers also had a captive audience with the multitude of beachgoers that have taken over the sand.

Pride at The Beach, Ocean Beach Park, New London, CT

Throughout the year, OutCT has various events that engage with the Southeastern Connecticut community year-round. “We have one of our biggest fundraisers, which is our fashion show, which is called ‘Born This Way,’ explained Moss-Savage. “We also have another fundraiser called ‘The Oscar Party.’ And then we have our LGBTQIA Wellness and Health, which is specifically designed for queer folks and folks in the LGBTQIS community and the folks who are allies and providers. And all of these are on our website, but our biggest event is our Pride Festival.”

What really excites Moss-Savage and her work with the Southeastern Connecticut LGBTQ+ community is that she gets to work with the people who welcomed her and her girlfriend from Virginia back in 2018. A month later, they attended their first New London Pride. As Miss-Savage explained, “the amount of love and support I felt being in community with other people made me realize that this is something that I wanted to find out more about and also stay engaged.”

“Then, on top of that,” Moss-Savage further explained, “as a black career woman who also is a licensed psychotherapist, I understand the importance of representation, and so that particular day that I was at Pride, one of the founding members was on the mic saying, ‘Welcome to Pride. Welcome to Pride.’ I remember looking at her and her complexion was my color. She was a dark-skinned woman, and she had on Wrangler knee socks and I’m from the South, man, so anybody who’s on the mic has some type of influence. I was excited to see representation within the organization that looked like me.”

OutCT Weklcomes Us to Pride at the Beach, Ocean Beach Park, New London, CT

“That propelled me to want to volunteer next year, which I did,” Moss-Savage further explained. She was able to attend some of the events held by OutCT and would meet the current President of the organization, Cecil Carter, which prompter Moss-Savage to start doing more with the organization. “At that point in time he was the pride co-chair,” said Moss-Savage. “I asked if they were interested in onboarding new board members, and I had previous board experience. He was like, ‘Absolutely,’ and the rest is history. I am so excited to be a part of the organization. I am so excited about all the work we’re going to be doing.”

One of the outputs of Moss-Savage’s work at OutCT is an event called Everyone Deserves Pride. It was held on June 28 – the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots – at the steps of New London’s City Hall. As she explained, part of the program is a vigil where they say the names of BIPOC, Trans, and Non-Binary community members who have lost their lives over the past year.

Moss-Savage and OutCT has the support of the New London and Southeastern Connecticut community – from the city’s Mayor to all of the LGBTQ+ people in the region. From what I observed in a brief moment, that is what makes her work both challenging and fulfilling.

Ocean Beach Park and Pride at the Beach could be seen as different – rather, very similar and familiar – than the Pride celebrations we continue to celebrate through October, Moss-Savage, the great people at OutCT sand all of the people I met that day are what makes this event even special.

For more information on OutCT and New London Pride, log on to:

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