WESTFIELD – On Friday, June 26, 2020, for the first time ever, a progress pride flag will be raised at Westfield City Hall.
The Westfield Pride Alliance invites all to celebrate this day in history at 10 a.m. in front of City Hall, 59 Court St.
Pride Alliance member Kristen Mello, also an at-large Westfield City Councilor, said members of the group are happy to see the flag raised in the city.
“Pride means so many things to so many people regarding their lives, jobs, families and relationships. Raising the flag on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about same-sex marriage is both intentional and celebratory,” said Mello. “Raising the progress pride flag shows we are here and part of the Westfield community. The flag represents the diversity of our community and supports inclusion and equality.”
For some group members, seeing the flag in their community is an important step.
“The raising of the Progress pride flag in Westfield means my family and my life and the lives of all of our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender community members are acknowledged as part of the tapestry of this great city. I am proud to live and work here and if this historic flag raising shares that pride, we have done our best work,” said one Pride Alliance member who wished to be anonymous.
Another member also spoke anonymously about their role in raising the flag.
“I am humbled and honored to have played my small part. We are so blessed to have Justice Greaney with us for this historic occasion. I am so very grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge, honor, and celebrate the rich diversity in our City and the heroic decision Justice Greaney made to ensure equal rights and protections under the law. I am so grateful that, for the next week, every LGBTQ+ person, family member, and ally that sees that flag will know that we have pride in Westfield and Westfield has pride in us.”
One young resident, age 11, said “If I didn’t live here and just found out about it, I’d be like ‘Yea’!” When asked why, she said, “Because LGBTQ+ people deserve to be celebrated and treated equally.”
Mello said there were many requests and conversations that happened before this year, and she wanted to acknowledge the “unrecognized work done by those who came before us.”
Mello said this particular event began on social media when a friend tagged her in a post created by a resident who wanted to know how to request that a pride flag be raised.
“We discussed it and reached out to the Mayor’s office on June 9 to find out the procedure,” she said. “ A ‘flag team’ of volunteers, later named Westfield Pride Alliance, surfaced to help with the details and arrangements: choosing the date, securing the flag, lining up speakers, etc.”
For members of Pride Alliance, this progress pride flag raising, at the seat of our local government, is a recognition and appreciation of the rich diversity in the cty.
“It is also a beacon for those LGBTQ+ members of our Community. It says, ‘We see you and celebrate you. You are not alone. You are welcome here’,” said Mello.
Westfield Pride Alliance is a committee of several resident volunteers hastily formed to help bring this flag raising to fruition. If, after this inaugural event, people in the Community feel this group could be of continued service, Mello said it will address a more definitive structure, membership, meetings, goals, etc. Those interested in joining, can go to the Facebook page, Westfield Pride Alliance.
The Pride Alliance asks that due to Covid-19 anyone attending Friday’s flag raising should practice mask and physical distance protocols.