Hamden hosts the first-ever Pride celebration

HAMDEN — When Jacky Forcucci moved to Hamden in 2019, she was disappointed to learn there was no Pride celebration in the city.

But thanks to city workers and residents like Forcucci, that’s about to change. Hamden will host its first official Pride celebration this June.

Hosting a local event “was something that was really important to me,” said Forcucci, who has attended Pride festivals in other Connecticut cities. “I want my kids to see that the town they live in accepts our family… and see that there are other families in Hamden that look like us.”

Forcucci sits on the event’s steering committee and has helped lead the city-sponsored event, which will be held June 18 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Town Center Park

“Having a city that welcomes everyone and celebrates all of our wonderful diversity is so important to me,” said Mayor Lauren Garrett. “I’m really looking forward to participating in the celebrations at Hamden’s first major Pride Month event.”

Garrett was a big supporter, according to Forcucci, who said the city’s involvement made a difference.

“You want to know that the city really accepts you and that the city you live in is open and positive,” she said. “It’s one thing for a parishioner or a group of parishioners to host this celebration and get permission to do it. But I think it speaks volumes when it comes to not only being able to hold this event, but being fully accepted by the city.

The celebration will include kid-friendly activities like face painting, a bouncy house and a drag queen story hour, Forcucci said.

“My wife and I have kids and we went to Pride events,” she said. “We want to have something for the kids to engage with and connect with other kids and families who are … in the LGBTQ+ community or allies of the LGBTQ+ community.”

According to Forcucci, organizers have also lined up a live musician and can hire a DJ or choir to add to the fun.

The event also features an unusual fundraiser centered around dog photography.

Liz Bossoli, who also identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community and sits on the event’s steering committee, is a canine photographer. It’s not uncommon to see pets at Pride events, she said, sometimes dressed in outfits so colorful they rival those of their owners.

While the details of the fundraiser remain preliminary, Bossoli is excited to contribute.

“I am so excited to donate my skills to a cause that is close to my heart,” she said.

Bossoli became more involved with the local LGBTQIA+ community after the Pride flag in the front yard of her home was slashed twice in December. Afterward, Forcucci reached out and “let me know there’s a community behind us,” Bossoli said.

Forcucci invited Bossoli to join a Hamden Pride group on Facebook and from there Bossoli helped plan the June event.

When Bossoli learned Hamden would be hosting the celebration, she was thrilled to attend.

“As we experienced the trauma of both crimes over the winter, we found so much comfort in the kind acts we received,” she said. “I saw it (planning the event) as an opportunity to do my part to strengthen the LGBTQIA+ community as others had done for us.”

She hopes the event will bring people together.

“I firmly believe that connectedness is a key antidote to intolerance,” she said. “If the city hosts this event, it will have a widespread positive outcome in strengthening the community as a whole.

“We want to do our best to help open people up further, and we know that not everyone has been exposed to the LGBTQIA+ community in obviously meaningful ways, and by welcoming everyone to the community, we will.” be a way of bringing us all together and erasing all ignorance…can potentially fuel intolerance.”

Another aim of the event is to educate people and connect them to relevant resources, said Susan Rubino, Hamden Youth Services Coordinator and another organizer of the event.

There will be food trucks, raffles and booths, she said, and the city will host an educational panel a few weeks beforehand to kick things off.

“As an ally of the LGBTQ+ community, I’m very excited about this,” Rubino said.

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About Gloria Skelton

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