The North East Regional Pride (NERP) annual conference for 2013, from March 8 to 10, was hosted by New Hope Celebrates (NHC), the pride committee from New Hope, Pennsylvania, whose Pride is the first one to kick off the season. InterPride’s Region 6, NERP encompasses the area from Washington, DC through Southern Maine. This year, NHC pulled out all the stops to provide three days of conference programming, plenary meetings, and plenty of social activities that showcased the many resources they have at their fingertips. Consequently, many of us plan to return for non-working visits very, very soon.
The first day of the conference was actually on March 7, when an outing to Café Blue Moose was a highlight of the evening. This youth-run restaurant specializes in European style cooking with prix fixe two and three course options. All of the selections are mouth-watering and you’ll enjoy every bite knowing that the restaurant provides opportunities for youth to acquire both cooking skills and the resources they need to work in any career to which their interests take them.
March 8 began with the Tourism Roundtable, hosted by NHC founder Dan Brooks with Michelle Falcone, from the Visit Bucks Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). There are many ways that pride organizations of all sizes can work with their local CVBs to make sure even more people can enjoy the events produced. There was a neat segue into the next workshop that I attended, What’s So Social–regarding how to utilize social media to make sure your message gets out about the who-what-where-when-how: when the event is going on, and how to build excitement for people who are already there. If you haven’t set up a Pin-terest account or researched Instagram, you’ll want to see what they offer to tailor the best social media combination for your organization or event. Paul Bencivengo, also from Visit Bucks, took the helm to give us the read on what each offers, and how Visit Bucks took advantage of the capabilities of each one, and peppered his presentation with audience-interactive questions that kept us tuned in to what he was saying. It was a great opportunity for everyone fortunate enough to arrive early on that picturesque snowy Friday afternoon. Other workshops included ones on how to maximize the benefit to your organization of this and other conferences, how to gain grant funding, overcoming LGBT discrimination in schools, working to combat bullying, and how to book the kind of acts for Pride that audiences queue up to see.
The Raven played host to a catered reception welcoming the delegates that evening. The reunion of change makers from all over the region, who only see one another once a year, was heartfelt, raucous, and affectionate, and there was much discussion about the past years’ events, including about some groups who held Winter Pride activities. March 9 was packed full, and those who didn’t dance the night away were getting ready for what was next.
The Saturday included a session called Retroscope, named after a project that New Hope Celebrates is doing to document its rich local history. Using an open-source software product, its members are providing a nucleus of starting material, encouraging the community to add their own pictures, videos, and recollections. These will be curated by the people of the Retroscope project and many delegates are already making plans to get this project going in groups throughout the region. Strategic planning was also on the agenda, as well as a discussion of Parades–challenges to overcome, with participants discussing the trials and victories they have experienced. History is the best teacher and when you can learn from someone else’s successful situation, it spares you from following a less-productive path.
The afternoon plenary session was all about the business of the North East region. There were nominations were made for a soon-to-be available Regional Director slot and reports to the membership on the progress of Pride around the world. In addition, delegates signed up for the various committees that make Pride happen in between the meetings and the events we hold. It’s true that we are all connected.
The working lunch complete, the afternoon session included the showing of a groundbreaking documentary called “Trans.” Dr. Christine McGinn’s personal story provides the backbone of the film and the story of her transition and the stories of others’ transitions, from a child of seven, who knew she was a girl at, two even though biology says otherwise, and a young transman, who is finding his way by asking questions, attending conferences, and making the decisions that will affect the rest of his life. Dr. McGinn was available for a question-and-answer session immediately following the film and her candor and willingness to answer questions she must have answered a thousand times, with sensitivity to each person, made asking them a highlight of the afternoon. Even among organizations coordinating Pride, there is much work to be done in education and outreach.
The evening gala was held in the New Hope Arts Center’s gallery space, catered by DiSh Catering, and was a brilliant event. NHC’s hallmark of bringing in all parts of their community to work together was exemplified by the banquet. Local celebrities singer/songwriter Christine Martucci and Miss Gay Pennsylvania USofA Classic 2013 Victoria Lace were the headliners for the evening, adding vibrant energy to the wide selection of local art, painting, drawing, and multi-media pieces, the delicious food that literally included something for everyone, and the dazzling rainbow cupcakes that had everyone tasting colors. The banquet also included videotaping for the “I am InterPride” campaign that was spearheaded by InterPride VP Suz Seymour and Delegate David Gomez. Look for the videos on the InterPride Facebook page and YouTube channels soon.
On March 10, the final plenary session, when Michele Irimia of Heritage of Pride was selected as the incoming Regional Director, took place. New Hope Celebrates gave us all a warm send off with the showing of its “Embraceable You” video, which talks about the history of the community and also the melting pot that makes New Hope such a strong group of people from all walks of life. It was a beautiful love letter to use as a farewell for the delegates, many of whom remained in the city of New Hope for the day, lunching, walking, dreaming, and shopping before heading back to wherever they call home. Those of us who live close by are planning to return to New Hope.
Would you like more information? Are you part of a Pride that would like to network with InterPride? Reach out to www.InterPride.org for more information about the North East Region. Want to visit New Hope? Check out www.NewHopeCelebrates.com and ,for the tech savvy, download its App from iTunes or Google Play–this is Pride, the Next Generation, so what are you waiting for? Get involved. Get Proud. Get going!