Moment of pride For the third year, the rainbow-colored Pride flag was raised over Cranston City Hall last week in celebration of June as Pride Month. The event, organized by Ward 1 City Councilwoman Lammis Vargas, was broadcast on The Progress Channel,
For the third year, the rainbow-colored Pride flag was raised over Cranston City Hall last week in celebration of June as Pride Month.
The event, organized by Ward 1 City Councilwoman Lammis Vargas, was broadcast on The Progress Channel, a local information and entertainment service focused on Rhode Island’s LGBTQIA and BIPOC communities. Mayor Ken Hopkins presented a citation to Ken Barber, executive producer for The Progress Channel, followed by a number of speakers and the raising of the flag.
Hopkins drew loud cheers from the crowd on hand when he announced that for the first time, City Hall would be illuminated with the colors of the rainbow at night in honor of Pride Month.
Three of the state’s five general officers were in attendance for last week’s ceremony, including Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, Attorney General Peter Neronha and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea.
Other officials on hand were Superintendent of Schools Jeannine Nota-Masse, Fire Chief Jim Warren, Police Capt. Gerard Carnevale, Ward 3 School Committee member Domenic Fusco, citywide council members Jessica Marino, Nicole Renzulli and Robert Ferri, Ward 2 Councilwoman Aniece Germain and Ward 3 Councilman John Donegan.
Representatives from The Progress Channel and other members of the community waved Pride and Black Lives Matter flags at the outset of the ceremony, and several, including Taylor Neptune and Shantella Lantigia, spoke as part of the celebration. AJ Delsignor, an artist and poet, read a poem as well.
Vargas told those present “welcome equity, welcome diversity, and welcome acceptance, and know that love is love, and no one should live in fear because of how they identify themselves or where they live.”
“Here in Cranston, we support everyone … All are welcomed, all are respected, and we are one community,” she said.
Hopkins called Pride Month “a call to action, to inspire us to live up to our nation’s promise of equality, liberty and justice for all.”
“We recognize the resilience and determination of many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically,” he said. “This Pride Month, we reaffirm our obligation to uphold the dignity of all people.”
Ferri, who has gay family members, said last week’s event was particularly meaningful for him. He became emotional during his brief remarks to the audience.
“When Lammis asked me to participate in helping her with this, I got a lump in my throat, because I knew how much it would mean to me … I’m proud of all of you,” he said.
Neronha used the occasion to advocate for a two pieces of legislation his office has submitted to the General Assembly – the first to expand the state’s hate crimes statute to include language regarding “gender identity or expression,” and the other to include similar language in a key civil rights provision.
“There is no reason for those words not to be in our law,” he said.
On Monday, during a special meeting, the City Council approved a resolution recognizing June at Pride Month in Cranston.
During the meeting, Vargas thanked the Hopkins administration for its support of the flag-raising and resolution.
“Great things happen when you have an open line of communication … and I hope that continues,” she said.
(Text and photos by Daniel Kittredge)