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Cano Restrepo: Last year, we had our Pride celebration in a virtual way. And I know this is not only for us, but for anyone that went through a COVID lockdown, just being able to be outside, connect with people, give a hug, give a kiss — that otherwise we couldn't done that last year. So I think it's pretty significant that we're actually finally having Newport Pride again this year.

O’Connor: It feels really significant and exciting. I think COVID had, I mean there was a lot of isolation associated with it for everyone and especially our young people in this community and communities across the country and the world.

And that isolation, especially for people who might be from marginalized groups, for people who might already maybe have some struggles with identity, it's so important to come back together again. And so it feels really celebratory in a sense too, kind of being hopefully at the tail end of a pandemic.

Ayres-Brown: This year, the state's largest Pride celebration in Providence has looked really different — you know, the parade is postponed. How does that impact Pride events in other parts of the state, like Newport Pride?

O’Connor: Yeah, well two weeks ago we participated in Little Compton's first ever Pride events, which was really special. We just sort of represented Newport there. We wanted to make sure that residents and families in Little Compton knew about what we're doing and just help celebrate. East Greenwich has events going on, West Warwick...

So I think it's all a number of factors have kind of led to more communities embracing local Pride events. And probably one of those factors has been not having the size or scale of events in Providence this year.

Cano Restrepo: Yeah, and I will say that it's very interesting what happened this year with Rhode Island Pride because, in some way, I feel like some other members of the community realized the importance of having Pride. And seeing that it wasn't going to happen in Providence — we saw a lot of other towns showing up, saying ‘We're gonna have a Pride celebration.’

So I feel like it’s just really cool that we can be one of those towns taking the lead on what's going to happen this month and celebrate Pride.

Ayres-Brown: Newport Pride is coming up this weekend, but I know your organization, Newport Out, is active year round. Moving forward, what are some of the initiatives or changes that you'd like to see to make Newport and Rhode Island a more equitable place for LGBTQ+ residents?

Cano Restrepo: We not only run events all year long, but we also try to connect with the community — especially youth and youth programs. But also we are looking forward to create policies, work more closely with local businesses in the city itself.

For example, for a local business, they can say they welcome our community. But what actually happens when our community is there? Like, what are their policies? How are they supposed to protect our communities?

So I feel like we can play a big role in that by educating people, by working together with them. Because we're part of the community. We live what it has been like to be a gay couple in town. So I feel like that's a big role that we can be playing, and that I feel like in the future is what is coming for us.

Ayres-Brown: Dani Cano Restrepo and Sean O’Connor are co-owners of Newport Out and organizers of Newport Pride. Dani and Sean, thanks so much for your time.

O’Connor: Thank you.

Cano Restrepo: Thank you so much.


This transcript was edited for length and clarity.

For a calendar of Newport Pride 2021 events, click here. For a list of other Pride events happening in Rhode Island compiled by Options Magazine, click here

Antonia Ayres-Brown is the Newport Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio. She can be reached at antonia@thepublicsradio.org