Full of Pride

Cape Ann Pride Month kicks off June 1 with tons of weekend events


This month Cape Ann will host its first official Pride Month, spotlighting the LGBTQIA+ community with a vibrant array of events across Gloucester, Rockport, Manchester, and Essex.  The celebration kicks off with “Cape Ann Pride Weekend” starting May 31.

Of course, Cape Ann has celebrated June’s “Pride Month” with various events over the years.  There’s the Cape Ann Museum’s popular Family Pride Picnic, North Shore Pride’s drag brunches at Manchester’s Boo Bird, Historic New England’s monthlong queer-geared tours at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, to name a few. 

But this year, it’s all coming together.  The effort was sparked one year ago when five friends— Jai Fields, George Grattan, his wife Mary Benard, Matthew Murray, and Stephen Hopkins—met up at Pratty’s, a bar in Gloucester, and decided to form the Cape Ann Pride Coalition (CAPC).  The idea?  Build and expand on regional Pride groups like Boston Pride, Newburyport Pride, and North Shore Pride that bring together events focused on tolerance, education, and more than anything, fun.

“It was clear that Cape Ann has a strong arts community and its own distinct vibe and personality,” said Grattan.  “So we thought, ‘Why not us?’  We could be a bridge that fits right into other local Pride organizations.”

Within two months, the group had connected with Colleen Murdock, director of community relations at the Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, and soon, the reality of the group’s dream began to sizzle to life. 

They decided to mimic last year’s successful Gloucester 400th celebration strategy, focusing on owning key “pillar” CAPC events and inviting other local organizations to come in with their own programs that expand the celebration.  When sponsors stepped up, the Cape Ann Pride team knew they’d hit ignition.

Kicking off …

“Cape Ann Pride Weekend,” launches with a flurry of events starting Friday, May 31 and features three packed days of programming geared toward LGBTQIA+ adults, youth, families, and anyone else who wants to join in.

There’s “Bowling with Pride” for LGBTQIA+ youth, families and friends at Cape Ann Lanes in Gloucester;  a musical performance by the band Kicked Off the Bus at Whale’s Jaw Café in Rockport (and don’t miss the Whale’s Jaw killer sandwiches and cocktails);  the Family Pride Picnic on the Cape Ann Museum Green (an event the museum has hosted for the past three years);  a Pride kickoff DJ dance party at The Cut on Main Street in Gloucester; free museum tours at Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House, an 18+ beach party hosted by the North Shore Health Project on Pavilion Beach in Gloucester;  a 21+ tea dance on the pier behind Maritime Gloucester;  and official Pride flag raising ceremonies in Essex, Gloucester and Manchester (the latter organized by North Shore Pride starting three years ago).

Savannah Hopkins, a Rockport High School student and CAPC member, said she’s excited for the weekend, which will emphasize visibility and community inclusion.

“To say at the top of our lungs that we’re here, some of us are queer, and we’re part of the community every day as your friends, family and coworkers,” Hopkins said.

And that’s exactly the idea, said Greater Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce CEO Steve Buckley.   “Cape Ann Pride Weekend will make clear that we are a welcoming, tolerant and open community.”

Filling out Pride Month …

Following the starting shot of Cape Ann Pride Weekend, the month of June will feature an incredible variety of museum-led programs celebrating local Pride.

First up is Historic New England’s Beauport, the Sleeper-McCann House museum on Eastern Point in Gloucester, which has long geared June to the idea of Pride.

Henry Davis Sleeper was a hugely important figure in the early 1900s history of America’s interior design.  His close relationships with men, including A. Piatt Andrew, the influential US Congressman, Ass. US Treasury Secretary, and Harvard professor whose namesake bridge connects Rte. 128 to the island of Gloucester, remained an open secret for decades. 

That’s not unusual, said the property’s site manager, Kristen Weiss, since queer and gay historical figures are a challenge for academics because they often self-censored their writings and materials.  Starting in 2009, Pilar Garro, as then-site manager of the Sleeper-McCann House, led a years-long research effort and, step-by-step, began integrating more of Sleeper’s story into tour scripts. 

By 2016, the museum added dedicated LGBTQI+ tours for the month of June.  And it’s been a boon to visitorship. 

This year, on June 22, the Beauport Sleeper-McCann House will host a book signing with R. Tripp Evans, author of the upcoming “The Importance of Being Furnished: Four Bachelors at Home,” that explores the impact of Sleeper and three other Boston area designer “bachelors.”

The Cape Ann Museum is also bolstering its annual June Family Pride Picnic, which it has hosted for three years, with an add-on that is decidedly “adult.”  On Friday, June 7 the museum will host an evening “Lavender Speakeasy” with music, dancing, food, and special tours of the museum with a “lavender lens.”

But it’s Magnolia’s Hammond Castle Museum that this year kicked its LGBTQI+ programming into high gear after two years of intense new research into the archives of John Hayes Hammond, Jr., by its collections team, headed up
by John Leysath, Caleb McMurphy, and Beth Welin.

“John Hays Hammond, Jr. was a very influential man in the realm of science and technology. But he was also an influential member of the Queer community here on Cape Ann and beyond,” said Hammond Castle Executive Director Linda Harvey. “The Museum is delighted to be able to honor the full legacy that Hammond left behind.”

Hammond Jr. died five years before Pride Month was established in 1970, and while it is impossible to know how Hammond, Jr. would have specifically identified in the modern landscape of diverse queer identities—the museum’s research concludes that he had romantic relationships with both men and women over his life. 

Hammond Castle is taking the lead with no less than seven Cape Ann Pride Month events.  There are weekly “mini exhibits” that include The Innocents at Home: Harry Martin and John Latouche (5/31 thru 6/6);  Maximus to Aquarius: Gerrit Lansing and Set Magazine (5/31 thru 6/6);  From Beauport to Fenway Court: A. Piatt Andrew, Henry Davis Sleeper, Isabella Stewart Gardner and Leslie Buswell;  (6/14 thru 6/20);  Anything Goes: Cafe Society and Lady Mendl (6/21 thru 6/27); and, Sewing Circles: Natalie Hays Hammond, Alla Nazimova, and Queer Women of the Stage and Screen (6/28 thru 7/4). 

The museum will also host events, including a night of poetry (6/9) and a double feature moving night (17+) on Saturday, June 15 of Tell Me That You Love Me Junie Moon (fun fact: filmed in Manchester by the Sea) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (not filmed in Manchester by the Sea!).

In the end, CAPC’s goal was to be the glue that could pull together a wide variety of inclusive Cape Ann’s Pride Month events.  And from the slate of events planned for this year, it seems they’re off to a great start.


For the full schedule of event for Cape Ann Pride, go to capeannpride.org.