PVD United is a collection of events in Providence this June offering residents and visitors the opportunity to celebrate equality, pride, and freedom! The heart of PVD United is the festivities taking place downtown and around the city on the weekend of June 18-20, as we gather together in the spirit of two historic community celebrations.
“Earlier this month, I proclaimed June 2021 as Pride Month here in Providence because we celebrate the deeply rich and dynamic histories of our Black and LGBTQIA+ communities, all of whom contribute to our vibrancy,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “As we commemorate Juneteenth and Pride this weekend, we reflect in reverence upon those who paved the way, and those who continue to advocate for what is right and just.”
The third Saturday of June traditionally marks RI PrideFest, an important LGBTQIA+ celebration commemorating the Stonewall Inn uprising of 1969. June 19 – also known as Juneteenth, Emancipation Day, Jubilee Day, or Freedom Day – commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. These commemorations, and the social movements behind them, share the common theme of significant historic moments in the ongoing fight for equal rights.
As we emerge from the pandemic, a special opportunity presents itself to highlight what these Providence communities have to share. While RI PrideFest will not be held in June this year, many venues and organizations have come together to provide the public with entertaining ways to get together, from block parties with DJs, dancing, and drag performances, to outreach from LGBTQIA+ non-profit organizations. Opportunities to gather to recognize and celebrate Juneteenth are more numerous than any year prior – from the annual Juneteenth RI Festival in Roger Williams Park, to more intimate events around downtown, including an All Black Lives Matter mural installation.
This happens to be a unique moment in our own lived history, and people are eager to share it. Director of Research and Development and LGBTQIA+ Liaison Bret Jacob raises the point that there is “a real need for people to reunite and recover together after a long pandemic of isolation.” PVD United was conceived of by a group of downtown Providence business owners and stakeholders recognizing an opportunity to convene the community while supporting the recovery of businesses that have suffered tremendously over the past year and a half during the pandemic.
In hopes of bringing economic vitality back into our Creative Capital, many downtown businesses decided to host events during the same weekend that the RI PrideFest and Parade has historically been held. As these two events are not happening in June this year, the downtown businesses working together on producing individual events throughout the weekend banded together to create PVD United.
Anthony Santurri, downtown business owner notes: “With COVID-19 numbers drastically down, vaccinations up, and the recent reopening of our state, myself and other downtown community leaders realized that now is the time for in-person, joyous celebrations throughout our streets. The PVD United weekend allows us to do that, bringing people back into the downtown area.”
There is a link between these celebrations and the recovery of vital social life as well as economic vitality. “While there isn’t a RI PrideFest or parade this year, many local businesses like ours, have still decided to plan smaller events on the weekend of June 18-20 that celebrate pride, unity, and diversity. It has been quiet downtown since the pandemic so we’re really looking forward to giving people fun and engaging things to do all weekend long,” according to Brendan Chipley Roane, of G Hospitality and G Pub.
After a year of massive social change and the importance of the issues raised by the Black Lives Matter movement among others, Juneteenth celebrations have a special resonance, calling attention to our nation’s history and legacy around slavery. The day recognizes the reality of this past, however, it also celebrates freedom.
Julia Broome of new downtown establishment Kin Southern Table + Bar, explains “Juneteenth is a day that commemorates the emancipation of the slaves. It is our Freedom Day. We spend the day with our friends, family, and community – our Kin! We will have a day full of food, drinks, music, and games”
Kin is holding a Juneteenth Food Vibes and Soul event, and PVD World Music is hosting live local jazz and hip hop downtown. These events join the annual Juneteenth RI Festival celebration in Roger Williams Park, and this year several events have popped up downtown like a Pride and Juneteenth PVD United event at downtown staple gay bar the Stable. And on Sunday, June 20, the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism hosts an opening of an impressive Black Lives Mural in Kennedy Plaza at Burnside Park.
Other venues hosting PVD United events June 18-20 include EGO, Askew, Dark Lady/Alley Cat, Eagle, Free Play Bar + Arcade, Friskie Fries, Graduate Hotel, G Pub, Mirabar, The Stable, and InDowncity’s Open Air Saturdays. For complete listings and a map, visit the PVD United page on the Options Magazine website.
Several events are happening outside of the June 18-20 weekend. The Providence Public Library is hosting a special exhibition in honor of Pride Month: the RI LGBTQ+ Archives Collection. Visit them online to explore their increasingly accessible content, take a video tour of the archives, or participate by contributing to the archives. Also in June, Love to All Project, the world’s largest LGBTQ-youth-led non-profit organization, endeavors to host socially distanced Pride Month festivities in Providence, including a Pride March on June 26. These events are organized in collaboration with Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design through the Brown Center for Students of Color, the Brown LGBTQ+ Center, and the RISD Office of Intercultural Student Engagement.
The Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism is supporting the PVD United effort with promotional assistance. #PVDUNITED