How we personally choose to celebrate Pride may differ from year to year. In 2023, I think the need to celebrate Pride is stronger than ever, more frustrating than ever, and 1,000% needed now more than ever. At Instinct we have many writers all cross the nation and we’ll be covering Prides in small, large, and international cities. One of those Prides that I am choosing to attend is actually a return home to New England to close friends and a supportive family and a wonderful community.
Growing up in Maine, Ogunquit was our state’s gay playground. Just a 45-minute drive south of Portland, Maine’s largest city, Ogunquit was where we could be as free as we wanted to be. Surrounded by like people, by open minds, and by one of the most beautiful landscapes you’ll ever find in the nation, it was my gay home away from home for many many years, mainly in my 20s and 30s. I’ve returned quite often since moving out of New England and the town slips right back on as one of the most comfortable and accepting places you will visit. So when the the stars and the flights aligned, I knew it was time to return and I’ll be there for Ogunquit Pride June 1st -5th.
We are excited to host our third annual Ogunquit Pride weekend, starting with our flag raising on Thursday, June 1!
Ogunquit Pride is not just a celebration; it’s a testament to the spirit of Ogunquit itself—a town that embraces love, acceptance, and diversity with open arms.
It’s a weekend where laughter, happiness, and a sense of belonging fill the air. So pack your bags, bring your friends, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime at Ogunquit Pride 2023!
And I also love a young blossoming Pride. South Beach and Savanna are just in their teens and Ogunquit is celebrating its third. That number does seem a little low since I’ve been going to the gay beach and the gay bars there since the 1900’s, let me rephrase, for about 25 years.
So what should we expect from this young pride? I actually think it has just what I am looking for. BBQs, drag, picnics in the park, dancing, Broadway, worthy politicians, themed tea dances, live music, queer movies, and more.
Ogunquit Pride June 1-5, 2023
Ogunquit Pride kicks off with a flag raising in Veteran’s Park, followed by a community BBQ. Other activities throughout the weekend salute the legacy of the LGBTQ+ community in Ogunquit, with a variety of events hosted by member businesses, including music, movies, live entertainment, and food.
The celebration kicks off with a flag-raising ceremony and the unveiling of the Pride crosswalks. Present for the festivities will be Representative. Ryan Fecteau, Maine’s first openly gay Speaker of the House. A Biddeford native, Fecteau made national headlines when he was elected to the role of Speaker at just 28 years old in 2020.
There are many event throughout the five days that I have my eye on, especially the boys and girls doing burlesque!
Burlesque Beyond the Beach
Join Rev. Legs Malone for a big, beautiful, QUEER night of fun that brings the best of burlesque and drag from Maine and beyond to the beautiful Leavitt Theater.
Coinciding with Ogunquit Pride, this celebration of love and foxy bodies will thrill, delight and titillate your senses with stunning feats of beauty and mirth.
Featuring a screening of the classic short film trilogy Gay Fairy Tales by B-Movie maven Lola Rocknrolla.
Starring The Maine Attraction, Chris Harder, GiGi Gabor, Moxie Sazerac, and surprise special guests.
The burlesque will happen after the flag raising ceremony. The other book end event is one that I feel will most likely involve the talents of the wonderful thespians from the Ogunquit Playhouse. If you don’t know about the Ogunquit Playhouse, the institution is 92 years old. Getting its start in a garage in 1933 to its wonderful theater just on the edge of town, the cats are filled with talent from London, New York, Los Angeles and more that come to this small New England Town in the summer to put on some amazing high quality shows. During Pride, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical will be filling the stage. You’ll also get to see them hanging out in town as well as gracing the stage at karaoke nights. There will be Karaoke with Chartreuse on Friday night and on Monday night, Broadway Gives Back.
Related Post: Travel Thursday: Maine Labor Day Tradition Mr Gay Ogunquit Turns 40
NIGHTLIFE – Both of those events and more, like the Over the Rainbow BBQ, (a)LIVE! -Joe Posa as Joan Rivers, Tea Dances, Night Dancing, Ogunquit’s Got Talent, will be taking place at Mainestreet. The bar’s about us page reds, “Mainestreet is northern New England’s largest gay nightclub featuring 2 dance rooms, 2 outdoor decks, and 3 bars… it’s the best place in Ogunquit to party and catch the best shows around.” I can attest to that! Dance, see a show, meet someone, or just people watch, like we all like to do. Day or night, it’s a great place to relax, make new friends, or just be happy you’re there.
Other events will take place as a couple of the local parks, the Leavitt Theatre, The Front Porch Piano Bar, and the Admiral’s Inn. Don’t worry, it’s a small town, you’ll be able to walk to everything.
But you’ll have to walk from somewhere. How about gay owned and operated Lodging followed by some dining recommendations?
LODGING – If you’re looking for lodging so you can stay a couple of nights and just soak the town all in, wake up early and head to the beach, walk Marginal way, check out the OGT Inns (booking site) family of lodging which includes The Inn on Shore Road, Inn at Perkins Cove (formerly(Hartwell House Inn), Moon over Maine, High Rock Guest Studios, and The Nellie Littlefield Inn & Spa. The Nellie is a hard landmark to miss as its presence at the beginning of Shore Road, one of the three prominent roads in town. Gay owned and operated, this eight (8) room inn has been well maintained and furnished. The spacious rooms with high ceilings, all with their own generous en suite (bathroom), are the home away from home you will find hard to leave. Mark my words, you’ll want to take the sheets with you as they will be the most comfortable you’ve slept on.
EATS – Find a place, sit down, and enjoy. All the food options in Ogunquit are fabulous. Here are a couple that I always enjoy.
Brix & Brine – mainly with outdoor seating, this is like having a meal on your back porch, but with 20 complete strangers and it’s better than anything that will come out of your kitchen. The laid back atmosphere will have you enjoying your meal and people watching as you sit in the fresh Maine sea air. The appetizers are playful and the oysters and other options from the raw bar cannot be beat. Local seafood you say? Yes, indeed.
The Crooked Pine – a minimalistic crisp dining space with seasonal, local and artisan products that add up to a dining experience you deserve. A little bit of New England charm with some European influences, the dish names will sound familiar, but the twist is welcomed and appreciated.
The Front Porch – Always a great spot to find a libation and cuisine, this institution has gone through many upgrades, but is always at the top of Ogunquit’s offerings. My preference is to sit downstairs at the bar and spend time with one of my favorite persons out there who just happens to be a bartender. The entire staff is there to make sure you have a great experience, but if Matt is in the house, you will have a special evening and great service. If you are a piano bar fan or a show tune lover, watch the Front Porch’s website for when its shows are or just listen for the piano as it echoes through the town.
Souvenirs? – The very supportive Ogunquit Chamber of Commerce also has a zazzle store online. I have my eye on a couple of things myself. Local businesses in Ogunquit will also offer varying specials and fundraisers during pride and some all month long. The Sassy Olive is offering Rainbow Totes and Caps where 50% of the sales of these items will be donated to the Frannie Peabody Center, an organization dedicated to “Empowering and supporting people living with or affected by HIV/AIDS in Maine through integrative care, education, advocacy, and prevention services”.
Related Post: Travel Thursday: Our Staycation in Southern Maine – Portland & Ogunquit
Will I see you there? It is a simple 1.5 hour or so drive from Boston, about a 5 hour drive from New York City. It’s all up to you, but I’ll be there from June 1st to the 5th just soaking up all of the Pride of our community and Ogunquit and the Joy of being in such a welcoming space.
Here is the full schedule of events (download here) followed by some pictures of the town, etc. Be sure to come on up and enjoy one of the best prides you may ever have.