As A Black Gay Man, Connecticut Has Embraced All Of Me
We all deserve that feeling of belonging. This Pride month and every month, I’m glad to say I have found mine.
June 30, 2022 at 3:25 pm
This Pride Month, I’m once again reminded why proudly gay, proudly Black me decided to make my life in Connecticut.
The state captured my heart when I landed here in 2005 for college, three years before it would become the second state to legalize same-sex marriage. Over the past 17 years, the state has strengthened protections and bolstered rights for diverse members of the LGBTQ+ community, including trans people, youth and same-sex parents. It’s not something I take for granted, especially when so many states are still actively working to silence us.
These policies have helped to foster a hugely vibrant LGBTQ+ community with fierce allies, many who are coming of age and making Connecticut even more of a vibrant, cultural hotspot.
There are dozens of arts organizations like Real Art Ways and Hygienic Art dedicated to centering diverse artists and stories, an eclectic music scene with local and national performers (check out Pratt St. in Hartford), LGBTQ+ bars and nightlife like Chez Est (a personal favorite), an increasingly popular drag scene and some really impressive theaters. There are also hundreds of miles of hiking trails with wineries and breweries along the way (shout out to Priam Vineyards), sporting events, casinos, the shoreline with adorable small towns (hi, Mystic!) and urban centers like Manchester where I live with my partner (The Main Pub is a must-visit).
And don’t get me started on the foodie scene. If you haven’t posed in the bathtub ball pit at The Place 2 Be in West Hartford, have you even lived?
If you think popular cities like Portland, Oregon, D.C., and Ft. Lauderdale have the monopoly on gay fun, you’re mistaken.
Connecticut has often been considered a drive-through state — the means to get from point A to point B. But what I’ve found is that it’s the best of both worlds: bustling city life (Hartford, New Haven, New London and Norwalk are my faves) with an easy escape to nature, where I don’t need to dim my glow. It has all the authenticity of New England without the crowds, and some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. As an avid traveler living in my body, I know this combination is rare.
Businesses and organizations throughout the state, including the aerospace manufacturer where I work, do more than just decorate with rainbow ornaments to support the LGBTQ+ community — they go out of their way to make it known that all are welcome. The enthusiasm centered around Pride — what it really stands for — extends beyond the month of June.
So, as I scroll through photos from earlier this month at Middletown PrideFest, one of the largest of the 25+ Pride festivals in Connecticut from June to September, I am overwhelmed and proud to call the state my home.
And as I plan my summer staycations to the many LGBTQ+ welcoming small businesses, hotels and events throughout the state, I’m reminded that I don’t need to go far to live my best life.
We all deserve that feeling of belonging. This Pride month and every month, I’m glad to say I have found mine. I hope you do, too.
Fred Langford is a resident of Manchester, Connecticut, an accomplished professional, avid traveler and proud member of the LGBTQ+ community.