Governor’s Councilor Duff Addresses Haverhill’s Pride; Recalls ‘Gay Bashing” and ‘Nastiness’

Governor’s Councilor Eileen R. Duff addressed those gathered for Haverhill’s Pride flag raising ceremony in 2022, with, from left to right, Rev. Donna Spencer Collins, pastor at Phoenix Rising United Church of Christ; School Committee member Richard J. Rosa; City Councilor Melissa J. Lewandowski; Sen. Barry R. Finegold; and City Councilor Melinda E. Barrett. (WHAV News photograph.)

More photographs below.

Governor’s Councilor Eileen R. Duff said leadership by elected officials has gone a long way towards making “huge progressive change not only in this country, but in this state” for the LGBTIQA+ population.

Speaking before Haverhill’s largest yet Pride flag raising ceremony last Thursday, Duff explained she faced “gay bashing and the nastiness” when she first ran for public office 11 years ago.

“You know it can happen, but you were really, really shocked. In one of the conversations that I had with a journalist about was I’m an adult. I put myself out there so it’s one thing for me to take it. But kids are reading the paper. Kids are reading these online forums. How safe do you think it makes them feel? She asked.

While Massachusetts is safe, she said there are threats ahead.

“We have equal marriage. We won’t lose equal marriage in Massachusetts. I really don’t think it will happen. I think it is going to be very much under attack at the U.S. Supreme Court and I think we’re really going to have to fight hard for that. That’s why we celebrate Pride Month. We have to let people know we’re here,” she told the crowd in front of Haverhill City Hall.

She pointed out Pride month observes the uprising against a police raid on Stonewall Inn in New York City June 28, 1969.

“We always need to approach everything with love and compassion, but be ready to fight for your rights if you need to. Be ready to stick up for the underdog and be ready to stick up for the little guy,” she urged.

Sen. Barry R. Finegold, whose district will be expanded to include Haverhill, told those gathered that society needs more “empathy.”

“One of the hardest things that’s difficult for people to do is to walk in another person’s shoes and to understand what they’re going through, what they like, how they do things. I’ll say that, in 2022, we need more of that. We need more empathy. We need more understanding. As a crazy a time that it is where we have a Supreme Court that’s bringing us backwards, that scares us about not making progress forward in social issues, but going back.”

Mayor James J. Fiorentini said the city’s Pride celebration began a few years ago as a small ceremony in the mayor’s office, but has grown under the leadership of City Councilor Thomas J. Sullivan. He read a proclamation declaring June as Pride Month in the city.

Comments are closed.