How busy is Boston’s events calendar this week? Let’s put it this way, we barely have enough room to mention this Stool Making Outside workshop or the spice of Boston’s Jerkfest. Instead, in this weekend preview, we’ll be popping a squat and feasting on a list of mostly Pride-related events... and one dragon-themed event!
Friday, June 9
If you’re not familiar with it, do yourself a favor and watch the trailer for the 1996 queer film “The Watermelon Woman.” When you do, it’ll quickly become clear that the movie bends genre by mixing elements of documentary, mockumentary and narrative cinema. The film follows Cheryl, a young woman who works at a Philadelphia video-rental store, as she tries to research an uncredited Black movie actress from the 1930s. And if you watch the trailer, you’ll see that’s not Cheryl’s only interest in the movie.
Since its premiere, the film has been recognized as a landmark of queer cinema and a fascinating snapshot of queer, Black womanhood of the 1990s. This showing is part of a larger event at The MFA celebrating Pride on Friday, which includes Spotlight Talks on visual art in Provincetown and more. The ninety-minute film begins at 7 p.m. Nonmembers pay $15 and members pay $12.
Friday, June 9
It’s not often we talk about 1996 filmmaking twice in one weekend preview post, but this festival is not to be missed. In 1996, six Cambridge teenagers felt misrepresented in the media and were inspired to do something about it, so they founded the Do It Your Damn Self!! National Youth Film Festival. Today, the festival is the longest-running youth film festival in the country, and it draws over 800 audience members to screenings each year.
Fitting for a youth-driven festival, the lineup typically focuses on social justice and those seeking to make a change. Past titles have included “Growing Up Mixed,” “A Better Tomorrow,” “Hip Hop and Literacy” and “My Heart Can’t Speak the Way I Want It To.” Tickets are free, but with limited seating, the museum encourages advanced reservations.
Saturday, June 10
It might be a sunny Pride. It might be a Pride where we make like Hilary Duff and let the rain fall down. But one thing is for sure: Boston is celebrating Pride with an official parade and festival for the first time since 2019. Additionally, 2023 marks the first year the parade is organized by Boston Pride for the People after the parade’s previous organizers stepped aside amidst long-term criticism over its lack of inclusion of people of color and trans members.
The parade begins at 11 a.m. on Boylston Street and Mass Ave. Following the parade, two simultaneous festivals will begin at noon and run until 6 pm. Festival on the Boston Common will host hundreds of vendors, feature headliner Madison Rose and allow attendees of all ages. For those over 21, the Festival on City Hall Plaza will have dancing, beer and wine, food trucks and local performers. [Learn more about this year’s festival and the history of Pride in Boston here.]
Saturday, June 11
Part music, part sport and wholly entertaining to watch. Dragon Boat Festivals are traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar. This year, Boston will be celebrating the festival on Sunday, June 11 on the Charles River. For those who are unfamiliar with the sport, imagine a boat two seats wide with a dragon head at the bow and room for a drummer to keep the rowers synchronized. It’s an ancient activity going back at least two millennia, and it’s epic.
The Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival boasts that it was the first of its kind in the United States in 1979. In addition to the races, there will be vendors and activities on Memorial Drive adjacent to the John W. Weeks Footbridge, where spectators can view the races below. Admission to the festival is free.
Sunday, June 11
Read this event description from the Mass Audubon Society, “If you've ever spent time in nature, you can see queerness everywhere. Mallards: gay. Several species of bats: gay. Trichaptum fungi have over 17,000 biological sexes. Some pollen-bearing ginkgo trees are known to have individual branches that become fruit-producing. Many plants have both pollen-producing and egg-producing parts like cucumbers and black walnuts. Some plants have both of these parts in the same flower (literally called 'bisexual flowers,' which would be a great title for a poem), such as apples, sunflowers, and strawberries.”
If whoever wrote that event description has anything to do with the planning for this event, it should be an enlightening afternoon for all at the Boston Nature Center and Wildlife Sanctuary in Mattapan. This event is for adult writers of both queer and respectful allied varieties. The workshop will include readings of queer, nature-themed poems, a one-mile trail walk with mindfulness practices and free time. Tickets for the two-hour program cost $10-13.