The LGBTQ+ fave destinations of Fire Island and Provincetown are uniting for historic inaugural celebrations of the Juneteenth holiday. The historic sister-city initiative will unveil Juneteenth celebrations in the two queer vacation meccas, with the goal of building a path toward racial equality and inclusion while mending past relations between BIPOC and the two historically white communities. The effort is an intersectional collaboration between local businesses, activists, and community organizations.
Tomik Dash, founder of the Black and Brown Equity Coalition of Cherry Grove notes in a statement, “42 percent of LGBTQIA+ adults identify as people of color, yet queer destinations like Fire Island and Provincetown are both at least 90 percent white.” BaBEC played a central role in organizing the Fire Island Juneteenth celebration.
June 19 commemorates the date in 1865 when Black slaves in Galveston, Tex., learned of their freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation liberating slaves held by states in revolt against the Union went into effect in 1863, but was unenforceable while the war continued. And despite Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender of his forces to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865, thousands of slaves were still held in more isolated areas for many months more. The following year, Black citizens celebrated their freedom on June 19, calling it Jubilee Day. It became known over time as Juneteenth. It has gained popularity in recent years, and is on the verge of becoming a new national holiday (President Biden plans to sign the bill into law June 17th).
June 18 to 20, Fire Island will feature Juneteenth celebrations at Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines, with educational and inspiring events celebrating the day's historical significance. The events include a Beach Solidarity March to honor Black lives and a celebration of Black cuisine.
Provincetown’s celebrations will take place on June 19, starting with the raising of a Pan-African Flag at the Pilgrim Monument. While many will note the obvious white colonialist ties at the pilgrim's landing place (literally the birthplace of American colonialism), the ceremony will feature strong Black voices from the local community. A march will then take place, passing historically significant places for people of color, and ending near 54 Commercial Street. That location reportedly served as a safe house from the Underground Railroad during the antebellum era.
Dash, the Cherry Grove activist, hails the significance of the dual celebrations, noting they provide opportunities to enlist new recruits in the continuing struggle against racism, oppression, and exclusion, while also celebrating the work accomplished to date by the two communities.
“We have allies, but in order to do this work we need accomplices,” Dash explains. “Accomplices are people who are willing to go out of their comfort zones, take bigger risks and make significant sacrifices for those impacted by white supremacy culture. I am proud of the work that BaBEC is doing and happy to see the work being amplified by accomplices in Provincetown.”
There’s still time to be a queer accomplice for racial equality. You can purchase tickets for the 2021 Juneteenth Jubiliee Celebration in Provincetown at EventBrite.com. You can learn more about the Fire Island Juneteenth events and activities at the BaBEC website.