2018-10-11 / Around Town

NewportOUT Hosts Family Weekend

By Christopher Allen

Lots of people know of Newport as a destination for folks from faraway places, but one local marketing and advocacy organization, NewportOUT, is putting together a weekend of festivities to celebrate Aquidneck Island as a destination for LGBTQ families who travel here but also live here. NewportOUT will be hosting the first Family Weekend, with events taking place at four local venues on Saturday, Oct. 20 and Sunday, Oct. 21.

Sean O’Connor, owner of NewportOUT and the event’s organizer, said that they’d had success with the first annual Newport Pride event last June, the international celebratory weekend that pays tribute to the gay rights movement, and hope to build on that to help make Newport a regional draw for the LGBTQ community.

“That’s a big part of what we do at NewportOUT, to try to make Newport really welcome for LGBTQ travelers and to hopefully bring [others] here for the benefit of the community,” he said.

“We want to help [people] discover Newport... and the other side is community-building. They go hand-in-hand.”

O’Connor runs NewportOUT with his husband, Daniel Restrepo. Part of their advocacy work, said O’Connor, is to reach out to LGBTQ youth who may be struggling to find connections and acceptance in Newport and feel they should relocate to larger metropolitan areas.

“We want to build a community, [so] that getting out of dodge isn’t your only option,” he said.

The weekend kicks off with an artisan festival at Gooseberry Beach on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with over a dozen artisans and pumpkin painting. From there, the festival moves to the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina, where there will be the first of two weekend performances by the Providence based theatrical drag group, the Trailer Park Girls. There is also a children’s movie screening planned.

Sunday activities will begin with a drag brunch performance at Parlor Bar and Kitchen from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., followed by activities at the Escobar Farm corn maze and pumpkin patch in Portsmouth from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Kristen Mashaw, owner of Parlor Bar and Kitchen, said that the restaurant has been holding monthly drag brunch events since July, but the event on Oct. 20 will be in keeping with the family-friendly vibe.

“Our venue lends itself really well to their performance,” she said. “This will be family friendly, whereas the others are more cabaret and a little more risqué.”

Mashaw said that she hoped that Newport will continue to build diversity and help define the city as more than just a historic seaside destination.

“It’s such a transient place. Many people travel through but rarely stay long enough to put roots in. Newport is becoming more [friendly to young professionals]. It’s not just the old Newport,” she said.

“We want everyone to feel welcome in Newport, and we are proud to partner with NewportOUT for members of the LGBTQ community to experience all that this town has to offer,” said Debbie Neves, director of sales and marketing for the Newport Harbor Hotel and Marina.

Doreen LePage, board member of PFLAG of Greater Providence and founding member of the Newport satellite chapter, expressed a similar sentiment.

“As a mother, teacher and someone who is interested in the life of my community, I feel that the LGBTQ Family Weekend is a wonderful opportunity for families to be able to enjoy some time in a public space where they don't have to be explaining all the time, or feeling uncomfortable from disapproving stares, or worrying about how to present themselves,” she said.

For more information about the LGBTQ Family Weekend, visit newportout.com

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