Onset holds its first Pride Month ceremony

Jun 4, 2023

Amid rain, wind and gray skies, town officials and community members hoisted the LGBTQ Pride flag over Bayview Park in Onset for the first time ever on Saturday, June 3.

“Pride Month is not only a celebration of the LGBTQ community,” said Onset Fire Chief Jeffrey Osswald. “It is a reminder that love and acceptance should be a core part of our society.”

Osswald, who came out in 2015, is one of the only openly gay public safety officials in Massachusetts. He said “allyship is crucial” to advancing LGBTQ rights, and that the pride ceremony is an example of why. 

The Onset Bay Association hosted the flag-raising ceremony, along with a silent auction, to kick off Pride Month, which Wareham recognized for the first time in 2021

Select Board member Jared Chadwick read the town’s Pride Month proclamation to a crowd of around 70 people.

“We will stand side by side to make sure all are welcome,” Chadwick said. “The Town of Wareham understands that LGBTQ rights are human rights.”

Residents in attendance said they were proud of their town’s celebration of Pride. 

“[The town] did exceptional considering we have the elements against us,” said Onset resident Roger Kolker. 

“I’m really proud of the town for doing this,” said Kolker’s husband J.C. Weber, “and [of] the fact that there’s so many people to turn out for it.”

Kolker and Weber said they’ve never encountered any discrimination in town, and that they are surrounded by LGBTQ households. 

Onset residents Nicole Conboy and Jorden LaPorte, who recently moved to town, said they were pleasantly surprised to hear about the Pride ceremony. LaPorte said he especially liked Osswald’s speech, since “it’s important to have people speak about personal experiences.”

The two hope the Onset Bay Association makes the ceremony an annual event. 

For Onset Bay Association Executive Director Kat Jones, such reactions are the reason to host the event in the first place.

“It’s about making people aware that Onset is a safe place and people are welcome here,” she said. “It is a very diverse community and I really think it should be celebrated.”