Oak Bluffs turned rainbow Saturday afternoon as more than 25 regional and Island organizations showed up for the second annual Pride parade.

Paradegoers march down Circuit avenue. — Ray Ewing

Last year, the Oak Bluffs Business Association (OBA) partnered with local LGBTQ+ organizers to bring Pride to the Island for the first time. This time around, OBA vice president Sofie Green aimed to build on last year’s event with a greater emphasis on queer resources.

“Above everything, Pride is also a place for education,” she said. “It’s not just all fun, although that is a big part of it.”

Ms. Green turned to Scott Mullin, the director of Queer Hub MV, who worked with organizations such as Martha’s Vineyard Community Services to create a resource tent at the parade afterparty at Ocean Park. While paradegoers danced to Boston-based queer rock group The Femmes, they could also stop by the tent to learn more about the services available on-Island, from book clubs to LGBTQ+-focused healthcare.

“It’s really about trying to find [resources] that are not necessarily available on Martha’s Vineyard and bringing them here,” Mr. Mullin said.

In his more than 30 years living on the Island, Mr. Mullin said he has only recently seen the queer community here gain visibility. He founded Queer Hub MV four years ago with the goal of connecting that community in the absence of designated gay bars or other queer spaces on-Island.

“When I first got here, [queerness] wasn’t a thing,” he said. “Fast-forward to a few years ago, the queer community here and across the world has started to have a voice for themselves.”

Mr. Mullin also works closely with programs such as the Island Wide Youth Collaborative to help students build a greater sense of community with each other.

“We’re in such a fortunate place in some ways being on the Vineyard,” he said. “As a gay man, support from friends was most important to me on my journey…[and] I know it’s not an easy journey everywhere.”

Organizers put a larger emphasis on resources for members of the LGBTQ+ community. — Ray Ewing

As a queer woman putting down roots on the Island, Ms. Green hoped this weekend’s events would create a welcoming space for young people in particular.

“I really want to invest in this community,” she said. “If I’m going to be here, I want to make sure all the young people who identify as I identify want to be here too.”

In that spirit, the weekend began with a pre-party Friday night at the Ritz Café, featuring drag performances by Missy Steak and Larissa Montes. DJ Scott Helms brought disco back for the glittery, rainbow-streaked crowd and Ms. Steak performed a rousing, hyperpop-style cover of Doll Parts by Hole.

The parade on Saturday was more of a multigenerational affair. Students from the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School spanned multiple floats, following the likes of the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, Misty Meadows Equine Learning Center, Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center and more. Onlookers poured out of businesses and filled the sidewalks of Circuit avenue to get a glimpse of the kaleidoscopic scene.

Island Alpaca supplied two of their most festive alpacas, Leonardo and Hotshot, both male, to walk the parade in rainbow ribbons. When not showing off their Pride, Leo and Hotshot also do wedding appearances dressed in bridal veil and tux.

“They’re just friends,” alpaca handler David Hannon clarified of the close pair. “They’re bromantic.”

Tessa Permar walks among the parade crowd. — Ray Ewing

The rain cut Saturday’s festivities short, but not before longtime Vineyard resident Rita Brown gave the keynote address. In her speech, she recalled the Island LGBTQ+ community’s difficult journey towards acceptance, particularly its rocky history with local law enforcement. Although Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004, state law still prohibits “any unnatural and lascivious act with another person” even though it is no longer enforced.

For Jennelle Gadowski, the LGBTQ+ subcommittee chair of the NAACP of Martha's Vineyard, remembering that not-too-distant history is an important, often under-looked part of Pride.

“Like Rita said, this was not possible 50 years ago,” Ms. Gadowski said. “I’m so happy our queer elders get to see [an event like this] and experience that because this would not be possible without them.”

And although she was glad to see acceptance grow on the Island, Ms. Gadowski cautioned that new forms of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination have emerged in other parts of the country and could find their way to Vineyard shores. To combat that backlash, she stressed the importance of queer-friendly spaces and community programming.

Even dogs got into the spirit. — Ray Ewing

Later this month, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, The Trustees of Reservations, Orange Peel Bakery and other Island groups are all holding LGBTQ+-focused events to keep the celebration going.

“Pride may end but our queerness doesn’t,” Ms. Gadowski said. “At the end of the day, our livelihood is still under attack, and it takes a village to protect ourselves.”

Still, she looked around the bandstand and noted how the crowd had doubled since last year, dancing in the park even as the sky darkened around them and the rain picked up. Later that afternoon after the crowd had largely cleared, the clouds subsided to reveal one more rainbow before the day’s end.

“This is a community effort,” Ms. Gadowski said. “I cannot stress that enough.”

More photos.