Around New England

New Bedford Too Religious, Not ‘Gay Enough’ To Be Creative

January 10, 2019

“Is New Bedford Arts and Culture Gay Enough?” asks Steven Froias in a column in the Fall River Herald News.

He adds:  “The headline and phrase aren’t simply clickbait.”

What’s the problem?

The city of New Bedford isn’t spending enough money on funding queer culture to encourage artistic creativity, Froias says.

“If queer culture and public arts education won’t be funded, respected, or supported by the city, we will never be the arts community people think we are,” he quotes one observer as saying.

That’s because you can’t be creative enough unless you’re encouraging toward homosexual culture.

As Froias puts it:  “… there is a general acknowledgement that, in essence, the connection between diversity, openness and, well, gayness, improve a place’s chance of being creatively viable.”

Are New Bedford residents anti-homosexual?

Froias doesn’t think so. They just aren’t pro-homosexual enough.

“The general consensus of almost all of the people spoke to for this column is that the city is regarded to be LGBTQ okay on a small personal level, but somewhat awkward or even a bit backward at best in a large societal sense,” Froias writes. “The prevailing thought seems to be that its attitude toward the LGBTQ community is heavily influenced by its lingering old-world, religious character and blue-collar background. Simply put, it’s still a bit in the closet.”

New Bedford, a city of about 95,000 on the South Coast of Massachusetts, is famous for its whaling history.

The city’s largest ethnic group is Portuguese, followed by Puerto Rican, French, Cape Verdean, and Irish. All of those groups are predominately Roman Catholic.

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