The Provincetown Business Guild (aka the Guild), one of the oldest LGBTQ business organizations in the country, hosted the 41st annual Carnival, August 17–25, 2019, presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. Special pre-Carnival kick-off events, in partnership with VACAYA, began on August 15.
Started in 1978 by a group of LGBTQ innkeepers who wanted to enliven the Provincetown community, Carnival celebrates the town’s creative legacy and history as a welcoming community and is now one of the largest LGBTQ celebrations in the country. This year’s “Enchanted Forest” Carnival events include numerous dance, boat and costume parties; a performance by "RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars" season 3 winner Trixie Mattel; and the centerpiece of Carnival: the parade along Commercial Street.
The Guild will be honoring comedian, actor, jazz singer and new Provincetown business owner Lea DeLaria as one of the parade’s official grand marshals. DeLaria is a longtime staple of the Provincetown performance scene and recently purchased a club/bar space that has been a social hub for the lesbian community since the 1950s. She and her business partner have transformed it into The Club, a new restaurant and center for P-Town entertainment.
Joining DeLaria as an official parade grand marshal is Trixie Mattel. Drag queen, singer, actor, Trixie is also the subject of a new documentary, "Trixie Mattel: Moving Parts", that premiered this past spring at the Tribeca Film Festival. Trixie will also be performing during Carnival week on August 21 at Provincetown Town Hall.
Provincetown has been a welcoming and safe haven for the LGBTQ community for almost one hundred years. Because of this historic LGBTQ significance, it is important to the Guild to honor the past and include informative programming alongside the celebratory parties. In partnership with the Stonewall National Museum & Archives, the Guild honored the 50th anniversary of Stonewall with programming during Provincetown Pride, including a panel discussion with Stonewall veterans and a self-guided poster installation throughout town that told the history of Stonewall. The commemoration of Stonewall 50 and honoring the LGBTQ community’s past will continue at Carnival through the honorary parade grand marshal and the annual Carnival flag raising at the Pilgrim Monument which will include a 100-foot section of the Gilbert Baker Rainbow25 Sea to Sea flag on loan from the Key West Business Guild. (Gilbert Baker designed and sewed the first rainbow flag in 1978).
For the full Carnival schedule and information, visit www.ptown.org/provincetown-carnival.
The co-sponsors of Carnival are the Provincetown LGBTQ Welcome Center, the Provincetown Tourism Office, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Sapporo, Cape Cod 5 and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
All photography by Advocate contributor Dan McKeon.