Signage from Andrews Inn in Bellows Falls.
Courtesy photo
Signage from Andrews Inn in Bellows Falls.

Taking pride

Multiple events in June celebrate the area’s LGBTQ+ people and their connection to Bellows Falls, past and present

BELLOWS FALLS — Throughout June, Bellows Falls will once more become a destination for the LGBTQ+ community in New England and beyond for a number of events commemorating Pride Month in June.

Susan MacNeil, a member of the committee organizing the celebration, says that the local events are designed to echo the days of the historic Andrews Inn, which was in business from 1973 to 1984.

“Located in the downtown Windham Hotel building, the gay community sought out the town as a place of safety and security,” MacNeil says.

Community members have documented the era and the importance of the establishment to the LGBTQ+ community as part of the Andrews Inn Oral History Project.

The Andrews Inn had 56 rooms to rent, a bar, jukebox disco, and coffee shop. It was owned by the Moisis family, whose son, John, had the initial vision of making the inn a place to serve the gay community. That decision would save the family business.

Patrons from larger urban areas, such as New York City, Boston, and Montreal, would travel by train to the only LGBTQ+-friendly destination in the state for a weekend of dancing and house parties.

In 1979, the village was described in Blueboy, a magazine for gay men, as a “cultural cross between Mayberry and Fire Island” in a feature promoting Bellows Falls as a sanctuary of sorts for LGBTQ+ people in a community created around the inn.

On June 21 at 5 p.m., a historic marker documenting the importance of the Andrews Inn to the LGBTQ+ community will be moved from “its current obscure location to a more prominent public space for the whole community to share,” the event website says. The marker will be officially recognized this fall.

This year's activities will include something for everyone throughout June, MacNeil says.

• Opening reception for the Andrews Inn photo exhibit, “The Cultural Cross Between Mayberry and Fire Island,” at the Exner Block Gallery, Canal Street, Bellows Falls, on Thursday, June 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. The show runs from Friday, June 9 to Sunday, June 11, from noon to 5 p.m.

• Classic Film Wednesdays feature LGBTQ+ themed films at the historic Bellows Falls Opera House.

• Merchants will participate with special window displays, giveaways, and extended evening hours on Wednesdays.

• Visitors can enjoy artisanal Pride Pizza in rainbow colors and Rainbow Cold Brew at Rockingham Roasters from 5 to 8 p.m. each Wednesday and gather at Wunderbar for dinner, drinks, and discussion.

• The Field Center will hold a Queer T-Dance on Saturday, June 17.

• Pat Dadonna, a lesbian folk singer-songwriter and finger-style guitarist who builds on the influences of Janis Ian, Tracy Chapman, Joan Baez, and Cat Stevens, will celebrate the release of her album Roads. The performance takes place at Stage 33, 33 Bridge St. at 3 p.m. on Sunday, June 18.

• Wade the Great will DJ at “Love Will Keep Us Together,” a free community dance on Friday, June 30 at the Moose Lodge, 59 Westminster St.

• Commemorative postcards and buttons will be available at Windham Antiques.

Of special note is the Pride Whistlestop Tour on Sunday, June 11, which is also national Making Life Beautiful Day.

“From St. Albans to Brattleboro, LGBTQ+ organizations, individuals, and allies will appear at each of the 10 Amtrak Vermonter train stations to show support and love for the LGBTQ+ community, under siege across the country, by taking a moment to make Vermont communities more beautiful,” MacNeil says. “To stay in Bellows Falls for the afternoon, purchase Amtrak Vermonter tickets in advance.”

The train stops in Bellows Falls at 12:30 p.m. and in Brattleboro at 1:02 p.m.

Other members of the committee organizing the Pride Month events include Elijah Zimmer, selectboard member; Gail Golec, host of The Secret Life of Death podcast; Michael Bruno, owner, Windham Antiques; Betsy Thurston, director, Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance; and Aaron Almanza, National LGBT Help Center.

For more information, visit or email [email protected]. As events are added, they will be posted on the website and social media.

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