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PHOTOS: Jackson Heights celebrates 23rd annual Queens Pride Parade and Festival


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office/Gallery by Angy Altamirano

Under sunny skies, Jackson Heights was filled with color and music Sunday afternoon as the neighborhood celebrated this year’s Queens Pride Parade and Festival.

Kicking off the parade, which ran down 37th Avenue from 89th Street to 75th Street, was Mayor Bill de Blasio, who made history by becoming the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal of the parade. He joined APICHA Community Health Center, which was also one of the grand marshals.

“This parade stands for a rejection of any bias and prejudice against the LGBT community,” de Blasio said. “We will not stand in this city for anyone who would harm our brothers and sisters in the LGBT community. And this parade stands for that resolute value of New York City.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

Joining the mayor were local elected officials such Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Council members Daniel Dromm – who founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago – Jimmy Van Bramer and Julissa Ferreras, and other city and state officials.

The theme of this year’s parade was “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers.

“We know what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. told us – ‘The arc of history is long but it bends towards justice.’ This parade epitomizes that constant movement towards justice. Let’s keep going. Let’s keep marching on until the day when everyone is truly embraced,” de Blasio said to paradegoers.

At the end of the parade, which featured colorful costumes and even four-legged participants, visitors were able to enjoy the Queens Pride Festival, which ran along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival featured about 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances that went on throughout the day.


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De Blasio to be grand marshal of Queens Pride Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Ed Reed for the Office of Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio will make history in Jackson Heights next month as the first New York City mayor to serve as a grand marshal in the 23-year span of the Queens Pride Parade.

De Blasio will join APICHA Community Health Center as grand marshals of the 23rd Queens Pride Parade, which will be held on June 7 and runs from 89th Street and 37th Avenue down to 75th Street.

“When I founded the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee over 20 years ago, I was hopeful that we would increase the visibility of the LGBT community in Queens in a positive and impactful way,” Councilman Daniel Dromm said. “Having the mayor of the City of New York as our grand marshal shows just how far we have come.”

De Blasio became the first mayor to march in the parade last year, and even marched in 2013 while still serving as public advocate.

“The mayor’s presence is an acknowledgment that the LGBT community in Queens and throughout the city is visible, welcome and included,” Dromm said.

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

Councilman Daniel Dromm and Mayor Bill de Blasio (Photo courtesy of Queens Pride)

The theme of this year’s parade, which kicks off at noon, is “Pride – Strength – Unity,” according to organizers. Also at noon, the Queens Pride Festival begins along 37th Road from 74th to 77th streets.

The festival features close to 100 vendors, community and social group booths and two stages of entertainment with performances throughout the day until 6 p.m.

One of the day’s featured performers includes multi-platinum artist CeCe Peniston known for her hits “Finally,” “We Got a Love Thang” and “Lifetime to Love.”

“This year’s theme, Pride – Strength – Unity, highlights the diversity that is Queens. Queens has the largest number of language/ethnic groups in the whole U.S.A. Despite the linguistic and cultural vastness, we all come together to celebrate our accomplishments and continue to work towards further advancements,” said Alan Reiff, co-chair of Queens Pride.

Days before the parade on June 4, Queens Pride will collaborate with NYC Pride, Brooklyn Pride, Staten Island LGBT Community Center, Bronx Pride, Chutney Pride and Out Astoria, to host a Pride Kick-Off Party at Studio Square, located at 35-33 36th St. in Long Island City. The event will benefit Queens Community House.

For more information, visit www.queenspride.org or email info@queenspride.org.

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Jackson Heights to host 22nd annual Queens Pride Parade


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

The streets of Jackson Heights will be filled with pride this weekend as the borough comes together to celebrate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community.

On Sunday, elected officials as well as supporters and members of the LGBTQ community from throughout the city will gather for the 22nd Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival hosted by the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee.

Celebrating the accomplishments of the global LGBTQ community, the theme for this year’s event is “A World of Pride.” The theme will also emphasize the need to continue the attention on the struggles that still have to be addressed in regards to human rights, according to organizers.

Grand marshals for the parade include Queens council members Daniel Dromm, one of the founders of the parade in 1993, and Jimmy Van Bramer, who was the first elected official in the borough to get married after New York legalized same-sex marriage. Manhattan council members Corey Johnson, Rosie Mendez, Brooklyn Councilman Carlos Menchaca and Bronx Councilman Ritchie Torres will also join the procession.

“Our grand marshals reflect how far we have come to be integral in our government, community and our visibility,” Queens Pride co-chair Chris Calvert said.

Melissa Sklarz, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club, will also be honored during the event for her leadership and as a transgender member of the community. Founded in 1986, the Stonewall Democratic Club is the first citywide LGBT Democratic organization in New York City.

The parade kicks off Sunday at noon at 84th Street and 37th Avenue and ends at 75th Street. The festival also begins at noon with about 100 vendors along 37th Road from 74th to 77th Street, performances and family-friendly entertainment.

For more information on the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee visit www.queenspride.org.

 

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20th Annual Queens Pride Parade held in Jackson Heights


| aaltman@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/photo by Alexa Altman

Jackson Heights bursted with pride during the 20th annual Queens Pride Parade & Multicultural Festival, hosted by the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee. Allies and members of the gay community came out for the borough’s biggest pride event on Sunday, June 3.

Openly gay Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn welcomed everyone to the joyous occasion. Quinn, who recently married her long-time partner, and Van Bramer, who is set to marry next month, both agreed that events such as this helped successfully achieve marriage equality in New York.

Click here to see all the photos from the parade.

The current cast of “Wicked,” cheerleaders from Cheer New York and members from the Queens Pride Lions Club danced and waved to the crowd as they shuffled down 47th Avenue, cruising past the scene of the grisly Jackson Heights murder of Julio Rivera – a gay Latino man whose death in July of 1990 sparked the event.

The festival, which once saw protesters, now draws a crowd of thousands and garners an immensely positive response from the community. Many area businesses hung rainbow flags in their storefronts, demonstrating their support.

“The parade is the essence of what Jackson Heights has been to me for the last 40 years,” said Dromm. “It’s a multicultural community that you can’t find anywhere else. The parade has become another part of the area’s tremendous diversity, including nationality, ethnicity and sexual orientation.”

Dromm believes the festival is the most important part of the gay rights movement in Queens, mainly for its ability to put a face on the borough’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. He added that the parade and celebration serve as a coming-out vehicle for many people.

Rafiel Rosario has attended the festival since coming out to his friends and family four years ago. Along with two pals and his boyfriend, Louis, the 21-year-old Long Islander watched the various acts as they performed and made their way down the street.

“[The Queens Pride Parade & Multicultural Festival] is about liberation and equality,” said Rosario. “Throughout the years, it’s become easier for gay people to come out to the community. Things like this make it easier.”

Aaron Waltzer, a volunteer from Queens Pride, helped run the organization’s booth during the street fair section of the festival. The Queens native, who said he’s been gay as long as he’s lived in Queens, added that while the festival is a wonderful community event, it does a lot for him as an individual.

“It means a lot to me to come out and show what it means to be a Queens resident and a gay man,” said Waltzer.