Gay pride festivities will return to New Paltz for the eighth year this weekend as gays, lesbians, the transgendered and their allies march through the streets and party in Hasbrouck Park. This year is a big year for same-sex couples for several reasons: both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have recently spoken out in support of legalizing same-sex marriage; and it is nearing the one-year anniversary of the legalization of gay marriage in New York.
“Because marriage equality is law, this is a really special year for us. So it’s a huge celebration,” said Katherine Fuerst with the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. “Jason West will be marching and we’re going to have couples married in New Paltz marching, and couples married since then marching. It’s very exciting.”
She added: “It’s a huge year in a lot of ways for the equality movement. The fact that our vice president and our president, for the first time, have come out in support of equal rights for gay and lesbians couples. I mean, that’s amazing.”
The Pride March begins with a rally at New Paltz Middle School from noon to 1 p.m. At 1 p.m., participants will begin their march down the road to Hasbrouck Park. The Pride Festival starts as soon as marchers arrive in the park and lasts till 4 p.m.
The grand marshals of this year’s parade will be none other than retiring Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Kesii MacKaye.
Fuerst noted that Hinchey got the co-lead spot in the parade both to recognize his years of service in Congress, but also because he has been a strong advocate for gays and lesbians.
Activist MacKaye, 100, was “one of the first out lesbians in our area.” Fuerst praised her for her work in the area of theater, art, music and politics.
For as many strides as the Gay Rights Movement has made in 2012, there have been some losses as well. For gays and lesbians living in the South, North Carolina’s gay marriage ban came as a blow. But Sunday’s march and festival is cause for celebration.
According to Fuerst, the theme for this year’s Pride March is “Dignity for All.”
For more information on the festival, head to www.lgbtqcenter.org. ++