We’ve come a long way, baby. Mayor Jason West — who famously kick-started the Gay Pride movement in New Paltz during his first term by performing same-sex marriages of debatable legality — may be about to leave office again, but gay rights activists have plenty of other things to celebrate at the moment. Expect a lot of love for all things Irish to be on display at the Pride March and Festival in New Paltz on Sunday, June 7, in honor of last week’s plebiscite that came down solidly on the side of letting gay and lesbian couples marry in that country.
Though the event was originally inspired by New Paltz’s brief stint as the same-sex-marriage capital of New York State — and the subsequent angry antics of protestors who flocked to our town from the Bible Belt — the Pride March has taken on a countywide life of its own and expanded to a week’s worth of celebrations, performances, workshops, teach-ins and panel discussions. The Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center in Uptown Kingston has become the epicenter of the activities earlier in the week, but it still all culminates in New Paltz on the second weekend. For $25, you can obtain a Pride Pass that’ll get you into all the events that have an entry fee.
Hudson Valley Pride Week 2015, whose theme is “Transforming Lives for a New Decade,” begins this Saturday, May 30 on a serious note with Family Pride Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the LGBTQ Center, located at 300 Wall Street, same-sex couples negotiating the legal obstacles to foster parenting and adoption can find information and support. At 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., Berkshire Farms will present a workshop on “Finding Children Homes in the LGBTQ Community.” It will review the requirements for becoming a foster or adoptive parent, as well as the option of providing respite for youth in our community if not able to foster, and discuss the many myths and facts about foster care and adoption for the LGBTQ community. Admission is free, and there will be activities to keep kids busy.
On Tuesday, June 2 at 7 p.m., the Center will host a panel discussion titled “Building Bridges to Transform Lives,” featuring So Brown, Cheyenne Schoonmaker, Vanessa Shelmandine, Ken Walsh and Greg Whelan. Admission is free.
On Wednesday evening, June 3 beginning at 8:30 p.m., the fun stuff begins, when the Anchor on Broadway in Kingston hosts Pride Week Open-Mic Night. Musical acts, spoken word, comedy and drag performances are welcome. Admission is free, although a $5-to-$10 donation is suggested.
On Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m., the Center will host a special screening presented by the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center Men’s Group. The film to be shown will be the acclaimed Pride, based on a true story, about how a group of lesbian and gay activists help families affected by the British miners’ strike. Admission costs $5.
On Friday evening, June 5 at 7 p.m., it’s time for the traditional Teen Dance at the Center, which is free to gay, lesbian, transgendered and allied youth ages 13 to 18.
Events on the second Saturday, June 6, begin in Kingston with a board of directors’ annual meeting, election and wine-and-cheese reception at the Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m. The organization’s first executive director, Kay Flaminio, will be introduced, and Retts Scauzillo will be honored as Grand Marshal for the Pride March and Festival and Gene Knapp as Volunteer of the Year. Admission is by a suggested donation of $10 to $20.
Then the action shifts to Novella’s in New Paltz, where the Pride Party gets underway at 8:30 p.m. with Deejay PrePhab spinning the platters. Beginning at 9 p.m. there will be live cabaret performances featuring Lady Alchemy, the Queen City Dancers, Kingston’s Very Own Lady Esther Gin, Bear Donna, the Drag Brigade and Retts Scauzillo channeling Frank Sinatra. Admission costs $20, or $10 with student ID.
Pride Week winds up as always with the Pride March and Festival on Sunday, June 7. Marchers, many of them imaginatively costumed, will gather at noon at the New Paltz Middle School and step it off down Main Street at 1 p.m. sharp, headed for Hasbrouck Park. There, the festival will follow until 4 p.m. with food, vendors, family activities, singers So Brown and Mike Hamel and deejaying by John Martin. Those who still aren’t done partying by that point can convene at Bacchus afterwards for a special Pride Week Happy Hour.
For more information, or to purchase a Pride Pass or Pride 2015 tee-shirt, visit https://lgbtqcenter.org/events/pride-march-and-festival.