For the 11th year, Kingston’s LGBTQ Center is bringing Pride Week to the Hudson Valley. The festivities are comprised of four nights of events culminating in the final Pride March and Festival on Sunday, June 5 in New Paltz.
There will be no kickoff party, with the Center opting to build momentum for the finale with a series of smaller events that it’s calling a “Journey to Pride.” The first official Pride Week event will be an open mic at the Anchor in Kingston on Wednesday, June 1. On Thursday night, the Center will host a “Gay, Old and Proud” panel discussion, featuring members of the LGBTQ community discussing their experiences. Fred Mayo, board president and acting executive director at the Center, says that while he is happy to see young persons receiving recognition, the Center wants to “give the older generations a chance to tell their stories” of being LGBTQ in a time when it was less accepted. Friday will be a movie night, with a showing of The Queen, a 1968 documentary that stars drag queen Sabrina, who Mayo hopes will attend.
A Pride Reception and volunteer recognition night will take place on Saturday night, followed by a party at Novella’s in New Paltz that will include dancing and cabaret with a special guest, New York City drag queen Peppermint.
The Sunday Pride March is the biggest event, typically drawing about 800 participants. “We call it a march, not a parade, because it is really about honoring dignity for all people,” says Mayo. Among the participants are high school Gay/Straight Alliances, churches and many individuals. LGBTQ groups like Dykes on Bikes and Big Gay Hudson Valley, as well as education and advocacy organizations like GLSEN and PFLAG, will be present, alongside a host of other attendees out to show their support, including teams, businesses and musical groups. Kate Pierson, member of the B-52s and longtime supporter of the LGBTQ community, will make an appearance as the event’s Grand Marshall.
Following the march, marchers and onlookers can gather in Hasbrouck Park, where there will be food trucks, vendor booths and performers. The Center will collect the names of sponsors and supporters into a Digital Pride Guide that will remain on its website for the duration of the year. The festivities will continue into the night with an afterparty, though the Center has yet to decide on a venue.
Mayo says that the purpose of Pride Week is twofold: It celebrates“the community, the dignity and the straight allies,” but it also serves as a reminder that there is still a lot of work left to do. He notes that the legalization of same-sex marriage was a huge step in the fight for LGBTQ rights, but that “everything isn’t solved,” pointing to North Carolina’s recent legislation to block anti-discrimination policies.
New York faced its own legal turmoil around LGBTQ rights, notably in 2004 when then-mayor of New Paltz Jason West officiated same-sex marriages and faced charges for doing so. “Particularly this year,” says Mayo, “the Pride march and festival is important to show that the Hudson Valley celebrates the dignity of all LGBTQ persons. New Paltz is a welcoming community to all of us. What a privilege it is to celebrate Pride there.”
The Center provides resources and organizes events for LGBTQ persons and allies. Mayo says that Pride is a “big splash,” but that the Center wants to continue that work year-round. “We’re devoted to a quiet, continuing commitment to change.”
Pride Week, Wednesday-Sunday, June 1-5, LGBTQ Center, 300 Wall Street, Kingston; (845) 331-5300, https://lgbtqcenter.org.