Virtual Queens Pride Shines Spotlight on History
Community gathers for online celebration amid coronavirus pandemic
Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee members leading the inaugural Queens Pride march in 1993.
BY MATT TRACY
Nothing — not even the
— could stop Queens
Entertainers, bikers, runners,
lawmakers, and countless others
participated in an hours-long
virtual edition of the 28th annual
Queens Pride March and Multicultural
Festival on June 7.
The online event marked the
fi rst time since the borough’s Pride
festivities started in 1993 that the
event did not take place in person.
Queens Pride’s director of operations,
Kelvin O. Howell, Jr., kicked
off the event by acknowledging the
unique circumstances surrounding
this year’s festivities.
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic,
we’re going virtual and we cannot
take it to the streets, but this, too,
shall pass, and when it does we
will be back on in the streets doing
what we do best,” Howell said.
This year’s event, hosted by Marcus
Woollen and Candy Samples,
leaned heavily on highlighting the
history of Queens Pride, and its
origins in tragic circumstances.
Organizers dug back into the archives
to feature footage from the
earliest days of the borough’s Pride
festivities. Out gay Queens City
Councilmember Daniel Dromm,
who co-founded Queens Pride, recalled
an uphill battle to get the
event up and running.
“Back in 1992, a lot of people
thought I was crazy when I said
we needed to have a Pride Parade
and Festival here in the borough
of Queens,” Dromm said in a video
message. “It had never been done in
any borough outside of Manhattan
before, but the time was right.”
The time was considered to be
right because of a combination of
recent developments during that
era. Julio Rivera, a Puerto Rican
gay man, was murdered in 1990 in
a hate-motivated attack by three
And there was infl ammatory resistance
— especially in Queens
— to Children of the Rainbow, a
proposal to inroduce an LGBTQinclusive
curriculum into the city’s
schools. Dromm, a schoolteacher at
the time, caught a lot of fl ak during
that fi ght. Those moments helped
expedite the swelling support for a
borough-based Pride event.
While history was a running
theme during the virtual program,
Dromm also encouraged folks to
FACEBOOK/ NYC LGBT HISTORIC SITES PROJECT
look ahead and focus on making
progress in the future.
“We need to move forward even
though we are in the middle of this
crisis,” Dromm said. “It’s really important
that we remain visible and
present in all communities in the
borough of Queens and beyond.”
The grand marshals were the
late Larry Kramer, who died May
27; the Black Lives Matter movement;
and Julian Sanjivan, the
co-president of InterPride who previously
was the march director for
Heritage of Pride.
Among other elected offi cials on
hand included State Attorney General
Letitia James, Congressmember
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, City
Comptroller Scott Stringer, out gay
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson,
Queens District Attorney Melinda
Katz, State Senators Jessica
Ramos, John Liu, and Michael Gianaris,
Hyndman, Michael G. DenDekker,
and David Weprin, Councilmembers
Costa Constantinides (a
candidate for Queens borough
president) and out gay Jimmy Van
Bramer, and Acting Queens Borough
President Sharon Lee.
Rod Townsend, the former president
of the Stonewall Democratic
YOUTUBE/ QUEENS PRIDE
Queens Pride’s Kelvin O. Howell opened up the
event with an optimistic message.
Club of New York City who is seeking
a Council seat from Queens in
2021, also joined in.
Ramos, a strong supporter of sex
work decriminalization, elaborated
on what she said is her job as an
LGBTQ ally to continue to fi ght for
the people of Queens.
“That means repealing the
Walking While Trans ban, that
means decriminalizing sex work,
that means getting rid of the gay
and trans panic defense, and that
means we are fi ghting for a school
curriculum that is inclusive of LGBTQ
history so that our students
can see themselves in the history
books,” Ramos said.
Gotham Cheer, the Sirens Women’s
Motorcycle Club of New York
City, the American Veterans for
Equal Rights New York, Brooklyn
Pride, the Metropolitan Community
Church of New York, Pride for
Youth, the LGBTQ running and
triathlon club Front Runners New
York, Gay Men’s Health Crisis CEO
Kelsey Louie, the AIDS Center of
Queens, and the AIDS Healthcare
Foundation were among other participants.
You can view the Queens Pride
event at youtu.be/UzJYjYkRA_k.
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