The borough of Queens joined in on Pride Month festivities with a joyous parade Sunday, but political snubs and infighting cast a shadow over the rainbow-hued celebration.
Mayor Adams marched in the colorful procession with the Gay Officers Action League of the New York Police Department — which has been excluded for a second year from marching in uniform in Manhattan’s much bigger Gay Pride Parade on June 26.
“We’re really excited about marching today. I’m full of pride,” said the mayor, who himself has come under fire for naming two Christian pastors to his administration who had made anti-gay remarks.
The thousands of paradegoers along the route seemed unfazed by the politics and welcomed the raucous celebration, especially after COVID-19 dampened Pride events for the past two years.
“It’s wonderful to see all these people celebrating. It’s an important part of the neighborhood,” said Sarah Balistrere, 43, of Jackson Heights, which she described as “a very queer-friendly community.”
“And after the past two years, just being here is amazing,” she added.
Sporting a brightly hued hat of feathers and sequins, Darren Glenn, 33, of the Caribbean Equality Project said the parade felt like coming home.
“This feels like a return to community,” said Glenn, program director of the locally based group that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ Caribbean immigrants. “I’m seeing people I haven’t seen in such a long time.’
The cheerful event, held under picture-perfect blue skies, was the borough’s 30th annual pride parade but new to some.
“It’s my first time. I’m new to the community,” said Paweena Prachanronarong, 41, who said her 16-year-old daughter just came out as transgender.
“I’m very happy to see there’s already a lot of love and positivity,” the Manhattan mom said. “So her being a part of this community, I’m just happy there’s love here.”
The mayor, in his first year in office for June Pride Month, took to the Queens streets despite a recent rift with some members of the gay community.
Five of the city’s largest LGBTQ clubs have said they would boycott a Pride Month reception that Adams plans to host on Tuesday at Gracie Mansion due to what they see as his inadequate commitment to gay rights.
Led by the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, they were angered by Adams’ decision to hire two Christian pastors for senior administration roles despite their histories of anti-gay views.
A spokesman for Adams has since responded that the mayor has taken official actions to push for LGBTQ rights and inclusivity, met with members of the boycotting groups and plans to make more LGBTQ-related advocacy announcements this month.
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell also walked the Queens parade route with the gay officers’ group known as GOAL, which represents officers from the NYPD and other law enforcement organizations.
Organizers of the Manhattan parade and other pride groups around the country have taken a stand against uniformed cops in parades in protest against police mistreatment of members of the LGBTQ, Black and other communities.
GOAL President Brian Downey said “it hurts” to be excluded from the parade traditionally held in Greenwich Village, especially for some gay officers to whom the LGBTQ community is like family.
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“The borough of Queens has been very supportive, and we’re super grateful that we were allowed to march with them,” Downey said.
“I think over the years we made progress in the criminal justice space,” he added. “Standing in front of me, you have these men and women that represent diversity.”
Missing out on the Greenwich Village parade is no loss, said Micheal Kahane, 32, a Crown Heights, Brooklyn, resident.
“I like this parade because it’s more community focused and less corporate like the Manhattan one,” he said. “It’s just nice to be around my people again.”
Queens resident Betty Peña, 52, called the day’s spectacle “very emotional.”
“I’m loving the parade. I’m here supporting the LGBGT community,” she said. “It just makes me happy that they’re able to do this and have a place in our society. Pride is about being here and having a community.”
This year’s parade honored Jackson Heights resident Julio Rivera, a 29-year-old gay Puerto Rican man who was attacked and killed in a schoolyard in 1990. The Queens Pride Parade began as a way to honor Rivera and raise awareness of the LGBTQ community.