Despite President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge June as LGBTQ Pride month this year (a tradition started by former President, Bill Clinton), the 21st annual Brooklyn Pride Parade kicked off at 7:30 sharp Saturday evening.
The event is the only twilight Pride parade in the northeast and has started right on time for the past five years, thanks to Mickey Heller, Co-Chair of Brooklyn Pride, Inc. and Parade Coordinator.
Saturday’s Pride festivities started with a 5K run at 10am in Prospect Park benefitting Brooklyn Pride, Inc., followed by a Multi-Cultural Festival spanning 5th Avenue from 3rd to 9th Streets from 11am to 5pm.
In the evening, thousands of neighbors of all ages and from all walks of life lined 5th Avenue between Lincoln Place and 9th Street to catch the joyous, hour-long parade filled with music and celebration.
Spectators saw floats, cheerleaders, drag queens, drum bands, elected officials (including Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray, Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez, Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Assembly Member Robert Carroll, Council Member Carlos Menchaca, and more), and 50 participating organizations march and show their pride and support for Brooklyn’s LGBTQIA+ community.
Singer/performer Louvel and Mark Nayden, co-owner of neighborhood bar Excelsior, were Masters of Ceremonies while the Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club—New York City’s oldest and largest women’s motorcycle club—Ron B, a transgender actor and activist, and Michael Camacho of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation all served as Grand Marshals of the parade.
Brooklyn Pride, Inc. was founded in 1996 by supporters of equal rights with a mission to bring visibility and ensure equality for the borough’s multi-cultural LGBTQ community. In addition to producing the borough’s Pride events that take place the second week of June each year, the organization works tirelessly to bring pride to every Brooklyn neighborhood year-round by organizing “community events that commemorate, educate, promote, and celebrate the spirit of the Stonewall Riots” that began on June 28, 1969.
While Saturday’s parade would typically mark the end of the Brooklyn Pride events, this year the organization hosted the Equality Rally for Unity and Pride, a candlelight vigil held at dusk behind the Old Stone House (336 3rd Street between 4th & 5th Avenues) to commemorate the lives lost during Orlando’s Pulse nightclub tragedy one year ago on June 12.
Letitia James, Scott Stringer, Carlos Menchaca, Robert Carroll, Assembly Member Jo Anne Simon, and Bishop Zachary Jones of the Unity Fellowship Church spoke at the rally to discuss how “Equality. No Exceptions!” can be made a reality and to demand an end to gun violence.
“I want to thank Mickey for bringing us together yesterday to celebrate Pride and progress, and I want to thank him for bringing us together tonight to remember the innocent young lives who we lost to hate and to gun violence—individuals who simply wanted to dance,” Public Advocate Letitia James began.
“It was a direct attack on the LGTB community, not only in Orlando but all across this nation,” she said of the Pulse shootings. “It was also a painful reminder that although we’ve made a lot of progress, there is just still too much hate.”
“We’ve got to remember those who tragically lost their lives in Orlando. We must honor their lives and everyone else stolen away from us by gun violence,” James added before urging all in attendance to lobby for responsible gun laws.
“The Orlando mass shooting was considered one of the deadliest in U.S history,” Jamie Farnam, Co-Chair of Brooklyn Pride stated. “Forty-nine were senselessly killed. One year later we remember those lives lost too soon.”
Farnam and her fellow Brooklyn Pride board members then read aloud the names and ages of the forty-nine members of the LGBTQIA+ community who lost their lives one year ago today.
[Photos by Pamela Wong/BKLYNER, except where noted]