Pride Parade In Park Slope Is A “Big Love Fest”

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PARK SLOPE – What a drag it is walking 15 blocks on Fifth Avenue in Park Slope unless you are “in drag” marching in the 23rd annual Brooklyn Pride Parade celebrating sexual identity, diversity, and tolerance.

Joe Russo with his daughter Annika, 3, of Park Slope watch the parade. Photo by Todd Maisel

Thousands of Brooklynites jammed the Park Slope streets as marchers declared their love for fellow New Yorkers no matter what their sexual or gender identity. And the LGBTQ cause was strengthened as the parade included the leadership of Council Speaker Corey Johnson and a contingent of City Councilmembers, Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Mayor Bill de Blasio, a resident of Park Slope himself, was not on hand as he was campaigning for the Presidency in Iowa.

Celebrants danced in the streets, some dressed in outlandish outfits that blurred the lines of gender identity. One of the more interesting attendees was 10-year-old Desmond Napoles—better known to his fans as #DesmondisAmazing—who danced and sashayed down Fifth Avenue as one of this year’s grand marshals. Napoles has millions of followers world wide on social media.

Ten-year-old Desmond Napoles, #DesmondisAmazing, shows off to the crowd as grand marshal. Photo by Todd Maisel

More controversial was the marchers for “Drag Queen Story Hour” as residents dressed in drag walked with children along the route. The story hour came under fire this past week at the Gerritsen Beach Public Library where protestors, both pro and con, voiced divergent opinions on the propriety of having drag queens read books to young impressionable children. Those on the pro side maintain it teaches children “tolerance” for people who are different, while those against it say it teaches children “to be drag queens.”

A library employee marching in the parade said they fully support the program.

“We had a great crowd and people were happy, and the people who were not happy, I think they have bigger problems,” the librarian said but wouldn’t give her name.

Drag Queen Story Hour at Brooklyn Pride Parade. Photo by Todd Maisel

While the parade celebrates gender, sexual identity, and teaches tolerance of people who are different, most residents who are heterosexual said it was just “a day of love for all.”

Joe Russo of Park Slope walked with his daughter Annika, 3, on his shoulders and proudly showed her the sights.

“It’s important to show her love is the most important thing in the world, and we live in an awesome community that celebrates everyone, that we should all live free and happy,” Russo said.

Tom Colletti of Windsor Terrance brought his dog Bella with a rainbow collar around her neck.

“The dog is just out and showing her colors and she loves pride today and getting plenty of belly rubs,” Colletti said. “The people need freedom to express themselves as long as it is in a positive way and that is what this is about.”

Mari King of Park Slope dressed in her drag and said the movement has come a long way.

“I am loud and proud and it is 50 years since Stonewall and it tells the public we are not going anywhere,” she said, “and we have just as much right to be out here. Brooklyn has always had a great crowd and it is another awesome event.”

Comptroller Stringer said the event teaches the community tolerance.

“The parade celebrates the LGBTQ community, and we celebrate 50th anniversary of Stonewall, but it also a teaching moment for children, see how many children there were? They were learning about tolerance and diversity—it’s great,” Stringer said.

“A lot of happiness and a lot of joy,” said Queens Councilman Daniel Dromm of the event. “We’ve come a long way.”

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Todd Maisel
Todd Maisel is an award-winning photographer with more than 35-years, specializing in breaking news. He currently serves as vice president of the New York Press Photographers. He was honored by the National Press Photographers Association and the Uniform Firefighters Association for saving the life of a firefighter he found in debris after the collapse of the World Trade Center, assisting in the rescue of an injured photographer, and for extensive coverage of the attack. Maisel is a graduate of NYU School of Journalism.
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