June kicks off Gay Pride Month in New York City and other cities across America. From June 21st to the 29th Manhattan will host a series of events honoring the hundreds of gaysliving in the city with the annual parade closing the week on Sunday, June 29th.
But things kicked off earlier this month when hundreds gathered in Queens, New York to partake in the 22nd year celebration of Queens Pride Parade. Started back in 1990, the Queens Pride Parade was in response to honoring the murder of Julio Rivera who was killed in a hate crime.
Julio Rivera was a Latino barman who was killed during a hate crime in 1990 after suffering a savage beating in Jackson Heights. The response to the heinous crime and the outcry against Rivera’s death resulted in the parade becoming the second biggest gay pride event to be held in the city.
And this year to keep the memory of Rivera alive and to celebrate all gays living in Queens and the world at large ventured to Jackson Heights to participate in the festivities under this year’s parade slogan, “A World of Pride”.
For the first time ever, the Queens Pride Parade welcomed the Mayor of New York City. Not wanting to miss out on the fun, Mayor Bill de Blasio attended the celebration to the applause of thousands of people who joined him in the festivity.
“This parade matters to all of us and it represents something powerful to all of us,” said Mayor de Blasio. “And I want you to know, this parade is a celebration of life. It is a celebration of diversity and inclusion and strength in this city. It’s also a moment to remember the things we’ve all fought for.”
Along with Mayor de Blasio, members of the New York City Council LGBT Caucus took part in the parade as its honored grand marshals. Among the grand marshals was Carlos Menchaca, Ritchie Torres, Jimmy Van Bramer, Danny Dromm, Corey Johnson, and Rosie Méndez.
“This celebration is a testament to the diversity and the spirit of inclusion that make our city great,” said Torres, the first openly gay official to be elected into office in the Bronx. “I feel incredibly proud of marching alongside my colleagues as we celebrate the achievements of the New York gay communities.”
In-addition to honoring the New York City Council LGBT Caucus by having them become grand marshals, many of the attendees of the parade applauded the LGBT Caucus and Mayor de Blasio himself for boycotting the St. Patrick’s Parade this year because organizers wouldn’t allow any gay representation in its parade.
“We need all the unity and support we can find in these times in which, unfortunately, there are still discrimination and hate crimes,” said Marta Castillo, a Colombian lesbian who lives in Queens, who sums up the important message of what Gay Pride and its celebration is all about.