The Big Apple Corps Marching Band. | DONNA ACETO
On Sunday June 1, Jackson Heights played host to the 22nd annual Queens LGBT Pride celebration with a parade down 37th Avenue and an afternoon cultural festival right in the heart of the neighborhood. As in past years, Queens got a jump on the other boroughs, with the Brooklyn celebration scheduled for June 14 and the massive parade down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan stepping off at noon on June 29. Pride celebrations in the Bronx and Staten Island are scheduled for July.
Marching with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are grand marshals of the parade –– the six-member lesbian and gay caucus in the Council: Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer and Coucilmembers Rosie Mendez, Daniel Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, Corey Johnson, and Ritchie Torres. | DONNA ACETO
The annual Queens event is an example of how the LGBT community turned tragedy into an opportunity for action. In July 1990, Julio Rivera, a 29-year-old gay man, was murdered in a Jackson Heights schoolyard. Angered at the slow progress of police action on the case, gay activists began to organize in the neighborhood and across the borough. Under the leadership of Daniel Dromm, at the time an out gay schoolteacher and now the area’s City Council member, that activism evolved into a plan for an annual pride event in the borough.
Grand marshal Melissa Sklarz, a longtime transgender rights activist and the most recent past president of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City. | DONNA ACETO
A participant in the June 1 Pride Parade in Queens. | DONNA ACETO
A marcher remembers Islan Nettles, a trans woman murdered last year in Harlem. | DONNA ACETO
The New York Cheer squad marches. | DONNA ACETO