Showing Pride From NYC to Far Rockaway

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On June 24th, New York City celebrated Pride with a massive, intensely joyful parade of more than 40,000 LGBTQ+ people and allies marching together. In a sea of rainbow flags, almost 2 million people attended the parade to reclaim their space and be unapologetically themselves. Over 450 organizations, companies and community representatives came together to create the day of celebration, solidarity, visibility and resistance. Some say that the first Pride was the Stonewall Riots in 1969 — when police targeted the Stonewall Inn as part of a wave of raids on gay bars, a riot broke out in protest to the overcriminalization of LGBTQ+ people. The riot, sparked in major part by Marsha P. Johnson, a trans black woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a trans latina woman, continues to inspire Pride today (often through the rallying cries of “Pride is a protest!” and “Pride is a riot!”).

It’s been 49 years since that historical moment and every year people from all over come to the NYC Pride parade to show a united front of love in the face oppression that lives to this day. Even though there is more work that needs to be done to continue the fight for LGBTQ+ rights all over the world, the NYC Pride parade creates a moment to reflect on the progress that has been made, and why people still continue to fight.

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Even on our small peninsula of Rockaway, our first LGBTQ+ organization, “Out Rockaway”, strives to continue the fight through education and inclusive events. For years throughout the Rockaways, there seemed to be a lack of a support group for people apart of LGBTQ+ community and something needed to change, that’s when “Out Rockaway” came into existence around two years ago. With their continuous events in order to build a strong sense of community and visibility while also destroying the notion of homophobic behavior and actions on the peninsula. With people becoming more and more aware of the issues facing the community it’s a wonderful that an organization like this exists in the Far Rockaway. One of the founding members of “Out Rockaway”, Jim Burke, believes that the Rockaway LGBTQ+ members were extremely invisible prior to the creation of the organization and only had the option “to go to Manhattan in order to be themselves.” “Out Rockaway” provides a multitude of events for residents to be themselves by going to the Rockaway Theater or marching in local parades to increase the “visibility for LGBTQ+ community.” As part of their work to increase visibility, they were in attendance for the NYC Pride with their trademark rainbow flip-flops t-shirts.

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There were floats spreading a variety of messages: from the “LBGT Immigration Project” which provides free legal assistance for LGBTQ+ immigrants; to a partnership between Alexander Wang and Trojan condoms, promoting safer sex practices by throwing condoms that said “Protect your Wang”. These floats were all for fun, but to also raise awareness of a great number of services for LGBTQ+ community members (in most cases, offering support that the community would have otherwise been denied, even as recently as 15 years ago). Pride isn’t just about fun, but to show people that this community won’t be going anywhere soon — from places as big as New York City to somewhere as small as Far Rockaway. To repeat the phrase that was shouted throughout the crowds during the parade, to give everybody watching a powerful reminder: “We’re here and we’re queer!”