LGBT Network Claims Leadership of Queens Pride

Vibrant colors were on full display at the last in-person Queens Pride March in 2019.
Donna Aceto

The LGBT Network, a non-profit organization in Queens and Long Island, has assumed leadership of the annual Queens Pride festivities under a new name: “The New Queens Pride.”

The LGBT Network, which has community centers perched in Long Island and Queens, issued an announcement on January 11 explaining that it would be spearheading Queens Pride festivities beginning this year to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Pride in the borough. The organization rolled out a new Community Advisory Council chaired by former Queens Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who co-founded Queens Pride in 1992.

“We are beyond excited and proud to be working with Danny and the many community leaders and advocates to bring pride back to the largest borough in NYC and the most diverse urban area in the entire world” LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick said in a written statement.

The new organizers are planning an in-person Pride event in Jackson Heights on June 5, which they say will be “the largest celebration in the 30-year history of Queens Pride.” It is unclear, however, how the pandemic will look five months from now.

The LGBT Network has opened registration for those who would like to participate in the march, reserve booths at the festival, secure sponsorships, or volunteer.

Queens Pride festivities have been scaled down since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic. After a very large turnout for the Queens Pride March in 2019, the 2020 event was held virtually and the pandemic continued to hamper events into 2021 as COVID-19 cases ticked up yet again last summer.

A member of the existing Queens Pride organization told Gay City News that they are excited about the future and the continuance of the annual parade. In a written statement, Dromm also stressed the importance of keeping the annual event alive.

“The Queens Pride Parade and Festival is integral to all other LGBTQ+ organizing in the borough. It must continue,” Dromm said. “As Queens Pride’s founder, I am proud to work with the LGBT Network and David Kilmnick to bring back Pride bigger and better than ever before. The last two years without Queens Pride have been difficult but the future looks bright.”

Melissa Sklarz, Daniel Dromm, and Michael Mallon — seen here at Queens Pride in 2019 — are part of the new advisory council for The New Queens Pride.Donna Aceto

When asked to elaborate on the reasoning behind the change in leadership, Kilmnick echoed Dromm’s point about the importance of securing the future of Queens Pride.

“A diverse representation of LGBTQ leaders and activists, including former board members and the founder of the prior Queens Pride organization, have come together to ensure the 30th Anniversary of Queens Pride takes place,” Kilmnick told Gay City News.

The organization that led Queens Pride until this point had a board complete with two co-chairs, a treasurer, secretary, and member-at-large. Only one of those members — treasurer Bill Meehan — is listed as a member of the new 15-member Community Advisory Council on the LGBT Network’s website.

The other members of the Community Advisory Council are Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, State Assemblymember Catalina Cruz, Councilmembers Shekar Krishnan and Lynn Schulman, Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens president Michael Mallon, District Leader Melissa Sklarz, Friend’s Tavern owners Eddie Valentin and Casimiro Villa, Caribbean Equality Project Executive Director Mohamed Q. Amin, AIDS Center of Queens County executive director Rosemary Lopez, former Queens Pride co-chair Andrew Ronan, activist Brendan Fay, and Richard Lieberman, who is the director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at CUNY/LGCC.

“The voices of the Community Advisory Council will truly reflect that the New Queens Pride reflects the world’s most diverse borough that it embodies, and that the celebration is elevated for a community that has waited nearly three years for it to take place,” Kilmnick added.

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