Rainbow Flags lined the streets and marchers danced down 37th Avenue in style as Queens Pride stormed back to life in Jackson Heights on June 5, marking the borough’s first in-person Pride March since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s Queens Pride was not unlike previous editions of the annual event: The march kicked off at noon and was followed by a festival featuring multiple entertainment stages as well as tents hosting food vendors and local community groups. But it was the first time folks marched at Queens Pride since 2019 — and behind the scenes, this year’s festival was under the new leadership of the LGBT Network. Out gay former Councilmember Daniel Dromm, who founded Queens Pride, and Maritza Martinez, the co-chair, were both prominently featured up on stage.
After marching down 37th Avenue, Dromm introduced several elected officials at the Queens Pride festival, including City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and out Queens Councilmembers Tiffany Cabán and Lynn Schulman. Mayor Eric Adams, Comptroller Brad Lander, and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams were also on hand.
“We have to celebrate today,” Adrienne Adams said as she waved a Rainbow Flag on stage. W”e have to celebrate Pride. We wear our colors proudly. They are the rainbow because New York is the rainbow and we celebrate the rainbow today. Happy Pride!”
Cabán used her time on stage to underscore the importance of maintaining the focus on protecting the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ community.
“I just want to remind folks that while yes this is a joyous moment, this moment is rooted in rebellion,” said Cabán, who acknowledged the 1969 Stonewall Protests and urged people in attendance to keep in mind that trans youth, immigrants, disabled individuals, and queer people of color are more likely to face discrimination in their daily lives.”
The crowd continued to grow in size as the afternoon progressed on a warm and sunny day in the heart of Jackson Heights. Dylan Stillwood, an out gay Queens resident, was standing by food vendors as he enjoyed a pineapple snack.
“I really like the vibe of Queens Pride,” Stillwood said. “It has this neighborhood kind of feel to it. It’s not as commercial, sort of like ‘Pride brought to you by Bacardi or whatever.’ It’s got much more of a neighborhood feel, so I think it has the original spirit of Pride.”
Others were enjoying the festivities after participating in the march. One individual who goes by the name Mercedes said it was especially exciting to return to Queens Pride after interruptions in previous years due to COVID.
“We’re really excited to kick off the first in-person Pride celebration since the pandemic,” said Mercedes, who marched with a marching band in the parade. “It’s a great time.”
The borough-based Pride events will continue in the weeks ahead. Brooklyn Pride will take place on June 11 along Fifth Avenue from Lincoln Place to Ninth Street.