Sunday, June 12, 2016

The LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition Picks Up the Pride Parade Torch


I mentioned in my Song of the Day post on John's Music World yesterday that it was a pretty sad day for many LGBT's on Long Island:

...throughout the month of June, LGBT Pride Parades and festivals take place virtually each weekend day somewhere around the world. Now the one in New York City is one of the grandest anywhere, but we here on Long Island have had our own reputation for being one of the largest suburban celebrations of pride anywhere. For the past 24 years, Long Island's Pride Parade and ensuing celebration have taken place in the town of Huntington, and though there will be a celebratory festival at Heckscher State Park today, the parade is no more, much to the chagrin of this writer and many other angry LGBT residents of both counties...the cancellation of this year's L.I. Pride Parade, citing security and logistical concerns, is an absolute travesty.

I had said in that post that I would talk about the issue more on John's World, and so here I am.  It was sometime back in March that the Long Island LGBT Network, run by CEO David Kilmnick, announced that it was cancelling the parade.  Though I had seen news items on the cancellation, I first looked into it after my friend Sean posted an angry rant about it on Facebook.

Within Sean's post, I was steered to a freshly created Facebook group page called LI Pride March Cancelled by LIGALY, We Will Fight Back.  I immediately joined the group, which now numbers in excess of 1,300 people.  The cause has morphed itself into an organization that calls itself the LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition, lead by organizer Erinn Furey.  Their aim has been to do just what its name says.  First, they tried to fight the cancellation of the parade, and when that got nowhere, they organized a boycott of today's Pride Fest and a march of their own for today, Sunday, June 12th, at 12:30 in gay-friendly Sayville.  

A Disconnect Between Corporate Politicos and LGBT's

I see the whole issue as a culmination of several years of a growing disconnect between the politically minded and very corporate LGBT Network and the every day LGBT person on Long Island.  It all started a few years ago when the LGBT Network first took control of running the event. Several changes were immediately made to the parade and festival, most notably a change in the day it was held.  Upon taking the reigns, the event was immediately moved from Sunday to Saturday in order to allow for the sale of alcohol.  The decision automatically shortened the route of the parade because the town of Huntington does not allow for closures of Main Street on Saturdays.

This early decision lead to a very different animal than the whole pride celebration started out to be. I've attended some of these events, both before and after the LGBT Network's takeover, and the festival has morphed into one giant corporate expo, with a multitude of businesses selling their wares in the name of pride, and with big name acts giving performances for the spectators.  Not necessarily a bad thing, right?  

I am sure most other pride celebrations are the same, and we the people like to be entertained and sold to, don't we?  I, personally have no issue with the Pride Fest.  To me, it's all part and parcel of how we Americans like to spend our time, and it's actually a good thing that we are getting this particular kind of attention geared specifically toward us.  I just don't agree with wiping out the parade.

I will admit that this particular parade was never really a giant, moving spectacle like the one in NYC, and the parade committee has tried to make it a little more exciting over the years.  I particularly remember one time there was a high heeled running race on Main Street...amusing, but not too much so.  Still, the central idea of any sort of pride celebration is to show face in a very public way, and that is to march in a parade.  

What would St. Patrick's Day celebrations be without parades?  Bagpipes and kilts, Irish green pride all on display for everyone to see.  Columbus Day...Italian-American pride.  The NYC Pride Parade is a very moving experience for any LGBT spectator.  I've attended several of those and I can tell you firsthand the feelings of pride you get when you see LGBT police officers, firefighters, EMT workers, teachers, and even corporate workers showing off their pride.  It helps us!  But David Kilmnick and the LGBT Pride Network have eradicated all of that in the name of logistics and security concerns.  As I said, it's truly a shameful thing.  

Today's March

As I mentioned above, the LGBTQA+ Visibility Coalition will be holding what it calls its own visibility march at 12:30 in Sayville.  I would have loved to go, but unfortunately my physical condition prevents me from walking around.  I do hope they have a nice turnout and that the newspapers will give them the same visibility that yesterday's fest was given.  After all, it is all about visibility!


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