Who said Pride was over?
The LGBTQ community in the Rockaways made history on July 13 with the peninsula’s first-ever Pride celebration.
OutRockaway, an LGBTQ organization encompassing the Rockaways and surrounding Queens neighborhoods, partnered with the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center to host to a four-hour block party complete with music and a DJ, health-related resources, giveaways, food, and refreshments. Numerous community groups were on hand at booths sprinkled around the event.
The Pride festivities at 6200 Beach Channel Drive were scheduled to begin at 11 a.m., but people couldn’t contain their excitement about the festivities: They started showing up at 10 a.m. on what was a warm, sunny Saturday. After it was over, folks stuck around and continued partying on the beach.
“It was really successful,” OutRockaway’s executive director, Jim Burke, told Gay City News. “It was lots of fun.”
Several elected officials also stopped by, including Attorney General Tish James, Assmemblymember Stacey Pheffer Amato, out gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer of Queens, who is running for borough president, and Councilmember Donovan Richards, whose Queens district includes Far Rockaway.
OutRockaway, which consisted of about 140 people heading into the July 13 event, has made inroads with the community since the organization’s inception in 2015. The group has participated in the local police precinct’s cook-off, they’ve held library events, beach parties, and they’ve gone bowling, among other activities.
“We noticed there was no LGBTQ awareness in Rockaways,” Burke said of the group’s original formation. “The people that we knew were gay were either in the closet or took the A train over an hour to go to a doctor or go to a bar or club to socialize.”
The team at OutRockaway wanted to take things a step further. In the time leading up to the Pride event, they met with the Addabbo Family Health Center with hopes of establishing a Pride celebration that could benefit the community while simultaneously showing queer folks health resources available to them.
“It was a really terrific, productive meeting,” Burke recalled. Soon enough, they scheduled the first-ever Pride celebration in the Rockaways.
Rockaway Pride went so well that the group is not only planning to hold yet another celebration, but they’re expecting it to be even larger in 2020. The group’s membership grew at the event and several vendors reached out to OutRockaway expressing their desire to join in on the fun next year.
“It surpassed out dreams,” Burke said. “For our first time out, we were really happy.”
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