Park Slope

Brooklyn Pride parade draws massive, boisterous turnout

We covered the parade from 2 different viewpoints

June 12, 2017 By Andy Katz, John Alexander Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Members of Sirens, a Brooklyn-based women’s motorcycle club, leads off parade. Eagle photo by Andy Katz
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A Pride Parade Grows in Brooklyn

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Safe from both the brutal pre-summer sun and the swirling controversies about honoring terrorists versus satisfying an important constituency on Puerto Rico Day, NYC elected officials marched behind multihued banners and waved rainbow flags in Brooklyn’s 21st Pride Parade on Saturday evening.

Sponsored by the Fifth Avenue BID and produced by Brooklyn Pride, Inc., Pride Parade is New York City’s only evening parade, kicking off at 7:30 p.m., after the sun has descended past the brownstones and classic storefront facades. There’s always a stealth aspect in the beginning, not seen in its Manhattan counterparts, where floats and crews and bands assemble in side streets well in advance of the procession. NYPD starts barricading side streets that lead to Fifth Avenue from Lincoln Place to Ninth Street, but at first it’s unclear why.

People gradually fill the street, mainly around spots such as Ginger’s Bar between Fifth and Sixth Streets and further down by Brooklyn Industries on Union Street and Fifth Avenue. It isn’t until the procession actually begins — led this year by NYC’s oldest and largest women’s motorcycle club, the Sirens MC (which has also led off the larger, more storied NYC Pride March since 1987) — that humanity seems to explode onto Fifth Avenue.

Families with small children whose faces are gaily painted stand alongside drag queens in gossamer finery, or mingle with tattooed women wearing snug muscle-T-shirts and middle-aged same-sex couples who stroll down holding hands from their Prospect Park-facing brownstones. Working stiffs just off shift perch on cement planters or squat along the curb and hipster diners take advantage of restaurants and lounges that sport large open facades to fill tables near the entrance for a prime spot to watch the procession.

In addition to the Sirens MC, grand marshal duties were shared by activist Ron B. sporting her signature Tina Turner kit and Michael Camacho, regional director of pharmacy sales at AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was one of the first public officials in the line of march. In fact, with his campaign to remove “Acting” from his title, collecting endorsements from across the board, Gonzalez seemed to be everywhere at once. Passing by one moment and then reappearing in the procession to walk with another group, the candidate seemed composed of happy energy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Chirlane McCray stayed well back, marching behind a City Council contingent consisting of Daniel Dromm, Corey Johnson, Carlos Menchaca and Antonio Reynoso. Either arriving too late to catch the City Council banner, or just wanting some alone time, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez marched solo, with only his little son riding dad’s shoulders for company. Also marching were Public Advocate Letitia James and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

State Assemblymember Jo Anne Simon rode atop a float with a model of the Brooklyn Bridge’s South Tower and Brooklyn Democratic Chair Frank Seddio, both tossing plastic beaded necklaces to parade watchers.

Without precise tallies it’s hard to be certain, but each year Brooklyn Pride seems larger and happier than ever. And of course, Brooklyn’s Fifth Avenue is no match in size for its Manhattan counterpart — naturally, it fills quickly and requires fewer bodies to appear overwhelming — but with continued support from elected officials all over the five boroughs, it continues to surprise and delight the senses with unscripted pride and fun.

* * *

Elected Officials and Civic Leaders March in Brooklyn Pride Day Parade

By John Alexander

Saturday was Brooklyn Pride Day and hundreds of revelers flooded the streets of Park Slope to wave their rainbow flags and join in the day-long celebration. The parade-watchers proudly displayed their colors as elected officials, civic leaders and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual/allies (LGBTQIA) community marched along the parade route.

This year’s parade grand marshal was transgender actor and LGBT activist Ron B.

The parade began at Lincoln Place and Fifth Avenue as elected officials and LGBTQIA supporters addressed the crowd. A representative from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office presented the LGBTQIA community with a proclamation.

Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Councilmember Carlos Menchaca and the New York City Council spoke about gay rights and freedom from discrimination.

Also attending the event were Kings County Democratic Chairman Frank Seddio; Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams; U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez; Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez; Assemblymembers Jo Anne Simon and Robert Carroll; Connie Mallafre Melendez, who is running for Kings County Civil Court; Councilmember Vincent Gentile; and City Councilmember candidate Kevin Peter Carroll.

The parade made its way along Fifth Avenue towards Ninth Street where marchers and well-wishers shook hands and hugged.

The Lambda Independent Democrats (LID) of Brooklyn also joined the parade. LID is Brooklyn’s largest LGBTQIA political organization. It was founded by a group of activists in Boerum Hill in 1978 and has grown to become one of the state’s largest LGBTQIA political clubs.

Stringer and Menchaca were among those who spoke to the group. They discussed the future of the gay rights movement and the need for groups like LID to keep fighting for the rights of the LGBTQIA community.


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