By Danny Schrafel
In the modern rainbow flag signifying gay pride, there are six colors – red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. This year, Long Island Pride might be tempted to add a seventh – silver.
A quarter-century after their nascent march in 1991, Long Island Pride will bring a burst of color the streets of Huntington village for the 25th time on June 13 as members of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community celebrate gay pride.
Organizer David Kilmnick, CEO of the Long Island GLBT Services Network, said they’ll have a tough act to follow from last year, when LGBT civil rights pioneer Edie Windsor led the parade. Her estate tax lawsuit led to the Supreme Court tossing out the Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriage and set the stage for a possible Supreme Court ruling which could legalize same-sex marriage nationwide in just a few weeks’ time.
“Last year set the tone for the type of event that Long Island Pride has become. We’re going to continue that tradition,” Kilmnick said.
The parade began after a fight with town hall in 1991. That year, the pride parade committee, then the Long Island Lesbian and Gay Pride Freedom Committee, asked the Town of Huntington and other municipalities for a parade permit; they were turned down here on the grounds that only “traditional” parades were allowed.
The committee sued, won, and on June 9, 1991, the first pride parade was held. This year, four of the founders – Kilmnick, Steve Henaghan, Jimmy Pizzo and Kevin O’Halloran – will lead the parade as grand marshals.
“We’re going to honor those that really kept pride alive on Long Island for the past 25 years,” Kilmnick said.
From those combative roots, the parade has grown into an early summertime tradition, culminating in Heckscher Park with an array of amusements at PrideFest, the post-parade celebration.
The parade steps off at noon from the town’s Village Green parking lot near the Cinema Arts Centre and proceeds down Park Avenue, turns left onto Main Street and leads to Heckscher Park. Roads will be re-opened behind the parade route as it clears, said Superintendent of Highways Peter Gunther. In Heckscher Park afterwards, Kilmnick said, a VIP lounge will double in size and add a VIP Select section featuring table service – a perfect place to view the PrideFest revue on Heckscher Park’s Rainbow Stage.
This year’s bill will feature performances by dance artist Amber, singer of “This Is Your Night;” season seven American Idol alumni David Hernandez; “The Voice” third-season alum Anita Antoinette; dance artist Aiden Leslie and more, all hosted by America’s top Tupperware lady, Aunt Barbara.
“The show is really going to bring something for everyone,” Kilmnick said.
From 1-6 p.m., the lounge area will accompany the usual array of vendor booths, attractions for children and a health pavilion featuring free and confidential HIV and STI testing.
Even though great strides have been made on the issue of gay rights in recent years, Kilmnick said activists must remain always vigilant.
“What happened 25 years ago in June, we don’t want to see that repeated. We have to be vigilant, to be out there, to be able to celebrate pride and do so openly and safely,” he said.
For more information, visit lipride.org.