“It won’t rain on our parade,” Lori Panarello said ahead of the first North Fork Pride parade on June 23. She was right—the sun came out on time, and the parade Go through Greenport.
Ms. Panarello is one of the main organizers of North Fork Pride and a local business owner of the CRAFT Hair Salon in Greenport and the ID Salon in Woodbury.
North Fork Pride is organized by LGBT Network led by Robert Vitelli and Brian Rosen and volunteers. Ms. Panarello pitched the idea to the pair earlier this year. “It was a very serendipitous moment because at that moment we really knew we had found each other,” Mr Vitelli said. He explained that the LGBT Network had wanted to bring Pride to the North Fork for some time, but it never came to fruition. Local resources are available to help. Ms. Panarello addressed the issue.
“She said, ‘I’ve always wanted to have a Pride event here,’ and we responded, ‘Well, so do we,'” Mr. Vitelli said.
The LGBT Network has been organizing the Long Island Pride Parade for the past 10 years. The event began in Huntingdon and has been held for 33 years. LGBT Network held marches in Huntington and Long Beach.
LGBT Network is a Huntington-based nonprofit organization that provides safe spaces for members of the LGBTQ+ community throughout Long Island, including educational programs, events, health services and support groups.
The first rainbow flag was invented in 1970 with the help of Lynn Segerbloom, one of the three Grand Marshals at the North Fork Pride Parade. She dyed the rainbow colors onto the flag boards and helped sew them together with James McNamah and Gilbert Baker.
Ms. Segerbloom lives in California year-round and flew in for the event. Greenport native Harry Lewis and Leslie Kanes Wiseman, who has lived in North Fork for six years, were the other grand marshals in the parade.
The first Pride parades took place on June 18, 1970 in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Since then, the concept of pride parades has grown and spread around the world. The original three cities are now the largest parades in the United States, with nearly a million people in each city.
Even though North Fork Pride is much smaller, many people are excited that it’s happening in their own backyard. “This kind of openness and change in our community is so important. It’s been a long time coming,” said Colleen Stellato, an LGBT Network volunteer. ”
Ms. Stellato has been with LGBT Network since March this year. She and her friend Sarah Hoffman were involved in planning the launch of last weekend’s festivities at CAST in Southold.
“It’s a wonderful feeling that North Fork has come together around this cause,” Ms. Hoffman said.
Bridget Elkin and Eric Elkin attended the event with their two children, aged two and four. They are originally from Manhattan and moved to Greenport 10 years ago. Ms Elgin said they were “greenport or nowhere people”. “Our village’s greatest asset is our authenticity, and I think today is a great example of that.”
The Elkins family is thrilled that Pride is so close to home for more than one reason. “It’s a privilege to give parents the opportunity to teach our kids how to love someone and what it means to love,” she said.
Jay Fabs, 33, who grew up in Shelton, Connecticut, emphasized the importance of Pride events for young people. Fabs said he came out as bisexual when he was 16 and was bullied throughout high school. At the age of 25, he publicly admitted that he is transgender. “I felt a little embarrassed, as I got older, I thought, what the hell, you can’t hide who you are,” he said. “It’s a really hateful place. It’s nice to see the younger generation – they’re faring much better off.”
For many local youths, like 14-year-old Isabella Reeves and Maiya Staudt, and 13-year-old Hannah Stumph, North Fork Pride was their first pride event. Ms. Reeves was with her mother and friends, who said they have attended many pride events over the years and acted as pride “masters”.
“I like that it’s smaller than the ones in the city,” Ms. Staut said. “It’s less overwhelming.” Ms. Steinf agrees, saying she’s excited to be a part of North Fork Pride.
Amanda Grahl, 21, said the day “felt free”. There are so many like-minded people here, it’s a pleasure to meet and be a part of. ”
The parade is the second event of the inaugural North Fork Pride Weekend, following a kickoff party at Little Fish in Southold on Friday night. AJ Lang and Louis Marra were in attendance at the kickoff and said the turnout was strong. “I don’t know what took so long,” Mr. Long said, referring to the North Fork Pride event.
Mr. Lang said the best part of the kick-off dinner was “meeting new people that we hadn’t met before because there was really no place to go and party, so it was great to have a safe space and meet new people.”
Hundreds of people took part in the march. The Women of North Fork, a nonprofit lesbian advocacy group, plays with whistles and bells.North Fork Community Theater plays songs from rent. “Pride” balloons are waved in front of the Greenport Fire Department’s truck. Queerli, a safe space group, hosts events across Suffolk County to find the queer community, parading in tutus and rainbow dinosaur costumes. CRAFT Hair carries a rainbow balloon in the shape of a scissor.
After the parade, Mitchell Park hosted a festival with vendors and information booths. Front Street is lined with shops and features live music, dancing, face painting and more.
Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. drove a fire truck in the parade and pulled over to the main street in time to celebrate the holiday. There are beer taps on the side of the truck.
Burton’s Books set up two tables outside the store, displaying books by LGBTQ+ authors. Lucy Anderson, who works at Burton Books, said she wanted to educate and represent at the same time.
Next door to Burton’s is Kessie, a store filled with earrings, candles, rainbow coats and scarves, small diaries, fans, necklaces, bags and other gifts. Carol Rudder, who works at Kessie, said she was excited about the first Pride event.
Ms. Hoffman and Ms. Strato said the plan for next year is to expand. LGBT Network wants to start planning early and do more fundraising. “This year has exceeded our expectations,” Ms Hoffman said. “I’m excited to see what happens next year.”