The “World’s Borough” started the annual festivities on Sunday, broadcasting Queens Pride 2020 virtual celebrations loud and proud from the organization’s Instagram, Facebook and YouTube pages.
Hosted by Astoria-based drag queens Candy Samples and Jackson Heights volunteer Marcus Woolen, Virtual Pride transformed what is usually a community march down 37th Avenue into an online parade of “floats,” that consisted of video submissions from residents, entertainers and elected officials.
This year, Queens Pride announced three honorary grand marshals: The Black Lives Matter movement, the recently passed AIDS activist and author Larry Kramer, and the outspoken Julian Sanjivan, a longtime member of InterPride.
The lineup also featured archival footage from Queens Pride Parades from the past.
Participants received a special message from former school teacher and current councilman Daniel Dromm, who founded Queens Pride in 1992. Dromm recounted that he was galvanized to lead the borough’s movement after the murder of Julio Rivera, a gay man who was brutally beaten by skinheads on the corner of 78th Street and 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights.
“Invisibility is our biggest enemy,” said Dromm, “so we needed to put a face on the tens of thousands of LGBT people who live in the borough of Queens.”
Back then, Queens Pride was the first parade and festival of its kind to be hosted in the outer boroughs. This will be the first time in 28 years that the community won’t march, but Dromm doesn’t think that should dampen festive spirits.
“We have much to celebrate,” he maintained. “We have marriage equality and so many things that I couldn't have dreamed of when I first came out in 1973 to my mother. We need to move forward even though we are in the middle of this pandemic.”
Queens Pride 2020 closed out with a virtual community dance party tuned to the live musical stylings of DJs Mad Spinner Jamele Mel and DJ Black Icon.
On the other side of the BQE, Brooklyn Pride is also modifying this year’s festivities to fit an all-virtual format, and the theme is “From Bridges to Beaches.”
Celebrations will be spread across four events, beginning with “Dine With Pride: Home Edition” on Tuesday, which supports local restaurants by encouraging participants to order takeout or delivery to munch on while tuning in for some conversation, entertainment and trivia. Next up is “Drag Bingo” on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. For the main event, which falls on Saturday, June 13, Pride Day begins with a virtual 5K race. Later that evening, Brooklyn Pride 2020: A Virtual Celebration begins at 7:30 p.m., featuring livestream entertainment, messages and a community dance party.
Visit brooklynpride.org to partake in Brooklyn Pride 2020 festivities.
“It is our hope that while we forego this year’s events in public, we will still be able to enjoy Brooklyn Pride 2020,” wrote the Board of Directors in a statement announcing the cancelation of this year’s in-person events. “Then on to next year which will mark our 25th Anniversary.”