The entire month of June is national LGBT Pride Month, and this year Saratoga Pride is going all out—so make sure you have your e-calendars and iPhone cameras at the ready. On Saturday, June 9, our local chapter will be marching in the Saratoga Elks Annual Flag Day Parade. But don’t get too winded from marching, because the Capital Pride Parade & Festival is the very next day in Albany. The parade is the largest in the Capital Region and will include free live entertainment including, hundreds of vendors, and, of course, representatives and volunteers from our own Saratoga Pride chapter. Saratoga’s own Pride Festival will take place in High Rock Park at the Farmers Market Pavilion on Friday, June 15. The festival will feature live music by the Rich Clements Band followed by snacks and cocktails at Bailey’s Restaurant on Phila Street.
All Pride Month events are sure to be enjoyable for all and family-friendly—but yesterday proved a stark reminder that the month isn’t only about fun and games; it’s also about fighting the good fight. “The mood might be a little down tonight because of the news,” Cindy Swadba, a resident of Milton and volunteer for Saratoga Pride, told me yesterday. Swadba was referring to the Supreme Court decision declaring that a Christian baker from Colorado could refuse to make wedding cakes for gay couples on the grounds of religious objection. It’s not a definitive ruling, however, applying only to this baker and not affecting national policy regarding anti-discrimination laws. Still, to many in the LGBT community, it was a surprising upset and a stinging reminder of the history of discrimination they’ve already endured. “This is exactly the sort of thing we still fight for,” says Swadba.
Pride’s history has long been tied to protest and resistance. The tradition of celebrating Pride in June goes all the way back to the Stonewall Riots, which occurred in New York City on June 28, 1969. The riots grew out of a police raid on a popular gay bar in the Greenwich Village neighborhood called the Stonewall Inn (now known simply as the Stonewall). Instead of going quietly, into the hands of officers from the NYC Vice Squad Public Morals Division (yes, that was a real thing), bystanders and patrons of the bar fought back, culminating in the most important moment in the formation of a national gay liberation movement. The following June, the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots was commemorated with Christopher Street Liberation Day, the first gay pride march in US history. Jump ahead nearly 50 years later, and President Obama declared the Stonewall a national monument in time for 2016’s LGBT Pride Month. Saratoga’s own chapter of Pride was founded in 2007, and has counted among its volunteers a Stonewall Riots veteran.
Despite its rocky past, New York State has since played an integral role in helping the gay rights movement flourish. (See: June 24’s The March in NYC, for example.) Let’s keep it that it way by showing our support. You can do that at any of these local Pride Month events:
Friday, June 1- 9 – In Our Own Voices Gay and Latino Pride – Washington Park.
Saturday, June 9 – Saratoga Elks 51st Annual Flag Day Parade – Broadway, Saratoga.
Sunday, June 10 – Capital Pride Festival in Albany – Washington Park.
Tuesday, June 12 – Adult LGBTQ Support Group – 125 High Rock Avenue, Saratoga.
Friday, June 15 – Saratoga Pride Festival – High Rock Park, Farmers Market Pavilion.
Sunday, June 17 – Yaddo Garden & Ghost Tour – Yaddo Gardens, Saratoga.
Friday, June 29 – Pride Night at the Opera, “The Merry Widow” – ,