This Pride Month, Brooklyn Kids certainly weren’t left out.
At an age where the safety of queer children is targeted, events like the Kids’ Pride Celebration at City Point are especially important — and were abundant across the city this month. Hosted by Coney Island artist and roller disco queen Diana Carlin AKA Lola Star on June 11, the City Point celebration (with a Coney Island twist) was a family-friendly afternoon including a parade, circus performances, and exciting activities.
The afternoon began with a Rainbow Parade, where Brooklyn families were encouraged to arrive in bright-colored costume before kickoff at noon. The march, led by visiting performers, went through Albee Square and Flatbush Avenue.
During the Rainbow Parade, families enjoyed performances by Coney Island’s talented fleet — including Lola Star.
The crowd was dazzled by jugglers, mermaid hula hoopers, a roller rainbow girl, a stilt walker, and balloon twisters.
The event’s lead organizer told Brooklyn Paper afterward that the event was “pure magic.”
“I’m so grateful to City Point for inviting us to fill their complex with rainbow colored joy and inclusive love,” said Lola Star. “With all of the challenges the world faces today it felt as though the joy we created was more crucial and needed than ever.”
After the parade, the Self-Expression Studio offered creative activities for all ages, but children were especially encouraged to celebrate uniqueness and individuality through arts and crafts.
At the Sparkle Station, kids were delighted to find glitter mermaid designs they were able to put on their hands and faces. In addition to decorating themselves, guests enjoyed decorating t-shirts and tote bags with materials provided by Lola Star. The customized items featured Coney Island themes, including unicorns, mermaids, disco squids, and glitter prints.
The kid-friendly event, sponsored by neighboring business Casper, came at an especially important time for queer youth.
This year has seen unsafe decisions regarding children and the LGBTQIA+ community. The bill dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” passed in Florida aims to erase the mention of queer history in school, removing the ability for children to connect with their own community’s past. The bill can also put kids at risk if schools are forced to “out” students to potentially homophobic and abusive parents.
Texas, too, is targeting youth by attempting to ban gender-affirming treatments for transgender children. With this kind of opposition, kids’ voices are more vital than ever, said organizers, who hoped the City Point event would provide a safe space for youngsters to express their identities.
At the City Point kids’ Pride celebration in Downtown Brooklyn, that space was given to parents and children alike, organizers said.
“We provided a brief rainbow colored escape from the dark, heavy challenges of today,” Lola Star said. “The event was very moving in a way I was not expecting. There were so many beautiful moments of connection, celebration and acceptance that literally brought tears of joy to my eyes.”
One young boy traveled to the event from Astoria, Queens, after taking it upon himself to research Pride Month events online.
“In a world where he might feel like he did not always fit in, he was actively looking for his ‘people,'” Lola Star said. “And he found exactly what he was in search of. Our Kids Pride Celebration validated and appreciated his uniqueness. Although they had to travel almost one hour, it was worth it because he found the connection that he might not feel in a world where it may seem as though he doesn’t ‘fit in.'”
“Throughout the day, there was a spirit of acceptance, joy and community from performers to the parents and kids to the City Point stores,” added Erica Roseman, president of Concrete Communication, which oversaw the marketing of the event. “The activities were a lot of fun and the Downtown Brooklyn community embraced the Coney Island talent and concept of inclusivity with open arms.”
The City Point provided the opportunity to express individuality and experience Pride in an age-appropriate way. Although children are having their rights to safety threatened in this country, organizers believe events like this assert that they still have a place to learn about the identities of others and connect with their own.
“The tremendous success of our Kids Pride celebration made me really value the importance of creating a safe space for kids to be able to find each other, connect with colorful, like minded souls and celebrate their uniqueness,” Lola Star said.
Update (June 22, 10:30 am): This story has been updated to include additional comment from organizers.