Thousands of Brooklynites flocked to Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue to celebrate the borough’s queer community at the 20th Brooklyn Pride festival and parade on Saturday evening, hours before a gunman massacred 49 people at a gay nightclub in Florida.
The procession was a testament to the strength of Kings County’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, said one attendee, and provided a bright spot in an otherwise dark weekend.
“To see so many people and so much excitement I thought it was very powerful,” said Park Sloper Elizabeth Payne, whose 6-year-old daughter Avery marched in the procession with outdoors group the Fifth Brooklyn Scouts. “It’s maybe more important for me as a memory that the night before, my daughter was marching and participating in a thing that is so happy for everyone.”
Payne said the event was also a great way to open up the conversation about same sex-marriage with her kid, who was thrilled to learn it means more people can tie the knot.
“It’s very exciting for her because she thinks the more marriage the better,” she said.
Along with community groups, activists, local businesses, and high-flying cheerleaders, Brooklyn pols including Borough President Adams, Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D–Williamsburg), and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D–Borough Park) all waved their rainbow flags along the route — stirring up all sorts of emotions for revelers along the way.
“It was amazing, super inspiring, and a little bit emotional too, of course,” said James McPherson, a Park Slope resident who came with pal Bryce Avinano.
The pair usually attend the massive four-hour Pride Parade in the outer borough of Manhattan, but this year decided to check out the 90-minute Park Slope extravaganza and were smitten with its small-town atmosphere.
“It was nice to have a more intimate vibe, there was a real neighborhood feeling,” said Avinano.
And it is a neighborliness that includes all Brooklynites, said the parade’s organizer — regardless of their identity.
“All these people just celebrating the livelihood and celebrating the love and not caring whether you’re LGBTQA — whatever letter of the alphabet — and just being there as one Brooklyn was really quite moving,” said organizer Mickey Heller.