Colors of the rainbow were on full display on June 11 in Park Slope, where Brooklyn Pride encompassed Fifth Avenue for the first time since before the pandemic.
Brooklyn Pride kicked off at Prospect Park’s annual Brooklyn Pride LGBTQIA+ 5K. The event, hosted in partnership with Front Runners New York and presented by Maimonides Health, saw hundreds run and walk through Brooklyn’s Backyard to get their endorphins going and show their support.
A portion of funds raised by registrants went toward Brooklyn Pride’s Volunteer Grant, designed to celebrate local non-profit organizations that provide direct support services to the LGBTQIA+ community
The fun continued after the early-morning 5K with an avenue’s worth of entertainment on Fifth. A precursor to the evening’s Twilight Parade, the Brooklyn Pride Festival ran from Union Street to Ninth Street and featured games, shopping and exciting musical performances on a main stage.
Brooklynites of all ages were in attendance — and for good reason, Brooklyn Paper’s sister publication Gay City News reported: Brooklyn Pride incorporated a Youth Pride event to this year’s festivities, giving families even more of a reason to show their Pride at a time when right-wing forces are targeting queer youth around the country.
Immediately after, the borough’s own Pride Parade kicked off on the same thoroughfare, lasting well into the night.
The festival’s family-friendly atmosphere was also evident at the evening march, where locals of all ages lined the sidewalk along Fifth Avenue and cheered on the plethora of community groups, non-profit organizations, church groups, and politicians along the parade route.
Different contingents flowed through the parade as night fell, but the front of the march was overwhelmed with political figures. Mayor Eric Adams marched in the parade and drew mixed reactions from the crowd, while other citywide officials were also on hand — including Speaker Adrienne Adams, who marched with the Council’s contingent; Comptroller Brad Lander; and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Attorney General Letitia James marched along as well.
With election season in full swing, there were also appearances from other politicians competing in several different races. New Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado was marching along with a Rainbow Flag as he greeted his constituents just steps away from out bi lieutenant governor candidate Ana María Archila. In the competitive race for the redrawn 10th Congressional District — which includes parts of Brooklyn, including Park Slope — out gay Congressmember Mondaire Jones, former Mayor Bill de Blasio, and Councilmember Carlina Rivera mingled with Brooklynites.
The borough’s two out councilmembers — Chi Ossé and Crystal Hudson — participated in Brooklyn Pride festivities for the first time since taking office. Brooklyn’s out State Senator, Jabari Brisport, also joined in.
After the politicians passed by, however, a community-driven ambiance settled in. The Prospect Park Women’s Softball League injected enthusiasm into the march, while bands like Fogo Azul and Batala New York had locals dancing to the street beat.
“The reason to be here is to show support and be your authentic self,” said William Stallings of Gotham Cheer, a nonprofit adult cheerleading team focused on helping disadvantaged LGBTQIA+ youth. “There are a lot of young people who are still finding their way and every day I get to come out here and be myself, I get to reach out to anyone who’s lost, anyone who needs help. I just want them to know they have a home, that they are loved and we’re here for you.”
Clover Welsh, better known as drag queen, comedian and television correspondent Lady Clover Honey, also enjoyed Brooklyn Pride.
“I love a festival,” Lady Clover Honey told Brooklyn Paper, “especially a Pride festival with a lot of fierce people walking around.”
For many Brooklynites, showing up to the Park Slope Pride parade meant something special.
“I had a really hard time coming out,” said Ty Lazauskas, a Park Slope resident who identifies as bisexual and transmasc. “I thought my family and my friends were gonna have a hard time understanding me and there were moments where I thought I would never say it, but being here enjoying Pride makes me feel like I should have done it as soon as I figured it out.”
This year’s grand marshals were former head of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District and longtime friend to the parade Mark Caserta, and Rainbow Heights Club, a drop-in space that offers peer support and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual & transgender New Yorkers who are living with mental illness.
The first Pride march in New York City was held on June 28, 1970, on the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, according to the Library of Congress. The first Brooklyn Pride Parade took place on June 14, 1997, becoming the third such march to be organized in New York City after those in Manhattan and Queens.
Additional reporting by Matt Tracy. For more Brooklyn Pride coverage, visit GayCityNews.