Hudson Valley Pride Walk and Festival Returns to New Paltz

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A local drag performer channeled a fierce Lady Gaga wearing a Hutton Brickyards brick at New Paltz Pride last Sunday. (Photos by Lauren Thomas)

“You can’t sink a rainbow” is a beloved activist slogan that dates back to 1985, following the bombing by the French secret service of the flagship of the environmental group Greenpeace, the rainbow warrior as he prepared to monitor nuclear testing in French Polynesia. The boat’s name was originally inspired by a book offering a “Native American prophecy” that turned out to be false, about different tribes banding together to save the Earth. But it also has its roots in the term Rainbow Coalition, coined by Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton in 1969 to describe his multicultural anti-racism movement and adopted by Jesse Jackson for his 1984 presidential campaign.

In the decades since, the concept of the rainbow as a broad symbol of left-wing intersectional coalition building has morphed and tightened, becoming more recognizably the calling card of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. Despite some societal and legislative victories, such as the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriages, this constituency has felt particularly beleaguered lately, with a conservative Supreme Court majority poised to strip them of their legal protections as soon as they eviscerate. Roe vs. Wade. Maybe it’s time “You Can’t Sink a Rainbow” was resurrected.

A mom and her young children dance to the beat of the band last Sunday during the Pride celebration in New Paltz’s Hasbrouck Park.

At last Saturday’s Hudson Valley Pride March and Festival in New Paltz — the first to go live since 2019 — rainbow gear was in evidence everywhere one was watching. Dressed in rainbow socks and sitting on the stone wall (symbolically significant during Pride month) in front of One Epic Place, diagonally across from the station’s (probably unintentionally) rainbow striped marquee Sunoco, this HV1 the correspondent noted the following items sported by marchers as they descended Main Street: rainbow flags, dresses, caps, capes, leis, fans, umbrellas, scarves, ties, kites, and even canine clothing . That’s not counting the vendor with a cart full of whimsical items that included rainbow-colored hats in the shape of googly-eyed squids.

Times may be tough for LGBTQ people, but there’s no denying the spirit of celebration and dynamic challenge that characterizes this annual event. Not one but two marching bands set the tone for the parade: a small ensemble accompanying Grand Marshal Bill Coleman – famed music producer/director, DJ and founder of Peace Bisquit Productions – as he vigorously waved a flag at several rainbows from the sunroof of the lead vehicle; and the larger Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band & Social Club, further up the line of march. Turnout was lighter than usual after the two-year break, but the mood was optimistic.

Hudson Valley activist group, the Tin Horn Uprising, provided a spirited accompaniment to marchers during last Sunday’s Pride Parade in New Paltz.

Walkers were young and old, black, white, brown and yellow, able-bodied and in wheelchairs. Dignitaries and candidates for public office, including Pat Ryan, Juan Figueroa and Jen Metzger, cheerfully waved to spectators lined on the sidewalks. A group of children from the Human Rights Club, the Diversity Club and the Rondout Valley High School group handed out handwritten information cards explaining the basics of the gay rights movement, such as the difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. There was even a middle-aged woman with PRIDE imprinted on her otherwise bare chest, shouting, “Join me! No more tyranny of breasts!”

At the end of its traditional route from New Paltz Middle School, along Main and across Plattekill Avenue – past Peace Park where former Mayor Jason West held same-sex weddings that have rocked New York State in 2004 – the parade entered Hasbrouck Park, converging with a larger crowd for the Pride Festival. Musical performances outnumbered speeches this year, as attendees socialized without masks and moved around the many tables set up by vendors, churches, the arts, environmental and health-related organizations and social service agencies. The Hudson Valley Misfits were there with their “Skate, Don’t Hate” roller derby t-shirts, and Habitat for Humanity put on an elaborate display of raffle prizes and stick-built structures.

Members of the Mid-Hudson Misfits roller derby team put on a great display at the New Paltz Pride Parade last Sunday.

Many of the spreadsheets had free giveaways – you could follow the soap bubbles in the air to find bubble wands distributed by a coalition of three inclusive local churches – as well as various hands-on activities for kids. Perhaps the coolest of these was the New Paltz Youth Program’s Smashing Negativity exercise: a chart where you could write down the things you want to eliminate from your life, like “hate” and “bigotry,” with markers. on a blank white ceramic tile. . Behind the table, a tarp was spread out on the floor with a garbage can behind it. Once your tile has been suitably adorned, you can put on some goggles, pick up a hammer, and smash that tile into pieces. Truly a cathartic experience! NPYP volunteers were on hand to sweep up the resulting mess of shards.

As always, New Paltz’s Pride Festival was a lesson in how to turn the oppression and rage of a lifetime into creativity and joy. And above the crowd, as if tailor-made for the occasion, a rainbow-hued double halo formed around the sun – reminding us all to keep on going. watch, even in the darkest times.

Pastor Tobias Anderson of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer at the Pride Parade in New Paltz last Sunday afternoon.
A group of Woodland Pond seniors were quick to make friends when they came to watch the Pride Parade in New Paltz last Sunday afternoon.
A local activist shows off her breasts for Pride in New Paltz.
Producer, manager, DJ, label and LGBTQ activist Bill Coleman was this year’s Grand Marshal at the annual New Paltz Pride Parade.
This dog and his friends were thrilled to be part of the annual New Paltz Pride Parade last Sunday.

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