Plattsburgh State students and local community members marched together through the streets of downtown Plattsburgh donning rainbow flags for the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance’s third annual LGBT Pride Parade Sept. 29.
The parade traveled up Margaret Street to Broad Street before immediately looping back to Trinity Park using Oak Street. It was significantly shorter route than in years passed.
Kelly Metzgar, executive director of ANCGA, said the parade this year was more focused toward the downtown community and showcasing local vendors which affected the parade’s route.
“The Gender Alliance is a community-based organization,” Metzgar said. “We do partner with different organizations including the college, but we are community oriented.”
About 300 participants chanted “LGBT! We demand equality,” while on-looking drivers honked in support.
Some participants even stuck pride flag stickers onto the walls and doors of local businesses, churches and even cars.
After the parade was finished, there was a drag show along with other festivities.
Gwen Sagliocca, co-chair of the PSUC Young Democratic Socialists, spoke at Trinity Park to spread awareness about housing discrimination the LGBT community faces and wanting to bring the campus and local community together.
“There’s a stark difference of where the university is and where downtown is,” Sagliocca said. “It’s very divided.”
Sagliocca criticised the Downtown Revitalization project for potentially raising housing costs for locals and making the costs “unlivable.”
Among the speakers was Plattsburgh’s Mayor Colin Read, who expressed words of support for the event with hopes it will become a larger city event in the future.
“Our community has experienced some real challenges with how open our minds are here and on campus we’ve seen the same,” Read said. “I think we need these constant reminders that we’re all in this together and we all value diversity.”
Reed believes Sagliocca’s criticisms of the revitalization project are valid, and conversations about equal opportunity housing need to keep happening.
“We want the housing down here to be better quality with more year-round individuals living in our downtown,” Read said. “But I think I feel the same about all our communities. We need to do better with code enforcement and making sure landlords aren’t abusing their privilege.”
The night before the parade ANCGA and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department co-hosted a forum called “Everything You Wanted to Know About Being LGBTQ…and the issues affecting our communities” in the Cardinal Lounge. About 30 community members and students ranging in ages and LGBT identities discussed their struggles.
ANCGA plans to expand the parade in the future, with marching in the streets as the next major goal on the horizon. For that to happen ANCGA will have to raise about $5,000 to afford the cost for overtime for the Department of Public Works and the Police Department.
Metzgar said that no matter the turn out, just having the event is a success in her eyes.
“Whether it’s a big crowd, small crowd or medium crowd, just the fact that it happens in the North Country is amazing and that is something to be celebrated.”
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