This past Saturday, the streets of Plattsburgh were flooded with vibrant colors of the rainbow and messages of love, acceptance and equality as the second annual Plattsburgh pride parade marched on.
The parade that was hosted by the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance and RADIUS, the LGBTQ+ program by Title IX, started downtown in Trinity Park with live music and many colorful and passionate speakers, then traveled to Amitie Plaza for more speakers.
The parade then traveled back to Trinity Park, where there was more entertainment and fellowship amongst community members.
Kelly Metzgar, the Executive Director of Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance explained that the goal of the parade is to bring people together to show unity and acceptance for diversity in general.
“It’s an opportunity to come together as a group and have fellowship,” Metzgar said. ”
“Friends, allies, friends and family join in unity to show we accept diversity in all its forms.”
Title IX coordinator Butterfly Blaise shared that the Pride Parade is a great event to represent every important group of the LGBTQ+ community, to show support and for the college to get involved in the local community.
“There are many wonderful things about these types of events,” Blaise said. “But what is really fascinating about it is the overall positive energy and the visual and active presentation of solidarity in our community.”
One of the most noteworthy events that occurred during the festivities was the receipt of a letter from Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York acknowledging the work that is being done by the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance and RADIUS by Title IX for representation in the North Country.
The many participants in the march were covered in rainbows, sported the flags representative of their identity and carried signs with messages like “All for Love and Love for All” and “Hope will never be silent.”
The event promoted true love and acceptance of oneself while also bringing attention to the many different difficulties and controversies that the LGBTQ+ community is facing.
One of the most influential speakers at Trinity Park Diana Patton, a proud transgender veteran spoke of the ban of transgender citizens from the military that made national headlines earlier this year.
“I served voluntarily and with honor,” Patton said. “The president does not deserve the office if he does not honor all of our troops.”
Patton also stressed that the members of the LGBTQ+ community need to be the face of their own movements, and together they can make the changes that need to be made.
Although there were many serious issues discussed the celebration of pride carried on.
In Amitie Plaza, the Student Association Executive Vice President Taylor Richardson spoke of the importance of intersectionality and the process of coming out.
“You will come out multiple times in your life,” Richardson said. “Telling that kind of secret is like opening Christmas presents. That’s how amazing it feels.”
Hailey Frey, a PSUC sophomore art major stated that the coming out stories really resonated with her.
“It’s good to be around people that have gone through, and are currently going through the same types of situations” said Frey.
Ashley Ahrent, a PSUC junior art major expressed that pride events are important to LGBTQ+ students of Plattsburgh State because it shows them that they don’t have to be afraid to be who they truly are.
“Parades make people proud and teach people that they don’t have to live in fear,” said Ahrent.
Ahrent and Frey appreciated that pride events like this truly show how many LGBTQ+ community members are actually in the North Country.
“Sometimes people forget that there are actual people behind the labels,” Ahrent said. “When we march, we show people just how many of us are actually out here.”
Metzgar stated that the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance has big plans for next year’s parade.
“We plan to close down Court and Beekman Street and march in the street like an actual parade.” said Metzgar.
Metzgar also wishes to achieve more community involvement in the future, to include Plattsburgh Senior High School and Clinton Community College and just increase the scale of the overall event.
“We want this to be an Adirondack event, rather than just a Plattsburgh event,” Metzgar said.
RADIUS also has big plans for LGBTQ+ events on campus in the future, including speak out sessions share coming out stories, a slumber party, and a prom.
“Students are really looking for action,” Blaise said. “The consistency of these types of events when you combine outreach, prevention, expanding resources, visibility and education have much more an impact on the community and campus.”
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