By Jayne Smith
Participants cheered, waving rainbow flags and banners, wishing onlookers a happy Pride as Plattsburgh’s annual LGBTQ+ Pride Parade came around once again, Saturday, Sept. 30.
The event, which has taken place in Plattsburgh for the last eight years, was hosted by the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance. Students, SUNY Plattsburgh staff and community members came out to show their pride and allyship.
The parade set off from the parking lot by Redcay Hall, marching down Brinkerhoff, Oak and Cornelia streets until the procession reached City Hall. Upon completing the route, the crowd stood on the steps of City Hall, where they posed for a group photo.
Student Randy Hamlett showed up to watch the parade and attend the festivities afterward.
“It’s nice to have community. Everyone in the parade was so welcoming. When I was walking alongside with a photographer, they kept inviting us to join in,” Hamlett said.
Immediately following the parade, the festivities in Trinity Park began. Local organizations hosted tables around the park — some gave out free pride flags, some offered health information, others taught attendees how to register to vote. SUNY Plattsburgh’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion had its own table, providing information regarding some of the campus’ LGBTQ+ resources.
Among those representing the DEI office was visiting scholar in the sociology department, Lee Thorpe.
“Personally, being able to attend Pride is another day of being alive and sharing experiences with other community members who are able to be out. Not everyone has that luxury. I decided to attend this Pride event because it’s a great way to build community and to show other students and community members that they have support from faculty,” Thorpe said. “This was my first Pride in Plattsburgh, but I am definitely looking forward to next year’s event.”
Live music provided by local artists helped bring a spirited energy to the event. Between performers, speakers addressed the crowd, including Kelly Metzgar, director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance, as well as Michael Cashman, supervisor for the Town of Plattsburgh. Some of the last to perform at the celebration were drag queens from around the North Country, who kept the audience engaged even as the event wound down.
The event was attended not just by people local to Plattsburgh, but also by people from all around the North Country region for whom Pride events are important.
Iliya Konaktchiev, a Paul Smith’s College student who attended the event, spoke about the importance of the event to him, as someone who lives further out in the North Country.
“Something unique about rural pride events and especially Plattsburgh is it serves as kind of a beacon for LGBT people because it’s out of the way and also the most populated area around for miles, so I ran into people I knew from other LGBT events and random other places I happened to meet people,” Konaktchiev said, “It’s interesting how gay people are everywhere and you won’t know it without functions like that.”
The event was certainly important for people in and around the Plattsburgh area, and allowed people to build community and show their support to their LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors.