By Miranda Reale
POUGHKEEPSIE – The annual Poughkeepsie pride parade was first held in 2019 and returned in 2021 after missing a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This year, the pride month celebration made a historic comeback as hundreds of residents of all identities gathered last Saturday. Hosted by the Dutchess County Pride Center, the parade lined up at the Bardavon Theater, marched down Main Street and ended at the Pride Festival in Waryas Park.
Naomi Kabalkin, Senior Program Supervisor at Hudson Valley Community Services spoke about the importance of the turn out. “A lot of people within the LGBTQ+ community feel isolated here in the Hudson Valley, but I’m looking out at the crowd right now and thinking, isolated where,” she said. Marchers and onlookers filled the streets leading down to Waryas Park, where members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies alike joined at the waterfront following the parade.
Partnered with local organizations to host a series of events all month, PKGO Pride and the Dutchess County Pride Center teamed up to make the celebration bigger and brighter than ever. At a time in which conservatives on the Supreme Court are focusing their sights on Roe v. Wade, the concept of equal protection is currently under siege and has spurred hundreds of anti-LGBTQ+ bills on legislative agendas across the nation; it’s clear that pride month is more than a celebration, but a defense as well.
Parades and festivities are happening in municipalities up and down the river this month, including Beacon, Highland, Peekskill, New Paltz, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Callicoon, Brewster, and South Salem.
“There has been a vast improvement in the social and political climate, but we still live in a world where gender and sexual preference can be discriminated against in too many situations,” executive director of Out Hudson Osun Zotique said. “We need Pride more than ever. The opposite of pride is shame, right? And shame is just a truly negative frequency and one that we need to disrupt whenever possible.”