Newburgh residents were treated to drag performances, hula hoop lessons, local vendors, food and music during the first official Pride celebration in Downing Park on Saturday, June 18. This community celebration was organized by the Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center.
The origins of Pride can be traced back to the night of June 28, 1969, where on that night New York City Police Officers raided the Stonewall Inn. The Stonewall Inn served as a popular club in the city for gay, transgender, lesbian, and queer individuals. As police attempted to make their way into the club to raid, patrons rioted against the police and had had enough of the unjust treatment against the gay community. Objects were thrown at officers and rioters pushed back against the police.
The following year in June 1970, the first Pride parade took place in New York City and has continued across the country and to other parts of the world, remembering the actions of the Stonewall Riots.
As people arrived and asked for photos, Drag Artists Venus and Show Ponii prepared for their performance later on in the afternoon. Both artists offered their comments and thoughts on the Pride celebration in Downing Park. “I think it’s really lovely that the community comes out and no matter if it’s big or small, it’s always great to see the support,” Venus said. “It’s beautiful.”
During the last few years of the pandemic, Venus said she had seen the rise of virtual and digital drag shows that helped many members of the LGBTQ community remain connected to one another.
Show Ponii, a Newburgh native, was happy to see the community come out to Downing Park and being able to celebrate Pride in his community, in Newburgh, is special.
“Pride is a protest, Pride is you know being out and proud,” Show Ponii said.
Rae Leiner of the Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center, worked behind one of the tables distributing shirts and speaking to individuals who stopped by the booth about center information. Leiner said they were happy to be a part of the first ever Pride event here in the City of Newburgh.
For the past decade, Leiner shared they have worked with the City of Newburgh with advocacy work, programming and providing resources but even with the many events and work done in the community, the challenges of miseducation and misunderstandings of the LGBTQ identifies continue to linger.
During the last several years, Leiner remembers partaking in Pride caravans that would travel through the Hudson Valley in the cities of Beacon, Newburgh, Kingston, Poughkeepsie and New Paltz, highlighting the voices of those fighting for LGBTQ rights in those communities. “It’s an extremely important event [Newburgh Pride] because what we’re doing here is raising our voices about what it means to stand up against the intersections of injustice,” Leiner said.
On October 11, the center will be hosting a National Coming Out night event for the community that Leiner hopes will be in person again.
The Newburgh LGBTQ+ Center, can be reached at (845) 616-2870 or at email@example.com.