The 2012 Queens Pride Parade & Multicultural Festival on June 3 in Jackson Heights brimmed with smiling faces, wacky outfits and lots of community support.
“We have managed to put a face to LGBT [lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender] people. We are your friends and neighbors, which makes it harder to discriminate,” said openly gay Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) who began the event 20 years ago. “There was a huge number of non-LGBT people, lots of families.”
People of all ages and affiliations, including several AIDS foundations, community groups, private citizens and politicians marched in the parade. The cast of “Wicked” rode in a float decorated by students from William Cullen Bryant High School and Renaissance Charter School.
The Queens Center for Gay Seniors and the family of slain Julio Rivera were the grand marshals of the parade, which started 20 years ago as a response to Rivera’s anti gay murder.
Lots of drag queens showed off their style including, Candy Samples, who helped announce the parade, and Appolina Cruz, who modeled her bright pink gown on the 75th Street Stage as mistress of ceremonies.
A full schedule of rappers, singers and dancers hit the stage with Cruz.
Surrounding the stage a bevy of vendors sold jewelry, souvenirs, quirky T-shirts and lots of food. There were also community groups supporting their causes and a booth providing free testing for a list of sexually transmitted diseases.
Astoria residents Thomas Martinez and Jorge Fuentez were all smiles watching the performers and were especially happy when the rain stopped.
The parade and a festival also continued its tradition of a spotless record with no arrests or other incidents, according to Dromm.