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QBP Richards holds Pride Month celebration at Borough Hall

QBP Richards Pride Month celebration
Elected officials stand with honorees during the pride celebration at Queens Borough Hall on Monday, June 13, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Paul Frangipane)

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards hosted his annual Pride Month celebrating the LGBTQIA+ community and leaders at Borough Hall Monday night. The celebration included several performances, including cheer, dancing, drag and a drum line.

Several local LGBTQIA+ leaders were honored for their contributions in fighting for equity and inclusion in Queens and beyond. Among these leaders were Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society (GLITS) Executive Director Ceyenne Doroshow, Sunnyside Shines Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Dirk McCall, the Ali Forney Center and the Queens Center for Gay Seniors.

QBP Richards Pride Month celebration
Fogo Azul performs during the pride celebration at Queens Borough Hall on Monday. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Chynna Pitlock, the director of the Queens Center for Gay Seniors, emphasized the importance of the older LGBT generation who helped pave the way for the LGBT youths today. However, according to Pitlock, many seniors from the LGBT community have trouble finding shelters friendly to them. She said that there is a need for more LGBT-competent shelters like the Queens Center for Gay Seniors.

According to McCall, there is currently a big push in Queens to get an openly LGBT judge. As of now, Queens is the only borough in the city not to have such a judge appointed.

QBP Richards Pride Month celebration
Chynna Pitlock, honoree and director of the Queens Center for Gay Seniors, speaks to the crowd. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

“One thing that I’ve learned throughout the years is how critical it is for all of us to be visible,” McCall said. “We have to go out there and show ourselves to everybody that we know, make certain they know we’re members of the LGBTQIA+ community and that we’re there. In these difficult times, it’s important for us to have the visibility to make certain that people realize who they’re harming with some of these horrible, horrible bills.”

Prior to the Borough Hall Pride Month celebration, Richards rose a pride flag on the building’s facade on June 1 to kick off the Queens Pride parade on June 5.

QBP Richards Pride Month celebration
Dirk McCall, honoree and director of Sunnyside Shines BID, speaks during the pride celebration. (Photo courtesy of Paul Frangipane)

“These last two years have brought to light the inequities, discrimination and lack of resources for the LGBTQ+ community,” Richards said. “And that’s why we are fighting here for additional beds for homeless LGBTQ youth and adults. We need to walk the walk when it comes to lifting up underserved communities across this borough.”

Richards also made a push for New York City to better respond to hate crimes, including those against the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, he said schools should be making the effort to teach LGBTQ+ history in the classrooms.

QBP Richards Pride Month celebration
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. speaks during the pride celebration at Queens Borough Hall Monday. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

“This community has come a long way with political representation all across our nation and that is just the beginning,” Richards said. “Right here in the world’s borough of Queens, we have LGBTQ representation everywhere. Your strength is seen and heard all across this country. I will stand with you to fight injustice and my office is open and welcomes each and every one of you with open arms.”

New York Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas also spoke on the importance of the night’s pride celebration to the community. According to González-Rojas, there is still a lot left for the LGBTQ community to achieve in their pursuit of inclusion and equity. She emphasized that pride is a protest.

QBP Richards Pride Month celebration
Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas speaks at the pride celebration. (Photo courtesy of Paul Frangipane)

“The fight for housing justice, the fight for criminal justice, the fight for civil rights, the fight for abortion and the fight for political representation are all issues that impact our community,” González-Rojas said. “We are all here today because of our forefolks who were able to fight for our rights, often putting their lives and their bodies on the line. But there is a lot more to do.”

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