Students, faculty and staff from 25 CUNY college campuses celebrated their pride at the sixth annual City University of New York (CUNY) Pridefest at Queens College on Friday, June 9.
The event, held at the Queens College Dining Hall, featured musical, dance, DJ and drag performances, stilt walkers, face painting, a photo booth, a Pride in the Sky activity and much more.
There was a special fundraiser to benefit the AIDS Center of Queens County, the largest provider of HIV/AIDS services in the borough serving over 10,000 HIV clients and 30,000 community residents in five sites throughout the borough.
Mayor Eric Adams presented a proclamation to the CUNY LGBTQIA+ Consortium, a CUNY-wide committee of faculty and staff dedicated to supporting the intersectional LGBTQI+ communities across the university system.
JC Carlson, associate director of the CUNY LGBTQIA+ Consortium and founder of CUNY Pridefest, reflected on CUNY’s largest Pride celebration.
“I can’t believe that it is six years that we have been celebrating our pride together,” Carlson said. “Last year was back in person, but this year is even better because we opened our gates to invite the city of New York to celebrate pride with us.”
In his remarks, Carlson noted the “record numbers of hate-fueled legislation” targeting the community and the importance of coming together to stand against hate.
“In the beginning of this journey, we were seeing great strides in equality and then saw those rights being rolled back. Pride is a party, pride is personal, but pride is also a protest,” Carlson said. “It’s important to show up in moments like this to remind the haters that we are unstoppable. Proud Boys don’t belong at Pridefest. Hate never wins and we are the people of pride. This is our space and no one shuts us down.”
Jay Hershenson, Queens College’s vice president for communications and marketing, said it’s an honor for the college to celebrate all of the “superb talents, ambitions, and achievements” the LGBTQI+ community has brought to the university.
“I believe that the ability to be who you are, to be happy and thrilled with who you are, to be proud of who are [and] to know who you are is not just the right thing to do or an appreciation of the great talents that you have, it is your superpower,” Hershenson said. “The bravest thing you can be is yourself. That is your superpower.”
Pridefest 2023 is made possible through the support of the CUNY LGBTQIA+ Consortium in partnership with the City Council, Queens College, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY and Vishnick McGovern Milizio, Attorneys at Law.
Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.