One of the city’s longest running pride parades returned to Jackson Heights Sunday after a two-year pandemic hiatus.
Thousands of people lined the streets of 37th Street for the 30th Queens Pride Parade and Multicultural Festival under sunny, sky blue skies. Mayor Eric Adams marched along the route as a low-flying NYPD helicopter buzzed the crowd, and a decorated police cruiser with rainbow colors that read “LGBTQIA +” led the way.
But while the parade was well stocked with politicians, including New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Comptroller Brad Lander, who were smiling and hugging their way down the street, several prominent political groups are still voicing displeasure with Mayor Adams and plan to boycott a pride reception Tuesday because of the mayor’s appearance. In a letter posted by Lambda Independent Democrats, and signed by Stonewall Democrats of NYC, Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, and Equality New York, the groups decried the mayor’s hiring of several administration officials who’ve expressed or supported groups with anti-LGBTQ sentiments.
The letter cited Fernando Cabrera, senior advisor in the mayor’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnership, who the mayor had nearly appointed to lead the Office of Community Mental Health, leading to widespread outrage over his views against gay marriage and supposed support of Uganda’s anti-gay policies.
“Mayor Adams has tested the boundaries of the LGBTQ community to see where he can overstep, including who he can afford to disregard for the sake of his own interests,” the letter said. “Mayor Adams’ only interests are his own, and prioritizing the needs of the policing and surveillance institutions in the city at the expense of investments into education, mental health, community health, and LGBTQ services.”
The mayor’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment. The City Council speaker also declined to comment at the parade when asked about Adams’ appearance, and a follow-up email wasn’t returned.
Established by now-former City Councilman Daniel Dromm in 1993, the parade has become one of the city's longest=running LGBTQ celebrations. The parade has become one of the most popular throughout the city. Past parades have attracted tens of thousands of spectators.
Some of the pride parade participants booed when the mayor appeared, including O.K., 31, who lives in Ridgewood and uses the pronoun they. O.K. said Adam’s support of homeless sweeps disproportionately targets queer youth who they said don’t get enough resources.
“I thought it was absolutely disgusting, nobody invited him, and it just put a really bad damper at the beginning of the parade for me to see him,” they said. “What has he done for us? Nothing.”
For others, this was their first pride parade and it was a blast. Dikoda Kelly, 22 was there with her mom and said they recently emigrated from Jamaica, where LGBTQ rights and being openly gay are uncommon.
“When I came here my friends started educating me and I started educating her,” Kelly said, pointing to her mom. “It's a pass along kind of information thing. Ninety percent of my friends are LGBTQ, so I'm out here, supported, that's it.”
Marie Jose Bernard from Woodside said she brought her granddaughter to support the LGBTQ movement.
“We need to continue marching. That’s how we can make changes,” she said. “We have rights, we’re all born free, so we have to step up, and make sure people understand that.”
Throughout the parade, NYPD counterterrorism officers kept a close watch as elected officials used their platforms to discuss violence against the LGBTQ community
Speaking to the crowd about an hour after the parade began, Lander spoke about the need to fight the fight for a free society, “where you can be who you are and love who you love.” Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz shined a light on hate crimes against the LGBTQ community, vowing to prosecute and jail offenders. Public Advocate Jumaane Williams also advocated for such victims from the Black trans women community.
Additional reporting by Steve Smith
Correction: A previous version of this story reported inaccurate details about a planned protest of Mayor Eric Adams hiring people who have used anti-LGBTQ rhetoric. Political groups plan to boycott a pride reception scheduled for Tuesday.