The Babylon Village Pride Parade is returning this June, and according to one of its organizers, the drive behind the procession was especially pushed by the pandemic.
"Given the state of the world last year, we needed something to lift our spirits up," says Roman, a 31-year old Babylon Village resident working as an event coordinator, host and musician, as well as an LGBTQ+ advocate and public speaker.
"The world was changing with everything going on and it was the perfect opportunity for Bob and I to make a positive change in our village," Roman adds. "Bob," or Robert McKeown — also a village resident — works as an educator, coach and philanthropist.
With pride celebrations canceled across the area last year, the pair felt the time was right to organize a Pride parade for the village, which would also celebrate the many members of the LGBTQ+ community who live, work and own businesses in the area.
Roman says its something they always wanted to do, even when they were growing up in Babylon Village.. Roman eventually moved to Orange County, California, where they helped facilitate Pride but has since returned to their childhood home.
"Everyone’s Pride journey is different," Roman explains. "We shouldn’t have to leave our town or home to go be and accepted for who we are. We should feel comfortable in our own backyards … which is why a village such as Babylon is major for doing this."
The day will include entertainment along the parade route from drag performers and LGBTQ+ artists, as well as guest speaker representatives of the GSA Network (gsanetwork.org) from local schools.
Roman continues that they hope this now-annual affair will inspire other Long Island communities to create their own pride festivals. "At the end of the day, Bob and I are very appreciative of this village showing support and acceptance. Some changes start small but over time make a bigger impact. If one LGBTQ family here feels great and appreciated, then that’s already the best start for us."
The Babylon Village Pride Parade begins at 2 p.m. on June 6, and runs along Deer Park Avenue from Main Street (Montauk Highway) to Simon Street, just north of the Babylon LIRR station. The inaugural event drew roughly 800 people, Roman says.