Jose Cuevas, far left, of Freeport, and his husband Joseph...

Jose Cuevas, far left, of Freeport, and his husband Joseph Smith, fourth from left, pose with their children: Cotter, 12; DeClan, 3; Kyler, 14; and Aiden, 15, on Sunday. Credit: James Carbone

Jose Cuevas and Joseph Smith, of Freeport, the parents of four children, say they sometimes feel isolated, but the LGBT Families Day event in Hauppauge on Sunday made them feel like they are part of a larger community.

“Coming to these events, we hear similar stories, which are stories that all parents, and not just LGBT or LGBTQ members, happen to go through,” said Cuevas, 33. “It’s the same struggles and challenges, so we get to further enhance our community, but at the same time, our children get to meet other children and see that there are other kids with similar blessings.”

Unity, family love, and connecting with others were the themes that were in full force for LGBTQ families and individuals at Sunday’s event, Long Island’s largest for LGBTQ-headed families.

The event. sponsored by the nonprofit LGBT Network which serves Long Island and Queens, was started in February 2020 to educate LGBTQ people who are looking to start a family. For such couples and individuals, panels were held to educate them about adoption, fostering and legal rights.

However, according to the nonprofit's CEO, Robert Vitelli, the event has since expanded where it now provides LGBT parents and their children with fun activities — including a bounce house for children, face-painting, a smores-making table from Target, coloring books and a Drag Story Hour with LGBTQ-friendly books read to the audience by drag queen Bella Noche — and gives them a chance to connect with other families like theirs.

Smith, 32, said he and his husband do not often see other couples their age with children where they live, and that combined with certain questions they often face about their parental roles or parenting skills can at times feel “very isolating.”

“Events like this are like a breath of fresh air,” said Smith, whose sons with Cuevas are 3, 12, 14 and 15. “You don’t need to worry about anyone judging you for the sake of you being yourself and being a queer family … there’s a certain anxiety that goes away.”

Smith and Cuevas' 15-year-old, Aiden, was looking forward to seeing other people with LGBTQ parents, something he often must explain before school friends with different cultures or religions visit his home.

“Sometimes I feel like I have to hide it a little because I don’t know how my friends are going to react when they find that out, whether they’re going to stop being friends with me, and sometimes that is very stressful, and it is hard to deal with sometimes,” Aiden said. “So it’s nice to not feel that stress on me.”

Lismary Mencia, 28, and her partner Aisha Harrison, 32, traveled with their son Aviean Harrison, 2, from Somerset, New Jersey, for the event.

“Where we come from, there don’t have a lot of LGBTQ family events going on,” Mencia said. “And we’re teaching him that some kids have two moms and some kids have two dads, and we just want him to see that there are other kids like him.”

NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

Unearthing a suspect: The Gilgo Beach killings NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

Unearthing a suspect: The Gilgo Beach killings NewsdayTV goes behind the scenes of the Gilgo Beach investigation, revealing the shocking findings in the year since the arrest of Rex Heuermann. NewsdayTV's Ken Buffa reports.

Latest Videos