Rainbows graced Long Beach on Saturday, flown by local firms and borne by LGBT celebrants at an afternoon beach party, one of many Long Island Pride events to be held there this weekend.
“Today should be about embracing who you are, regardless of your sexual identity; it’s about having fun and being happy,” said Cory Chavez, 24, of Bay Shore.
Saturday’s festivities began with boardwalk runs, followed by a carnival, concerts and parties. Sunday’s celebrations feature a fair, a parade and a “Memorial Paddle-Out” to honor those slain last year in the Orlando, Florida nightclub shooting.
Chavez echoed a number of people who hit the sand for a day in the sun in saying discrimination remains far too common, despite decades of fighting for equal rights, which led to the legalization of gay marriage two years ago.
“Some people will openly tell you something [insulting]; other people will give you the cold shoulder,” he said.
David Kilmnick, CEO of the LGBT Network, said there still are battles to be won.
“I think of all the kids in school who are bullied and afraid to come out, the adults on Long Island who feel they have to hide the people they love,” he said.
Some LGBT community members said they worry President Donald Trump’s election may lead to the repeal of some of their hard-won rights. Kilmnick said all communities must stand together, including immigrants and women who might be denied birth control or equal pay for equal work.
“There is a lot more fear” after Trump’s election, said Ally Lachance, 18, of Westbrook, Connecticut.
Her partner, Jillian Power, 19, of Levittown, said this has intensified the community’s resolve to cede none of the protections they have gained.“I feel like it made people feel like they won’t back down.”
The couple said acceptance cannot be taken for granted even in the simplest of activities, such as when shopping for clothes. They said sales clerks in clothing stores often treat them differently because of their distinct styles.
Power says her attire falls on the more masculine end of the spectrum, and that clerks often try to reroute her to women’s clothes.
“Usually, when I’m shopping, they tell me I’m in the wrong section.”
Lachance, who says her style is more traditionally feminine, said she does not encounter that reaction when she shops for boys’ jeans, which happen to fit her better.
“I think it’s because I have long hair,” she said. “It’s really weird.”