From left, Ron Diele-Stein, Ariana Castelli and James Diele-Stein, co-chairpersons...

From left, Ron Diele-Stein, Ariana Castelli and James Diele-Stein, co-chairpersons of the Patchogue Pride parade, which is scheduled for noon on June 4. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

When James Diele-Stein proposed organizing Patchogue's first Pride parade, his fellow shop owners were fully supportive, he told Newsday.

It's a measure of how much the village and Long Island have changed in his lifetime, he said.

“On Long Island, we’re definitely more progressive than other states and other counties, so I find that to be a blessing," said Diele-Stein, 41, of Patchogue. "People say, if they can do it on Long Island, they can do it anywhere else.”

Patchogue's parade, scheduled for noon on June 4, will join a growing list of Pride events on Long Island, including parades, concerts and athletic competitions in East Hampton, Bellerose and the Suffolk County Farm in Yaphank.

A Long Island Pride event is scheduled for June 11 but its location has not yet been announced, LGBT Network president David Kilmnick told Newsday.

Diele-Stein, who owns a South Ocean Avenue packaging and shipping business with his husband, Ronald Diele-Stein, 51, said interest in marching in the event is coming “from every organization you can think of,” including restaurants, nonprofits, and civic and religious groups. 

“We’re inviting everybody,” James Diele-Stein said. “We want this to be something that anybody on Long Island or the outskirts can [feel] welcome here, and if you want to be part of the parade, you can.”

Mayor Paul Pontieri said the parade sends an important message that the village supports the LGBTQ+ community, following backlash in 2019 when a Pride event was held as part of the village's annual Alive After 5 street festival. The event was held without incident, he said.

“I think it's important that we show that support,” Pontieri said.

The village board voted 5-0 on Monday to approve the parade.

The parade will come a year after a Bayport man, Robert Fehring, 74, pleaded guilty in Central Islip federal court to sending threatening letters to LGBTQ+ groups and Long Island business leaders who had organized Pride events, including Greater Patchogue Chamber of Commerce executive director David Kennedy. Fehring was sentenced last August to 30 months in prison.

Kennedy told Newsday the parade is “another step in the right direction to celebrate an important aspect of our community.”

Pontieri said about 30 Patchogue residents and merchants joined a committee organizing the parade. 

Besides Diele-Stein, the effort has received support from shop owners throughout the downtown including the owners of restaurants such as Arooga's, Amazing Olive and Locale Gastro Bar and Thread clothing store, Kennedy said.

"Our biggest goal was to make sure people feel safe here,” said James Diele-Stein, who sits on the chamber of commerce's board of directors.

He said the parade also will serve as his way of thanking the Patchogue community for supporting his business through the COVID-19 pandemic. He and his husband had opened the shop on March 16, 2020 — two days before state officials ordered nonessential businesses to shut their doors.

“If it wasn’t for the community, we wouldn’t be standing here right now,” James Diele-Stein said.

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