The Town of Huntington and the Village of Northport are getting ready to kick off their Pride celebrations next month.
Huntington, home to Long Island’s first Pride parade, will host a parade June 11 after a seven-year gap, said David Kilmnick, president and CEO of the New York LGBT Network, which is sponsoring the event. The parade will be followed by a festival at Heckscher Park.
Kilmnick said attendance at the 2016 parade in Huntington was down so organizers sought to change the location. It was held in Long Beach for the next three years. In 2020, the parade was virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A hybrid celebration was held in Eisenhower Park in 2021, and last year it was held in Farmingdale Village.
“This was our long-term plan, to return to Huntington, and it means a lot: comfort, safety; it’s community," Kilmnick said Friday. "We’re back someplace where we are welcome.”
The LGBT Network is in the process of applying for a parade permit with the town. The town board will vote on a resolution to approve the use of Heckscher for a festival at its May 9 meeting.
In 1991, the Suffolk County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union sued Huntington on behalf of the Lesbian/Gay Pride & Freedom Committee in U.S. District Court after the town rejected a request for parade permits. Town officials said it had a custom of granting permits only for three parades: Memorial Day, St. Patrick's Day and Columbus Day.
The committee challenged the town's decision, and the town in 1991 held its inaugural parade with 3,000 in attendance.
“It’s really important that people understand the history that we had to fight to win the right to march the first time,” Kilmnick said.
He added that the parade’s history "is a reminder to our younger generation to not take things for granted.”
Huntington Town Supervisor Ed Smyth said Friday he welcomes the parade’s return.
"The town is a very different place than it was 32 years ago in terms of its attitudes and acceptance,” Smyth said.
The Village of Northport in partnership with Northport Chamber of Commerce will celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride month for the first time next month, starting June 1, with a ceremony raising the Pride flag at Village Hall, Mayor Donna Koch said.
The highlight of the month will be a festival, Pride in the Park, on June 17, from 1-4 p.m.
“We want people to know we are inclusive and that Northport is a safe place for everyone and anyone,” Koch said.
Village resident Joe Schramm, 69, a member of the LGBTQ+ community and first vice president of the Northport Chamber of Commerce, said he joined forces with village trustee Meghan Dolan in establishing the event.
“It’s a chance to celebrate, embrace, inform, educate, empower and inspire the LGBTQ+ community,” Schramm said.
Dolan said it’s an opportunity for the entire community to join in celebrating its diversity.
“At once it’s a celebration as much as it is bringing awareness and normalizing being inclusive in our community,” she said.