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Long Island Pride festival's reality this year is virtual

The Long Island Pride parade was celebrated in

The Long Island Pride parade was celebrated in Long Beach in 2019. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

Long Island Pride will still mark its 30th anniversary this year with a virtual parade and online celebration to advocate for equal rights.

The Hauppauge-based LGBT Network was supposed to hold its celebration next month in Jones Beach, but will instead mark its festivities with a virtual gathering honoring everyday LGBT heroes, such as doctors, nurses and grocery workers.

The online festivities planned for June 14 at virtualprideny.org will include a virtual 5-kilometer run, with individual runs recorded on an app, and a parade recognizing individual groups at their homes. There will be online entertainment and performances from Broadway actors and local artists, as well as remarks from officials, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and former Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“Pride is more than an event. It’s a state of being. Right now, we can’t be together in person, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate our lives together,” LGBT Network president David Kilmnick said. “Canceling Pride is not an option.”

Organizers are taking nominations of people in the LGBT community who are working through the COVID-19 pandemic to be honored in lieu of grand marshals. Organizers are also working with the Port Authority of New York and LaGuardia Airport to create an exhibit.

The LGBT Network was planning to recognize 30 years of fighting for equality after a Suffolk County judge ruled in 1990 that organizers had a right to hold a parade and march through Huntington. Festivities were held in Huntington for 26 years until organizers moved to Long Beach and had planned a parade and festivities this year in Jones Beach. Organizers plan to return to Jones Beach next year.

Kilmnick, who held an online town hall Thursday with Schumer, said it was important to remember the group’s history and advocacy for equal rights.

“We had a fight on Long Island to have this event,” Kilmnick said. 

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