Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn Celebrate Gay Pride This Weekend

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AFP/Getty Images
    Gay Pride isn't just a Manhattan event any more. Queens, Staten Island and Brooklyn are celebrating too.

    Staten Island, Queens, and Brooklyn will celebrate gay pride with a mix of parades, concerts, street fairs and community-building events that begin this weekend.

    "A lot of people think of it as a kick-off." said Chris Calvert, co-chair of Queens Pride -- the organization responsible for organizing Sunday's Queens event. "A lot of people are ready for a month of celebrating."

    With New York City Pride scheduled for late June and Bronx Pride in early July, this weekend's parades and the upcoming pride events have helped welcome and grow a gay pride season here in the city.

    This notion holds most true in Brooklyn, where a one-day parade, festival and 5K run that began 15 years ago has since evolved into a week-long celebration.

    The festivities kick off this Monday with a flag-raising ceremony and interfaith worship service. Various receptions continue through the week and conclude with a multicultural festival, a 5K run and a night-time parade along Fifth Avenue next Saturday.

    Mickey Heller, 54, parade coordinator, said this year's Brooklyn Pride serves two benefits.

    The general theme of this year's celebration is "The Many Faces of Pride," he said, which will allow members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to celebrate the differences among them and come together as one.

    In addition, the visibility they provide will teach others a valuable lesson, he said.

    "We're no different than anybody else -- your neighbors, your co-workers," said Heller. "We're just people who happen to be same gender-loving people. We're here."

    Ralph Vogel, 60, director of the Staten Island LGBT Community Center, said that visibility is the main objective behind this Saturday's Staten Island Pride, which his organization sponsors.

    "The intention is to decrease the episodes of anti-gay sentiments within folks as a way to see gay people as people," said Vogel. "Everybody's just who they are."

    To increase the visibility on Staten Island, Vogel said, an estimated 400-500 people will march the streets of St. George near the ferry terminal. The parade begins at noon, and is followed by a street festival, a happy hour and a series of after-parties.

    Queens celebrates its own pride this Sunday -- only hours after the Staten Island parties wrap up -- with a parade down 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights and a street festival.

    An estimated 60,000 people are expected to attend, said Calvert, 37, which will serve the benefit of Queens ethnic communities, such as Latino and South Asian groups, who still struggle for acceptance.

    "They're not as vocal -- they're not as out there," said Calvert. "This gives them the ability to be out there and show they're working for this, to make people aware that not everyone's in the same place in terms of their acceptance among their communities."