Image: Legislator Berland and her staff (far left, far right) pictured with Tiffany Vasconcellos and Aiden Jay Kaplan of PFY and David Kilmnick of the LGBT Network on FaceTime.
The Suffolk County Legislature unanimously approved a resolution designating June “LGBTQ+ Pride Month” in Suffolk County at its June 23rd general meeting. The resolution, sponsored by Legislator Susan A. Berland, was introduced to honor the County’s diverse LGBTQ+ community and to affirm that everyone has the right to live without fear of prejudice, discrimination, violence or hatred.
The Stonewall riots, which began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, were a tipping point for the LGBTQ+ community in the United States and paved the way for the modern fight for their equal rights which continues to this day. A commemorative march occurred in New York City on the first anniversary of the riots and the establishment of June as LGBTQ+ pride month began, flourishing over the years to include events in cities and towns throughout the United States and around the world.
The first Long Island Pride March took place on June 9, 1991 for which approximately 1,500 spectators were present. The March occurred only after the founding members of the Long Island Lesbian and Gay Pride Freedom Committee successfully sued the Town of Huntington for denying their request to march.
The Fire Island communities of Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove, by nature of their isolation and beauty, became a queer destination in the early 20th century and have continued to serve as such through the present day. The County’s established LGBTQ+ community also includes agencies created to advocate for equal treatment, provide healthcare, equip queer people with safe spaces to congregate, produce cultural events and much more.
“The LGBTQ+ community is an integral part of the fabric of our great County,” said Legislator Susan A. Berland. “Suffolk’s LGBTQ+ history is rich and the local queer community is thriving. As a proud mother of children who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community, and as a proud ally, I introduced this resolution to honor and pay respect to the community and to work to build a culture of inclusiveness and acceptance reflective of the core values of Suffolk County.”
To commemorate the passage of the resolution, Legislator Berland was joined by David Kilmnick, President and Chief Executive Officer of the LGBT Network on FaceTime on an iPad and in person by Aiden Jay Kaplan, LGBT Services Manager and Tiffany Vasconcellos, Prevention Services Manager of PFY for a small, outdoor ceremony in front of her legislative office in Commack.
“This is an exciting day in Suffolk County that the month of June will be recognized as Pride Month,” said David Kilmnick, of the LGBT Network and Co-Founder of Long Island Pride. “Thirty years ago, we had to go to court simply to be treated equal and have the right to march. When Judge Wexler ruled on May 28, 1991 that the Town of Huntington was discriminating against us in denying the permit to have Long Island Pride it was a historic day for our County and our Island. Thank you to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Legislator Susan Berland for recognizing the important strides we have made right here at home and celebrating it each year is an important reminder to keep on marching, fighting and celebrating so that every Suffolk County resident can be free and proud.”
“PFY, a division of the Long Island Crisis Center, is proud to stand with the LGBTQ community today as Suffolk County recognizes Pride Month. The recognition of June as Pride Month shows that Suffolk County honors LGBTQ history, Celebrates LGBTQ identities, and is telling its LGBTQ residents that they belong. Providing supporting services to Long Island’s queer and trans POC communities since 1993, PFY believes that proclaiming June as Pride Month shows LGBTQ Suffolk residents that they are a priority while increasing community visibility and awareness,” said Aiden Jay Kaplan and Tiffany Vasconcellos of PFY.