BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
It was a chilly day for the annual Queens Pride Parade in Jackson Heights on Sunday, but the dancing, celebrating and community vibe helped to warm up the crowd during the 26th annual march.
LGBTQ people of all ages and ethnicities turned out to take part in the festivities, while the local community joined in the celebration.
“I come out every year, not because I’m gay, but because I consider myself a member of the LGBT community because I support them,” said Richard Vega, 58, a Jackson Heights resident, who attended the parade with his daughter and three grandchildren. “Why can straight people be themselves, but gays have to be kept in the closet? I love this day because I love seeing everybody be who they are supposed to be.”
From millennials and elderly residents to children and pets, participants wore their best rainbowed attire. Attendees also brought their best dance moves to the streets of Jackson Heights and snacked on samples from the neighborhood’s top food vendors.
“It’s a celebration,” said Jose, a 26-year-old gay man and East Elmhurst resident. “I’m celebrating who I am and who God made me to be. And this is how you do it—with food, fashion and dancing.”
Nonprofit organizations set up tables along the parade’s route to disseminate information, while local businesses set up booths where they sold new and used merchandise to parade participants.
The music from the festival’s stage was loud enough to allow participants a few blocks away to dance, but not loud enough to interrupt the cheers, participating bands and speeches during the parade.
Overall, the Queens Pride Parade was a day of color, music, community and pride.