The event was organized by the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, a group that began the tradition in 1993 after the murder of Julio Rivera. The 29-year-old man was attacked at the PS 69 schoolyard for being gay.
The corner of 37th Avenue and 78th Street was named in honor of Rivera, and the parade marches past the intersection each year.
Since its founding 26 years ago, the Queens Pride Parade has grown to about 40,000 people, and is considered the second biggest pride parade in New York.
“The Pride Parade has evolved into a celebration of the LGBTQ communities’ vast accomplishments in the fight for equality,” Congressman Joseph Crowley said of the event. “It is also an opportunity for New York to show the world its true values, that no matter who you love, how you identify or who you are, you are welcome and valued in our city."
Queens resident Rachel Bauder brought her daughter Chloe to the parade with the intention of planting the seed of universal acceptance.
“I just think it’s important to recognize that everybody is human and love is love,” Bauder said. “I definitely wanted to teach my daughter all of these values and make sure that she understands the importance of inclusion and acceptance, so these events are perfect for that.”
Tarun Banerjee and Aaron Musgrove just moved to Jackson Heights, and this was their first Queens Pride Parade.
“This is the local one, this is the non-corporate one,” Banerjee said. “This is the one that has community groups rather than the big fancy Manhattan one, which is fine, but it’s not the same as this.”
After the parade, attendees enjoyed the Queens Pride Festival, which took place at 37th Avenue and 75th Street. Festivities included several performances from singers, comedians, drag acts, a review of the parade floats, and the headlining performance by Ultra Nate.