North Hempstead raises Pride flag at town hall

North Hempstead raises Pride flag at town hall
Members of local LGBTQ+ organizations were presented with proclamations from the town at the town's Pride celebration. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

The Town of North Hempstead raised the rainbow flag for the third year at town hall Tuesday evening as part of the town’s Pride event and kicking off the month of June as Pride Month.

The town hosted a Pride event on the town hall’s front lawn, narrowly missing the evening rain, and offered rainbow cookies, refreshments and hand-held pride flags to the community members partaking.

The town hall was also lit up in rainbow colors for the Pride celebration, which will stay for the next week.

“The Town of North Hempstead is an extremely diverse place, and that is one of our greatest assets,” Town Supervisor Jennifer DeSena said. “Because of our diversity, we’re in the position to be leaders in the fight against intolerance and bigotry.”

North Hempstead partnered with local LGBTQ+ organizations including the LGBT Network, PFY and Be the Rainbow. All three were presented with proclamations from the town acknowledging their work in the community.

President and founder of the LGBT Network David Kilmnick shared at the event the struggles he faced in founding the Long Island Pride celebration three decades ago.

Kilmnick said that 33 years ago he was one of four people who sought to establish a Pride parade in Long Island.

They applied to several towns to host their parade but were denied by all of them.

Kilmnick said the Town of Huntington denied their application as they were “not traditional people.” But this didn’t stop them – they were going to march no matter what.

So Kilmnick and his fellow community members reached out to the New York Civil Liberties Union which took up their case and helped them secure their win in establishing the parade in Huntington four days before it was scheduled.

Now they will return to Huntington on June 11 for their 33rd annual Pride parade.

“So 33 years later we are celebrating Long Island Pride again in Huntington this Sunday, but it’s something we should not take for granted,” Kilmnick said.

He referenced the struggle that it took to establish the annual Pride parade, as well as the struggles many LGBTQ+ people face today in regard to legislation and policies that are harmful. Kilmnick said it is important to continue supporting them.

“And we do that through celebrating Pride. We do that through flag raising,” Kilmnick said. “But we also have to remember, while we live in the State of New York and we have some protections, it doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t go on here.”

Community members help raise the Pride flag at North Hempstead Town Hall. (Photo by Cameryn Oakes)

Town Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte said that this is the third year that the town has raised the pride flag in front of town hall.

She said the reason the annual tradition started is because she received a phone call from Port Washington LGBTQ+ organization Be the Rainbow asking her what the town does for Pride Month.

Dalimonte said she didn’t know when she was asked, so she looked into it and found nothing. So she did something about it and started the tradition of raising the Pride flag.

Dalimonte thanked the LGBTQ+ organizations present at the celebration, referring to them as “beacons of hope” in North Hempstead, Nassau County and Long Island.

“Nationally, we have made tremendous headway since the Stonewall uprising in 1969, and I am proud that the town was able to play a small role in that important cause,” Dalimonte said.

While progress has made in advancing LGBTQ+ issues, Kilmnick said the fight is not over.

“We have to continue the fight here to make sure that everyone is safe and realize that Pride matters,” Kilmnick said. “It matters that the flag is going up here today in the Town of North Hempstead. It matters for the leadership that we have here in the Town of North Hempstead from the supervisor level to the council members. Representation matters, Pride matters, and we look forward to celebrating it with everyone here.”

Be the Rainbow will be hosting a Pride march at 1 p.m. on June 17 at the Baywalk Park in Port Washington and finish at the John Philip Sousa Memorial Bandshell.

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