The pride of Sayville
Pride marchers make their mark to the Common Ground
“L-G-B-T, We demand equality!”
That is one of the many chants that had nearby residents cheering and honking their horns down Lakeland/Railroad Avenue in Sayville on Sunday. The Long Island Equality March and Pride Picnic attracted more than 120 participants.
“It’s really great that we have this opportunity to get to know each other,” said Sabrina Spotorno, who is a member of the Women’s Diversity Network and a participant in the march. “In the end, it’s all about the connection.
“The more there is representation, the more we’re celebrating diversity and empowering everyone from all walks of life; we could really bring Long Island together. It’s long overdue.”
The parade began at 1 p.m. at the parking lot across the street from the Sayville Long Island Rail Road station and continued down Lakeland/Railroad Avenue to the Common Ground at Rotary Park, where the Pride Picnic was held. Several vendors were present, and four different musical acts performed.
Many organizations were involved in the march, including LGBTQ Progressives of Suffolk County, LGBTQ Families of Long Island, Pride for Youth, Project Safety Net NY and the National Organization for Women.
The purpose of the parade is to raise awareness to the multitude of ways that the LGBTQ community is targeted and overlooked.
“It’s especially important now that we understand that there is still violence against the community and that we all need to rally together to not only support one another, but also to get allies together and communities together and say that you are supported and you are loved,” said Joseph Vanderwaag, another marcher.
An annual pride march used to be held in Huntington, but it was moved to Long Beach a few years back.
“A lot of people felt like there was really nothing on the mainland of Long Island,” said Mila Madison, the executive director of the Transgender Resource Center of Long Island and organizer of the pride march. “We had an opportunity to put it there, and our particular event is so open and diverse because we accept everybody.”
Madison added that the pride march was central to the LGBTQ community, including the intersex and asexual.
Vanderwaag added that the political representation of the community’s causes could be better represented by political leaders located in Suffolk County.
“Long Island as a whole is represented by a lot of officials who might not think the same way that a lot of the people today at the march do align with, and we need to show those elected officials that this is what is actually happening on Long Island,” he said. “This is what their constituents look like. If they won’t support their constituents, then they might have to look for a new day job.”
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