Story by Lon Tytell
The fifth annual Warwick OCNY Pride Event, sponsored by the Warwick Valley Community Center (WVCC) and the Orange County Youth Bureau in partnership with the Village of Warwick Sesquicentennial, was held on Sun., Jun. 11 in the Village of Warwick. The theme of this year’s pride celebration and parade was “Family.”
Pre-parade activities took place at the Community Center. Volunteers from Wickham Works, coordinated by Melissa Shaw-Smith, joined with volunteers from the WVCC Youth Advisory Board and the Albert Wisner Public Library Youth Group to facilitate the family friendly activities. Participants in the parade and visitors had an opportunity to purchase a Pride screen printed T-shirt, make balloons and signs, decorate the pride mobile, and have their face painted.
Advocacy groups that provide services offering equality and support had tables set up inside the community center. Some of these organizations included: Safe Space America, Safe Homes of Orange County, Warwick Playground Dreams, Community Action Network, Planned Parenthood in Hudson Valley, Orange County Tourism, and Orange County Democratic Women.
The parade was led by Grant Marshal Danielle Barbour, the organizer of the first OCNY Pride Parade event held in Warwick. For four years, she has selected the Grand Marshals and this year it was her turn to be chosen. Barbour is the founder of Safe Space America, which identifies spaces and businesses that take a stand against discrimination, bullying and violence of any community member. Barbour has expanded the program nationally.
“I love that they picked the theme of Family for this year’s parade. My wife, Joynell Barbour; our daughter, Myra Joy Barbour, age 5; and my mother, Ann Sinsi, are all excited to lead the parade and join the day’s fun. Every year we have such love shown by people from the surrounding areas and our community who come and join us. For some in the LGBTQ community, it’s the only time in the year they get to see acceptance and camaraderie. We also try to provide a space for services in the area to give us information or be there with information. Places like Safe Homes of Orange County and Safe Space America provide these services,” said Barbour.
Barbour is upset with the current national government’s attitude toward National Pride Month. She added, “We can’t let laws or actions slip backward. We are still fighting for equality and acceptance. We must keep up a strong forward movement.”
Marie Mingone, who came to the pre-parade activities with her family and friends, looked forward to walking in the parade, saying, “I came here today to show love and support for my younger sister who identifies as pansexual and gender fluid. She has found her identity and I always want her to know how loved and accepted she will always be.”
The parade, which started at the Warwick Community Center, traveled down Orchard St. to Oakland Ave., to Railroad Ave., to South St., to Main St., to Oakland Ave., and to Orchard St., ending back at the Community Center. Approximately 500 people showed up to participate in the Orange County Pride Event through the Village chanting, “Love is Love.” Meanwhile, in Washington D.C. the LGBTQ equality march took place.