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Boro gay community preps for Jackson Heights parade

As June approaches, the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee is putting the finishing touches on its 16th annual Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival.

The parade starts at noon on Sunday, June 1, in Jackson Heights, at 89th Street and 37th Avenue. It will proceed down 37th Street to 75th Street, where it disperses into the festival. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is held on 37th Road between 73rd and 77th streets.

"Live, Love, Be" is this year's international theme, said Daniel Dromm, the parade's founder.

The organization named state Assemblyman Jose Peralta (D-Jackson Heights), City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan) and Richard Burns, the Manhattan-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Services Center's executive director, as the grand marshals.

"Each has stood firm in their commitment to fair and equal treatment for all people," Dromm said in a news release. "Often times this was not easy, especially in light of the continuing struggle to secure the right for same-sex couples to marry."

Gay pride committee members praised Peralta for leading a gay marriage effort in the state Assembly. The law has yet to receive a vote in the state Senate.

Mendez is one of two lesbians in the City Council; the other is City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan). Members of the gay pride committee called her a "wonderful role model."

The committee selected Burns to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the LGBT Community Services Center, Dromm said.

This year the parade planning was set back by the death in April of Co-chairman Stewart Kessler, who took the event over in 2005.

"His life impacted many of us and he will be sorely missed," Dromm said.

The parade got its start in 1993 to commemorate the 1990 murder of Julio Rivera, a gay Jackson Heights resident.

For more information, please call 718-360-5560 or visit

Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

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